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State report tracks economic, demographic change in rural Oregon

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The “Timber Belt” running from Northern California up through Oregon and into Washington sustained an economic collapse and population loss similar to the “Rust Belt” and “Corn Belt” of the Midwest, but its recovery has been entirely different, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

In a new report on demographic and economic trends unfolding in rural Oregon, state analysts detail pockets of resurgence, surprisingly hopeful statistics and unanswered questions of what comes next.

“All along the Timber Belt, people keep moving in” at a pace just as strong as the migration to urban centers such as Portland, state economists Mark McMullen and Joshua Lehner wrote.

“In general, these incoming migrants are different than the households moving out,” the analysts wrote. “Much of the time they are older and relocate to rural Oregon as they retire or reduce their work hours.”

The new residents of rural Oregon bring a “lifetime of experience” and wealth, “often in the form of California home equity,” McMullen and Lehner wrote.

“Figuring out how best to exploit the Timber Belt’s strong influx of retirees should be a top priority given such individuals are voting with their feet, in essence, saying they want to live in the area and be a part of the community,” the analysts said. “Overall this is certainly a good thing.”

Rural Oregon loses population during the “root setting” years of ages 25 to 34, when young adults are establishing careers, starting families and buying homes, the report said. Unlike most of rural America, however, Oregon is offsetting those losses with older migrants.

But for the young adults who stay in rural Oregon, McMullen and Lehner said statistics show children raised in rural Oregon, especially Eastern Oregon, have a good chance of succeeding in life.

Harvard University’s Equality of Opportunity Project found that a rural Oregon child born at the bottom income level had a strong probability of reaching the top level as an adult, the authors said. Among more than 700 communities nationwide, the Oregon towns of Burns, Condon, Enterprise, John Day and Lakeview were among the top third in fostering such success, according to McMullen and Lehner.

Bruce Weber, director of the Rural Studies Program at Oregon State University, said the state analysis is “insightful.”

If the “boom and bust” nature of rural economies “creates an environment in which children grow up with different expectations and different levels of investment in education, these could also reduce upward mobility,” Weber said in an email.

Meanwhile, economic recovery in Oregon has pockets of success and stagnation.

While Portland and its suburbs are popping again, most of rural Oregon has not recovered the jobs lost in the recession, the authors said. An exception is the Columbia River Gorge, which the analysts said has benefited from three major trends.

First, agriculture remains strong, mainly fruit, and higher commodity prices helped local farmers. Second, wind farm construction provided investment and jobs from 2007 to 2011, which included the depth of the recession. Last, the unmanned aerial vehicle industry — drones — has grown dramatically over the past decade. Insitu, a major drone manufacturer, is headquartered in Bingen, Wash., across the Columbia from Hood River.

“A large portion of such jobs are on the Washington side of the Columbia River, however the economic and population base in the gorge is on the Oregon side, where much of the consumer spending occurs,” McMullen and Lehner wrote.

Although not cited by name in the state report, Hermiston, in Umatilla County, rode out the recession to become the biggest and fastest growing city in Eastern Oregon.

In Hermiston’s case, a strong agricultural sector is a stabilizing base for the economy, City Manager Byron Smith said.

“However you want to phrase it, people still need to have food,” he said. “A lot of our economy is based on that, either the actual production or the processing of agricultural products.”

Hermiston farmers grow potatoes, onions, melons and multiple types of other irrigated vegetables. The area has several food processing plants, and attracted a DuPont Pioneer corn seed research station.

Finally, the city diversified its economy through growth in the transportation and logistics sector. Wal-Mart has a distribution center in Hermiston, and FedEx and UPS also have facilities in the area.

“That’s another piece of the economy that does well for us,” Smith said.


See the Rural Oregon analysis at https://oregoneconomicanalysis.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/rural-oregon-2015.pdf

OSU session highlights tools sized for Oregon’s small farms

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Oregon’s small urban farms have an out-sized place on the state’s agricultural landscape, but operators sometimes have trouble finding affordable implements that fit into tight spots and meet city sensibilities.

A Sept. 22 workshop at Oregon State University in Corvallis highlights tools specifically developed or revised for small-scale farms. The tools range from battery-powered tillers — with solar recharging panels — to hand carts with adjustable wheelbases that can expand or retract to match the width of crop rows.

