Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Workshop - Habitat Conservation for Wild Pollinator


Habitat Conservation for Wild Pollinators:

Enhancing Crop Pollination in the Face of Honey Bee Declines

Overlooked by many growers, unmanaged native bees may be important crop pollinators. The presence of nearby natural areas and on-farm habitat, as well as pesticide use, strongly impacts this vital service. And, with honey bees harder to acquire each year, the importance of our native species continues to increase.

Designed primarily for NRCS and SWCD personnel, or other natural resource professionals, this workshop will cover the latest research on crop pollination by native bees and the most important steps you can take to help ensure that conservation buffers provide the best possible habitat for these insects. You will also learn about the new NRCS Plant Materials Technology Note on pollinator habitat specific to Oregon that is scheduled for release in June. We will spend the first half indoors and then go into the field to look at habitat features for pollinators.


Mace Vaughan is Conservation Director at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon dedicated to invertebrate conservation and providing practical advice on habitat management for pollinators.

Kathy Pendergrass is the Oregon State Plant Materials Specialist for the NRCS and is writing the NRCS Plant Materials Technology Note on how to enhance habitat for pollinators, particularly on plant information and choices for the state of Oregon.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 26, 2007, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

WHERE: NRCS Plant Material Center, 3415 NE Granger Ave., Corvallis, OR

RSVP: Joe Williams at 541-757-4812 x. 102 or joe.williams@or.usda.gov

Directions from I-5

• Merge onto PACIFIC BLVD SE / OR-99E S via EXIT 234B toward ALBANY.
• Keep RIGHT at the fork to continue on PACIFIC BLVD SE / OR-99E S. (0.9 miles)
• Take the US-20 ramp toward ALBANY / CITY CENTER / CORVALLIS. (0.2 miles)
• Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto US-20 W / LYON ST S / ALBANY-CORVALLIS HWY. Continue to follow US-20 W / ALBANY-CORVALLIS HWY. (5.3 miles)
• Turn RIGHT onto NE GRANGER AVE. (<0.1 miles)
• End at 3415 NE Granger Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330-9620


The Xerces Society for Invertebrate ConservationThe Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization thatprotects the diversity of life through invertebrate conservation. Tojoin the Society, make a contribution, or read about our work,please visit www.xerces.org.

Matthew ShepherdDirector, Pollinator Conservation Program
4828 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR 97215
USATel: 503-232 6639 Cell: 503-807 1577 Fax: 503-233 6794
Email: mdshepherd@xerces.org

Monday, June 4, 2007

Farm Impact Statement: The Farmers - by Jim Hunter

We've heard a couple of anecdotes recently. One from a transplanted farm girl, who said that in her community they had bumbers stickers that said, "Don't talk bad about farmers with your mouth full."

The other was a joke from a Midwesterner: A farmer won the lottery and a reporter asked him what he would do with his winnings. The farmer replied: "Keep farming until the money runs out."

These two stories are telling in terms of how farmers view their occupation. And yet old time local farmers appear beaten down and ready to give up farming. Some would say they have dollar signs in their eyes. Others have said that they don't really feel good about developing their land, but what else can they do?

Clark County's old time farmers deserve another choice of what to do, and that choice is something called transfer of development rights. We'll talk more about that later, but first, let's look at how Clark County farmers got so pessimistic.

For many farmers across the nation in all started in the 1970's. Richard Nixon was a president of bold initiatives and opened trade with China and the Soviet Union, most importantly a deal to sell grain to a hungry Soviet Union. His Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz told farmers to
specialize and "Get big or get out." He told them the U.S. was going to feed the world. A lasting food legacy of that administration is the Women, Infants and Childrens program, which puts script into mother's hands to buy nutritious food products.

Domestically in era of environmental concern, Congress passed and Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, The Clean Air Act and The Clean Water Act. Nixon also established the Environmental Protection Agency.

But Peanut Farmer Jimmy Carter had a human rights agenda and used a grain embargo to punish the Soviets for the occupation of Afghanistan (hmmmm). The Soviets called in a food loan from India, and the only folks to suffer were American grain farmers. That was the beginning of the 1980's Farm Crisis.

Since then the domestic agenda has continued to ask more and more from the American farmer in terms of environmental protection and employment standards. In themselves these are programs that benefit the public, but farmers feel they are bearing inequitable share of the responsibility. But more galling yet, is that they are asked to meet these high standards, while the government's global trade policies expose them to competitors that face no such standards.

Given these circumstances it should come as no surprise that Washington raspberry farmers will not even bother to pick their vines this year, and Clark County farmers see no option but to sell out to the developers.

But at the same moment in history, movements calling for slow food, local food and sustainable farming practices offer a way out. The cover of Time Magazine shouts, "Forget Organic, Buy Local."

Clark County is a bit behind the curve compared to other counties in the state but there is nothing to say we can't catch up. Agricultural economic development efforts to build the infrastructure for a sustainable local food economy are doable. Local food in the school
programs, government partnership in farmer's markets, funding of community commercial kitchens to add value to ag products, and mobile U.S.D.A. slaughtering facilities are all strategies being pursued right here in Washington.

These strategies must go hand in hand with the effort to preserve farm lands. One preservation strategy is to purchase the rights of farmers to develop their land in exchange for committing to keep the land in agriculture in perpetuity.

Another strategy would be to let farmers develop the number of lots allowable under current zoning but encourage them to cluster those lots on the least productive land, while committing to keep the best in farm land.

Some world weary farmers will express skepticism at working with government on such a program, but until we have a concrete program in place, who can judge. But whatever we do, let's not call it a subsidy, because it isn't and farmers don't like that word. It's more like a

Some will say who would take such a deal with the prices developers will offer. Some may not, but as Commissioner Boldt has said, "They just want a retirement." A retirement doesn't require a lottery jackpot, and if I know the real farmers in this community they'd much rather rest comfortably in retirement knowing their land continues to grow fresh, local food, rather than subdivisions.

Tell our commissioners not to give Clark County agriculture up for dead yet. The first step is to save the "last of the best" of the county's farm land.

Please attend one of the two upcoming public comment sessions being held by the county commissioners. This is your opportunity to let the commissioners hear your feelings on local agriculture and the county's Comprehensive Growth Plan.

June 5th and June 6th - 6:30 pm on both evenings
BOCC Hearing Room, 1300 Franklin Street, 6th Floor
Vancouver, WA 98660

Link to Map: