Transportation and Oregon – a love/hate relationship – Part 1

Transportation isn’t sexy. And when it works, no one talks about it. We fly under the radar for the most part. Now, it seems that every time you turn around, someone is talking about transportation. It could be congestion in Portland, the Port of Portland, container exports, trucks on the road, CARB (California Air Resource Board), LCFS (Low Carbon Fuel Standard), or the upcoming transportation package the Oregon Legislature is going to tackle in the 2017 Legislative Session.

If you are reading this from a state that has transportation figured out – I envy you! Us Oregonians seem to be on the struggle bus these days. (Transportation pun intended!)

I spoke at the Oregon Seed League convention last month and updated everyone on current issues regarding exports, transportation and Port of Portland. In fact, there were two agenda items dealing with transportation and port issues! I told the audience: “I’ll bet you’re looking forward to the day we stop talking about transportation.” It got a few laughs, but I’ll take it. I’m really not that funny.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a laughing matter. Also unfortunate is the amount of misinformation out there when it comes to transportation, trucking, and ports. I’d like to tackle a few of those here.

  1. CONTAINER TRUCKS AREN’T CAUSING CONGESTION IN PORTLAND.

What? I know I know, you’ve been told it’s container trucks, and it seems like it would make sense because of the Port of Portland not having container service at Terminal 6 any longer. But it’s not. Did you know: Only 200 out of 120,000 vehicles are related to containers moving to ports other than the Port of Portland. Trucks aren’t going anywhere they haven’t gone before.

portland-congestion-facts

But but but… congestion! Yes, Portland is awful. And it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. But it’s not trucks. It’s cars. Next time you’re in traffic, take a look around. You notice the trucks because they’re big rigs. But, compare the number of trucks to the vast amount of cars. And how many of those cars are single passenger?

When is Portland the worst? Rush hour. When are container trucks driving to or through Portland? I can guarantee you, it’s not rush hour. If we get caught in rush hour traffic, it’s because something has gone wrong at a terminal somewhere. We leave our plant early enough to miss rush hour in Portland, and we are typically back before rush hour in the afternoon. Does this always work every day? No, but, for the most part, we’re not stuck in rush hour traffic.

What’s the real problem? Traffic congestion increased recently along the Portland metro-area roadways. Vehicle volumes have increased 6.3% over volumes from last year. This increase is nearly twice the national average. The rise in vehicle volumes means that roads are running at or near capacity during the peak hours, commute times are growing longer, and driver frustration is building. Growth on the system is due to new users. The number of out-of-state drivers’ licenses increased to approximately 85,000 in 2015. In addition, a drop in unemployment means more people heading to and from work. Lower gas prices than one year ago also makes it less expensive to travel. (Information from Oregon Department of Transportation)

For more information on what ODOT is doing to help the traffic and congestion problems crippling Portland, click on info-graphs above.

2. IS THERE INCREASED TRUCK TRAFFIC ON I-5 SINCE PORTLAND LOST CONTAINER SERVICE?

trucks-on-road

Short answer, yes, there is increased traffic on the roads. And we are some of those trucks on the road. We also utilize Northwest Container Service (NWCS, a remote container yard) located in Portland. NWCS then rails containers north to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. We can drop off and pick up containers at NWCS, but they cannot handle all of our volume, and there are increased risks to only using NWCS (namely less ability to have on-time delivery). So, as part of our business strategy to keep our shipments on time and to best service our customers, we deliver to a combination of NWCS, and ports of Tacoma and Seattle. If and when Portland brings back container service, we will use Terminal 6 at Port of Portland. Diversification is a key strategy in being successful in the strange world of international container shipping.

In summary, yes there are more trucks on the road because Terminal 6 at Port of Portland lost container service… but don’t blame the Portland traffic and congestion problems on trucks. These are 2 separate problems that really don’t have anything to do with one another.

I love and appreciate trucks and the truck drivers that deliver 75% of our goods to us. In fact, I think it’s time to thank a trucker. Today and every day. It’s not an easy job, and those that safely do their job day in and day out, you are appreciated. thank-a-trucker-1

If you’d like to learn more about the Port of Portland and why Terminal 6 is different than the rest of the terminals on the West Coast, you can read more here

There’s so much more to talk about in regards to transportation in Oregon! I know, so exciting… but for those of you who are interested, stay tuned for Part 2!

