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State Board of Agriculture Holds Meeting

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MEDFORD, Ore. – 20 years after the federal Clean Water Act went into effect, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is looking for better ways to get Oregon’s farmers and ranchers to comply. Wednesday and Thursday, the State Board of Agriculture is meeting in Medford and a good part of the agenda on Wednesday is dealing with how to move from just responding to citizen complaints, to other ways of getting compliance.

The ten-member State Board of Agriculture brought their quarterly meeting to the Medford Red Lion Inn this week. At the top of their agenda was how to shift emphasis for getting compliance with state and federal water laws from reacting to complaints, to something more pro-active.

“One example would be, random tax lots,” said ODA Director Katy Coba. “How can we go about moving away from just waiting for a complaint about poor land conditions, and being more pro-active in those situations?”

It was also suggested piggy-backing with other state agencies doing flyovers, or using satellite mapping technology to locate trouble-spots. That got a mixed reaction from the board.

“It’s gonna be touchy, because agriculture is a very independent group, and they don’t like government in their, their lines,” said Klamath Falls Board Member Tracey Liskey, “but, we either gotta do more complaining on our neighbors and of the bad lots.”

“I think complaints are still gonna be a portion of it, with the addition of some kind of systematic approach to enforce certain segments of the state, or certain areas of the state,” stated Board Chairman Doug Krahmer.

In order to get Oregon’s farmers and ranchers to comply with clean water laws, it’s going to take a lot more education and a good degree of compliance and enforcement. Trying to balance that out seems to be the big challenge for the state department of agriculture. The AG Board meets again Thursday at the Medford Red Lion Inn. The public session begins at 9 a.m. and runs through noon.