Our 2023 policy report is finally ready for you! We have been building toward this moment since we began to plan our focus groups last winter and we look forward to bringing you resources in order for you to feel inspired/ready to get involved in the coming months. This blog post is only an overview and please be sure to read the full report to get all the details, but here is a snapshot of what we have to share with you.
FoFF has always done policy work by and for farmers, and this year is no different. All of the policy proposals that we put forward come directly from the farmers that we work with. Thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of farmers who took our survey, attended our focus groups, met with us to discuss your experiences, and helped to shape our 2023 policy platform.
During the spring of 2022, FoFF hosted 7 Listening Sessions (5 regional and 2 statewide) and partnered with culturally specific organizations to host 5 additional Listening Sessions within their communities. These sessions were invaluable because they not only let farmers express their needs and barriers, but also allowed for in-depth discussion of the nuance of their experience that cannot be achieved through a survey response alone. We heard from dozens of farmers and ranchers, representing these key areas:
CENTRAL OREGON – SOUTHERN OREGON – OREGON COAST – EASTERN OREGON – WILLAMETTE VALLEY
The two additional sessions were for a statewide audience, one in English and one in Spanish.
Thank you so much to our Listening Session Partners: Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, Kasama Farm, Seven Waters Canoe Family, RAICES program of Next Door, and the Raceme Collective. Your input was essential in forming our policy priorities and solutions.
We surpassed the response goal for our 2022 Family Farms Survey and we are thrilled with the input, questions and suggestions we received during our surveying process. In total, we collected 521 responses from friends and allies across the state. Many of the concerns raised in our Listening Sessions were raised in our Family Farms Survey as well — below we have compiled a summary of our survey participants and their responses, including analysis on the top themes and issues raised by family farmers this year.
In our focus groups we were able to go deeper into conversations about how to create new opportunities for farmers. We asked questions about the nitty gritty details that farmers said were holding them back from their full potential. The top three themes we see in this part of our data collection were:
- Land use, Capital and Equipment
- Food Sale and Production
- Climate Change and Water Access
There was so much more to these discussions that shaped the specifics of the policies that we are putting forward, please read the full report for more details.
In the survey, we had farmers identify the 3 issues that impacted their farm most out of a list of 14 that we have identified through program work and other avenues. Here are the results:
- Climate Change – 57%
- Water Access – 51%
- Access to Affordable, Appropriate Land – 40%
- Limited Access to Capital – 40%
- Impacts of Industrial Agriculture – 38%
- Lack of Processing/Storage Infrastructure – 36%
- Land Use Concerns – 33%
- Issues with Farm Workers, Wages and Labor Shortages – 31%
- Affordable Healthcare – 23%
- Succession Planning – 21%
- Food Safety Regulations – 19%
- Agritourism – 19%
- GMOs – 19%
- Access to Food Distributions and Sales Channels – 18%
Please note that each farmer selected 3 issues which is why this adds up to more than 100%
We saw some common themes emerging and looked at the possibilities both within our programs and what it is possible for us to work on this year. FoFF is putting forward two bills that will boost farm viability and create new income streams for small farmers in 2023. We are also supporting many higher level systems change bills developed in coalition.
Farm Direct Marketing Law (FDML) Enhancements:
Since the enactment of HB 2336 in 2011, countless farmers and producers across Oregon have been utilizing this regulatory framework to safely sell fresh produce and certain low risk value-added products directly to consumers. Countless farmers and communities, particularly in rural Oregon, have benefited from the increased economic capital generated by farm to consumer sales in addition to the strengthening of local and regional food systems. With over 10 years of success stories about farmers safely selling products to consumers and enhancing their own economic opportunities, the 2023 Legislative Session offers an opportunity to build on this work and enhance Oregon’s Farm Direct Marketing Law by:
- Online Sales – Explicitly permit the online sale of products that fall under the Farm Direct Marketing Law
- Modernizing Distribution – Allow for the contracting of a third party entity for the facilitation of a sale, marketing and/or delivery of products from the farm to the consumer
- Additional Products – Expand products eligible for Farm Direct Exemption
- Clarify Ingredients – Define and clarify the non-farm-grown ingredients allowed for valued-added products
- Consignment – Expand consignment eligibility to certain value-added products
Raw Milk and Small Dairy Regulations:
Based on member feedback, survey suggestions, conversations and listening sessions, we have identified a few actionable steps to help raw milk producers grow their business, when desired, and access a broader consumer base. With the state’s growing prioritization of creating an equitable, accessible and local food system — especially as we continue to navigate food access challenges exacerbated by the pandemic — we propose changes to Oregon’s sales regulations for dairies that fall under the exemption status laid out in ORS 621.012. In 2023 and in future Legislative Sessions as needed, the Oregon Legislature should consider:
- Off-Premise Sales – Permitting off-premises sales (such as in farmers markets and food hubs) and including delivery options of raw milk for licensed-exempt dairies.
- Training Access – Establishing a platform to report on raw milk safety training and testing standards for dairies engaging in off-premises sales.
- Removing Cow Prohibition – Repealing the raw milk prohibition in ORS 621.116 to help remove barriers to accessing insurance for small dairy farms.
Other Bill Priorities in Coalition:
We are actively involved in legislative advocacy for a number of key policy proposals important to our membership, including:
- Maintaining the Willamette Valley Protected district: limiting the growth of canola for oil production to prevent the contamination of specialty brassica seed production in the valley
- Expand Meat Processing Grant Funding: Renew and increase funding to $10M for the ODA Meat Processing Infrastructure grant FoFF helped to pass in 2021
- Large Tier 2 CAFO Moratorium: Pausing the rapid expansion of the largest class of industrial factory farms in Oregon until appropriate environmental and land use policies can be in place
And More! We will continue to support efforts we have organized around in the past including the Natural and Working Lands Bill, the Oregon Organic Action Plan, and the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Act.
If you are interested in learning more about legislative advocacy or the priorities that FoFF is putting forward for the 2023 Legislative Session beginning in January, we encourage you to attend our upcoming Farmer Advocacy Workshops and InFARMations. Mark your calendars! Registration coming soon. We are excited for you to follow along and join us in this important process! We are working to create positive change to support healthy local food systems and sustainable, family-scale agriculture.
2022-2023 FARMER ADVOCACY WORKSHOP SERIES
November 1: Building a Relationship Legislators
December 6: Giving Testimony
January 3: Engaging with the Media
2022-2023 INFARMATION SERIES
November 3: Expanding Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Farmers
December 8: New Opportunities for Micro-Dairy Farms
January 5: Coalition Priorities