Over the last six years I have represented the Oregon Superintendents from a group called Oregonians for Food and Shelter. This is a unique coalition that represents agriculture, forestry and chemical applicators through the integrated, responsible use of pest management products, soil nutrients and biotechnology.
What makes this group so special is that it’s a coalition of various industries that all work together toward a common goal. In a way, I would compare this with Golf’s “We Are Golf” alliance. Once golf’s entities came together as one, great things started to happen.
This year I am serving on the OFS Executive Board as the vice chair along with Chairman Barry Bushue from the Oregon Farm Bureau and Past Chair, Ted Reiss from Seneca Jones Timber Company. As you can see, we represent all aspects of our natural resource industry. OFS has a paid staff of only three individuals. Katie Fast is our executive director, Scott Dahlman is our policy director and Diann Washburn is our office manager. All of OFS is funded through donations from throughout the industry.
This week I had the privilege to travel to Washington DC with Katie, Scott, and the executive board to visit with Oregon’s congressional representatives and some vital offices. This annual trip is our opportunity to speak to the Oregon congressional delegation, along with federal agency staff, about issues affecting our members. If you have had the privilege to attend National Golf Day, this was very similar, only we spent three days making visits instead of one.
Our focus was on four major issues which fell right along the lines of what GCSAA is following, except for one; the new Worker Protection Standards (WPS), the NPDES Pesticide General Permit for applications to water, chlorpyrifos and federal forest management.
Meeting with Rep. Kurt Schrader
We visited with staff at EPA and USDA in addition to Senators Wyden and Merkley and congressmen Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden. We also had the opportunity to meet with our coalition partners at BIO and CropLife America.
Sharing our priorities with Rep. Greg Walden
With a new administration coming into the fold this year, there is ample opportunities to make progress on our priorities at the federal level. Our conversations with the agencies, and members of congress have left us hopeful for progress in 2018.
Our group with CropLife America Executive Vice President Beau Greenwood
My biggest take-away from the trip was how approachable our members of Congress really are and how much our governmental agencies value stakeholder input. I can also say that I saw firsthand how much of an influence GCSAA’s government advocacy team is having on Capitol Hill. During my visits to the EPA and the USDA, Chava McKeel and Bob Helland were both held in high regards.
I also had the opportunity to talk about our grassroots program and was able to introduce by name, the representative assigned to Congressman Shrader, Congresswoman Bonamici as well as Senator Merkley. Every one of them commended us on the program and felt we were heading in the right direction.
This year National Golf Day is April 24th and 25th. Please consider attending this event. NGD is open to all members of the GCSAA. All you need to do is get yourself there and pay for your room and GCSAA will take care of scheduling your meetings. Watch for registration coming out after the first of the year.