Deschutes County Livestock Association rides again

 

Last updated 4/16/2024 at 9:24am

Photo by Craig Rullman

DCLA President Dave McMichael and TriCounty Cattle Women Association President Deena Fidler.

A strong turnout was on hand at the Teixeira Ranch sale barn in Terrebonne, April 9, for the second meeting of the freshly reanimated Deschutes County Livestock Association (DCLA).

Dave McMichael, president of the DCLA, who raises commercial beef cattle throughout Central Oregon, told The Nugget that he accepted the mantle as an "act of service," and that members are energized around three priorities: communication with the broader public, education of the next generation, and legislation to defend the interests of livestock producers.

Twenty-five years ago the Deschutes County Livestock Association was considered one of the most active livestock associations in Oregon, McMichael said, but fell into inactivity as many of its members aged out or moved on.

Deena Fidler, president of the TriCounty Cattle Women Association, which covers Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes County, told The Nugget that livestock producers feel increasing pressure to address, in a united fashion, many of the resurgent issues that have long plagued producers in the western United States: water, wolves, and private property rights.

"The industry is under attack," Fidler said. "It's a fight for food, and the future, and we are focused on, among other things, educating the next generation."

According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the State of Oregon is home to over 37,000 farms and ranches that combined to create nearly 700,000 jobs and generate nearly $30 billion in wages and $12 billion in annual taxes in its most recent survey. The United States Department of Agriculture consistently ranks Oregon in the top tiers of livestock production, a category that includes honey, sheep and lambs, eggs, dairy cattle, as well as commercial beef cattle.

Agricultural Associations have a long history in Oregon, even prior to 1860 when delegates from the Oregon Fruit Growers Association first met in Salem to establish the Oregon State Agricultural Society. The First Cattlemen's Association was formed in Baker County in 1913.

Modern livestock associations work to promote healthy, sustainable production and land stewardship practices, while defending the industry's interest in raising food and other commodities. McMichael told The Nugget that one of the DCLA's top priorities is to continue working to sustain local FFA and 4-H programs, and to educate and encourage young people to become involved in the rewards offered from a life in agriculture.

The Deschutes County Livestock Association is open to all livestock producers, not just cattlemen. Matt Foster, who raises hay in Tumalo and serves as DCLA Vice President, told The Nugget that many producers feel they are being pigeon-holed by underinformed, or misinformed concerns, but are energized by a strong sense of community among producers. Of particular concern to Foster and others are what they consider to be short-sighted and overburdensome regulations, and local land-use issues including wildlife overlays that "sound good in principle but raise serious questions about private property rights."

 

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