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Oregonians for Food and Shelter Legislative Update

Friday, April 3, 2009 Terry Witt, Executive Director 503-569-3300 Paulette Pyle, Grass Roots Director 503-559-1279

WEEK 12 brought a little drama in one of the committee hearings on Wednesday. Read the OFS Legislative Report for details. There is never a dull moment in Salem this Legislative Session!

Enjoy your weekend!

Terry Witt & Paulette Pyle OFS Bills of Interest for 2009 For a list of bills being monitored by OFS, click here. The list shows the status of each bill - which committee it's assigned to, when the last hearing was held, when and where the next hearing is, etc.

OFS LEGISLATIVE REPORT WEEK 12 continues the debate with the Legislators and the Governor about salvaging State Agencies' budgets. On one hand they are asking agencies to prepare for a 30% cut which would eliminate essential core activities -- while at the same time touting an extreme and unwarranted "Cap and Tax" climate change proposal. The Legislators can't seem to rein in their wild spending habits even in a budget crisis the likes of which Oregon has never seen before. One can only imagine what legislative proposals would have been brought forward this legislative session if the economy was healthy!

It just doesn't make sense to any of the business community for the State's policy leaders to continue to slaughter state budgets to initiate this Extreme Climate Change Proposal. Oregonians for Balanced Climate Policy (OBCP) -- a broad based labor, timber, agriculture, industry, and utility coalition, dedicated to supporting economically sensible CO2 reduction policies -- released a statement on April 1, which stated, "With 250,000 Oregonians out of work today, the Senate's latest climate change proposal adds fuel to the fire." OBCP spokeswoman Erica Hagedorn went on to say, "The costs of adopting this proposal are staggering. The Senate's 'cap and tax' proposal will cost Oregonians at a minimum $11.5 billion to implement, resulting in crippling higher electricity rates. This figure does not include higher costs for gasoline, natural gas and other fuels." It is even more ludicrous when one considers that Oregon is not the problem. Oregon's CO2 emissions account for less than 1 percent of U.S. emissions and only 5 percent of western state emissions.

STATE AGENCIES PRIORITIZE BUDGETS FOR CUTS OF 30% OFS, OFIC, Farm Bureau, Wheat Growers League, Association of Oregon Nurseries, Oregon Cattlemen Assn., etc. have spent countless hours with Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and the Water Resources Department (WRD) to review budgets in an effort to decipher where these agencies may have to make cuts that will deeply affect the forestry and agriculture businesses. EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS IN SERIOUS DANGER of BEING CUT or SHIFTED:

ODA - Food Safety Program; Pesticide Analytical Response Center (PARC); Pesticide investigators; Predator Control; Agricultural Water Quality (SB1010) program administrators, etc.

ODF - Forest Practices Act enforcement and cripple the forest fire protection fund.

WRD - Water Rights adjudication, certifications and transfers; Well construction Inspection, Dam Inspections; implementation of Water Use Reporting.

PESTICIDE & FERTILIZER BILLS: HB-2999 PURS Sunset Extension Representative Clem's bill, scheduled for a work session on 4/1/09, was pulled from the schedule at the request of ODOT. They are concerned that reporting pesticide use at the watershed level on linear applications like rights-of-ways and roadsides will represent too great a burden on their vegetation managers. We believe an amendment is being drafted that will allow this type of reporting to be done by a start/stop GPS location rather than listing each of the watersheds. While OFS does not believe this change will be that significant, it will increase costs for ODA and OFS strongly supports ODOT at least paying for the cost of reprogramming the PURS computer system to meet ODOT's needs.

SB-637 (with dash 4 amendments) Mandatory School IPM The bill by Senator Bonamici, heard in the Senate Education and General Government Committee on 4/1/09, created some very "unusual" dynamics as fireworks almost broke out at the witness table. Katie Fast of Farm Bureau, Terry Witt of OFS, and John Sundquist were called up to testify at the same time. Halfway through testimony by Mr. Sundquist, board vice-president of Oregon Toxics Alliance and a working member of the Forestland Dwellers, he proceeded to denigrate OFS using slanderous comments such as, "OFS exists to promote unregulated and liability-free poison pesticide use" and claiming that OFS was given "veto power over children's health." Committee member Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) quickly objected to the defamation. Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D-Beaverton) agreed with Senator Kruse and emphatically stated that NO ONE in her work group had veto power. Committee Chair Mark Haas (D-Portland) dismissed Mr. Sundquist asking him to step away from the witness table. Witt proceeded to defend the integrity of OFS and the staff, then presented testimony on the bill.

