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Pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill
To preserve Oregon's award-winning wine industry, lawmakers need to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill.
Between harvest, crush and bottling, fall is a busy time for wineries. Our business is tied to the seasons, to the natural cycles. But unlike many businesses, our planning is not focused on the next quarter, but the next generation.
As owners of family farms, our business is intergenerational. When we plant grapes, we are planning 50 years out. It takes several years before the first wine harvest and decades for grape vines to mature. And we can tell you from experience, we are having to adapt our business model due to the changing climate.
Every one of us in Oregon feels the climate, but as farmers, our livelihoods depend on it. Over the last decade, warmer and drier weather has started affecting what we grow. Instead of planting the pinot noir grapes Oregon is famous for around the world, we are already starting to plant other varietals, such as Syrah, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo that can withstand higher temperatures.
Addressing climate change is one of the biggest issues that affects whether our wineries will be successful in the next generation. That's why we support the Clean Energy Jobs bill, up for passage by the Oregon Legislature in 2019. The bill limits and puts a price on the amount of climate pollution can be put into our air, and the proceeds generated from that price will be reinvested into farms like ours, helping us become more sustainable, resilient and successful.
The Clean Energy Jobs bill will limit climate pollution from the largest sources, help rural communities transition to clean energy and help us prepare for the changing climate. The provisions to help farmers implement soil health and carbon capture techniques are important elements for our industry. We also care about sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, and appreciate that the Clean Energy Jobs bill will help rural businesses add solar panels and implement energy efficiency improvements, like drip irrigation and more efficient equipment.
Oregon's wine industry is made up mostly of small producers, yet has a major role to play in our economy. Oregon wineries and vineyards employ over 17,000 people and contribute over $3 billion to Oregon's economy each year. With nearly 700 wineries in Oregon, tourists visit from all over the world, helping our economy tremendously.
For the wine industry to thrive we need to take care of the air and the land for our future and our children's future. That's why, as our legislators gather in Salem next month, we urge them to consider Clean Energy Jobs an urgent priority for 2019.
Barbara Gross is Cooper Mountain Vineyards operations director; Annedria Beckham and her husband own Beckham Estate Vineyard near Sherwood
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