2023 Legislative Session has come to a close!
Out of the 2,970 measures introduced this legislative session, 653 measures passed — less than 22% of the measures that were introduced. This was a harder than normal session to get things over the finish line, but Oregon’s Community Food Systems had a lot of success! Thank you to everyone who testified, sent letters to lawmakers and participated in the session. These are your victories! Read our latest blog post to see what happened with all the priority bills we were tracking during the 2023 session – READ THE RECAP HERE.
FoFF’s Main Priorities:
SB 507 (Farm Direct Enhancements)- PASSED
FoFF brought together a coalition of farmers, food hub operators, and farmers market managers to pass the most comprehensive update to the Farm Direct Marketing Law’s Producer Processed Exemption in over a decade.
HB 2616 (Raw Milk Licensing and Sales Expansion) – Died at first Chamber Deadline
FoFF’s efforts to modernize the raw milk laws and implement a licensing program with food safety standards was not successful this year. Although we had an overwhelming amount of community support and more than 100 people submitted testimony in favor of creating a safe and community minded path forward for raw milk farmers in Oregon, the bill was strongly opposed by the Farm Bureau, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, and others.
SB 789 (Maintain the Willamette Protected District) – PASSED with compromise
The bill was originally written to make the protected district permanent, but as it was included in the deal to bring Republicans back to the capitol, it was amended to a one year sunset and a workgroup to explore other solutions.
SB 85 – PASSED with compromise
Although this bill is not everything we wanted it to be, none of our previous bills have ever made it out of committee so any progress is a victory! We know this is only the beginning, but this bill is worth celebrating.
Community Food System Drought Resilience Funding
Although FoFF is not the direct recipient of this funding, we view this as an essential function of our group within our community. We will continue to help secure resources that can be distributed to the people we serve through thoughtful and inclusive stakeholder involvement.
These are all the policies that FoFF had a major hand in this session, but we supported and participated in many other coalition efforts. Here are the results in brief of many of those efforts:
- Double Up Food Bucks: This program to match SNAP purchases at Farmers Markets was funded at $4.2M
- Farm to School Program: The farm to School Program was fully funded at over $10M and the Farm to School Equipment and Infrastructure Grant Fund was increased to $500K in the ODA budget.
- Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant Fund: This fund which FoFF helped to establish in 2021 was funded at $9M from the state to increase Meat Processing capacity across Oregon.
- Food for All Oregonians – SB 610 to expand SNAP eligibility to non-citizens did not move forward this session. We look forward to continuing our work in coalition with Oregon Food Bank for future solutions.
- Right to Refuse Dangerous Work– This bill was spearheaded by PCUN and passed! It takes effect Jan 1, 2024 to clarify and strengthen worker protections when refusing dangerous work.
- Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program: Unfortunately OAHP was not funded this Biennium. We look forward to working with partners to come back in the short session to find a solution.
- Healthy Soils Initiative: HB 2998 did not pass this session, but we are hopeful that we can find some creative ways to do some of the soil health and climate resilience work contained therein with other programs. We will also look for ways to fill gaps and get more done in this area in the short session.
- Natural Climate Solutions Bill – Originally SB 530, this program was rolled into and funded through HB 3409. This is where some of the Soil Health Work from HB 2998 may be able to happen.
If you are interested in learning more about legislative advocacy, we encourage you to watch the recordings of our Advocacy Workshops and InFARMations. We are excited for you to follow along and engage in the important legislative 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 With Your Legislators
PART ONE AND TWO
December 6: Giving Testimony
January 3: Engaging with the Media
2022-2023 INFARMATION SERIES
November 3: Improving the Pickle Bill: More Opportunities for Small Farmer Value Added Products
December 8: Shouldn’t it be Easier to Buy Raw Milk?
January 5: Working Together: Coalition Partner Legislative Priorities
Legislative Session Resources
Love Our Advocacy? Donate to Support it!
