Agriculture is still king in Wallowa County.
With bountiful cattle dotting the landscape and thousands upon thousands of acres of hay grown for forage, there is no denying its economic impact.
Agriculture pays the bills in Wallowa County. Farmers and ranchers pay the lion’s share of property taxes that fund public entities large and small.
Today, it’s easy to drive by a center pivot irrigation system and not even notice it’s there unless it happens to be watering the highway.
Like much of America, fewer and fewer Wallowa County residents have a true personal connection to agriculture.
It’s wasn’t that long ago that everyone was either directly involved in the ag economy or knew someone who was. With those connections growing weaker by the year, it is increasingly necessary for agriculture to do a better job of telling its own story.
Farmers and ranchers generally don’t believe in tooting their horns. Bragging, most of them have been taught, is not proper etiquette. Many are reticent to try to explain their work for fear people will misunderstand or think them out of touch.
Clearly, the need to tell agriculture’s story has never been greater as restrictions and other roadblocks to success threaten a way of life and an economic driver.
To that end, the Chieftain is unveiling this week a series of stories designed to tell stories of successful farmers and ranchers in the county. If you’ve never met someone engaged in agriculture, you’ll get to know several of them by the time the series ends later this year.
Primarily, you will learn about the innovations that are driving agriculture in the county; How things are changing dramatically, yet in so many ways, remaining the same.
In some instances, the stories will confirm what you may already know. In other instances, you may learn something new and walk away with a greater respect for the panoply agriculture presents.
Rather than asking you to side with farmers and ranchers over environmentalists or other interests, we ask that you become educated. Learning why certain things are done a certain way builds a bridge to understanding.
Most who make their living in agriculture will tell you they are misunderstood. Walking a mile in their shoes will help readers learn what makes these unique individuals tick.
The series of stories such as the Chieftain is embarking upon requires farmers and ranchers to place their trust in the media, something they do not do often and something we recognize as a sacred obligation to get the story right.
It is our deep desire that you will find the stories engaging and informative. Read them with an open mind, and as always, we welcome your feedback.