2015 – A Year of Progress and Change for Friends of Family Farmers
We rang in 2015 moving at full speed and our strong and successful advocacy on behalf of Oregon’s socially responsible family farmers continued all year long, with growth in policy advocacy, program development, and community events.
As the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session began, we moved our new office to downtown Salem, just blocks from the State Capitol and state administrative office buildings to allow for more frequent visits to key legislators and decision-makers.
On March 30th, we hosted our most successful Family Farmer and Rancher Day at the State Capitol yet, advancing key food and farm priorities to our elected decision-makers and demonstrating the power of the local farm and food movement. We rallied on the Capitol steps and met with nearly all of Oregon’s 90 legislators over the course of the day.
This event was key in helping pass new legislation to support Oregon’s family farmers and a strong local food system. We tracked dozens of bills in Salem in 2015, winning key victories in expanding access to Oregon’s beginning farmer loan program (Aggie Bonds), limiting legal liability for farms engaging in value-added agri-tourism activities, making historic investments in Extension and Agricultural Research programs, and expanding Oregon’s Farm to School program.
We also testified and rallied the public around the growing threats from irresponsible antibiotic use on factory farms, the need for safeguards for farmers threatened with contamination from genetically engineered crops, efforts to promote urban agriculture, and the need for reform of Oregon’s Board of Agriculture.
Over the course of 2015, nearly 1500 FoFF supporters called and sent letters to the Governor and your state legislators throughout the year.
In 2015, we continued our six-year run of monthly InFARMation (and Beer!) educational events in Portland, reaching hundreds of urban residents to talk about how they can support socially responsible family farmers and ranchers in Oregon. We brought several of these events to Bend as well.
We also launched our first ever Portland Fill Your Pantry event, featuring 14 local farms who sold over 1,711 pounds of winter squash, 1,380 pounds of grains and beans, 3,851 pounds of storage veggies, and 840 pounds of pasture-raised meats. More than 160 customers made nearly $24,000 in advance bulk purchases from sustainable producers.
Finally, a summary of our 2015 wouldn’t be complete without mention of new staff joining our team.
Sarah Peters joined us as our new Executive Director. Kelly Crane came on board in a new position of Rural Organizer. We also hired a new Next Generation Program Organizer Molly Notarianni and Office Manager Katie Engelman.
Ivan Maluski remains on staff as our Policy Director and Erinn Criswell transitioned into our new Urban Organizer position to round out our new team.
Looking ahead to 2016, we are organizing another round of our farmer listening sessions, starting in the mid-Willamette Valley this year, and visiting all corners of the state early next year. Be sure to check our website for dates in your neck of the woods!
While we expect the short Legislative session in February 2016 to be less action-packed than 2015’s six-month session, we are poised to advocate for small and mid-sized farmers as the Legislature considers what bills to pass.
Our Urban Outreach program is also busy planning events in Bend, Eugene, Salem, McMinnville, and more in 2016. The Next Generation program is covering a lot of territory as well, with events and trainings for new and young farmers around the state, and a launch of our redesigned Oregon Land Link database, iFarm, scheduled for early April.
We look forward to continuing to expand access to and opportunities for local, socially responsible agriculture in Oregon!