Vote for Shelly for America’s Farm Mom

My good friend Shelly Boshart Davis has been chosen as the Northwest Farm Mom of the year by America’s Farmers!

Shelly now has an opportunity to be come America’s Farm Mom with your votes!

2015 Farm Mom Nominee

2015 Farm Mom Nominee

The Northwest Farm Mom lives in Albany, Oregon with her husband Geoff and their three girls Kyndall, Ashlynn & Sam. Growing up on her family’s grass seed farm she now works alongside her family in their farm, trucking & straw export businesses. Her speciality is working with their straw customers overseas.

The recent West Coast Port Crisis consumed a lot of Shelly’s time, yet she still managed to coach volleyball in the evenings & on the weekends. She continued to be involved with numerous organizations during this time such as United Way Linn County, Oregon Women for Agriculture and Oregon Agribusiness Council. As well in her very spare moments found time to go to the Oregon Legislature to protect her family’s business by testifying in the many hearings on bills that would impact all of us, not just her.

In all her activities her children are never far behind. What a better civics lesson than experiencing it for yourself? She strives to be a good role model for her daughters. Shelly makes sure they know the value of passion and hard work.

She is also a really good friend. Shelly listens, encourages and inspires those around her.  Her “can do” attitude is a motivator for me to never quit or give up when times get discouraging.

Shelly Boshart Davis tirelessly advocates for Oregon Farmers while providing her daughters with a farm life that most only wish they knew.

Faith, family, friends and farming are her priorities and that’s why she deserves to be America’s Farm Mom! Please help me to make her America’s Farm Mom by voting for her every day! Vote here: http://www.americasfarmers.com/recognition-programs/farm-mom-nominees-2015/

More About Shelly: 

Leave a Comment

Filed under AgVocacy, American Agri Women

Minimum Wage, Rural Oregon & Agriculture

This week I appeared on KATU’s “Your Voice, Your Vote” to discuss increasing Oregon’s minimum wage. The opposition included me along with economist Dr. Eric Fruits. The proponents of raising of Oregon’s minimum wage were Senator Diane Rosenbaum and 15 Now Oregon’s Justin Norton-Kerston.

Some thoughts

The proponents of a minimum wage never refute me on the fact that raising the minimum wage will hurt Rural Oregon.

Senator Rosenbaum claims raising minimum wage has never negatively affected Oregonians before. Yet on Monday we heard farmers testified they had quit growing certain crops because of high labor costs. On our own farm we have gone from seven windrowers/swathers and four combines to three.

One in eight jobs are tied to Oregon agriculture. How will increases the wage floor impact this? More importantly, Oregon Agriculture is expected add 8,200 jobs by 2020…growing faster than Oregon’s economy as a whole.  However was a 62% increase in the wage floor a factor when this prediction was made?

Currently, we hire people who can be as young as 14 years old. We file the proper paperwork & get the permits required so we can hire local students ages 14-17 years old, who are paid minimum wage and higher. Contrary to “talking points” this is not child labor. If minimum wage was to raise to $15/hour, the risk of hiring these inexperienced “kids” would outweigh the benefits. Ultimately, harming Oregon’s future workforce.

Alternatively, we can go through the H2A Visa program and hire experienced workers. Typically these employees would be from the Southern Hemisphere and work harvest year around. They have experience driving equipment similar to our farm’s.  This would save us time & cost of investment in training.

Conclusion

It’s hard to understand what we do on the farm. The fact is, we know our costs, we know our risks & are always skeptical if it will all pay off. It is a constant gamble and a supposed educated guess, hence the skepticism.

However, I will try to help anyone understand the best way possible how farming works. We have nothing to “hide” on the farm, it just can be super complicated if you do not live it day-to-day.

Information I found interesting

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Economy, Oregon, Rural

Why Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage is a Bad Idea

Last night, I testified in opposition to raising Oregon’s minimum wage. Here is my entire testimony.

April 13, 2015

Senate Committee on Workforce
House Committee on Business and Labor
Oregon State Capitol

RE: Raising Oregon’s minimum wage – Opposed

Chair Dembrow, Chair Holvey & Committee,

I am Marie Bowers Stagg, a fifth generation farmer in Linn & Lane Counties. We farm primarily grass seed, wheat & meadowfoam. Like a typical farmer my job is a smorgasbord of everything; I run the baling crew, I do the planting, I drive fertilizer & spray truck along with many other tasks. I also do the books on the farm, which includes the payroll.

Our full time farm workforce consists of my husband, my dad, my mom, two non-family members and of course me. Full time employees are offered benefits and are paid a living wage, their skill set dictates what that wage may be. However we do depend on a seasonal workforce for harvest & preparing fields for planting.

In 2014 we hired seven local students ages 14-21 to drive combines, balers and tractors. They are paid based on years and experience. We start a new employee, who is typically 14 or 15 years of age, at minimum wage. Pay raises are potentially given throughout the season if performance warrants it. If an experienced employee returns the following season they are given a raise at that point too.

Minimum wage has a real fiscal impact on the farm.

On our farm 50% of our expenses are composed of three specific things: fertilizer, rent and labor. In 2014 our pay scale at the end of season for the seven employees ranged from $9.20 to nearly $12. Remember, minimum wage was $9.10 last year.

