Tales from the Road – 2018 Listening Session Recap

by Lindsay Trant, Grassroots Organizer

Since December 2017, Natalie Danielson – my fellow FoFF Grassroots Organizer – and I have facilitated Listening Sessions for farmers and ranchers throughout Oregon. We have completed 18 so far and have heard from almost 200 producers along the way who raise vegetables, fruit, animal products, and just about every other crop or product that can be grown in Oregon—all of them operating on a family-scale.

Thanks to all the Granges and other venues that hosted us!

We traveled well over a thousand miles up, down, and across the state. We stayed in a variety of places, ate at some great restaurants, and explored towns I’d never been to before. By far, my favorite part of this was visiting so many of Oregon’s Grange Halls. We tried to host as many of our Listening Sessions as we could at local Granges because they tend to be centrally located for producers. As one farmer said at the Multnomah Grange in Gresham, “I think this is the first time I’ve ever used a Grange for what it was intended for and this feels really good.”

The goal of our Listening Sessions is to gather input from as many of Oregon’s socially responsible, family-scale producers as we can about what issues they are facing. This is important to us because we want everything we do, every policy we fight for and every program we run, to be supported by Oregon’s family farmers and ranchers.

Recently, after a great discussion of issues facing farmers on the North Coast, one producer laughed and asked “Is it depressing going to all of these listening sessions and hearing about all these problems?” You might think that visiting nearly 20 different venues, and hearing from so many small and mid-sized producers about the most challenging issues they are facing would be kind of a downer…. But, it’s not! This process has actually been incredibly inspiring. In the past 5 months, I have personally met well over 100 producers who are extremely dedicated to producing food for their communities in the most socially and environmentally responsible manner possible, while trying to keep their operations financially viable. These producers make it possible for me to do what I love: Eat and fight for good food! And the insights and experiences these producers shared with us will be invaluable in helping Friends of Family Farmers continue to be the most effective small farm advocacy group in the state.

And this helps underscore why we do what we do. While on the road, I got to hear about some of the positive impacts FoFF’s work has had for family farms in Oregon. For example, I met a landholder at the Beavercreek Listening Session who found the perfect partnership for his farm through our Oregon Farm Link program. Separately, a producer in Banks, when explaining to other producers a policy championed by FoFF back in 2011 called the 1,000 Bird Exemption, said: “My operation would not be where it is today without the 1,000 Bird Exemption. That exemption is how we were able to start our operation.” This farm is now just days away from opening up their own on-farm, licensed poultry processing facility.

While my Listening Session travels were focused on the western side of Oregon, Natalie was mostly on the road East of the Cascades, hearing from producers about the unique issues that farmers and ranchers face in the drier regions of Oregon. For her, it was inspiring to hear from producers seeking to provide food for their communities in areas with small but growing support for local agriculture. One of the best parts of our Listening Sessions is seeing the supportive network of producers getting together to strategize about local issues big and small. For example, in Enterprise a “chicken moving day” was suggested to help a chicken farmer retrieve her flock of very free range chickens out from their favorite tree and to her new property. Now that’s community supported agriculture!

These are just a few of the inspiring stories we’ve heard about how our programs and policy efforts have positively impacted family farms around Oregon. Our team at FoFF is excited to use what we learned from our 2018 Statewide Listening Session Tour as we refine our program work and look towards the 2019 Legislative Session.

Did you miss out on attending one of our 2018 Farmer and Rancher Listening Sessions? It’s not too late to make your voice heard through our Farmer and Rancher Survey. This survey is open until May 31, 2018 and will help us in compiling the final report from our 2018 Listening Session tour.

Natalie facilitated a great Listening Session in Central Point.

Fill Your Pantry – Portland 2017 Was a Big Success!

