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County Road Safety, House Bill 3213

20 Apr

Next Wednesday (4/24/19) at 5pm there will be a hearing at the capitol on House Bill 3213.  I’m asking for support…here’s why:

As a farmer you can imagine that I live in a fairly rural area.  That said, I’m also only 30 minutes south of Portland, and 30 miles north of Salem.  We are faced with an urban and rural collision, literally and figuratively on our country roadways from folks going through our area to get to and from work.  The problem comes from those who drive freeway speeds on country roads, people who don’t know the turns in the road, or folks who don’t understand how to drive around farm equipment that is going super slow on a 55mph road.

As a volunteer EMT and firefighter I have seen my fair share of accidents on these roads.  Some where folks walked away, many where they didn’t.  Some were due to high speeds, some were due to passing in no passing zones, some were where people were trying to pass a tractor and misjudged the whole scenario.  All of these I don’t take lightly, so the discussion around road safety from a farming perspective is always high on my list, from a rural community member it’s also right up there.

For example, a road just north of where I grew up, which is in our fire district, has seen 10 fatal crashes since last summer.  Let  that sink in.  More than a person a month has died on that road, now coined, “Death Road”.  So what can we do?  The discussion brought a few of us rural community members to the idea of allowing for this roadway to be considered in the program of “Safety Corridors”.  Unfortunately the idea was brought to a halt when it was realized that only state run highways could fall under that program.

So here’s the fix….or at least the step in the right direction….Many thanks to Representative Shelly Boshart Davis who introduced House Bill 3213, which would allow for counties to also handle and maintain safety corridors within the same program that ODOT currently uses.  It’s a process in which a community can lobby to get their road designated.  Once the designation comes, you get signage that goes along with safety corridors and also all traffic tickets automatically double in this corridor.

My hope is that this will enable us out here on the county roads to give other folks who are just driving through a second thought to their speed.  It will help folks realize that this is not the place to pass on a double yellow line, this is not the place to drive 91 mph, this is not the place to go on auto pilot and not pay attention.  And if they don’t realize that, then I hope they are caught red handed and hit in the pocket book.

If you’re interested in supporting this bill I urge you write to your legislator or email support testimony to jct.exhibits@oregonlegislature.gov.  And of course if you have any questions please let me know!

FarmHer April 12th, 6:30pm

8 Apr

Hey everyone, some exciting news!  Last fall I hosted the FarmHer team out on the farm and the episode they filmed will be airing this coming Friday April 12th, 6:30pm! Below is the press release from the FarmHer team….

FarmHer Follows Women in Agriculture from Washington to Louisiana in the 2nd Half of Season Three

(NASHVILLE, TENN. — Apr. 5, 2019) FarmHer is back with new episodes on RFD-TV.
Meet a helicopter pilot who crafts Artisan cheeses, head to the hops capital of the U.S. and witness a woman who thought she would never walk again, ranch with all her might. The network’s original series highlights another powerful group of women in its
3rd season with host Marji Guyler-Alaniz at the helm. FarmHer airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. EST on RFD-TV.

Season 3: Episodes 19: Oregon FarmHer Harvests Piles of Grass Seed & Hazelnuts
Friday, April 12, 2019 at 9:30 p.m. ET
When dust settles on Brenda Frketich’s farm, there are piles of hazelnuts. Take in this year’s harvest in Oregon while learning about another top Pacific Northwest crop: turfgrass.

Here are also a few sneak peak videos to check out while you’re anxiously (at least I am anxious) waiting for the episode this Friday.

We had a wonderful time showing this great crew around the farm here in St. Paul.  I have always said that our doors are always open and this was a wonderful way to bring the farm into living rooms across the US.  It airs on RFDTV, click the link below to find that channel in your area!
http://www.rfdtv.com/link/649370/find-us-in-your-area

Don’t have RFD-TV?  No problem…..
On demand service can be found a bunch of different ways including Roku and Amazon Fire. The apps are either “RFD Country Club” or “Rural TV”.

Some of those apps allow you to sign up for a specific category “Rural Lifestyle” for just $2.99 a month and that’s where you can find FarmHer. You can cancel anytime.

Or you can sign up for full on demand service RFD-TV Country Club at rfdcc.com. It has a monthly fee, but with no contract, so you can cancel anytime.

Questions….as always, just ask!!

 

Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time???

18 Mar

Now if you thought about the Oregon legislature you might not immediately think about the debate on Daylight Savings time versus Standard Time.  But currently that is a discussion being held in Salem.  And you also might not think it’s a “hot topic” but it is proving that people have some very strong opinions about what the time on the clock reads when the sun comes up.  And I also fall under that category as someone who does care one way or the other.

  1. It’s not because “I feel tired” two days a year (let’s be honest I have three kids, I am tired all the time)
  2. It’s not just because I like my late summer evenings (I’m usually in a field until dark anyway)
  3. It’s not because I personally am a farmer (because as many of you will say in your heads while I’m writing this…”You’re a farmer don’t you just work when it’s light no matter what the time says?!”)

The bills currently moving through the House and the Senate address changing Oregon’s time to year round Daylight Savings time.  Which is the time that we are currently on as we “sprung forward” into spring.  Currently we are only on Standard Time about four months out of the year, November through mid-March.  So why the heck would I be against this?  For two reasons.

  1. My kids safety to school in the dark on a bus for 30 minutes.
  2. Our employees and their work out in the fields during those months.

So reason number one is a pretty personal one.  Our son Hoot will be in all day kindergarten next year and will jump on the bus at the farm around 7:15 and arrive at school at 7:45am.  During those four months, that entire trip will be in pitch blackness.  Not to mention some of the days the view out the school window would also be dark until almost an hour into the actual school day.  And I get that even if we didn’t change he would have days where it wasn’t super bright and sunny while he rode into town for school, but it would be for way less days than if we changed to Daylight Savings through those winter months.

And reason number two…I’m an employer.  So as the “farmer” yes my husband and I work often without looking at the clock.  But when it comes to the folks who work for us, that’s a different story.  Our employees are asked to work 7 days a week often 14-16 hours days all summer.  And you know what that does for family time in the summer?  It rarely exists.  So these winter months are their time to have a set schedule at work.  To get off at a reasonable hour, often at the same time as their families so they can have a good quality of life at home.  This is important to us.  But if we change to DST year round, our employees won’t have the time outside in the orchards pruning.  This time will be cut short by an hour, or I will have to ask them to work until 6pm all winter, cutting into that family time.  If I don’t have them work until 6pm we will lose about 2-3 weeks of outside time per employee.  When it comes to pruning, we are often in the orchards until nuts are forming on the branches, so basically until the time comes when it will do more harm than good to get the job done.  I have real concerns over how much time we loose doing our jobs outside during the winter.

And this goes beyond pruning.  We also rogue out weeds, spot spray, mouse bait by hand in the fields, all during these winter months.

So there you go, that is why some of us farmers are against this change.  And believe me if Washington and California decide to change, that puts us sort of (or literally) in the middle of a time zone, and I understand that we would more than likely be forced to follow suit.  But I also think that we need to be conscience of the changes that this will bring to those of us who do work outside year round. There aren’t many of us, but what we bring to this state, not to mention the dinner table, might make some stop to think about it.

I know there are strong feelings on this topic, stronger than I ever would have thought. But feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!

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