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Wyden visits Tillamook Creamery | News | tillamookheadlightherald … – Tillamook Headlight-Herald

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Showers in the morning, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. High around 70F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%..
Cloudy with rain developing after midnight. Low 57F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.
Updated: August 30, 2023 @ 2:09 am
Senator Rony Wyden (sixth from left) poses for a photo with local dairymen, creamery workers, truck drivers and others during his visit to the Tillamook Creamery on August 8. 

Senator Rony Wyden (sixth from left) poses for a photo with local dairymen, creamery workers, truck drivers and others during his visit to the Tillamook Creamery on August 8. 
Senator Ron Wyden attended a lunch meeting at the Tillamook County Creamery on August 8, before touring a local dairy farm, as part of his Oregon Bounty Tour.
At the creamery, Wyden sat down with Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) board members who own dairy farms, trucking company representatives, and creamery staff to discuss how he could help to promote agriculture in Oregon.
The visit was part of the fact-finding process that Wyden is going through in advance of Business Oregon’s annual December conference, at which the organization crafts policy proposals with the help of legislators. 
Last year’s conference emphasized advancing the semiconductor industry in Oregon, yielding policy proposals that helped secure a new Intel microchip manufacturing facility in Washington County.
Wyden said that with work on a new farm bill set to begin next year in Washington, he hopes this year’s conference will give him a good plan to support Oregon farmers and those in related industries in that bill. 
Wyden started the meeting by acknowledging the federal issue of most pressing concern to most farmers and landowners in Tillamook County: the impending update to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood insurance plan. 
The proposed updates to the plan would require counties to institute new floodplain development regulations requiring no net loss of floodplain functions to protect fish habitat. The proposed updates drew concern from more than a hundred Tillamook residents at a May meeting and the county’s government has now been included as a participating agency in the process.
Wyden said that he was not going to take legislative action to delay the plan update, as had former Congressman Peter DeFazio on several occasions. Wyden said that instead he was committed to making sure that FEMA allow state and local governments options in how they meet the new standards. 
“When you make those judgments, you need to give state and local communities flexibility on how to get there,” Wyden said. 
Several of the dairymen present at the meeting pushed Wyden further on this point. They said they felt the proposed updates did not consider the years of work residents and the county government have done to protect and restore fish passage, pointing specifically to the Salmon Superhighway project in South Tillamook County.
Wyden said that he had been involved with the Salmon Superhighway since its inception and was aware of the good work they were doing to increase fish passage. He said that he was committed to ensuring that FEMA took those types of projects into account when developing the new plan and that his team would reach out shortly to learn more about the dairymen’s efforts.
Another challenge highlighted by those at the meeting was the dearth of housing in Tillamook County. They said that their employees were not eligible for low-income or workforce housing projects subsidized by government programs, creating staffing difficulties.
Wyden said that he appreciated this problem and had seen it in other communities across the state and nation, leading him to begin working on middle income housing tax credits for developers. 
Also putting pressure on the labor pool in Tillamook County are immigration related issues, according to the farmers. They said that many, if not most, farms in the county relied on undocumented migrants for labor. They said that with a consistent, non-seasonal labor demand, they were unable to participate in the H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers and that they were in favor of reforms to expand its availability.
Wyden said that he would similarly favor expanding the program and mentioned resolving the status of undocumented arrivals who had arrived as children. “Our country is better and stronger with immigration,” Wyden said. 
The farmers at the meeting also mentioned their desire to see programs promoting alternative energy on farms expanded. They said that they saw California’s Renewable Energy for Agriculture Program as a good model for helping farms implement new technologies.
Several mentioned that while tax credits for installations were helpful, in many instances the initial outlay to qualify for the credits outstripped small farms’ budgets. 
Wyden thanked the meeting’s attendees for their feedback and said that he looked forward to continuing the conversation in advance of the December conference. 

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