Communication and farming – one family’s story 

How often do you hear of “fifth generation farm” or “family business since 1935”? They are out there, in fact I know a few personally, but it doesn’t happen very often. This statement has haunted me since I first read it years ago: 


It’s been said that more than 30% of all family-owned businesses survive into the second generation. 12% will still be viable into the third generation, with only 3 percent of all family businesses operating at the fourth-generation level and beyond.

Why is this? I’d say that everyone might have a differing opinion on this — taxes, regulation, lack of interest, markets change, the next generation just doesn’t have what it takes, and the ideas go on. My opinion: a lack of communication. It might not be the main reason, but I would suggest it to be a contributing factor in any family business problem. 

I don’t have the answers, and anyone that knows me and my family all know that we are not masters of communication. But we have one thing for sure going for us: we are aware of it, and we try to work on it. 

How does this family work at bettering communication? 

  • Family meals – every Monday. If you can make it, great. If you can’t, no worries. My mom can be thanked for this. She is an excellent cook and we all are ever so grateful for a prepared meal every Monday. 
  • Group text. Oh boy, the in-laws might not always love this (in fact my husband is just grateful for the mute option on his phone), but every family member is included, and we are all up to date on the latest shenanigans. We talk farming, we talk kids, we talk business, and we share in each others successes and share in each other’s failures. Every day, every week it’s different. But we communicate about it – and we’re better for it. 
  • The kids and grandkids are ALWAYS welcome on the farm or in the office. I have never heard my parents shoo any of us or our kids away – if they are busy, they let the grandkids be a part of it. I try to mimic that. My kids and nieces and nephews are always welcome. I want them to know they are a part of this family farm and business. It happens regularly that a salesman will walk into my office and my nephew Jude is sitting on my lap. When my daughter Samantha was 4, she was the one that welcomed our future Operations Manager in the door when he was checking to see if we were hiring. That day she just happened to be watching cartoons on a computer while I was finishing up some work before leaving for the day.  We were hiring, and he was hired soon after. I’m pretty sure he knew exactly what kind of business he was walking into: a family oriented one. 
  • Like my dad says in the article I reference below: “you have to get over yourself.” We all have faults and we all have failures. But we also all have successes and things we are great at. If you asked my siblings, they could write a list of things I’m not good at. But they’d also give you a few things I am good at, too. 


Like I said, we work on it. When Progressive Forage called and wanted to interview us about communication, I jumped at the chance. I’ve learned so much from others around me, maybe someone can learn from our failures and successes as well. 

I’d also encourage everyone to share their failures and successes with others. We’re not perfect, none of us are! But I certainly hope more family businesses and farms succeed. I have a group of friends that share with each other – and I am better because of it. I’d encourage you to find your group as well. 

And please read our interview and article here – thank you for reading and I wish you success in whatever you do.

Progressive Forage – Farming’s Communication Conundrum

A big thank you to the author: Cassidy Woolsey. She took what I didn’t think to be coherent ideas and made them a fantastic story. My hat is off to you Cassidy, thank you. 

Hiking Boots and Cowboy Boots – Owyhee Canyon hearing

Something was different Monday morning at the Oregon State Capitol. Cowboy boots and hiking boots outnumbered heels and dress shoes. I’ve always thought: “I may wear cowboy boots and you may wear heels, but we’re both moms” when I talk about wanting similar things in life – we want to be good moms. I noticed the same idea here – whether you were wearing hiking boots or cowboy boots, we all agreed on one thing: the Owyhee Canyonlands are beautiful.

Spoiler alert, the entire theme to this blog post is this: the Owyhee Canyonlands are beautiful because of the residents and the ranchers and the farmers who live there. Why change this? Why disrupt the ecosystem that is working? Why?

Owyhee 2

Existing layers of protection

If you’re answer is “it needs to be protected”, then please look at this slide from Representative Cliff Bentz showing existing layers of “protection”.

