A family affair
Both Doug and Jere Breese are honored at the Oregon Farm Bureau annual meeting
The 2012 Oregon Farm Bureau Annual Meeting turned into a family affair when they began handing out awards.
The organization inducted Prineville rancher Doug Breese into their Hall of Fame and they posthumously honored his son Jere with their Service to Ag Youth Award. Jere lost his life to endocrine cancer this past January.
“Doug Breese is a passionate and dedicated Farm Bureau leader,” said Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue. “He successfully led Oregon Farm Bureau through some challenging and trying times, and the organization is stronger because of him.”
After joining the Farm Bureau in 1969, Breese served as president of the organization from 1986 to 1995 where Bushue said he established his legacy as a respected voice of agriculture at the State of Oregon Capitol.
“At one time, the Farm Bureau was second only to Les Schwab in believability in the State of Oregon,” Breese proudly stated. “That was when I was president.”
He stressed that he did not attain that political clout alone, having built a strong team around him that helped bolster their influence.
Because of that believability with the State, Breese said the Legislature “had to listen to them” regarding agriculture-related issues – but they didn’t stop there.
“Farm Bureau policy speaks to most every facet of life in the State of Oregon,” he said. “We did a lot of tax bills, and that benefitted everybody.”
Like his father, Jere Breese did work that heavily influenced the agriculture in Crook County, but he focused most of his efforts on the youth.
“Jere was a young Farm Bureau leader with a passion for education and youth in agriculture,” Bushue said. “He spearheaded hands-on projects for local schools and engaged in FFA and other agricultural programs at the local and state level.”
Former Crook County High School FFA advisor and close friend Jeff Papke remembers Jere as a man who had agriculture in his blood.
“Jere was highly involved and a very successful FFA member when he was here at Crook County High School,” said “I think that involvement with FFA really instilled in him the need to stay connected to education both to try to help train the future leaders and future workforce for agriculture, but also to help provide some ag literacy to those folks who were not connected with agriculture.”
His wife Kristi, along with his daughter Brianne, accepted the award on Jere’s behalf at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting. Kristi remembers that he loved agriculture and loved the Farm Bureau.
“He was promoting agriculture even from a young age,” she said. “For being as young as he was, to be as involved with it as he was is not something you see all of the time.”
For Papke, the affect Jere had on youth agriculture is most evident in his absence.
“I think one of the really cool things — tragic but cool — is he is a prime example of some folks who you don’t realize, in your day-to-day actions, how much they contribute to something until they are gone.”
When Kristi accepted the award for Jere, she was overwhelmed by moment.
“It was pretty emotional,” she recalls. “The entire crowd stood up and did a standing ovation and recognized him. It was very special.”
Doug Breese said he was honored to receive his Hall of Fame induction.
“It was very nice to get the recognition,” he said.
After accepting the award, Breese was ready to get back to work. He still serves as the Farm Bureau president for Crook County, and tries to maintain regular contact with the state-level president.
“When I was (state) president, county presidents called me up all the time to give me trouble,” he quipped. “So I wanted to become a county president so I can give the (state) president trouble.”
Most of all, Breese said he was ready to get back to doing what he had done before.
“There is always something to do on a ranch.”