Tag: agriculture (page 1 of 3)

Why We Farm

It’s been a wet and slow start to the season here in Oregon. I’m sure by the time you read this article the memories of our record slow start will be forgotten. So with the objective of saving time I constructed a brief “multi-media” journal for this issue. (Less typing – more pictures and even a video)

Step one before reading this article: open your computer or phone internet connection and do a Google search for “start with why video.”  The video in question is a TEDX talk by author Simon Sinek.

At the beginning of 2016 I was working for an ag tech start-up company and collaborating with an international team on a project to clearly define the company’s marketing message and value proposition.  We sifted through multiple exercises to define the who, what, when, where, how and how much.  Ultimately the project produced the desired outcome.  During my research and gleaning ideas from the all-knowing internet I came across the video “Start with Why”.

It was apparent to me that the team had answered all the key questions except WHY.  Although not a necessity to market your company, the gentleman in the video demonstrates how WHY creates focused meaning within an organization and connections with its customers.

Inspiring urban Oregonians to have an enlightened perspective of Oregon agriculture is a monumental challenge.  Outreach programs like Adopt a Famer have created action through open-minded early-adopters, but we can accomplish even more.  Oregon agriculture and the Aglink membership are made up of diverse businesses and individuals.  Some know their WHY and other may struggle to define it.  Finding ways to distil Oregon Aglink’s collective WHY can be the catalyst to bridging the gap with the HOW of our Cultivating Common Ground initiative.

Some producers may farm and ranch for pride, others for the lifestyle and maybe some just simply because their parents and grandparents did.  Think how strong our collective messages would be if we could connect to consumers with inspiring statements of WHY we farm!

REAL Oregon

Warren G. Bennis, the founding chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California, and widely considered a pioneer in contemporary leadership studies, said, “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

If leaders are truly made rather than born, are we developing good leaders within Oregon agriculture? Before you answer that question, I’m not asking if we have good leaders within Oregon agriculture. Certainly we do. I could fill pages with names of distinguished leaders within our industry that I admire. But, are we developing them or are they getting those attributes from other resources?

Honestly, the answer is subjective and nuanced. One of the strengths of Oregon agriculture is the diverse number of associations and commodity commissions that represent our industry. Trade associations, in particular, have historically been leadership breeding grounds. While there are still organic leadership development elements in every association, the reality is that today most associations are made up of people who already possess certain leadership skills that are necessary to complete certain objectives.

Despite having great leaders throughout Oregon agriculture, I’d argue we’re not developing these leaders. Their leadership training is coming from other resources. Leadership development is a strategy and culture that needs to be nourished. It requires focus and a little fertilizer to help it grow, and not simply the loudest person talking bull…

A leadership development strategy defines the goals and expectations for leaders. It also defines the key capabilities, competencies, and experiences of a successful leader. They are not the same for every person or organization, but those definitions drive leadership selection, outcomes, and for the associations within Oregon agriculture it will help with program development. Managed in this strategic way, leadership becomes more than simple lip service for the industry.

So, where do we go for this leadership you ask?  Great question.

At the urging of a couple of growers in Malheur County a little over a year ago, OSU Extension agent Bill Buhrig started contacting agricultural representatives throughout Oregon about the creation of a natural resources leadership program. It’s not an original idea. After all, natural resource leadership programs exist in 38 other states, and Oregon even tried to launch a program at the turn of the century that didn’t quite get off the ground. Bill was persistent, and in short order had a steering committee in place representing 18 agriculture, fishery and forestry entities.

Throughout 2016 this group worked diligently to lay the groundwork for REAL (Resource Education & Agricultural Leadership program) Oregon. REAL Oregon is a leadership program that will bring future leaders from agriculture, fishing and forestry together to learn leadership skills and gain a greater understanding of Oregon through a series of statewide sessions. The mission is simple, but complex: Build natural resource leaders who make a difference for Oregon.

The first class is scheduled to begin in November, but this spring they’re accepting applications in what is hoped will be a competitive process.

