|Wildlife benefit from agriculture's good neighbor policy|
By Bruce Pokarney
|Photo courtesy of OSU Extension and Experiment Station|
Yes, there is room enough for both. The interests of Oregon agriculture and the state's diverse wildlife species are not mutually exclusive. For generations, Oregon's farmers and ranchers have been trying to do the right thing, knowing full well that taking care of the land and water around them helps sustain their way of life. It also sustains the fish and wildlife that share the natural resource base.
"We are an important part of the economy and we are an important part of conserving the environment," says Douglas County rancher George Sandberg. "We are the ones on private lands that protect the wildlife, that have the ability to enhance the wildlife."
Taking some of their land out of production. Planting streamside vegetation to restore the habitat. Eradicating or controlling invasives and keeping them from overtaking native species important to birds and mammals. These are common management efforts willingly made by landowners across the state for the benefit of wildlife.
"We look at ourselves as being the front line of protection to make sure species don't go extinct," says Baker County rancher Bill Moore, president of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, whose operation sits in the shadows of the Blue Mountains.
Oregon agriculture has established a good neighbor policy that allows wildlife to thrive. Farmers and ranchers are sometimes victims of predation or crop damage caused by wildlife. Even so, they take steps to protect and enhance habitat with the idea of coexisting with the local fauna. Agricultural operators feel good about what they are doing. They should.
"These folks manage the resources for their own crops and animals, and also provide an incredible environmental benefit for all of us," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba. "If we don't have people in agriculture out there taking care of the land, who is going to take care of it? And what is going to be the cost to the public?"
Taking care of the land we've got
More than a dozen years ago, Polk County grass seed grower Mark Knaupp restored nearly 400 acres of marginal cropland to its natural condition as a wetland. Today, he enjoys the scenic beauty and return of wildlife-two desirable products of the land conversion. Most of that acreage has been placed into a permanent easement through the Wetland Reserve Program, a voluntary program administered by the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Technical and financial assistance helped the Knaupps develop natural habitat and find additional farm ground better suited to grow grass seed. This allowed the family to keep farming while setting aside the marginal land for something more appropriate. Plant and animal species have returned in high numbers. A rarely seen population of yellow-headed blackbirds has found its way to the wetland. The Knaupp family is pleased with the results.
"There's opportunity for your kids to really relate to a natural site, wildlife, and the plant community that they wouldn't otherwise have," says Knaupp. "I look at wetland restoration and the WRP program as a tool that individuals can look at. If it fits their economic situation, it can provide them greater stability. In addition, if you enjoy wildlife, there are huge aesthetic benefits."
Oregon farmers and ranchers provide food and habitat to more than 70 percent of the state's wildlife at different times of the year. Several agencies offer programs that protect natural resources. Nearly two million acres of private land are enrolled in federal conservation programs offered by NRCS. These programs provide funding and technical assistance for landowners to develop voluntary management plans with provisions for wildlife habitat. During fiscal year 2005-07, thanks to these programs, landowners installed management practices on 377,646 acres, directly benefiting wildlife. In most cases, landowners matched the federal investment dollarâ€‘forâ€‘dollar.
"I commend our farmers and ranchers for their continuing efforts to implement on-the-ground projects that help restore salmon, improve water quality, and provide habitat for wildlife," says ODA's Coba. "They continue to make investments in the land, make improvements, and take into consideration best practices."
Even though the Farm Bill provides financial and technical assistance to these farmers and ranchers, they often choose to undertake wildlife conservation activities at their own cost.
"Most people don't realize the extent to which Oregon's agricultural producers protect and improve fish and wildlife habitat through conservation on their cropland, pasture, range, and private forests," says NRCS State Conservationist Ron Alvarado. "It is common for them to protect rare and declining habitats and threatened and endangered species on their land, even when there is no economic benefit for their operations."
Agricultural operators don't have to take land out of production to help wildlife. Eastern Oregon farmers and ranchers have cleared juniper on working lands to improve habitat for sage grouse. Elsewhere, those whose property includes streams or rivers have installed buffers to reduce sediment, ultimately improving habitat for native fish.
Even when times are tough for producers, they often keep an obligation to wildlife. Bob Moore was one of many Klamath County farmers facing water shortages earlier this decade as irrigation was cut off to protect fish species. Moore was willing to plant grain in a field he could not water. He had no intention of harvesting and selling the grain. He simply wanted to provide food for geese and other birds.
