Oregon bans field burning to dismay of local agriculture

Field burning is being phased out in Oregon.
Field burning is being phased out in Oregon.
A law passed by the Oregon legislature will slash the number of acres eligible for field burning to 20,000 this year and 15,000 next year, limiting a practice that farmers in the state have used for decades to prepare their fields for the next crop.

Field burning will be limited to steep terrain and for specified crops. The state's governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

Growers will need to spend more hours and more money using heavy tractors and combines to prepare the fields, something the Oregon agricultural industry expects will have a heavy impact on the $5 billion dollar agricultural economy.

A coalition of public health groups has been trying to abolish field burning for decades.

"Some of the icons of recent Oregon history tried and failed to put an end to field burning," said Charlie Tebbutt, co-director of the Western Environmental Law Center's Campaign to End Field Burning. "This is an incredibly important public health victory for both rural and urban Oregonians."

The campaign said it intends to continue fighting to enact the burn ban on all areas of the state, including the Silverton Hills area where burning will continue to be permitted next year.