Research says public loves farmers, has questions about farms
By MITCH LIES
PENDLETON, Ore. -- Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue urged farmers to tell their story during remarks Dec. 7 at the organization's annual meeting.
"We have a story to tell and we need to tell it. If we don't, there is no shortage of others who will tell it for us," he said. They include the Humane Society of the U.S., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Bushue said research shows the public loves farmers, but is unsure of farming and its practices.
A public relations campaign launched recently by the United States Farm and Ranch Alliance is addressing those concerns, he said.
The group was created recently by the American Farm Bureau Federation and other natural resource groups.
"We have a real opportunity to engage in a well-coordinated strategy with the public," he said.
Bushue highlighted challenges facing Farm Bureau members, including several recent legal decisions that threaten the livelihood of farmers and ranchers.
Bushue mentioned a recent Oregon Court of Appeals decision to stop a state order to kill wolves that are killing livestock.
"This (was) despite the loss of at least three more cows to wolves just recently," he said.
He highlighted a decision by a federal appeals court allowing the reopening of a lawsuit brought by environmentalists to close public grazing on 500,000 acres of public land in Southeastern Oregon.
"I guess that if the wolves don't put you out of business, the courts will," he said.
He also highlighted a district court ruling in Maryland that "will likely mean (no spray) buffers of 500 feet for ground applications and 1,000 feet for aerial applications of diazinon, chlorpyrifos and malathion" around salmon-bearing waters in Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho.
And Bushue mentioned the U.S. Department of Labor's decision to write new rules for child labor that will require 90 hours of training for kids under 16 years old working around equipment.
"These programs will only be available in select school programs," he said. "Good luck accessing one if you are a rural Oregonian."
Bushue also spoke highly of Reps. Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader, who he said reached out to the Farm Bureau recently for input on the next farm bill.