Oregonian Editorial: "Time for Oregon to Harvest Agricultural Opportunities"

The Oregonian Editorial Board
Fri, 01/04/2013 (All day)

In an editorial published in Friday morning's paper, the Oregonian editorial board acknowledges the substantial contributions of Oregon agriculture to the state's economy, particularly in uncertain times for many other sectors of the economy.

Featuring new State Representative (and 1000 Friends board member) Ben Unger, the editorial is a strong endorsement of fostering further success in Oregon farming. 

An excerpt:

Incoming Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, is the rare Portland-area legislator with a passion for agriculture. Unger grew up on a farm near Cornelius and has spent most of his adult life involved in politics. Having seen agriculture from the inside and outside, he has developed a practical perspective on farm issues.

"If the debate continues to be about how do we stop development, we will never win that debate," he said. "It has be focused on food."

Indeed. Start a conversation about land-use policy with a group of random Oregonians and you're unlikely to find agreement. But talk about food and you can find something for everyone to love.

Increasingly, the rest of the nation loves Oregon food, too. And the timing is right for the state to do everything it can to build on that economic strength.

Oregon farmers are coming off two strong years, after the state's agriculture industry, more dependent than most states on housing because of grass-seed and nursery crops, was hammered by the financial collapse in 2009 and 2010. But politically, agriculture risks being left behind as Congress and the Oregon Legislature focus on higher-profile issues.

At the federal level, efforts by members of the Oregon delegation to improve programs for specialty and organic crops were cast aside when Congress extended the 2008 farm bill for nine months rather than pass a new bill. At the state level, the debate over water quality and allocation continues to be contentious, while money for research and education remains scarce.

Both state and federal farm policies need to be modernized, not marginalized.

Read the full editorial here.