Umatilla County to consider allowing small farms

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PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) -- Three zones in Umatilla County are being considered for exceptions to state and county limits on minimum farm size, a change that has been the subject of court fights and is considered essential to the region's economic future.

The Umatilla County planning commission will hear a proposal next week to create lots of between 10 acres and 40 acres, the East Oregonian reports (http://bit.ly/xPfDCY ). The state minimum for farmland is 160 acres.

Wheat farmers in Umatilla County have worried in the past that allowing smaller farms would let niche industries like grape-growing wine operations to flourish in the area, as they have in nearby Walla Walla, Wash.

The wheat growers argue that the presence of the wine industry attracts would represent an unwanted cultural shift in East Oregon.

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Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info