I calculated the fiscal impact raising the minimum wage would have on our farm based on the hours these kids worked from June 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014.

Currently, on a per acre basis our cost for the seven employees is $9.07/acre.

At $15/hour our cost would go to $13.65/acre, an increase $4.58/acre. 

At $13.50/hour our cost would go to $12.28/acre, an increase $3.21/acre. 

In other terms, at current market conditions we would need to increase our yields to produce at least 75,000 more pounds of annual ryegrass. If we knew a way to do this in a short time frame, we would, but yield is dictated by many factors, minimum wage is not one of those factors.

If the Oregon Legislature wishes to mandate we increase our expenses, preferably I would like to invest into something that would increase productivity. For the amount certain parties think we should be spending on current employees we could hire three or four more people.

My family has been hiring local students for over half a century. I have had middle-aged adults come up to me and tell me working for my family taught them how to work. They wouldn’t be the person they are today without the experience they got from working on the farm. Yet, with these current minimum wage proposals these valuable life skills would be in jeopardy, as we would seek alternatives such as a foreign workforce.

My head baler driver, Natassia is a senior at Oregon State University. She will be graduating this spring in pre-vet and start veterinary school in the fall. She has worked for us every summer she has been in college. She is a true example of how working on a farm has helped her prepare for her future career, in financial terms as well as with skill sets.

According to Natassia, “Working for Bashaw Land & Seed has made it so that I don’t have to juggle work and school at the same time. I work all summer and make what I would have made throughout the school year if I worked year round. This means I have time to study and get into vet school. I now have an education and don’t need a lower skills job that would pay minimum wage. Also, working on the farm has taught me tons of transferable skills such as making snap decisions under pressure.”

Natassia is one of the many seasonal employees my family has seen grow as a person and worker. It makes me proud that our farm can provide Oregon with such high quality employees. Yet, raising the minimum wage would make stories like Natassia’s a thing of the past. I do not think that’s what we want for Oregon.

If the minimum wage were to increase we will look at hiring our entire seasonal workforce from outside the country. In past years we have hired at least one worker from South Africa and New Zealand. Moving forward this may become our new normal to hire entire crews of foreign experienced workers and hiring local students would be a thing of the past.

I urge you to oppose the minimum wage increase; it would hurt Oregon farmers and Oregon’s future workforce. Thank you for your time today.

Me opposing increasing Oregon's Minimum wage last night in front of the committee

Me opposing increasing Oregon’s Minimum wage last night in front of the committee

Related Links: 

3 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Economy, Legislature, Oregon, Rural

A Quick Guide to Radical Environmentalism

I have watched radical environmentalism slowly chip away at the rights of farmers, ranchers and foresters since I was a little kid. Radical environmentalists have successfully eliminated tools and put people out of business. In the last 10 years I have been engaging with them because if I didn’t I would have no chance as a 5th generation farmer.

One thing is certain, no matter the topic (pesticides, field burning, GMOs, carbon footprints, etc), their methodology is all the same and their end game is to put me and every other farmer out of business. 

A Quick Guide to Radical Environmentalism

The Beginning
A small group of people claim they got sick or harmed because ______, yet the hard evidence is lacking. Radical environmentalists* create hysteria over the “incident” despite lacking evidence. They demand something be done about it.

The Plan 
Radical environmentalists know they cannot make the law affect everyone because evidence is lacking. They decide to go after a minority, like farmers, ranchers or foresters. However they know can’t do too much at once or the public will think they are attacking these groups.  It must appear that it would barely affect them.

Radical environmentalists know they have to start small. They suggest innocently that the government regulate just a few acres at this time or maybe small fee increase. The public or legislators think, “What’s some minor regulation?” New rules are passed.

After new rule or regulations are in place, they are still not happy. They continually seek out where their might be failure in the law or regulation. Cue more hysteria.

Radical Environmentalism's most powerful tool is fear

Certain Death

Over many years they continue their demands for increased regulation, penalties, fees or taxes, because it is just not enough. There is still harm being done by _____, despite the still lacking evidence.

Each time the radical environmentalists demand then there is a “compromise” made. The compromise always seems like minor changes, but when minor changes keep happening then all of a sudden you have nothing left. Your toolbox becomes limited and they have crippled your ability to do your job.

Radical Environmentalists repeat these tactics until successful elimination of the “culprit”.  Then they move on to the next evidence lacking problem.

 *They never refer to themselves as Radical Environmentalists. These groups often have feel good names that tug at the heart-strings and/or incite fear. Do not be fooled by their ruse of “protecting the people”. 

3 Comments

Filed under Environmentalists, Green Agenda

Hanjin, Oregon Farmers and West Coast Ports

Hanjin Shipping has decided to leave the Port of Portland. Hanjin is responsible for 70% to 80% of the container shipments in the Port or 657 direct jobs. This is a significant loss for Oregon farmers & Oregon’s economy and just part of the latest in the West Coast Ports Crisis.

Oregon Depends on Exports

 

This decision should come as no surprise. The longshoremen decided not show up for work for 3 days & left a loaded ship just sitting there.  Common sense says, that’s not good business. Not even $4 Million dollars in incentives can keep them there. We all know that some headaches are just not worth it, no matter how sweet the deal.

