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Fall '23 Newsletter

Dear OOC Community:

And just like that fall has swept in and we’re ramping up for the 2024 legislative session. As we saw last session, the Oregon Organic Coalition has proven we can do amazing things through sustained political engagement. As follow up from our last update, Governor Kotek officially signed HB 5025 into law in July. The legislation contained the largest financial investment Oregon has yet made in organic agriculture–two million dollars per biennium to OSU’s Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems for increasing organic agriculture and growing the organic sector. We look forward to continued consultation with OSU on crop system priorities for expanding the Organic Extension Program. We were also relieved that the 2023 legislature maintained protections for brassica seed growers in the Willamette Valley Protected District (WVPD), though were disappointed a new sunset (July 2024) was placed on the current 500 acre cap on canola production in the WVPD. The OOC has been participating in a legislatively-mandated Work Group throughout the summer, which culminated ODA sending a report to the legislature. We hope this started the process for a permanent legislative fix to emerge in 2024, but much work remains. To recap, we also made significant progress on two other concepts–an Organic Policy Specialist at ODA and a Farmer Support bill, which would create a state match for USDA’s Organic Cost Share reimbursement. Of course, none of this work would be possible without the 30 State Senators and 60 Members of the House of Representatives. The OOC is fortunate to have cultivated true champions among their ranks. Governor Kotek wants Oregon to once again be a leader in organic agriculture. We owe her and her team a special thank you. We also want to acknowledge and thank Speaker Dan Rayfield, Senate President Rob Wagner, Senator Lew Frederick, Senator Michael Dembrow, Senator Jeff Golden, Senator Floyd Prozanski, Senator Sara Gelser Blouin, Senator Bill Hansell, Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, Senator James Manning, Senator Deb Patterson, Senator Elizabeth Steiner, Senator Kathleen Taylor, House Majority Leader Julie Fahey, Representative Mark Gamba, Representative David Gomberg, Representative Ken Helm, Representative Paul Holvey, Representative Zach Hudson, Representative Jason Kropf, Representative John Lively, Representative Pam Marsh, Representative Nancy Nathanson, Representative Courtney Neron, Representative Rob Nosse, and Representative Tawna Sanchez. Each of these elected leaders have been there for us when we have needed them and we appreciate their ongoing support and look forward to working with them again. We also want to thank Jonathan Manton, who forged the way for OOC’s advocacy platform starting in 2018, along with Stacy Kraker. Jonathan has moved on from the OOC, but we are grateful that he put us on the map and wish him all the best. The OOC has secured an equally as fantastic advocacy team and will introduce them later this fall. It truly is a critical time for the OOC to redouble our efforts on the heels of our recent wins. We can’t overstate the importance of this moment; of the opportunities before us; and of their fleeting nature. Please join our work by donating now or including the OOC in your end of year giving.

Welcome new additions to the OOC!

I am also happy to announce that Sonya Jindal joined the OOC as our Policy and Communications Fellow this summer and Lucy Fagan recently came on board for the fall semester as our Policy Intern.

Originally from the Bay Area, Sonya Jindal is a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School. She is a major proponent for food justice and the need to provide nutritious and organic food to marginalized communities.

Originally from Hawai’i, Lucy Fagan (she/her) is a current sophomore at Lewis & Clark College. She is passionate about protecting the planet, and believes agriculture and food systems are a sector that must be included in climate solutions.

Get Involved!

Legislative change can only come from the support of our community! Here are a few ways you can get involved to enact change.

  • It’s Farmers for Climate Action Week- a time for us to harness the energy of the Farmers for Climate Action: Rally for Resilience and continue to demand action on climate change in the farm bill, this time via social media, calls, and emails. The next Farm Bill needs to explicitly provide farmers with the resources, assistance, and incentives they need to lead the way in addressing the climate crisis. The best way to take action right now is to call your legislators. Visit the Farmers for Climate Action Week landing page for email templates centered around the Rally for Resilience’s three key priorities: Farmer-Led Climate Solutions, Racial Justice, and Communities, not Corporations.

  • The USDA has announced a call for nominations to the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Established in 1992, the ACBFR advises the Secretary of Agriculture to enhance USDA’s goals for new farming and ranching operations. Members of the public are invited to submit nominations for themselves or other qualified experts by October 10. For more information visit the ACBFR website.