The urban/rural divide in Oregon is real. The chasm feels like it’s getting exponentially larger. There is a lot of talk about bridging that gap, but it too often feels like a bridge to nowhere. Oregon’s natural resource community needs a legion of polished leaders who can both listen and represent our interests. As an industry it’s our responsibility to develop that army.

Bennis spent his career making leaders out of ordinary people. While only in its infancy, I believe this program can have the same impact for Oregon’s natural resource community. The program outline is in place. The resources to launch the program are there as well. The most important element for the success of the program are the people who become a part of it. For specifics about REAL Oregon, I encourage you to visit their Web site at www.realoregon.net. If you’re feeling really courageous, complete the program application to be a part of the first class. We need you.

 

 

 

Geoff Horning, Executive Director

 

Courtesy of the Media Circus

I am entering 2017 with a bit of apprehension and dismay, courtesy of the media circus that our election year produced.  The whole election fiasco wore me out.  There was nowhere to run and hide from pre- or post-election polls, opinions, and results.   To top it off, we had to hear about the countless number of protests happening, whether they had anything to do with the election choice or were a random march disputing the rights of the oppressed.

I would like to put all of the malicious actions, the he said/she said rhetoric, and the excuses behind. Instead, let’s focus on having more respect for others and their beliefs, cultures, and ages. All three of those played a key role in the election and what happened afterwards.  Although the presidential race was far from predictable, there were moments of sheer clarity. Apparently, we have entered a new era of generational diversity and culture clashes.  The conflict is real. The largest generation is aging and taking their “Team Player” mindset and leaving the work force. At the same time, younger cohorts are trying to validate their own importance with a tech-savvy mentality and a push for obscure cultural changes.

As a parent, I see the limit-pushing and electronic-loving temperament in my kids, but what better way to witness age variance and character contrasts than within our own family businesses?  I, for one, work with my parents from the “Traditionalist” generation, our long-time employees from the “Boomer” and “Generation X” eras, and just a few “Y” (Millennials) who round out our staff.   These four generations cover seventy-six years of knowledge and experience, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and each aging just the same.

Now that I’m in the Boomer category and no longer just the bosses’ daughter, I’m in denial that my “out on a limb” attitude has curved more towards the “better safe than sorry” territory. A few years ago, my sense of invincibility would allow me to gravitate to the scariest ride at the fair, to crawl onto a roof to stage the best Christmas light display, or to look risk straight in the eye and know that—no matter how this turns out—there would be someone to pick up the pieces.  Now, instead of jumping first and asking questions later, I’ve become more concerned about the bigger picture: is my choice going to affect someone else?

It’s crazy business becoming responsible, and it is quite clear that everyone does it on their own time. Maybe, though, that mix of generations and sensibilities is a good thing.  Being president of this fine organization has challenged me to think out of the box and to step out of my comfort zone to try something new.  The Oregon Aglink Board and the wonderful staff is made up of very progressive and knowledgeable people all stemming from different generations;  I see this and am excited for a coming year that promises to be one hell of a ride.

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

 

Social Media Madness

Lori PavlicekI struggled with what direction I wanted to go for this column.  I was passionate about many things taking place currently, but I didn’t know if I could comment without pushing an opinion.  On the other hand, SEX is something people like to think about, talk about, and act on, but is too broad to write about (I probably would give inaccurate terminology anyway). Last but not least, I still don’t want to head into any political arena with anyone, but politics did come into play when I finally chose to write about “social media,” how it affects our industry, and what we can do to improve what is being said.

“Social media” is a phrase that we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, to name a few. I, personally, have procrastinated up until last year from getting into the social media scene and slowly tackled the Instagram, Facebook, and most recently LinkedIn.  I had to enlist the aid of my 12-year-old daughter to get started on this endeavor and discovered that once you get signed up and ready, you are thrown into a whole new world. For instance, many organizations choose not to use “snail mail” anymore, so they send information to the members of the organization via one nice Facebook post. The most recent negative aspect of Facebook is the political crap (oops! did I say that?) that is being tossed around.