Impact on Oregon Farmers

Approximately 40% of our farm’s grass seed & 100% of our straw is shipped in containers through the ports to Asia. With the loss of Hanjin in Portland our customers will have to find alternative ports. Some have already.

Oregon farmers & exports contribute significantly to our economy

Oregon farmers & exports contribute significantly to our economy

Basic math tells me costs will increase. Our seed & straw will be traveling further via semi-trucks to the ports. Trucking takes fuel and fuel is not cheap, no matter what Obama says.

On top of using more fuel, the Oregon Legislature wants to reduce carbon footprints by mandating a low-carbon fuel standard. It may feel really good to say “lowering our carbon footprint”. But the reality is that it’s going to increase fuel costs, anywhere from $0.04 to $1.06. 

Remember when I said “Rural Oregon is just a feel good legislative priority“, this a good example of that.

Future of Ag Exports & Global Markets

Currently, we have grass seed sitting in our warehouse that was already supposed to be on its way to Asia. The current labor dispute at all the West Coast Ports has not only delayed our products but many other farmers’ as well. There are still Christmas trees sitting on the docks that never made it on a ship. That is criminal.

At what point will our customers become so fed up with our poor customer service that they give up American products all together? I have no doubt we have the highest quality of food & fiber in the world but everyone has a price or breaking point.

According to The Agriculture Transportation Coalition:

  • Currently, US agriculture exports are reduced by $1.75 billion each month or $444,000,000 per week.
  • The North American Meat Institute and the National Pork Producers Council report losses of $40,000,000 in exports each a week.
  • The US Hides, Skin and Leather Assoc. reports losses of $45,000,000 in hide exports each week.
  • US Forage Export Council reports losses of hay and forage exports of $266,000 each day.
  • In January alone, cherry growers in Oregon lost over $250,000 of export sales directly related to port disruption; if not resolved, it will lead to a sales loss of $5 million in 2015.

What Can Be Done

The ILWU & PMA can come to a contract agreement. The PMA offered what to appeared to me as a “sweet deal”; $147K plus raise, full health benefits & $80K pension. This was not good enough for the longshoremen. They want to fire arbitrators when they disagree with the ILWU.

You can contact your congressman and state legislators. Ask them to do anything possible to help, that includes not passing the low fuel carbon standard.  Share and tell everyone possible about this.

A small group of people are holding ALL Americans hostage and we need to do everything possible to stop it.

Related Articles:

Oregon Exports

Leave a Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Economy, Oregon

Rural Oregon, a “feel good” legislative priority?

Rural Oregon’s economy is a priority for the 2015 state legislature, but the bills and policies being introduced are contradictory to Rural Oregon’s success.

A $15/hour minimum wage and that ALL employers provide PAID sick leave for employees are currently on the legislative docket. These policies do not coincide with Rural Oregon needs. We need jobs not feel good policy.

Oregon ranks 46th in the nation for unemployment at 7%. North Dakota ranks first. At least we are in the top 50, right?

Oregon has at least four rural counties with unemployment over 10%. Yet, Oregon legislators want to burden us with increased labor costs of workers that we are barely able to hire currently. Increasing an employers’ expenses does not create jobs it costs them.

Real LifeIf minimum wage increased to $15/hour our harvest employee costs would at the very least increase 150%.  If the government wants to dictate that we spend more money than instead of increasing the wage to an unsustainable level we could re-invest into the farm. We could rent more acres and/or hire 2-4 more employees at the current entry-level wage. More jobs equals more opportunities for all.

Would the Oregon legislature rather have more people working or less people working?

We value employees with initiative, loyalty, knowledge and sense of responsibility. As an employee grows and develops these skills we often increase wages. A $15/hour minimum wage would make it impossible for us to do this. We depend on experienced employees and because of this we would risk losing quality employees because they have no incentive to stay.

I am glad the legislature wants to focus some time and energy on Rural Oregon’s issues and economy.  However increased regulation is hurting Rural Oregon’s ability to thrive. When your livelihood depends on the pennies per pound, every cent matters.

IMG_8299.PNG

Related Links:

2 Comments

Filed under Economy, Legislature, Oregon, Rural

Five Reasons Why Marriage is Weird

Marriage is weird, at least the first year is. It’s not weird in a negative way.  It is just nothing like we have ever done before.

Five reasons why Marriage is Weird

1) You cannot get away from this person.  They are not like a typical roommate where you know “the situation is just temporary”.  It’s for life. You have to figure out how to cohabitat with this person peacefully for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Weird.

2) You fight about dumb crap. Sometimes Tristan & I look at each other and ask “Why are we fighting about this?”  Dumb crap means like him borrowing your pickup and not adjusting the seat back to where it was. Or just because someone accomplishes a task differently than you would, does not make their way wrong.

3) You are kind of opposites. It’s true. Tristan is my Yin to his Yang, or however that saying goes. Some may describe us as an extrovert and an introvert.  However the most challenging part is finding balance for both. Sometimes you just cannot go to every function and sometimes you have to go functions you do not want to. But that’s only the beginning to finding balance.

4) You do not automatically “grow up.” We were 28 and 29 when we got married.  We are successful adults. However getting married did not make us more grown up at things like folding laundry or interior decorating. After a year, both are still a work in progress.

5) You are not good at it.  We have had numerous examples of good marriages throughout our entire life. It appears to be seamless and easy enough. But it’s not.  The “Secret to a Good Marriage” blog posts are just a search engine away but I am really not sure their advice applies to us.

