Pages tagged "Oregon Farmers"
Impacts of fast-paced Oregon ag land sales not yet clear
"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?"
The Valley 106.3 Interview with farmer, Chris Hardy on GMO Ballot Measures
April 19th, 2017 | Valley 106.3 Morning Show Host, Paul Gerardi, talks to Chris Hardy, local farmer, activist, and owner of Hardy Seeds, who also serves on the board for Southern Oregon Organic Seed Growers’ Association. Paul and Chris discuss the status of Non-GMO initiatives old and new, and about Chris' talk at The Hearth on Thursday April 20th.
Source: Paul Gerardi on SoundCloud
Photo by Chris Hardy.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day
Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day Thursday afternoon.
Dozens of Oregonians clad in orange shirts donning the word "causa," or cause, surrounded Brown as she signed her proclamation that celebrates Chavez's work in founding United Farm Workers, a farmworkers rights organization that advanced livable working conditions and fair pay for farmworkers in the 1960s.
"Today as we celebrate Cesar Chavez's life, we also reflect his legacy," said Alberto Moreno, chair of Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs. "It is easy to think of Cesar as liberator and emancipator, as the one person who could end the injustice that’s faced by farmworkers, but I don’t think that was his purpose."
Instead, Moreno said, Chavez used his position as a leader of the farmworkers rights movement to plant the seed of justice, and allowing future generations to sow that seed.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Breaking From Custom, One Small Oregon Farm Pays Strawberry Pickers by the Hour
Add this to the many pressures facing the Oregon strawberry: a growing clamor to stabilize wages for migrant workers whose sweat brings Americans their food.
Unlike a lot of fruits and even other berries, strawberries must be handpicked, which makes labor one of the biggest costs of doing business for farmers.
Javier Lara, 43, is throwing a wrench into the uneasy accord between growers and labor.
Paying strawberry pickers by the hour.
"It can be done," he says. "We're an example."
In almost all U.S. operations, strawberry pickers are paid by the pound, as an incentive to harvest as many as possible. Oregon law requires that farmers pay workers at least minimum wage if they fail to meet that threshold at the piece rate, except at very small farms.
If they're fast and the berries are big and plentiful, many strawberry pickers can make more than minimum wage—which is set to rise 50 cents to $9.75 an hour in the Portland area, and 25 cents in the rest of the state, on July 1
"A lot of workers kill themselves picking as much strawberries as they can in a day so they can make up their wages because they haven't worked in months," says Ramon Ramirez, co-founder of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, the union for Northwest tree-planters and farmworkers. (It is often referred to as PCUN.) "It's the first crop, so people are anxious to get to work."