Farmers in Josephine County now have an opportunity to make money growing oil seeds on their land.
The Josephine County Soil and Water Conservation District has just received an $85,000 grant to move the project forward.
So far seeds have been planted on 300 acres of Josephine County farmland. These oil seeds can produce meal for livestock and biofuels. If harvested, one acre of land can generate anywhere $200 to $800 for local farmers.
Wayne McKy has been a Josephine County farmer all his life and spent years working with one particular 20-acre piece of land in Hugo. “It was cleared early 1900s, it’s cropped so many times, cropped and cropped,” he said.
In October he invested about $200 to plant canola seedlings on 15 acres as part of a new county project. “Hope it puts a few dollars in my pocket help me I’d like to see farming get started here again,” McKy said. There are other advantages to the soil. Once the seedlings begin growing, they can get rid of many noxious weeds.
Michelle Baumgartner is a conservationist with the county, she says these seeds grow even in the worst of soil. The grant from the county will pay for three new contractors who will help landowners plant and harvest the seeds. Canola seeds can generate $800 dollars an acre, camelina seeds $200. Once the seeds are harvested, they will be crushed at a biofuel processing plant in Eugene.
The leftovers will become protein rich meal for livestock. Baumgartner says this will be a great opportunity for farmers in the county, many who have land that have been left unused for years.
“On route on right now 5 years completely self sustaining in Josephine County everything utilized and self sustaining here,” she said, explaining that they hope to have a biofuel processing plant in the county by that time.
It would be a golden opportunity for what some farmers say is a dying industry in Josephine County. “You used to see farms all over county you see cream cans out little dairies, then it just got less and less,” she said.
With hopes this spring, these seedlings may bring josephine county to what it used to be. “You just never know farming is a gamble to a point just like everything else,” McKy said.
The Josephine County Soil and Water Conservation district is still looking for local farmers to participate, you have to have a 5 to 10 acre piece of land but the soil can be marginal.
A presentation will be held at Kelly’s Market in Hugo off exit 66 Saturday at 10 a.m., to show other josephine county landowners how the process works. Another presentation will be held at 2 p.m. At Young’s Farm at 12061 Williams Highway, for information call (541) 846-6051