On December 3rd, 2017, Friends of Family Farmers hosted our 3rd annual Fill Your Pantry at The Redd on Salmon Street in Portland. Ecotrust, which manages The Redd, generously donated the space to help make the event happen. Fill Your Pantry is a one day Farmers market-type event in which community members meet and support their local farmers directly for bulk purchases of produce, meats, honey, preserves and more. Most of the items were ordered online ahead of time which in turn helped farmers and ranchers with planning, harvesting, preparation and loading.

Fill Your Pantry events take place all over the state, organized by different organizations, and have become a financial boon for producers during the slower, winter months. Hundreds of folks attended the Portland event and collectively helped generate over $60,000 in sales that went directly into the pockets of 24 local farms & ranches!

According to farmer Elizabeth Miller from Minto Island Growers, “Fill Your Pantry was an incredibly positive event for our farm. The pre-sale opportunity made for easier preparation and planning and came at a key point in a tough cash flow time of the year. On the day of, spirits were so high among shoppers and other producers. A huge thanks to the FoFF staff for organizing such a successful day for the food community – this is becoming one of our favorite sales opportunities of the season.”

One participant, Nancy Bond, had this to say: “A giant THANK YOU for putting on another successful, fun, beautiful event!! The venue was terrific. You all were super organized (including helping folks park and providing wagons), the vendors had beautiful displays, everyone seemed well organized and prepared, and every customer walked around grinning.

In conjunction with the Portland Fill Your Pantry, Friends of Family Farmers also partnered with the Culinary Breeding Network and OSU’s Squash Project to host Oregon’s first Sagra, or local food festival, to celebrate the abundance and diversity of winter squash grown in our state. Local chefs gave out samples of tasty dishes made with different squashes prepared in a wide variety of ways. There was a squash ‘butchery’ demonstration, kids activities, and OSU researchers were there to talk all things squash. For more background, information, recipes and videos, check


2017 Portland Fill Your Pantry Vendor Criteria and Application Now Available!

2017 Fill Your Pantry – Portland  

Application Information

Our next Fill Your Pantry Community Bulk Buying Event will be held December 3, 2017 in Portland. For this one-day event, we will offer a very wide assortment of products from which area households can truly stock their pantries for the winter.

If your farm or ranch would like to be a vendor at this year’s Portland Fill Your Pantry, you can find our Application Form here. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please review the criteria we will be using to determine which farms and ranches will be chosen to participate below.

2017 Portland Fill Your Pantry Vendor Criteria

Preference for choosing FYP vendors will be based on a point system consisting or some or all of the following:

  • You are or have been a financial contributor to FoFF
  • Number of FoFF events you’ve participated in or volunteered for, such as Rally Day or inFARM speaker
  • You have a limited number of other marketing channels  
  • FoFF’s need to ensure that we have a well balanced diversity of products and farmers participating

In addition, to participate in Fill Your Pantry as a vendor, you must:

for grains, veggies, fruit, nuts, honey & preserves…

..use socially & environmentally responsible growing practices

..only offer products 100% grown & processed on your farm or ranch

..sell and label applicable products in accordance with Oregon’s Farm Direct laws. See here and here for requirements. 

..be able to provide proof of product liability insurance

for animal products

..use socially & environmentally responsible production practices

..only offer products 100% raised on your farm or ranch

..hold all applicable licenses or certifications needed for selling or handling animal products

..priority preference will be given to Oregon Pasture Network members (find out how to apply by clicking here

..be able to provide proof of product liability insurance

Muckboots in the Capitol – Oregon Legislative Update – June 2017

Farmers, ranchers, chefs, farmers’ market representatives, local food supporters and school kids rallying on the Capitol steps at the April 2017 Family Farms Mean Business Day at the Oregon Capitol

The 2017 Oregon Legislative session is nearing its end, required to finish business by early July. But with little more than a month left to work, and in a session that has been dominated by the specter of a budget shortfall of over $1 billion, there is still no agreement on state funding and many important pieces of legislation.

As a result of the state’s current budget scenario, many good programs and policy ideas are facing significant cuts or elimination. Meanwhile, fierce debates rage over whether to raise taxes, curb spending – or both – to make up the budget shortfall the state is facing. It is unclear whether these issues will be sorted out by early July, or whether a ‘special session’ to sort them out will be needed later in the year.

