Farmers and ranchers are being encouraged to apply for two positions that are opening on the Oregon Board of Agriculture, a 10-member body that advises the Oregon Department of Agriculture on policy.
Candidates must be actively engaged in producing agricultural commodities and have until July 30th to submit applications to the Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive appointments office, along with a resumé, biography and statement of interest.
Application materials can be found online at www.oregon.gov/gov/admin/Pages/How_To_Apply.aspx. Board members can serve up to two terms of four years.
Alexis Taylor, ODA’s director, said she the board is intended to represent the diversity of Oregon agriculture and also reflect diversity in age, gender, race and sexual orientation.
The board provides “invaluable” insights and leadership to the department, she said. “Having that touchpoint with real farmers and ranchers keeps us grounded at ODA.”
Agricultural water quality, solar developments on farmland and regulation of canola are among the key issues that the board will likely be advising the agency in the near future, she said.
As she makes recommendations to the governor, Taylor said she hopes to put forth a candidate from Southeast Oregon to replace outgoing member Tracey Liskey, a farmer from the Klamath basin.
The board does have members from Central and Eastern Oregon, but the Southeast part of the state faces distinct challenges, she said. “That’s the amazing thing about Oregon but also challenging sometimes.”
Managing conflicts between different crops and types of agriculture — such as marijuana and hemp, canola and related crops as well as genetically engineered organisms and organic crops — will probably continue being one of the major challenges facing the board, Liskey said.
“Coexistence is the big issue,” he said.
During his eight years on the board, Liskey has seen ODA shift its water quality enforcement from being complaint-driven to more proactive.
Board members should ensure the agency ensures regulations are workable and landowners receive help with compliance, he said. “More carrots and less hammer.”
Liskey said he hopes his replacement will have come from a rural part of Oregon and have a conventional agricultural background.
“I think we need to ensure the niche markets aren’t over-represented,” he said.
Laura Masterson, the other outgoing member and farmer near Portland, likewise said her seat should be filled by someone who’s experienced with small, organic and direct-market agriculture but also has “curiosity and diplomacy” about other farming sectors.
During her eight years on the board, Masterson said she’s tried to expose other members and ODA staff to farmers serving organic and niche markets, who often have a different perspective on policy issues.
“The flip side is I got to see types of production I never would have,” she said.
While membership on the board helps “build bridges” between various types of farmers, it’s still tough for members to “balance natural resources and economic vitality in the state,” Masterson said.