I enjoy Instagram, which is mostly pictures and short blurbs; it is more like seeing a picture book than reading a novel.  Instagram used to be the “spy on your child” media of choice, but according to my now 13 year old, Snapchat is the teen favorite way to drive your parents over the edge route. With Snapchat, your little darling can send a picture and/or text and once the recipient receives it, it lasts 10 seconds; I can’t even get focused to see a post in that amount of time.

Along with Instagram, Twitter is also taking the teens and young adults by storm. Your media whiz can post something and all their followers can get sucked into what has been said.  This age demographic takes in and spits out more information faster than any previous generation.

All of these forms of social media are all ways to communicate with your peers or anyone willing to listen.  The beauty of social media is the ability to spread information and get it into the hands that need it. At the same time, not everything you see and read on the internet is the truth. Unfortunately, the negative media is what people view first and react to.  Social media is how people form their opinions, so we want to help them form positive ones on issues we, as farmers, face.  Everything you post creates attention and how you interact with information shared generates a bigger footprint on line for that topic. Simply put, the more positive information being tossed around over the World Wide Web, the more people will gravitate towards a progressive view.

So, get on board and go out into the shared vortex of social media and convince your “friends” that Farming is Sexy and that we are doing the right things on our farms and ranches.  Post photos of happy cows, goats, and sheep basking in the sun.  Crops such as fruit, nuts, berries and vegetables make for great conversations, along with pics of the kids getting physical around the farm.  For those who are born with the gift of gab, “blogging” is an exceptional way to chat and give facts on certain subjects that others have no clue about.

Someone always cares what is being said: make an impression.

Lori's Signature

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

Leadership: A Family Tradition

by Mitch Lies

From left to right: Neal, Pamela, daugther Lauren Lucht

From left to right: Neal, Pamela, daugther Lauren Lucht

For Pamela Lucht, providing leadership to community and agricultural organizations is a family tradition.

Pamela, administrative manager for the family’s business, Northwest Transplants in Molalla, has served as treasurer on several boards and committees over the years, including six years as the Molalla FFA Alumni Chapter’s treasurer.

Recently, she took over as treasurer for Oregon Aglink.

“(Oregon Aglink Executive Director) Geoff Horning asked me if I would do it, and I said yes, because there was a need and I believe in what Oregon Aglink is doing,” Pamela said.

Her commitment to Oregon Aglink adds to the Lucht family’s legacy of leadership that dates back to Charlie Lucht, father of her husband, Neal.

Neal, president of the Oregon FFA Foundation and chairman of the Molalla River School District’s Board of Directors, tells a story about how he once asked Charlie why he participated in so many boards and committees.

“He looked at me incredulously and said: ‘Who else would you have do it?’ Leadership happens,” Neal said. “If the right people don’t choose to, the wrong people will. There is never an option for no leadership.’”

In addition to serving as treasurer of Oregon Aglink, Pamela and her farm participate in the organization’s popular Adopt a Farmer program.

“The Adopt a Farmer program is relatively new to us,” Pamela said, “and we are really excited about it.”

“My favorite thing is just seeing the kids get engaged and ask questions, and seeing the lightbulb come on when they start to understand the process,” said Neal and Pamela’s daughter, Lauren, who is the marketing director for Northwest Transplants.

“It is really fun to see that lightbulb come on,” added Neal, “to see that connection that somebody actually grows everything I eat.”

“I hope we are inspiring some entrepreneurship among some of those kids, too,” Pamela said.

That spirit of entrepreneurship has long been present in Northwest Transplants. The business started with just 11 greenhouses when Neal and Pamela purchased it from the Lucht family’s Crestview Farms in 1990.

Today Northwest Transplants operates 92 greenhouses, moving about 80 million seedlings a year through the operation.

The business’s origin came from the realization that the transplant technology they provide offers many benefits to producers, especially as the industry and consumer needs began to change.

“When I was growing up, we worked with transplants, but typically in old technologies,” Neal said. “We’d looked at other areas of the country and appreciated how they utilized their greenhouse plug-tray plants for field planting. But the management and production logistics had never really been thought out for the production of a variety of crops in our temperate climate.”

The farm sought advice from Oregon State Extension advisors and others, but found that no one had answers.

