2021: Year in Review

2021 was a time of change for everyone. Friends of Family Farmers leaned into our values, realigned with our organization’s expertise, and restructured to support our mission from the inside out. We are proud that with your support we are walking into 2022 as a stronger, more focused organization. Here is what we accomplished in the last year for our farmers and rancher:

By the Numbers: 2021 Overview

Policy Highlights and Updates

2021 Legislative Session

FoFF was active in the 2021 Oregon Legislative session and worked hard to bring the perspective of our producers to the people in power. Here are the accomplishments we are most proud of from the session and updates about the work since.

  • HB2785: Grant fund to expand small scale meat processing. The grant fund was allotted $2 million, plus an additional $300K for OSU’s Clark Meat Science Center. While the initial (admittedly aspirational) ask was $10 million, this long-overdue investment should be considered a major milestone for small farmers and ranchers who have pushed for expanded processing for decades. One FoFF farmer hopes to secure a grant to help fund the construction of an Animal Welfare Approved processing facility. FoFF, with your support, played a pivotal role in getting this legislation amended and across the finish line. However, the biggest thanks are reserved for Rep. Brock Smith and Rep. Owens, the Chief Sponsors of the bill, who made this win possible. 
    • UPDATE: FoFF continued to work with ODA through the stakeholder working groups and this process culminated in the release of the draft rules for the grant fund in early December 2021. FoFF attended the public hearing and gave more testimony on the rules and their impact. Read more about the public hearing and our testimony here.
  • FoFF blocked SB151, the continuation of the Bovine Manure Tax Credit through Jan. 1 2028. This tax credit has been awarded to facilities who use bovine manure in digesters to make “factory farm gas.” For large mega-dairies, this is a highly greenwashed process that maintains investment in fossil fuel infrastructure. The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated that the vast majority of the $15 million tax credit would have gone to Threemile Canyon Farms, which is owned by R.D. Offutt, the richest man in North Dakota. FoFF can think of better ways for Oregon to spend taxpayer dollars than enriching an out of state multi-millionaire, while also propping up factory farming systems that keep animals confined. 
    • UPDATE: This tax credit would have gone to facilities like the ones recently cited for air quality violations by DEQ, referenced in this article. FoFF continues to work with the Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition to find direct and creative ways to challenge the place of industrial agribusiness in our food system.
  • FoFF also assisted efforts that led to Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) being funded at the $4 million level–a big jump from the initial $1.5 million funding level in 2019–which will improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, many grown by FoFF farmers, for Oregonians participating in SNAP food assistance programs. Nearly one in four Oregonians experienced hunger during the pandemic and this program is a triple win for eaters, farmers, and the communities where these food dollars will create economic amplification.  
    • UPDATE: FoFF continues to work with our partners in the food security community through OCFSN to make sure our farmers have every possible opportunity to help more folks access healthy local food.
  • FoFF advocated for a Soil Health Specialist at Oregon Department of Agriculture, which wasn’t originally included in the Governor’s Recommended Budget, and are happy to say that owing to OrCAN’s leadership and funding from NRCS, this position has been included in the agency’s budget.
    • UPDATE: This position was filled by Dr. Shayan Ghajar who has already introduced himself to our producers through short meet and greets at our Oregon Pasture Network Producer Education Series. Dr. Ghajar continues to be in touch with our program staff and farmers to share info, opportunities, and news about soil health.
  • FoFF brought small farm perspectives to the disaster relief conversation in Oregon. Throughout the year, the governor’s office and ODA requested that we give farmer feedback on the impact of the Ice Storms in March, the Heat Waves in June and July and the wild fires this fall. We delivered dozens of farmer’s stories directly to decision makers to ensure that they understood the impact of small producers had access to disaster relief.
    • UPDATE: Along with partner groups from the OCFSN, FoFF approached the governor’s office to request that some of the designated funding from the state be administered by the working group of OCFSN to make it accessible to small producers who cannot access the state’s forgivable loan fund. Through the passage of HB 5561 in the special session in December of 2021, this group (including FoFF) will administer $1.5M of the drought and disaster relief funding.