Terry had high praise for Senator Bonamici's handling of the very diverse and at times unruly workgroup, noting the school IPM program in SB-637 goes a long way toward finding a workable approach. Two major concerns were registered: (1) the mandatory nature of the program as an unfunded mandate for ALL schools including PRIVATE, and (2) the program effective in 2012 will cost ODA nearly $240,000 per biennium to administer - money the agency desperately needs, but doesn't currently have, to continue existing core pesticide functions.

Both Terry and Paulette attended the interim workgroup meetings. Senator Bonamici's ability to manage a diverse, rambunctious group of citizens made the time spent worthwhile. OFS staff gives special thanks to Eric Geyer of Roseburg Forest Products for his thoughtful and impactive testimony on the bill. Eric raised concerns about posting requirements and other points that seemed to positively resonate with the members of the committee, including the author of the bill Senator Bonamici. OFS also thanks Roseburg Forest Products for allowing Eric to make numerous trips to Salem to attend the interim workgroup meetings that laid the foundation for SB-637. Having a true forestry stakeholder present to voice opinions and "tell it like it is" in the real world made a significant impact on the process.

HB-2211A Update of Fertilizer Statutes The ODA sponsored bill to clean-up some inconsistencies and further clarify Oregon's fertilizer statute rewrite of 2001 passed the House on 4/1/09 by a 59-0 vote. The bill will now move to the Senate.

REGULATION OF PRODUCTS: SB-668 Establishes a "Green Cleaning Policy" for Schools The bill had simultaneous hearing with SB-637. It would require the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to create a list of "green cleaning and maintenance products" for use in all kindergarten through grade 12 public schools. All products on the list must have the "product certification or eco-label of an independent environmental organization." It is interesting to note that the term "maintenance products" includes paper products used in the process of cleaning. Eco-labeling of paper products includes the source of the wood fiber and how it was produced, manufactured and transported - i.e. carbon "footprint." OFS opposes establishing another government regulatory list based on some non-free market criteria. If DAS has sufficient funds within its Billion dollar budget to consider such unnecessary programs, perhaps Ways & Means needs to sharpen their pencil a bit more? It sounds like Ways and Means is missing an opportunity to "sweep" additional dollars into the general fund. OFS OPPOSES.

HB-2141, HB-2367 and HB-2792 The Product Regulation Trilogy by DHS Each of these three bills regulate products containing "hazardous materials" in a different way, but the end result is the same --- an Oregon agency establishes a mechanism to place restrictions on the materials in a wide variety of products. All three are wrapped in the ever-popular cloak of "child safety." HB-2367 is an outright ban on the sale of children's products that contain phthalates or Bisphenol A. HB-2141 gives the Department of Human Services (DHS) the authority to adopt standards for labeling products that contain a "hazardous substance" or poses a chronic health risk to the public. HB-2792 authorizes DHS to designate certain chemicals as a high priority based on potential exposure of a child or fetus, and allows DHS to require the manufacturer or distributor to replace that chemical with a "safer alternative." The definition of "children's product" includes not only products intended for use by children, but also consumer products a child may be exposed to during their use or disposal. OFS is having a hard time determining what product potentially would NOT fall under that definition? OFS also wonders if DHS has heard that we are potentially facing up to a $5 Billion shortfall - and that's without expensive new programs like these that stifle economic recovery in Oregon. OFS OPPOSES ALL THREE BILLS.

