By Anne Marie Moss
Oregon Farm Bureau
Ron Bjork, president of Jackson County Farm Bureau, was honored with the Oregon Farm Bureau Top Hand Award by OFB President Barry Bushue and OFB Executive Vice President Dave Dillon during the 80th OFB Annual Meeting in Salem, Dec. 4-6, 2012.
Bjork is a multigenerational cattle rancher and hay grower from Eagle Point who has served as president of Jackson County Farm Bureau for 20 years.
“Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization, and sometimes a County Farm Bureau is confronted with an issue that has ramifications for all of Oregon’s farmers and ranchers,” said Bushue. “Jackson County has seen an effort to ban technology used in agriculture, specifically a ban on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops in the county. This is a complex issue that has far too little public understanding.
“Ron Bjork engaged with Oregon Farm Bureau leaders and helped assemble a national coalition of expertise to fight back. Though the potential legislation would have little impact on his own ranch, Ron has testified in hearings, been a public spokesperson, and spent hundreds of hours spearheading this issue, and he’s done it tirelessly, effectively, and above all, selflessly,” said Bushue.
Farm Bureau represents all of agriculture — all sizes and production methods — and believes one type of farming shouldn’t be pitted against another in the public or policymaking arenas. Organic, conventional, small, large, high-tech, low-tech, new, and multigenerational operations are all necessary for meeting consumers’ wants and needs for food and other ag products.
“Farm Bureau wants everyone, despite their position on GMOs, to coexist peacefully, and for ag producers to be able to grow what they want on their own farm or ranch.Once people learn more about GMOs, they aren’t scared of it,” Bjork said. “Even after so much research, there is no evidence that GMO crops negatively affect our health. It’s just another tool to help farmers grow more on limited land with limited water,” said Bjork.
The Top Hand Award is given to individuals who have devoted an exemplary amount of time and energy toward furthering the goals of Oregon Farm Bureau. To be eligible, candidates must be nominated by their County Farm Bureau. Recipients are selected by the OFB Membership & Recognition Committee.