In the midst of this, a few key issues remain on the table and your support is critical to helping make sure they move forward. We hope you will take a few minutes to contact your State Legislators at this key time to support the following bills:

Oregon’s Farm to School Program gets healthy local farm products into school meal programs across the state.

HB 2038 – Full funding ($5.6 million) for Oregon’s Farm to School Program. This bill passed the House Agriculture Committee way back on April 4, but still awaits action in the Ways and Means committee. Ways and Means will determine whether and how much funding will be available for this program over the next two years. Though popular, Farm to School is in jeopardy this year – Governor Kate Brown proposed no funding for it in her budget, and Legislators are also considering substantial cuts or no funding at all.

Please contact your Legislators today to advocate for fully funding Farm to School at current levels with $5.6 million.

Genetically engineered canola is not welcome in some parts of Oregon, where it can cross pollinate with and contaminate valuable seed crops, putting many farms at risk.

HB 2739 – This bill would protect farmers who have experienced financial losses due to contamination from genetically engineered (GE) crops. It would allow farmers to be compensated by GE crop patent-holders when their products have crossed property lines and caused financial damage. It was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee in mid-April, and had a public hearing in the House Rules committee on May 23. Read FoFF’s testimony in support of HB 2739 to the Rules Committee here.

With time running out on the session, now is a critical time to contact your State Legislators in support of HB 2739 and holding GE patent-holders accountable when they cause farmers financial harm. One other piece of information on this bill: it would cost the state no money.

The average age of farmers in Oregon is now nearly 60 years old. We must take steps to ensure the next generation of farmers has access to land.

HB 2085 – This bill would establish a new beginning farmer tax credit in Oregon to encourage landowners to lease or rent land to beginning farmers and ranchers. In the House Revenue Committee, HB 2085 has not yet received a hearing and is at risk of falling to the wayside as the state grapples with how to make up for a nearly $1.4 billion funding gap. Similar tax credit programs aimed at helping beginning farmers and ranchers with access to land already exist in Iowa and Nebraska. And with news that Minnesota has just created a similar beginning farmer tax credit, it is a reminder that it is not too late for the Oregon Legislature to act on HB 2085.

The Joint Committee on Tax Credits began meeting on June 2, so now is a critical time to contact your State Legislators in support of HB 2085 to create a beginning farmer tax credit in Oregon.

OSU Statewide Public Service Programs like Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations support farms of all types.

SB 805/SB 5524 – These bills would provide funding ($9.4 million) to maintain current service levels for the Oregon Statewide Public Service Programs, including Extension and Agricultural Research. In 2015, the Oregon Legislature made significant new investments in these programs, which has led to new work in support of small farms, on-farm conservation, and more. However, Oregon’s budget crisis has put the 2015 investments at risk. SB 805 passed its original committee earlier in the session and funding decisions are now taking place in the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Read Friends of Family Farmers’ April 17 testimony in support of continued service level funding for OSU Extension and Agricultural Research Programs.

Please contact your State Legislators today to support funding necessary to maintain current service levels ($9.4 million) for the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs.

FoFF Testifies at the Oregon Board of Agriculture

A meeting of the Oregon Board of Agriculture in 2016.

On May 11, FoFF presented a series of updates on our legislative work to the Oregon Board of Agriculture, which advises the Oregon Department of Agriculture on policy issues. We were invited to be on a panel to talk about current legislative issues with several other agriculture organizations. Our presentation included details about not only the bills above, but other legislation we’ve worked on this year that either died earlier in the session (like overdue air quality rules for large concentrated animal feeding operations), or have moved forward (like new rules for farm direct egg sales and commercial cider production on farm land). Read our May 11 Board of Agriculture testimony to learn more about the status of all of the bills we’ve worked on this session.

The next meetings of the Oregon Board of Agriculture will take place September 19-21 in Klamath Falls, and November 28-30 in Portland.

