1000 Friends of Oregon Launches the New Face of Farming Initiative

By Ben Gordon, 1000 Friends Central Oregon Outreach Coordinator

1000 Friends is thrilled to announce the launch of a new initiative called the New Face of Farming. The initiative aims to understand and address the changing needs of Oregon’s agricultural communities , beginning with a series of forums over the next few months in the major agricultural regions of the state. 1000 Friends will hit the road, to listen to the perspectives of farmers and ranchers about how the state’s land use program can be updated to reflect current trends and keep agriculture viable into the 21st Century.

Agriculture in Oregon has always been very diverse. From our soil types, to the crops we grow, to the sizes of our farms, there has never been a single model that best describes the industry. Many new trends are growing in Oregon agriculture and food systems including Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), direct-to-market farmstands, food buying clubs, agritourism, and the local food movement. As these models gain traction, it is important that they are supported by the land use program alongside other approaches. The New Face of Farming initiative will explore how to make this possible.

By engaging with Oregon’s farmers and ranchers, we can measure whether the land use program is adequately supporting our agricultural producers. If it is, great! If it isn’t, 1000 Friends wants to explore how we can improve the program so that farmers and ranchers are able to earn meaningful livelihoods and continue to produce the delicious food that Oregonians and people around the world love, while supporting the health of Oregon’s economy. Agriculture contributes over $20 billion to Oregon’s economy, according to a recent analysis by the Oregon State University Extension.

In addition to meeting with farmers and ranchers, we will partner with a broad array of organizations working in rural agricultural communities to obtain as much feedback as possible. Once this information is gathered, we will partner with organizations like the Oregon Department of Agriculture, County Farm Bureaus, and the Board of Agriculture to develop policy recommendations we collectively support.

The New Face of Farming initiative will help to guide our agricultural policy work during the 2012 legislative session and beyond. We are very excited to begin this initiative and look forward to sharing our initial results once they have been compiled in late December of this year.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the New Face of Farming here. If you care about local, healthy food, or the future of Oregon’s world-class agricultural land, please consider becoming involved with this important statewide initiative. We are always looking for volunteers as well as supporters for our work.

Oregon Stories | September 2011

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