This past fall I testified on behalf of a measure at the Oregon State legislature that would distinguish legislative control over what farmers in Oregon can and cannot grow be left at the state level. The reasoning behind the need for seed pre-emption is a lengthy one but comes down in the most simplest terms that there were a few counties who were trying to ban the growing of GMO crops. They were trying to put the burden of enforcement on county governments, who can’t afford the costs that this would bring. But beyond that, they were taking away farmer’s rights to use technology that has been deemed safe time and time again.
The measure was passed in a special session package that was signed into law last fall. The only exception was Jackson county, who had already gotten the signatures required to get a ban on growing GMO crops on their ballot this spring. Here in lies the local issue, a local issue that if passed would not only hurt the county where it passes, it also hurts the farmers who are trying their best and growing safe food for the world while limiting their options for what to grow. Plus this could bring statewide changes, and that is something that as a farmer I don’t want to see.
But the main reason that I bring up this issue is the part that makes me the most frustrated…it’s pitting farmer against farmer. I have heard time and time again from people I know who live in that county, “We heard that the farmers are for this measure.” The truth is that only one part of the farming industry is behind this measure, the ones who are out to destroy conventional farmers who have also been in the area for generations making their living off the land. There is room in agriculture for all types of farmers and it’s going to take ALL OF US to feed this world into the future. So without trying to sound too cliche, why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we work together with our neighbors and figure out how to all coexsits?
I think that this is an issue that won’t be going away soon. With labeling being a huge conversation in the talk of GMO at all levels of government, not to mention state initiatives that are being put on ballots across the country state by state. But let’s not all lose sight of the fact that farmers are out there working their butts off to feed their family, their employee’s families, and people all over the world. So why would we want to limit our ability to do just that by breaking up regulations on a county by county level, or even as a state by state ruling?
You can see what efforts are being made right now by checking out the No on Measure 15-119 facebook page.