HB-3095, the Main Street Economic Stimulus Bill was heard in the House Sustainability and Economic Development Committee on April 2nd. The bill is commonly referred to as Representative Bruce Hanna's GOP stimulus bill. Representative Tim Freeman and Senator Frank Morse joined Representative Hanna at the witness table. For a link to the bill click here. Our thanks to OFS's Board Chairman, David Hampton, for writing testimony and taking time from work to present testimony on the bill. Unfortunately, time constraints limited testimony, precluding David from actually presenting his remarks to the Committee.

We've included his testimony here:

I am David Hampton, third generation owner, Timberland Manager.

My family's company, Hampton Affiliates, has been manufacturing lumber since my Grandfather started the company in 1935.

Hampton Affiliates is a fully integrated wood products company, including two sawmills in Oregon, 100,000 acres of timberland and a sales company in Portland. We normally employ 1300 people in the U. S.

I am in support of House Bill 3095.

While the rest of the country has been in a recession for the last sixteen months, the wood products sector has been in a state of turmoil for the last three years. Oregon wood products mill employment has declined by half over the last twenty years. Forty (40) percent of those losses (9,000 jobs) have occurred in the last three years, including 3,000 in the last six months. Oregon is our nation's leader in softwood production, manufacturing seven billion board feet of lumber in 2005. The annualized 2009 forecast is for Oregon to produce four billion board feet.

The Oregon employment department reports that the forest products sector's wages were $2.8 billion dollars in 2007.

Western Wood Products Association and other organizations forecast the single family home starts to be in the 300 to 400 thousand range in 2009. That is down from the 1.6 million houses in 2005!

Companies such as Weyerhaeuser, Stimson, and my family's company - Hampton Affiliates, have cut their production to match the demand in the ever shrinking market. This has resulted in curtailments, layoffs and in some cases, complete shutdowns.

The lumber market has eroded from a high $400 per thousand board feet in 2004, to a low of $150 per thousand for 2x4's in 2009. Some low grade lumber has actually sold for firewood.

We provide good family wage jobs, with an annual average wage of $40,000 and full benefits. These are also green jobs. We grow a product that takes in carbon and stores it in the form of lumber. Wood is renewable, reusable, and recyclable. What could be greener!

Our industry has changed over time. We are now looking for a more skilled labor force that can operate machines with computer optimization for scanning logs and lumber. The machinery has changed, and is more complex that ever, enabling us to capture all the wood fiber for a variety of products.

Although we are in the worst lumber market in the last 30 years, we are confident that the financial markets will work out their credit issues, money will begin to flow, and people will have the confidence to build new houses and other projects from this wonderful natural resource.

We need a strong wood products sector for Oregon's timber sale program, which adds millions of dollars to the states' coffers for roads, schools and local governments. This industry is vital to the health and stability of Oregon's rural communities. The legacy of icons such as Loran LaSells "Stub" Stewart, Nat Giustina, and my father, John Hampton along with future family business leaders, hang in the balance.

House Bill 3095, The Main Street Plan, could be the stimulus package that will motivate people who have been reluctant to invest in projects around our State. Suit Filed Against NMFS Over Proposed Restrictions on Agricultural Products Seeking to have set aside ill-considered restrictions that have no legal or scientific foundation or actual benefit to the environment, Cheminova, Inc.; Dow AgroSciences LLC; and Makhteshim Agan of North America, Inc., have jointly filed suit against the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over a "biological opinion" (BIOP) issued by the Agency last November. The BIOP would require further restrictions on authorized uses of the insecticides chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion near habitats of certain endangered west coast salmon and steelhead populations.

Why the NMFS Biological Opinion is Objectionable The NMFS Biological Opinion ignores detailed scientific assessment of these three compounds undertaken over several decades by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rather than making use of the extensive risk assessments and data compiled by state and federal regulators on these compounds, NMFS would require new restrictions based on its own flawed modeling without validation or peer review.

A highly precautionary approach to the protection of salmon is already in place under existing science-based regulations. These protections will not be reliably increased by arbitrary and unfounded measures based on flawed modeling without regard to actual product use and existing monitoring data. NMFS failed even to consider significant additional restrictions imposed (or soon to be imposed) by U.S. regulators in the normal process of regulatory review.

Part of the reason for the many flaws in the NMFS assessment is that it was prepared to meet deadlines imposed by activist-driven litigation which limited the time available for a science-based evaluation.