Family Farms Mean Business Event Draws Farmers, Local Food Supporters to Oregon Capitol

Local chefs and farmers celebrating local, sustainable agriculture at the 2017 Family Farms Mean Business Day at the Capitol in Salem.

On Tuesday, April 4, Friends of Family Farmers held our fourth ‘Family Farms Mean Business’ Day at the State Capitol in Salem. The event drew over 100 farmers, ranchers, students and local food supporters to the Capitol building to talk with legislators and rally in support of efforts important to Oregon’s small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers and family-scale sustainable agriculture.

Gratefull Gardens from McMinnville helped represent the importance of Community Supported Agriculture at the 2017 Family Farms Mean Business Farmers Market inside the State Capitol.

The event included a ‘farmers market’ inside the Capitol in which local producers gave out free samples and talked with legislators about the importance of farm-direct agriculture and strong local food systems.

Alexis Taylor, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture delivered opening remarks to policy workshop attendees at the Family Farms Mean Business Day in Salem

Morning policy workshops drew dozens of local farmers and farm supporters from across Oregon, with welcome remarks delivered by Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor.

Farmers, ranchers, chefs, farmers’ market representatives, local food supporters and school kids rallying on the Capitol steps at the April 2017 Family Farms Mean Business Day at the Oregon Capitol

In the afternoon, event attendees met with Legislators from across Oregon to talk about bills to support beginning farmers, address problems with poorly regulated genetically engineered crops, provide funding for Oregon’s Farm-to-School program and regulate air emissions from the growing number of ‘mega’ dairies coming to Oregon, including a recently approved 30,000-cow confinement dairy operation in eastern Oregon.

We’d like to thank everyone who came to Salem for this great event.

A list of priority bills that Friends of Family Farmers is supporting this year in Salem can be found here.

Please contact your State Legislators to let them know you support these bills as well.

Additional Materials:

SB 1037 Fact Sheet – Local control over genetically engineered crops

SB 197 Fact Sheet – Air pollution rules for large dairy operations

HB 2739 Fact Sheet – Patent-holder liability for financial harm to farmers caused by genetically engineered crops

HB 2038 Fact Sheet – Funding Oregon’s Farm-to-School Program

Our Statement on Oregon’s Decision to Approve Major New Mega-CAFO

Statement from Ivan Maluski, Policy Director, Friends of Family Farmers, on the March 31 decision by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Agriculture to issue a permit approving a controversial new 30,000-cow mega-dairy in Eastern Oregon

“The state’s decision to grant the water pollution permit for a new 30,000 head mega-dairy in eastern Oregon is disappointing but not surprising. Two state agencies have now spent countless hours and public dollars to be able to permit this operation, which improperly began construction last fall because it assumed today’s outcome was inevitable.”

“We are particularly disappointed that the state did not conduct an economic analysis to look at the impact to small and mid-sized dairy farms in Oregon should this operation be built. Oregon has lost over 75% of its dairy farms, mostly small and mid-sized, since the first mega-dairy came to Oregon in 2002. These huge operations create an economic climate of boom and bust milk prices that have made it harder and harder for family dairy farms to survive.”

“This decision also exposes Oregon’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach for air pollution from mega-dairies. We would expect this kind of approach to major sources of air pollution from the Trump Administration, not Governor Kate Brown. A consensus proposal the dairy industry signed on to a decade ago would require air pollution monitoring and regulation for this operation, but to date, no such program exists. We urge the Legislature to move forward with SB 197 to address the significant air pollution issues this operation is likely to create.”

Sustainable: Exclusive Film Showing on January 31 at InFARMation in Portland

Tuesday, January 31 at the Holocene (1001 SE Morrison St, Portland)
-Doors open at 5:30
-Program begins at 6:30

*Exclusive screening of the award winning film*


The future of our food system determines the future of mankind

Click the photo above to view a trailer of the film Sustainable

This month at InFARMation, we have on tap an exclusive showing of the new, award-winning film Sustainable. Sustainable is a
 vital investigation of the economic and environmental instability of America’s food system, from the agricultural issues we face — soil loss, water depletion, climate change, pesticide use — to the community of leaders who are determined to fix it. Sustainable is a film about the land, the people who work it and what must be done to sustain it for future generations.