“They told us we really just couldn’t do it here,” Neal said. “So we spent three years working on solving the program of what combination of greenhouse management and technologies could be made into a commercial seedling production venture. We developed some of our own concepts on climate modification and greenhouse management to fit our economic resource of a seasonal climate.”

“Now we grow over 300 varieties of crops each year,” Lauren said, “including everything from medicinal herbs, such as stinging nettle, to traditional cold crops and crops that thrive in specific environments, like peppers and sweet potato.”

Although Northwest Transplants operates solely on a contract basis, its business model includes much more than simply taking orders from farmers.

“Many times we have to look at what growing trends are out there. How might we impact those crop systems for the future? What technologies can we bring with our ability to control climate to affect the outcome of that particular crop and affect its profitability?” Neal said.

“We do our research, and many times take it to our customers,” he added. ‘We are constantly managing our relationships with our customers, rather than just sitting back and waiting for a contract. We’ve always tried to stay focused on how can we grow the success of a particular grower and improve profitability on their farm.”

Northwest Transplants works with about 200 growers, both large and small, Neal said. The farm produces plugs in unique soil mixtures that are tailored for individual crops. The ingredients in their blends are sourced from all over the world. The organic mixture they produce, for example, calls for peat moss from Northeast Canada, vermiculite from South Africa or China, and another ingredient, which Neal wouldn’t reveal, from Northwest Canada.

Northwest Transplants today is in the process of completing what Neal described as the final phase of maxing out the capacity of the operation’s existing 20-acre site. The family farm recently purchased a 100-acre site across the street from its operation, which the family plans to use, at least in part, for production agriculture.

One thing certain to be in the mix for the Lucht family’s future is a continued emphasis on providing leadership to community and agricultural organizations.

“We are just really passionate about giving back,” said Lauren, who is a member of Oregon Aglink’s Adopt a Farmer Committee. “If you have the capability to lead, we believe you have the responsibility.”

 

Happy Birthday, Oregon Aglink!

Lori PavlicekIt is time to applaud one of the best organizations dedicated to growing agriculture in Oregon. Fift years in the making, Oregon Aglink began as the Agri-Business Council of Oregon, and has become the bridge between urban and rural Oregonians. Even though the term “agribusiness” worked, it didn’t describe who we are or what we want to achieve. Aglink is more defined, shares specific goals and ways to accomplish those goals with our members. Turning 50 is not easy, coming from someone who has been 49 for three years, but we plan to celebrate agriculture’s past, present, and future the best way we can…by throwing a party.

Who doesn’t enjoy cutting loose? I love throwing on a pair of boots and kicking up my heals and this “shindig” has got some real potential to be a barn burner, a figure of speech considering Victor Point Farms in Silverton has offered up their beautiful grass seed farm and straw shed to host!  Even though it is an over 21 event, the presence of farm families, ag businesses, and folks who just want to celebrate agriculture is always appreciated and a welcome sight. In addition to good food, libation, and mingling with people from all around the state, we can expect an extra helping of some down home music from local boy and Nashville recording artist, Ben Rue.

The Board of Directors wants to encourage members from all over Oregon to join us in our celebration. We periodically hold meetings in different parts of the state, such as a recent meeting we held in Baker City. With my youngest in tow, we saw beautiful fields and mountain ranges made up of shades of green, gold, blue, and brown. It was like a living quilt spread out over miles and miles of terrain. The farms and ranches encompass large swaths of land with small and larger cities dotted throughout. It truly was an enjoyable adventure. My daughter had no idea we could drive so far and still remain in Oregon, but she really enjoyed the small towns and found that each one had a different story to tell, along with a Starbucks or Dutch Brothers. I encourage everyone to take the time, and a road trip, to see what our Eastern, Central, and Southern Oregon neighbors have to offer.

In addition to seeing the beautiful countryside we met locals that shared our vision and desire to introduce our industry to the next generation of urban consumers. We are fortunate to belong to such a well preserved agricultural support group such as Oregon Aglink. It reminds us that we have come a long way in defending our way of life through education and promotion. While most people are several generations removed from the farm, you still come across many urbanites who have relatives on the farm, or have some attachment to a farm or ranch. We come across this many times with the Adopt a Farmer program when a teacher, parent, or chaperone hears or sees something that triggers a fond memory or previous experience. That memory becomes the link to their past and a better awareness of the present, just as the middle school students in the program are creating their own connection to their food and fiber.

