Senator defends Farm Bill vote

U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., has drawn fire from Democrats for not signing off on the Senate version of the Farm Bill.

But he is supported in that move by both the Oregon Farm (OBF) Bureau and the American Farm Bureaus, which are also concerned about a provision they believe threatens the water rights of Western farmers.

"The Oregon Farm Bureau fully supports Senator Smith's decision to oppose this flawed piece of legislation," said Barry Bushue, OFB president. "The Reid amendment was a slap in our face, and we applaud Sen. Smith for standing up for Oregon farmers."

However, the Democratic Party of Oregon is urging its citizens to "call Sen. Smith's bluff" by demanding an explanation of his "nay" vote.

"It's about time Sen. Smith is held accountable for his actions rather than being given credit for his empty rhetoric," said Neel Pender, Democratic Party executive director. "Smith spends a lot of time and money touting support for rural Oregonians, but let the record show that Gordon Smith is no friend to Oregon farmers, his vote again betrays proud Oregon families and businesses struggling to make ends meet and is inexcusable."

But Smith said concern for Oregon's economically struggling farmers is exactly what kept him from signing legislation that allocated federal funds for the acquisition of water rights from farmers to enforce the Endangered Species Act.

"The message I sent with my vote is that politics doesn't belong in farm policy," said Smith. "Oregon's farmers have been through enough in the past year without having to cede even more control of their water to government authorities. The amendment offered by Sen. Reid asks farmers to do just that."

Last Wednesday the Farm Bill, S.1731, passed the Senate by a vote of 58-40. It will now go into the joint House-Senate conference where provisions from both versions will be reviewed for a final draft of the bill. The combined legislation will be voted on by both bodies later this year before being sent to the president for his signature.

Camille Hukari, head of Hood River's Tractor Coalition, said the good news in both the House and Senate versions is that country-or-origin labeling is included. She said local farmers are "elated" about the probability that their lobby efforts have paid off and shoppers may soon be given a clear choice to "Buy American" produce.

She is also hopeful Smith's proposed Conservation Security Act will be included. That legislation allows farmers to contract with the government and get paid up to $50,000 annually for using "good stewardship" practices in land management.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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