Comment on Worker Protection Standard Rulemaking

Posted on: December 8th, 2017

by Arwen McGilvra

Grass Seed

By Arwen McGilvra –

To Garnet Cooke at OR-OSHA,

I am very concerned about the OR-OSHA WPS PROPOSAL. I am the fourth generation to live on my families Willamette Valley farm. The farm my great-grandfather bought after leaving the dust bowl in North Dakota. The farm my grandfather and grandmother struggled to keep going during some rough years when the economy of our country was changing and the way we farm was changing too. They were able to turn things around and now my uncle farms this same land. If we had not cared for our land it would not be possible to pass it down from one generation to the next.

The care of our land includes the responsible use of pesticides. Without these important crop protection tools, we risk losing our crop to slugs, glassy cutworms, mites, beetles, sawflies and more. We have always worked hard to responsibly use these tools and have worked closely with our extension agents to find new and better ways to manage them, utilizing current science and up-to-date information from Oregon State University crop sciences and on-site information from our farm.

The current proposal for worker protection standards for application seems to be driven not by current science, but by lobbying from environmental activists, and therefore my concern.

These rules would impact not only my families farm, but our ability to enjoy peace and quiet and the use of our own home, which is just steps away from the nearest field.

While I agree that allowing a “shelter in place” alternative is safer for workers than having them leave their homes or workplaces during an application. I wonder at some of the other language in the proposal. The storage of personal household items is particularly vague, and I am left wondering how much of our stuff would have to be put in storage. My family has lived here a long time and has never had to pack up personal items, secure door and windows, and turn off air intakes during pesticide applications before.

My grandmother is still living on the farm with us at the age of 92, and is in good health. My grandfather lived to be 95 and was in good health until the last couple of months of his life. Both have been on the farm for 50 + years. In all that time they have not felt ill effects from crop protection applications, and my grandfather was the one doing most of the applying. Neither has the rest of the family. Of course, when applying these crop protection products, we have always used personal protection equipment (PPE) we used what was available to us at the time (PPE in 1952 being much different than it is today,) and appropriate to current standards.

There is a lot more that could be said, but I will end with one last thought, Oregon-specific rules make Oregon growers less competitive. We want to see the farm passed down to a fifth generation this will not happen if Oregon farmers are at a disadvantage by burdensome and arbitrary regulations, that do not have a scientific basis.

Pesticide applications are already tightly regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and off-target drift is subject to civil penalties. The current rules for application are working to protect our family, our home, our neighbors and employees. Any change should be based on new science, on understanding of our land and on corporation with farmers and extension agents.

I urge you to reject the current proposed rulemaking.


Arwen McGilvra

OWA Positions State:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) & Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

·         OWA supports requirements for chemicals that are reasonable and realistic, at a set fraction of an unsafe exposure.  For example, medicine is allowed a 10% safety margin but 1% is common for pesticide application.

and Food Safety

·         Responsible use of crop protection chemicals (pesticides) is one of the important tools that have made this abundance and quality possible.  OWA supports continued use of crop protection chemicals.  OWA supports verifiable, scientific evidence to determine the benefits versus the risks before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (or any other regulatory agency) takes any precipitous action against their registration or use.

If you would like to submit a comment of your own use the Oregon Farm Bureau Advocacy Portal.

OWA is OPPOSED to Ban on Aerial Spraying

Posted on: April 25th, 2017

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture are opposed to Lincoln County ballot measure 21-177.  This letter to the editor was submitted to the Newport Times on February 21st by OWA Past President and Lincoln County resident, Deanna Dyksterhuis.

To the Editor:

The ballot measure language banning all aerial  spraying in Lincoln County is misleading. (Same for the flyer dropped on your doorstep Sunday, February 12.)

These “corporations” are families (some large and many small) who have been responsibly managing their farms and timberland for generations.

The class of pesticides used on small woodlands, farms and timber have been researched extensively for over 50 years with solid data proving they are safe (not harmful) when applied as directed.

These pesticides are formulated only for specific brush control and insects that damage trees.