Some points to take away from our state legislators that oppose the monument designation:

“If we’re going to protect this land, let’s do this right.” – Representative Cliff Bentz

“This proposal for an executive order is a great public relations ploy, it is guaranteed to polarize Oregonians, it pits urban against rural, it’s a cheap environmental vote. Our challenge today as legislators for the state is to figure out how rural communities can become more sustainable, and if you think creating destinations by making a circle on a map will help, I would ask you to look at all the timber-dependent communities that were told that tourism and recreation would completely replace the forest products and manufacturing jobs that used to be prevalent. It never happened.” – Senator Ted Ferrioli

“What are we protecting that is not protected and why do we want it protected? And protect it from what? I’m not seeing a spot on the map that is either not protected or is not governed by an agency with protections? What are we protecting against?” – Representative Sherrie Sprenger

Many traveled hundreds of miles from Malheur County to speak. Some points to note:

“We have an online petition on our website: Our Land Our Voice, urging Governor Brown and Senators Wyden and Merkley to urge the White House to not designate this area as a national monument.” – Jordan Valley Rancher Elias Eiguren

“This is bad for Oregon, this is bad for the land, this is bad for the people who live there.” – Jordan Valley Rancher Elias Eiguren

“What’s wrong with the status quo? Let’s not fix what’s not broken.” – Steve Boren, Steve Boren Rafting

“Don’t mess with an economy that works. Don’t mess with an ecosystem that works.” – Steve Boren, Steve Boren Rafting

“Maybe if you’re a footwear company in Portland or an activist in Bend, this sounds quite trivial. Maybe you shrug it off, but for an entire region of this state, it has been all too real and all too painful… If a monument is declared in Malheur County, I am concerned about public safety. I am concerned about the people from outside the area who will come to our county with their own agendas. We will not be successful in dealing with these folks. I fear they will not be reasonable. What we need now are not actions that divide or pit one group against another… What we need now is healing. That’s why I ask you, our state elected officials, to stand with us in sending a clear message to President Obama that the time and place for the nation’s next national monument is not Malheur County and certainly not now. As a sheriff from Malheur County, my job is to restore and maintain peace. That is what we need now, more than ever, is peace.” – Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe

“You may have heard this designation is not about grazing rights and that no existing grazing rights will be affected. Even if it’s not the legal effect to start, it has been the practical effect over the long term in other areas. Costing families the ability to feed and raise cattle and make a living.” – Jerome Rosa, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

“This whole conversation frankly is fascinating… One of the things that come to mind is this is a beautiful area… I say to you the reason that is, is the people that live there – the ranchers, the farmers, the local communities and the businesses… have made it what it is.”- Barry Bushue, President Oregon Farm Bureau

“You got another group that talks about wanting to sell tents and shoes and sporting goods. Awesome! I buy those things. But at what expense? Are we going to support their economy? Are we going to support their business model at the expense of ranchers like Elias who have 4 generations in to developing a livelihood for not only him, but a core of the economy and the state and that region. I’m sorry… I find it incredulous that people would put the value of their business selling products at the expense of the people who made the property what it is today. I’m floundering here to understand why people would not want to engage in a congressional discussion; would not want to engage on an opportunity to look at what this is, how it got there, and give the people that got it there the credit they so richly deserve.” – Barry Bushue, President Oregon Farm Bureau

I was honored to speak at the press conference following the committee hearing. You might ask why I would considering I’ve never been to the Owyhee Canyonlands? Because this affects ALL Oregonians. It’s not rural vs. urban Oregonians. It’s not Eastern Oregon and Willamette Valley Oregon. It’s Oregon, and I’m an Oregonian. And that’s why I joined the coalition – you should to. I’d like to share what I said at the press conference.

My family is deeply rooted in this state. We have been farming in the Willamette Valley since the 1950s. We grow grass seed, wheat and hazelnuts in the Mid-Willamette Valley. I have joined the Owyhee Basin Stewardship Coalition because I believe all Oregonians deserve a voice in our public lands, not just the special interests and outdoor companies with slick marketing campaigns. The true Oregonians have spoken. We don’t want and don’t need more government regulation in the Owyhee Canyonlands. More than 70 percent of Oregon voters oppose the monument without a vote of Congress. Most importantly, 90 percent of those who voted locally in Malheur County voted against the monument. To Gov. Brown and Senators Wyden and Merkley, please join us in opposing this monument without a vote of Congress. We need your support. I came here today to represent the voices of so many Malheur County residents who strongly oppose the monument but can’t make the 14-hour round trip to the Capitol to voice their opposition in person. I’d like to share the words of Adrian High School student Sundee Speelmon. As an FFA student, Sundee studied the Owyhee proposal with her classmates and shared her opposition in a letter to Governor Brown. She closed with this: “All I ask is that our opinion on this proposal is highly valued and taken note of. We want to be heard! Please ponder the matter with the residents of Malheur County opinions in mind.” I care deeply about this state, and as a mom and a farmer, I truly hope we listen to all people – not just adults, but those just learning to find their voices. Not just those from the west side of the state, not just Salem and Portland, but all of the state. I thank Sundee and her classmates for speaking up and let’s show her that Salem and Washington DC is listening.