If Allowed to Stand, NMFS' Assessment Would Set Dangerous Precedents

NMFS is under court order to complete assessments of 34 more agricultural products for the protection of salmonids in the next few years. This initial assessment is expected to set a precedent for the evaluations that follow. Unless problems with this assessment are rectified now, evaluations of other products are likely to be similarly flawed.

The NMFS Assessment Has Been Strongly Criticized by Other Regulators

The NMFS assessment has been strongly criticized in initial review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation as lacking a solid scientific basis for concluding that authorized uses of these three products actually pose a risk to the continued existence of the salmon species in question. (NMFS largely ignored these comments in issuing its final BIOP.)

The NMFS assessment was similarly criticized by the Washington State Department of Agriculture for over-reliance on the use of hypothetical worst case product use scenarios without sufficient regard to the extensive, readily-available water monitoring data that has already been conducted for these three products.

Why a Legitimate Science-Based Assessment of Pesticides Is Essential

Pesticides are a necessity of modern food and fiber production. Arbitrarily restricting access to these important tools without valid data-driven scientific assessments offers no clear benefit to the environment and no assurance of protection for salmon and steelhead. Such restrictions can, however, lead to reduced food supply and quality and increased food cost. They can also significantly impair the ability of American farmers to compete with growers overseas and cause tremendous financial risk and damage to their livelihood and the sustainability of their operations.

In addition, some pesticides serve a critical role in protecting public health, by controlling important disease vectors such as mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus and other disease. By arbitrarily and unnecessarily restricting the use of these vital tools, ill-founded restrictions such as those proposed by NMFS threaten to undermine the ability of municipalities and others to control these common disease vectors and protect public health.

Details on the Suit Filed by These Three Companies The suit was filed on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division.

The suit asks the court to set aside the NMFS biological opinion and its restrictions on chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion as arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the Agency's statutory requirements.

Products manufactured by the three companies are as follows: Chlorpyrifos is sold by Cheminova, Dow AgroSciences, and Makhteshim Agan. Diazinon is sold by Makhteshim Agan. Malathion is sold by Cheminova.

The companies are asking the court to expedite the suit so that a decision can be reached before November 18 of this year, which is the date on which EPA is required by NMFS to have implemented the additional restrictions proposed under the BIOP. Congressman Schrader to host Food Safety Forum

On Tuesday, April 7th Congressman Schrader will host a Food Safety Forum. It will begin at 8:00 a.m. and will finish at 9:30 a.m. (doors open at 7:45 a.m.) at the Marion County Courthouse Square Building, Senator Hearing Room, 555 Court Street NE, Salem.

There are five bills in Congress related to food safety. The one OFS has heard the most about is HR 875. If you would like to review the bill, click here.

The Congressman would like to hear your perspective on proposed legislation in Congress regarding food safety.

Here is the Agenda for the discussion:

Welcome and Opening Remarks Congressman Kurt Schrader

Overview of Oregon Agriculture and Existing Food Safety Efforts Katy Coba, Director of Oregon Department of Agriculture

Farm Perspective Barry Bushue, President of Oregon Farm Bureau Carol Leuthold, Tillamook County Dairy Farmer

Food Processor Perspective Northwest Food Processors Association Jim McMullen, VP of Operations for Kettle Foods Ed Johnson, President of Oregon Cherry Growers

Public Health and Safety Peter Hurley, Consumer Dr. Mark Daeschel, Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology at Oregon State University Dr. Paul Csielak, Acute and Communicable Disease Manager for DHS Public Health Congressman Greg Walden's Oregon Congressional Connection Another busy time in Congress as the Congress geared up for the budget debate, passed a massive public lands bill, the FLAME Act and held hearings on a new topic to me, Independent Review Boards, or IRBs.

While most of the news coverage of the public lands bill rightly focused on the new wilderness areas around Mt. Hood, in Spring Basin, the Badlands and Soda Mountain, among other areas, this huge collection of bills contained a couple less-discussed, but important measures.

