In March 2013 the Spencer Creek Grange hosted Oregon’s 3rd Green Granger Summit where, over the course of three fun and energetic days, Grangers heard presentations from guest speakers Kari Hamerschlag, Bob McFarland, Zach Baker and Gus Frederick. In addition to the two keynote talks and Zach’s presentation the following day, we drafted 3 resolutions (see the text of our Farm, Food and Jobs Act resolution below) and discussed issues of shared interest with folks from other Granges in Oregon and California. We also decided to give ourselves a new name. Henceforth we shall be known as The Green Granger Interest Group.
Videos from our Green Granger Summit are available for viewing.
Kari spoke about the 2013 Farm Bill and described how decades of bad food policy designed to benefit agribusinesses and mega-farms have wreaked havoc on family farmers, public health and rural communities. Towards the end of her talk Kari spoke about the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. The EWG has identified $100 billion that could be cut from the current farm subsidy and crop insurance programs over 10 years, while leaving intact a robust safety net for farmers when they need it.
Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, a co-sponsor of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, writes: “This legislation would make changes to the current crop insurance program to better assist the needs of small, local, and diversified farms. It would boost grants for farmers markets and other marketing avenues that connect farmers directly to consumers and ensure that food stamp recipients and others relying on government assistance for nutrition can use their benefits at farmers markets or community supported agriculture programs. This legislation would also allow schools to use a portion of their commodity funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase local and regional foods for school lunches and direct federally funded university research dollars to projects that assist local and regional farmers and food systems such as classical animal and plant breeding.”
For far too long the Farm Bill has prioritized large agribusiness at the expense of small, local farmers who produce crops that are diverse, sustainable, and healthier for consumers. This sentiment can be found across the political spectrum:
I believe that the bill should be designed to assist family farmers in times of need, rather than to direct subsidies to large, corporate farming operations…
— Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and current chairman of the House Budget Committee
During the resolution-writing workshop at the summit, a resolution was drafted which urges State and National Grange support for the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. Grangers across the country are encouraged to present this to their local grange for adoption. If the resolution is adopted by your grange, please let us know!
|Supporting the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act of the 2012 Farm Bill|
|Whereas, demand for access to locally produced foods has grown at least 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA); andWhereas, the ODA 2013 State of the Agriculture Industry Report cites “Flourishing food processing and distribution facilities mean more outlets for Oregon’s producers, more jobs in Oregon, and more dollars in our economy;” and
Whereas, the Agricultural Reclamation Act (by Oregon farm advocacy organization Friends of Family Farmers) cites the need for public investment, grants or incentives in order to strengthen the economic viability of Oregon farmers and ranchers, enhance local employment opportunities and increase local food security; and
Whereas, the University of Oregon’s 2010 Lane County Food Market Analysis identifies significant gaps in local food storage, processing, and distribution infrastructure which, when remedied, will help local markets capture more of the county’s total $1.1 billion in annual food purchases; and
Whereas, the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act is a comprehensive package of reforms that would expand opportunities for local and regional farmers,. rebuild the farm infrastructure in rural communities and help farmers break down barriers to new markets; and
Whereas, the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act comprises roughly 0.1% of the total Farm Bill and would cost taxpayers no additional money, therefore be it
Resolved, that the Oregon State Grange lobbies Oregon’s federal legislators to co-sponsor the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act and support its provisions in the federal farm bill; and be it further
Resolved, that the National Grange lobbies congressional representatives to co-sponsor the federal Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act and include its provisions in the federal farm bill.
|Download a PDF of this resolution.|
In his Keynote Address, Bob McFarland described how California Grangers have organized or re-organized 35 new Granges since the fall of 2009. While membership nationally declined by 24% during this period, Grange membership in California grew by 10%. Representing a renaissance in local agriculture, this phenomenal growth in membership appears to be the new norm. To cite just one example, Sonoma County’s Sebastopol Grange has added about 80 members annually for the last two years in a row. The year before that, when Santa Rosa attorney Lawrence Jaffe decided to become Grange Master, there were just 5 members and their Grange hall, an attraction for graffiti artists, was crumbling. Grange membership growth in California is largely driven by a resurgence of interest in local food systems, organic farming and neighborhood Farmers’ Markets.
Zach Baker, a 2nd year law student at the UO School of Law, described his work with the Benton County Community Rights Coalition and some of the challenges the group has encountered in crafting a county ordinance banning the cultivation of GMO’s. A recipient of the 2012-2013 Wayne Morse Law Student Fellowship, Zach also spent 2 years in Washington, D.C. lobbying for the 2008 Farm Bill.
The summit closed with Gus Frederick, Lecturer at Silverton Grange and an avid Grange historian, delivering an informative and entertaining presentation on Grange history.