Pages tagged "Friends of Family Farmers"
If you missed out on attending their sessions, you can still make your voices heard through their Farmer and Rancher Survey, open until May 31, 2018. Details on their site.
Since December 2017, Natalie Danielson – my fellow FoFF Grassroots Organizer – and I have facilitated Listening Sessions for farmers and ranchers throughout Oregon. We have completed 18 so far and have heard from almost 200 producers along the way who raise vegetables, fruit, animal products, and just about every other crop or product that can be grown in Oregon—all of them operating on a family-scale.
We traveled well over a thousand miles up, down, and across the state. We stayed in a variety of places, ate at some great restaurants, and explored towns I’d never been to before. By far, my favorite part of this was visiting so many of Oregon’s Grange Halls. We tried to host as many of our Listening Sessions as we could at local Granges because they tend to be centrally located for producers. As one farmer said at the Multnomah Grange in Gresham, "I think this is the first time I’ve ever used a Grange for what it was intended for and this feels really good."
The goal of our Listening Sessions is to gather input from as many of Oregon’s socially responsible, family-scale producers as we can about what issues they are facing. This is important to us because we want everything we do, every policy we fight for and every program we run, to be supported by Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers."
Photo from Friends of Family Farmers.
Friends of Family Farmers does incredible work in our state, and has some valuable resources we wanted you to be aware of.
Recently, Lindsay Trant of FoFF published a blog post detailing her experience as a Field Organizer and describes some of the programs and resources FoFF offers. Be sure to read the full post and consider donating to help them continue their work!
The side of agriculture that I get to see during my farm visits is largely regenerative, restorative, and responsible. I get to travel all over the state learning from amazing farmers and ranchers that are working hard to provide food in incredibly innovative manners. They work with their land, their communities, and their animals to create a vibrant and diverse food system throughout Oregon. The growing number of producers that have joined our Oregon Pasture Network (OPN) are great examples of this. You can read more about the work our OPN Members do here. and can support them directly via our recently published OPN Product Guide.
On the other side of my role with FoFF, I work with young and aspiring farmers; the ones who dream of continuing the work of other producers before them, working to regenerate our food system. Over the course of the summer, I attended and presented at events put on by organizations with similar missions to ours. I showed beginning farmers how to use Oregon Farm Link (OFL) to find land to start – or expand – their farming operations, and recruited landholders to list their land on OFL in order to find someone to keep the land in agricultural production.
Photo from Friends of Family Farmers.
Corporate Ag Watch: Agrichemical Company Influence in Oregon – Part I
Pesticide maker and biotech crop developer Monsanto is based in Missouri, not Oregon, but they have invested a lot of money here – often through innocuous sounding front groups – to ensure their interests are represented in debates on the regulation of pesticides and genetically engineered crops.
According to publicly available state campaign finance reports, Monsanto has spent nearly $6.4 million on Oregon political campaigns over the past decade. Much of this money – $5.95 million – was spent in 2014 to oppose Ballot Measure 92. Measure 92 was a consumer right-to-know citizen initiative that would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food on store shelves. It ultimately lost by 837 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast.
The second biggest beneficiary of Monsanto political money in our state is the Oregon Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC). The Oregon Farm Bureau PAC has received $133,500 from Monsanto over the past decade, often raised during an annual fundraising golf tournament that the Oregon Farm Bureau uses to raise money for its political activities. The tournament prominently sponsored by Monsanto for many years.
Other major recipients of Monsanto political funds in Oregon include the Oregonians for Food and Shelter PAC ($24,500) and FirstVote PAC ($48,500), which is directed by the staff of Oregonians for Food and Shelter. Oregonians for Food and Shelter is a pesticide advocacy group whose Board of Directors includes representatives of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, and DuPont, in addition to the Oregon Farm Bureau and a number of large timber companies.
"A recent article has once again highlighted a trend across Oregon of rising farmland prices and significant land ownership changes that risk the loss of family farms and access to land for beginning farmers. In response to these trends, in 2009 we created www.oregonfarmlink.org to help match up land owners and beginning farmers, and more recently we worked to create Oregon's Beginning Farmer Loan Program (Aggie Bonds) to help with farm financing issues.
But much more needs to be done: the future of our local and regional food systems and family scale agriculture is at stake. Portland State University researcher Megan Horst has been looking into recent Oregon land sale patterns, noting that 'sales figures compiled so far raise issues Oregonians ought to be discussing. Among them: Who has access to agricultural land, and what happens if food production is concentrated in the hands of the few who can afford to buy large swaths of land?'
