Legislatures take on issues impacting agriculture

Oregon: Carbon cap, pesticide restrictions

SALEM — While Oregon lawmakers are expected this year to wrestle with some perennial controversies impacting agriculture, those issues will be debated in a new light now that Democrats have won super-majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

The tighter Democratic control over the House and Senate will primarily be relevant for tax-raising measures, which require three-fifths “super-majority” approval to pass in Oregon.

However, the change also has implications for restrictions on pesticides, biotechnology and antibiotics, since proponents of such regulations see left-leaning lawmakers as more sympathetic to their aims, said Jonathan Sandau, government affairs specialist for the Oregon Farm Bureau.

“These groups are going to be looking for victories because they, quote-unquote, got those legislators there,” he said.

Democrats now hold 38 seats in the House while Republicans hold 22. In the Senate, Democrats hold 18 seats while Republicans hold 12.

A cap on carbon emissions is expected to be a major point of discussion in 2019, though current proposals would exempt agriculture from direct regulation, he said. Even so, farmers would likely face higher costs for fuel, fertilizer and electricity as suppliers pass on the added expense of new regulation.

“That’s where the impact is going to be felt in agriculture,” Sandau said.

As farm lobbyists prepare for the 2019 legislative session, which begins Jan. 22 and likely ends in early July, they expect bills on the following subjects to be introduced:

• Pesticides: Proposed restrictions on the use of controversial chemicals, such as chlorpyrifos, glyphosate and several neonicotinoids, will probably crop up again this year, as will proposals requiring advance notice of aerial pesticide applications and pesticide use reporting.

• Coexistence: Tensions between producers of various crops are a persistent concern in Oregon agriculture, which may result in legislative proposals intended to mitigate conflicts between canola and seed crops, marijuana and hemp, as well as genetically engineered crops and those grown organically or conventionally.

• Dairy: Wastewater problems at a large dairy in Boardman, Ore., have prompted the introduction of legislation that would classify large operations as industrial facilities, excluding them from “right to farm” protections against lawsuits and local regulatory ordinances. These proposals also include a moratorium on new construction of large dairies and studies of their environmental and economic impacts.

• Land use: Housing shortages in Oregon are spurring lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to consider making the state’s land use system — which is intended to preserve farm and forest land — more flexible in allowing development. For example, there’s a proposal to permit “accessory dwelling units” outside city limits. Restrictions on solar facilities and outdoor mass gatherings on farmland are also likely to be debated.

• Wetlands: The rules governing farmers’ ability to clean out drainage ditches in wetlands are currently seen as too cumbersome, which has resulted in a proposal that would allow landowners to dig out more dirt from these channels without a state fill-removal permit. Proposals may also target other aspects of wetland regulation, such as how wetland areas are mapped.


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OSU to host pollinator summit: Feb 14-16

How pollinator-enhancement programs can be developed and enhanced is the subject of the PNW Pollinator Summit & Conference slated for Feb. 14-16 at the Oregon State University CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis.

A goal is to improve on-the-ground initiatives and reduce knowledge gaps by better coordinating natural resource professionals, land managers, pollinator enthusiasts, university extension agents and other educators, organizers said in a news release.

Scheduled keynote speakers are wildlife biologist Sam Droege of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the U.S. Geological Survey; agricultural extension and research specialist Elina Nino of University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension; and assistant biology professor Rebecca Tonietto of the University of Michigan-Flint and The Porch Project. About 20 speakers and presenters are scheduled.

Organizers include OSU’s Extension Service and College of Forestry, state agriculture and forestry departments, Oregon Bee Project and Nectar Creek.

Cost to register is $150 before Jan. 12 and $175 afterward. Oregon Bee Atlas and Master Beekeeper members can register for $75. Some subsidies are available.

For more information, contact Andony Melathopoulos, OSU assistant professor of pollinator health extension, 541-737-3139 or [email protected].


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The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is accepting proposals through January 29, 2019 for projects that address environmental conservation and restoration projects in municipal watersheds.

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is accepting proposals through January 29, 2019 for projects that address environmental conservation and restoration projects in municipal watersheds.  Drinking water providers and watershed restoration practitioners can apply for up to $50,000 to complete work that benefits native fish habitat as well as address a known water quality or supply concern for public drinking water system.  The Partnership is a collaboration between USFS, BLM, EPA, DEQ, Washington DOH, Geos Institute, and WildEarth Guardians. Projects must occur within a drinking water source area and have a nexus with USFS or BLM lands (but the work does not have to occur on those Federal Lands). For more information about eligibility and how to apply, read the full Request for Proposals at https://workingwatersgeos.org/our-work/drinking-water-providers-partnership.

Please reach out to conservation partners in your area (watershed councils, SWCD’s, Tribes, local governments, landowners, etc.) and encourage them to consider applying.  Cathy Kellon with the Geos Institute has recently accepted a new job and will not be with Geos much longer – this leaves a big gap in the outreach to local partners and we want to make sure eligible projects move forward!

Just a heads up that the Drinking Water Source Protection Fund will also start accepting Letters of Interest in January 2019.  This is the fund where Public Water Systems can apply for low interest loans of up to $100,000 or grant funds of up to $30,000 (per water system per year) to implement protection strategies in their source areas. I’ll forward and announcement when the application cycle opens but if folks are interested here is last year’s information – it should be similar moving forward:


Please feel free to contact me, Jacquie Fern or Josh Seeds if you have any questions about either of these opportunities!

Julie Harvey

Program Coordinator

Drinking Water Protection/Water Quality Division

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

700 Multnomah St. Suite #600, Portland, OR 97232

503-229-5664 or 1-800-452-4011 ( in OR)

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FREE series of classes to help you develop a conservation plan for your property

Plan for Your Land

You’re Invited!

The South and North Santiam Watershed Councils and the Marion Soil & Water Conservation District are hosting a FREE series of classes to help you develop a conservation plan for your property. You will learn about soil, water, and wildlife conservation on you property, from farmland to woodlots and stream sides. We will help you find the resources to reach your conservation goals. Representatives for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, and OSU Extension Service will also be on hand to help you develop your plan, decide on a project, and apply for funding if needed.  A conservation plan will help you decide how to best manage your property and can even help you to receive grants and resources.

 The classes are scheduled for 4 Thursday evenings: January 17th, 24th, 31st, and February 7th, from 5-7:30 at the Stayton Community Center. Classes are geared toward landowners with small acreages and those along streams.

 To register for this opportunity, click here: https://plan-for-your-land.eventbrite.com

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No Till farming can help save water!

The Marion SWCD does not currently own or operate a no-till drill program.

We strongly believe in soil health and erosion control practices and fully support the use of cover crops for conservation purposes. If you need a drill or other equipment we suggest contacting local equipment rental companies and dealers within Marion County and ask about programs they offer.

If you need further technical assistance or have additional questions on cover crops, soil improvement or conservation, please contact us at (503)391-9927.

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