  • Organic is good for farmers and consumers alike, but only 0.1% of the last Farm Bill was dedicated to organic. Help us change that by telling our leaders that you want to see a fair share of resources for organic in the next Farm Bill! Your farm, business, or organization can sign on here by October 2.

Other News

Thank you for your interest in our work. If you’d like to see what else we’ve been up to this summer, read on. Immediately after the legislative session, we pivoted to crafting an Organic Marketing and Development Grant proposal with the sage guidance of grant writer Elizabeth Sachs. We haven’t yet heard if our proposal has been selected, but our fingers are crossed and we are incredibly appreciative of all of the partners who supported us. Stay tuned.

Brigid Meints, Nick Andrews, Brigid again and Shayan Ghajar--the Organic Extension Team We also had the pleasure of attending the Organic Grains and Pulses Field Day, hosted by Brigid Meints, one of the current Organic Extension Specialists. In addition to learning about naked barley, dry beans, other cereals and pulses, cover cropping, end-use quality research, and disease and weed management, we got to spend time with the rest of the Organic Extension Team, Nick Andrews and Shayan Ghajar. We also connected with old and new friends and enjoyed excellent chef/maker direct food and goodies made from the highlighted crops, organized by Lane Sellman of the Culinary Breeding Network. Days like this remind me of how lucky I am to have a seat at this table.

Black Future Farms. Photos supplied by Amy Wong.

At the end of August, the OOC gathered at Black Future Farms with BIPOC individuals from all sides of the agricultural sector. This was the first OCFSN hosted BIPOC affinity group gathering and one that welcomed food systems folks from across all sectors: farmers, funders, non-profits, public agencies, etc. We moved together, set intentions, shared a meal, and held space for one another. Thank you to Shin Lee at the OCFSN,Through the Trees Collective, Meals 4 Heels, Cafe Zamora, Kulfi, and Black Futures Farm for putting this event on!

Nick Andrews, Joe Siri and Ana Johns from OGC

Over at Siri & Son Farms, we got to witness the use of the hybrid interseeder device. For context, cover crops like vetch, rye, and red clover are vital for enhancing soil health. Interseeding cover crops among existing crops is extremely beneficial, though the cost has hindered widespread adoption. In collaboration with Joe Siri of Siri & Sons, Nick Andrews, an Organic Extension Agent from OSU, developed the hybrid interseeder device as an affordable solution. Testing it on fall cabbage, they plan to track results using Nick's cover crop calculator, which assesses costs and nitrogen production. Last year, they found cover crops to be a cost-effective alternative to chicken manure for nitrogen. This innovation benefits all growers, promoting sustainable practices and healthier soil. It exemplifies the collaborative efforts of researchers, growers, and scientists in Oregon's organic farming sector, contributing to the state's environmental well-being while ensuring a steady supply of organic produce. And thank you Joe Siri for gifting the OOC a dry-farmed melon!

The OOC serendipitously met Sarah Weiner, the Executive Director and Founder of the Good Food Foundation, this spring and were subsequently invited to be a judge for “snack” entries for the 2023 Good Food Awards, along with many food system movers and shakers. We were so impressed with the delicious breakfast provided by Sibeiho and the impeccably organized tasting. We can’t wait to see (and sample) the winners next year!

OOC Board Chair Amy Wong & Oregon Tilth's ED, Chris Schreiner

We also traveled to Corvallis for a presentation by Dr. Lauren Gwin as part of the process to fill the position of Director of the Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems. Lauren did a fantastic job and it was a treat to be in a room with many other organic and food systems stakeholders.

We closed out the summer volunteering at the Culinary Breeding Network’s fabulous Tomato Festival at Wellspent Market. We had the best time helping OSU’s Matt Davis prep to-go dry-farmed tomato tests, as well as cleaning hundreds of beautiful tomatoes for tomato breeder Dr. Jim Myers and his Research Assistant Emma Buczkowski that were sampled by attendees in order to give feedback to help guide future breeding efforts. We also got to try our hand at stringing pomodori d’inverno tomatoes with Amy Garrett and John Miedema of the Dry Farming Institute. These “winter” tomatoes are picked ripe by the truss and hung with twine in clusters for up to six months. We enjoyed a cioppino and fresh salsa in the middle of winter from a cluster we got at last year’s festival and hope to do so again with our new cluster. Pro tip if you attend next year: don’t skip the BLT.

That’s it for now, but we’ll be back in your Inbox later this fall.

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