Advocates don't get the story straight

Last week, the News Register published an editorial headlined, “Don’t let fringe elements derail local trail project.”

The content was a reminder of how the power elite, including newspaper editors, state agencies and elected officials, will do anything to get their way. This includes everything from twisting the facts to changing the storyline — whatever it takes to silence the minority.

Contrary to what the editorial tells you, this trail isn’t about pros and cons, benefits to the county or support or lack thereof from the community. It’s about one thing: Oregon’s prized land use laws, which have been protecting agriculture since 1973.

The abandoned railroad right of way purchased by the county, which couldn’t even obtain title insurance, includes two parcels zoned for exclusive farm use. To convert it to a recreational trail, the county must prove this will not have significant impacts on adjacent farm properties.

It’s crystal clear the county can’t meet that standard, but it seems some people don’t care. That’s not part of their agenda.

If agriculture preservation is a priority in the state and county, as stated in our strong land-use laws, the trail would’ve been nixed years ago.

The truth is, agricultural protection laws are only welcomed by the power elite when they are convenient and don’t get in the way of something popular. This element is saying, “Farms are good, but only as long as they stay out of our way.”

The editorial accused opponents of “threatening to destroy governmental embrace of the common good ... ” But what common good are we talking about here?

As someone engaged in the grass seed business, it seems to me that respecting Oregon’s farm protection land use laws is the common good. After all, farms bring millions of dollars into our local economy. They grow food for our tables and grass for our lawns while providing pasture for our livestock.

The editorial notes the county has pledged to “guarantee that traditional farm practices are protected.” If you need a good laugh, read that sentence again. The so-called “protections” consist of installing signs no one reads and fences that landlock and isolate farms.

Earlier this month, nearly 30 farmers testified for hours, presenting facts proving the proposal would adversely affect farm practices.

It doesn’t matter how many signs or fences the county puts up. When you introduce a walking trail in the middle of farmland, it hampers farm operations.

Saying you can “guarantee” this won’t impede farm practices is a blatant lie. It’s a ploy used to suggest these issues aren’t really a big deal, that we’ll figure them out later, once we’ve actually undertaken a master plan.

Nobody is threatening “physical resistance.” Opponents are standing up for their rights, as they did in opposing the landfill expansion.

Farmers are trying to enforce laws written for this very purpose — to protect farms from proposed non-farm uses, for the real common good.


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