A question of influence

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

When lobbyists of any interest gain disproportionate influence in the Oregon Legislature, good policymaking suffers.

I have professional respect for Paulette Pyle and Terry Witt [LETTERS, January] and their organization, the pesticide industry-lobbying group Oregonians for Food and Shelter (OFS). Unfortunately, they have, in my view, been too effective for their industry and the result has been a stifling of innovation, new business growth and good policy development for sustainable agriculture in the state.

According to the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s most recent report, no state in the country has a wider discrepancy than Oregon between the number of organic farmers and the technical assistance and research services the state provides them. Oregon could and should be a national leader in sustainable agriculture research to support one of the few growing areas of farming and food processing. But we are not, and a big reason is because the pesticide industry has controlled the budgeting process for agricultural extension over the past decade.

The sad thing is, OFS is so effective in part because many moderate businesses, that otherwise support good economic development policy, are members and just stand by and let OFS speak for them. While the remarkable power these lobbyists have may be good for out-of-state pesticide companies, their influence is decidedly bad for Oregon agriculture and Oregon business.

-- Nik Blosser
Celilo Group Media


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