Oregon Cattlemen's Association President Bill Hoyt visited with local cattle producers at Saturday’s Wallowa County Stockgrowers’ annual meeting at the fairgrounds in Enterprise. KATY NESBITT / The Observer
ENTERPRISE — The Wallowa County Stockgrowers celebrated another year Saturday with a rodeo, dinner, dance and an early breakfast meeting at the fairgrounds in Enterprise.Special guests included Oregon Cattlemen’s Association President Bill Hoyt, incoming President Curt Martin and Executive Director Kay Tiesel as well as Rodger Huffman, Oregon Department of Agriculture brand inspection program manager.
After a full ranch-style breakfast served by Flora’s North End Grange, President Todd Nash ticked off the year’s accomplishments. He said last year’s rodeo proceeds purchased a bred cow that was awarded to Wyatt Warnock in a competition among local high school students. January’s scholarship dinner raised $3,700, $400 was donated by the club to the Western Resources Legal Center at Willamette University and several members have donated beef to Community Connection’s food bank in Enterprise.
Nash said the Stockgrowers received a gift of $1,380 from the sale of a local rancher’s steer, and Angelika Dietrich gave $400 in proceeds from the sale of her book, “Wolves in Wallowa County.”
Wallowa County ranchers have had increased interaction with wolves the past two years and have used non-lethal deterrents and increased range riding to protect their cattle. Nash said some of the local stock producers traveled to Salem to testify in late March about their experiences. With the help of Rep. Greg Smith, Sen. David Nelson and a tireless effort by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, a compensation bill passed unanimously in the House and the Senate and was signed by Gov. Kitzhaber, giving producers an opportunity to receive federal funds to compensate for wolf-caused losses.
The local compensation plan was explained by both Nash and Rod Childers, Oregon Cattlemen’s Wolf Committee chairman. The program is in a dry-run phase and will roll out next year.
“We are trying to work from the ground up and get all of the Eastern Oregon counties up to speed,” Childers said.
Nash talked about a new opportunity local cattle producers had this summer. Through Whitman College’s “Whitman in the Wallowas” program ranchers had an opportunity to meet with students studying environmental policy.
“We had a chance to discuss the different challenged we have here as ranchers,” Nash said. “If we don’t engage, our story never gets told.”
Tiesel, the OCA’s executive director, addressed the Stockgrowers and encouraged them to continue their support of the OCA’s Political Action Committee. She said 400 bills were passed in the 2011 Oregon legislative session. Lobbyist Jim Welch as well as Hoyt and Tiesel were actively representing the industry.
“We need help supporting the legislators that support us,” Tiesel said.
Hoyt said an issue he has directed much of his effort toward has been to improve the cattlemen’s image and address both urban and rural biases about clean water, riparian areas and predation issues.
Hoyt said he was asked to donate beef for a tiny school involved in Portland’s Agriculture Day. In return for 25 pounds of ground beef he was allowed to spend an hour and a half with fourth-graders discussing the cattle industry.
“The kids asked questions about branding, animal welfare and slaughter — all the stuff they see on TV,” Hoyt said.
Now Hoyt and the OCA have an ongoing relationship with the school, donating beef and making themselves available to talk about agriculture with the students.
Lori Schaafsma, Lori Butterfield, Carrie Tianharra and Ramona Philips explained their work to educate school kids and the general public about ranching with wolves. Since the spring they have spoken with Oregon Public Broadcasting, appeared on Gary Lewis’ outdoor TV show and have worked with Mark Bales, a videographer from Bend, to produce footage for their public outreach effort.
Stockgrowers’ Secretary Cynthia Warnock wrapped up the meeting with an update on a lawsuit led by
La Grande’s Hells Canyon Preservation Council against the U.S. Forest Service. The suit calls into question seven grazing allotments in Wallowa County that were given Categorical Exclusions in order for the permittees to continue business as usual.
“Four permittees filed for intervener status, which Hells Canyon fought, but the judge ruled in the permittees’ favor,” Warnock said.