Small farms produce big results
Clair Klock is willing to do a little less farming in exchange for improving wildlife habitat. Klock owns 27 acres near Larch Mountain in rural east Multnomah County that he turned into a berry operation. After 12 years of sweat and toil, he decided to get out of full time farming. Klock took a job as a specialist with the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District while continuing to run the farm on a part-time basis.
"We didn't need all that agricultural land," he says. "That's when we found out about the Oregon Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Program."
Operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the program rewards private landowners for helping wildlife. Eligible landowners develop a wildlife habitat plan with help from a cooperating agency. In return, landowners receive a property tax benefit. A major objective for Klock and other participants is to control invasive plant species. He has kept Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, and garlic mustard from getting established. This has protected native plant species that provide the all-important ingredients for good wildlife habitat.
"What we are talking about is habitat diversity," says Klock. "I've designed our farm so that we have conifers, broadleafs, shrubs, and open field habitat for raptors."
Klock took nine of his eleven farmable acres out of production and turned it over to numerous animal species common in the surrounding Columbia Gorge area-and some species that aren't so common.
"We've counted 21 species out in the field at one time or another," he says. "The birds we've seen include warblers, tanagers, thrushes, chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. The most rare species to come up to our feeder has been the Lazuli bunting. We also saw a gray-crowned rosy finch one time."
Ospreys and bald eagles also fly over quite frequently.
His blueberries, which are sold at local farmers' markets, are doing quite well thanks to the native pollinators that have populated the area.
The four-legged wildlife species include bears, elk, deer, bobcats, raccoons, and coyotes, which aren't problematic to the farm since there is no livestock.
"The elk can be a problem to our plantings at times and we have to shoo birds away from the berries two months out of the year," says Klock. "We probably lose up to 5 percent of the crop to predation."
But Klock has no regrets. Providing for wildlife fits his goals and objectives, and the state program makes it easier to do so. In his role with Clackamas SWCD, Klock has made hundreds of site visits to other farms, big and small.
"I've only met a handful of people who did not have some kind of wildlife goal or component in the management of their farm," he says.
More evidence that those in agriculture have good intentions where wildlife is concerned.
An Oregon icon
They don't call it the Beaver State for nothing. The beaver is found in most of Oregon's larger streams and rivers, and is sometimes called "nature's engineer." Beaver dams aid water flow and can provide erosion control. Ponds created by the dams help provide habitat for other wildlife.
However, there are justifiable reasons why some landowners are not beaver fans-and it has nothing to do with attending the University of Oregon. The dams may cause flooding of farmland in riparian zones. The buck-toothed rodents also have that nasty habit of chewing down trees. But for the Ernst Ranch near Dufur in Wasco County, enhancing beaver habitat was a goal.
"My relatives all thought they were a pain, but I always wondered what the big deal was," says Wasco County farmer and rancher Charlie Ernst, who shares 5,000 acres of land near Dry Creek with wildlife. "I always notice that areas where beavers live look a whole lot better than areas where they don't."
As its name implies, Dry Creek does not always flow freely with water. Thanks to beaver dams, ponds provide water for the cattle. Charlie Ernst says if he leaves the beavers alone, the creek will spread.
"With climate change, we are getting more of our precipitation as rain, but not snow," he says. "That means the water is more likely to run off. Beaver dams slow down that runoff, which gives you more water at the end of the year."
Ernst has enhanced beaver habitat by planting willow trees in riparian areas. Although some of the trees are felled by beavers, thousands of other trees remain. A few going to the beavers won't hurt, according to Ernst.
When beaver activity caused water to cover a dip in one of the roads on his property, Ernst raised the road three feet and moved it slightly away from the creek so as to not interfere with the animals. He says real restoration of the land comes from wildlife.
"I believe in letting the beavers do what they are naturally selected to do. They do a great job."
Living in harmony
Oregon farmers and ranchers understand the need to strike a balance between economics and the environment. Many producers do what they can to provide habitat. To them, wildlife is a sign of healthy land.
"There is no more land being made, and it's important to take care of what we have while, at the same time, make sure that land provides serious economic contributions to this state and this country," says rancher Bill Moore.
Benefits of wildlife to farmers and ranchers go beyond providing aesthetic and ecological value. Birds and small mammals eat insects and keep crop-destroying bugs from gaining the upper hand. Larger wildlife-including eagles, hawks, and owls-help control mice, rats, voles and other pests.