Hopefully, you and yours will stop in and partake with family and friends from across Oregon on August 20th at Victor Point Farms to celebrate with us. Tickets must be bought ahead of time and can be purchased here or by calling 503-595-9121. Let’s honor the past 50 years and get a good start on the next!

Lori's Signature

 

 

 

Lori Pavlicek, President

 

Labels Matter. Unless They Don’t.

geoff horning oregon aglinkMy first reaction was one of relief. Then it was the fear of the unknown and then even a little bit of depression. Of course, the depression may have been a result of the lackluster performance of the Oregon Ducks on the gridiron.

My life changed forever on September 8, 2015. During the previous two weeks I had lost nearly 20 pounds of muscle mass. I felt fine, or so I thought. But, I was shrinking and it was starting to scare me. I was convinced I was dying of cancer. At the urging of friends I decided denial was the incorrect path and went to the doctor.

Good news. It wasn’t cancer. The diagnosis, however, shocked me. I was active, ate modestly healthy and certainly wasn’t obese by any definition. Still, my blood sugar was so high my doctor suspects that if I had remained in denial, they would have found me in a coma within a couple of weeks. The diagnosis: type 2 diabetes, likely triggered by an allergic reaction I had earlier in the year to an antibiotic for a sinus infection.

Though I knew a few people with diabetes, I really didn’t know anything about the disease other than “don’t eat sweets.” Oh, how simplistic and incorrect that statement is.

I’ll be honest. I’d never paid attention to labels before. To me they were all just a marketing ploy. Now, before I purchase anything I’m looking for specific things such as carbohydrates, fiber and sodium. Is it really whole grain, or has it been processed and simply labeled as a wheat product? What’s the serving size? Does it have good fat or bad fat?

I’m lucky. In a very short amount of time I was able to get my diabetes under control through diet and exercise. Still, every single time I eat or drink something I have to pay attention and know these answers. My life literally depends upon it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I’m not alone. There are hundreds of legitimate health reasons why people need to pay attention to the food they consume. The label is an important tool that helps us live healthy and productive lives.

Labels matter. Unless they don’t.

Millions upon millions of dollars are being spent throughout the United States in an effort to ensure our food is labeled if GMO technology is being used. Huh? What? I’m perplexed. Other than fear of not understanding, am I missing something?

In fact, I’m insulted. I need accurate food labels to maintain my health. Telling me it’s a Genetically Modified Organism literally tells me nothing at all. GMO is a term used for a process and not a specific product. It has multiple applications. If I wasn’t informed, I would think that it’s a specific product that I need to watch for. An unscientific study on my Facebook page indicated exactly that. Or worse.

Consumers who don’t want to eat genetically modified foods can already buy non-GMO food, which is clearly labeled and has become a thriving niche industry. Heck, on a recent trip through my local Fred Meyer garden center I stumbled across their marketing of GMO free herbs. Seriously? But a growing chorus says that’s not enough: Critics of GMOs want all food that uses genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as well, despite the lack of scientific evidence that the distinction carries any difference.

In recent weeks, in order to comply with a Vermont law that requires labeling by July 1, major food manufacturers like ConAgra Foods, General Mills and Kellogg’s amongst others announced plans to label food items that have GMOs, despite being opposed to the Vermont legislation. They argue that a federal standard, not a patchwork of state laws, should be the norm.

While I can understand their decision, I disagree wholeheartedly. As somebody who now understands the importance of knowing what’s in his food, a GMO label of any kind is not providing me with any beneficial information and is simply creating an atmosphere of fear at a time when we’re going to need science more than ever to feed the world. The epidemic of scaring people about their food may have larger consequences than the diabetes epidemic sweeping across America.

geoff horning signature

 

 

 

Geoff Horning, Executive Director

Oregon Agriculture Needs to Be More Proactive

geoff horningWhen it comes to being a fan of sports, I’m a pessimist. After 44 years of second place finishes, I expect my heart to be broken. I tend to live the rest of my life, though, as an optimist. A belief that common sense will rule the day. Listening to the political debates and testimony on the 400+ bills in Salem’s “short” session, I’m starting to think that common sense is being thrown out with the baby and the bath water.

