Oregon Aglink Blog

Agricultural Excellence Across the State

Posted on December 10, 2021
Photo of Oregon Aglink Executive Director Mallory Phelan standing in a wheat field. She is a young woman with long dark hair and a plaid flannel shirt. The text box reads "Executive Notes"
Oregon Aglink Executive Director Mallory Phelan

With the Oregon Aglink board deciding to forego awards in 2020 so as to ensure the honorees felt the full impact of an in-person ceremony, it has been even more of a joy and inspiration than usual to get to know both our 2021 Agriculturist of the Year Alec Oliver and our 2021 Ag Connection Award recipient Derrick Josi.

Both men have significantly contributed to the betterment of Oregon agriculture in their own unique ways.

Hailing from Seneca and Tillamook respectively, Alec and Derrick present a unique opportunity to showcase impactful work happening around the state. With the Willamette Valley hosting the highest population as well as more registered farms and ranches, Oregon Aglink has more members from that region and historically more award nominees, too. This is the first year we’ve honored people in agriculture when award recipients call an area east of the Cascades and west of the Coast range home. 

Both Alec and Derrick are younger than a majority of our previous award winners, which you might think is the main reason for their adaptation of technology on their operations, but that is only part of it. Alec’s motor vehicle accident that paralyzed him from the sternum down led him to adapt a “work smarter, not harder” philosophy into using technology in ways that most others don’t, such as moving cattle in pastures. Derrick realized if he was consistent in sharing his life online, he could connect with people unfamiliar with agriculture not only in Oregon but around the world, becoming a positive influence on their perceptions of dairy farming.

Another first for our annual awards? Both honorees have never been livestock

producers! Unless you are in animal agriculture, you may not realize the scrutiny this segment of our industry encounters, not only from a regulation standpoint but also from people who have unfounded environmental or moral objections to dairy farming and cattle ranching. This is evident in messages producers like Derrick receive online, and also in the fact that there is a ballot initiative filed for the 2022 Oregon general election that if passed would make hunting, fishing, trapping, livestock slaughter and even pest control in our homes illegal. Voices like Alec and Derrick help bring reason to people who may be influenced by extreme or misleading views.

Oregon agriculture and our state as a whole are better because of the steadfast dedication to growth and improvement Alec and Derrick commit to in themselves as well as in their respective operations. The future of Oregon agriculture is stronger because of their efforts and we all benefit from the work of these two men who lead by example. To say it’s been a long time coming feels like such an understatement, but I am so excited to gather together with Denim & Diamonds attendees to honor these two deserving men!

Mallory Phelan

Executive Director, Oregon Aglink