Owyhee 3

All Oregonians should be proud of the Owyhee Canyonlands in Malheur County and thankful to the residents and ranchers that have made it that way. There is absolutely no reason for it to be designated a monument by President Obama. Go to www.OurLandOurVoice.com to join the coalition to tell Governor Brown we don’t need another layer of government in our state!

For more information, please see the below links:

Our Land, Our Voice – press conference

House Interim Committee on Rural Communities hearing

Seek Consensus on Owhyee – Register Guard

Oregonians want Secretary Jewell to oppose national monument in Owyhee Canyonlands

 

My response to the Portland Tribune article: “Business quiet on minimum wage rules.”

The Portland Tribune published an article yesterday:

Business quiet on minimum wage rules.

There was a Public Hearing on the rules proposal for the minimum wage law on April 25th at 2pm at the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) in Portland. The opening line to this article: “The business community was nearly absent from a public hearing Monday on draft rules for how itinerant employees will be paid under Oregon’s new regional minimum wage law.”

Here’s another quote: “I was actually hoping there would be more business owners here so I could hear their concerns,” said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, who was active in developing the new minimum wage law.

It’s a very simple reason as to why the “business community” didn’t show up: we were working. But, there’s another reason… we – the small business and farming community – collectively showed up at every available hearing for this minimum wage bill and many other bills that would affect us over the past few legislative sessions in Salem and we weren’t heard. We weren’t heard then, and there’s no reason to drive to Portland in the middle of a work day to not be heard now.

That sounds like I’ve given up, I assure you I haven’t. I will be writing comments and submitting them by the due date. I just honestly couldn’t believe that the ONE public hearing would be during the workday and in Portland… And then for the Portland Tribune to start off the article that way, well, frustrating doesn’t begin to explain it. In the possibility that Senator Dembrow takes to account what actual Oregonians think, you can write out your thoughts: Written comments are due to paloma.sparks@state.or.us by May 23 at 5:00 PM

For more information and the back ground of how the new minimum wage laws will affect small business and the rural communities, see these blogs:

Conversation About Minimum Wage Continues in Salem

Minimum Wage Hearing

No to Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage

Why Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage is a Bad Idea

Minimum Wage, Rural Oregon and Agriculture

The Portland Legislature

The Dream-makers

I am Oregon Business – a follow up to the Minimum Wage hearing

 

Earth Day thoughts from a “modern” farmer

So, what is Earth Day anyway? And why do farmers care? I thought Earth Day was some sort of environmentalist’s day? Right and wrong – the farmer is the original environmentalist. Yes – this is our day. And we care.

Farmers, simply put, make their living off the land. The land is our most precious resource and we take care of it. My family has been farming the same 150 acres since 1972. My grandpa made farming decisions with me in mind 44 years ago. Farmers are forward-thinkers, because they have to be. It’s in their job description. Yesterday’s and today’s forward-thinking farmers adopt modern technology is order to produce more with less. All in effort to take care of the dirt that takes care of them.

Modern technology in every other industry is celebrated. Do you want to have heart surgery with 1920 technology? How about your kids… would you like them to go to a school where the administration doesn’t believe in using computers? Do you watch TV on a black and white television where you have to walk across the room to turn the knob? And where did you get your news lately? Was it at the touch of a button? The modern farmer embraces technology that helps them to be sustainable for future generations and to ensure their neighbors have food, clothes and a roof over their head. Let’s celebrate this Earth Day with this in mind.

Farmers use the tools at their disposal in order to maximize yields and minimize inputs.

 

Combine_Then and Now_meme

Farmers use bigger, faster combines. For example, with a larger header they can make less rounds in the field. With less rounds, we use less fuel, and produce less emissions.

Haystack_old

Stacking hay in Nebraska, circa 1950’s

 

 

Stacks in field_meme

Stacking straw in Oregon, circa 2013

Farmers use more efficient pieces of equipment. That old “stacker” was the most efficient piece of equipment at the time. The new stacker is the best we’ve got right now. To put into perspective, the mound of hay in the picture above is probably 12 ton. Compare that to the grass straw stack below it is about 60 ton. It took probably 2-3 men to hand stack that, and most likely took all day. My brother stacked the 2 truckloads of grass straw in about 45 minutes. Simply put, we can do more with less. That’s what we as modern farmers strive for.