For example, I've worked closely with Elmer McDaniels, and others for two years to pass the Tumalo Water Conservation Project Act. This continues our efforts to pressurize irrigations systems and improve stream flows throughout the Deschutes Basin. This measure authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to work with the district to pipe approximately six miles of open canals returning 20 cubic feet per second of conserved water into the Deschutes River at a time when ESA-listed Steelhead are being reintroduced. Additionally, it will help guarantee farmers water, especially in drought years. Eight out of ten years the existing system cannot make full deliveries.

Another measure in this package would fund ten 50,000-acre, landscape-size, fuels treatment projects on forestlands. When I was in John Day and Burns a week ago, it was pointed out that at the present rate of treatment, it would take the Malheur National Forest between 20 and 28 years to just get existing fuel loads cleared out. The legislation creates a collaborative process that relies on the best available science to plan and prioritize landscape restoration efforts on National Forest and BLM lands, with the goal of reducing the incidence of catastrophic wildfire while creating healthier forests.

The bill also encourages that byproducts from thinning projects be used to foster local economic development in our rural communities.

At the bill signing ceremony at the White House on Monday, I used the opportunity to present the President with a letter asking him to designate two of these landscape treatment projects in Oregon, as well as seeking his support for efforts to increase other thinning, salvage and green sales. You can read a copy of the letter by clicking here. Jeff Kohnstamm from Timberline Lodge joined Sen. Wyden, Rep. Blumenauer and me (among a cast of hundreds from elsewhere in the country) for the White House event. A new wilderness area on Mt. Hood is named for his father.

The House also overwhelmingly approved the FLAME Act, another bipartisan bill I've backed, to address the problem of catastrophic forest firefighting funding. Nearly every year, when fire season strikes the Forest Service has to rob other accounts and shut down all kinds of projects, contracts, jobs and activities to divert money to pay for fire costs. Later on in the year, Congress usually gives the money back to the Forest Service, but by then the opportunity to do the work on the land has passed and the cycle repeats itself the next summer.

The FLAME Act is an attempt to set up a separate account within the Forest Service to pay for the cost of fighting larger fires. It makes much more sense than the present system. The bill passed the House last Congress by never got traction in the Senate. Hopefully, the Senate will look more kindly on the measure this year. And in any case, having a separate account at the Forest Service is fine, but Congress and the Administration will next need to fund it (another point I raised in the letter to the President). Since we know we're going to have large fires and we're going to pay to control them, having a separate account funded specifically for that purpose is the way to go.

Meanwhile, in news conferences in Bend and Medford on Friday, I made the point that while it is important to properly protect some of Oregon's treasured places, it is now time to focus our work on using our abundant natural resources to put people back to work. We need balance in public lands management and use. We need to make sure those who like to recreate in various ways, have their opportunity, too.

People all across Oregon are rightfully concerned about the economy and keeping, or getting, a job. Harney County provides a great insight, here the County Judge and one of the Commissioners told me of hundreds of millions of dollars in private invest ready to come into the county to generate wind power and make use of woody biomass, and yet projects such as these are already being threatened by outside groups. While the wind power production occur on private land, the power line would need to cross BLM ground and would impact about 180 acres out of the more than 6 million acres of BLM land in the county.

In the Grant County town meeting I was told just adding one merchantable tree per acre in a thinning project would pay for the whole acre of treatment.

There are many ways to create private-sector jobs, using private capital that will generate revenue to the treasuries of the local, state and federal government by properly utilizing the resources we have.

Through conference calls and meetings with federal officials, I am continuing to keep the pressure on to fix the problems and overcome the challenges we face. I'm also stepping up my legislative efforts to write proposals that would bring jobs and better forest management to our part of the world. More on those initiatives, soon.

Finally, THE BUDGET. Most Presidents send a budget to Capitol Hill and regardless of party, it is declared "dead on arrival." Not so much this time. Speaker Pelosi and her team have mostly embraced the document, which we will take up this week. Here are some of the highlights:

* The proposed budget spends $3.6 trillion next year, which will cost every man, woman and child in the country $11,935 (or $34,129 per household). For comparison, That's nearly a trillion in additional spending since three years ago.