The event includes an equipment showcase and demonstrations, a presentation on ergonomics, tool maintenance and sharpening and a panel discussion.

Businesses taking part include Green Heron Tools, Slow Hand Farm, BCS America, Johnny’s Tools, I Tech Designs and Carts & Tools. An OSU Small Farms Extension news release said people should bring in their hoes, pruners and blades for sharpening at $4 to $12 a tool.

Engineering students from OSU will attend and listen for senior project ideas.

Michael McGowen, whose Carts & Tools business in Corvallis was featured previously in the Capital Press, favors that sort of collaboration.

“I always felt like it was a good fit — agriculture and engineering,” he said. “OK, let’s get the two sides talking and working with each other.”

The event happens Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, 844 SW 35th St., Corvallis.

Registration is $25. To register, or for more information, visit http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/smallequip or call the Benton County Extension office, 541-766-3556.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted 9,119 Oregon farms of one- to nine acres. Many small-scale farmers, especially new or beginning producers, either can’t afford standard or don’t need the size, fuel use and noise of standard farm equipment.

Funding for the workshop comes in part from the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, under the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Dairy expansion proposals stir controversy

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALEM — Expansion plans at several Oregon dairies have caused a backlash among vegans and animal rights activists, but farm regulators lack the authority to consider many of their objections.

Likewise, the Oregon Department of Agriculture can’t do much about dairy industry concerns that publicly disclosed regulatory filings will expose farms to trespassing and vandalism.

As mandated by the federal Clean Water Act, the agency issued a public notice in June that five dairies are seeking to change their animal waste management plans.

Wym Matthews, manager of ODA’s Confined Animal Feeding Operation program, said such notices are fairly routine, but this one was somewhat unusual because four of the five dairies want to expand their herds.

After an article in Salem’s Statesman Journal described these plans, the agency received enough requests for a public hearing that one was scheduled for Sept. 2.

Previously, such hearing requests were rare, Matthews said. “I think the interest is new.”

Several of the people requesting a hearing identified themselves as vegan, he said.

The ODA can only consider comments that relate directly to whether the waste management changes conform with the Clean Water Act, not overall opposition to animal agriculture or CAFOs as being abusive, he said.

“The permit doesn’t regulate animal cruelty,” Matthews said.

The ODA also can’t consider comments that endorse particular management systems, such as organic or pasture-raised, he said.

Many of the comments made during the Sept. 2 hearing appeared to fall outside of the ODA’s purview, as they opposed CAFO expansion generally without identifying specific problems with the proposed waste management plans.

Some commenters mentioned antibiotics, which the agency does not regulate as a pollutant.

“They end up in the meat, in the manure and in the waterways,” said Niko Morozov, a college student.

Others objected to the amount of water used to produce milk, which also isn’t regulated under the Clean Water Act.

Nick Shipley, another college student, claimed dairy water use is excessive.

“Is milk really worth it?” he said.

The issue of animal welfare was also brought up.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t treat animals the way we do and have massive mega-farms,” said Laurel Hines. “My opposition is to the large farms, the farms that aren’t organic.”

Gavin Curtis expressed dismay with the practice of culling young calves for “bob veal.”

“These two- to three-day-old babies are torn from their mothers and then slaughtered,” he said.

During a July meeting of an advisory group for the CAFO program, some livestock industry representatives expressed worries that information contained in the waste management plans, such as the farm’s location and layout, will expose dairies to retaliation from activists.

Dairy and agriculture representatives later said a Statesman Journal article mischaracterized their comments as trying to hide information from the public.

Tami Kerr, executive director of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, said they were simply worried about private information being misused and not about the contents of the waste management plans becoming public.

“We were asking questions and expressing concern for our producers,” Kerr said. “We’re not trying to hide anything. I’m a big fan of transparency.”

While ODA can redact confidential business information — such as financial data or experimental water treatment systems with patents pending — the bulk of these plans must be publicly disclosed under the Clean Water Act, Matthews said.

“We’re required to by law,” he said.

With a high tunnel, an urban farm has high hopes

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND — The Cully neighborhood isn’t one of Portland’s celebrated areas, yet. Crime, poverty and neglected properties leave it a bit rough around the edges.

But an influx of self-described “homesteaders,” not hipsters, is transforming the Northeast Portland neighborhood into a hotbed of urban farming. The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen, founded by chef-turned-farmer Stacey Givens, is an example of that.

