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Accepting the Unbalance

29 Nov

I get asked a lot about how I “do it all”. How I “find balance”. Well as I sit here today on mommy day at home with three wild kiddos it dawned on me that really all I found is a way to move through the unbalance of motherhood and running a business. I’m talking about those feelings of never being in the right place at the right time. The guilt.

Farming is a seven day a week job. It’s no secret that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, who happens to not really care too much if it’s a “work day” for me or not. Farming on a childcare schedule is impossible when you are at the weather’s beck and call. It is hard to be home three days a week with kids, knowing that I’m leaving the work to people who I trust, but people who aren’t me. Thankfully I have people who can do this, but it’s taken a long time to sit back and accept that my reality of farming has changed to a new balance of unbalance.

Thank goodness for cell phones (I’m sort of annoyed that I even have to write that reality). I do a lot of work from this small piece of technology. I answer calls with kids in the background. I text work orders to people out in the field. I keep track of expenses. It’s actually where I’m typing this blog right now, in between “Mom I need you!” ” Mom I’m hungry” “mom come see this” and some of it might be while I’m hiding in the bathroom (because folks that’s like a real thing hahaha!).

On days when I’m working physically at the farm, I am lucky to get to come home to eat lunch with the kids. I take the oldest to school and when he gets off the bus at the farm, he’s with me for the rest of the day. I love all of this, but all of this is also hard to make farming work for me in the way that it used to before I became a mom.

So it’s Thursday and I’m home with the kids. It’s not perfect, and I’m thankful I can be here and be “everywhere” when I need to be. Even though it feels unbalanced. All I can do is make the best choice for my family and the farm. And know that it’s not the perfect choice (but let’s be honest, “perfect” rarely exists in the real world).

I know that every once and awhile I’ll get to have days where I can be out in the fields right when I need to be, and I’ll be home with my kids when they need me. And all of this works, not because of me and my abilities to “do it all”, it’s because of all the people who work hard in our village to make this all happen everyday!! The unbalance, the guilt, the struggle…these are my issues, their stability and love is how I get through it all.

I know this rings true with many people in my life who are at this wonderful yet chaotic stage in life. It feels like careers, marriage, family can all be at odds all at once. Well, I’m right there with you my friend, in the trenches some days and floating on clouds others. Hang in there and try to have these moments where you can just accept unbalance. ❤️

Vote YES on Measure 104

29 Oct

I wrote earlier today about Measure 103 and why I’m voting YES.  Well the questions don’t stop at this measure, 104 has just as many folks wondering why we would want to change the constitution.  Here are a few misconceptions….

  • Measure 104 “changes” the constitution.
  • Measure 104 is going to clog up the legislature.
  • Measure 104 is redundant to what we already have in place.

This past March during the 2018 legislature session farmers came to the capital in full force.  It’s the most farmers I have seen show up, which means we were there for something very important.  House Bill 2859 was being proposed as a way to “clean up” exemptions and deductions on taxes.  Sounds harmless enough right?  Wrong….so very wrong.  There are many special assessments, deductions, and exemptions that farmers use every day to help them farm the very land that has been in our family for generations.  These deductions, if removed would close our doors the day that happened.  I wish I was exaggerating, but it would have cost our farm hundreds of thousands in NEW costs every year.  It also in turn would break the land use system that protects our farmland.  The repercussions are endless and scary.

You can read more about this awful bill here:

The point is, we don’t want to have to fight against something this awful every single year.  It’s frustrating that a simple majority can just decide on something that seems so small, yet makes a HUGE impact on our industry.  In 1996 voters decided to make “revenue increasing” have to be by a super majority.  It was a message to the legislature that you have to work together.  If something is controversial and is going to make an impact to Oregonians like that, it has to be bipartisan, we all have to be represented.  This just makes sense right?!

I was also interviewed by K12 last week about this very issue. 

So back to the misconceptions….