Let’s talk water. Hazelnuts 5

Do you see the black “hose” running through the orchard? That’s called “drip irrigation”. Drip lines are an efficient method for delivering water to specific areas. A drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the soil around the roots of the trees. Drip irrigation lines deliver water to the trees slowly, so that very little water is lost from evaporation or runoff. And that’s my youngest daughter, Sam, helping move the irrigation lines closer to the trees as they sometimes slip down. See, my dad and I are making decisions with her and my other two daughters and nieces and nephews in mind.

This Earth Day, I’m thankful for modern farming.

For another farmer’s story on Earth Day, check out my friend Brenda’s blog here.

Unfortunately: “I told you so.”

I started this blog in November 2014 because I needed an outlet and a platform to explain to the general public the possibility of economic tragedy on the west coast if the status quo was allowed to continue. I’ll be extremely brief: the west coast port slowdown was the result of a failure to collectively bargain between the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and the PMA (Pacific Maritime Association). Collective bargaining absolutely and categorically FAILED the United States. It failed the import/export business on the west coast especially. It failed American agriculture that relies on an efficient transportation system to get its superior goods to market. And in essence it failed the American economy. It’s failure is my reality.

One of the main theme’s of my advocacy on this issue is this, and stated in this blog post:

Oregon’s Agriculture is NECESSARY for the continued strength of the state. But if we can’t get it to market, then what good is any of it?

I would suggest the same for American agriculture. According to a Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress report:

“The agricultural sector makes an important contribution to the U.S. economy, from promoting food and energy security to supporting jobs in communities across the country. Exports are critical to the success of U.S. agriculture, and population and income growth in developing countries ensures that this will continue to be the case in the decades to come. U.S. agricultural exporters are well positioned to capture a significant share of the growing world market for agricultural products, but some challenges remain. Taking actions to facilitate exports would help to strengthen the agricultural sector and promote overall economic growth.”

The AgTC (Agriculture Transportation Coalition) has been stating this for years:

“There is nothing that we produce in this country in agriculture, that cannot be sourced somewhere else in the world. We can grow the best in the world, but if we can’t deliver affordably and dependably, the customer will go somewhere else…                                        and may never come back”.

The theme here is obvious and overwhelmingly simple: for the sake of America’s economy, our ports need to work efficiently and productively.

And then this article drops today: Chinese Goods Bypass California.

 

Ports 1

Wall Street Journal: Chinese Goods Bypass California

Let me explain this in simple terms. Let’s say Fred Meyer’s is your favorite grocery store, but for some reason the traffic is horrible specifically in front of that store. One mile down the road, there is a Safeway with no traffic and has easy access. It’s a little harder to get there, but you start going to Safeway because it is efficient to do so. If Fred Meyer’s fixes the traffic problem, do you go back? Maybe. But also maybe do you stay with Safeway because you like the store and you’re now used to it? Possibly.

This is what the Wall Street Journal article speaks to. The west coast ports has a traffic problem. The east coast ports do not. China is choosing to spend a little more time and effort to ship into the east coast ports. And they might just find they are easier to work with. Will they make the move? Maybe. Will they ever come back? Maybe.

Anyone want to take this risk? I don’t. But it’s not up to me.

I’m going to be frank. The only person or entity that can take on the ILWU and the PMA is the President of the United States and the United States Government. I tend to be an optimist, but the fact that my hope is in the U.S. Government isn’t appealing and leaves me with a sense of hopelessness. I’m a believer in the Free Market. But, collective bargaining isn’t typically conducive to the free market. It’s ugly out there folks.

I could blather on for another couple hours about global trade routes and manufacturing in Asia moving east, ultimately making it easier to move product into the east coast ports of the U.S. Considering 2/3 of the population lives in the eastern U.S., this sounds like a good idea. What happens to our empty containers that we need to load for export on the west coast if all the containers are on the east coast? Even those not familiar with agriculture knows we can’t move our 250 different crops from Oregon to Kentucky. Also, I would suggest the southeastern states are more conducive to this little word: business. That is all for another discussion on another day.