On an acre that once held an abandoned house, garbage and blackberry vines, Givens grows culinary herbs and organic vegetables for 14 high-end Portland restaurants, runs a catering business and hosts “nomadic” suppers for like-minded chefs, foodies and other friends.

Givens, who farms two other reclaimed city lots within a couple miles, said the business is making a profit.

“We’re doing pretty good, I have to say,” she said.

She has an unexpected partner in the venture: the USDA’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service. Using a $2,200 grant from NRCS, Givens purchased and installed a “high tunnel” hoop house on her newest site, at Northeast 48th Avenue and Simpson Street. The tunnel extends her growing season.

“I started tomatoes at least a month before I usually do,” Givens said. This winter, she expects to continue herb and vegetable production under cover.

Providing such direct, on-the-ground help is an intentional policy shift by NRCS. Since 2008, the agency has helped farmers install 139 high tunnels in Oregon, at a program cost of $830,000. Funding comes from the Farm Bill.

Extending the growing season in Oregon can conserve energy by perhaps reducing the amount of produce trucked into the state from California, said Dean Moberg, an NRCS basin resource conservationist for the Northern Willamette Valley and Northern Oregon Coast.

The grant program is open to all sizes of commercial food producers but specifically benefits smaller, diverse forms of agriculture that haven’t benefited from USDA programs in the past, Moberg said.

“That’s exactly it,” he said. “We’ve all seen the growing trend to local food production” such as farmers markets, CSA subscription farming and grocery stores aligning with local growers.

“The general public is more and more interested in where their food comes from, and they want to buy fresh, local food,” Moberg said.

Farmers can find a niche in local food systems, he said.

“Many of them are smaller operations, family oriented, and lot of them are new farmers, people who didn’t grow up on farms,” he said.

“And some of them are urban — it’s kind of a cool thing.”

The program isn’t for someone who wants to put a high tunnel in their backyard, Moberg said. Grant recipients must be involved in commercial food production; it’s not for people growing nursery plants, housing livestock or sheltering machinery. “It’s oriented to growing food in the ground,” he said.

Farmers who are interested in the grant program should contact their local USDA service center.

For Givens, the Side Yard Farm & Kitchen owner, the high tunnel solidifies her business and its connection with some of Portland’s top chefs.

The high tunnel is filled with tomatoes this summer, but she grows unusual herbs such as Rau Ram, a Vietnamese coriander, and purple Shiso, a relative of the mint family used in Japanese cooking. She grows cilantro, allows it to bolt, and sells the green seeds to chefs at $20 per small container.

In Portland’s edgy, experimental restaurant scene, it’s a ready market.

“It’s crazy,” Givens said with a laugh. “A lot of chefs I used to work with say, ‘Plant me this.’

“To me, herbs are everything.”

OSU ag college recruiting for multiple faculty, staff positions

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Flush with a splash of money from the Legislature after multiple lean years, Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences plans to hire up to 40 people by the fall of 2016.

First on the list are an Extension dairy specialist to work in the mid-Willamette Valley and a livestock and rangeland specialist to work in Morrow and Umatilla counties.

The two are among 19 faculty positions that will be filled by 2016; some positions are new and some involve replacement hires. Up to 21 full- or part-time support staff positions will be filled as well.

The hiring is due to the Oregon Legislature approving a $14 million budget increase for the College of Agricultural Sciences for the 2015-17 biennium. The funding increased the college’s budget to $118 million, according to OSU.

Dean Dan Arp said being able to hire faculty is a welcome change from the past few years. The college will undoubtedly be competing against other schools for the best talent, he said.

Both positions are assistant professorships within the college’s Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences.

The Willamette Valley dairy position hasn’t been filled for several years, Arp said. The fact that it’s one of the first to be filled with the additional funding coincides with the rebuild of the dairy program on campus.

In 2012, the dairy was shut down after cow manure leaked into a nearby creek. The program was fined nearly $7,000 and was forced to sell its herd of 120 animals while making repairs.

The dairy is back up and running, however, and among other things sells milk to the fermentation center on campus, which makes cheese.

The dairy search committee is headed by Troy Downing, an Extension dairy specialist based in Tillamook County on the Oregon Coast. Downing said he’s “thrilled” to see OSU add someone to work with dairies in Marion, Polk and other Willamette Valley counties.

