I was sitting in a hearing on SB 633 a few weeks ago. I was sitting there knowing that my testimony was “right”, that I was going to make legislators see why this is so important to “me” and “my farm”. After I felt as though I had did just that during my testimony, Barry Bushue Oregon Farm Bureau President got up and pretty much blew me out of the water. Not in the way of making me look bad or anything, we really had very different content in what we were saying and the points we were making. But he did make me feel like at this particular issue I had completely forgotten one major piece, that even if we are organic growers, non-GMO or GMO growers, conventional, sustainable, whatever type of farm we chose to cultivate, in the end we are all still farmers.
I realized that I all too often forget that we have enough risks with the weather effecting our crops, or markets changing and being unpredictable, the price of fertilizer going up and down, all these things are hard enough to deal with…why do we have to go and fight each other in the legislature just to protect ourselves from the “enemy”? Remember they are still farmers!! In Barry’s testimony he talked about how allowing seed to be regulated at only the state and federal level doesn’t exclude people from farming, it doesn’t put a line in the sand about who can and can’t farm in areas. In reality it might just bring people together, neighbors to the table, to talk over coffee instead of law books about how to work together and farm on common borders.
This may be an over simplification of a very large issue here in Oregon. But I think that many times we get so far past simple, our passion reaches in front of our brains and moves beyond any place where a compromise or any sort of “coexistence” could ever exist. I was listening to an agricultural economist a few years back and he said that the thing that makes him the most upset about organic is that many times the organic marketing scheme is just trying to make money on the backs of conventional farms, it’s an us or them mentality! This makes me sick to my stomach because on and on I see the truth in what he was saying and how important the point that Barry was trying to make needs to stay at the front of my head and my arguments. We don’t need more marketing showing how evil GMO’s are and how angelic organic is, because that is not the reality!! The message should be that conventional and organic are just two ways to go about bringing food into the world, both are necessary and both are important, both should be treasured parts of Oregon’s future! Remember we’re all just a bunch of farmers, we’re all trying to make ends meet, and we’re all dedicated to bringing healthy food to tables in our own homes and around the world!