My point: Let’s not give ship lines any more reason to bypass the west coast ports. I feel like I’ve said this too much lately, but: Wake Up America.


 

For more background information, visit my previous blogs on the West Coast Port Slowdown.

Why this affects you.

Day 29… and counting.

AgTC: Statement of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition

Port Crisis 101: history of, where we stand, and a little of my own opinion…

The battle continues… West Coast port crisis not over.

Port Crisis? Still. Not. Over.

1-Year Recap of the West Coast Port Crisis – the ship that sailed

Happy National Ag Week!

National Ag Day was Tuesday, March 15 this year (2016). For those of you unfamiliar with National Ag Day, it is a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture. It started in 1973.

Agriculture’s contribution to Oregon’s economy, environment, and social well-being is worth celebrating. In observing National Agriculture Week March 13-19, Americans are encouraged to say thank you to the more than 2 million farmers and ranchers who produce food and fiber for a living. Statewide, there are more than 35,000 agricultural operators for Oregonians to salute.

Here is a numerical snapshot of agriculture’s importance to the state’s economy:

  • Oregon agriculture supports more than 326,000 full or part-time jobs, making up almost 14% of total jobs in the state.
  • Oregon agriculture is responsible for $22.9 billion or 10.6% of the net state product.
  • More than 98% of Oregon’s farms are family operations – dispelling the notion that agriculture in the state is made up of big corporate farm factories.

Go out and enjoy Oregon agricultural products! Whether it’s food, nursery items, grass seed or a farmer’s market; whether it’s slowing down behind a tractor or combine on the roads; or whether it’s thanking a farmer for working to provide food and fiber for us all… As we look for ways to continue to improve the economic, environmental, and social contributions that agriculture makes to Oregon, your support of Oregon agriculture is critical to achievement.

And just for fun – here are some fun facts and great pictures. Enjoy!

(Thank you to Oregon Department of Agriculture and American Agri-Women for the great ag facts and information in this post.)

The Dream-makers

Flashback to last Thursday, February 11th and I’m on an airplane flying home from Washington DC. I had been there working with members of the US Congress to work through trade barriers for forage exports, as well as pushing to improve our west coast ports. But, while I’m waiting for the flight, and even while I’m walking onto the plane, I’m streaming live the minimum wage debate on the Senate Floor of the Oregon Legislature. I had to turn it off when the plane took off, and then received updates via wifi (thank goodness for modern technology!) on the flight from my friends that were watching back home. There were many who fought hard to explain why this bill should not be voted through. Ultimately, after a 6 hour debate, the minimum wage bill, SB1532-A, was voted through 16-12. On to the House now.

I’m now crying on a plane. I’m the window seat, and I have no where to go, and can’t stop crying. I know I’m tired from meetings in DC from sun up to sun down, and the daily fight to get the Oregon Legislature and beyond to understand business principles, and the importance of Oregon Agriculture and Oregon Small Business. But I’m just so damn sad. I’m sad for Oregon’s future. I’m sad for Oregon’s blind and mute “leaders”. I’m sad for all Oregonians. I’m sad for those poverty-stricken and the unemployed as I truly believe this will raise poverty and increase unemployment. I’m sad because the word “business” is looked upon with such disgust and it seems we are bad people – that we want to increase poverty for more profits. Are you kidding me? Look at me, my family and my life and what I represent – agriculture, small business, community service, family and faith. I want business to thrive – because then I can offer more jobs, higher wages, and increase the local economy. At what point did Oregonians stop believing this? I’m mostly sad at the huge disparity and lack of empathy for each side of the aisle.

So, here I am crying. And this is why… Representative Carl Wilson, District 3, on the House Floor yesterday sums it up perfectly on his floor speech. He reads:

An Ode to the Small Business Owner

There’s two types of business dreamers in this world: Entrepreneurs and Want-repreneurs. Anyone can come up with a great business idea, but it takes a special type of crazy to drop everything and will that idea into reality. As any entrepreneur will tell you, there’s a long and difficult journey between the moment inspiration strikes and the day the doors open. Even the smallest businesses take long hours, incredible sacrifice, and endless desire to make it happen. Here’s to the courageous ones, the crazy ones, the wild-eyed visionaries who never took no for an answer. Here’s to the self-starters, the bootstrappers, the credit card maxers who trade living for today for dreaming of tomorrow.  Here’s to the brave few who make the world run. Here’s to the Small Business Owner.

