OWGL Board Members Provide Comments at DEQ Town Halls on Cap & Reduce
OWGL Officers and Board Members provided comments at three town halls this month regarding the proposed DEQ Cap & Reduce focused on requests to:
• Reward Proactive Investments by Farmers and ranchers.
• Protect Wheat Markets and mitigate impacts to consumers and farm families.
• Protect low-income and/or rural residents who often drive longer distances for critical services.
• Ensure farmers and foresters have a seat at the table on the Rulemaking Advisory Committee.
Morrow County President, Erin Heideman, shared her story at this week's townhall.
My name is Erin Heideman, I am a fifth-generation farmer. My husband and I farm around five thousand acres of wheat per year. All of our crop is shipped to the pacific rim via the Columbia River and the Port of Portland.
As Wheat farmers we operate on thin profit margins. Increases to farm inputs, coupled with higher transportation costs to ship wheat to markets could put my families farms out of business. The DEQ should do everything possible to mitigate impacts to farm families like mine. My goal is to pass our farm to one of my three sons and this tax could increase our costs by nearly 15,000 per year.
Secondly, I live 57 miles to a grocery store. If I want to go to Costco, it is 120 miles each way. This includes any major medical access my family and I have. Yes, this is choice for our family, but as this proposal is written, I am being punished for being a farmer and choosing to feed a global nation as generations of our families have. I lobbied at the state capitol building this past February and expressed my concern to a state senator from Portland about this exact topic and his solution to me was to buy a hybrid SUV.
Six years ago, we invested over a quarter million dollars to purchase a no-till seed drill, which would enable us to make fewer passes over our fields and help prevent soil erosion on our farmland. This also comes with GPS and precision ag technology that prevents us from overlapping any bit of ground we have already gone over thus requiring fewer tractor hours and inputs. We have reduced our fuel bill by 30% over this amount of time as a result of this investment, that we are still paying for. As stewards of the land, we know the importance of making improvements to farming practices and as a mom, I am working my tail off for the opportunity for my boys to farm if they choose. A consideration DEQ must make is how I will be rewarded for being proactive and innovative before being mandated to do so.
My grandfather once said, we are caretakers and guardians of this land for a short time, we must preserve it and pass it on to the next generation in a better state. I do not want to harm that, in which provides for me and my family. However, to be penalized for my choice of residency and occupation is unfair. As a farmer, I would like to have a seat at this table and invite any of you to join me for a day in the field. The structure of the rules advisory committee does not prioritize voices from production ag presently and I am asking for that opportunity. It is critical that there be a voice for agriculture at the table.