Each legislative session, family farmers, ranchers and consumers from around Oregon gathered at the capitol as citizen lobbyists to address the state food and agriculture policy affecting us.
Why? There is a strong lobby for commodity agriculture and agribusiness, but the issues facing family agriculture, local food producers and small-scale agriculture are often different. If our legislators in Salem are going to support policies, rules and programs that bolster small-scale, local and family agriculture, they need to hear from YOU. Whether it is standing on the capitol steps, sending an email, mailing a letter or picking up the phone, your contact with YOUR legislators is critical.
One of the most invigorating and powerful ways you can affect Oregon’s food and agriculture policy is attending Family Farm & Ranch Rally Day. This event is held each odd year at the beginning of the legislative session. (Remember, Oregon has a citizen legislature that only meets in odd years except for a month-long budget session in even years.)
Family Farm & Ranch Rally day brings together producers and eaters in Salem for citizen lobbying training, meetings with legislators and a rally on the capitol steps. We even set up a Farmers Market in the capitol galleria! All of this is to build support for sustainable, family agriculture for current and future generations. Citizens lobby legislators on specific legislation and talk to them about barriers and opportunities for agriculture and food production.
In 2011 five ORA members made the 14-hour round trip for the first Family Farm & Ranch Rally Day. They to talked to legislators, the state treasurer and even the head of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Members were surprised about the reception they received at the capitol. Everyone showed extreme appreciation for the distance they had traveled. Members felt that their meetings made a huge impact on how legislators voted and how they thought.
Here are a few testimonials from some of our citizen lobbyists: