Local ranchers heard warnings about potential legislative efforts to
weaken or repeal Oregon’s 1909 water rights laws, reports of lawsuits
challenging grazing rights, and discussed the politics of endangered
species protection of wolves during the Baker County Livestock
Associations annual meeting Saturday in Baker City.
Mike Colton, who was elected to replaced Cal Ransom as the
Association’s president, said listening sessions on water rights issues
orchestrated by westside legislators appear to him to be part of a plan
to rewrite Oregon’s almost century-old water rights law.
“It’s huge. It’s beyond huge,” Colton said.
He said it’s important for ranchers to attend the sessions and submit
written comments to the House Environment and Energy Committee to make
sure the agricultural industry’s perspective is represented in the
development of any revisions of the 1909 water rights laws.
These rocky economic times, when companies are tightening budgets and
cutting staff, might be the perfect time for people to reach for their
Baker City Herald/John Collins
Kari Waldhaus, a business coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source in Baker
City, said there’s always opportunities for people with the right
combination of skills and ambition to take control of their future
through business ownership.
“The unemployment rate has soared within the past several months. Yet
there are opportunities that can be pursued in business ownership,
particularly in the franchise sector,” Waldhaus said.
“I provide a no-cost coaching service to help people find the right
business,” Waldhaus said. “We have over 400 franchise businesses in all
shapes and sizes across 80 different industries — everything from fast
food and restaurants to service businesses.”
“There is a franchise out there for anyone that will fit their objectives and goals,” Waldhaus said.
Cutters Edge moving global headquarters to Baker City
When the going gets tough, the tough move to
Baker City, where a new manufacturing plant is under construction by
Cutters Edge, makers of the toughest saws in the world for cutting
steel and concrete.
Cutters Edge gets siding and insulation Tuesday as building construction continues for the company located next to OTEC. Gyllenberg Construction employees are Ron Forester, below, and Mark Sexton with Ty Findley in the lift.
“Construction is scheduled for completion by the end of November and
we’ll begin moving in the first week of December,” said Tom Ruzich, who
founded Cutters Edge in Julian, Calif., in 1987 during one of the
nation’s previous recessions.
Ruzich said he started looking for a new location about three years ago
after the largest wildfire in California’s recorded history destroyed
three properties he owned. While his Cutters Edge plant in Southern
California escaped the fire, he said the ongoing fire threat, a labor
shortage and the soaring cost of doing business in a mountain resort
and retirement town one hour from San Diego prompted him to make the
move to Baker City.
The governor’s economic revitalization team works with city and
county officials to site windfarms well and streamline the process
Just because there aren’t any windfarm
applications before the Baker County Planning Department doesn’t mean
the county can’t plan how wind turbines will be sited in the years to
A team sent by Gov. Ted Kulongoski helped county and state officials begin thinking about the process Tuesday.
Kulongoski’s Economic Revitalization Team regional team leader Scott
Fairley said Baker County was chosen for the meeting because there
could soon be wind turbine construction here and that the planning
process can benefit from input from affected state agencies — including
the Department of Energy, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and
the Department of Land Conservation and Developmen — early in the
While the purpose of the $700 billion federal bailout bill was touted
by President Bush and congressional leaders as a rescue of the nation’s
financial system, the final bill approved by Congress includes a number
of tax benefits added to garner enough support from holdout Republicans
and conservative Democrats to pass it.
Those tax benefits include an extension of tax forgiveness on the
cancellation of mortgage debt; extended protections preventing middle
income families from being subject to the alternative minimum tax;
extended tax deductions for residents of states without income taxes;
deductions for elementary and secondary school teachers; and continued
provisions allowing banks to make tax-free distributions from IRAs for
Ag practices, weird weather could explain hopper populations
Entomologist Helmuth Rogg warned Baker County
growers of a potential major grasshopper outbreak in the making for
2009 during meetings in Baker City and Haines.
Baker County Extension Agent Cory Parsons points to the epicenter of the 2008 grasshopper infestation: Baker County. Entomologist Helmut Rogg warned things could get worse for Baker County growers next year without an aggressive grasshopper control program next spring. (Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
Rogg said the grasshopper infestation that exploded across Baker, Union
and Wallow counties in 2007 zeroed in on Baker County in 2008, reaching
densities as high as 200 grasshoppers per square yard in several
locations around Haines, Sparta and Medical Springs.
