ALBANY, OR -- Oregon Congresswomen Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Andrea Salinas hosted a listening session in Albany Friday, for the 2023 Farm Bill. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chair and other committee members joined the bipartisan session in Albany.
President of the Oregon Farm Bureau Angi Bailey was the first to speak. She told the committee, "In Oregon, we pride ourselves on our geographic and cultural diversity. But we also are very proud of our livestock and crop diversity. We grow more than 225 different crops, and there is no portion of the farm bill that we don’t consider significant to our industry." She then laid out a wish list, "Conservation programs should remain voluntary and climate change should not be used to mandate conservation practices." Bailey also wants increased crop protection and improvements to the rural childcare provision.
Rick Gaupo, with the Marion and Polk Food Share, was one of several who called for rebuilding the federal food stamp program. "SNAP benefits got reduced in February of this year - the emergency SNAP benefit. In March of this year, we saw our highest number of visits ever: 18,000."
Lauren Redman, CEO of Bend-based Newport Avenue Market and Oliver Lemons grocery stores, added, "I oppose large programmatic changes to SNAP, like block granting or migrating to bulk food distribution boxes - ideas that threaten the viability of grocery stores in the communities that need them most. Maintain SNAP Choice; one of the many reasons this program is successful is the ease of processing SNAP transactions for retailers, and beneficiaries can make their own decisions on which food items to purchase for their household."
Willamette Valley winemaker Dai Crisp is a Willamette Valley told the committee, "The specialty crop industry has never been interested in subsidies. What we’re really interested in is research. One of the things that’s a tremendous problem are invasive pests, and they come in the form of little voles and bugs from all over. And we really need to bolster our ability to deal with these critters."
Hemp farmers asked for better definitions of their crop, and others asked for better risk management tools like crop insurance.
In total, 53 people spoke, which the committee said was a record.