Our Klamath Basin
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
director says water is a top priority for governor
February 21, 2008
Agriculture Department Director Katy Coba said at a
grass seed grower meeting here Thursday that Oregon
Gov. Ted Kulongoski has identified water storage as
one of four priorities he will be pushing in the
2009 legislative session.
The announcement, coming on top of the governor's
support of the Agriculture Community Water Act,
which is moving smoothly through the Legislature
special session currently under way, signals a
change in policy that could benefit a farm
community, Coba said.
Under the act, the state is setting aside $750,000
to conduct a feasibility study on replenishing
groundwater in the Umatilla Basin.
"Hopefully in 2009, we can fund and have some new
water storage in the Umatilla Basin," Coba said.
Coba, a featured speaker at a Perennial Ryegrass
Bargaining Association meeting, covered a variety of
topics in her presentation, including land-use
controversies that swirled around Measure 37 and
subsequently Measure 49.
The controversies, she said, at the very least
brought to the attention of Oregon's political
leadership how farmers use their land and the
difficulties in keeping farmland in an agricultural
"Making sure we have enough land to devote to food
or fuel is absolutely critical," Coba said.
Coba urged farmers to keep abreast of activities of
the Big Look Task Force and the get engaged in the
land-use discussion. The panel, also known as the
Oregon Task Force on Land Use Planning, is charged
with making recommendations for changed to state
land-use policy to the 2009 Legislature.
Coba also unveiled the state's plans to increase its
monitoring of water quality in rural areas to show
elected officials and others how well farmers
protect water under the state's 1010 water quality
Coba also said she expects agriculture's impact on
air quality to continue to be an issue before
lawmakers in the 2009 session, particularly because
a task force formed to address dairy air quality is
expected to deliver a report to lawmakers next
session. That report could include recommendations
for management techniques to reduce agriculture's
impacts on air quality.
On the marketing side of the department's work, Coba
said Oregon growers should work to take advantage of
current consumer trends to buy local.
"We need to figure out ways to take advantage of
this," she said. "Saying, 'I'm an Oregon family
farmer' has been a good thing to say for a long time
Coba also weighed in on a debate that has become a
hot-button issue in the Oregon grass seed industry
in recent years: Whether the industry needs to
obtain more transparent planting and harvesting
"Data for us is absolutely critical," she said,
"because that is the basis for making decisions.
It's not the only factor, but it is a big one."
The department serves as a mediator in price
negotiations under the law that created the
Perennial Ryegrass Bargaining Association.
Coba applauded the recent move by the association to
move up the deadline for setting prices.
"I think this will be a huge benefit for everyone
involved," she said.
Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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