Happy Memorial Day!

My big plan today was to write about “March on Monsanto”  It was a movement that happened all over the US, to show their anti monsanto views.  To show how evil the company is, yada yada yada!  But then I read my good friend Marie’s Blog OregonGreen.  She actually attended one of the marches and had some great insight on what was going on, so you can check that out by clicking here.

For me though, I didn’t attend a rally and so without any great first hand experience, I thought today I’m going to just be thankful for all of our armed forces that allow us the freedom to do crazy things like “March on Monsanto” or have Marie be able to post pictures and show the irony of all that they stood for while marching.  I”m able to blog about the farm and this life that I love so much.  I can eat whatever food I want and buy plenty of healthy and affordable food.

20090501091728_american flag 001 389747_396510070391704_309663002409745_1097846_509753840_n**Thank you From the Lens of a FarmGirl for this photo.

So today I just say thank you to all those who have given their lives so that I can be safe.  Thank you for your family’s sacrifice and thank you for all that you have done for my future here as a farmer and as an American.

Hope everyone has a great day off today and don’t forget why we’re all allowed these freedoms!

Oregon Senate Bill 633

I usually don’t post twice a day, but the expection is that I know my sister deserves her own blog for her birthday…so here’s the second (less important 🙂 blog for the day!

Senate Bill 633 is a seed preemption bill.  We are trying to allow all regulation in relation to growing seed in Oregon to be considered an issue of statewide importance and only be regulated at the State or Federal level, not locally or at the county level.  This started because of a county group that is trying to ban the growing of GMO’s in their county.  My friend Marie wrote a great blog about why this has come about and included why she testified at the hearing on her blog Oregon Green.

I also testified last week and wanted to include my testimony.  There were a lot of experts who came to say their piece about why they did or didn’t want this to go into effect, but for me I tried to really bring it back to my story, and why I’m here farming and how this could really help our future of farmers here in Oregon.  So enjoy!

March 12, 2013

Re: Senate Bill 633

Dear Senate Committee on Rural Communities & Economic Development,

My name is Brenda Kirsch and I am a third generation farmer in St. Paul Oregon.  I have been farming with my family for the past seven years, and look forward to continuing on with this legacy.  We grow perennial ryegrass, hazelnuts, vegetables, wheat and clover on our 1000 acre farm.

I’m writing today in great support for Senate Bill 633, the seed preemption bill.  This bill if passed would allow me as a young farmer the security of knowing that the regulation of crops would be only at the state and federal level; an assurance that would go a long ways in securing the future of our farms here in Oregon.

If we begin to have local government setting regulations this would very quickly create a nightmare for me as a producer.  We farm in different towns and on borders of other counties, and our pollen doesn’t stop at the county line no matter how much you think that might happen.  Can you imagine being regulated on what you can grow in one town and not the same in another?  In the area that I live specifically, we farm on the border of 3 towns.  One of our farms is actually on two different tax lots, in two different towns.  It would be a logistical disaster and not just for me as a farmer, but also for manufacturers, and distributors as well!  Beyond that our over 400 local city governments and 36 counties would feel the financial stress of taking care of these incredibly large, complex, and scientific issues that would come before them.  I know that my small town of St. Paul, population 322, does not have near the resources to be making decisions based on what crops we can and cannot grow there!

Federally we already have in place the USDA, EPA, and FDA to regulate for example genetically engineered crops.  While on the state side we have the ODA to do their due diligence in working with state specific situations.  These are funded departments that have the expertise, financial backing and research to take on these large issues!

In a recent survey done by the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers it was shown that the second highest concern for young farmers today was burdensome government regulations and “red tape.”  When I filled out that survey, I put that as my number one concern because I know that the potential for future regulation at even lower level of governments is out there and to me that is very scary.  To be honest coming back to the farm, I had no idea how hard I would have to fight to continue farming in Oregon.  Because of this I am a very active member in many groups locally and statewide.  After three generations my family is here to stay, and obviously we can’t move the land that we have worked for decades, and because of that I’m ready to take on the challenge of allowing us to continue growing crops.  I also see bills like 633 as a positive move toward a little more security for my family’s farm and our future here in Oregon.

This is just one way that you can be proactive legislatively and show your support for agriculture in Oregon.  So please pass SB 633, don’t cut the legs out from under any of our federal and state regulators and pass the buck to counties and cities who are unprepared for these issues.

Thank you for your time.
Brenda Kirsch

At the end of the hearing, a few people who were testifying on the other side of the issue approached Marie and myself and asked us why we would want to ever give up our rights at the local level?!  We assured them that this…again…is an issue that is too big for counties or towns to make decisions on.  What I wish I would have asked them is why they were ok with banning GMO’s in their county and taking the right for farmers to grow GMO crops in their county away?  I guess the struggle to protect our farming here in Oregon goes on and on….

GM Foods & Hamsters…Don’t be Afraid!!

I recently read an article that was written about GMO foods and seeds. It was brought to my attention by the U.S. Farmer’s and Rancher’s Alliance, Food Dialogue website, they send out articles and publications that may have a negative outlook on agriculture and ask for people to respond, blog, tweet, facebook, etc, on what they think of the issue. The most recent article was entitled “GMO-fed Hamsters Become Infertile, Have Stunted Growth.” With the small tag line underneath reading, “Overall GM sounds like a sweet deal only for Monsanto (and our own FDA and USDA, repeatedly found in bed with them). It remains a bad deal for us, the consumers.” I encourage you to read the article and see what you think, but I also encourage you to read this blog afterwards, maybe I can help put some of your fears at ease. I plan to not use fear to convince you of what I believe about GM products and seeds, ps…I’m not in bed with Monsanto either!

First I was take a back by the article because it never actually cites where it got any of the information that they are claiming as facts, makes me nervous! Plus why all this bashing, when the reality is that Genetically Modified seeds have a very positive side that isn’t once talked about in this article. These are a tool that has come from technology that allows farmers to feed more people with less land. Just as GPS technology helps us be more efficient, we take all the gains that we can to produce the healthiest food per acre that we can. And we’ve come a long ways, today the average farmer feeds 155 people, in 1960 that number was only 25.8! So how can that be possible, mainly because of advances in technology, including the use of GM seeds. Here is another great article that outlines some of the advantages to feeding more with less. But this isn’t to say that we find out a new technology is there and right away everyone is using it without regard to any harmful side effects. Actually it’s the exact opposite! GM seeds and foods have been tested over and over again, and are still being tested today to make sure that they are safe for human and animal consumption. And it’s not only the FDA and USDA doing this research, the EPA and WHO are also involved in testing foods all the time to make sure that what we produce is safe. Here are a few of those regulations:


I think the average consumer would be amazed at how much research is truly done before products are given out or sold to the public. The same goes for pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, they are all under a microscope all the time to make sure safety is at its highest level. Maybe the biggest testament to this is the fact that as a farmer, I eat GMO products, my family does the same. I’m glad that we have a choice to eat whatever we like, and farm the way that we want to farm. I also appreciate all the hard work that companies put in to make sure that what we feed our kids is safe. All at the same time I don’t appreciate fear marketing to try to get people to have a bad taste in their mouth when they see GMO on a label, because if they ate what’s in the package, that taste in their mouth would still just be delicious farm grown corn.

Just be mindful that fear is out there and it’s a powerful voice, and I know at least for me, it’s made me always second guess when I see an article bad mouthing a practice that is helping to feed our ever growing population, without even mentioning any of the benefits it can bring.  Also a thanks to the USFRA, it’s nice to know someone is looking out for the best interest of American Agriculture!

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