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News for the Crop and Soil Science Department
Senate Bill 676 passed by the Oregon legislature in 2009 allows for the production of industrial hemp. But in the years since, farmers have been hesitant to begin growing for fear that they'd be prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Administration for possession of a schedule I controlled substance — since under federal law, hemp is in the same category as marijuana.
James Cassidy, a soil sciences instructor and faculty advisor to one of the longest-running organic student farms in the country, comes into his office at Oregon State University wearing a t-shirt that says “eat locals.” It shows a zombie chasing a guy on a tractor.
I’m here today to talk with James about food, sustainability, and the little things we can all do to make a difference in our food system. Now that there are so many different food organizations, sustainable farming projects, and trendy restaurants, the myriad of all things we “should” do when it comes to food can be overwhelming.
“A lot of people think you’re supposed to convert to sustainability like you have to join this religion or something,” James says. “But the creation of real lasting change isn’t about going full blast, it’s about doing little things over a long period of time. That’s what sustainability really means—an action that is possible for you to sustain for a long time.”
Oregon agriculture officials on Tuesday said they hope to have rules in place for the possibility of producing industrial hemp by the spring planting season.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has assembled a committee of policy officials and agriculture experts, including Russ Karow, head of the Oregon State University crop and soil science program, to draft rules for industrial hemp production. Jim Cramer, director of the market access and certification program area of the Department of Agriculture, said the agency’s focus is crafting “robust” rules for hemp.
Armyworms are on the march in Hermiston, with hundreds of thousands of the small caterpillars wriggling around lawns and homes across the city.
Though a fairly typical pest, the sheer number this fall is prompting dozens of calls to Oregon State University's Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, which has caught the attention of entomologist specialist Silvia Rondon.
"They're all over the place," Rondon said. "That's really a nuisance. It's not fun to see hundreds of these by your door or porch."
In addition to stepping into leadership roles at family farms, more women are filling the ranks of agricultural researchers and agency managers.
Katy Coba, who was the first female wheat truck driver on the family farm near Pendleton, has been director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture for the past 10 years. Celia Gould holds that position in Idaho and Karen Ross is secretary of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture.
Two of Coba’s upper level staff members are women: Deputy Director Lisa Hanson and Stephanie Page, who is special assistant to the director.
Female researchers are deeply engaged in agricultural issues. At Oregon State University, weed scientist Carol Mallory-Smith ran the initial tests this spring that determined volunteer wheat plants found growing in an eastern Oregon field carried an unapproved “Roundup Ready” gene.
Also at OSU, entomologist Amy Dreves works to thwart the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fruit fly that causes severe damage to ripening fruit and berries. Patty Skinkis, a viticulturist, is researching ways to increase wine grape yields without decreasing quality. Sujaya Rao, another entomologist, is involved in a project to learn more about the health of native pollinators by tracking bumblebees’ movements using tiny sensors. Many more women hold teaching positions on campus or work at OSU’s Food Innovation Center or other Extension Service programs.