We made it a year and hopefully have many more to come.

How did you view your first year of marriage?

One year down!

One year down!

5 Comments

Filed under Life, Marriage, Wedding

The Rose Bowl

Last week Tristan & I got an experience most can only dream about. We were standing on grass of the Rose Bowl, the Granddaddy of them All! Best part, the grass was grown in Oregon!

History is made here!

History is made here!

Thanks to Barenbrug USA and my friend Macey we had this rare opportunity.  We grow a few fields of tall fescue and Italian ryegrass for them.  Perennial ryegrass found on the Rose Bowl field is Barenbrug’s variety. Ryegrass is a cool season grass so the turf has a Bermuda, warm season grass, base.  This time of year the Bermuda is going dormant and the ryegrass is thriving!

We got an exclusive tour of the field from the head Rose Bowl turf guy, Will Schnell.  He was a celebrity himself. Our tour kept getting interrupted so Rose Bowl board members could introduce him to other people, like the guy who flew the bomber over the stadium before the game.

Will has managed the Rose Bowl since 2001. He grew up on a farm in Missouri. Will knew he either wanted to work with plants or animals. Being from & going to school in  Missouri Will found inspiration in George Toma, long time head groundskeeper at Kansas City Chiefs,  and he became interested in turf management.

The guy has a passion for his field just like I have for mine. Will knows the cost of each event on the turf. Let’s just say, his cost per acre is many more times than I can even fathom for my cost per acre.

Oregon grass seed can be found in real turf fields across the world.  Our neighbors grew the seed for the 2014 World Cup. Oregon’s Willamette Valley grows over 60% of the world’s cool season grasses which includes fescue and ryegrass. Both these types of grasses go into your lawns and the pastures that feed the beef & lamb you eat.

You cannot pass up a selfie opportunity like this!

You cannot pass up a selfie opportunity like this!

Oregon agriculture is the coolest.  ESPN and others noticed that too.

Also Oregon Ducks are the coolest. They won 59-20.  They broke 10 Rose Bowl records and kicked the crap out of the previous national champions.  Now the Ducks play Monday for the National Championship! Ironically the UO will play OSU (Ohio State University) and they were the first school to ever play in the NCAA Basketball Championship game.

There's something magic about the "Granddaddy of them All"

There’s something magical about the “Granddaddy of them All”

1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Grass Seed

Ignoring the Crisis on West Coast Ports

The mainstream media seems to be focusing on analyzing the election for 100th time instead of reporting on a real immediate crisis.  The West Coast Ports, which includes Portland, Tacoma and Los Angeles, are on the verge of complete shutdown if they haven’t already.

The labor union and dock workers have taken the Pacific Northwest economy and the ports hostage. They are leaving apples, pears, potatoes, wheat and hay just sitting on the docks.  All because they don’t want to have to re-negotiate their $229,000 wages and benefits.  Why compromise when you can just cripple the economy and still get paid?

This is an absolute outrage. For those of us in the Pacific Northwest many of our livelihoods are tied to exports and imports. My friend Shelly, who manages the exports for her family’s trucking and straw business, has been blogging about these issues facing her family business. When the ports shutdown so does her business along with many other family businesses.

From a Oregon Department of Agriculture presentation

From a Oregon Department of Agriculture presentation

Oregon farmers & exports contribute significantly to our economy

Oregon farmers & exports contribute significantly to our economy

 

Transportation isn’t sexy. Who wants to talk about boats and trucks? That might mean the media has to acknowledge that capitalism and private companies are the backbone of America, not the government.  It would also expose the massive amount of government regulations that hinder economic efficiency, particularly in the world of transportation.

And NO ONE wants to discuss the corruption of the ILWU.  These people are complete thugs. They stoop to any level to get their way which includes threatening to rape people and destroying property.  They are the ultimate bully.

This could all end tomorrow if President Obama wanted to enforce Taft-Hartley Act.  Reagan and Bush both had to do it order to protect America’s “well-being”.  Yet he also seems to be ignoring the problem and American businesses suffer.


Check out Daughter of a Trucker to keep up to date on transportation issues facing all of us. 

Related Links: 

1 Comment

Filed under Economy, Future of Agriculture, Oregon

Diamond Pioneers – My Grandparents

My grandparents, Don and Lorena Bowers, were honored with the Diamond Pioneer Award on October 15, 2014 at Oregon State University. They were two of nearly a dozen to receive it this year. They will now be a permanent part of the Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award.

The Diamond Pioneer Registry was established in March 1983 when the College Of Agricultural Sciences observed its 75th anniversary.  With the Registry, the College recognizes the significant contributions of many of our friends and colleagues who have served agriculture and related areas throughout a portion of their careers.” – Oregon State Website

2014 Diamond Pioneers, my Grandma Lorena is in the middle & my grandpa is to her right in the blue shirt.

2014 Diamond Pioneers, my Grandma Lorena is in the middle & my grandpa is to her right in the blue shirt.

Every year I read through the names in this registry to see who was inducted.  The people who are honored are cool! These farmers, ranchers, foresters, educators and other natural resource enthusiasts have maintained and advanced our industry. They have paved the way for the future generations.

