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ODA Director assesses Oregon agriculture 2014
1/1/2014

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Despite some unique challenges cropping up the past 12 months, Oregon agriculture generally remains in great shape and is poised to do well again in 2014, according to the state’s top ag official:


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From a production standpoint, 2013 was another record breaking year for the state’s farmers and ranchers, according to Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba:

COBA:  “We have just been blessed, in general, with good weather, market prices that are holding firm. So we just continue see that steady increase coming out of the downturn in 2008. Most of the sectors of agriculture are really doing well. That’s what we like to see.”  :17



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But 2013 was not without its challenges. It was the year that the state gained international attention because of the discovery of genetically modified wheat in an Oregon field– it wasn’t supposed to be there. It was an event that temporarily shut down key Asian export markets which have since reopened the doors to Oregon wheat:

COBA:  “Thrilled in hindsight, but certainly going through that, it was a huge challenge for us and has raised to the next level the whole focus around genetically engineered agricultural products.”  :13



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With the Governor appointing a task force to look into a potential statewide policy on GM crops, Coba expects genetically modified to be the top issue facing agriculture in 2014. Other key issues to track in the new year include pesticide use and regulation, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and the passage of a US Farm Bill so vital to Oregon agriculture. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.



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COBA says the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that provides a statewide pre-emption of any local regulation of genetically engineered products, with the exception of Jackson County:

“The Governor signed that bill but agreed to pull together a task force to look at what should be a statewide policy or if there should be statewide regulation of genetically engineered agriculture. That work is going to start in January. This isn’t only happening in Oregon. It’s happening at the national level, it’s happening in other states.”  :20



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COBA says it’s extremely important for Congress to finally pass a Farm Bill as soon as possible:

“For us, in Oregon, the support of specialty crops is very important. The research component is incredibly important. The conservation title is very important. So there is a lot of things in the Farm Bill that are important to Oregon agriculture and we just have to get a bill passed.”  :16



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