Some species that are enhanced through agriculture's efforts can turn around and create problems by consuming crops or killing livestock. In those instances, producers will do what they must to protect their livelihood. But in most cases, Oregon agriculture continues to live in harmony with nature.
|An interview with Bob Levy, Board of Agriculture chair|
Q: As you take over as chair, what are your thoughts about the Board of Agriculture?
|Bob Levy (right) replaces Ken Bailey (left) as board chair|
A: It's a great group from around the state that represents the wide diversity of agricultural products. The unique experiences of each board member helps the board to engage in agricultural issues of the state more comprehensively. All of them are great business people. They understand agriculture, not only their own industry segment, but the overall general agriculture economy. I have some big shoes to fill following Bernie Faber and Ken Bailey, the two chairs since I've been on the board. They have represented ODA and agriculture very well and I'm hopeful I can continue in that tradition.
Q: Are there key issues and areas you want the board to tackle?
A: I think the next few years are going to be unusually trying times for agriculture as the industry undergoes the same kind of stresses we've seen in the national economy. We are starting to see problems arise in the dairy, grass seed, and vegetable processing industries as well as other parts of agriculture. It's going to be important for the board to focus on critical issues and to transmit the views of agriculture to the general public; issues concerning labor, the environment, transportation, marketing, the new farm bill, and much more. It is important for the public to understand what is going on with our sector of the economy and how important agriculture is to the Oregon economy.
Q: Do you see the Board of Agriculture as a key communicator to the general public on ag issues?
A: Yes, the board gives agriculture a venue to get to the media in a way that otherwise may not be available. When a particular commodity group has an issue, ODA and the board can't always fix the problem, but we can offer a venue to get that issue out to the media and the public so they understand it.
Q: Have you seen the board evolve over the five years you have been a member?
A: When I started, the board was advisory to the ODA director. Legislation actually gave the board more responsibility and moved it from an advisory board to a policy board. I think the board is still attempting to evaluate and define what that additional responsibility means and determine the areas where we want to make policy. So, certainly the board has evolved the past few years and will continue to do so as we make that transition. It will be an exciting time for the board.
Q: What is your opinion of the Oregon Department of Agriculture?
A: I have nothing but praise for the staff of ODA and the job they do to represent and assist agriculture. Each ODA division performs an important function. The divisions handle issues that include food safety, animal health, invasive species, CAFOs, water quality, and many other programs. Every division is well run and protects agriculture from all kinds of things that can impact our markets and the ability to sell what we produce.
Every two years, state agencies and their employees do a lot of waiting, pacing, and praying as the state Legislature deliberates over budgets. This year was especially trying for all of us. The recession left Oregon state government about $3.6 billion short in revenue to continue operating at current levels. All agencies were directed to come up with budget plans that included cuts of up to 30 percent. ODA dutifully submitted its plan. On the list were program names and lots of numbers. But we knew this painful exercise really meant people and services. |
We used a set of principles to help guide us in developing the cut list. We prioritized programs based on such factors as protecting public health, potential economic development, environmental protection, and maintaining the agency's core mission. We also included a principle that placed new programs within the agency higher on the cut list. In the end, there was no way to limit the impacts on even our highest prioritized programs. We shared our proposal with the Board of Agriculture and industry representatives to make sure we were doing the right thing. The input we received was very helpful and emphasized a reluctance to weaken our food safety efforts in particular.
In my six years as director, this has been perhaps the most trying time at ODA. Throughout the uncertainty, ODA staff kept focused and continued to work hard, providing excellent customer service and performing in their usual professional way.
Flash forward to June. I'm happy to say that the ODA budget picture is not nearly as bad as it could have been. During budget hearings, lawmakers praised the work we do and industry groups gave testimonial support. In the end, the cuts we are taking are manageable, given the state's economic hardship. ODA is still taking a sizable General Fund cut for 2009-11 of more than 15 percent. We also have fewer lottery dollars this time around. That translates into losing about 15 full-time positions. Fortunately, through attrition and job vacancies kept open, the impact on our people is much less.
With the legislature preparing to finish its business and adjourn this summer, here are a few of the highlights from the Oregon Department of Agriculture's budget for the coming biennium:
- The Pesticide Use Reporting System (PURS) is suspended for 2009-2011. Resumption of the program and its funding will be considered in the next session.
- The Pesticide Analytical Response Center (PARC) remains funded and two limited duration pesticide investigator positions will be funded from pesticide registration fees.
- Reductions in lottery funding will eliminate two Agricultural Water Quality Program positions and one position in the Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) Program.
