Wyden lobbies to keep funding for Pendleton research center

Under President Obama’s proposed budget, the Columbia Plateau Conservation Center would lose $911K.

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Under President Obama’s proposed budget, the Columbia Plateau Conservation Center north of Pendleton would lose $911,000.

Sen. Ron Wyden is lobbying to make sure that doesn’t happen, according to the Associated Press.

Established in 1970, the station is part of the federal Agricultural Research Service, or ARS, which serves as the USDA’s principal in-house research agency. Located on Tubbs Ranch Road, the Pendleton center shares a building with Oregon State University’s Columbia Basin Agricultural Research Center, though they are different programs. In a letter sent April 7 to Vilsack, Wyden, D-Ore., said the president’s budget would end critical research on cropping systems for the Columbia Plateau, one of the largest wheat producing areas in the Pacific Northwest. Wyden also hopes to save forage and turf grass research on the ARS chopping block in Corvallis.

“The research developed in Oregon will have lasting impacts on advances in precision agriculture and have clear benefits to farm productivity and profitability of wheat production nationwide,” Wyden said.

The center wants to maintain funding so it can continue to research no-till options for winter wheat.

Preparing for the 2016 election, Wyden has raised $3.5 million from a vast array of donors.

From OregonLive.com:

The Democratic senator went on a fundraising tear in the first three months, raising just over $1.3 million, most of it from out of state.  That’s close to the nearly $1.6 million he raised in all of 2014. In a disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission, Wyden reported having nearly $3.5 million in the bank at the end of March.

Wyden, a 34-year veteran of Congress, has a lot of ways to attract campaign cash.  As ranking Democrat on powerful Senate Finance Committee, he attracts a lot of donations from interest groups, lobbyists and executives involved with taxes, health care and trade, to name the major issues under the panel’s jurisdiction. He has also been working on legislation aimed at increasing logging on federal lands in western Oregon.  While the timber industry has preferred a bill sponsored by three Oregon House members, Wyden has gained support from many timber executives who normally tend to lean toward Republicans.

One of Wyden’s defining issues he’s recently dealt with is the “fast-track” trade proposal issue. The Democratic senator has supported the proposal, much to the dismay of labor and other left-leaning groups.

He recently took to a Wired.com column to defend himself, the Coos Bay World reports.

In a “Point of View” piece published April 22 on Wired.com, Wyden said the treaty, and the legislation to fast-track it that he co-introduced April 16 (S. 995/H.R. 1890), will actually promote the free flow of information and defend net neutrality, the principle of equal access to the Internet for all users. Critics have said the Trans Pacific Partnership opens the door for corporations to sue governments to break down environmental and labor protections that interfere with their business. They also decry the spread of lengthy U.S.-style copyright terms, which are criticized for keeping works out of print and off the web long after creators and their heirs could possibly benefit from the rights. In his Wired piece, Wyden recommended changing U.S. copyright laws to accommodate modern technology. He said the treaty wouldn’t prevent the United States from doing that. He alluded to other legislation he’s sponsored that reins in prosecution of Internet users who break copyright rules and protects Internet service providers from liability for what users do.

“Violating a smartphone app’s terms of service or sharing academic articles should never be punished more harshly than a government agency hacking into Senate files,” he wrote.

Read the piece here.