Policy Brief: Oregonians Take Pride in the State’s Farms, No Matter the Size

Jason E. Kaplan
Farmland near Smith Rock in Central Oregon

Oregon Farm Bureau president Angela “Angi” Bailey writes about the need to support local farms of all sizes.

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Oregon’s rich and diverse farming community is the foundation of our state. Our community encompasses a range of small, family-owned farms to larger-scale farms, working together to provide low-cost local food, employment opportunities and economic growth for Oregonians. The collaborative efforts of these farmers and ranchers contribute significantly to the well-being of everyone who calls Oregon home. 

While some people insist that the debate over farm size is at the forefront of Oregonians’ minds, a recent statewide survey by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center shows that Oregonians care more about the details. The survey findings reveal that the leading issues Oregonians care about are related to environmental protection, animal welfare, employee satisfaction and access to locally sourced food crops. The author of a July commentary in the Oregon Capital Chronicle concluded that these factors go hand-in-hand with small-scale farming. This, however, is not an accurate portrayal. 

The idea of locally sourced foods resonates deeply with Oregonians. It aligns with our desire for self-reliance and reducing dependency on external food sources. The survey reinforced these ideals, noting that 83% of Oregonians believe that producing our own food in the U.S. is critical for national security; 63% also agree that large-scale commercial farms are vital to ensuring access to a healthy and diverse food supply. 

Additional data that warrant a nuanced interpretation are opinions regarding federal subsidies. The author of the referenced commentary suggests that Oregonians show “discomfort” in treatment around these subsidies; however, a deeper look at the data reveals that nearly half of Oregonians (49%) feel that agricultural subsidies are in fact necessary for lower food prices and to provide stability in the form of a safety net for farmers.

As the president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, I have had the privilege of traveling throughout Oregon, meeting and working with farmers whose focus remains providing for all Oregonians. I can attest to the shared values Oregon farmers, small and large, embrace and that Oregonians strongly support. 

The Oregon Farm Bureau is a grassroots, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that represents and advocates for the interests of farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers. With 6,500 member families caring for more than 250 agricultural commodities, the organization plays a crucial role in advocating for the agricultural community’s interests, promoting responsible farming and ranching practices, and contributing to the overall vitality of Oregon’s rural areas. 

OFB members are at the forefront of cutting-edge technology that utilizes sustainable farming practices to minimize the environmental impact of agriculture while maintaining economic viability. 

Overall, OFB’s work in sustainable farming and animal welfare reflects its dedication to ensuring that agriculture in the state is not only economically viable but also environmentally responsible and ethical. By providing information, advocating for sound policies, and collaborating with various stakeholders, OFB contributes to the continued advancement of sustainable and humane practices in Oregon’s agricultural sector.

We must remember the hard work and dedication that farming communities put in each day. It is crucial to turn the focus toward Oregonians’ collective pride in the state’s hardworking farming community and the vital need to support it. We should not be spending our time debating over how small or large a farm may be.

Oregon Farm Bureau president since May 2021, Angela “Angi” Bailey is a fourth-
generation family farmer in Oregon. Bailey and her husband own Verna Jean Nursery in Gresham, where they specialize in growing ornamental trees. Before becoming OFB president, Bailey graduated from the professional development course of American Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners in Advocacy Leadership program. 

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