* According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), interest alone will cost taxpayers approximately $4.8 trillion over the next ten years (that's $45,506 per household).

* Last year's budget deficit was $455 billion, while CBO estimates this year's deficit will be $1.8 trillion. This budget creates a $1.2 trillion deficit for next year.

These are big numbers that should give anyone pause as they consider where this country is headed over the next ten years. I still believe we need Constitutional Amendment to require a balanced federal budget, except in times of war or national emergency.

I welcome your thoughts on these and any other issues facing our great state and country. Recovery Act Allocates Millions for Direct Operating Loans to Farmers and Ranchers

April 2, 2009 - Lynn Voigt, Farm Loan Chief for USDA's Farm Service Agency in Oregon announced today that FSA has now obligated all of the $173 million provided in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program, which gave 2,636 farmers - almost 50% who were beginning farmers and 10% socially disadvantaged producers - direct loans from the agency. There were $11,055,850 in loans made to 157 borrowers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Of that amount, 59 loans were made in Oregon for $4,476,890.

"These loans were used to purchase items such as farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel and other operating expenses and will stimulate rural economies by providing American farmers funds to operate," said Voigt.

Applications were considered on a first come, first served basis with special emphasis placed on beginning and socially disadvantaged applicants. The maximum loan amount was $300,000.

In keeping with the president's goal for the Recovery Act, this loan funding was intended for proper investment into the agricultural sector, to benefit both family farmers and rural economies. The Recovery Act was designed to preserve or create millions of jobs throughout the country and these loans help ensure that recipients remain financially viable and local agri-businesses benefit from direct purchases.

Here is a hypothetical example of purchases made with a $100,000 direct operating loan: Used Farm Tractor: $45,000 Livestock: $18,000 Seed: $15,000 Fertilizer: $10,000 Fuel: $12,000

The effect of this loan reaches the local implement dealership, sale barn, the grain seed distributor, the fertilizer distributor and a local fuel dealership.

For specific information on direct operating loans and other FSA farm loan programs, please visit your local USDA Service Center or FSA county office. You can also obtain information from the FSA website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov

Eastern Oregon counties move up agriculture's top 10 list Marion County remains the runaway leader, two eastern Oregon counties have cracked the top three, and more than half of Oregon's 36 counties reported an increase in agricultural sales in 2008 according to statistics released by Oregon State University. Many counties reported dramatic growth last year buoyed by high prices and good yields. The latest figures continue to emphasize the importance of agriculture to both the local and state economy.

Oregon's total agricultural sales for 2008 are up 1.2 percent at more than $4.9 billion with eight counties recording double digit increases this past year.

Here is the county ranking for 2008 gross farm and ranch sales:

Marion County, $604 million Umatilla County, $379 million Morrow County, $371 million Clackamas County, $364 million Washington County, $302 million Klamath County, $301 million Linn County, $296 million Yamhill County, $284 million Malheur County, $276 million Polk County, $164 million

From the Spring 2009 Ag Quarterly from ODA. To view the entire publication click here. OFS NEEDS YOUR CONTINUED FINANCIAL SUPPORT! The OFS Board appreciates our contributing members whose dollars keep our doors open and our staff working diligently to represent your needs at the state and federal levels. We need everyone who is concerned about maintaining their pesticide, fertilizer or bio-tech tools to pitch in and support OFS's efforts - whether that's $50 or $5,000. Now more than ever we must be totally united, a task OFS Grass Roots Director Paulette Pyle is uniquely talented in accomplishing. So please go on line at http://www.ofsonline.org/February/OFS%20Contribution%20Form%202009(a).pdf for a contribution form, or contact Sandi at sandi@ofsonline.org for more information or an invoice or to pay by credit card.

Please contact us with any questions or comments: Terry Witt, Exeuctive Director 503-569-3300 or terry@ofsonline.org  Paulette Pyle, Grass Roots Director 503-559-1279 or paulette@ofsonline.org  Sandi Schukar, Office Manager 503-370-8092 or sandi@ofsonline.org  Have a terrific weekend! Terry, Paulette and Sandi
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