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‘Real, real tough’: C.O. farmers, ranchers share struggles, issues with Reps. Bentz, Feenstra

(Update: adding video, comments from farmers and ranchers, Rep, Bentz)

Bentz, fellow congressman meet with C.O. farmers, ranchers in Madras to discuss water, other issues

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Central Oregon farmers and ranchers met Friday with Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., and fellow freshman Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, to share their struggles and hardships over the past year amid severe drought and what they'd like to see the federal government do.

A lack of water, funding and employees are some of their biggest obstacles discussed during the midday gathering, which took place at the Central Oregon Livestock Auction Yard in Madras.

"It's been real, real tough here for our patrons," said Josh Bailey, general manager for the North Unit Irrigation District. "It's been a real tough one."

Mark Wunsch, president of the Jefferson County Livestock Association, shared his thoughts on funding.

"We don't necessarily want a handout," he said. "We just want a fair opportunity to do what we do."

Kurt Feigner with KSN Farms stood in front of the group and shared his frustrations with an employee shortage.

 "It's gotten to the point of ridiculous," he said. "We have one employee, and he's the director."

 Those on hand to meet the two lawmakers shared their concerns about water supplies amid a historic drought, hiring challenges, and conservation efforts related to the spotted frog, as well as a possible project to pipe irrigation water out of Lake Billy Chinook, among other issues.

The two politicians listened and took notes to get a better idea of the support and changes farmers and ranchers want.

"It seems like in the system there's somebody making decisions that doesn't know what's going on," Feigner said.

While a number of issues were brought up to both congressmen, Bentz says the problems that come with drought in Central Oregon are his top priority.

"We're in trouble when it comes to water," Bentz said. "We're in trouble when it comes to our forests, and we need to be really, really, really sensitive to the needs that are now evident from this meeting."

The U.S. Farm Bill expires and is updated every five years. Benntz and Feenstra say these issues will be taken into consideration when the bill is re-drafted in 2023.

Author Profile Photo

Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



        1. Yep, 1000 Americans dying a day from it, is “over”! Who do you get your info from? Big fat failed, fired, lyin, denyin and dyin donnie the orange snowflake? “it’s just one person coming in from China, we have it totally under control, everything is going to be just fine” DJT. “The virus is way down and will be gone soon” DJT. “i’d like to thank president Xi on behalf of the American people for the great job he has done with the virus” DJT. LOL!!!

        1. You have no idea what you are talking about and it’s clear as day with that statement. Ever look at land values around major water sources? There is a reason agriculture land is where it is.

          1. Ever see what farmland around actual major water sources looks like? Hint for you. It’s not desert. There’s a reason why the Midwest is this country’s breadbasket and it’s not because they have abundant desert to irrigate.

            1. Keep pretending that you have been here for a long time and that you think you know about the desert and farming but you really don’t. Grocery come from the store and that’s all you need to know.

        2. The desert in the Madras area grows 45% of the worlds carrot seed, and 60% of the seed for the US, in addition to much of the garlic seed for Gilroy and other areas. If you have looked over the area, you would know food crops are being grown and are pretty important given the loss of farm land in some areas. catch up, food production is critical

        3. Hay is not the only thing they grow. But Hey feeds the livestock we eat. AS does alfalfa. They also grow carrot seed and many other forms of produce. So, until you actually know something about what goes on with the Central Oregon farmers and ranchers. Keep your pipe shut

        4. I truly doubt that you know what common sense is. It’s very evident by you comment. Neither do you know anything about the farms or ranches anywhere, let alone here in Oregon. That’s apparent.

        5. Especially growing crops in a semi-arid desert with the most junior water rights, which is what North Unit customers have. They’re the ones that get the shaft when there’s not enough to go around. The land is cheap, but that’s the risk that goes with it.

    1. Have you not turned on a college or pro football game?? Get over it. Everyone else in the country seems to be over it, except mask police people in Oregon. These people are talking about their businesses experiencing real hardship. A real issue, and you call them out for not wearing masks?!? Get a life.

