Fruit Industry Hukari named to fed panel

A Hood River orchardist will soon be voicing the concerns of Northwest farmers at the top levels of government.

Camille Hukari, president of Rodacamar Farms, was appointed earlier in February by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to the new Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.

"I am delighted that Secretary Venemen has selected Camille to serve on this committee," said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "With only 23 positions covering the entire U.S., it is a great tribute to have a fourth generation pear grower from Hood River at the table."

Hukari, who runs the 60-acre family farm in Pine Grove, said she was ecstatic about her new duties but also realized it carried a great amount of responsibility since she would be the sole representative from Oregon and Washington. Committee members serve two-year terms.

"I take this appointment very seriously and am looking forward to being an advocate and presenting our issues, which are very different from those of production crops," said Hukari.

She said the Oregon fruit and vegetable industry decided to better increase its odds of getting someone on the first-ever advisory committee by submitting only two candidates. They collectively chose Hukari and Carol Russell, a cranberry grower from Bandon, because both women represented "distressed crops." Then they got state agriculture agencies and both state and federal legislators to write support letters for these nominees.

That strategy paid off when Hukari learned that she had been chosen from among 179 individuals across the country. The committee is comprised of seven individuals representing fresh fruit and vegetable growers or shippers, four wholesalers, two brokers, two retailers, four processors and fresh cut processors, two food service suppliers, one trade association representative, and one state department of agriculture official.

"Few growers know more about specialty crop issues than Camille," said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. "Camille has given me invaluable advice over the years, and I have no doubt that her considerable expertise will be of great value to the committee."

The advisory group's first meeting has been scheduled for April 16-17 in Washington. Hukari will not be paid for her new role, but will be reimbursed for travel expenses and per diem costs.

"This is a great opportunity to educate the USDA and to educate ourselves," said Hukari.

She will bring any new information back to her fellow Northwest fruit and vegetable growers in hopes of overcoming several bad market years.

"Camille's appointment could not come at a better time because fruit and vegetable growers in Oregon are suffering from low returns for their commodities and high production costs -- causing enormous financial losses not only to the growers and their families, but to Oregon's economy as well," said Rep. Patti Smith, R-Corbett.

While at the nation's capital, Camille, who describes herself as a "political animal," also plans to make a few stops at Congressional offices lobbying on behalf of Oregon and Washington farmers.

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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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