Other OSU staff work with dairies as part of their duties, but due to attrition, Downing said he is the only full-time dairy specialist.

“The dairy industry has been served with very few people,” he said. “Really what’s been missing is someone to focus energy on the substantial dairy industry in the Willamette Valley.”

Downing said the dairy industry has been “extremely supportive” of OSU’s program.

Industry issues that deserve attention include animal welfare, wast management, soil fertility and workforce training, he said.

Washington and Oregon defend EPA’s new water rule

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Washington and Oregon have joined five other states and the District of Columbia in coming to the defense of the new federal Clean Water Rule.

Twenty-eight states have challenged the rule, which redefines waters regulated by the federal Clean Water Act.

The opposing states, including Idaho, argue the rule would go beyond what Congress intended.

The pro-rule coalition, led by New York, argues the rule is based on sound science and will ensure uniform enforcement in all 50 states.

“Nationwide pollution controls protect downstream states from pollution originating outside their borders,” according to their brief filed Aug. 28 in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. “They serve to prevent the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ that might result if jurisdictions could compete for industry and development by allowing more water pollution than their neighboring states.”

The other states joining in the brief are Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont. The filing asks the court to grant the states intervenor status in 14 separate petitions against the rule.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation randomly picked the 6th Circuit Court to hear challenges to the rule, which have been field in several jurisdictions. The court rules on cases originating in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

Nevertheless, a U.S. District Court judge in North Dakota, part of the 8th Circuit Court, granted an injunction Aug. 27 delaying the rule’s implementation in at least 13 states, including Idaho. Judge Ralph Ericksen is expected to make a further ruling on whether he intends the injunction to apply to all 50 states.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asserts the rule into effect as scheduled Aug. 28 in the other 37 states, including Washington and Oregon.

Ericksen agreed with opponents of the rule that it greatly extended the Clean Water Act, expanding its reach to intermittent streams removed from navigable waterways. In granting the injunction, Ericksen said it was likely the rule’s opponents would prevail in a trial.

Bank claims ownership of radish seeds in cover crop dispute

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

An out-of-state bank claims that it owns radish seeds grown by more than 40 Oregon farms for a cover crop company that has not paid them.

Since March, numerous growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley have filed grain producers’ liens against Cover Crop Solutions, claiming the Pennsylvania company owes about $6.2 million for radish seeds.

Such liens provide farmers with collateral in the event of a company’s bankruptcy filing.

Growers have said the company is apparently suffering financial difficulties due to an oversupply of radish seed in the market due to weather problems in the Midwest last year.

Northwest Bank of Warren, Pa., is now pursuing a lawsuit against farms that have filed liens, claiming that Cover Crop Solutions defaulted on a $7.2 million loan and that the bank’s security interest in the radish seeds supersedes that of the growers.

The bank is seeking to block the farms from moving or selling the crops off-site or taking back seeds that they have already delivered to cleaners.

At this point, a federal judge has denied two motions for temporary restraining orders filed by Northwest Bank, which is still pursuing a preliminary injunction. A hearing on that motion is set for Oct. 5.

Attorneys for the farms oppose a preliminary injunction against moving or selling the seed, arguing it’s prone to losing value due to the “short window” in which the radish seeds can be sold as a cover crop.

“If the price of the seed is depressed as a result of missing this market window, plaintiff’s interests will be harmed. No party would ultimately benefit,” the farms said in a court filing. “By contrast, if defendants are allowed to sell the seed now, then the value of the seed will be maximized.”

Because other farmers in the Eastern U.S. must plant cover crops in the fall, there’s only 30-45 days remaining to sell the radish seeds, the growers claim.

“Adverse market conditions could cause an immediate change in the market value of the seed reducing the value of the seed from over $1.15 per pound to $.25-$.40 per pound,” according to a court filing by the farms.

The farms argue that a preliminary injunction is unjustified because the bank won’t suffer irreparable harm if the seeds are sold, since the fundamental dispute is about money and not the crop itself.

“The best solution would be a business solution where the seed gets sold,” said Jill Foster, an attorney representing the growers.

The farms are assembling a team of litigators to prepare legal arguments countering the bank’s position, she said.

Northwest Bank’s case is “based on a misunderstanding of Oregon’s applicable agricultural lien statute,” so they shouldn’t be stopped from selling it, the growers said in a court filing.

