Candidates address agriculture at forum

Democratic candidate Susan Sokol Blosser (left) and incumbent Republican Representative Jim Weidner (right) talk with William Newman II (center), the moderator of the forum. Katie Paysinger/Senior photographer

Candidates running for the Oregon House of Representatives of District 24 met Sept. 28 to answer questions about agricultural policy under their administrations. Only one Linfield student joined the citizens of Yamhill County attending the event.
Democratic candidate Susan Sokol Blosser and Republican incumbent Rep. Jim Wiedner fielded questions from the attendees, including one from Linfield senior Katherine Kann.
The question and answer session was preceded by a meet and greet.
Kann attended on behalf of Greenfield, a club dedicated to promoting sustainability.
She was in attendance with Linfield alumna Rose Hollingsworth, class of ’10. Both women said they were supporters of Sokol Blosser.
“I think that localization is an important path to creating a more sustainable living existence on our planet,” Kann said, explaining that she came to discover what the candidates’ stance was on the subject.
The candidates also fielded questions on farming and agricultural policy. Only 24 questions were asked.
Of those 24, nearly a third were about small farms, making it the most popular topic.
Other questions included questions concerning farm subsidies, genetically modified foods and Grand Island’s new potential quarry.
Labeling herself a representative of Linfield students, Kann asked about the food industry’s role in sustainability and climate change.
Three groups with an interest in Oregon’s farming communities, Slow Food Oregon’s Yamhill County chapter, Friends of Family Farmers and Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust collaborated to create the forum.
The event ran from 6 — 8:30 p.m. and was held in the McMinnville Community Center. William Newman II, the representative and co-founder of OSALT, moderated the event.
“People have concerns that have to do with food and farming,” Newman said. “An informed electorate can make better choices.”
According to its website, OSALT is dedicated to preserving the skills and mindsets necessary to keep small farming alive from generation to generation.
Michele Knause, who attended for Friends of Family Farmers, said that her organization counted on the Food & Farm Forum bringing attention to issues about local farms and farmers.
“We’re hoping that the people who attended were able to draw attention to these issues by the questions they asked and that the candidate found out what people find important about food and agriculture,” she said.
Family Farms aims to create unity among independent and family-owned farms, as well as people interested in sustainability and nutrition, according to the organization’s website.
“I thought it was fairly effective, but the questions were difficult to respond to in such a short time,” said Rob Tracy, a former member of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Agency. “The responses were fairly generic.”
The candidates had two minutes to answer the questions.
The conservation agency’s website states that its role is to prevent degradation of the nation’s soil quality and avoid a repeat of the dustbowl effect from the 1930s.

Joshua Ensler/News editor
Joshua Ensler can be reached at linfieldreviewnews@gmail.com.

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