Tag Archives: OrAg

Happy Easter from the Field

18 Apr

When I mentioned in my “Happy birthday to my Farmer” post that Matt works at the beck and call of the weather, I wasn’t kidding!  It’s been doozy of a wet season here in Oregon.  We have been waiting, and waiting…and waiting for enough good days in a row to get crops planted, which means that our Easter plans turned a bit from the traditional.

Matt was up early to head out to the radish field.  We had to get preplant fertilizer spread, pre-emergent sprayed, work the ground another time, then finally it looked like we might get the window to get the radish seed in the ground.  Meanwhile I woke up early with the boys, threw Easter grass from the Easter Bunny all over the house, and headed to church with a few cousins.  We decided that someone better pray that we got this radish field planted ( and ask for forgiveness for working on Easter Sunday!!) The boys and I delivered lunch to the farm (because if you have people working on Sunday, you better keep them fed!), headed home for naps and then back out in the field (where the boys want to be all the time anyway!).  Hoot proved that farming can be done without pants without any problems (good to know!).  And Auggie almost kept his Easter clothes clean before we made it back to my parents for Easter dinner.

Things all went pretty smoothly, even for a Sunday.  The weather cooperated and right around dinner time the guys came in from the field, tired and hungry, we had a big dinner all ready for them.  I don’t know if they have ever earned their Easter dinner so much as this year.

This is exactly why farming can be so stressful, so risky, and such a seven day a week job.  We work when we can, because those days in some years so limited.  And I’m so grateful that I work with folks who understand when I come up to them and timidly ask if they could work on Easter Sunday, they look at you and don’t even hesitate to say yes, because they know I wouldn’t even ask if it weren’t a necessity.  They showed up, they worked hard, and we got at least one of our spring crops planted for 2017!!!  I know we weren’t the only farmers who worked all Easter to get crops in the ground, and I know that we will talk about the Easter that we planted radish, for a long time to come!

Still in the Orchard

31 Mar

Well folks…I’m still out here.  Getting closer to done everyday, but still here for now. 

I took a few photos of what we are pruning on our trees. Our goal is to make them look more like a tree first of all (hazelnuts like to grow as a bush naturally) and secondly we are pruning to get growth. 

Before:

And after:

These trees got very stressed their first year due to a very dry and hot summer.  So we are now going in and getting rid of a lot of the stressed wood and making room for lots of growth. 

I promise I will have more to post on rather than just trees soon…hoping to be out of this orchard soon!  

On another note it looks like we are getting a pretty good stretch of spring weather coming up!  So hold onto your hats…there are going to be farmers running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to catch up!!  Which means lots of stuck tractors in muddy fields, lots of impatience, lots of longs days…but man it’s sure going to feel good to get out in that sunshine!!!!!!!  

Personally I’m looking forward to not wearing 17 layers by the end of today! 

Happy Friday!

A Call To Action: Farmers, Ranchers, & Foresters against HB 2859

27 Feb

This Wednesday at 1pm I’m hoping to see the Oregon Capital building FULL of Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and woodland owners.  We have been hearing from our industry advocates all winter that they are going to need our help this legislative session and that time is now.

The Oregon Legislature has been scrapping for any amount of money they can get their hands on.  Our state is working with a deficit, which it seems like instead of working through the budget they have, many legislators are grasping at straws to fill the gap.  Silly ideas like a coffee tax, or old car tax have already come and gone.  But Wednesday there will be a hearing to take away tax exemptions that are so valuable to farmers in Oregon, I really can’t stress enough how it would make farming here basically impossible.

Without going into too much detail here, Oregon has a very unique land use system.  One that designates land around the state that is Exclusive Farm Use only (EFU).  This land is used to farm, and grow crops. Basically it disallows you from selling as industrial ground, or ground for housing, development, etc.  Because this limits our ability in what we can do on the land that we own, in turn the state has given us a reduced property tax on those parcels.  The state deemed that ground, because they value farm land, as the highest value being farming.  In my opinion I would have to agree, we have some of the best soil in the world here in Oregon.  So that means that I can’t turn around, sell by the square foot to developers, and make a fortune.  Because of the land use system, and the protections that have been hard fought in this state (and I believe rightly so) that ability is taken from us.

So here is the deal, if you as the state think that our farm ground is so valuable that you give us a special assessment in order to farm, why in the world would you take that assessment away, tax us the same as industrial ground, and then force us to keep it as farm ground?  It makes no sense, and you can rest assured that this gutting of farm assessments, is in turn a gutting of land use laws as they stand today.  This will break our system here in Oregon, one that has allowed me as the third generation on this farm to continue farming. The landscape in Oregon – both figuratively and literally – could change. Who really wants that?

final-112Meet the fourth generation on our farm.  These farm boys love hanging out in our fields, fields that will be too expensive to farm if HB2859 is passed.final-111

The other issue in this legislation is removing our personal property tax exemptions, which would end up driving farms into the ground, ending the legacy that is farming in Oregon.  Our industry by nature creates a significant amount of capital expenditure.  We have millions of dollars worth of equipment sitting in our barns, equipment that will only see the light of day for a fraction of the year.  Take a piece of harvesting equipment, like a combine for example, the cost of which could be anywhere from $350,000 to a half million dollars.  This essential piece of equipment will be used for only about 3 weeks on our farm.

So why bother to upgrade?  We update equipment on our farm as technology changes and equipment becomes more efficient for our farm, our soil, and the environment. Just like many households update appliances in their kitchens.  But how can you afford to update if every time you parked a newer piece of equipment in your barn your tax bill increased so significantly it never penciled?  I did the math, and this part of the legislation alone would take our average profit for the past 5 years.  We could never justify planning for the future on our farm, which is what we do every time we make business decisions.  My business plan is not for the next 5 years, or even the next decade, it’s what is going to be best for my grandchildren and their children.  Between land rent, land taxes and property taxes, I just don’t know how our farm would survive.

Our legislature has to take a hard look at their budget and work within their constraints.  I was at a meeting where Representative Tina Kotek spoke a few months ago and something she said made me realize how concerned we all should be this year.  I’ll paraphrase because I didn’t write down the exact quote.  “We have made a lot of good decisions for Oregonians, now we just need to figure out how to pay for them.”  This goes against everything I believe to my core, everything that business, school, farming, and life has taught me.  No, you need to find what you can pay for and THEN and only then decide on what decisions are best for Oregonians.

We seem to be living in a backwards world here and it’s scary!  So please, come and stand up for Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and woodland owners on Wednesday!  Tell the legislature that they need to work within their budget just like the rest of the real world.  They need to stand up for farm, ranch and timber!

To write a letter to your legislator you can use the link below through Oregon Farm Bureau:
http://oregonfb.org/advocacy/?vvsrc=%2fCampaigns%2f50222%2fRespond

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