“My name is Brenda Frketich and I am a farmer from St. Paul, Oregon….” This is more or less how I always start off when giving legislative testimony. Sometimes I add in information about my husband, our kids, how long we’ve been on the land that we farm. But inevitably it starts something along the lines of my name and that I’m a farmer. About 90% of the time, I go on to say why I’m against a bill that is being brought before the legislature this session. It will cost us more money, it will threaten our ability to farm or our way of life, there are no alternatives and on and on and on.
BUT this session, shockingly enough I have had the opportunity to have my voice heard on two bills (so far) that I support! They were proactive bills, one to make some important changes to the estate tax law here in Oregon for farmers, and the other to help protect our right to fish and hunt. You can read more about these bills here:
But what I wanted to say here today isn’t about those in particular, more about how being on the offense, ahead of the game, felt really good. A little background for this example; HJR 5 would move to have the voters of Oregon decide if hunting and fishing as a right should be in the Oregon constitution or not.
As I am watching the hearing a woman from the Humane Society of the United States gets on and she’s against (big surprise) HRJ 5. And then she says something very interesting, “First we must be clear; there is no actual threat to the right of Oregon to fish, hunt, or harvest wildlife.” So here I am, excited that we finally have a measure that looks ahead and the first thing this woman says, is that it’s invalid because they haven’t directly threatened it. Hey HSUS lady, as a farmer we fight bills all the time where there has been no harm, no foul, no proof, and still we have to fight it! Welcome to the club.
We have to make sure that our defense is strong but also look ahead to how we can be proactive and out in front of these threats that are coming down the line. I’m not complaining here, I truly do enjoy much of my time testifying and working through issues at the state level. It’s just another piece of the puzzle and another reason why I’m excited for the proactive bills that are coming out so far this legislative session and hopefully more in the future.
So while I know it’s easy to get discouraged when it comes to news we hear from Salem, hang in there, there are people working hard to look ahead and work towards some good bills; even for us farmers.