    2. I’m sure they learned it watching Z21’s interview with a maskless Ron Wyden and Lee Anderson the other day- both within mere feet of each other. BTW- when going through contact tracing protocol- nobody asks you about a mask- but they will ask you if you were within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes of anyone. The OSHA and the OHA don’t care about masks- for them it’s all about distance. Learn to keep yours !

    3. I choose the freedom to breathe fresh unfiltered air. I choose to not breathe the CO2 that I exhale. You should try it. I choose freedom. I shall not be herded around like sheep.

  1. If you want water, Stop voting for the climate crisis denying politicians, just because you are afraid of people of color.
    The corporations want your gas money & stopping global warming would impact their shareholder’s bottom line.
    The global patriarchy conglomerates are the reason your ranches & farms are bone dry.
    They are the reason the fires spread faster than a car can drive.
    Yet you vote for their eager puppies for your representatives.

    never once were you in any danger from a person of color. stop being a bigot.

    1. President Trump rec eived more votes from your “person’s of color” in the last election- he also greatly improved their household income and reversed Obama’s business killing policies that saw more black owned shops close than open… Is that the party you are referring too- good for you- vote GOP in 2022 and end the carnage and never ending fake crisis of CV19- supply chain- joblessness- homelessness- never ending wars overseas- and all hate and anger that has permeated the USA since Biden took office ! As if ya’all didn’t see this coming.

    2. Is it the Middle Way or Wacky Way? Somehow you managed to lump Racism, the climate and the Patriarchy onto one bizarre vomit of nonsense. The facts are these farmers grow carrot seeds, seed potatoes, mint, orchard grass and alfalfa grass along with sheep, beef, chickens and provide habitat and feed for countless deer, elk and birds. These farmers work hard and have improved the soils in these fields for many decades. I know them, I have been to the farms in the area and I can assure you they need and deserve water to feed the world and not let the top soils blow away. Some of the worst American and Canadian droughts came from from 1934 to 1940
      With a low population and very few cars back then this all happened and went away just as our current drought will go away. Leftist are just always looking for a new TAX and a new way to punish farmers, ranchers, LOGGERS and other hardworking people WHO MAKE A LIVING OFF THE LAND. Leftists seem to think food is made at the store.. so they eat the food made at the store and then wipe their leftist butts with paper that was also made at the store.. not from trees.. then they jump in their leftist car made at the car dealership. Thank God for Bends Market Of Choice, the Prius and Subaru dealerships along with all those clothes they wear made out of oil products. In conclusion if you want to stop out of control forest fires thin the forest and manage the forest in a proper manner. Take the 25 % of Oregon residents on some kind of welfare and these Parkway Bend campers, homeless and put them to work clearing and cleaning the thousands of square miles of dead brush, wood and grass in Oregon instead of getting free hand outs from the 75% of Oregonians who are working You are Clueless Hypocrites with no real answers to todays problems just like your current President Biden with the lowest approval rating in the entire history of the United States.

        1. Barney if you are indeed responding to me and my comment I am not calling for a new major Government program. I am calling for eliminating government programs that reward those who get a lifetime of free handouts off the backs of the actual working class and those who invent, innovate and work hard. I am all for helping the elderly, young, veterans, sick and underprivileged with my tax dollars but at some point the Government actualy gets in the way by interfering with a free market as we can see over the last 2 years of Government over reach and even way beyond that. I notice you skipped over the facts I presented taking us off the point that farmers need water, they are valuable and needed to feed people. Also drought is nothing new since time began. You cant really be called a moderator when everything you say is an propaganda echo chamber from the leftist media, politicians and you consistently battle with Conservative views. No that would considered an agitator…. way different. Tell you what stud.. start your own company, get some employees and get out from behind the desk you have occupied for years, jump up your tax payments to $100,000 or MORE a year in taxes and make something of yourself. You have so little experience yet you have so much to say because you make the rules on this super power little forum. LOL 🙂

          1. Then gp find a forum to your liking. Comment systems are drying up, not out of censorship but out of hate, blame and misinformation that reputable, established media companies cannot afford to be part of.
            Your attacks on me and on programs to help those in true need speak way more of you than of me or your other targets.
            I relay facts, from reputable sources, often refuting the claims here, esp. attacking govt. policies on COVID-19, providing desperately needed reality/context.
            Who gets to judge who is worthy of govt. assistance? You? Thankfully not. Call for cracking down on abuse of the system, I’m 100% in agreement. But the stereotypes do no good.

