By Jim Welch,
Oregon Cattlemen Association
Wolf Conservation Plan
OCA president Bill Hoyt, OFB president, Barry Boshue and OCA PA, Jim Welsh provided oral testimony during the ODF&W Wolf Plan discussions in Hillsboro on September 2nd. During the meeting it became apparent that ODF&W will not give the opportunity for Wildlife Services to be the lead agency in determining wolf kills. It is furthermore apparent they will not provide producers some of the necessary tools OCA has asked for to reduce wolf/livestock conflicts. The agency staff, responsible for wolf management, is not providing the Commission members a factual accounting of the wolf kills episodes in eastern Oregon, due very possibly to lack of experience or lack of concern. The OCA Wolf Committee is skeptical, at best, with the possible outcome of the next Commission meeting scheduled on September 30th to take further comments and possible action to approve/disapprove or amend the staff recommendations on the Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan, five year review.
Ballot Measure 76
Oregon voters will get a chance to vote on this measure that will continue the 15% lottery revenues for parks, water quality and fish and wildlife habitats that were established in 1999 by BM 66. There were OCA members at the Quarterly meeting in Pendleton that voiced opposition to the measure due to lack of oversight and annual auditing of expenditures. There were also OCA members expressing support for the measure because they have, or a neighbor or friend has, experienced project help from OWEB in the past. Due to the lack of overall support for the measure OCA will remain neutral on BM 76.
Ag. Meeting With Attorney General
A.G. John Kroger met with representatives from the Agriculture and Natural Resources industries in August to discuss his Environmental Crimes Division. The A.G. assured everyone that the intention of the Environmental Crimes Division was not to be involved in “witch hunting” but to provide a division prepared to represent the state and public interest whenever necessary. Kroger said there was a need for the division to provide legal consultation to the natural resource agencies and to be able to step in when the situation warranted extensive legal action in criminal cases only. Kroger assured everyone, also, that he would meet with all parties in advance of legal situations reaching necessary criminal charges to work to mitigate the situation if at all possible.
OEQC Water Quality
The parallel water quality process that the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has been working their way through has now been pushed into 2011. For the natural resources industries that may be good news, especially if there is a positive change in the political makeup of the legislature. Agriculture water quality and the 1010 process have served the industry and Oregon well as the precursor to an Ag. Practice Act. Our state CAFO rules also serve Oregon well in the same manner. Presently, the DEQ staff is not advocating that nonpoint source pollution be regulated more in the future, but the Ag. industries now need to convince some of the members on the OEQC, the same.
Property Rights & Stream Access
During the first meeting Secretary Brown removed from the table for consideration the legislation proposed in the 2010 Special Session, but it is obvious the groups and individuals that want access to private property and more waterways are preparing for the 2011 Legislative Session. OCA is concerned that the outcome of the “Work Group” will not adequately represent private property owners even though they are very well represented. This translates to more work in the Legislative Session on an issue that has not been successfully managed for nearly 30 years.
Animal Care and Welfare
The livestock industry’s cooperative collaboration for a defensive initiative is in the final phase. If and when HSUS comes to Oregon to run a statewide ballot measure requiring standards for some of, or all of, the livestock industry the livestock industry may very well have an alternative proposal. The effort was not easy, but after some blood, sweat and tears it looks like each species organization is prepared to discuss the proposal with their organization membership. OCA Political Advocate, Jim Welsh, presented the details during the September Quarterly meeting and after considerable discussion there was a motion to continue working with the other livestock industries in preparation for a worst-case scenario.
CAFO Amendment Proposals
During the July CAFO Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting it was proposed and recommended to establish a sub-committee to review a number of CAC process update proposals. During the first sub-committee meeting on August 9 the two proposals discussed were 1) Consider matrix adjustment upward for penalty amounts for civil penalty calculations. 2) Consider changing the CAC composition and possibility/desirability of rules shift for CAC from DEQ to ODA. The sub-committee did not reach consensus to increase civil penalty matrix and recommended to ODA that they not increase them. The sub-committee also did not reach consensus to drastically change the composition of the CAC as
proposed by Friends of Oregon Family Farmers. The groups and associations list was changed as recommended to only include species specific designations and a similarly composed committee of producers and technical advisors.
Feed industry Stakeholder Meeting
ODA invited a stakeholder group to meet with Richard Ten Eyck, ODA feed specialist, in late August to discuss the status of the feed program including; 1) Staffing and functions; 2) Violation levels; and 3) Lab Performance. Other items on the agenda included:
* Current and projected budgets AHID/feed
* Proposed law change to register dog and cat food with animal remedies
* Proposed feed rules (Dairy, pork producers want change for bulk custom labeling and penalties)
* Reporting adverse events to FDA
* Integration of state/federal feed and food efforts (More consistency sought)
* Conservation fee on wild bird seed (Conservationists and environmentalists want revenue)
State Budgets & Revenue
As our natural resource agencies experience increased pressure from the Governor’s office to reduce their reliance on General Fund revenue OCA has attended budget deliberation meetings with ODA, OWRD and ODF&W. A number of programs will quite likely see increases in fees as has been discussed before. There will be numerous shifts from general fund support to fee based revenue to maintain departments or specific programs. ODA has also determined it necessary to not fill several job openings in management and programs in order to reduce the overall agency budget.
September Legislative Committee Hearings Scheduled
During the week of September 20th there are Legislative Committee meetings in Salem scheduled as informational meetings with invited testimony only. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will be providing information on the Integrated Water Resources Strategy, reporting provided by the Water Resources Department and Reducing Persistent Pollutants in Oregon’s Waters, reporting by DEQ. The Oregon Wolf Management Plan will be discussed by ODF&W. Similar topics are on the House Environment and Water Committee. The House Ag. & Natural Resources Committee will have Department of Forestry provide updates on the Fire Season, the
Nurseries Association, Farm Bureau and Dairy Farmers will give an update on the 2012 Farm Bill. There will also be updates on the 2009 Transportation legislation and Energy legislation, along with information about the Public Utilities Commission decision on the Boardman PGE Power Plant.