An Overview of Sustainable: There is no hiding from the facts – rising temperatures, drought, soil loss, chemicals in our food, antibiotic resistance, declining bee populations, obesity, diabetes, shorter life expectancy – America needs help. Sustainable reveals the crisis facing America’s food system, and the community of leaders who are determined to fix it. Amidst the cornfields of Illinois lives the hero of the film – Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer who watched his land and community fall victim to the pressures of big agribusiness. Determined to create a proud legacy for his son, Marty transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago. Greg Wade, a visionary young breadmaker, works with Marty to revitalize ancient grain production in the Midwest, joining an artisan bread movement that’s sweeping our country. Together, they prove that traditional bread is not only healthier, it is also better for the environment. From Klaas Martens’ Einkorn fields in rural New York to Bill Niman’s cattle ranch off the Pacific coast, industry pioneers around the nation join in to reveal the profound connection between human health and environmental protection. In Iowa, Matt Liebman discovers a solution to combat the trifecta of drought, flooding and soil runoff, and a young Amish man in Ohio emerges as an agricultural leader who will feed the world despite climate extremes and limited natural resources.

Additional key interviews include Rick Bayless, Dan Barber, Mark Bittman, Marion Nestle, John Ikerd, Kelly Brownell, Nicolette Niman and Fred Kirschenmann. Sustainable is a story of hope and transformation, about passion for the land and a promise that it can be restored to once again sustain us.

AWARDS and ACCOLADES for Sustainable:

Best Cinematography, Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Best Health/Environmental Documentary, Melbourne Documentary Film Festival

Winner, Spotlight Platinum Award

Winner, The Accolade Global Film Competition

“A persuasive and refreshingly positive eco-foodie doc.” The Hollywood Reporter

“Sustainable is what a farming documentary should be.” Documentary Drive

“A vital perspective to mankind’s relationship with the planet.” Screen Space

“Deserves broad exposure on TV and video.” The Hollywood Reporter

Filmmaker Biographies:

Matt Wechsler, Director/Cinematographer/Editor, Hourglass Films – Matt is an award-winning filmmaker from Chicago and the founder of Hourglass Films. His 2012 New York Emmy-nominated documentary, Different is the New Normal, aired nationally on PBS and was narrated by Michael J. Fox. In 2014, he shot and edited a 30-minute documentary, I Am For Peace, which also aired on PBS. Sustainable is his first feature film.

Annie Speicher, Producer/Editor/Audio, Hourglass Films – Before joining Matt at Hourglass Films in 2013, Annie edited several television shows including Mexico: One Plate at a Time featuring Rick Bayless. She has been nominated for a 2013 Midwest Emmy for her production work on Grannies On Safari: Colors of Cuba, as well as a 2016 Daytime Emmy for Mexico: One Plate at a Time. Sustainable is her first feature documentary.

Speaking up for Family Farms at the Oregon Board of Agriculture

The Oregon Board of Agriculture listens to a Farm Service Agency at its December 2016 meeting.
The Oregon Board of Agriculture listens to a Farm Service Agency panel at its December 2016 meeting.

Every few months, the 10-member Oregon Board of Agriculture meets somewhere in the state. The Board of Agriculture ‘advises the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) on policy issues, develops recommendations on key agricultural issues, and provides advocacy of the state’s agriculture industry in general. In addition, the board issues a biennial report to the Governor and Legislative Assembly regarding the status of Oregon’s agriculture industry.’

Because of this, FoFF often speaks at Board of Agriculture meetings to talk about issues important to small and mid-sized family farms in the state.

