Week of 7/28/19
The first couple days of the week were spent attending a Suppression Committee (part of the Governor’s review of Oregon’s wildfire response system) meeting in Eugene. The Committee has developed solid recommendations that will improve how the State prepares for, coordinates, and funds the wildfire protection system. I confess that I, and others, are still wrestling with what to recommend about how to pay for increasing wildfire costs; do we continue to draw more dollars from the general fund through the E-Board to pay high firefighting bills or do we shift to a different budgeting approach, perhaps supported by something other than the general fund. There are no easy answers.
We helped with the Korea Crop Survey Team during the week; I made a presentation to the Team on the current crop conditions and our wheat quality program, joined them for a dinner hosted by USW, and took them on a farm and elevator tour on Friday. My thanks to MCP and to Darren Padget for taking time away from harvest to meet with the team.
I also took part in a NAWG Board call to vote (proxied in for a representative who couldn’t make the call) on adjustments to their budget and dues, prepared annual reviews for staff, and arranged for Senator Bentz to speak at our Gala Banquet during the Tri-State Convention.
Week of 7/21/19
On Monday, I had a chance to attend a briefing put on by the Corps of Engineers about the maintenance needs and plans for the Columbia and Snake River Navigation System. It was a good opportunity to hear more in-depth information on short and long-term needs and will serve as background when we meet with our Congressional delegation. The middle of the week was taken up with work on staff evaluations, preparing a draft of the Services Agreement between the Commission and the League that guides how they will share the costs of the CEO’s position (hasn’t been updated since early 2011), and updating the job description for the CEO.
Information on the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP), intended to partially compensate farmers for impacts of the tariffs enacted by China were released by USDA on Thursday. The details of the 2019 program are quite different from the 2018 program. I worked with Shanna to get the information out to growers via an email and postings on the website and social media. On Friday, I attended a US-China Trade event hosted by the Oregon-China Council.
Week of 7/14/19
What a difference a year makes! One year ago, in the third week of July, chaos reigned in Wasco and Sherman Counties; wheat fields and canyons blazed, smoke billowed, and the eyes of America were on Oregon as the Substation Fire raged. We were reminded that fire is more than just dangerous and damaging, when John Ruby was killed on July 18, 2018, as he fought the Substation Fire trying to protect his neighbors.
So far, this year has been pretty quiet on the wildfire front. The third week of July was pretty routine, mostly spent in the office working on a variety of tasks, while we waited for more information on this year’s crop as harvest ramps up, progress on trade negotiations, and details about whatever payments will be made through the 2019 Market Facilitation Program. I finished up my work on the OWC-OWGL contract, including the statement of work and making notes for the file on funding allocations to help with next year’s contract. I also put together two reports to the League’s Executive Committee, one on the NAWG dues situation, at the request of Brent Cheyne, and a status report on some of the key issues the Suppression Committee is addressing. Other work included putting together the minutes from the 6/24 OWGL conference call on legislative issues, an Oregonians for Food and Shelter board meeting, my review of Amanda Dalton’s End of Session report (since forwarded to the Board and posted on the website), and getting an invite out to a potential speaker for our Tri-State banquet.
All things considered, I’ll take the quiet and the routine and hope the fires stay small as the summer proceeds.
Week of 7/07/19
So much for quiet…. Back from vacation, I jumped into the pile of year-end and year-beginning administrative work. Getting all the invoices and expenses processed and paid and the books closed FY 2019 was a priority, along with getting new FY 2020 contracts in place for the Commission. Lots of steps to get all this completed, but my parts were largely done by the end of the week, except for finalizing the funding allocations for the contract between the Commission and the League.
The Fire Suppression Committee met again, this time in Salem. The Committee continued to wrestle with how to bring all local areas up to a basic level of resources to handle initial response to wildfire, without forcing all areas into a one-size-fits-all approach. There are lots of other issues to address, but that may be the toughest one to resolve.
We were asked to pinch-hit at the last minute, for a speaker who had to cancel, and make a presentation at the Summer Ag Institute (SAI) session on July 15th in La Grande. The SAI is a great annual program that provides continuing education on agriculture to K-12 teachers, to help them incorporate ag information and concepts into their regular classes. Shanna Hamilton and I pulled together materials and talking points that she will use for the presentation next week.
Other work for the week included meeting with a team of milling and baking representatives from Korea, doing the final review of the next issue of the Oregon Wheat magazine, reviewing RMA’s final (hopefully) resolution of the wildfire and summer fallow cover crop issues, and participating in a NAWG Board of Directors conference call to propose adjustments to their FY 2020 dues and budget in response to the withdrawal of North Dakota from NAWG.