Many of the issues have no impact on your ability to produce the food and fiber that are basic needs of everybody, but so many of them have unintended consequences that I fear we’re driving the family farmer out of business.

Oregon Aglink has taken great strides over the past several years to tell your story. Others, such as Oregon Women for Ag, Oregon Ag Fest, Farmers Ending Hunger, to name just a few, are doing a magnificent job of telling your story as well. It’s not hard to find positive publicity for an industry that is still the very foundation of this State.

Are we making progress? Absolutely. If you sit down and have a conversation with the majority of Oregonians I think you’ll find most are very respectful, almost reverent about the lifestyle and important role of local producers.

But (there’s always a but), those same Oregonians typically shrug their shoulders at the issues and challenges facing our industry. It’s not because they are mean spirited or even ignorant. They truly do trust you to feed their family. It has much more to do with the fact that they are so consumed with their busy lives that they don’t take the time to know what’s going on outside of their small community. They don’t care about the things that impact your ability to produce their food and fiber.

What they do learn comes from sound bites and social media. And, guess who has the funding resources and the loudest megaphone to dictate that message in Oregon? It’s definitely not the natural resources community. That leads to poor legislation and a constituency that thinks good things are happening because “it feels like the right thing to do.”

Research conducted by Oregon Aglink is very clear. The general public trusts the farmer more than anybody in the food chain. If I’m out telling your story by myself, you might as well hire a used car salesman to do my job. My credibility with the general public isn’t much better. Why? Because it’s perceived that I’m a hired gun only out for a paycheck. That’s not true, but perception is reality.

The good news is that Oregon Aglink is focused on making you the face of Oregon agriculture. Throughout 2016 we’ll be running a series of television commercials in Portland, Eugene and Medford. The entire focus of the “I am Oregon Agriculture” campaign will be about making a connection with Oregonians that local agriculture is made up of 98 percent family farms. With farm families telling that story.

The Adopt a Farmer Program, now in 47 schools and reaching almost 5,000 middle school students throughout Oregon, was specifically designed with the idea of connecting those students with one particular farmer throughout the school year. An emphasis of the program is putting a focus on the people and families who make up the farm.

Will these programs have instant impact? Probably not. We’ve got to play the long game, but to do that we need all of you to become more proactive. Get involved. Tell your story through us, or through one of the other great organizations that represents you. We have to make you the face of our industry before the family farm becomes extinct.

The Weather, The Economy and Economic Espionage

By Mitch Lies

Photos by Mallory Phelan

andres bergero bank of the westHigh consumer confidence supported by high home values and cheap oil provide an opportune time for agribusinesses to expand, according to a Bank of the West vice president to speak at Oregon Aglink’s annual meeting, Jan. 21 in Woodburn.

Andres Bergero, vice president and foreign exchange sales manager of Bank of the West’s Capital Markets Division, added that he expects the elements favoring expansion to remain in place for at least the next two years.

“These are the times to think about expansion, because right now, you can ride that wave of consumer confidence,” Bergero said. “You can expand because you’ll know the consumers will be there.

myron miles annual meeting“With oil prices down, American consumers are spending more, and that it not going to stop,” he said. “This parade has two to three years to go before it changes. That is how long a major change in the economy would take to deflect the consumer direction.

“The U.S. is poised to have a really good year in 2016 and 2017, as well,” he said.

Bergero’s presentation was part of a slate that included a look at how El Nino is influencing weather and insights into economic espionage.

In addition to propping up consumer confidence, Bergero said low oil prices also are lowering transportation costs for farmers, providing another good opportunity for farm expansion.

Bergero added that with Iran coming into the market, with Saudi Arabia maintaining production levels and with declining demand, he believes oil prices will stay low.