- Our Agricultural Development and Marketing program area is losing one trade manager position, but that reduction is making it possible to retain our Farm-to-School Program coordinator position. In addition, we were able to retain our renewable energy specialist position.
- ODA's Food Safety program area is receiving no additional reductions or fund shifts in this budget and will operate at a level similar to the most recent biennium.
There are other impacts to ODA's programs for 2009-2011. And as mentioned, there will be areas where our service level will need to be adjusted. But our customers will continue to see the level of professionalism and commitment that ODA staff constantly provide, and we will continue to do the best we can under challenging circumstances.
Two years from now when I'm waiting, pacing, and praying over budget matters, I'm hoping all of us will have weathered the economic storm and moved onto better times.
|Veterinarians volunteer for emergency response teams|
It's the animal health world's version of a volunteer fire department. But instead of firefighters, a team of veterinarians and technicians can now be called upon to help during an animal health emergency or a disaster event that affects animals. The Oregon Department of Agriculture has recruited, trained, and organized nearly 180 private practitioners and veterinary technicians around the state who can help during an emergency.
|ODA Field Veterinarian Julie Weikel instructs a volunteer.|
"We rely on the private veterinary community to help us accomplish our mission," says ODA's Don Hansen, state veterinarian. "Deputized private practitioners perform regulatory animal health functions every day, and serve as a ready reserve to assist us in controlling disease outbreaks and responding to many man made or natural disasters involving animals."
With just four veterinarians on staff, ODA does not have enough people and resources to handle a major disease outbreak in animals or to respond to such events as floods, fires, and earthquakes-all emergencies that impact pets and other animals. Private veterinarians and technicians were enlisted to form two separate response teams-one for animal diseases, the other for natural or man made disasters. Oregon is now ready to protect pets and livestock from calamitous events.
"We can't do it alone," says ODA Staff Veterinarian Dan Jemelka. "ODA is responsible for responding during the first 48 hours of a highly contagious disease by initiating a quarantine, preventing livestock movement, and preventing spread of the disease. This is where we need the help of private veterinarians in the field. We train them to be qualified in the Incident Command System (ICS), disease surveillance, sampling, and appropriate safety measures. These are the people who will help us initially contain a foreign animal disease in Oregon."
Of the two private practitioner groups created by ODA, the Oregon Veterinary Emergency Response Team deals with infectious animal diseases that could be economically devastating to the state's livestock industries. This volunteer group got its start several years ago after former State Veterinarian Andrew Clark saw the United Kingdom deal with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Clark felt mobilizing the personnel needed to handle such a large event required help from the private sector. The plan to use private vets took on more urgency following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The events of 9/11 provided a platform for a veterinary response team plan to move forward as the threat of bioterrorism became more plausible.
Outbreaks of exotic Newcastle disease in California poultry and highly pathogenic avian influenza in Canada near the Washington border gave momentum to the veterinary response team idea.
"Chances are we are either going to face these animal diseases in Oregon through accidental introduction or through terrorism," says Jemelka. "So we need to be vigilant and prepared to respond."
Another event on US soil led to the formation of a second volunteer unit of private vets. Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005. Closer to home in 2007, floods threatened several communities in northwest Oregon. Both events showed that animals, as well as people, can be imperiled during natural disasters and may need to be evacuated or treated. That led to both federal and state legislation to create emergency response plans for animals in disasters. ODA created a document to be used by all 36 counties providing guidelines for local responses. The document deals with both livestock and pets.
"More and more, we have to realize that pets are members of the family, and people will not evacuate during a disaster without their pets," says Jemelka.
As is the case with animal disease response plans, ODA recognized it would take more people to properly handle pets and livestock during a natural or man made disaster. Once again, the call went out for private veterinarians to volunteer for a new disaster response team. Currently, 40 private practitioners-many of them already trained in the animal disease response team-have stepped forward to serve in the new group. They have received extensive training in ICS, and know how to respond and assist animals involved in disasters.
"We need veterinarians to be able to respond to animal medical needs in disasters," says Jemelka. "We need qualified people to assess those medical issues and treat them when possible. These veterinarians may need to go through a triage process like human doctors do in a mass casualty situation."
Any response to a disaster would begin at a local level. Depending on the disaster scenario, the search and rescue of animals could stay local and not require additional help. But the larger the disaster, the greater the chance that state or regional resources would be needed. Having a dedicated group of private veterinarians to help state and federal officials makes the task less daunting.