I am proud to say I have a cool family. My Great-grandma Charity Bowers was honored with the Diamond Pioneer as well.  Being engaged and involved in Oregon Agriculture is a genetic trait in my family.

I was excited to submit my grandparents for the award. The deadline was in the middle of harvest but thanks to my dad, uncles and long-time industry folks I was able to compile information fairly easily. ;)  The people who have spoiled me with donuts, camping trips, pies and awesomeness are also rockstars in their profession.

The Submission: 

Don Bowers is a 3rd generation farmer in Linn County, Oregon. He and has wife Lorena started farming 1958 with his dad Roy. Roy A. Bowers & Sons was formed in 1963. In the early years, Lorena drove seed truck for the farm during harvest and then took over the bookkeeping for the growing operation in the early 1970s. She was among one of the first members of Oregon Women for Agriculture. Throughout the years they employed hundred of teenagers from the local community.  Many who still tell stories of appreciation for their job on the farm till this day.  They retired from farming in 1998 but still actively contribute to their community through the Harrisburg Museum and their local church. Don and Lorena raised three boys, Nick, Eric and Tobin, who all contribute to the grass seed industry today.

List of Organizations, capacities served & accomplishments:

Don Bowers:

  • Board member of the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association in late 1960s
  • Member of the National Farmer’s Organization
  • 1975-1981, Oregon Ryegrass Commissioner, served as chairman 1977-79.
  • Oregon Meadowfoam Growers:

In 1983 Don Bowers was among a small group of Willamette Valley farmers would saw the potential utility of a new crop being touted for its unique seed oil.  This new crop was called Meadowfoam.  Don could see the value of a rotation crop for the Willamette Valley’s grass seed fields and the seed industry and was willing to put in the time and effort to aid in its development.  This was a risky venture on a new and unproven crop. Don was instrumental in the formation of what would come to be known as the OMG Cooperative and was a founding Board Member of the Cooperative and its marketing subsidiary, Natural Plant Products, LLC

  • 1983 the Oregon Meadowfoam Grower Association came into existence and Don Bowers was an original founding member.
  • Between 1983 and 1997 there were 7 crops of meadowfoam produced and Don participated in each crop.
  • Between 1983 and 1997 Don Bowers was the single largest producer of Meadowfoam.
  • During this time Don worked extensively with OSU researchers, OSU Extension personnel, and leaders in the seed industry to aid in the development of this new crop.
  • Participated in multiple agronomic research projects to study and explore improved production methods
  • Was deeply involved in the cleaning, storage, and processing of meadowfoam
  • In 1997 Don was a founding Board Member of OMG Cooperative and was instrumental in the subsequent creation of Natural Plant Products, LLC  to process and market Meadowfoam seed oil
  • 2007 Don Bowers retired as a Board Member

 

  • In the late 1980s to early 1990s he became part owner in a seed company
  • Previous member of Oregon State Seed Cleaning Advisory Board 2001
  • Oregon Seed Council Seedsman of the Year

This is why I felt my grandparents deserved to be Diamond Pioneers. They worked together to build a business and a family. Today that family still carries on their legacy and passion for agriculture.

From Left to Right:  Tristan, Me, Aunt Kari, Uncle Toby, Grandpa, Uncle Nick, Grandma, Aunt Donna, Mom & Dad

From Left to Right: Tristan, Me, Aunt Kari, Uncle Toby, Grandpa, Uncle Nick, Grandma, Aunt Donna, Mom & Dad

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Grandparents

Farmers Against Measure 92

There are thousands of farmers against Measure 92 which would require labeling on packaged & raw food* produced through Genetic Engineering.

Here are the reasons this farmer is against Measure 92:

1. It violates free market principles.

Currently consumers have options to buy Organic or the Non-GMO Project.  These are a result of the free market meeting consumer wants.  Why does the government need to mandate an additional label?

2. Right to Know what? 

The label tells the consumer absolutely nothing besides that a modern breeding technique was used to develop the seed. They do not know what trait is present or what inputs were used to grow the crop. Genetically engineered food is not a thing. There are food crops produced using genetic engineering which is a breeding technique using a highly detailed process.   How does a label tell the consumer anything worthwhile?

3. Grocery bills will go up

There have been many studies on the costs of labeling.  Some estimate that grocery bills will increase $400/year and another says it will  increase $2/year.  We don’t know yet what the economic impact will be on the consumer but it is pretty certain it won’t make food any more affordable.

4. Section 1. Findings and Declarations

The sad part about our voter pamphlet is that you do not have to cite sources or provide factual information.  When you read the first section take every statement with a grain of salt and maybe involve a google search.  You will find many of the statements are simply not true or imply the worst case scenario. As with all matters in every election, please be an informed voter.

5. Section 6. Enforcement   

This section is extremely vague and appears to put all burden of proof on the farmer, since they must provide “sworn statements” with crops.  There is no talk to fines or revoking of licenses as consequences in this section, which one would expect to find in such a specific law.  Instead the consequences are “actions” brought by any citizen of Oregon or the attorney general. This really means lawsuits. If one citizen feels they were wronged they can spend our tax dollars willy-nilly for farmers to prove otherwise.

Overall, the vagueness of enforcing the measure, the alternative options already available and the increase in costs are not worth a new law.  The one thing that is for sure is it will cost taxpayers millions for regulation and enforcement.  Read the measure for yourself. Please Vote No on 92.