“Your cost, your margins for delivering and receiving goods are as low as they’ve been in a long, long time,” he said. “It’s time to think about what else can you do? What more can you do? What more markets can you reach?”

One element hampering economic prosperity in the farm sector is the strong U.S. dollar, Bergero said. Coupled with high unemployment in much of Europe, a relatively weak Chinese yuan and a volatile Chinese stock market, exporters “are not in the driver’s seat,” Bergero said.

Bergero added that the economic situation in China may trend lower, and that further Bank of China monitory actions may occur, including further rate cuts and even additional Yuan devaluations.molly mccarger annual meeting

“They are struggling,” he said, “and that chaos and lack of confidence in the market will continue to erode.

“I think the situation is much dire than they are predicting, and the yuan will continue to go down,” he said. “In fact, China is talking about another 5 to 10 percent devaluation of their currency.”

In Europe, Spain is experienced an unemployment rate of 25 percent, he said, and that’s not counting young adults from the age of 19 to 26. “Add that, and unemployment is closer to 40 percent,” he said, “and it is not that much different in Portugal.

“The only good light in the Eurozone is Germany,” he said. “They continue to export and to build.”

Bergero closed his presentation by advising participants to “look for low-hanging fruit to help fix whatever short-comings you may have. You should think about what can I do differently now, knowing that the consumers will be there in the next 12 to 24 months, knowing that interest rates will be low, knowing that oil will be low and knowing that the dollar is strong,” he said.

IMGJon Sorenson, a special agent with the FBI in Portland, followed Bergero’s presentation with tips for farm businesses to avoid economic espionage.

“You might think you won’t be targeted,” Sorenson said, “but you should realize you are a target.”

Intellectual property theft can result in lost revenue, lost jobs and damaged reputations, Sorenson said.

Among best practices Sorenson shared with meeting participants was to recognize your business’ vulnerability and to fix those risks.

“Make sure you have virus-scanning software,” Sorenson said. “Make sure you have firewalls. Make sure you destroy or wipe out any information on a hard drive before giving it back to a vendor or donating it.”

He advised businesses to conduct annual training to educate employees about risks.

“Have periodic training to remind employees of security threats that are out there,” Sorenson said. “And establish a reporting program, so that if someone has a suspicious contact or they click on an email and are afraid they got a virus on their computer, they have a path they can take to report it.”

When traveling to a foreign country, Sorenson advised participants to be careful about leaving items in hotel rooms that contain sensitive information.

“I have heard stories where people have left computers in their rooms, and people have accessed their computers by entering their rooms,” he said. “When traveling, make sure you keep computers and cellphones with you.”

When hosting a tour group, be aware that surreptitious individuals can access offices, plug a thumb drive into a computer, and download sensitive information.

Sorenson urged participants to call the FBI with any problems or questions.

“So many countries like to cut corners and steal what we have manufactured just to keep up with us,” he said. “Our job with the FBI is to try to help producers – whether it is ranchers, businesses, farmers – stop that economic espionage from happening.

“If you have problems or questions, please don’t hesitate to call the FBI and we’ll work with you to try to figure the whole situation out,” he said.

Sorenson was followed by Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Portland.andy bryant NOAA hydrologist

Bryant said that as of mid-January, snowpack in most of Oregon was about 10 percent higher than average, and in some areas, 80 percent higher.

That is in stark contrast to last year, when snowpack was at record low levels in much of Oregon, primarily due to high temperatures.

“Starting in December and January of last winter, all the way through the summer, we had very high temperatures,” Bryant said. “Typically, we were four to ten degrees above average on a monthly basis for much of the state.”

Between June 1 and Aug. 31 of last year, Bryant said the city of Portland broke the previous record for average daily high temperature by more than two degrees.

“Typically, when we break a record like that over the course of two or three months, we maybe break it by a tenth or two of a degree,” he said. “So it was a very significant period of hot weather.”

Bryant said to expect precipitation to slow in the spring, given that Oregon typically experiences warmer and drier than average spring conditions during El Nino.

“I know we’ve been wet, but we’ll see what things look like once we go all the way through March and April,” Bryant said.