ODA has encouraged practicing veterinarians to give back to the community by joining one of the two response teams. Many have heard the call and are ready to respond.
|Gypsy moth spray project completed in Eugene|
Despite a series of weather-related postponements, the Oregon Department of Agriculture successfully completed this year's only gypsy moth eradication project, treating 626 acres of residential property in southeast Eugene. Seven gypsy moths were detected in the area last summer. |
The project involved three applications by helicopter of the biological insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk), which has been used safely, effectively, and routinely in other gypsy moth eradication projects in Oregon since 1984. For the first time, the product used had been certified as an organic formulation.
Now that the eradication project is completed, ODA has initiated its annual detection program by placing gypsy moth traps throughout the state, with a higher density of trapping in the eradication area of Eugene to determine the effectiveness of the spray effort. Those traps will be checked during the summer and taken down in the fall.
|A new age of insect identification|
It's the dawn of a new age of insect identification. Digital imagery is allowing bug experts to communicate quickly and accurately with non-experts in identifying insect species-right down to the hair around a beetle's eyes. At the middle of all this excitement is the Oregon Department of Agriculture, which is combining world-class expertise with new and fairly exclusive equipment to provide striking close-up pictures of insects.
"A picture is worth a thousand words," says Jim Labonte, entomologist and noted beetle expert with ODA's Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program (IPPM). "This is especially true when identifying new exotic invasive insects that can be agricultural pests. Telling the difference between such pests and the approximately 20,000 species of insects already in Oregon is one of our prime missions. Fortunately, we have some powerful technology that was acquired with federal assistance to help with that responsibility."
The difference between the old way of identifying bugs and the new digital insect identification system used by ODA is like the difference between US mail and e-mail. In fact, images created by the new technology are routinely e-mailed to experts around the world who can quickly reply with an answer to the question, "what species of insect is this?"
"Under the old way of identifying insect pests, there would often be a huge lag time between finding a suspect pest and getting an actual confirmation from an expert elsewhere in the country or around the world," says Labonte. "Under the new method, we get an incredibly detailed picture of the unidentified insect, we e-mail it to the experts, and can conceivably get a response within an hour."
Taking pictures of insects under magnification has its drawbacks. The depth of the subject in focus decreases as magnification increases. Essentially, you only get one viewpoint of the bug. ODA now uses a digital camera mounted in tandem with a high-powered microscope to take pictures of a specimen, focusing at each level of depth. A corresponding lighting system removes or reduces shadows. Sophisticated software takes this "stack" of individual images and combines them into a single image that is in focus from top to bottom. The result is an incredibly clear picture of even the smallest insects and their body parts. It's amazing to see the finer details of an insect body's surface texture, right down to the tiny barbs along its legs. The difference is even more dramatic than comparing a picture on high definition television to a standard TV.
The process of solving an insect mystery at the IPPM laboratory is not unlike what takes place in the FBI forensic lab. A seemingly benign small twig with a white patch is submitted as a sample. Using the microscope and taking a stack of images, technician Steve Valley is able to identify a suspect insect-a scale that may be new to the West Coast. The scale is destructive to plants and gets its name from the round waxy secretion emitted by the female to protect herself and her eggs.
"We are photographing insects showing up for the first time in our surveys that we can't positively identify," says Valley. "I can take a digital picture, we can e-mail it to the experts on scales, and they can confirm what we have. This way, we don't have to rely on the snail mail system and sending a specimen off to someone. With all the specimens these experts receive, it could take months and months for that identification. Now, we can get results now back within a day or two."
If there is an infestation of an exotic insect species in Oregon, the new digital system will be able to identify the pest quickly and allow eradication or control measures to take place.
ODA receives funding on a regular basis from the US Forest Service to develop identification aids. For most groups of insects, there are fewer and fewer experts available. Most identification aids have very few pictures, making it difficult for non-specialists to interpret characteristics described only by words. A common example would be: "Viewed from the side, the thorax is either steep in the front or evenly curved throughout", with no pictures to help someone understand what these characteristics would really look like. IPPM's images can be used to illustrate details important in identification so that non-specialists can, at least in many cases, do their own identifications or at least quickly sort out those that threaten agriculture and forestry.
IPPM is gaining national and international recognition for producing identification tools. These include a hard copy guide to the woodwasps of North America (the first book to deal with that family and to use extended depth of field images) and identification aids for metallic wood boring beetles. Current projects include an image-based means of identifying groups of bark beetles and an identification aid for longhorned beetles.
