Farm tour provides insight

By Observer editorial June 24, 2013 09:01 am

The 37th annual Union County Crops and Conservation Tour, conducted in Wednesday’s monsoon, was a hit despite the abysmal conditions.

Yes, Hog Wild Days and the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show dodged the annual storms that generally hit in early June. The Crops and Conservation Tour wasn’t so lucky. There’s a reason why more and more weddings locally are planned for September and not for the traditional month of June.

The tour generally involves four buses with a combined capacity of 150. It’s an opportunity for those involved on the half-day bus tour to view and learn firsthand about agricultural production, research and conservation efforts in Union County.

Crop Production Services and the OSU Extension Service organize the tour, which is sponsored and supported by about 40 local businesses and organizations. A host of financial sponsors make it possible — including the steak barbecue that concludes the event. Area 4-H and FFA members help out with the tour and the barbecue.

The Crop Tour was started in 1976 when Don Sands got a handful of farmers together, jumped in a van and headed out to check out an herbicide application to battle wild oat. The tour has grown into a valuable annual institution. 

The tour is organized each year by local agriculture-related agencies and groups in Union County, and sponsored by local businesses.

The tour showcases county agriculture, singles out conservation efforts and demonstrates the importance of farming and ranching to the local economy. 

Agriculture’s contributions to the area’s financial health, which amounts to almost $100 million per year. In times of recession, the agriculture industry has been a bright spot in adding stability to the local economy.

The tour gives people a chance to learn about what’s going on agriculture-wise in the Grande Ronde Valley and sometimes beyond.

The tour last Wednesday provided great insight into the advances — and the challenges — of farming in Union County, from irrigation to providing windbreaks.

The annual Union County Crops and Conservation Tour once again provided an excellent showcase for the county’s agricultural industry.

If you missed this one, be sure to catch next year’s.