By Oregon Farm Bureau,
A 30%+ minimum wage increase. A paid sick leave law that’s unworkable for farmers. Legislation that would increase fuel and energy costs. Bills that would allow a patchwork of local ag regulations.
Put them together and it’s a harrowing game of FarmCrush where Oregon farmers and ranchers are the big losers. Tell legislators not to play FarmCursh and help OFB explain the cumulative effect that more and more expensive regulations will have on Oregon agriculture.
> See the Don’t Play #FarmCrush video – and share it online!
> Download the FarmCrush handout – and give it to your legislators!
On February 1, the first day of the 2016 Oregon Short Legislative Session, Farm Bureau members were given a rundown of these “FarmCrushing” bills and were urged to share Oregon agriculture’s perspective with lawmakers.
About 50 Farm Bureau members from all parts of the state attended a legislative workshop at the Capitol, organized by the OFB Women’s Advisory Council.
The group was visited by Oregon Governor Kate Brown who said her top priorities for the session were water, housing — and increasing the minimum wage.
“A minimum wage increase would pose an extreme hardship on tree fruit farmers who use a lot of hand labor,” said Mike McCarthy, member of Hood River County Farm Bureau, who raises pears, apples, and cherries. “If the minimum wage goes up $3 or $4, we’ll have to pay all of our employees that much more, not just entry-level workers.
“The average farm that raises fruit in Hood River County is about 65 acres,” McCarthy said. “I estimate that a minimum wage increase of $3 will cost these farms about $90,000 more a year. A lot of family farms in Hood River won’t be able to handle that, and they’ll be forced out of business.”
Jed Hassinger, president of Union County Farm Bureau and grower of mint, alfalfa hay, grass seed, and wheat, expressed concern about bills that would establish a cap-and-dividends program for carbon emissions and increase the price of electricity for ratepayers. Farm Bureau points to the cumulative effect these policies will have on rural Oregonians, who will already be paying increased fuel costs due to passage of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in 2015. Additionally, Oregon already has one of the lowest-carbon economies in the country.
“The carbon emissions bills would increase the costs of any type of farm that uses fuel,” said Hassinger. “The agriculture sector can’t just pass along increased costs like that to our customers the way other businesses can. These bills would make it difficult for Oregon farms and ranches to survive.”
Farm Bureau members at the legislative workshop had the opportunity to share these and other concerns to lawmakers. OFB thanks the legislators who took the time to discuss issues with members: Senator Chuck Thomsen, Senator Ginny Burdick, Senator Richard Devlin, Rep. Val Hoyle, Rep. John Davis, and Rep. Susan McLain, along with Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Dept. of Agriculture Director Katy Coba.
So what can YOU do?
> Make a commitment to respond to OFB Action Alerts this session. We need all the support we can get! Sign up for emailed Action Alerts and the OFB Legislative Bulletin by sending a request to [email protected].
> Get the FarmCrush handout – and share it with your legislators!
Story by Anne Marie Moss, OFB Communications Director
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