By Kendra Kimbirauskas
Recently, in an attempt to further define the role of the Board of Agriculture (BOA) to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and help the BOA focus on issues critical to “agriculture,” a survey was circulated to stakeholder organizations – those groups working in the food and agricultural production across Oregon.
According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) website, the State Board of Agriculture’s current mission is to advise the Department regarding:
“the implementation, administration and enforcement of department programs and the development of department policies designed to positively affect the agricultural industry in this state, including but not limited to programs and policies to: 1. Address the continuing changes and adjustments in agricultural industries. 2.Foster the natural resources of the state to provide ample opportunities for productive and beneficial agricultural enterprise. 3.Guide the department in ensuring the viability of the agricultural industry in this state.”
In August, I received a personal call from Board of Agriculture (BOA) member, Lynn Youngbar asking if Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF) would be willing to participate. The call came as a surprise, because historically, the Board has worked exclusively with the agribusiness lobby focusing solely on commodity production. When issues of concern outside the normal scope of the industry have arisen, those matters have been often seen as adversarial or unwarranted.
Given that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with industrial food, and in light of the mainstream media attention on local foods and family farms, I thought that perhaps the Board was looking to ensure that their work encompasses all issues facing Oregon agriculture. Maybe the Board was looking to turnover a new leaf.