  • Measure 104 “changes” the constitution.
    Correction: Measure 104 CLARIFIES the constitution. 
    Like I said, voters voted for this idea of a super majority in 1996.  It takes away the loopholes that “Oh we are just looking to clean up the tax code.”  This just further clarifies what was meant all along. It takes away the ability of legislators to simply use loopholes as revenue raising opportunities, at the expense of necessary exemptions many of us rely on to stay in business.  If sensible changes are justified, they should easily be able to draw the then required 3/5ths support.  Also let’s not be scared to make our constitution better.  This is why we have the ability to work with our constitution and continue to make it something that works with our ever-changing and great state!  And voters have changed it over 240 times. 
  • Measure 104 is going to clog up the legislature.
    Now this I understand, because really the legislature isn’t exactly the most well-oiled machine. However I can’t get behind this as a reason to just push things through without really looking at the issues and repercussions.  What if you aren’t represented?  What if you don’t get a say and things like the exemption on our farmland is at stake?  As a farmer, I only represent about 2% of Oregon’s population.  How do I get a fair shot at protecting my livelihood if I never get represented?  A super majority is harder to get than a simple majority, it will cause some folks to be forced to work across the aisle, it will mean bipartisanship.  And all of these things are important to me when we are looking at increasing revenues.  So yes, it might be a little harder to get things “cleaned up”, but I think it’s necessary to be sure that what we are cleaning up isn’t shutting down good business in Oregon.
  • Measure 104 is redundant to what we already have in place.
    Ever since the constitution added the super majority language to the constitution loopholes have surfaced. This closes those loopholes so that the idea of removing special assessments, exemptions and deductions is revenue raising.  It’s creative, I’ll give them that, but it’s wrong.  And it goes against what the voters said they wanted out of their legislature.  Back in 2017 I was at a conference listening to Speaker Tina Kotek and she said, (I’ll paraphrase because I didn’t write down the exact quote) “We have made a lot of good decisions for Oregonians, now we just need to figure out how to pay for them.”  This is backwards and very concerning.  To me this makes it look like these loopholes are only just beginning at the capital to start to pay for all those “good things”.

For those of you not in the 2% of the farming population, think about things like your home mortgage deduction, DMV registration fees, or the cost of your hunting and fishing licenses.  These are all things that can be arbitrarily raised without a super majority.  Don’t you feel that  making sure most people are on board with the reasons behind these fee increasing would be a good thing?  I sure do.

Rep. Julie Parrish had this great post on Facebook:

I would like to share how I ended my testimony on Bill 2859 because I think it sums up why I feel so passionately about this issue…

I’m sitting here today humbled and overcome by the fact that you all have the power to shut the doors on our farm forever.  I am frustrated that at a time when agriculture gives so much back to Oregon, we have to show up at a hearing to defend our basic needs from this state.  How much does agriculture give?  1 in 8 jobs in this state are linked to farms, not to mention $22.9 billion dollars in sales.  To quote former Director of Agriculture Katy Coba, “Agriculture is a very important part of Oregon.  In terms of population, the number of farmers and ranchers in our state is small. Yet, when you look at the contribution they make to both our economy and our environment, things we pride ourselves on, agriculture has a tremendous impact on the state.” 

I have a passion for what I do, I have a business plan that leads this farm into not the just the 4th generation, but to the 5th.  I take care of our soil so that it’s better than when I first stepped on it and called it mine.  But that will all be wasted if this passes.  So I hope that you all take a long look at what you are doing here.  They say that it takes generations to build a farm to be successful, but only one generation to lose it all.  I have worked tirelessly and will continue to work as hard as I possibly can to make sure that is not my generation, I just never thought that I would have to be here today asking you, the legislature, to not lose it for me.

This is why I’ve voting YES on Measure 104!

Oregon Ballot Measure 103

29 Oct

There has been a lot of talk about the “Grocery Tax” or Ballot Measure 103.  The commercials against the measure started early, some of the first that I saw anyway.  Which in turn has created a lot of questions surrounding this measure.

