November 24, 2004
Oregon Group Builds Relationships Between Environmental and Ag Leaders
The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) is overcoming a longstanding ideological and communication gap between Oregon’s agricultural producers and advocates for environmental protection. By launching a Forum for the Agriculture and Environment series, and a number of other projects, the OEC is creating a more positive and productive relationship between agricultural and environmental groups.
A landmark moment occurred as a result of the forums, says Karen Lewotsky, program director for OEC. “Six members of the Board of Agriculture came to the OEC to ask for our input on a piece of legislation,” said Lewotsky. In March 2005, the Board of Agriculture and the OEC board of directors will meet for a joint dinner during a “biodiesel round-up” sponsored by OEC. “Both meetings are a tangible symbol of an increased willingness to communicate and work together,”she added.
OEC continues to plan more forums for the coming year, the third year of the Forum for the Agriculture and Environment series. “The forums provide an ongoing opportunity to discuss complex and controversial issues. By meeting face-to-face in a non-threatening environment, agricultural leaders, agricultural producers and environmentalists can learn together and seek common ground,” said Lewotsky.
With support from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant, the OEC has, in addition to the forums, produced and distributed a “Buy Local, Eat Local” brochure and promoted several examples of agricultural success stories. These marketing efforts have significantly increased the commitments of Oregonians and Oregon institutions to buy local agricultural products. The OEC and Oregon Board of Agriculture also successfully began a campaign for a state government “local purchase preference.”
For more information about the Oregon Environmental Council, visit www.orcouncil.org.