Representative Wilson finishes with:

“I trust that you will remember these dream-makers; these people who sacrifice everything to provide needed services for their communities. I still maintain and will always maintain that what we are apparently about to do in this chamber on minimum wage is going to be a death blow to the dreams of hundreds of these folks in the state of Oregon.”

For Salem Democrats, on the behest of Governor Kate Brown, to push an extremely dividing and possibly catastrophic decision in a few short weeks because of fear of special interests is in one word: irresponsible.

I have many ideas, and many complaints, and many reasons as to why this shouldn’t pass. To read more on the minimum debate from my perspective, read here. But I’m going to go with three big ones.

  1. It’s too fast. The fiscal impact and unintended consequences are unknown and there is no way to have properly vetted this.
  2. The wage is too high! It doesn’t account for unique needs of industries such as agriculture and food processing, among others. Again – not enough time to look into and research, and listen to those of us that know!
  3. Separating the state into three tiers based on county lines is not economically or geographically sound. Farms cross county lines, economies are significantly different in different areas of a county. For example, Linn County where I live has a larger urban area – Albany – but has much of the county in rural and timber land. Benton County has Corvallis, but also a large rural area. You could say the same for Lane County, Polk County, Marion County, Yamhill County, and others. ALSO another reason this has NOT been properly vetted and researched.

In the slim chance a legislator is reading this, I’m imploring you on behalf of small business, hard work, employment of youth, exports, transportation, rural Oregon, seniors living on a fixed income, agriculture, the strong dollar for toughness in exports, Oregon’s economy, poverty and unemployment: Vote NO on SB-1532-A. The future of OUR state depends on your sense of responsibility. I pledge I will fight beside you to give everyone a fighting chance to earn a raise, to land a job, to decrease unemployment and poverty, and to live a life they’ve earned – not one they’ve been given. I will do my part to work hard every day to keep our employees employed, and will continue to boost my local community. Don’t take that opportunity away from me. Please.

I am Oregon Business – a follow up to the Minimum Wage hearing

It’s amazing to me the disparity of opinions depending on which camp you identify with. Last night at the Oregon State Capitol, these two camps identified on whether you were “for” the minimum wage increasing or “against” the minimum wage increasing. Here’s the irony in the great divide: We all want the same thing. We all hate poverty. We all want living wages for all. We all want healthy individuals. We all want to have and be contributing members of society. The only difference between us is the ideas on how to accomplish that.

My friend Macey and I arrived at the capitol at 4:45pm and got into a line over 100 people long. This line was just for people to sign up to testify. Testimony was to start at 6pm. My greatest disappointment is the view people have for the other side. In actuality, most likely the opinion you’ve formed is wrong. And I’m talking to both sides.

Back story… One woman angrily began her testimony with this statement: “I want to point out the three men on the panel before me…”

I don’t recall the three men that sat before her, but I can imagine they looked a lot like my dad. He’s 57, white, and wears plaid a lot. Maybe a jacket or a wool vest. My guess is those three men looked like that.

Let me tell you about my dad. He’s a second generation grass seed farmer, growing up with three brothers and two sisters. They didn’t want for much, but they also didn’t have a lot. My dad worked for the family farm since he was a kid, missing weeks of high school to work on his dad’s custom spraying business for other farmers in the Willamette Valley. Realizing the family farm wouldn’t support all the brothers, him and his brother Gene started a trucking business with two trucks. They hauled potatoes, Christmas trees, watermelon, onions, lumber and anything else they could get paid for. He was gone on a “long-haul” more time than he was home. He’s mortgaged everything he owns to take risks on ideas, where some have panned out, others have failed. He farms today, along with that trucking business, and this year we are surviving. The money is coming in, but going right out in the form of equipment payments, fuel and labor. That’s okay because we get to contribute to the local community! That is what is so exciting about local, small business. We have good years and we have bad years – it’s farming. It’s life. To this day he feels guilty for missing part of my and my sister growing up years. My sister Ola and I? We’re proud of him – he did what he had to do, making sacrifices, for his family. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Ever.

There was another sterotype mentioned multiple times from one camp: the single mom. I mentioned my friend Macey. Her story is too long to write here, but deserves to be heard. She lost her husband to cancer within a year of giving birth to their daughter and has been a single mom for now 10 years. She struggled with tens of thousands of dollars of medical debt she took it upon herself to slowly pay off over the years. She has struggled and still does. And she has had to make hard choices because it is extremely difficult to be a single mom these days – and let’s be honest at any time would it be hard to be a single mom or dad.

