Democracy School #2

Democracy School – Yes on Measure 107!

Since 2005, Friends of Family Farmers has challenged the influence and power of large corporate agribusiness interests in Oregon. We represent independent small and mid-sized family farmers, not out-of-state corporations or multinational agribusiness companies. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a number of other groups that purport to represent family farmers in Oregon. 

For example, according to publicly available state campaign finance reports, Monsanto (now consolidated with Bayer), spent nearly $6.4 million on Oregon political campaigns in the last decade. Much of this money was spent in 2014 to oppose Ballot Measure 92–a consumer right-to-know citizen initiative that would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food. 

However, other big beneficiaries of biotech political money in our state include the Oregon Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC), which received at least $133,500 over the past decade, and the Oregonians for Food and Shelter PAC (at least $24,500). Oregonians for Food and Shelter is a pesticide advocacy group whose Board of Directors include representatives of the biotech industry, the Oregon Farm Bureau, and a number of large timber companies. 

One reason that out-of-state, corporate contributions like these flow into Oregon is because we are one of 11 states that allow people to give as much as they want to political candidates, one of 7 that also allow corporations to give money, and one of 5 states with no campaign contribution limits at all. Oregon is only the 27th largest state, but it ranks 6th for total corporate money given to the average lawmaker. And per capita, when it comes to corporate giving to lawmakers, Oregon ranks number 1. Oregon is also ranked number 5 for chemical industry contributions, number 6 for farming industry contributions, and number 3 for food processing industry contributions. These statistics, and many more, are laid out and explained in The Oregonian’s expose series, Polluted by Money

FoFF regularly confronts the negative impacts and power imbalances that result from this flood of corporate influence in Salem. This unfettered power makes our job harder as we fight for small farms, rural communities, and sound environmental policy–and against large corporations that have grown accustomed to outsized influence in agriculture policy. 

Fortunately, Ballot Measure 107, the Oregon Fair and Honest Elections Measure, will allow Oregon to shine a much-needed light on the big-money special interests trying to influence not only state policy, but also our votes. Measure 107 is championed by grassroots advocates and was referred to the voters with bipartisan support. It will amend the state constitution to allow laws and voter initiatives that: 

  • Require the disclosure of political contributions and spending;
  • Limit campaign contributions and spending;
  • Require that political ads disclose who paid for them.

Just as this big-money influence hinders democracy, it has also rigged the system against Black and Brown Oregonians. 87% of Oregon farms have under $100,000 in annual sales and FoFF wants to make sure that these voices matter just as much as special interests.

Democracy should not just be for the wealthy and well-connected. Please join us in supporting Measure 107!

We hope this Democracy School series encourages you to VOTE! 

DISCLAIMER: FoFF is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions are tax-deductible. FoFF does not support or oppose candidates for public office. These resources are shown for educational purposes only.