With thousands of bark beetle species-many no bigger than the head of a pin-digital imagery is a tremendous help to those who need to know. The shape of the legs, the length of the antennae, and whether there is hair on the forehead are all made clear through pictures, not words.
The images created by the IPPM staff are better than anything that can be seen under a microscope, thanks to the compilation of all the individual snapshots taken at different depths through the microscope. For many species, nowhere else has a picture been taken. That makes ODA's ability to take insect identification to a higher level a very unique and valuable service.
|The new Century Farm & Ranch cookbook|
By Madeline MacGregor, ODA|
Recipe for the past, present and future
Use the following ingredients, and share the bounty with family and friends:
Find approximately 1,000 Oregon farms and ranches
(a minimum of 100 years old)
Blend well with old photos and handwritten notes
Add humor, anecdote, and love
Season well with memories
Pour ingredients into a colorful paperback binding
Make available to everyone who loves to eat!
The above recipe has resulted in the first ever publication from the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program (CF&R). The new "Eating It Up in Eden" CF&R cookbook marks the 50th anniversary of the program and as the forward aptly states, "...is a testament to the tenacity and creativity of Oregon's farm and ranch families, and their contributions to the state's deep agricultural heritage."
Nearly a hundred recipes are contained in the slim volume, accompanied by quotes from the contributors, and a list of those farms and ranches by county. Many of the original hand written documents were photographed and used to illustrate the book.
For several years, the CF&R management committee searched for a project that would not only bring the honorees closer together but also engage a broader public audience and garner support for the non-profit program. A cookbook seemed to be the logical solution; everyone in Oregon needs to eat, and most Oregonians appreciate how our early farming families helped shape the state we live in today.
Testing the fruits of his labor
Historian and CF&R management committee member, Richard H. Engeman, eagerly volunteered to author the book. Engeman is an avid cook himself and has collected old recipe and kitchen books as part of his culinary interest. One criteria for recipe induction into "Eating It Up in Eden" was for a small panel (read Engeman) to actually "trial" the recipes, as written.
Since many of the recipes assume knowledge of cooking skills and core ingredients, the handwritten notes (on cards or scraps of paper) occasionally give no indication of actual measurements. For example, a fresh ginger snap cookie recipe lets the cook to decide how much flour to add to the rest of the batter: "Take off (pan from stove) and stir in all the flour you can."
Engeman ran into a little trouble while trialing a Marionberry cobbler recipe submitted by Nancy Lewis of the Franklin James Lewis Century Farm.
According to the instructions, as each ingredient is layered into a baking pan, large capital letters exhort, "DO NOT STIR! DO NOT STIR!" Engeman, alone in his kitchen, was concentrating on melting butter and layering the ingredients-petrified to stir. At the very end of his layering process he realized that he had neglected to include a bowl of milk. He had no choice but to STIR! Engeman says that his cobbler turned into a most unfortunate soggy mess. He valiantly returned to the kitchen, repeated the recipe and this time-with "NO STIRRING!"-perfect Marrionberries rose to the top of the beautiful bubbling cobbler, just as the original cook had intended. Engeman says this should be a warning to follow the instructions as written-although the book does remind readers to consult modern day sources for safe canning and preserving guidelines.
Even recipe titles reflect a time when the kitchen was the heartbeat of the family and regional cooks earned fame for their harvest-time meals. Offerings like "Famous Ella Allen Raisin Pudding," "Mom's Mac ‘N Cheese For a Crowd," "Aunt Gretchen's Chewie Dewies," and "Fantastic Five-Hour Stew" are sprinkled liberally throughout.
Tipsy ducks and other homilies
Part of the fabric of social history is "hand-me-down" practical household tips like how to make peanut butter play dough, all-purpose spray cleaner, and homemade soap. If you want to shell peas without getting sore fingers, this is the book for you.
Need some advice on how to rustle up wild duck? Nancy Mohr from the Skei-Simmons Century Farm in Clackamas County submitted this tip dating back to the 1860s: "To catch wild ducks, soak wheat in strong alcohol and scatter where they (the ducks) eat and take them when they are drunk."
Food and family are the binding ingredients
CF&R Program Coordinator Glenn Mason says that the true spirit of the book is how it encourages urban dwellers to sit at the table with rural families. "The cookbook makes the program more personal-people aren't just hearing about the history of farming and ranching, they're learning about the ‘inside' stories that are shared experience. Food is common ground-whether you're a farmer or not. Preparing food in the family kitchen is a part of everyone's social history."