*The measure excludes meat & dairy products and does not apply to restaurants, schools or hospitals.

Farmers Against Measure 92

Read More on GMO Labeling & Measure 92

12 Comments

Filed under GMOs, Oregon, Politics

Celebrate Oregon Agriculture [Video]

Lately, I have had a few “irons in the fire” besides typical farming activities. One of them is helping with Celebrate Oregon Agriculture. Oregon Women for Agriculture partnered with the Oregon Department of Agriculture & KATU a week special in this ongoing campaign.

Each morning this week on AM Northwest a different crop that Oregon farm families grow will be featured. OWA also had the opportunity to make a commercial sharing our near half century legacy!

Meadowfoam is one the featured crops this week. Yours truly got to share about it. Please give it a view!

Visit Oregon Women for Agriculture’s Celebrate Oregon Agriculture page to view our commercial featuring four generations of OWA members!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Oregon, Women

Monica Wehby

My family had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Monica Wehby at the farm last week.   Dr. Wehby is hoping to defeat incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley in Oregon’s U.S. Senate race.

There is no doubt Dr. Wehby appears to be a woman of mystery.  It seems she came out of nowhere and is running for a U.S. Senate seat. Personally, I think it’s awesome.  How often do we wish our candidates were not career politicians?  Now we have just that, plus she is a conservative woman.

Despite her alleged elusiveness, I have found her to be very easy to connect with.  We first talked when she called me this summer to discuss the issues that were important to Oregon Women for Agriculture for her upcoming AgPAC interview.  Then again when I contacted the campaign to see if she was going to be in the area any time soon, which resulted in the event at the farm.

The group at our home with our future Senator

The group at our home with our future Senator

Dr. Wehby is eager to learn about the issues and struggles that we as farmers, ranchers and foresters face.  She has made that clear by making herself available to those of us in Rural Oregon.  Before she visited our farm she was at my friend Kathy’s farm in Rickreall with area farmers.

As engaged citizens we should not pass up to meet candidates for office or our current elected officials at least once.  I met with Senator Merkley 2 years ago in DC. I guarantee you Dr. Monica Wehby will be better than him.  His condescending attitude towards Oregon’s farmers, ranchers and foresters is absolutely disgusting to me.

Senator Merkley is a fear monger when it comes to GMOs and refuses to acknowledge the science behind it.  This has been clear in emails he has sent.  He would rather please the extreme environmentalists.  He says he is an advocate for Organic farmers but why not ALL farmers?   He claims to be proud of his timber industry heritage yet but caters those who cripple the industry.

Telling my story to Senator Merkley

Telling my story to Senator Merkley

Why do we want to keep Senator Merkley in office when he clearly does not have Oregon’s best interest at heart?

There have been criticisms of Dr. Wehby, mostly by those who supported her primary opponent. They say that she’s not conservative enough or does not have the political savvy. Some say they are just not going to vote. I say that’s BS!

We cannot win the war on our livelihoods and freedom if we are not willing to change our battle strategy. And we for sure will not win it if we do not vote!!

Monica Wehby

I am excited for the change Dr. Monica Wehby can bring to the U.S. Senate!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Oregon, Politics

Support Family Farms

Support Family Farms.

I saw this on a bumper sticker on my way home from the field Friday night. Taking a closer look, I realized the slogan was associated with a recent “Anti-GMO” campaign*.

I have seen this messaging used before in “Anti GMO” campaigns.  It continues to boggle my mind.

Ninety-eight percent of the farms in the United States and 98% of farms in Oregon are family owned and operated. Family farms come in many sizes, structures and types.  They use different methods & technologies, choosing what is best for their farms and family.  This includes using GMOs, more accurately known as genetic engineering or biotechnology. 

A quick google search of “Support Family Farms” immediately lists three organizations that claim to do just that.  However, these groups loudly advocate against biotechnology, corporations and whatever a “factory farm”** is.  In their world only if you are small, organic and sell locally then you are a family farmer. Everyone else is Big Ag and controlled by corporations.

My family farm, that I am 5th generation on, does not fit in their box. It is not small, nor organic and we are a corporation. Often I find myself testifying in the legislature on bills that would directly impact our farm. The people testifying against my position are usually associated with the aforementioned organizations.

If these groups support family farms like they claim, then how can they take the opposite stance of me and other family farmers?

Election Day is two months away. Many campaigns, groups & politicians will say they support family farms. If their definition of family farm is anything other than the fact that it is owned and operated by a family then it is wrong.  Especially if their agenda includes singling out one type of farming method and thus ultimately limits ALL farmers’ choices.

If  you hear “We Support Family Farms” think critically about how the candidate or ballot measure might impact my family farm or others like mine.

There is room for all types of farms, family and otherwise.

Bowers Family Farm

Family photo from a few years ago at our family farm. Four generations pictured.

 

*An “Anti-GMO” campaign is one that advocates for restrictions, bans or labels on biotechnology or genetic engineering. Currently in Oregon there is ballot measure 92 that would require to label food products that contain or may contain ingredients that were produced using genetic engineering. Which I will be sharing more about later.

**Factory farm is a bogus term. There are farms that are vertically integrated, which means they include most, if not all, of the steps between the farm and fork. A factory farm does not exist.

