To be sure, it's hard to vote to increase your taxes given the harsh economic climate we find ourselves in. Some items, however, will end up costing us more if we don't support them.

A case in point is the Clackamas County Extension District, Ballot Measure 3-311. At first glance, it might seem like this would be an easy measure to turn your back on. But look again.

Clackamas County has more farms than any other county in Oregon. We have more Christmas tree farms than any county in the nation, and rank in the top 10 nationally in hazlenut farms, nurseries and horse and pony farms. That equals 24,000 jobs, $573 million in annual payroll and a more than $1 billion in total industry output per year to the county's economy. In other words, as the agricultural industry goes, so goes the rest of the county.

When Clackamas County voters think about Extension Service, most of them think 4H. But don't forget the vital role Extension has working with local farmers to increase efficiency and educate them on advances in the field. Extension Service staff helps farmers trying to go organic or reduce pesticide use and work with them to test new farming methods.

They also help family forest owners - there are 3,000 families in Clackamas County who own more than 10 acres of forested land - manage and maintain their land.

Voters should take that into consideration when they're asked to approve the small sum - five cents per $1,000, or about 70 cents a month for the average North Clackamas tax payer - to create a dedicated funding district to support Extension Services.

We urge you to support Clackamas County Ballot Measure 3-311.

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