As if in echo to Mason's sentiments, an early 1900s recipe contributed by Roxie Hobart of the Josiah Wellington Hobart Farm in Clackamas County sums it up nicely:
1 can humor
Mix well and bake in warm oven. Serve to husband on Sundays with an extra large slice, but save some for every part of the year.
Several pounds of Affection
1 pint Neatness
Some holiday, birthday, and everyday Surprises
1 can Running Errands (Willing Brand)
I can powdered "Get Up When I Should"
1 bottle of "Keep Sunny All Day"
1 can of pure Thoughtfulness
Ordering the book
You may order "Eating It Up in Eden," published by the White House Grocery Press, by downloading a form online at http://oregon.gov/ODA/docs/pdf/eden_order_form.pdf
and enclosing a check to the Oregon Agricultural Education Foundation (OAEF). Books are $18.95 per copy, plus $2.50 shipping and handling (add 50¢ shipping and handling for each additional copy ordered at the same time). Please note on your check that it is for the CF&R Program Cookbook. Checks and order forms should be mailed to: Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program, Attn.: Glenn Mason, program coordinator, 8890 NW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97229. If you would like to pay with Visa or Master Card, you must use the form found on the ODA Web page, or contact Candace Seal at the Oregon Farm Bureau Office in Salem at 503-399-1701.
|Northwest Food Processors a national leader on energy efficiency|
By Stephanie Page, ODA renewable energy specialist
|The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.|
On February 17, 2009, the Northwest Food Processors Association (NWFPA) completed another step in a series of innovative energy accomplishments. NWFPA became the first organization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Energy documenting both parties' commitment to achieve energy efficiency goals. The association's accomplishments so far, and its plans for the future, serve as an example for other industries concerned about energy use, energy prices, and sustainability.
Pam Barrow, Energy Director for NWFPA, explains that the organization first decided to focus on energy during the energy crisis of 2001-2002. "Our members were concerned about how increased energy prices were affecting the cost of production," she says. "In 2003, they decided they needed to hire someone permanently to start an energy effort."
NWFPA received a grant from the US Department of Energy to conduct an energy outreach effort to food processors in several western states. "We also established an energy committee with members from various food processing plants who have energy responsibilities," says Barrow. "They meet on a regular basis and help us identify energy issues that are of particular importance to them."
Energy efficiency has been the top focus of the energy outreach effort. "We see energy efficiency as a real resource," states Barrow, "just like renewable energy or fossil fuel resources. Twenty-seven of our members are participating in the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance's Continuous Energy Improvement Program," explains Barrow. The program provides one-on-one assistance to help processors and other industrial facilities design customized energy efficiency plans, and implement measures such as efficient refrigeration systems, motors, lighting, and compressed air systems.
NWFPA continues to pursue even more progressive energy efficiency measures. Barrow says, "Last fall our executives got together and decided if we're really serious about this, we need to set a goal." As part of its memorandum of understanding with the US Department of Energy, NWFPA included goals to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent in 10 years, and by 50 percent in 20 years. Energy intensity is the amount of energy needed to produce a unit of product.
Part of the partnership with the Department of Energy will involve documenting processors' baseline energy intensity, so changes over time can be measured. "We'll also be doing energy audits in our processing plants, and identifying the most important energy efficiency opportunities," Barrow says. "We'll be using meters to track energy use of different components of each facility."
Barrow reports that the response from customers has been very positive. "Some of our folks supply SYSCO and Wal-Mart, and they have requirements regarding energy efficiency and sustainability. There also seems to be a growing interest among consumers about carbon footprints, how sustainable you are, and how energy efficient you are. It's really positive for a company to be able to say we have an energy program or sustainability program."
Besides the marketing benefits, there are also very tangible cost savings to energy efficiency measures. "We don't see energy prices decreasing any time in the future-probably they will be going up again," Barrow says. "We're sort of at a plateau right now, but there will be increases in price which increase our cost of production. With all the global competition and economic downturn, those are really challenges for the food processing industry."
Although NWFPA members have made huge strides to reduce energy intensity, barriers remain to greater efficiency. Although many energy incentives are available, NWFPA has identified additional incentives that would increase adoption of efficiency measures, including more funding for research and development of energy efficient technology.
NWFPA members have also observed it can be difficult for processors to identify opportunities for energy savings and appropriate technologies for their operations. To address this issue, NWFPA recently formed an affiliate group that will focus on innovation and productivity. The group will identify new technology and demonstrate new projects. "We have a project with the Gas Technology Institute to demonstrate an ultra high efficiency gas boiler in one of our food processing plants. Another company is doing a demonstration of a high efficiency dryer that will cut their natural gas use in about half," says Barrow.
