By: Matt Little
Director of Public Policy
Oregon's welcoming reputation for hardworking farmers and outdoor enthusiasts has been interwoven into our culture since the pioneers braved the Oregon Trail to reach the lush forests and fertile soil of the Pacific Northwest in hopes of building a better life. Oregonians are proud of the conservation legacy these communities have promoted, leaving the land better than we found it for our kids and future generations.
This authentic way of life is now under threat from a far-reaching ballot initiative that would end all farming, ranching, hunting and fishing within the confines of the Beaver State.
IP 3 or "The Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act," is named to disguise the true intentions of this Initiative and confuse voters into believing a yes vote will benefit animals and conservation instead of hamstringing our greatest sources of conservation – Oregon's farmers, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts.
If passed, IP 3 would go far beyond its stated intent to criminalize cruelty to pets and other animals. Instead, it would criminalize Oregon's 940,000 sportsmen and women for hunting and fishing, and it would make obsolete the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, which manages our fish and game species. Under this Initiative, a parent taking their kids fishing or a farmer plowing their fields could be punishable under the law.
"This petition will do more than cut off public access to the outdoors, it will disenfranchise farmers and ranchers that are just trying to keep their family farms alive," said Jim Love, the co-owner and operator of a fourth-generation 350-acre berry farm in the Willamette Valley that his great grandfather started in 1906. "With berries, you have lots of pests like mice, voles, moles, gophers, nutria and insects to deal with to make it to harvest. Under IP3, the simple act of plowing that has been practiced on our land for over a century would become criminalized. As farmers and ranchers, our way of life is under attack, and we need to act fast before it is too late."
IP 3 would put all animal enthusiasts, livestock operators and even veterinary professionals in danger of hefty fines or even imprisonment – simply for earning their livelihood by humanely working with, and for the good of, animals.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation activities, such as hunting and angling, contribute $788 billion annually to the U.S. economy and support 5.2 million jobs. In 2019 alone, $872 million was generated for wildlife management from the sale of hunting licenses and $797 million went to wildlife conservation projects through a federal excise tax on hunting recreational shooting equipment – known as the Pittman-Robertson Act.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) has monitored this misguided ballot initiative since its inception and endeavors to inform Oregon's farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts of this pending threat to conservation in our state. DU is partnering closely with a new coalition of hunting, trapping and fishing groups – called Oregon Sportsmen's Conservation Partnership — to fight against this Initiative and similar threats to Oregon's farming, ranching and outdoor heritage in our state.
Oregon's farmers, ranchers, producers and those dedicating their lives to working the land are coming together with our sportsmen and women. This ballot measure was crafted with the intention of cutting access to outdoor recreation and encroaching on our natural heritage. The end result will be far fewer dollars available for conservation in Oregon and a negative overall impact on the state's economy and our wildlife populations.
To date, DU has worked to conserve more than 120,000 acres and restored countless threatened wetland habitats across the state. This work would not be possible without the staunch support and assistance from the agricultural community and other key partners within Oregon. We will continue to work hard to keep this legacy alive for future generations in Oregon and throughout our region.