If the preliminary injunction is granted, the bank should be required to post a $4 million bond to compensate the growers for their losses if they prevail in court, their attorneys argue.

In Northwest Bank’s complaint, the company claims it has filed the proper forms to “perfect” its collateral interest in the seeds while the farms have not.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney for Northwest Bank or the CEO of Cover Crop Solutions.

Fishing Report

Langlois News from The World Newspaper -

Local lakes: Anglers are still reporting good largemouth bass and panfish fishing along the South Coast. Two anglers recently had success catching largemouth bass on Floras Lake just south of …

Nurseries told to stop overwhelming consumers with info

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Nurseries should avoid inundating consumers with details about ornamental plants, as this information often discourages would-be gardeners from buying, according to a major nursery company.

Monrovia Nursery, a California-based producer with multiple growing locations, decided to forgo its usual advertising efforts last year to instead focus on consumer research.

The company gave study participants $300 in cash to spend on plants and then tracked their shopping activities, eventually compiling 6,000 hours of video.

One observation was made repeatedly: Overly complicated explanations by workers and on signs detracted from sales, said Jonathan Pedersen, the company’s vice president of business development.

“Many times we’re talking over the tops of their heads,” he said. “It’s turning them off. It’s overwhelming.”

It’s much better to keep it simple, particularly for shoppers who are focused on the appearance of their yard rather than receiving a lesson in horticulture, Pedersen said.

“Your dedicated gardener isn’t looking at this stuff anyway. They already know it,” he said.

Monrovia is taking its own advice by changing its labels, relying on icons that describe plant features — such as water and sun requirements — instead of lengthy written descriptions, he said at the recent Farwest Show in Portland.

Nurseries can also improve sales by showing consumers how to combine trees, shrubs and perennials for quick, easy projects that take a couple hours rather than the entire weekend, Pedersen said.

In the course of its research, Monrovia broke plant consumers into four distinct groups:

• Practical: These consumers comprise the largest group, representing about 45.9 percent of the surveyed shoppers, and they’re generally outcome-oriented and want plants that are easy to maintain.

• Dedicated: This group represents about 25.8 percent of shoppers and is basically the lifeblood of the nursery industry. However, dedicated gardeners are more likely to buy smaller, less expensive plants and then cultivate them. “They like getting their hands dirty,” Pedersen said.

• Zen: Representing about 15.8 percent of shoppers, this group tends to be younger and less price-conscious. They are more impulsive buyers and see gardening as a way to reconnect with the earth. They’re also more concerned about pollinators and neonicotinoid pesticides.

• Apprehensive: This segment represents the 12.5 percent of consumers who are afraid of failure and don’t enjoy gardening but feel social pressure to have at least some ornamental plants.

Monrovia has traditionally been focused on dedicated gardeners, but believes it can make in-roads by reaching out to practical and Zen shoppers as well, Pedersen said. “We need to tell them how much fun gardening can be.”

Over the long term, the nursery industry faces headwinds because household formation is expected to slow, he said. “Kids are staying in the family nest because of college debt.”

Big box retailers and other plant-selling outlets have reduced their growth and the nursery industry’s “penetration” of households has declined, he said. Last year, only 42 percent of households bought plants.

“Our product is not in as many households as we think it is,” Pedersen said. “People aren’t putting in the plants like they used to.”

For these reasons, the nursery industry must find new distribution channels — online, for example — and update its claims about the benefits of gardening to attract a younger audience, he said.

In one case study, improvements in the display of plants increased sales by 30 percent, said Carol Miller, group editor of Today’s Garden Center and Greenhouse Grower magazines.

Nurseries often rely on horizontal presentations in which plants are too crowded, she said. “How do you get started? All you see is green.”

Vertical displays are more eye-catching, and by including bags of soil and other items in plant presentations, nurseries can break up that monotonous appearance, she said. “If it’s all flat, it’s not going to be as pleasing.”

Crews make progress on large wildfire near John Day

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Evacuation warnings remain for those threatened by a wildfire south of John Day, but mild weather helped crews fighting the blaze that has burned 165 square miles and destroyed 43 homes.

Fire spokeswoman Stacey Weems says crews made good progress on priority hot spots Monday. Firefighters on the southeast part of the fire completed a burnout along the Strawberry Wilderness boundary and plan to start mopping up Tuesday.