Cory Parsons, Oregon State University Extension agent for Baker County,
pointed to maps on the wall showing how the 2008 grasshopper
infestation exploded in Baker County, but tapered off in Union and
Wallowa counties, compared to 2007.
In 2007, the grasshopper infestation covered about 6,000 in all three
counties, with densities as high as 50 grasshoppers per square yard. By
comparison, Parsons said around 7,000 acres in Baker County along were
infested with grasshoppers in 2008.
Over the next few weeks, nearly $28 million in payments is being
disbursed to Oregon farmers and ranchers participating in conservation
programs, according to Larry Frey, state executive director for USDA’s
Farm Service Agency in Oregon.
Of that statewide total, about $1.1 million will go to farmers and
ranchers in Baker County, said Trent Luschen, Baker County FSA
Luschen said the program works cooperatively with producers to conserve
soil and enhance water quality in streams and rivers, as well as
wildlife habitat and air quality.
Nationwide, more than $1.7 billion in conservation payments are being made by FSA on 34.7 million acres across the country.
The payments announced Wednesday are annual rental payments earned on
Oregon’s 563,592 acres enrolled in fiscal year 2008 in USDA
conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program,
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and its predecessor, the
Continuous Sign-Up Program.
Luschen said checks mailed out this week went to growers signed up
under all three conservation programs administered by the FSA.
Grants have been awarded to promote or improve three Baker County crops — potatoes, mint and grass seed.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced five grant awards Friday
totaling $116,000 in federal funds authorizing a new specialty crops
program under the 2008 Farm Bill.
The ODA received 10 applications for funding from the USDA’s Specialty
Crop Block Grant Program. Five applicants were given grants ranging
from $14,000 to $30,000 for a total of $116,000 to help promote
products or develop new processes and practices.
While most USDA funding has targeted program crops like wheat and corn
for decades, Gary Roth, administrator of the ODA’s Agricultural
Development and Marketing Division, said it’s a nice change that the
2008 Farm Bill included funds for some of Oregon’s numerous specialty
Panelists at a PubTalk in Baker City excited about future of sustainable business
The era of litigation and lock-up-the-land
mentality is giving way to a new sustainable business model that could
fuel a 21st century economic boom comparable to the Industrial
Revolution, panelists said at Thursday’s PubTalk in Baker City.
Speakers discussed changes in the environmental mindset and
opportunities for businesses, farmers and ranchers, and would-be
entrepreneurs to hitch a ride on the emerging sustainable business
“We’re no longer blinded by greenies; we have a profit model and know
how to make it work,” said Jake Jacobs, Baker County economic developer.
“Sustainability is a global market wave potentially larger than the
Industrial Revolution,” Jacobs said. Given the abundant natural
resources and sustainable attitude reflected in Baker City’s commitment
to preserving its historic downtown, Jacobs said cashing in on the
sustainable business model “is something we ought to be able to do in
While the color green used to represent a hands-off, preservationist
mentality, Jacobs said that with the new focus on sustainability,
“green is the color of money.”
Marketing specialist said wheat prices probably will continue to decline
Prospects for wheat prices to rebound above
the current $5.90 per bushel Portland delivered price don’t look good,
given plunging stock markets and relatively good weather around the
Dan Steiner, a grain marketing specialist for both Pendleton Grain
Growers and Morrow County Grain Growers, delivered that message
Wednesday as areas growers were signing up to attend today’s video
wheat marketing meetings being broadcast simultaneously at Oregon State
University Extension offices across the state, including in Baker City.
In mid-August Steiner was advising growers to sell at least some of
their wheat crop at the prices offered then — $8.40 a bushel for soft
white wheat delivered to Portland, or the $9.25 September futures price.
At that time, Steiner reminded growers that, compared to historical
wheat prices in the $3 to $5 range, $8.40 to $9.25 was a good price
that would provide most growers with a profit, even after paying
soaring costs for fuel, fertilizers and pesticides.