Ag update: Bills impacting Farming, forestry

By Oregonians for Food and Shelter,

To date, over 2600 bills have been introduced. The pace at the Capitol is picking up as Committees try to work bills before the April 9th Work Session Deadline.

Tuesday of last week, the House Energy & Environment Committee held a hearing on HB 2656, which would ban harvest, building of roads and application of pesticides and fertilizer in forests that serve as drinking water sources. This legislation would lock up millions of forestland, shutter mills and devastate rural communities. A huge thank you to the OFS coalition members who submitted hundreds of letters to the committee and/or came to the hearing. Roughly 100 foresters, loggers and small woodland owners attended the hearing and made an impressive showing!

Representative Helm ended the hearing before everyone could get their chance to testify but is keeping the docket open until March 21st. If you haven’t already you can submit written testimony on the bill by emailing your comments to [email protected].

This week’s hearing is just the start of aggressive attacks on agriculture and forestry. On March 21st, the Senate Environment Committee will hold hearings on SB 103 & SB 104, both bills characterize dairies of a certain size as industrial dairies and take away Right to Farm protections and make siting more difficult. This legislation should be of concern to everyone in agriculture; it sets a precedent for politicians to start categorizing what is a farm and what is not. Oregon Farm Bureau has issued this Action Alert. Click here to submit comments to the committee.

On March 26th, there will be two hearings on bills to ban Chlorpyrifos and classify Neonicotinoids as restricted use pesticides. We need farmers to fill these hearings!

– 1:00 PM Senate Environment & Natural Resources will hear SB 853

– 3:00 PM House Agriculture & Land Use will hear HB 3058

These bills will take away critical pest management tools and for many crops there are no alternatives. We will be sending out an Action Alert over the weekend. OFS members are asked to email or call their legislators about the importance of these tools.

Last week the Ways & Means Co-Chairs released their budget framework. Highlights include:

– OSU Statewides (Extension, Agricultural Experiment Stations & Forest Research Lab) funded at continuing service level. The Governor flat lined these programs in her budget.

– Set natural resource funding areas of special interests of Water quantity and quality, Air quality, Invasive species, Climate change, and Predator management.

They also directed their Natural Resources SubCommittee to examine issues including agency core functions and programs to see if there are non-core activities that can be eliminated or reduced, or operational and administrative efficiencies that will reduce expenditures.


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