Program Highlights

Oregon Farm Link

  • We continued to operate one of the most active Farm Link sites in the country. The OFL team is constantly troubleshooting, answering questions and improving the experience for the land seekers and holders on the site so they can find a solution for land security. We learned a lot and look forward to making the site even better in 2022!
  • We launched the Navigate Program. This program provides one on one technical assistance for BIPOC land seekers who are ready to make their farm dreams a reality. Our Navigator, Silvia Cuesta, helps connect our participants with legal, real estate, and funding advice/opportunities all while facilitating conversations and connections with land holders to help launch and expand BIPOC owned farms around the state. This program is expanding in 2022 thanks to the hard work of the OFL team!
  • We created the OFL Advisory Committee. This committee, made up of Shiny Flannery of Scrapberry Farm and the Come Thru Market, Daniela Perez of Adelante Mujeres, and Rose Highbear of Elderberry Wisdom Farm, advises on the creation and delivery of programs, centering equity and justice in farmland preservation, and outreach strategies to find new farmers to connect. They meet quarterly and will continue to advise the program in 2022.

Oregon Pasture Network

  • We expanded our Producer Education Series. In addition to our long standing soil health overview course with Dr. Woody Lane, this year we expanded our offerings to include two one night classes: Chemical Free Weed Management with Megan Montgomery of Jackson SWCD, and Organic Parasite Management with Dr. Charles Estill from OSU.
  • We partnered with Oregon Taste. In addition to our Pastured Product Guide on the OPN Website, we teamed up with Oregon Taste to give our producers another way to be seen by new customers. All the OPN members are now listed in both places so they can connect with the local food lovers looking for their products.
  • We brought awareness to issues facing small meat producers in OR. In addition to the meat processing grant fund mentioned above (which OPN producers stepped up to support!), we also helped start conversations about how disaster relief should be distributed to small producers, and brought much needed attention to the proposed ballot measure IP-13. Stay tuned for more information and opportunities to engage.

InFARMations and Public Education

  • Spring Series: Creative Access to Land and Capital. This series was put together in partnership with our friends at Steward and explored some non-traditional pathways to getting the land and funding necessary to launch a successful small farm. We heard from nonprofits helping launch farms, institutions creating new funding pathways and farmers who took the road less traveled when looking for resources to make their farm plans a reality.
  • Fall Series: Darker Side of Farming. Through this 3 part series done in partnership with PSU Small Farms School, we dove into some of the darker parts of farming and the ways that FoFF Farmers present solutions. The sessions touched on Animal Welfare, Climate Change and Farmworker Rights.
  • Policy Happy Hours. During the 2021 Legislative Session, our former Policy Director Amy Wong conducted policy happy hours to give updates, answer questions, and tell people in the FoFF Community (both farmers and those who love them!) how to get involved. This type of decoding the legislative process helps break down barriers to civic participation and helps more people engage in the system that impacts their lives.

Coalition Partnerships

Our work is not possible without strong relationships with our partner. For more information about our coalition work, check out our recent blog post. Here is a list of our active coalition relationships in 2021:

  • Oregon Community Food Systems Network
    • Farming for the Future Working Group
    • Policy Committee
    • Climate, Resilience & Stewardship: Disaster Response and Drought Relief Working
    • Equity Literacy Project Working Group
  • Stand Up to Factory Farms Coalition
    • Field Team
    • Legislative Team
    • Steering Committee
  • Oregon Organic Coalition
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
    • Small Meat Processing Working Group
    • FSI Committee

Internal Updates

  • Welcomed two new staff members. Our program teams expanded this year and we welcomed Michele Thorne as the OPN Program Associate and Silvia Cuesta as the OFL Navigator. Both new team members bring lived experience with farming, amazing technical skills and a vision for a greater FoFF Future. We are happy to announce that Silvia’s position will be expanding to take on more participants next year, and Michele will be moving into the OPN Program Manager role to continue her great work. Thank you for all you do for the team!
  • Leadership Restructuring. After lots of hard work internally, FoFF has shifted to a shared leadership model. By distributing power at every level of the organization so the folks with the expertise, access, and insight to perform our activities have the autonomy to make decisions about their programs within our strategic framework, we hope to move into the future as a more effective, responsive, and equitably led organization. Read more about this change here.

Thank you for your support and engagement over the course of 2021! We have so much to look forward to and can’t wait to keep serving Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers in 2022 and beyond.