Healthy Rural Economies

Protecting the landscape while creating good jobs

Local farmer“Oregon is an inspiration. Whether you come to it, or are born to it, you become entranced by our state's beauty, the opportunity she affords, and the independent spirit of her citizens.”
- Tom McCall, former Republican Governor and co-founder of 1000 Friends of Oregon.

Oregon’s landscape is an inspiration that provides abundant recreational opportunities for Oregonians of all ages.

And it is also very much a working landscape.

From Columbia Gorge orchards to Rogue Valley vineyards, from Coast Range forests and thriving Central Oregon vegetable fields, to wide Wallowa Mountain cattle ranches and blooming Easter lilies on the South Coast, many Oregonians across the state rely on the land for their livelihood. Others in cities and towns depend on the jobs created by shipping, processing, preparing, and marketing this bounty.

Oregon’s innovative land use planning program is critical to achieving the balance between protection of our natural resources and economic activity in rural Oregon.

Since our inception, we have worked to ensure that Oregon's farms, forests, and ranchlands remain productive pillars of the state’s economy for current and future generations. Agriculture is Oregon’s #2 industry and we’re fighting to ensure that Oregon’s world-class farmland remain a source of family income, free of development pressures that create conflicts for farmers.

Supporting Oregon's agri-cluster

Our 2013 report, Great & Growing: People and Jobs in Oregon's Agri-Cluster, highlights Oregon farming's role as an economic engine for the entire state.

Did you know?

  • One in eight Oregon jobs depends on agriculture--that's over 260,000 people. If all those people lived in one city, it would be Oregon's second-largest city!
  • 80 percent of Oregon farm products are exported out of state, half overseas and half to other states. That makes the agri-cluster--Oregon's second largest industry--a key traded-sector contributor to the the state's economy.
  • Growing, processing, and shipping add up to jobs in urban and rural areas of the state. Among the state's top ten farming counties, half are considered "urban" by the Census Bureau, and four are in eastern Oregon.

Learn more about these facts, and visit some of Oregon's farming hotspots, in our 2013 report, Great & Growing.

Building new opportunities in Oregon's rural economy

We’re promoting ways to take advantage of new opportunities to promote green energy to the rural economy, including interspersing clean wind turbines with farming or cattle ranching in non-ecologically sensitive areas.

At 1000 Friends of Oregon, we think it’s a false choice between protecting our natural resources and promoting economic development. We believe that, done right, they complement each other.

At the core of our work is a belief that healthy rural economies combine the best of the Oregon dream: productive, protected landscapes that support good family jobs.

Helping destination resorts reflect the best of Oregon

Destination resorts were intended to bring valuable tourism dollars to rural communities without creating new subdivisions outside of cities and towns. However, many recent resorts have become developments for full-time residents and have lost their focus on tourism.

We’re working to ensure that future destination resorts represent the best of what makes Oregon a place we’re proud to call home. Resorts should celebrate Oregon’s natural amenities and boost tourism, not become exclusive subdivisions that siphon off tax dollars, fuel irresponsible boom-and-bust land speculation and increase traffic problems in neighboring communities.

New Face of Farming

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.

Today, many new trends are emerging or re-emerging in Oregon agriculture, 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 continue to be supported by the land use program alongside other more traditional approaches.

In 2011, 1000 Friends launched the New Face of Farming initiative to check in in with the state's farmers and ranchers about how their livelihoods continue to be supported by the land use planning program.

Click here to learn more.