At the Board’s most recent meetings, held November 29 – December 1, we provided testimony raising concerns about the proposed Lost Valley Ranch 30,000 head mega-dairy moving into north central Oregon. We believe the proposal underscores several serious flaws in Oregon’s permitting process for livestock operations of this scale that need to be addressed. You can read our full testimony to the Board here, but we raised several key points including:

  • Water Quality – A concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) of the scale of Lost Valley Ranch should not be sited in the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area, a region with significant groundwater contamination issues related to runoff from manure.
  • Air Quality – Mega-CAFOs like the nearby Threemile Canyon Farms are already major air pollution sources in the region, releasing ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and methane. A state task force in 2008 recommended the creation of a Dairy Air Quality program to reduce air quality impacts from these kinds of operations, but to date, no such program exists. The state’s failure to establish air quality rules for large CAFOs is a major breakdown in oversight and accountability, and such oversight must be in place before Lost Valley Ranch is approved.
  • Land Use – While Oregon’s land use system protects agriculture, local communities have little or no power to say ‘no’ to industrial scale factory farms that threaten local agricultural communities, rural quality of life and the environment. The state must consider upgrades to the land use system to allow local communities to say ‘no’ to factory farms.
  • Impact on Smaller Farms – Both the US and Oregon have seen large numbers smaller family-scale dairy farms go out of business as the number of larger confinement dairies has grown. But the Oregon Department of Agriculture does not conduct any sort of impact analysis on the economic tradeoffs and potential harms to smaller farms when large CAFOs move in. ODA must consider the economic tradeoffs of these operations before it issues permits that could end up putting family scale farms out of business.

We hope that our concerns will not be lost on deaf ears. Please contact Governor Kate Brown and urge her to deny the water quality permit for the Lost Valley Ranch mega-CAFO, to enact long-overdue air quality rules for large livestock operations, and to protect small and mid-sized family farms and rural communities in Oregon from factory farms that threaten their livelihoods.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture will be making a decision on a key water quality permit needed for the Lost Valley Ranch proposal in the coming months. The next Board of Agriculture meetings will be held February 15-17, 2017 at the Oregon Department of Agriculture headquarters, at 635 Capitol St. NE in Salem.


Stocked and loaded!

fyp-2016-collageWe are consistently impressed by the community’s commitment to fortifying a vibrant food system. The second Portland Fill Your Pantry exemplified the extent to which Oregonians engage in our regional, sustainable agriculture by supporting local producers.

The 2016 online sales surpassed $36,000 (up from $23,000 last year), and vendors sold an additional $14,000 worth of local food during the three-hour event! That means, Fill Your Pantry shoppers directed over $50,000 dollars to local producers!

Check out the chart to see the breakdown of sales by product.  fyp-graph

The value of this event reverberates beyond the financial impact to our local economy because that $50,000 translates to thousands and thousands of pounds of healthful possibilities. Whole foods like winter squash, beans, honey, grains, root veggies, etc. have made the migration from the fields to home kitchens where creativity and handcraft will morph them into nutrition and sustenance.

fyp-2016-collage-3For those of you who participated in this event, we hope your experience was positive and that your pantry is prepared to sustain you throughout the winter!


Pizza Party for FoFF!

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for farmers. Price of tickets include pizza & salad, one drink ticket, ice cream, chocolate, music, a raffle ticket, and a donation to FoFF!  Additional drink tickets may be purchased for $4. Ages 21 and over.

Get your tickets here!

Money raised at this party will fund our Urban Outreach Program which includes events like InFARMation, Fill Your Pantry, hands on workshops like the one with Sandor Katz, farm visits, and much more. It is important that FoFF facilities educational experiences for urban consumers so that they know who is growing their food and with that knowledge, feel empowered to vocalize the kind of food system they want to see in Oregon.

We have some awesome silent auction items available for the taking, too! Products have been donated from: Patagonia, Breitenbush Hot Springs, Equal Exchange, Coava Coffee, Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply, Nel Centro, Worthy Brewing, Duck Pond Cellars, Dove Vivi Pizza, and more yet to come!