Advising other groups on how to begin a similar energy efficiency effort, Barrow advises, "You really need to get a group together that's going to focus on this. That's what has really been part of our success. The members can come together, and we provide assistance to them. They're all busy running their businesses, so it really helps to have an association or group that they can rely on."
|Oregon specialty crops to get another shot in the arm|
|Over the next few months, the Oregon Department of Agriculture will look over grant proposals for project funding as part of a federal program for specialty crops. Approximately $1 million is available to agriculture industry associations, producer groups, commodity commissions, and local government agencies in Oregon. A multi-phase process is underway to find the best of the project proposals. Awards will be announced by the end of the year.|
The federal funds are part of the US Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Specialty crops are defined as commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in production of specialty crops.
"The Pacific Northwest is one of the most intensive specialty crop production areas in the country and will receive a boost from the federal funds," says ODA Director Katy Coba. "We have set up a process that should maximize the benefit these dollars will provide to our producers and keep them competitive in the marketplace."
This spring, ODA held listening sessions for producers, industry groups, and the public across the state to receive comment on areas of need and funding priorities for the 2009 round of specialty crop grants. Comments from these listening sessions were compiled and reviewed by an industry advisory board helping ODA in the process. The advisory board identified seven areas as priorities for the 2009 funding:
The advisory board of industry representatives and ODA will select the top ranked applicants in July. Successful applicants will be asked to submit full proposals by August 10, 2009. Projects chosen to receive funding will be announced by October or November of this year.
- Market development and access
- Product and varietal development
- Value-added initiatives
- Innovation and productivity
- Consumer education
- Food safety and traceability
- Certification and producer outreach.
ODA and the advisory board will look for innovative proposals and would like interested parties to submit collaborative project proposals that benefit Oregon producers as well as partners in surrounding states that share common specialty crops. Projects that benefit new producers or socially disadvantaged farmers will be given strong consideration.
Projects will be funded at a minimum level of $25,000 and a maximum level of $100,000 for a project timeline of up to two years. Applicants are encouraged to provide a dollar-for-dollar cash match.
Information on the Specialty Grant Program is available at: http://oregon.gov/ODA/ADMD/grants_spec_crops.shtml or by contacting ODA's Agricultural Development and Marketing Division at 503-872-6600.
|Katy Coba receives Distinguished Service Award|
At the most recent Board of Agriculture meeting in Salem, ODA Director Katy Coba received the Distinguished Service Award from Jerome Rosa, immediate past president of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and dairy producer from Gervais. The award highlights a long-term commitment to Oregon's dairy industry and is recognized as one of the highest honors given by Oregon dairy producers. |
|Oregon Ag Fest|
Mmmmm. Making butter is fun AND educational! Hazel Green second grader Cory Kudna (whose mom works for ODA) hams it up with KGW-TV's Drew Carney at this year's Oregon Ag Fest in Salem. Thanks to McDonald's Restaurants of Oregon and Southwest Washington, students of 27 local schools participating in an agriculture essay contest were bussed to Ag Fest, all expenses paid. Ag Fest is a family event featuring an array of interactive activities to help kids learn where their food and fiber comes from. |
|County fair dates|
|Baker County Fair
||August 5-8 |
|Benton County Fair
||July 29-August 1 |
|Clackamas County Fair
|Clatsop County Fair
||July 28-August 1|
|Columbia County Fair
|Coos County Fair
||July 28-August 1|
|Crook County Fair
|Curry County Fair
|Deschutes County Fair
||July 29-August 1|
|Douglas County Fair
|Gilliam County Fair
|Grant County Fair
|Harney County Fair
|Hood River County Fair
|Jackson County Fair
|Jefferson County Fair
|Josephine County Fair
|Klamath County Fair
|Lake County Fair
|Lane County Fair
|Lincoln County Fair
||No fair in 2009|
|Linn County Fair
|Malheur County Fair
||July 28-August 1|
|Marion County Fair
|Morrow County Fair
|Multnomah County Fair
|Polk County Fair
|Sherman County Fair
|Tillamook County Fair
|Umatilla County Fair
|Union County Fair
||July 29-August 1|
|Wallowa County Fair
|Wasco County Fair
|Washington County Fair
||July 30-August 2|
|Wheeler County Fair
|Yamhill County Fair
||July 29-August 1|