What do you think Oregon could be doing to better address these big questions?" - Friends of Family Farmers
Diane Daggett remembers the conversation with the woman who had just purchased the Daggett family's 440-acre cattle ranch in Northeast Oregon's Wallowa County, land that had been in the family for four generations.
The buyer said she had called her husband, who was aboard their yacht in the Cayman Islands, to share the news. "Honey," the woman said she'd told him, "I just bought the most amazing birthday gift for you."
And the land, sold by Daggett's step-mother for what Daggett figures was three times what it could generate as a cattle ranch, slipped from the family's grasp. Now it lies behind a locked gate.
Variations of that story are playing out across Oregon and other states as farm and ranch land changes hands, sometimes by thousands of acres at a time. Some buyers are fellow farmers who are expanding their operations under the mantra of "get big or get out." But other buyers include investment firms, wind energy developers, conservation organizations, companies that fit the description of "Big Ag" and wealthy individuals looking to establish private hunting reserves or vacation retreats.
The impact is unclear at this point, but the primary worry is about ag land being taken out of production. Jim Johnson, the Oregon Department of Agriculture's land-use and water planning coordinator, said ag land conversion is a concern especially in areas with "amenity values." Daggett's scenic Wallowa County is an example, "Where the primary reason to live out there is to be there, and the secondary reason is to farm," Johnson said.
Ag property purchased to be a recreational site, he said, inflates land values and makes it more expensive for farmers and ranchers to buy or rent.
New owners who aren't interested in farming themselves might gain more revenue by enrolling land in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, in which they receive payments for taking it out of production, rather than leasing crop land to other farmers, said Walter Powell, a Condon, Ore., wheat farmer. In that case, there's a reduction to the farming infrastructure: the seed and fertilizer dealer, the equipment store, local employment and more, Powell said.
Jim Wood, a cattle rancher near Post, in Central Oregon, said the biggest threat to high-desert cattle ranching is the fragmentation of grazing ground. Ranching in his area requires big acreage to be ecologically and economically sustainable, and segmentation or development for other uses cuts into that and increases land prices, Wood said.
"If you overgraze, this landscape is quick to be unforgiving, and you're going to be out of business," he said.
Oregon's land-use laws — adopted to preserve farm and forest land from urban sprawl — generally preclude rapid, wholesale development of agricultural land.
Statewide, counties approved 473 houses on farmland in 2014 and 522 in 2015, the most current figures provided by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.
Daggett, whose Wallowa County property was sold, acknowledges an argument could be made that the "highest and best use" of her family land could be as a "view property."
But ownership changes can ripple deep in rural communities.
"This is very personal for me," said Daggett, who was Wallowa County's planning director in the late 1990s and, ironically, now sells real estate. She said her son had hoped to run cattle on the family land, but now leases land from others. "Like a sharecropper," Daggett said.
The giddy buyer who called her husband in the Caymans has yet to build a dream home on the property. It appears someone is leasing the pastures.
"There's an impact to the historic social fabric, there's this disruption socially," Daggett said.
"It's more than a question of who's buying," she said. "It's who's buying, and then what?"
Statement from Ivan Maluski, Policy Director, Friends of Family Farmers, on the March 31 decision by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Agriculture to issue a permit approving a controversial new 30,000-cow mega-dairy in Eastern Oregon
“The state’s decision to grant the water pollution permit for a new 30,000 head mega-dairy in eastern Oregon is disappointing but not surprising. Two state agencies have now spent countless hours and public dollars to be able to permit this operation, which improperly began construction last fall because it assumed today’s outcome was inevitable.”
“We are particularly disappointed that the state did not conduct an economic analysis to look at the impact to small and mid-sized dairy farms in Oregon should this operation be built. Oregon has lost over 75% of its dairy farms, mostly small and mid-sized, since the first mega-dairy came to Oregon in 2002. These huge operations create an economic climate of boom and bust milk prices that have made it harder and harder for family dairy farms to survive.”
“This decision also exposes Oregon’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach for air pollution from mega-dairies. We would expect this kind of approach to major sources of air pollution from the Trump Administration, not Governor Kate Brown. A consensus proposal the dairy industry signed on to a decade ago would require air pollution monitoring and regulation for this operation, but to date, no such program exists. We urge the Legislature to move forward with SB 197 to address the significant air pollution issues this operation is likely to create.”
Photo from Flickr.