“We’re not expecting a lot of precipitation, based on previous El Ninos,” he said.

He added that the outlook is for above-average temperatures continuing into the summer months.

“What we had last summer was really extreme, so we’re not expecting a repeat of that, but the overall trend is for above-average temperatures,” he said.

As for the water-supply forecast, he said to expect ample supplies in much of the state. The Willamette River at Salem, for example, is looking at about 90 percent of average, he said. “That is slightly below average, but for our needs here in the Willamette Valley, it would be plenty of water.”

Looking further out, Bryant said that forecasters are expecting a La Nina event to take place next year, which typically brings cooler and wetter temperatures in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Fourth Generation Farm Girl

By Mitch Lies

Lori & BrotherAs U.S. citizens drift further from the farm, efforts to educate urban residents about the economic, environmental and social benefits of agriculture become more valuable. That is the sentiment of Lori Pavlicek, the new president of Oregon Aglink and self-described “fourth-generation farm girl from Mount Angel.”

As president, Pavlicek said she hopes to continue growing the organization’s signature programs, including Adopt a Farmer and the Road Crop Signs, in an effort to keep with Oregon Aglink’s aim to educate urban Oregonians about agriculture.

She singled out the Adopt a Farmer program as particularly important.

“Bringing farms to urban kids who don’t have any idea of what farming is about is an integral part of our organization, and extremely important,” Pavlicek said.

The Road Crop Signs program she said also is invaluable in keeping agriculture in front of urban residents.

“It makes people look out and realize, ‘Oh, we’re in an ag area. I wonder what they grow here,’” she said. “It helps get people thinking about agriculture and where it is being done.”

Pavlicek also singled out Denim & Diamonds as a key event she plans to focus on during her tenure, both because of its fund-raising capacity and because it serves as an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that have excelled in advocating agriculture to Oregonians. The 2016 awards dinner and auction is scheduled Friday, November 18 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Pavlicek comes by her advocacy for agriculture naturally. The mother of two grew up working the family’s farm, 4B Farms, Inc., and continues to do so today, serving as office manager. She co-owns the farm with her brother, Jeff Butsch, and parents, Jim and Donna Butsch. (Pavlicek’s husband, Derek, is from an agricultural community, but works for Daimler Trucks North America.)

Pavlicek holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business from George Fox College in Newberg, and she has experience in helping start and manage a yogurt store in Tualatin. She came back to the farm in 1988 when the former office manager left the position.

The diverse farm raises hops, garlic, grass seed, filberts, squash for seed, beans and corn, among other crops.

Pavlicek’s commitment to community goes beyond her advocacy for agriculture. She also is president of the Mount Angel Community Foundation and is secretary of the Providence-Benedictine Nursing Center Board.

Pavlicek also served eighteen years on the Mount Angel Oktoberfest Board of Directors, before taking over as president of the foundation in 2010.

“I believe in community involvement,” she said. “If you don’t support your community, than you can’t expect anyone else to.”

Pavlicek said she is attracted to Oregon Aglink because of its commitment to promote the business, education and social benefits of agriculture.

“Farmers can be too busy to get involved in the promotion of agriculture, so I took an interest in that early on,” Pavlicek said. “That is where I gravitated to.”

Pavlicek also likes that Oregon Aglink stays out of politics. “It doesn’t take sides, which I think is important,” she said. “It is all about awareness of where food and fiber comes from and educating urban residents about the state’s natural resources.”

Geoff Horning, executive director of Oregon Aglink said he is excited to have Pavlicek leading the organization.

“Lori is such a great listener. She is not the most vocal person in a meeting, because she’s busy listening to the various points of view,” Horning said. “When she does speak, however, everybody in the room pays attention, because they know she’s heard the conversation from every angle and is making an informed decision or recommendation.

“We’re excited to have her leading our association over the next year,” he said.

Pavlicek, meanwhile, said she is honored to be serving as president in this, the 50th year of the organization. “This year we will be celebrating Oregon Aglink, which has been 50 years in the making,” Pavlicek said. “I’m honored to be selected as president and look forward to serving the organization in the upcoming year and beyond.”

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