Friends of Family Farmers

04/03/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/03/2019 16:35

Muckboots in the Capitol: Rally Day and Mid-Session Update

On Wednesday, March 27, nearly 175 farmers, ranchers and good food supporters from across Oregon came to Salem for our fifth biennial 'Family Farms Mean Business' Day at the Capitol. We held policy workshops in the morning where we learned about current issues being debated at the Legislature and heard from Alexis Taylor, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. At noon, we held a rally on the Capitol steps to advocate for bills to support beginning farmers, farmers markets, a moratorium on new industrial-sized livestock operations, new incentives for climate friendly agricultural practices, and more.

Some of the bills we highlighted at the event included:

  • SB 727A - Funding for 'Double Up Food Bucks' programming to increase access to farmers markets for low-income Oregonians
  • Several bills to support beginning farmers including: a proposed beginning farmer tax credit, student loan assistance for beginning farmers, and new and improved beginning farmer loan programs
  • Capping industrial greenhouse gas emissions and providing funding for climate-friendly farming practices via passing HB 2020, the Clean Energy Jobs bill
  • Establishing a moratorium on permits for large-scale industrial confined animal feeding operations to protect the viability of small and mid-sized farms, water, and the environment

In addition to a rally on the Capitol steps, a day-long 'farmers market' took place inside the Capitol lobby to help demonstrate the importance of small farms and local food producers, and farmers met with Legislators throughout the day.

We are very thankful to all those who came to Salem to make their voices heard. This kind of citizen engagement for small farms and healthy local food systems is critical if we want to enact policies to support small and mid-sized family farms and local food producers. If you missed the event, you can get a recap of the rally in the Capital Press article about the event (Farm group rallies at Oregon State Capitol) and check out a photo album from the day on our Facebook page.

The 2019 Oregon Legislative Session is now at it's midway point. On March 29, a key cut-off deadline for bills was reached, and another one is coming up April 9. Here is an update on some of the key bills we've been working on or tracking and how they are faring:

Beginning Farmer Access to Land:

HB 3085 - Family Farmer Loan Program - Public hearing held March 14; Possible vote in the House Agriculture Committee on April 9.

HB 3090 - Beginning Farmer Incentive Program to help with student loan debt - Public hearing held March 14; Possible vote in the House Agriculture Committee on April 9.

HB 3091 - Aggie Bonds fee reduction - Public hearing held March 14; Died in Committee at the March 29 scheduling deadline.

HB 3092 - In the House Revenue Committee, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Organic, Farm Direct, Local Food and Specialty Seed Producer Protections

SB 727A - $3 million in funding for Double Up Food Bucks programming at farmers markets and other farm-direct locations - Passed the Senate Human Services Committee March 14; Awaiting action in the Ways and Means Committee.

HB 3170 - Provides roughly $1.5 million in funding to support Farm Direct Nutrition Programs for low-income women with infants and children, and low-income seniors - Passed House Human Services Committee April 1; Awaiting action in the Ways and Means Committee.

SB 257 - $30 million in funding for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs, including Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations - Passed the Senate Education Committee March 27; Awaiting action in the Ways and Means Committee.

SB 885 - Maintains current restrictions on canola production in the Willamette Valley, capped at 500 acres/year and only under permit to protect the region's specialty vegetable seed industry. Public hearing held in the Senate Environment Committee April 2; Possible vote scheduled April 4.

HB 3219 - Similar to SB 885, but explicitly prohibits the production of herbicide resistant or genetically engineered varieties of canola - Died in Committee at the March 29 scheduling deadline.

SB 449 - Creates standards for 'farm cafes,' to allow farmers to offer prepared meals made with products grown or produced on their and other local farms - Died in Committee at the March 29 scheduling deadline.

Climate, Water, Land Use

HB 2020 - Caps industrial greenhouse gas emissions and creates a Climate Investment Fund to support farm practices that sequester carbon in soils and promote irrigation efficiency - Scheduled for a possible vote in the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction on April 5.

SB 103 - Places a moratorium issuing permits for new industrial-sized dairies while creating new protections for groundwater from overuse and pollution, new air emissions rules, and protections for small and mid-sized dairy farms - Public hearing held in the Senate Environment Committee on March 21; Died in Committee at the March 27 scheduling deadline.

SB 876 - Creates new permit requirements for large confined animal feeding operations - Public hearing held in the Senate Environment Committee on March 21; Scheduled for a possible committee vote April 4.

HB 2729 - Provides funding for Oregon's Agricultural Heritage Program, which is aimed at preventing loss of farmland to non-farm uses and providing grants to assist in farm succession and conservation planning on farms. Passed House Agriculture Committee March 26; Awaiting action in the Ways and Means Committee.

The above list is a snap-shot of most of the bills we are tracking or weighing in on this session. We'll continue to post updates and more information on our Muckboots in the Capitol blog throughout the session, but you can also track the progress of these and other bills through the online Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS).