Members discuss the future of horticulture and cannabis
Oregon voters legalized recreational cannabis in the 2014 election. Because cannabis production involves the growing of plants, it is now legally a form of horticulture.
What does that mean for Oregon nurseries? And how must cannabis producers adapt to the fact that they are becoming a part of Oregon's agricultural community, with all the requirements and obligations that that entails?
An expert panel of presenters shared information and perspective with OAN members at the recent OAN Convention on Nov. 14 at Eagle Crest Resort.
State Rep. Ann Lininger co-chairs the Oregon Legislature's Marijuana Legalization Committee, which unanimously approved five bills to regulate cannabis now that it is legalized. She said it is a good opportunity for Oregon farmers. She added that the gate value of Oregon marijuana production could soon exceed $1 billion. "It's shocking to think the cannabis sector could be almost on par with nurseries," she said.
Other presenters included Steve Marks, who serves as executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission; Steve Shropshire, who is the legal counsel for OAN; and nursery operators Matt Gold and Doug Hart.
Following these presentations, members discussed the issue in small groups before finally taking an informal, nonbinding straw poll to see what the OAN's stance on cannabis should be.
Paid sick leave law to take effect January 1
Peter Hicks, an attorney with Jordan Ramis PC, gave a presentation on Oregon's new paid sick leave law at the OAN Convention on Nov. 14. This presentation was free for all members.
The law requires that all Oregon employers with 10 or more employees (or six or more employees in cities with a population of more than 500,000 – i.e. Portland) provide all employees up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Under the new law, employees earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and are potentially eligible to earn up to a total of 40 hours per year. Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time into the next year, but total accrued sick time cannot exceed 80 hours.
Employers can avoid carrying over unused sick time if they adopt a policy that pays out any unused sick time at year end and then "frontloads" or immediately provides all employees with 40 hours of leave on January 1st of each new year. Employers with less than 10 employees (or less than six employees in cities with a population of more than 500,000) are also required to provide sick leave, but the leave is unpaid.
OAN Friends of Nurseries awards announced
The Oregon Association of Nurseries announced at Convention the names of four legislators and one state official who were selected to receive Friends of Nurseries awards for 2015. These awards are given for officials who have acted to support the nursery industry and help foster a better business environment for growers.
Recipients have traditionally included members of both major political parties, and that was the case again this year. They are State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), State Rep. Mike McLane (R-Bend), State Rep. Andy Olson (R-Albany), State Rep. Jeff Reardon (D- Happy Valley), and the governor's natural resources policy director, Richard Whitman. All five officials will receive a framed Friend of Nurseries award, which consists of a framed cover of Digger magazine with their picture (download PDF). These covers use the forthcoming new design of Digger, which will launch with the January issue.
If these officials represent your district, or you otherwise come into contact with them, please be sure to thank them for their support of the nursery industry. For more information, contact Jeff Stone at email@example.com or 503-682-5089.
OAN office honors Thanksgiving holiday
There's a lot to be thankful for this year. Shipments are up and sales are improving. As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, let all of us be thankful for the blessings of friendship, family, prosperity and good health. The OAN offices will be closed beginning at noon Wednesday and continuing all day Thursday and Friday, so that employees may spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. The OAN will be back, open and ready to serve you from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays, beginning Monday, Nov. 30.
Water quality linked to healthy bug populations
Researchers with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon State University said analyzing insect populations is often the best way to assess water quality, and the data can create opportunities for agricultural land owners.
According to the report by Capital Press, healthy streams are rich in desirable aquatic insects such as caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies. As an incentive to stimulate more research in this area, funding opportunities are often available for agricultural landowners willing to partake in water-quality projects.