Willamette Valley is the heart of Oregon’s lucrative specialty seed, fresh vegetable, clover, and organic industries. It is recognized for having a unique climate which allows for these industries to thrive. The Willamette Valley should be preserved and protected for these special purposes. Allowing canola production in what is currently a protected district would undermine this world renowned resource, the Valley’s economically important seed production industry, and large network of vegetable growers as well as our local food supply. Canola can be, and is, grown in other parts of Oregon. Let’s keep it that way.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) should maintain the strongest possible protections for the Willamette Valley. Research from Oregon State University has demonstrated the risk of significant conflicts between existing specialty seed production and new canola planting on issues ranging from cross-contamination of high-value, pure seed strains to the introduction of hard-to-eradicate pests and plant diseases. To date, ODA has conducted no research that demonstrates the need for, or answers significant questions about, major shifts in its existing prohibitions on canola production in the Willamette Valley protected area. It is my belief that canola should continue to be banned from the Willamette Valley and the current canola rule be left in place, in full.
The ODA still wants canola in the Valley. Late in December, the ODA created a new proposed ruling that is dramatically different. In this version, the boundary remains the same and the total number of canola acreage allowed is theoretically 2,500. However, the ODA has the authority to grant a variance to a grower “near” the boundary to plant unlimited amounts of canola. These variances do not count towards the acreage cap – so why has the ODA listed a cap at all? And the rule does not prevent the ODA from increasing that cap at any time. Based on these facts, the cap appears to be a way to discourage public opposition.
Some growers that export their product to countries that have banned Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been warned that if canola (rapeseed) is allowed they will no longer accept contracts from them. It is my opinion that this action will economically devastate the Willamette Valley, and it will no longer be the agricultural jewel of Oregon.
There have been hearings in Salem about this issue, I testified yesterday (1/23/13) against the proposal. I would estimate that there were about 75 people in attendance with approximately 40 people testifying. It is my estimation that at least 90% testified against canola. It is my concern, after all these hearings and the overwhelming testimonies against canola in the Willamette Valley will be ignored, favoring special interests i.e., Monsanto.
The deadline to have our voices heard is 1/25/13, please call or e-mail your Legislatures and the ODA to demand this folly be stopped.
ODA: firstname.lastname@example.org …. Phone: 503-986-4550
Katherine Howard Newport, Oregon
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