10 Things I learned in Washington DC

A few weeks ago I was able to head back to Washington DC with Oregon Farm Bureau for a few days. We visited with many of our states policy makers, attended a few events with the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, and also got to see a beautiful city! Here are just a few of the things that I learned while I was back east!

  1. Using words like “Safe, Abundant and Affordable” are not the best words to use when talking to consumers about the food we grow. (US Farmer & Rancher Food Event)
    DSC02041Katie Pratt, talking about why the USFRA is so important to today’s agriculture!
  2. Always try to address concerns that consumers have, while at the same time telling your ag story!
  3. Clean Water Act is an ongoing issue and I’m thankful that American Farm Bureau is working so hard on that issue for us farmers.
  4. Trans Pacific Partnership is really just a free trade agreement, new name is all.
  5. Meeting with legislators makes a difference! Thank you Congressman Schrader for introducing a bill to remove Ag products from the HOT GOODS issue, HR 1387!
  6. Even when you travel across the country you can find people from my small little town. Walked into an office to find a girl I grew up with as the head staffer for one of Oregon’s legislators! Small World indeed!
  7. New Zealand has the same population as Oregon and is just about the same size as our state as well. (New Zealand Embassy)
  8. John Wilkes Booth originally was planning to kidnap President Lincoln, obviously his plans changed! (DC Tour of Lincoln’s Assassination)
  9. There is a typo on the Lincoln Memorial wall, tried to cover it up, but if you look really hard you can see an E turned back into an F.
  10. All the museums in DC are FREE! Can you believe that, what a wonderful way to learn about history…can’t wait to go back!

Special shout out to our amazing tour company…DC by Foot.  If you’re ever in DC they are a wonderful company!!

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….

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