Farmers, officials celebrate, talk trade over cake
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- About 40 wheat farmers descended on the Oregon Capitol Feb. 14 to talk agriculture with legislators.
They brought along a birthday cake, which served as the centerpiece of the state's annual birthday celebration.
Oregon became a state on Feb. 14, 1859 -- 154 years ago.
The Oregon Wheat Growers League's birthday cake has been a staple of the annual celebration since at least the 1990s, according to wheat league staff.
This year's ceremony featured Gov. John Kitzhaber and state Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba.
Kitzhaber took the opportunity to talk about the increasing presence of Oregon agriculture in Pacific Rim countries.
During a trade mission to Asia last fall, Kitzhaber said he saw Oregon agricultural products in several cities.
"We found Tillamook Cheese, we found Oregon Anjou pears, we found Oregon Country Beef on the shelves in Shanghai. We saw products made with Oregon wheat and Oregon potatoes throughout Asia," he said.
"It was truly a remarkable trip. We've come a long way since 1859 in terms of our impact on the Pacific Rim and on the world," Kitzhaber said.
Wheat growers met or left printed material with all 90 legislators, said Walter Powell, president of the league.
Growers urged legislators to support Oregon's right to farm and right to forest acts, to invest in programs designed to enhance Oregon's water quality and quantity, and to support agricultural research funding.
"When you go in to see legislators, oftentimes, a grower is more effective than a lobbyist," Powell said.