Central Oregon farm issues front and center

Feb 05, 2015

Bend Bulletin

Central Oregon farm issues front and center

Farm Fair & Expo highlights trends, concerns in ag industry

By Beau Eastes

MADRAS — Greg Mohnen isn’t sure folks nowadays know where their dinner comes from.

“A lot of people think food just comes out of a store,” said Mohnen, ranch manager at The McGinnis Ranch, a 78-acre ranch outside Tumalo. “They don’t realize it comes off the land.”

Educating the public about ranch and agricultural practices was one of several themes that emerged Wednesday during the first day of the Central Oregon Farm Fair & Trade Show. Approximately 35 organizations and businesses — including the Central Oregon Hay Growers Association, of which Mohnen is president — set up booths at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to talk shop about anything and everything ag related in Central Oregon. Business loans, crop insurance, sustainable fertilizer, irrigation issues, environmental concerns and the emerging field of agricultural technology all had a presence at the two-day show that continues today.

“We’re up here building relationships as much as anything,” said Kelsey Wymore, a program associate with the Bend-based Deschutes River Conservancy.

Rich Affeldt, an agronomist for Central Oregon Seeds explained the concept of his company’s sister organization, High Desert Organix, and its high-yield fertilizer composted from crop residue, food waste and cow manure. Fellow agronomists Keegan O’Brien and Jim Carroll showed examples of precision agriculture in which their company, CHS, utilizes GPS technology to help farms become more efficient by analyzing soil samples from each acre of farm land. Culver High’s chapter of the Future Farmers of America held a raffle to raise scholarship funds. And representatives from Oregon State University’s Extension Service discussed current crop diseases and kept open ears to issues regional farmers were dealing with.

A series of farm and ranch talks ran next door to the trade show in conjunction with the farm fair. Lectures ranged from an update on the spotted frog, which was recently listed as a threatened species, to a report on predator mites and new insecticides when looking to control spider mites in carrots. Today’s speeches include a presentation on the hay market, a call for involvement in ag literary projects and segment titled “Duck Tape to Baling Twine — On Farm Innovations.”

The farm fair also served as a meeting place for ag-related professional groups. Jefferson County’s Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm Service Agency both held their annual meetings Wednesday and the Central Oregon chapter of the Oregon Wheat Grower’s League held a workshop with its lobbyist, Jana Bader Jarvis.

The Central Oregon Farm Fair & Trade Show continues today at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

— Reporter: 541-617-7829,

beastes@bendbulletin.com

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