WASHINGTON, DC – The Oregon Farm Bureau Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation announced this week that Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley has been selected to receive the 2014 Friend of Farm Bureau Award. The Friend of Farm Bureau Award is given at the end of each Congress to members of Congress who are nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors in recognition of their work on behalf of farming and ranching families in their home state.
“From our berries and grass seed in the west to wheat and beef in the east, Oregon’s farms and ranches produce amazing, high-quality goods that are highly valued across the country and the world,” said Merkley. “That’s why agriculture is the backbone of our economy in so many communities across Oregon. I’ve gone to bat for our family farmers and ranchers in the Senate and I will keep fighting for them, because Oregon wouldn’t be the same without our farming and ranching families. They deserve a strong voice in Washington.”
Senator Merkley has been a champion for Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers. He worked with his colleagues in the Senate to pass a bipartisan farm bill that was signed into law in February 2014. In that bill, he authored and led the successful fight to pass a bipartisan amendment to level the crop insurance playing field for organic farmers. Oregon is among the leading states in organic farming, a rapidly growing sector of the agricultural economy.
“We have appreciated Senator Merkley’s open door policy and willingness to discuss issues of importance to the Oregon Farm Bureau and agriculture,” said Barry Bushue, President of the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation. “He has a solution-oriented approach towards issues that affect Oregon’s natural resource industries.”
Senator Merkley has worked with farmers and ranchers across Oregon to move forward with collaborative solutions to long-standing water conflicts. He has worked with stakeholders in Klamath county to advance cooperative solutions to some of the most controversial water management conflicts in the country, and helped secure emergency funding to help farmers and ranchers make it through the devastating drought in 2010. His work with local stakeholders in Central Oregon helped produce an agreement for water usage in the Crooked River basin and the Prineville Reservoir that will give greater certainty to water users and pave the way for stronger economic growth in the region.
Merkley led the fight to reauthorize critical disaster relief programs after the worst wildfires in 100 years devastated ranches and farms in Southeastern Oregon in 2012. Those programs had expired after the 2008 farm bill lapsed, leaving Oregon ranchers and farmers without disaster relief to cover lost livestock, crops, or damaged land. Merkley led a successful effort to include those programs in the farm bill that passed this year and to ensure that coverage would be retroactive, so that Oregon’s farmers and ranchers would not be caught in the gap between farm bills.
Merkley has also led the fight to cut red tape for Oregon farmers taking their goods to market. After hearing that Oregon farmers faced burdensome regulations intended for interstate trucking companies, Merkley partnered with Republican colleagues to introduce and eventually pass bipartisan legislation to fix the problem and cut the red tape. Now farmers and ranchers can use their farm trucks to move goods across state lines without triggering complex regulations that are intended for interstate truckers.