On February 28th, 2010 over 70 Farmer & Rancher Delegates representing communities from across the state came together in Corvallis for a unique Oregon Farmer and Rancher Delegation. The Delegation was the culmination of a series of Farmer and Rancher listening sessions held across Oregon in late 2009 and early 2010. Delegation participants gathered to develop the Agricultural Reclamation Act (ARA), a roadmap for future food and agricultural policy in Oregon which prioritizes family-scale farms and ranches, food security and rural economic viability.
In advance of the Farmer and Rancher Delegation, hundreds of family farmers and ranchers participated in seventeen community meetings and listening sessions throughout the state organized by Friends of Family Farmers. During these meetings, participants identified common challenges and obstacles that make it difficult to raise and produce food for members of their community. They also elected Delegates to represent their local communities as part of the Farmer and Rancher Delegation that crafted the Agricultural Reclamation Act.
This kind of unprecedented, grassroots effort to create new policies and programs to address common challenges demonstrates the collective strength of Oregon’s independent family farmers and ranchers, and has connected communities across our vast and diverse state.
Participants in the Farmer & Rancher Delegation discussed and deliberated on a number of key issues where changes were clearly needed. The topics discussed included: lack of access to meat slaughter and processing for smaller scale producers; the aging farmer population and challenges for beginning farmers in accessing affordable land; and a lack of support for smaller sized independent family farmers and ranchers by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Within each issue area discussed, the Delegates voted on priority action items that could be taken to keep family-scale and socially responsible agriculture vibrant and economically viable in our state.
The 2010 work in Oregon by the Farmer and Rancher Delegation to create the Agricultural Reclamation Act was the is the first of its kind in our state.
A final version of the Agricultural Reclamation Act, drafted and approved by the farmers and ranchers who attended the Delegation meeting, was made public in May, 2010. From there, the group took their recommendations to the Oregon Board of Agriculture, and began looking for broad-based support from the larger food and agricultural community.
Every other year since 2010, Friends of Family Farmers has organized additional Farmer and Rancher Listening Sessions around the state. We have used this process and surveys to gather input from hundreds of producers on our policy priorities and programs, and published an updated version of the ARA in 2015.
Thanks so much to all who participated in the historic Oregon Farmer and Rancher Delegation of 2010. It was an incredible effort and this work lives on today. You can watch videos from the 2010 Farmer and Rancher Delegation and the process for creating the ARA below:
The Farmer and Rancher Delegation was made possible because of generous support from the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation and Farm Aid.