My advice: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Please don’t stereotype those human beings by the color of their skin, their gender, the age he/she is, whether they are single or not raising children, or the plaid he chooses to wear. Nor assume that if they fit this stereotype they automatically have to sit in one camp or the other.

Time for my FAVORITE part of the night. Two words. Malheur County. A great reporting by the Capital Press in this article: East Oregon ag interests lobby against wage hike plans. I met a woman named Sharla. Her family agri-business includes growing and a packaging facility for onions and asparagus, among other things. I was surprised to hear her farm and agri-business employs 150 people. Wow! They are located 400 yards from the Idaho border. Idaho’s minimum wage is $7.25. I asked her why she didn’t originally locate in Idaho. She said they thought about it but the community they lived in was more important. With a wage hike, though, they will be forced to re-locate and have already found a place to do so. What a travesty that would be. Their theme to the legislature was this: #CarveUsOut. I get it – can I jump on that bandwagon?

Counties

I wasn’t able to testify as the Chairs of the Committees stopped testimony at 9:00pm. Because Eastern Oregon had so many people there to testify, they were able to go first. I am glad they were all able to do so. I’m also disappointed I wasn’t able to speak about our farm and the affect an increase would have. But on the flip side, I was home in my warm bed within 30 minutes of leaving Salem. The Oregonians from the east side of the state didn’t get home until early this morning after riding in a bus all night long. Eastern Oregon: Your testimony was inspiring. Thank you.

Finally, this is directed at the Oregon Legislature. If a doctor tells me I have high blood pressure, I do. I might get a second opinion, but I’m going to believe the doctor. You know why? Because he’s a doctor, and went to medical school. I am not a doctor and I did not study the human body and medicine. If the business community is telling you we can’t do this, we can’t. You know why? Not because we want to be richer. We want to continue to employ our employees that have been with us loyally for decades. We want to continue to pay our taxes, support the local counties and state, and we want to continue promoting Oregon to the communities, states, and the world. If the agriculture community is telling you we can’t do this, we can’t. You know why? Because we farm, you don’t. We know the cost inputs, and the money we get paid for our crops. It’s not an opinion, it’s fact. And last night you heard it over, and over, and over again. Why don’t you believe us?

As for the few businesses owners that testified in support of the minimum wage hike, no one is stopping you! That’s great you give raises! We do too. An Adorable Old Guy testified last night: “If Portland wants to pay their employees more, go ahead and do so. No need to wait for this to pass.”

Twitter Min Wage

Brings me to my testimony. I’m posting my testimony here, along with Macey Wessels and Anna Scharf as we weren’t able to testify and we would like to share our story. Thank you for listening. Also – one last thing – I might wear cowboy boots and you might wear rubber boots, tennis shoes, flip-flops, or heels, but in general we all want the same thing. Oregon, let’s try to remember that.

Testimony on minimum wage_Shelly Boshart Davis

Testimony on minimum wage_Anna Scharf

Testimony on minimum wage_Macey Wessels

Macey Wessels_attachment_Holland facility

Macey Wessels_attachment_Tangent facility

Finishing the year #AgProud

2015 was a great year. A whirlwind year. A year of learning. A year of struggle. A year of trials, a year of triumph. I’m better today than I was one year ago. I can finish this year content, knowing I did what I could. And I’m looking forward to what WE can accomplish in the years to come.

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you.”*

The above pictures are my tribe, my support structure, the people that keep me sane and keep me motivated. I’m proud to be part of Linn County, the city of Albany, Willamette Valley, state of Oregon, Pacific Northwest, West Coast, and the grand ol’ USA. I’m proud to be deeply rooted in the great world of agriculture. And as always, proud to be the daughter of a trucker.

I finish with this…

A New Year’s Prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anonymous

Dear Lord, please give me…
A few friends who understand me and remain my friends;
A work to do which has real value,
without which the world would be the poorer;
A mind unafraid to travel, even though the trail be not blazed;
An understanding heart;
A sense of humor;
Time for quiet, silent meditation;
A feeling of the presence of God;
The patience to wait for the coming of these things,
With the wisdom to recognize them when they come. Amen.

 

*From all I can find, this quote can be attributed to both Wilma Rudolph and Althea Gibson.