Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties are “Bounty Counties,” places that grow and create valuable food products which are distributed locally, regionally and globally.
U.S Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., met with local food and beverage makers at his 1,025th town hall meeting Monday focused on agriculture and food production.
Fresh off what he calls a successful push for the semiconductor industry, Wyden is joining with the Oregon Business Council to work on issues that benefit Oregon agriculture, food and beverage producers.
“The finance committee just did a major, first-of-its-kind trade agreement with Taiwan to end the double taxation that we’ve seen going on,” Wyden said. “I think that’s a big market for you and all the other people who are trading.”
About a dozen local business owners shared with Wyden the challenges their small to medium-size businesses face.
“I was hoping to maybe throw around the idea of tax incentives, some kind of incentives to leave this Bend unzoned property to stay agricultural,” said Aaron Stubbs, owner of Fibonacci Farm which raises chicken, vegetables and flowers on a parcel of land slated for development.
Justin Durham said the biggest challenge facing the second generation, family-owned Sisters Coffee Company is workforce housing.
Housing is an issue Wyden, as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says he can do something about.
“If you don’t have housing, you can’t run a business because people go somewhere else where there is housing. So, I’m getting my arms around the supply issue but you aren’t going to create that overnight,” Wyden said.
House District 53 Rep. Emerson Levy said there are about 400 moderately priced housing units coming onto the market within the next couple of years in Redmond. Levy agreed with the senator that more affordable housing is needed.
Several business owners said there needs to be more co-operative kitchen, bottling and production facilities where companies can rent space as they expand their businesses.