There is a required buffer area of 60′ or more around all creeks, rivers and water sources.

These pesticides do NOT contaminate the soil.

In eliminating dense brush, the sun can reach the forest floor vastly improving wildlife habitat.

These pesticides are applied only on timber acreage, which do NOT include urban neighborhoods, recreational areas, neighbors who do not want their timber sprayed or waterways.

This ballot measure authorizes “any person” to “take direct action” for enforcement. This “action” is defined as “self-government”. This is not true. This is criminal activity outside the law. The proponents also demand immunity from “civil or criminal action”. In other words they cannot be punished for causing physical harm or property damage.

Vote NO on Ballot Measure 21-177

Deanna Dyksterhuis, retired farmer

From OWA’s policy positions: 

OWA supports the pesticide pre-emption statute that says that all regulation of pesticides can only be done at the state or federal level.

OWA supports current RIGHT-TO-FARM laws. This protects farmers and ranchers from complaints and legal action by neighbors who are irritated with noise, dust, smoke, odor, etc. which are an integral part of producing food and fiber.
OWA supports flexibility and choices by individuals as opposed to regulatory command and control in making management decisions.

Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

Posted on: March 23rd, 2017

by Arwen McGilvra

Seven Things You Should Know About Large Dairies

By Melinda Petersen, Marion-Clackamas Chapter –

Oregon has 228 family dairy farms, ranging from fewer than 100 cows being milked each day to more than 30,000. Regardless of the size of the farm, there are certain values, standards and management practices that every Oregon dairy farmer has in common.

Oregon has 228 family dairy farms, ranging from fewer than 100 cows being milked each day to more than 30,000. It’s a misperception that larger farms are somehow not as good for the animals, environment, employees or community. Farm size does not determine farm quality. Here are seven things you should know about large dairy farms:

  1. They are good stewards of the air, land and water. No matter how many cows they milk, farmers care for their land and their natural resources. It’s important to them to do the right thing and be good neighbors and members of the community and they take the initiative to do so by voluntarily implementing best management practices on their own.
  1. Their cows are well cared for. Dairy farmers’ commitment to providing high quality milk begins with taking good care of their cows. On farms of all sizes, farmers work with nutritionists and veterinarians to provide a nutritious diet, great medical care and healthy living conditions. Cow comfort is key to a farmer’s livelihood.
  1. They follow the rules. Large farms must meet state and federal standards, and they face the same kinds of regulations and oversight as smaller farms. They have regular inspections of their operations to check for and ensure compliance.Dairy is one of the most regulated industries in the U.S.
  1. On dairy farms, sustainability is not just a buzzword.Sustainability is not just a buzzword. Farmers are innovating and working toward a sustainable future. They are increasingly working smarter with robotics, automated feeders, methane digesters, precision agriculture, solar panels and beneficial use of waste to increase efficiency and reduce impacts. Large scale farms allow optimal use of scarce resources such as water, energy and land.
  1. Food safety starts at the farm. Milk is one of the most tested and regulated food products, and all farmers employ rigorous standards, practices and procedures to ensure that it is kept pure, cold and safe. Farmers are held personally responsible for the quality of the milk that comes from their farms.
  1. Oregon dairies are family owned. Even the largest Oregon dairies are family owned. Dairy farmers take great pride in their work, and they want to continue working on the same land so they can continue providing the nutritious food that we enjoy and depend on. It is their legacy.
  1. They coexist alongside smaller farms. Large farms support smaller farmers and vice versa. Not all farms produce milk for the same processors or the same dairy products or the same consumer markets. There is room for farms of all sizes and types – organic and conventional – to thrive.

Melinda Petersen, Marion-Clackamas Chapter of Oregon Women for AgricultureI grew up on a small dairy here in Oregon, and now I work for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. I have personally visited 46 dairies – large, small, organic and conventional – across 15 counties in Oregon. This includes two visits to Threemile Canyon Farms, Oregon’s largest dairy. The farm is an impeccable operation boasting socially responsible and environmentally sound business practices, exceeding industry standards. In a recent third party evaluation, the dairy scored 100% for cow care.

