Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Canola Controversy: Write Right Now

If you haven't written to your legislator about the dangers presented by allowing canola to be grown in the Willamette Valley, now is the time to do it. Here's a letter from seed farmer Hank Keogh of Avoca Seed Farm about why he's pushing for the passage of House Bill 2427 (pdf of full text). Links to more information and for e-mail addresses of lawmakers are below Hank's letter.

[A note from Hank Keogh] I just wrote 14 legislators that might hear this bill in committee. You can too! It is important now because the Farm Bureau [the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture] has come out pro-canola. Feel free to use all or part of this message. See below for details on who to contact.

Please support House Bill 2427: Willamette Valley Canola Ban

My name is Hank Keogh. I was born and raised in Oregon, and I am now an organic vegetable seed farmer. I support legislation to prohibit the production of canola in the Willamette Valley.

We need a hearing on this canola ban bill because the Oregon Department of Agriculture has done a very poor job of handling the issue, incurring lawsuits from seed farmers, and ignoring research on the impacts of canola paid for by taxpayers and conducted by Oregon State University. In addition, planting time for canola is coming. If no action is taken to prevent this, canola will be planted and begin to spread and contaminate our crops.

Canola is a big problem for three different agricultural industries in Oregon: Specialty Vegetable Seeds worth $50 million, Fresh Vegetables at $30 million, and Clover Seed at $20 million. Canola directly crosses with seed crops, incubates and spreads pests and diseases to neighboring fresh vegetable and seed fields, and also contaminates clover seed through physical seed mixing. Canola is a subsidized commodity crop and adequate control measures would make it unprofitable. These three established industries, with a combined annual value of $100 million are being threatened by the possibility of canola worth less than $3 million. There is no co-existence.

Specialty vegetable seed is an established industry that pays healthy taxes and creates and keeps good jobs. Canola is subsidized $.05 per pound and requires minimal labor.

I am a farmer and the Farm Bureau does NOT represent me on this issue.

Please support a ban on canola in the Willamette Valley.

Thank you,

Hank Keogh

E-mail addresses of committees and legislators:

Senate Rural Communities and Economic Development Committee:
Arnie Roblan, Chair
Herman Baertschiger Jr., Vice-Chair
Ginny Burdick (Senate President Pro Tempore)
Betsy Close
Floyd Prozanski

House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee:
Brad Witt, Chair
Sal Esquivel, Vice-Chair
Caddy McKeown, Vice-Chair
Brian Clem
Wayne Krieger
Jeff Reardon
Jim Thompson
Ben Unger
Gail Whitsett

Find your legislators' e-mail addresses.

For more information on canola and the issues surrounding its production in the Willamette Valley, read the rest of the series, starting with "Oily Process: Canola Needs Closer Look" (links to other posts in the series at bottom).

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