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 in our state. From individual conversations and farm visits to our biennial Farmer and Rancher Listening Sessions, we listen to the needs of farmers and ranchers and use their feedback to shape our programs and develop policy solutions.

Shari's Garlic OregonOregon’s Family Farmers

Oregon farmers produce over 220 different crops, and most farms here 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. Between 2002 and 2012, Oregon lost over 10% of its farms, with the biggest growing bigger even as many smaller farms struggled.

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. There are many farmers around the state that provide Oregonians with food produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

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 and Rancher Listening Sessions

Every two years since 2009/2010, we have travelled the state to hear from Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers about the issues they care about the most. Over the years we’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of producers. 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 your concerns and barriers to being a successful producer.  This year we’re going to shake things up a bit and do it a little differently. For 2020, we are planning “Cultivating Ideas: FoFF Meet Ups” to take what we’ve learned from the Listening Sessions over the years to the next level.  We will share an update on our work, hear from a few local farmers, and help folks connect with each other and our resources.

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, held on February 28th, 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 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.