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Organization stands by its backing of land-use measure, Herald and News 12/17/07

   P E N D L E T O N , O r e . (AP) — The Oregon Farm Bureau is defending its steadfast support for Measure 49, and may even lose some of its members over the issue.
   When the agriculture industry organization met earlier this month for its 75 annual meeting, they got an earful from some members over the land-use measure.
   “ It cost us m i ll ions on our ranch,” said Bud Combe of Josephine County. “How many times do we have to take a lickin’ in the state of Oregon?”
   Measure 49 allows rural landowners to build a few homes — three in most cases and as many as 10 for some — but curbs larger subdivisions and industrial development allowed under a 2004 law.
   Tracey Liskey, the first vice-president of the Farm Bureau, said that the Farm Bureau board had passed support for Measure 49 on a two-thirds majority, and that the policies were based on what the majority wanted as policy.
   300 members lost
   But Dave Dillon, the farm bureau’s executive vice president, said the organization has lost 300 voting and suppor ting members since last year.
   “One county lost over 25 percent of its voting and supporting members in a single membership year,” Dillon said.
   And President Barry Bushue could be in danger of losing his position because of the organization’s support for the measure.
   “I’m not going to apologize for our policy,” Bushue said.
   Over the years, people have quit the Farm Bureau because of its position on commodity commissions, water ownership and “a number of our policies.”
   Bushue said Measure 49 is no different that some of the other issues, although it’s been a more personal and controversial one because it might have a direct impact on some members.
   A nd he appea led t o members to stay engaged and stay with the Farm Bureau.
   “We’re more than a single-issue organization,” Bushue said at the annual meeting. “I don’t believe t hat a ny si n gle is sue should cause you to leave your involvement in Farm Bureau.”
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