Woodland owners call for meaningful Oregon climate policy
As a small woodlands owner and Christmas tree, fruit and vegetable farmer, I know that foresight and flexibility are essential to responding to the land, weather, market and political circumstances that everyone in agriculture faces.
That is why I am deeply disappointed with the Republican lawmakers who walked out of negotiations on the climate action bill. That is not how we get things done in Oregon.
If lawmakers have issues with a bill, it is their job to stay and make it better.
It is important for lawmakers to understand that many agricultural families in rural Oregon such as mine support strong climate action. For nearly 40 years we have been managing our land for long term sustainability and are taking responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and help our neighbors. The trees on my property help sequester carbon and clean the air for the greater metro region.
Farmers and ranchers are some of our most important land stewards. We have an important role to play in any solution to a changing climate — from tree farmers like me to our coastal dairy operators to eastern wheat farmers, from Hood River's Fruit Loop orchards to nurseries and diverse vegetable farms throughout the state.
These farms and ranches can implement management practices that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon stored in our forests and soil, providing a clear pathway for Oregon's vision of clean air, clean water and communities resilient to a changing climate.
That is why we have come together as the Oregon Climate and Agricultural Network (OrCAN), where more than 250 agriculture stakeholders in Oregon have signed on in support of strong climate policy.
We know that successful climate policy must include strong limits on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, voluntary incentives for climate-friendly agricultural practices and investments in farmworker health and safety for people who are working on the front lines of climate change.
Strong limits on greenhouse gas emissions must include holding large polluters accountable. Voluntary incentives could do so much to spur more sustainable practices such as selective cutting and longer timber harvest rotations, cover cropping and composting, hedgerow and riparian plantings, alternative manure management, pasture and range management, irrigation modernization projects, cleaner fuels for farm equipment, on-site renewable energy and farmland conservation.
Farmworker safety must include making funding available for transition to cleaner farm equipment, that provide immediate health benefits for farmworkers.
In Oregon we know it is possible to make a living in a way that isn't going to harm the planet for future generations. Agricultural enterprises like ours across the state are proving it every day.
Fair climate policy must be based on fact, not bullying scare tactics from those who refuse to compromise.
These sustainable practices matter to my husband and me personally. We have a 3-month-old granddaughter. We want to ensure that she will have clean air, clean water, and safe food to eat when she grows up.
We want to make sure that Oregon's beautiful forests are still here for her to enjoy, rather than being decimated by fire or drought.
That is why we and hundreds of other members of Oregon's agricultural community are calling on lawmakers to pass strong climate action this year.
Cathy Fantz and her husband, Roger, of Eagle Creek have owned and managed a 40-acre forest and farm in rural Clackamas County for over 36 years.
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