Leave a Comment

Filed under family, Farming, GMOs

Highlights of Harvest 2014

Sorry for the blogging hiatus.  It was a busy Harvest 2014 and the last week drug on about 5 days longer than necessary. Thank you Mother Nature.

Per usual harvest had its ups and downs with weather, breakdowns and yields but overall it was successful.

Here are a few highlights:

Marie Bowers and Fawn Fescue

Selfie with the Combine in Fawn Fescue

Typical 4th of July, view from the tractor cab!

Typical 4th of July, view from the tractor cab!

Team Baler!

Team Baler!

Perfect view of Combining

Perfect view of Combining

Marie Bowers Stagg

Traveling the 45+ miles from one end of the farm to the other!

My imagination is always active, I thought Tosh looked like "The Dust Queen" in this picture!

My imagination is always active, I thought Tosh looked like “The Dust Queen” in this picture!

Future Chinese Food!

Future Chinese Food! Wheat Harvest 2014!

Wheat storage

Gluten Storage

You can’t beat the view from this office!

2014-07-09 20.48.33

2014-07-03 21.20.49-2

2014-07-11 21.05.08-2

2014-07-31 20.12.29-2

1 Comment

Filed under Agriculture, Grass Seed, Oregon

Harvest 2014 is here!

Harvest 2014 is here and the last 10 days have been a blur.

It all started last Friday with cutting Fawn Fescue, which is a forage variety.

Vroom! Cutting fawn fescue #agchat #orag #harvest14

A video posted by Marie Bowers Stagg (@marieb41) on

After that it seemed we jumped into 12-14 hour days immediately.  Which is no big deal, but the first week is always an adjustment.  This week getting home before 10 PM will seem early.

In my usual fashion I also had some other “side” things happening as well.

I hosted an elementary school teacher from Redmond, Oregon. She experienced the farm and spent the night at my house.  This is part of Summer Ag Institute, which is a week-long program through Oregon State University for teachers to learn about Oregon Agriculture while earning credits.

Hopefully I gave her a memorable & educational experience.  She rode with me while I cut the roughest field we have and then we broke down.  The next morning we serviced a windrower* and she helped.  She was a good sport and hopefully enjoyed it all!

Teacher Kim & I after servicing a windrower!

Teacher Kim & I after servicing a windrower!

Most Importantly in the last 10 days… 
I taught my husband how to drive windrower!

Marital Bonding!

Marital Bonding!

This week the combines will start in grass seed and by the end of the week the balers will be rolling!  Harvest 2014 is here and we are ready to go full throttle!!

*A wndrower is also called a swather, they both cut the grass into rows/swaths for the combine to thrash.

Read about when my friend Janice visited our farm!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Farming, Grass Seed

Boss Lady

Just call me “Boss Lady”.

20140609-111944-40784774.jpg

Ok well at least for another week until my parents return from vacation.

I am not sure how other farms operate but on our farm you better be paying attention to what goes on at all times. You may get one lesson on how to do something then be expected to do the job solo with little error.

The last week and a half that has really rung true.  My dad left his brand new sprayer, Rogator 900, in my hands.

My dad loves spraying.  It is his chance to get over every field and really look at the crop thoroughly. I have been the spray truck driver since I’ve returned to the farm.  I help mix chemicals and fill the sprayer.  However, not until last week have I actually sprayed a field solo or really driven the sprayer at all.
br />
20140609-112221-40941244.jpg

Before my dad left he prepared me on when & how to spray our turf type fescue and perennial ryegrass with fungicide.  These grasses are susceptible to Rust, a type of fungus.  Rust can impact the seed quality if it is not prevented or taken care of immediately if found in the field.

As of today I have sprayed over 200 acres by myself.  I’ve never been a naturally straight driver and driving the opening to rounds is somewhat nerve racking. One hundred foot booms can be intimidating, particularly when the edge of the field has trees in it. However after the 1st two rounds auto-steer comes into play, which is awesome.  Slowly but surely I am mastering the art of spraying.

Spraying has been my biggest feat while being boss lady.  Other current farm activities have been weed wiping annual ryegrass out of a baby fescue field, cutting grass hay and baling grass hay. We are also in the process of gearing up for grass seed harvest which starts in about 2 weeks.

With my dad gone we are short handed & limited in knowledge. And needless to say we have been INSANELY busy. However it all has confirmed how much I love farming.  I really cannot imagine doing anything else.

5 Comments

Filed under Farming, Women

Thoughts of Uncertainty about Oregon Agriculture

Our freedom to farm, ranch and forest in Oregon has been eroded at over the last 45 years by legislators and voters swayed by emotional rhetoric not sound facts.  Each law, regulation and ban has challenged our ability to farm, ranch and forest.  We have made the these rules work for us thinking it’ll be the last one.

We have complied with enhanced pesticide regulations, field burning bans, land use restrictions, restricted water use and limited ways to hunt livestock predators.  Not to mention the numerous federal regulations (ESA, CWA) that inhibits the way we manage our farms, ranches and forests.

The most recent mode of action in hindering a farmers ability to farm are crop bans.  In the last regular legislative session, legislators banned the growing of canola.  Just last week in Jackson County, Oregon they banned the growing of all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Farmers should have the ability to choose what crops they grow and how they grow it on their farm. The free market should help decide what’s grown, not legislators and voters who have never had to depend on the land to make their living.

