Statement on ODA Director Katy Coba’s Appointment to Head Oregon’s Dept. of Administrative Services

The Oregon Board of Agriculture was treated to lunch at the Threemile Canyon Farms/RD Offutt facility in Boardman, September 2015 just after Threemile General Manager Marty Myers was appointed to the Board.
The Oregon Board of Agriculture and ODA staff were treated to lunch by Threemile Canyon Farms & their parent company RD Offutt in September 2015, shortly after the controversial appointment of Threemile’s General Manager Marty Myers to the Board.

Statement on Appointment of Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba to Lead the Oregon Department of Administrative Services from Ivan Maluski, Policy Director, Friends of Family Farmers

“We wish Katy Coba the best in her new role with the Department of Administrative Services. Her long background in state government should serve her well. But we also believe that a change in leadership at the Oregon Department of Agriculture is needed and hope that Governor Brown will use this opportunity to proactively shift the agency in a direction that better represents the strong commitment that Oregonians have to supporting sustainable, family-scale farms and agriculture.”

“Over the last several years at ODA, we’ve seen a growing shift towards promoting large, corporate, factory-scale farming operations in Oregon even as the state has been losing small and mid-sized family farms in large numbers. We’ve also seen an unwillingness by ODA to support common-sense state-level regulations to protect Oregon farmers from the significant economic risks and harms associated with poorly regulated genetically engineered crops. Whether it’s the growth of factory farms or the agency’s unwillingness to regulate genetically engineered crops to protect at-risk farmers, all too often ODA has stood with out-of-state agri-business interests.”

“In recent years, the ODA has also embarked on controversial efforts to open the long-standing Willamette Valley Protected District’s world-class seed producing region to genetically engineered canola, putting hundreds of family farms that are part of our valuable seed, fresh market vegetable and organic industries at risk. Friends of Family Farmers and a number of family-owned Oregon seed companies were forced to sue the agency over its 2012 decision to use a ‘temporary’ rule for such a significant decision, with the Oregon Court of Appeals calling the ODA’s justification ‘legally incorrect’ and ‘unreasonable.’”

“While we have not always agreed with Coba’s decisions or the stances of the Oregon Department of Agriculture during her tenure, we’ve appreciated being able to raise issues of importance to sustainable, family-scale farmers in Oregon and wish her well in this new position. We look forward to engaging Governor Brown and her staff as they search for a new Director for the Oregon Department of Agriculture and believe this appointment presents a key opportunity for the Governor to leave a legacy that reflects the importance of supporting sustainable, small and mid-sized family-scale farms and agriculture in our state.”

Groups Seek Rejection of Oregon Mega-Dairy

August 5, 2016

Groups File Comments Seeking Rejection of Oregon Mega-Livestock Operation

Cite Significant Impacts to Water, Air and Public Health

Salem, OR – This week, a wide range of environmental, family farm, public health and animal welfare organizations jointly submitted comments urging the State of Oregon to reject a proposed 30,000-head confinement dairy operation near the Columbia River. The facility would be one of the nation’s largest dairy confined animal feeding operations and poses a major threat to ground and surface water, air quality and public health in the region.

The facility, Lost Valley Ranch, is seeking a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality. Though the facility would produce more biological waste than most Oregon cities, it is proposed for the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area, which is impacted by elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater that in many areas exceed federal safe drinking water standards, or which contain excess pathogens from manure and bio-solids.

“We are concerned about the potential human health problems of adding more nitrogen and pathogens into the Lower Umatilla Basin aquifer,” said Kelly Campbell, executive director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

In addition to water quality concerns, the facility would be a significant new source of air pollution in a region already impacted by emissions from several nearby large confined animal feeding operations and industrial sources. The Oregon Dairy Air Quality Task Force in 2008 found that dairies and other animal feeding operations emit a wide range of pollutants including ammonia, nitrogen oxides, methane, volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter, all of which pose public health risks in a region with declining air quality.

Despite this, the state has no plan to regulate, or even monitor, air emissions from the facility. “By ignoring the air pollution impacts of these kinds of mega-livestock operations altogether, Oregon is in effect subsidizing factory-scale livestock production,” said Ivan Maluski, policy director with Friends of Family Farmers, a small and mid-size farm advocacy group that served on the state’s Dairy Air Quality Task Force.

The proposal would produce roughly 187 million gallons of manure each year and use over 320 million gallons of water annually, raising questions on long-term impacts to the Umatilla basin and Columbia River as water becomes more scarce due to drought and climate change.

“The Oregon Department of Agriculture is tasked with both promoting and regulating agribusiness, and its conflict of interest is apparent in this proposal to permit a massive factory dairy, despite threats to water quality and public health,” said Tarah Heinzen, an attorney with Food & Water Watch.

“We urge the Oregon Department of Agriculture to deny this project,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This factory farm would use over 320 million gallons of water each year, taking water from endangered species like salmon and putting drinking water at risk.”

“The establishment of this factory farm would take a harmful toll on farm animal welfare, the environment and public health, and it would also be a step toward putting more of Oregon’s family farmers out of business. The Oregon Department of Agriculture should reject this proposal,” said Scott Beckstead, director of rural outreach for The Humane Society of the United States.

The organizations submitting the comments are Food & Water Watch, Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of Family Farmers, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, Friends of the Columbia River Gorge, The Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity.

The comments can be read at http://www.friendsoffamilyfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FWW-et-al.-Lost-Valley-Ranch-NPDES-Comments-2.pdf

2016 Farmer and Rancher Listening Session Report & Policy Recommendations

Friends of Family Farmers is pleased to announce that we’ve completed our 2016 Farmer and Rancher Listening Session Report & Policy Recommendations!

View the Full Report here 

facebook_event_890437277737610The report is the product of many months of work, including taking input at 18 distinct Listening Sessions in farming communities across the state with over 200 attendees. Our producer survey also drew responses from nearly 300 farmers and ranchers across Oregon.

This input will be used to develop proactive policy proposals and program work intended for action in 2017-18. The report highlights priority issues that emerged during this year’s Listening Sessions, and builds on the Agricultural Reclamation Act, FoFF’s roadmap to sound agricultural policies written by and for Oregon’s socially responsible family-scale farmers and ranchers.

While a wide range of issues were raised by farmers and ranchers at our Listening Sessions this year, several emerged as priority topics. These included, in order of priority:

  1. Access to Land for Beginning Farmers
  2. Water Resource Management and Conservation
  3. Labor
  4. Food Safety Modernization Act Compliance
  5. Land Use

In addition, farmers in a number of locations also raised concerns over issues of pesticide drift, the need to control or restrict genetically engineered crops, trade deals that benefit industrial scale agriculture, and greater support needed for direct marketing.

The report includes a number of policy recommendations to address these topics. We call on all Oregon decision-makers to work with us to take action on these priorities to help ensure that Oregon can remain a great place to live and farm.

Over 150 farmers, ranchers, and local food advocates on the State Capitol Steps in March 2015, raising our voices on behalf of Oregon’s family farmers.
Over 150 farmers, ranchers, and local food advocates on the State Capitol Steps in March 2015, raising our voices on behalf of Oregon’s family farmers.