            1. Directly from Webster’s dictionary…
              mod·​er·​a·​tor | \ ˈmä-də-ˌrā-tər \
              plural moderators
              Definition of moderator
              1: one who presides over an assembly, meeting, or discussion: such as
              a: the chairman of a discussion group
              b: the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting
              You are in FACT A PARTISAN and the fact that you tell someone like me leave proves my point. Open a history book and see what happens when the Government promises to be our saviors and removes our self reliance. What I see from you is a willing shill more than happy to promote an agenda rather than take the middle ground. All the links you put on here are from people, bureaucrats and organizations who monetarily benefit from writing an opinion that fits their narrative. I am not going to leave or stop posting.

              1. I didn’t tell you to leave. I said you are free to, if you disagree with our moderation judgments and terms of service.
                I often say, those who accuse us of an agenda usually have an agenda of their own and are upset we’re not siding with them.
                We will continue to present information from reputable sources, and continue making the judgment calls and you can complain at me — if they are not offensive personal attacks. Then no one but me will see them.
                That is, unless those pushing mis or disinformation prompt the end of the comment system, like so many others have.
                There’s a middle ground on COVID-19? Feels like fortified foxholes – each side accusing the other of lies and fear-mongering.

              2. Partisan? Barney? Nope. He’s part of that “bring together the parties” group that he wholeheartedly supports by censoring both sides. I agree with you on just about nothing except the fact that moderation on this site is awful. It’s not just on the conservative side. Barney tramples everyone’s speech.

                1. Wow. First person to ever claim I screw over both sides. So now it’s just some moderator dictator eh?
                  If we go to community moderation, you’ll get to upvote/downvote whatever you wish.
                  Or the comment system will go away like most have. And you can cry censorship. Those who have spent countless hours making tough judgment calls on 1,000s of comments will know better. Folks spread dangerous “info” and blame and hate. It’s very sad.
                  Free speech has always had limits. It always will, esp. for privately operated enterprises. The First Amendment is about government, and one could argue they’ve set limits on free speech, too (always the obvious ‘shout fire in a crowded theater, get charged if someone is hurt.”
                  It’s where you draw the line. It’s not easy.

                2. Damned right. When moderators weigh the comments of right-wing domestic terrorists with normal Americans to be equally valid, all is lost. This place is a dumpster fire. Shut it down.

                3. The hate and blame is strong from both sides, as always.
                  Thank God some people are trying to move past such tragic, destructive world views.
                  No one forces you to be here and comment.

                4. Looks like you and Snorze have decided you’ve had enough of equal moderation treatment to the point that you are now giving the poor guy a thorough tongue lashing- I mean really… “the fact that moderation on this site is awful” ??? and this beauty- “This place is a dumpster fire. Shut it down.” ??? This is akin to one’s pit bull biting the hand that feeds it- and that hand is connected to someone who actually acts surprised ! Cmon Barney- where’s the threats to cancel culture these two for blatantly “attacking you” ? I am shocked at your weak response and double standard !… I mean really- Right wing terrorists ? whatta loon !

                5. You are no doubt one of the main reasons that folks on both sides of the fence call for removing this offering, wasting my and everyone else’s time with untrue or twisted information and allegations.

            2. Facts from reputable sources? Give me a break! How many stories appeared on KTVZ’s website jamming the Steele Dossier(among many other topics)down our throat as fact? You, as the digital editor, allowed unverified salacious stories to run on your site. Where are the retractions, Barney? Please stop with the moral high ground. You are bias, playing to a base to get clicks and anything but an objective moderator.