On the northeast, firefighters used dozers to complete a control line around a hot spot that flared just outside the perimeter. Hotshot crews, meanwhile, scouted the eastern flank to assess options for a direct attack.

The fire is 49 percent contained, but Weems says that figure could soon jump considerably.

Though wind gusts of up to 35 mph were expected Tuesday evening, much cooler weather is on the way. From Wednesday through Sunday, the forecast calls for high temperatures in the 60s and low 70s.

Crews make progress on large wildfire near John Day

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Evacuation warnings remain for those threatened by a wildfire south of John Day, but mild weather helped crews fighting the blaze that has burned 165 square miles and destroyed 43 homes.

Fire spokeswoman Stacey Weems says crews made good progress on priority hot spots Monday. Firefighters on the southeast part of the fire completed a burnout along the Strawberry Wilderness boundary and plan to start mopping up Tuesday.

On the northeast, firefighters used dozers to complete a control line around a hot spot that flared just outside the perimeter. Hotshot crews, meanwhile, scouted the eastern flank to assess options for a direct attack.

The fire is 49 percent contained, but Weems says that figure could soon jump considerably.

Though wind gusts of up to 35 mph were expected Tuesday evening, much cooler weather is on the way. From Wednesday through Sunday, the forecast calls for high temperatures in the 60s and low 70s.

Prize-winning state fair steer to go to food bank

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Now that his stint at the Oregon State Fair is over, a prize-winning steer will soon be feeding the needy.

The Salem Statesman-Journal reports that Cascade High School students have been raising the steer, named Red Box, with the intention to donate his beef to the Marion-Polk Food Share, where it will head to a food bank so they can give back to their neighbors.

Red Box weighs 1,070 pounds, and students say they expect him to be larger when he’s butchered Sept. 23. They are fundraising for another $200 to offset the cost of getting his beef U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected.

Red Box was crowned grand champion feeder calf at the Marion County Fair. He took third place in the market steer class against other student groups showing at the Oregon State Fair.

FFA officers answer public’s questions at state fair

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALEM — Ag youth at its best was on display opening day at the 150th annual Oregon State Fair.

While 4-H Club and FFA exhibitors worked with their animals in the stalls, pens and show rings, the 2015 FFA officers positioned themselves up front in an information booth and orchestrated much of the action.

They arrived before the fair started to help exhibitors move into the barns and they will stay after it’s over to help exhibitors move out.

They were there to answer questions from the public and sent runners to the nearby FFA staff trailer if they didn’t have the answer.

“Our focus this year is to help educate the public about FFA and its youth in the future of agriculture,” Luis Mendoza, state FFA president, said. “We are doing a lot of that here in our information booth here in the barn. We are also getting some new chapters started like reopening one at McKay High School in Salem and a new one in Portland that is excited about developing a rooftop garden project.”

Mendoza said about 330 exhibitors from the 35 to 40 FFA chapters are involved in the fair this year who are showing an average of two to three animals each. In addition, 20 members are competing in tractor driving, 20 in livestock judging and another 10 in horse judging.

“These exhibitors are proud to show off their hard work on their projects and they love earning and taking home the champion ribbons to prove it,” Emily Krazberger, associate director of Oregon FFA programs, said. “We’re all really proud of our state FFA officers for doing a great job of coordinating everything. They are extremely passionate about the future of agriculture and it shows in everything they do. They are doing a great job representing agriculture.”

The National FFA Organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

For more information

Call 541-737-2395 or email Emily@oregonffa.com.

Oregon firefighters helped by lighter winds, cooler temperatures

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Crews fighting a large, home-wrecking wildfire south of John Day, Oregon, caught a break as cooler weather, lighter winds and even a bit of rain helped them get ahead of the flames.

John Kennedy is the planning operations section chief on the Canyon Creek Complex, which has destroyed more than 40 homes and burned 158 square miles since Aug. 12.

Strong winds got the weekend off to a difficult start, but Kennedy says Sunday’s change in the weather gave firefighters a chance to “close doors on the fire.”

The forecast calls for mild temperatures all week, with highs in the low-to-mid 80s Monday and Tuesday and then no more than 70 degrees through Saturday.

Firefighters were able to connect control lines on the southeast corner of the fire, and Kennedy says the western and southern portions of the massive blaze are now mostly in a monitor and patrol status.

Overall, the wildfire was about 50 contained Monday morning. Nearly 1,000 people are battling it.


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