  • There currently is no grocery tax, so why do we need protection from it?
  • Does this help any small businesses or just large corporations?
  • I heard that this protects even slaughter houses, is that true?
  • I have seen a few small restaurant owners are for this, why would that be?

All of these questions are cause for concern.  So let me help to clear up a few things and let you know why I am voting YES on Measure 103 on my ballot this year.

Even with steady and increasing current tax revenues the state continually feels it needs more money rather than efficiently managing a budget, like everyday Oregonians do.  It’s a head in the sand situation with eyes looking for external instead of internal fixes to problems such as PERS (just one example).  And how do you just keep getting more and more money?  Taxation.

It is not just raising taxes, it’s more about adding new taxes.  And these taxes aren’t just on profits, these are taxes on gross receipts.  That means that if you own a grocery store and you sold a gallon milk for $4.00, and you made only $1.00.  (Disclaimer I have no source for this margin assumption, this is used for an example only).  You would be taxes on the $4.00, not the amount of profit that you actually made.  These taxes are unfair and do cause real harm to business of all sizes.

With the “grocery store tax” the problem is that these taxes won’t be paid by the grocery store alone, they will be paid by the consumer who is buying the gallon of milk.

Which leads to my next point, food shouldn’t be taxed….period.  If the price of food goes up, I hope it’s going up because an increase in quality, a few more cents going to those who move and produce it to bolster our economy, not just to increase money in the general fund.

So back to the four questions I’ve been getting…

  • There currently is no grocery tax, so why do we need protection from it?Every year legislators are looking for more ways to increase revenue. This gross receipts tax is something that we have already fought hard against and won.  But the end doesn’t seem to be in sight.  This issue is continually brought to the table.  This measure gives us all the reassurance that our food won’t be taxed, won’t even be looked at as an option to be taxed.  I believe this is important as we move forward as a state to make those assurances known.
  • Does this help any small businesses or just large corporations?This helps everyone involved in the food system. It protects consumers from the rising costs of food due to increase in taxes at every stage from farm to fork.  That means that yes, some large corporations will benefit from this protection.  But it also means that small businesses will not have to fight these gross receipt taxes in the future as well.
  • I heard that this protects even slaughter houses, is that true?Yes this is true. It is written to protect those from farm to fork from unfair gross receipt taxes on food.  Putting aside the fact that gross receipt tax is unfair to begin with, it would be hard to say that these taxes if instituted wouldn’t be a double taxation, triple taxation or more.  Let’s say I grow one green bean and sell that green bean to a cannery.  I’m taxed on that green bean.  The cannery then canned the bean and is taxed on the can as it leaves their facility.  Then finally it hits the shelves of the grocery store and is bought by a consumer.  And that sale will be taxed as well.  I don’t see a situation where that can of green beans isn’t going to a cost a whole heck of a lot more.  And all that increase in cost, none of it goes to the farmer, the cannery, or the grocery store.  It would all end up as increased revenue for the state and a lot of money out of consumer’s pockets.
  • I have seen a few small restaurant owners are for this, why would that be?I believe that there are a certain number of businesses with models that more easily move the increase in tax liability to their customers. Many small restaurants for instance do work on tight margins, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the price of your latte or prime rib go right on up if a tax like this was imposed.

So really Measure 103 isn’t just about grocery stores.  It’s about protecting businesses small and large along the entire food chain, from farm to fork.  I understand that it is hard to run a state on a tight budget, I run a farm on a very tight budget every year and it can be very frustrating.  But it is still budgeting where you spend what you have and no more, and also don’t make promises that use up more than you have available.  Making money on consumers by taxing the very food that they need, the basic necessity that they require, is not fair.  If you agree then I urge you to speak with your vote this year and make it clear that we aren’t going to foot the bill with food taxes now, or ever.  Please vote YES on Measure 103.

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