At what point is it all enough? How do we overturn the damage that has already been done?  Or have we started down a slippery slope in which there is no way up?

Related Links: 

3 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Future of Agriculture, Green Agenda

Marie’s 2014 Primary Advice

oregon-votes

Voting is the simplest form of involvement you can have in your community.  With your vote you can help to instigate change.

Oregon primary ballots were mailed out this last week.  They are due by May 20th.   There are important legislative races, county commissioner races and ballot initiatives that will be decided this race.

Sorting through the Mud

There’s a lot of mudslinging that happens in campaigns.  In my opinion, this is part of the reason many voters disengage from the political process.  Candidate bashing and twisting of words gets old quickly for the average person.

Here’s how I sort through it all:

  1. Visit each candidate’s website
  2. Look at their issues and endorsements listed
  3. Know how you prioritize your issues (like farming) and see how the candidate’s position compares
  4. Look for organizations and individuals whose points of view you respect as endorsements (such as AgPAC)
  5. Read their social media sites
  6. Google them

If still unsure….Tweet, facebook, email or call them, most days candidates should respond to you.

Personal Recommendations

These are races or issues I have taken a personal interest in for various reasons.  These recommendations reflect my personal opinions.

  • House District 11 (this is where I live):

Write in: Andrew Petersen and spell it exactly like that.  Let’s get him on the November ballot and give Phil Barnhart a run for his money! Andrew Petersen

  • House District 25

Vote for my friend Bill Post. I started interacting with Bill almost two years ago on his radio show.  I first called in to talk to him about Ending Oregon’s Death Tax.  However since then I have been an avid listener.  I also call in from time to time to talk about important agriculture issues in the legislature. Personally, I think he will bring personality and thoughtfulness to the Oregon Legislature.

  • House District 18

The incumbent, Vic Gilliam should be re-elected.  Vic has had farmers, ranchers and foresters backs in the Oregon Legislature.   His opponent has seemed to take issue with the fact that Vic is supportive of the Driver ID card.

The cards would allow undocumented workers to get a driver license and require they have insurance. Personally, I see this as a safety issue for workers & other drivers on the road.  Vic’s district has constituents with labor intensive farms so it makes sense that he supports it.  The US Congress fails to address farm labor issues so the states have started to step up and address it.

  • Jackson and Josephine Counties

VOTE NO and protect Oregon farmers! Both of these counties have ballot initiative to ban the growing of Genetically Modified Crops (GMOs).  Currently, GMO Corn, alfalfa and sugar beets are grown in the region.  The proponents of these initiatives wish to hinder their competition but making laws on what they can and cannot grow.  In a free market society this is contradictory to the very core.

Other Resources: 

I have opinions on a lot of the races around the state. If you are curious on my stance on one please leave a comment.  My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of any organization I am affiliated with.

5 Comments

Filed under Legislature, Oregon, Politics, Rural

Takeaways from Bundy Ranch

If you are like me you have probably discussed Cliven Bundy’s ranch standoff with the BLM this last week at least once. The Takeaway The Bundy Ranch situation has highlighted some points many of us have been trying to get people to pay attention to for years. Now we just have to make sure those points are heard through the banter.

  • The dangerous overreach of the Endangered Species Act. 

The original dispute started over a tortoise that got listed as an endangered species.  The BLM decided in order to save the tortoise they needed to restrict grazing on ranchers.  According to several reports Bundy was the only rancher left in his area because of his resistance to reduce grazing. Currently environmentalists want to list the Sage Grouse as an endangered species.  This bird has habitat in 11 different Western states.  What will that do to ranchers and grazing if the bird is listed?  Personally, I believe the Sage Grouse is the spotted owl for ranchers and will no doubt mean certain death to an industry.

  • The obscene amount of the land the federal government “owns” in the West. 

It is NOT appropriate for the feds to “own” 53% of Oregon and 85% of Nevada.  The founding fathers never intended for this to happen and the people in charge can sell that land anytime they want.

  • The power radical environmental groups have over our government. 

The Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the BLM if they did not remove Mr. Bundy’s cattle in the last year.  The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) allows non-profits to sue the federal government and if they are successful in their lawsuit their attorney fees are covered by the taxpayers. However, depending on which party is in charge of the government the radical environmental groups have found an easy way to make money.  They use “Sue and Settle” techniques to receive their funding.  We are not talking a couple thousand dollars we are talking millions of dollars.  It is estimated that between 2000-2010 “12 environmental groups had filed more than 3,300 lawsuits over the previous decade, recovering over $37 million in EAJA funds.”  Continuing Action My hope is the people outraged by the BLM’s actions against the Bundys put their passion towards something positive.

If any part of Cliven Bundy’s situation was upsetting to you, I would suggest that you start advocating for reforms on the federal level on the issues I listed above. This is why elections matter. It matters who you vote for at the Federal, State and County levels.  They all have a say in your freedoms and your livelihoods.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

Federal Government dominates land in the West.

Related Links: My friends Carin and Larry have done a nice job of summarizing up the story on their blogs.  Please read them both they give awesome insight.

Karen Budd-Falen, a lawyer in Wyoming, has done extensive research on environmental groups abuse of EAJA

27 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Environmentalists, Politics