Producers may be eligible for assistance after flooding

SALEM — According to the Oregon Farm Service Agency, Union County producers who have experienced flooding may be eligible for assistance under the Emergency Conservation Program administered by the Union County Farm Service Agency.

A producer qualifying for ECP assistance may receive cost-share levels not to exceed 75% of the eligible cost of restoration measures. Eligible socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers can receive up to 90% of the eligible cost of restoration.

The following types of measures may be eligible:

  • removing debris from farmland
  • grading, shaping or releveling severely damaged farmland
  • restoring permanent fences
  • restoring conservation structures and other similar installations

For more information on eligibility for ECP assistance and the application process, visit the Union County FSA Office,1901 Adams Ave, Suite 5, La Grande; call 541-963-4178; or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.

Bank of Eastern Oregon celebrates 75th anniversary

HEPPNER — This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of Bank of Eastern Oregon.

The bank in a news release announced it will celebrate the anniversary with open houses throughout the year at each of its 20 branches, including Enterprise, starting in February. The Arlington and Condon branches go first with celebrations Feb. 10-14.

A group of farmers and ranchers in 1945 saw a need for a bank in Eastern Oregon founded the Gilliam County Bank in Arlington, according the announcement. The bank expanded in the 1950s, opening branches in Heppner and Ione and changing its name to Bank of Eastern Oregon. The headquarters moved to Heppner where it remains.

"Our current mission hasn't changed from what our founders established in 1945," CEO Jeff Bailey said in a written statement. "We still serve the needs of our rural communities, our local markets, by providing them financial services. In some areas we're not only the only the only bank in town, we're the only bank in the county. And we take pride in that."

For more information, and to see a historical video about the bank, visit www.beobank.com.

Feb. 28 is deadline for Conservation Reserve Program general signup

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture in a press release reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program 2020 general signup to enroll by Feb. 28. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

“This is the first opportunity for general signup since 2016,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said in the release. “It is critical that producers and private landowners make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

For more details on the program and to enroll, contact your local FSA county office or go to fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Union County Chamber seeks nominations, sponsors for awards banquet

LA GRANDE — The 86th annual Union County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet is set for April 17. With the theme “Roar into the Twenties,” the evening honors the amazing individuals and businesses in our community.

Nominations are being accepted for Public Employee of the Year, Educator of the Year, Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of the Year and Man of the Year. For nomination criteria, details and forms, call the Union County Chamber at 541-963-8588 or stop by the office, 207 Depot St., La Grande. All nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. March 6.

The chamber is also seeking table sponsors, who will decorate a table and advertise their business or organization. To sponsor a table, two tickets must be purchased. Contact the chamber soon to reserve your table.

Bicameral Farmers Bill of Rights resolution introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Reps. Deb Haaland (D-NM) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME), have introduced a Farmers Bill of Rights resolution that affirms the rights of family farmers, ranchers and traditional agricultural communities in Oregon and across the country.

“Family farms have been the backbone of Oregon’s agricultural economy for generations,” said Merkley in a press release. “These farmers’ dedication to responsible stewardship of our land and agricultural innovation are woven into the fabric of the Oregonian spirit and have contributed to communities in every corner of our state. That’s why we must make sure family farmers have a level playing field to compete.”

The resolution, described as “groundbreaking,” outlines 10 basic rights that all family farmers and ranchers should have access to. Oregon is home to more than 38,000 farms, which compete in national and international marketplaces and would benefit from the reforms outlined in the Farmers Bill of Rights, according to the release.

The Farmers Bill of Rights highlights the challenges facing family farmers and ranchers, including historically underserved farmers and ranchers; recommends a strict cap on foreign ownership in order to ensure all American farmers can access domestic farm land; gives historically underserved farmers and ranchers access to capital and an equal voice against increasing corporate concentration and abusive practices in America’s farm and food markets; and supports country of origin labeling.

Northwest Farm Credit Services customer-members to receive nearly half of cooperative’s earnings in cash

SPOKANE, Washington — The Northwest Farm Credit Services Board of Directors announced the association will pay $145 million in cash patronage dividends to customer-members throughout the Northwest, which is 1.25% of their eligible average daily loan balances. Payments will start in mid-February

“We’re pleased to pay nearly half our 2019 earnings back to the customer-members who helped create the association’s success,” Northwest FCS President and CEO Phil DiPofi said. “They in turn can reinvest dollars back into their businesses, families and rural communities, providing a boost to our rural economies.”

Northwest FCS has paid patronage dividends every year since 2000, totaling more than $1 billion in patronage to customer-members. Northwest FCS, with headquarters in Spokane, Washington, is a $13 billion financial cooperative providing financing and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, rural homeowners and crop insurance customers in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

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