I have been a participant in the legislative process for as long as I have been farming. If you have been following this blog for any small period of time you probably know that very well. And if you’re in Oregon you also know that the legislature is currently in session, with bills piling up, some for and some against agriculture. You probably also know that I’m a mom while being a farmer and advocate. So my time is often prioritized with farming and mom-ing all mixed together.
Yesterday was no different. There is a bill (HB 2488) which would create much more burdensome regulation surrounding the taking of beavers that do damage to our property. Currently you are allowed to take beaver year round without a permit. I will post my testimony below regarding this issue and what it means to me as a landowner and farmer.
But first I want you to watch this hearing in the Committee On Agriculture and Natural Resources. I want you to see what our “transparent and open” legislative process looks like first hand. I’m warning you, it’s not pretty. It’s actually really disturbing. Here is the clip….
Now after seeing that I want to tell you that while I was sitting at home, trying to keep my kids quiet so I could testify when my time came, I was appalled by how Representative Witt handled this entire process. Because I think after watching the video you might agree, that he could have cared less what anyone was saying, he didn’t even have the courtesy to allow the time that HE GAVE TO US to testify!
A panel of three people was given 8 minutes by Rep. Witt. Rep. Davis Brock Smith took 2:45. Now I’m no math genius but I think 8-2:45=5:15 minutes remaining. He proceeds to tell Mary Anne Cooper of the Oregon Farm Bureau (who represents over 6000 farmers and ranchers in Oregon) she has only 30 seconds. Setting aside his own timeline and cutting her by an unconscionable amount of time. Then you will see at the end he said that 4 people could testify, each for one minute.
Math Genius here again….
2×1=2. Two people spoke, and two were missing.
4-2=2 minutes remaining.
And instead of asking the next two people on his list if they would like the opportunity to take that time, we were all silenced by the swift hitting of the gavel. Hearing closed.
Even after it closed another Representative Jami Cate asked that we revisit the public testimony, which she would like to hear more on this issue. And was answered with, “no.”
I have been in the Capital and felt “unheard”. I have testified and been cut off for going too long. I have been not believed and publicly told so. But never have I ever seen such a mismanagement of the public process. I was there ready to take my minute to say my piece and I am allowed to; Mary Anne Cooper was there to stand up for farmers and ranchers across Oregon for who this is a very big issue. And yet we were all silenced in such a disrespectful and unprofessional manner.
If you didn’t think minds were already made up in this process then watch that video again. If you time it, proponents of the bill received 10 minutes, while opponents received 5.5 minutes and were constantly interrupted to tell them their time was over. Half the time….that’s how much weight was put on our testimony, half. Not one person, proponent or opponent should be happy with what they see. Not one person should watch that and not see a sham of a public hearing. What a joke.
Here is my testimony. Here is my voice on my own blog because due to a complete disregard for the public process that is our current legislature, it will never be heard as public testimony.
CHAIR WITT AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE
My name is Brenda Frketich and I own a diversified and sustainable farm in St. Paul. I am asking you to oppose HB 2844.
Beaver management is critical to maintaining my farm infrastructure, protecting my crops such as hazelnuts and poplars, preventing flooding, and maintaining roads.
My opposition to higher and over burdensome regulation surrounding these rodents is for two reasons; first the extensive damage that they cause and secondly because there is an abundant population.
The damage that is caused by beavers is extensive on our farm. We grow poplar and hazelnut trees. Both of which receive damage when beavers move into the area. They take entire trees of any size to make their dams. Not only do they destroy actual crop, they also in turn destroy cropland. The dams that are built create an enormous amount of flooding in a very short time. This takes away working farm land and can also destroy our drainage ditches. If there happens to be a roadway or culvert through this area, these areas can be made impassible.
The control measures that I take as a landowner are not for sport, hunting or recreation. They are purely to protect my land from the damage that these rodents do. When beavers show up, they can do damage quickly, so I need to take care of them as efficiently as possible. Adding more burdensome regulation seems like just the first step in a slippery slope to stopping my ability to protect my property.
There is an abundant population of beavers in Oregon, and there is no science at all to show anything different. You can trust me, someone who lives and works in the areas where these beavers live, or you can put on your boots and come see for yourself on my farm, but I can assure you the population is nothing but healthy and thriving. Which is why our ability to control the population in problem areas is a priority for us.
I am urging a no vote on HB 2844. As a farmer and landowner I need to be able to control rodents (and beavers are scientifically a rodent) when they are doing damage to my farm and crops. I need to be able to control them in a timely manner within the current regulations in Oregon. There is no shortage of beavers, and no need for more protections. Thank you for your time on this important issue.