By MITCH LIES
The Oregon State Board of Agriculture has identified access to irrigation water as Oregon agriculture's number one priority over the next two years in its biennial report to the governor and state Legislature.
Other priorities in the report's top-ten list include increasing agricultural sales and providing relief from the high costs of taxes, energy and labor.
"This report should help the reader understand where Oregon is competitive and where it is not; what things are going well and where challenges exist; and what the Legislature, governor, congressional representatives and Oregon citizens can do to help," the board stated in a prepared comment.
The 55-page report is now published and available online by going to the department's website: www.oregon.gov/ODA .
The report is the fourth biennial report the board has provide lawmakers and the governor regarding the status of agriculture in Oregon. Lawmakers in 2005 passed a law requiring the biennial report.
Other priorities the board identified include:
* Support truck transportation, but begin to maximize rail, barging and other water modes to move product to market more efficiently.
* Support a land-use system that protects farmland for farm use.
* Support high-quality research and an extension service that helps growers diversify cropping systems and remain competitive in a world market.
* Help growers meet new food-safety standards.
* Help young or new farmers and transitional family farmers succeed in becoming the next generation of farmers.
"This is one of the more important activities undertaken by the board," board Chairman Doug Krahmer said in a prepared statement. "This report is what we rely on to inform our legislators what is needed."