Through our Watchdog Program, Friends of Family Farmers holds corporate agribusiness, elected decision-makers, and state agencies like the Oregon Department of Agriculture accountable for decisions that negatively impact Oregon’s independent small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers. Two ways to stay up to speed on the issues and take action in support of Oregon’s family farms is by following us on Facebook or signing up for our ‘Notes from the Barnyard’ email newsletter.
Government agencies have a big impact on farms and food systems in Oregon. Our Watchdog Program tracks a variety of state level activities, including:
The Oregon Board of Agriculture
The Oregon Board of Agriculture serves as an advisory board to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The Board typically meets quarterly at various locations around the state. We often testify on panels at Board of Agriculture meetings and at every meeting, there is an opportunity for public comment. We encourage family farmers and eaters alike to make their voices heard during these important forums.
The CAFO Advisory Committee
The Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Advisory Committee exists to advise and give feedback to the Oregon Department of Agriculture on state CAFO regulations. The committee typically meets three times per year in Salem and meetings are open to the public. We encourage you to attend and stay up-to-date on how the Oregon Department of Agriculture is managing issues related to concentrated and confined animal feeding operations. CAFO Advisory Committee meeting dates, agendas, and other public hearing information are listed here.
New Factory Farms
Oregon has a growing number of very large CAFOs in which large number of animals spend most or all of their lives indoors or without access to pasture. It is our belief that it is not sustainable to confine thousands or tens of thousands of animals in one location without access to vegetation, fresh air, or the ability to engage in natural behaviors. We consider this approach to raising animals to be ‘factory farming’.
When a new factory farm applies for a permit to operate in Oregon, the Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality almost never say ‘no.’ Neighbors and nearby residents are often unaware of these proposals unless they track state permitting processes closely. Oregon requires new, large CAFOs to secure a water quality permit aimed at preventing manure runoff into streams, but these large operations are exempt from any air quality permitting and even basic air quality monitoring requirements, a major loophole.
Concerned about factory farms coming to your community? Visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s CAFO Permitting website to learn about plans for new facilities or whether permits for existing operations are being renewed.
Other Rule Comments
In addition to tracking CAFOs, FoFF’s Watchdog Program weighs in on a wide range of proposed state and federal rules which have the potential to affect Oregon family farmers.
These have included:
- Weighing in on the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure reasonable and cost-effective food safety rules for smaller produce farms.
- Opposing the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s proposal to expand commercial canola production in the Willamette Valley, where it has been largely banned to protect specialty seed growers.
- Weighing in on federal rules related to management of genetically engineered crops and foods to provide stronger protections for farmers who choose not to grow genetically engineered crops.