Klamath Water Users Association 

Klamath Water Users and Cal-Ore
Produce receive Oregon awards

Posted Sept. 15, 2003

By Kehn Gibson, staff writer, Tri-County Courier. Photos by Pat Ratliff


Sid Staunton(l), Katy Coba, and Dan Keppen
The 13th Annual Oregon Department of Agriculture award ceremony, held in Pendleton Sept. 3, saw two local organizations, Cal-Ore Produce and the Klamath Water Users Association, win prestigious awards for leading from the front.

ODA Director Katy Coba presented the awards, and she told The Courier she was particularly proud of the accomplishments of both of the Klamath Basin winners.

Cal-Ore Produce was tabbed for the ODAs Excellence in Marketing Award, the result of an innovative approach to guaranteeing the quality of their products.

Cal-Ores Sid Staunton said the company first approached the ODA with an idea to show the end consumer the products are kept safe "from the farm to the fork."

"We based the idea on three things; good agricultural practices, good handling practices, and identity preservation," Staunton explained. "After Sept. 11, we added a secure food storage component also."

The program allows Cal-Ore customers to trace a product back to the field where it was grown and, eventually, to the very row it belonged too.

Staunton said the work of ODAs Commodity division, particularly Tim Kramer and Doug Beam, was instrumental in getting the program to work.

"The teamwork from the ODA was fantastic," Staunton said. "After all weve been through down here, you can get kind of gunshy dealing with a bureaucracy, but this experience was refreshing, and felt really good."

Coba agreed.

"This was a great example of a public agency working with a private company to develop a partnership where the consumer wins," Coba said. "Cal-Ore was the first organization to think this way. The program is voluntary, and we monitor to provide solutions."

The Klamath Water Users were awarded the Leadership in Conservation for their continuing efforts since 1992 to reach solution to demands placed on water in the Klamath Basin.

Coba said she discovered during a trip to the Basin with Gov. Ted Kulongoski in April that there were hidden facts about the efforts of the irrigators in the Basin.

"In the brief time I spent there I was completely impressed with their efforts to conserve water," Coba said. "There has been so much negative media coverage I think it is important their proactive efforts be recognized."

Dan Keppen, who accepted the award on behalf of the water users, said it sank in as he was watching the earlier presentations.

"We saw the face of agriculture in the state of Oregon," Keppen said. "Im not ashamed to say I was a little choked up when I got up to accept this award.

"It certainly has been a long time coming, with more than 250 conservation projects completed in the Basin since 1992. Irrigators have never been recognized for that work, and to have a Democratic governor be the first gives me a lot of hope that real solutions are coming."


 

Klamath Water Users Association
2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603
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