Randi Svaty, a former board member of the Malheur County Development Corp., and a branch manager of Northwest Farm Credit Services, was recently named to the Oregon Board of Agriculture. (Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Agriculture).

ONTARIO – Randi Svaty believes her deep roots in agriculture will be a key asset on the Oregon Board of Agriculture.

Gov. Kate Brown recently appointed Svaty to the 10-member board that advises the director of the state Agriculture Department.

Svaty said she is eager to add her voice to the committee. The crucial element to her new role, she said, will be listening.

“I am open to anybody who has an idea,” said Svaty.

Svaty and her husband, Ryan, are owners of R&R Seed Farms, Inc., between Ontario and Vale. She is also branch manager and relationship manager for Northwest Farm Credit Services in Ontario.

Svaty is excited to be member of the state board.

“This is something right up my alley. I love being an advocate for agriculture,” said Svaty.

She said one of her goals will be to help find a way “to make Oregon crops more valuable.”

“If we are going to be taxed so heavily on our operations and day to day expenses, how do we bring any kind of financial strength back to the family farm?” said Svaty.

Svaty said state fees and taxes are hampering farmers and ranchers.

“It costs us so much more per acre to raise a crop,” she said. “So, we need family farms to be more sustainable. How do we do that in a state that continuously brings on taxes and regulations? How can we meet in the middle?”

Svaty plans to seek input from a variety of sources.

 “I want to be able to hear all different sides of the subject. I want to hear everyone’s side so I can make an informed decision,” she said.

Svaty attended her first board meeting in May, and said while it felt at times as if she was “drinking from a firehose,” the session was informative.

“It was interesting. The two big topics were water and land,” said Svaty.

Svaty said during the May 19 session, representatives from a host of state agencies that focus on water gave presentations.

 “They talked about the significance of water in Oregon and it was good for me to hear. Living on the eastern side, you don’t hear about the fishery side of it or the ocean side of it and how it is all interconnected,” said Svaty.

She said she sought the appointment after “a few people approached me.”

A position opened up on the board when one member died and another – Ontario’s Grant Kitamura – stepped down last year. Kitamura, the general manager and part owner of the onion packing firm Baker & Murakami Produce Co. in Ontario, was appointed to the board in 2018 but had to step down because he moved to Idaho.

“Some friends and a couple of producers locally called and asked if I’d throw my hat in, so I filled out the application back in January,” said Svaty.

Svaty said she learned on May 14 that Brown had appointed her.

Svaty graduated from Oregon State University with bachelor’s degrees in rangeland ecology management and crops, soils and sciences.

Svaty has also sat on the Malheur County Development Corp., the nonprofit entity created by the county to oversee the rail reload project north of Nyssa.

Svaty, though, resigned from that board recently week.

“I just had too many irons in the fire,” said Svaty.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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