FoFF’s Farmer Program engages with Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers to create positive changes to support healthy local food systems and sustainable, family-scale agriculture.
Oregon’s Family Farmers
Oregon farmers produce over 220 different crops, and most of the farms are small or mid-sized family owned operations. According to USDA statistics, of the state’s approximately 35,500 farms, 84% are individually or family owned and 81% are under 180 acres in size.
But this legacy of small and mid-sized family farms is at risk. What the numbers show is a decline in the amount of US farmland for every census taken over the last 20 years. The downturn is steep in Oregon, from 17.6 million acres in 1997 to 15.9 million acres in 2017, or nearly 10%.
Family owned farms provide jobs and income to local people, and family farmers often support small businesses by purchasing goods and service within their communities.
Oregon Pasture Network
We work with farmers and ranchers across Oregon who believe that raising animals outdoors on well-managed pasture is the most environmentally sound and humane way to produce animal products. The Oregon Pasture Network supports Oregon’s pasture-based livestock and poultry producers and includes Oregon’s only Pasture Raised Product Guide to help consumers find pasture raised products from small family-scale producers.
Farmer/Rancher Listening Sessions
Every two years since 2009-2018, we have travelled the state to hear from Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers about the issues they care about the most. This process led to the creation of the Agricultural Reclamation Act (see more below) and continues to shape our advocacy and program work.
For the past decade we have called these gatherings “Listening Sessions” as our goal has been to hear from you directly all your concerns and barriers to being a successful producer. In 2020, due to the pandemic, we had to put these listening sessions on hold and instead put out a Family Farms Survey to gather feedback from farmers and ranchers.
The Agricultural Reclamation Act
The Agricultural Reclamation Act (ARA) was the culmination of 17 Farmer and Rancher Listening Sessions organized by Friends of Family Farmers across Oregon in 2009-2010. During each of these listening sessions, two farmers were elected to represent their peers at a Farmer and Rancher Delegation in 2010. Seventy Oregon family farmers and ranchers came together to establish a statewide platform for the future of Oregon food and agriculture, called the Agricultural Reclamation Act.
The ARA, crafted and ratified by these delegates, outlines seven major issues that socially and ecologically responsible family farmers and ranchers face in Oregon, and identifies multiple action items to address these issues. The ARA serves as a roadmap for good food and agricultural policies needed to ensure the viability of a small and mid-sized family farms and healthy local food systems in Oregon.