              1. We don’t write, edit or publish the national news that flows into our site automatically as with 1,000s of other media outlets across the country.
                We focus our resources on local news, as most people expect and want.
                The haters are what they are. Most folks have moved on from the things they mention over and over here.

                1. So how do you separate the national news from the local when they bleed directly into each other. You can’t discuss the local economy or CV19 situation without acknowledging that Joey Biden is working with Kalamity Kate Brown to the detriment of Central Oregonians… you simply can’t. You just did a patsy-cake interview with a maskless Ron Wyden in your studio- yet not a single question about mandates- surging costs- or the jobs crisis… sorry- they can’t be separated.

                2. Most folks take responsibility and are held accountable shoddy work product. But not here, we aren’t in control of what is on our site and everybody else is doing it too. It’s no wonder people don’t trust the media.

                1. I will say that now we all know who you are ‘probably” referring to when it comes people wanting to shut down this site- “This place is a dumpster fire. Shut it down.”… keyser Snorze and the Kancel Kulture Klub !

            3. Thank you Barney. Some people are just too ignorant to accept science. Spewing false narratives is counterproductive and common amongst the arm chair scholars that probably haven’t spent a day in a college classroom and get all their education from FAUX News. They know everything lol.

    3. Middle Way, Inferred from your moniker is that your comments somehow represent the many independents out there that don’t rely on a political party to make choices. My mistake, as it’s clear you have an agenda which has not only context to this article, but also labels our world as racist and in fear of colored people. As if somehow the world wasn’t so racist we’d have plenty of water for everything humans desire. This weird logic and damaging agenda doesn’t represent many other than you – thankfully. Hopefully you’ll take advantage of the day for some nature and clean air.

  2. Water in ag is racism? Wow that’s a new one. Brilliant logic. Yep no “people of color” as you refer to others are ranchers. Could be one of the dumbest comments I have read in quite awhile. Congrats!😂😂

  3. “We’re in trouble when it comes to water”

    Duh. Have been for a while and it ain’t because of frogs and owls. So wattaya gonna do? Rain dance?

  4. You know who doesn’t need more water? Facebook and Apple, because they gave them unlimited supply in addition to 100 year tax free. But tell me more about your stupid little frog…

  5. Notice that Bentz says that he’ll take these issues forward….in 2023 (after the next election, of course). Doesn’t help the farmers/ranchers that are barely getting by now, and are looking at another 2+ years before Bentz’s “plan” could be introduced, and even longer for implementation. Maybe he ought to start knocking on the doors of the party in power, discuss his issues with them, and try to figure out how to address them to some degree in a bipartisan fashion and not wait for the Farm Bill to expire. For example, the infrastructure bill (that he did not vote for) contained elements dealing with water/utilities. It would have been easy to propose extending or upgrading irrigation district systems as part of it, but I didn’t see anything about where he proposed anything. And I don’t see where he’ proposing anything to help our district in the immediate future.

    1. Blocking a bipartisan but mostly democratic agenda for partisan reasons, regardless of negative impact to your constituents, is the disgusting new GOP norm. Owning the libs is more important than working for those who put them in office. Republicans had control of the WH and Congress and were more interested in giving billionaires tax cuts than addressing the issues of any working Americans, especially those in rural America, yet the rural folks gave the last administration the greatest support. The more he grifts and insults, the more they love the Con in Chief and his minions, even to the point of killing our democracy and installing the Con as the first American dictator. Go figure!

  6. “We can’t hire people at slave wage rates in a crappy work conditions but are against any kind of immigration because day might tak er jerbs…” *eyeroll*

  7. Remember when the LA basin had farm’s and ranchers?

    We justust sold a ranch with COID “State water” rights not federal reclamation water should have bought better land… Madras, Prineville, North unit are done the future of agriculture in central Oregon is the original farms who have the long term water rights

  8. “Cadillac Desert” and “Welfare Ranching” may be a few years out of date with regard to specific (up-to-date) facts but still are worth reading and give some pretty good insight into the situation.

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