2021 Legislative Session Overview

While the Capitol might be quieter than usual because of COVID-19 restrictions, the legislative session is in full swing and as of today, there are about 3000 bills in the works, though many won’t see the light of day. The reality is that this legislative session is operationally unprecedented, and is largely focused on COVID-19, wildfire recovery, racial equity, and the budget crisis. As a result, FoFF decided last year to not put forth a lot of our own legislation, nor are we holding our traditional Rally Day, but are supporting and amplifying work that aligns with our mission and builds food system resilience. You can read more about what we are tracking here and how we select our priorities here

To continue this conversation, please join us at two virtual Muck Boots in the Capitol: Legislative Happy Hour’s to ask questions and get an update on the legislative session from 5:30pm - 6:30pm on March 9th and March 11th.


Meat Processing 

As many FoFF farmers and ranchers know first hand, Oregon’s already acute lack of meat processing capacity has been further strained during COVID-19. The legislature recognized the importance of increasing meat processing capacity when it passed HB 4206 in 2020, authorizing ODA to begin the process of establishing a State Meat Inspection Program. However, to be truly successful, the State Meat Inspection Program needs a concurrent grant fund to help expand processing capacity, especially in rural Oregon.

Fortunately, Rep. Brock Smith and Rep. Owens put forth HB 2785, with the -3 amendment, which establishes a $10 million grant program to fund expansion, upgrades, and technical and other necessities, such as equipment, as laid out in the programs in other states. HB 2785 had a public hearing last week in the House Ag & Natural Resources Committee, you can watch here, and hopefully will be scheduled for a Work Session soon. You can read FoFF’s testimony here, as well as others’ testimony hereFoFF is looking for people who would like to join us by talking to their legislators in support of this bill. Please contact our Policy Director, Amy Wong at amy@friendsoffamilyfarmers.org if you are interested. 

FoFF will be closely tracking HB 2785, as well as HB 2786 and HB 2787, related bills to study barriers to small scale meat production and rendering facility and processing issues. FoFF will also continue to attend ODA’s Meat Stakeholder meetings to continue to provide input. ODA is hoping producers can please fill out this survey by Feb. 15th. The survey result will help the agency best serve Oregon meat producers, so please take the time to fill it out.


Mega-Dairy Moratorium

The Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition is grateful that Rep. Nosse and Sen. Dembrow stepped up to sponsor identical bills in the House (HB 2924) and Senate (SB 583) respectively, which would enact a mega-dairy moratorium on operations with more than 2500 cows. You can read the Coalition’s full statement about the legislation here. One impactful quote is: “Mega-dairy pollution doesn’t impact all Oregonians equally. Our rural communities--particularly Latinx and indigenous communities--have long lived with polluted air and unsafe drinking water,” says Ana Elisa Wilson, Community Organizer at Oregon Rural Action. “A mega-dairy moratorium would protect Oregon’s rural communities from further harm.”


Organic Action Plan

Organic agriculture is a solution to many threats facing Oregon--climate change, declining rural communities, and troubling health inequities. Growing organic acreage in Oregon is a way to build carbon-sequestering healthy soils, improve rural economic development, reinvest more dollars in local economies, and create better regional food system resilience. FoFF has long recognized the many wins of organic agriculture and is a part of the organic workgroup established by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee during the 2020 Session to begin creating an Organic Action Plan. The Organic Action Plan is a living document that is still being developed.

At the request of the Oregon Organic Coalition, two pieces of legislation have been introduced this session. SB 404, as amended, aims to increase support for Oregon’s organic industry as soon as possible. HB 2269 will be utilized as a legislative vehicle to raise awareness and advance the goal of creating the Oregon Organic Action Plan. To read more details of these bills and the Organic Action Plan, check out our blogpost here


Stockwatering Update

On December 15th, the Oregon Water Resources Commission unanimously denied a rulemaking petition (only 4 out of more than 1000 comments were to deny the petition) submitted by the Stand Up to Factory Farms coalition that would limit the amount of water mega-dairies can use without a permit under an exemption for “stockwatering” in two critical groundwater areas in Umatilla and Morrow counties. .

Cristina Stella of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, another member of the Stand Up to Factory Farms coalition, issued this statement in response: “While we are disappointed with the Commission’s decision, its acknowledgement of the importance of curbing mega-dairies’ potential to misuse Oregon’s groundwater resources is a promising first step in future regulation of this industry.”

“It is clear that the protection of Oregon’s water resources is very important to Oregonians who wish to see the Commission take action to protect our water resources from mega-dairies. We will continue to work to ensure the Commission abides by their commitment to address these critical issues in the coming years.”  


pasture raised dairy cows at Windy Acres

We're Hiring an OFL Navigator!

Friends of Family Farmers seeks a passionate and dedicated person to join our Oregon Farm Link (OFL) team. This part-time position will support Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers in finding farmable land and accessing services to establish or expand their farms in order to build economic equity and food justice in Oregon. We are looking for someone fluent in Spanish and English, with demonstrated experience working with communities of color and enthusiasm for working one-on-one with farmers to support them in searching for and securing land. 

Javier Lara from Anahuac Produce


InFARMation Series: Creative Ways to Access Land and Capital

 February 23, March 30, April 27, and May 25th from 6:30pm-8pm

The average farmer in Oregon is around 60 years old. Without a plan to get new farmers onto the land, when the older generation hangs up their tools in the next decade we stand to lose 25-50% of farmland currently in production to conglomeration or development. Join us the last Tuesday in February through May from 6:30pm - 8pm to talk about creative ways farmers and organizations are working collaboratively to protect farms and ranches in Oregon.

Although not everyone is interested in accessing land to grow food themselves, this generational land transfer will affect the future of the food system as a whole. We will break down reasons WHY these issues are important for all Oregonians (not just farmers!), such as watershed health, carbon sequestering, the fact that 98% of land ownership is white, rural economic development, and the accessibility of local food. Throughout the series we will hear about the inspiring hard work that farmers of color and organizations are doing to circumvent the barriers created by structural racism in the agricultural and financial system. We will discuss the biggest threats to Oregon’s farmland, different types of capital available, the importance of having a farm business plan, the benefits of collective farming, and how we can support our BIPOC farming community. Having these continued conversations and sharing resources is a good first step to protecting and preserving our farmland. With the collaboration of Stewardthis series is free and welcome to everyone. We hope you can join us!

Speakers of the evening: Javier Lara (The Anahuac Program), Matt Shipkey (East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District ), and Aaron Newton (Steward)


Calendar Of Events

February: Black History Month 
February:  Variety Showcase + Winter Vegetable Sagra - Culinary Breeding Network
February: Viviane Barnett Fellowship for Food System Leaders Applications Open - Ecotrust
February 17: How to Start the Farm Transition Conversation  - Rogue Farm Corps
February 21-27: CSA Fair Share - PNWCSA (Formerly PACSAC)
February 22-24: Making & Maintaining Healthy Pasture 3 part workshop - Tualatin SWCD
February 24: Workshop for Farmers Interested in Transitioning to Organic - NW Center for Alternatives to Pesticide
February 24-25: Organic No-Till Symposium - Oregon Tilth and Washington State Extension 
February 25: Dry Farming Collaborative (DFC) Winter Meeting - OSU Small Farms Program

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