The farm has many longtime employees, supports the local community and contributes generously to Farmers Ending Hunger and the Oregon Food Bank. I would encourage you to visit their website to learn more.

I am glad to answer your questions or provide additional information about the dairy industry any time. Call me at 971-673-2732 or email me.

Additional Resources

OWA Opposes Measure 97

Posted on: September 21st, 2016

by Arwen McGilvra

d97-join-sidebar-03Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes any additional taxes that would be burdensome to business owners, farmers, ranchers and the citizen of the state.

Measure 97 has been billed as a way to make out of state businesses pay their fair share. However, that is not the case. It will affect many Oregon businesses, and ultimately all the residents of the State.

It will affect family farms who buy their fertilizer, fuel and other inputs from local companies like Wilco and Coastal Farms.

A study by the nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) concluded that most of this tax on sales would end up being paid by Oregon consumers through higher prices on nearly everything we buy – including gasoline, utilities, clothing, medicine, and even food – costing the average Oregon household over $600 every year.

This measure’s $6 billion tax increase on companies’ sales in Oregon would badly damage our state’s economy and job market. In fact, the in-depth LRO study concluded that this giant tax increase would result in over 38,000 lost private sector jobs in Oregon.

Because this would be a new tax on gross salesnot profits – businesses would be required to pay the tax on their total revenues, regardless of whether they make a large profit, a small profit, or no profit at all. That would mean many employers would have to raise prices or cut jobs, or both.

The Portland Tribune calls it, “… a sales tax and will be most burdensome to the low-income Oregonians who can least afford to pay.” Editorial: Beware of sales tax lurking in disguise.

Please take some time to learn about this measure and join us in voting NO on Measure 97! See also editorials from the Who will pay Measure 97’s tax?, The Bend Bulletin More bad news about Measure 97, The Capital Press Oregonians, not corporations, will pay IP 28 tax, and the Wall Street Journal Oregon’s Regressive Tax Referendum.

OWA’s Position Statement on Taxes

  • OWA supports measures that will provide tax simplification for farmers, ranchers, and business and opposes any effort to make tax laws more burdensome.

Please visit No on Measure 97 for more information.


Posted on: May 23rd, 2016

by Marie Bowers


Oregon Women for Agriculture supports the multiple use of public land with emphasis on stewardship. Oregon Women for Agriculture (OWA) was founded in 1969 and is an all-volunteer organization that works to see that agricultural interests are heard and dealt with fairly.  OWA’s members include farmers, ranchers, foresters and other individuals who have an interest in promoting the importance of today’s agriculture to Oregon’s environment and economy.

OWA is opposed to a National Monument being put in place without local input. Today many ranching families in Malheur County rely on the public grounds of what is proposed to be the Owyhee Canyon land monument. This proposed 2.5 million acre designation would consume 40% of the county’s total land base and would close down the cattle industry, which is the primary income of its residents. In 2014, cattle & calves were Oregon’s largest income generating commodity and Malheur County produces the majority of Oregon’s beef cattle.

Malheur County and Oregon ranchers are stewards of the land. Today the majority of this ground is grazed, as the soil types and minimal annual rainfall does not allow for crops to be grown. The cattle that graze this ground help promote a balanced and diverse ecosystem. This would cease to exist if the residents of the local communities no longer controlled management. Livestock grazing prevents fires, controls nonnative species and promotes wildlife diversity. The practices used by Oregon ranchers today have helped preserve a vastly unique, beautiful and healthy environment in a very remote corner of the state.

This national monument designation would force out local management. Those who know and understand the local environment will no longer be able to care for the land, provide for their families or contribute to the Oregon economy. When Oregon’s farmers and ranchers succeed, the entire state succeeds.

We urge you to join us in OPPOSING the Owyhee Canyon Land National Monument designation.

Visit Our Land, Our Voice for more information and to sign the petition.

Owyhee Field Sign

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