Field burning defenders launch offensive.Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard
SALEM - Eugene Rep. Paul Holvey doesn't even have a bill in the Legislature's week-old session to ban field burning. But that hasn't stopped the grass seed industry from unleashing a full-metal-jacket campaign to stop such legislation.
A few days before last Monday's start of the legislative session, powerhouse lobbyist Larry Campbell Larry W. Campbell, MBA (born February 28 1948, in Brantford, Ontario) is the former Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and a Member of the Canadian Senate. Election officially signed his firm on to represent the Oregon Seed Council, joining its own longtime lobbyist, Dave Nelson
Dave Nelson , in the fight to preserve the practice of field burning.
And on the first day of the session, Campbell and Nelson began circulating handouts to legislators urging that they not agree to support or sponsor Holvey's yet-to-be-drafted bill that would ban field burning.
It's an approach the second-term Holvey has never seen in Salem - nor have several veteran lobbyists who were asked if they were familiar with such a pre-emptive pre·emp·tive or pre-emp·tive
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of preemption.
2. Having or granted by the right of preemption.
a. lobbying tactic.
"It seems to be the issue being lobbied the hardest around here in the first few days," said Holvey, a Democrat.
Holvey said the effects of airborne particulate par·tic·u·late
Of or occurring in the form of fine particles.
A particulate substance.
composed of separate particles. from the late-summer practice of burning harvested grass seed fields continue to contribute to southern Willamette Valley The Willamette Valley (pronounced [wɪˈlæ.mɪt], with the accent on the second syllable) is the region in northwest Oregon in the United States that surrounds the Willamette River as it proceeds northward from its residents' respiratory problems. The smoke also creates hazy skies that don't do much for the area's tourism trade, he said.
Farmers for decades have relied on field burning to remove unwanted straw and clean fields of pests and disease. In 1972, Oregon farmers burned 320,000 acres of grass seed fields.
Nelson has lobbied solo on behalf of the grass seed industry since 1981. That includes the years following a 1988 chain-reaction crash near Albany that claimed seven lives after a field burn blazed out of control, enveloping en·vel·op
tr.v. en·vel·oped, en·vel·op·ing, en·vel·ops
1. To enclose or encase completely with or as if with a covering: "Accompanying the darkness, a stillness envelops the city" Interstate 5 with dense smoke.
The accident spurred an outcry that led to the 1991 Legislature's phased reduction of burnable acreage.
Since the law was fully implemented, the number of acres burned each year has been limited to 65,000.
Unlike the 1991 session, this time Nelson is fortifying his lobbying campaign to stop legislative efforts to curtail farmers' field-burning ways.
He said Campbell's firm, which includes Campbell's two sons, brings expertise and authenticity to his side of the debate.
The elder Campbell, a Republican former speaker of the House, took the lead in passing the 1991 legislation along with a fellow Eugene lawmaker, since-retired Democratic Sen. Grattan Kerans Grattan Kerans is an American politician from Oregon. He was a member of the Oregon Legislative Assembly in the House of Representatives from 1974 through 1984, and in the Oregon State Senate from 1986 to 1993. . Beyond that, son and lobbyist Kevin Campbell Kevin Campbell is the name of:
Does hiring Campbell, whose other clients have included the Oregon Chiefs of Police, AAA AAA: see American Automobile Association.
(Triple A) A common single-cell battery used in a myriad of electronic devices of all variety. Like its double A (AA) cousin, it provides 1.5 volts of DC power. When used in series, the voltage is multiplied. of Oregon and Idaho, and General Motors, bring raw political clout to the field burners' side of the political fight, as Holvey and others have indicated?
"Absolutely," Nelson replied. "They're not wrong. They are correct."
Both Nelson and Campbell said the last legislative curtailing of field burning has led to alternative ways of disposing of straw and warding off disease and pests. More than 650,000 tons of straw now are shipped to Asia at the rate of $100 a ton. Farmers now rely more on pesticides and other chemicals, and put up with more weeds in their fields.
The industry has emerged from the 1991 restrictions as producers of 60 percent of the world's cool-season grasses.
From the farmers' perspective, continued burning of 65,000 acres is non-negotiable, Nelson said. This includes 40,000 acres on the Willamette Valley floor, where poor drainage invites disease to take hold in damp, slowly decomposing ryegrass ryegrass
highly productive pasture grasses including Wimmera or annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum), Italian ryegrass (L. multiflorum) and perennial ryegrass (L. perenne). straw, which farmers haven't been able to sell for other uses as they have with other varieties.
The remaining 25,000 acres are located in the Silverton Hills east of Salem, where grass seed species need to be burned to reproduce, and steep terrain makes alternatives unworkable, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Oregon Seed Council.
Holvey said he is dubious about such claims. The industry made similar arguments in 1991 about its need to burn hundreds of thousands of acres, yet in the ensuing en·sue
intr.v. en·sued, en·su·ing, en·sues
1. To follow as a consequence or result. See Synonyms at follow.
2. To take place subsequently. years has managed just fine with burning limits, he said.
Just as they did more than a decade ago, Holvey said farmers will have to adapt under his proposal, for the sake of public health in communities affected by field burning smoke.
Holvey said he isn't surprised that his anticipated bill has attracted such a muscular and early response from opponents.
"They have the money to spend," he said. "The people who complain about their practice, the public, they don't have lobbyists. And I'm here to represent them."