Advocacy is best when it is by and for our community. We fund our systems change work with small donations from individuals like you who are impacted by these policies. Whether you’re a farmer looking to sell your raw milk at a farmers market or a customer looking to buy more local goods, your support makes this possible. Your tax deductible donation also helps keep our advocacy programs free to everyone!
Past Farm Policy Successes
Since 2011, Friends of Family Farmers has spent a lot of time at the Oregon Capitol working on behalf of Oregon’s farmers, and that includes many efforts to assist beginning farmers. Beginning farmers bring a unique voice to many policy discussions and we encourage them to testify at hearings and make their voices heard. In recent years we have helped pass the following legislation of interest to small and mis-sized farmers:
Oregon’s Farm Direct Marketing Law – allows farm direct sales of many different products as well as up to $20,000/year in sales of specific home-processed low-hazard foods like pickles, jams, jellies, etc. Read an ODA Fact Sheet on what types of products are covered under the Farm Direct Marketing Law here.
Oregon’s Farm Direct Poultry Law – allows farmers to raise, slaughter and sell up to 1000 birds per year for on farm sales directly to end consumers. Read an ODA fact sheet on the Farm Direct Poultry Law here.
Oregon’s Beginning and Expanding Farm Loan Program (aka Aggie Bonds) – provides lower-interest lending for qualifying beginning farmers and ranchers for land and equipment purchases. Read a fact sheet and find application materials for the Aggie Bonds program here.
The Meat Processing Grant Fund that we proposed in HB 2785 was passed with a $2 Million to build and upgrade meat processing infrastructure around the state and an additional $300,000 allocated for the OSU Meat Lab to upgrade their facilities to better teach meat science. This will be rolled out in tandem with the new state meat inspection program in development by ODA and will help alleviate the processing bottleneck experienced by many small producers.
The Bovine Manure Tax Credit has been discontinued! This provision was designed as a way for large agribusiness facilities to avoid paying some taxes by employing a methane digester. These facilities were not giving the climate mitigation results they promised, were almost always discontinued after the life of the tax credit, and this program was only available to Oregon’s largest factory farms. We are happy these folks will now have to pay their fair share of taxes like all the small farmers across the state already do.
The Soil Health Specialist Position was added to ODA’s budget. This means that the state now has the funds to fill a position in Director Taylor’s office to advise on soil health concerns and incentives.
Many of the other bills we supported in the 2021 legislative session were passed! Double Up Food Bucks, the SNAP matching program for farm direct sales, received $4 Million in state funding, and the Farm to School program received ample funding as well.
Stop Factory Farms
Factory farms are showing up around the nation at an unprecedented rate. Since 2005, our organization has been contacted by many Oregon communities that have been impacted or threatened by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) — we are not talking about small and medium Oregon confined animal feeding operations.
We have been working closely with family farmers and rural residents to ensure that their property values, rural businesses, personal health and quality of life are protected from the air and water pollution that are a result of concentrating thousands or tens of thousands of animals and their waste, in one location.
This tremendous amount of pollution (which the Oregon Department of Agriculture estimates to be around 10 million tons of manure, litter and process wastewater per year) threatens our water, our air and our communities.
If you need help organizing against a factory farm in your community, we can help. Please contact us for more information on how to protect your community from the potential harms of industrialized agriculture.
Read the Story of Oak Grove Road and learn how the community of Canby warded off 1.5 million Foster Farm chickens.
Let’s Put the Culture Back in Agriculture
Friends of Family Farmers encourages active participation in the shaping of rural communities. Towns and regions across the nation are working toward reclaiming local food economies, which is becoming increasingly necessary as energy prices sky-rocket and industrial food safety concerns are encouraging consumers look for alternative food choices closer to home.
Family-scale agriculture and local food production, processing, distribution and sale can be the cornerstones of thriving rural communities, healthy people, strong social character and land stewardship.