FoFF’s 2021 Legislative Agenda
Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF) is a farmer-led non-profit organization that has advocated on behalf of socially and environmentally responsible farmers and ranchers across Oregon for over 15 years. FoFF works towards a regenerative and equitable system of agriculture that minimizes chemical inputs and creates resilient local food systems that prioritize nutrient-dense food–something the pandemic has highlighted the importance of.
Knowing this legislative session is operationally unprecedented, and is focused on COVID-19, wildfire recovery, racial equity, and the budget crisis, FoFF isn’t putting forth our own legislation, nor are we holding a Rally Day, but are supporting and amplifying work that aligns with our mission.
FoFF laid out our legislative priorities last November and below is an update and roundup of what we are currently tracking.
As a small non-profit, FoFF has limited bandwidth and only one staff person who handles all policy matters, and has not done a comprehensive read through of the nearly 2000 introduced bills, so this should not be considered a final list of what we are tracking.
Our main priority is the State Meat Inspection Program, because so many of our meat producers have been negatively impacted by Oregon’s lack of processing capacity. We have long been tracking this issue and are organizing a coalition around HB 2785 (Ag & Natural Resources; Ways & Means), which aims to establish a $10 million grant fund for infrastructure, and technical and assistance, for bringing existing, and new, processing facilities up to standards compliance. We are also tracking HB 2786 (Ag & Natural Resources; Ways & Means) and HB 2787 (Ag & Natural Resources), as well as a TBD bill that will allocate an additional $1.7 million to ODA to administer the State Meat Inspection Program. (This is beyond what was already allocated to ODA last summer through HB 4206, which mandated that ODA create a State Meat Inspection program.)
FoFF is a member of the Organic Stakeholders workgroup and supports the Oregon Organic Action Plan, SB 404 (Education) and HB 2269 (Economic Recovery & Prosperity; Ways & Means), which, to start, advocate for additional five OSU Extension positions related to organic production; an economic analysis of the organic sector; a Organic Policy Assistant in ODA Director Taylor’s office; ODA POP (policy option package) for domestic marketing funds (contained in GRB–Governor’s Recommended Budget); and ODA POP for a Soil Health Specialist at ODA (not contained in GRB). This is a multi-year process, but we hope to get some of these items, despite an incredibly difficult budget climate.
Climate and Climate Justice
FoFF has been participating in advocacy work around the Oregon Climate Action Plan, stemming from Executive Order 20-04, and will continue to do so through the legislative session. Other environmental bills that we are tracking include the 100% Clean bill HB 2995 (TBD); Toxic-Free Schools HB 2406 (Ag & Natural Resources); Climate Justice through land use planning HB 2488 (E&E; Ways & Means); the Healthy Homes bill HB 2842 (Housing; Ways & Means), which establishes a program within the Oregon Health Authority to provide grants to entities to provide financial assistance to low income households and landlords; and The Oregon Energy Affordability Act HB 2475 (E&E), which authorizes Public Utility Commission to consider differential energy burden and other inequities of affordability in rates.
And disbanding the Oregon Forest Resources Institute bill, HB 2357 (Ag & Natural Resources; Revenue). For years, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) has been using millions in public funding to make the timber industry look more sustainable than it is, relying on propaganda to cover up the dangerous effects of logging on drinking water and wildlife habitat. HB 2357 would disband OFRI and redirect its public funding to scientifically-sound sustainable forest restoration and management practices.
SB 616 (Labor & Business) and HB 2358 (Business & Labor), which prohibit employers from permitting or requiring individuals employed in agricultural labor to work in excess of 40 hours in one workweek unless individuals are compensated for overtime hours worked.
***will add others as they come onto FoFF’s radar.
Lastly, there are a handful of land use bills that FoFF will track, including expanded land use notice to leaseholders or tenants, HB 2556 (Rules), as well as permanently allowing remote testimony, HB 2560 (Rules).
FoFF is part of a coalition of groups currently examining barriers to BIPOC land access and other food systems equity issues. While there isn’t legislation tackling BIPOC land access inequities this session (largely because of serious budget constraints), we hope to be able to help bring about future solutions with other members of the agricultural community to create a more equitable system of agriculture that acknowledges the racism and bias inherent in accessing land.
FoFF is tracking funding for the Double Up Food Bucks and Farm to School programs. DUFB bills (likely to be consolidated) include SB 440 (House Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery), SB 555 (House Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery), and HB 2292 (House Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery; Ways & Means).
Water Quantity and Quality
FoFF supports the Stockwatering Exemption Bill SB 387 (Natural Resources & Wildfire Recovery), which limits the exemption from requiring a water right application, permit, or certificate to use surface water for livestock watering that does not exceed 5,000 gallons a day.
It is unlikely to move, but HB 2229 (House Ag & Natural Resources) would undo the preemption that is blocking Josephine County’s ban on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. FoFF supports this but doesn’t believe it will get a hearing.
Stay in touch with us on how you can be a part of this democratic process so can use our collective voice to support our small to mid-sized ecologically and socially responsible farmers in our community.