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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.

“Our Ag Story, What’s Yours?”

30 Jan

img_7366A few weeks ago I wrote about how my “business attire” wardrobe may not be as extensive as my non-farmer friends.  Considering as farmers, Shelly Davis and I both wore the same EXACT outfits as the last time we dressed up together…oops!  But the I have to say I really enjoyed everything from the prep for this talk to the actual end result of our keynote for the Dunn Carney Ag Summit entitled, “Our Ag Story, What’s Yours?”.

Shelly shared our transcript on her blog last week, so if you’re interested please click here, or head over to Daughter of a Trucker’s blog to see what we said.

If you’re more of a video type, I have uploaded from Facebook live onto YouTube our keynote.  It’s not great audio, and it is in two parts because the WiFi was being funky.  So if you are patient and you have a low tolerance for video quality, the message is still (in my humble opinion) top notch and spot on!

Part One….

Part Two…

I’ll leave you with this last thought from Shelly,

“The point is advocating on behalf of the entire agriculture industry can be exhausting and take up too much time.  You do it, I do it, we do it because it benefits us, our farm, and more importantly our future farm.”

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Which Farmer should you Believe?

4 Nov

I have many people come up to me and say, “I vote with farmers.” Which is great, with all that we do for Oregon’s economy, with all that agriculture provides, it’s no wonder that people appreciate the direction that we want legislation and political races to go.  So what happens when there are conflicting farmers out there.  Unfortunately in Oregon this happens a lot more than I care to admit.  Many times it’s not as public as campaign commercials running back to back, usually it’s done more in the halls of the legislature.

But this year, Measure 97 has once again, brought farmer vs. farmer to confuse and perhaps persuade a certain direction.  I will say here that it’s no surprise to anyone my stance on Measure 97, I’m a NO vote, and I urge you be be as well.  Below is my commercial giving a very short and very small piece of the puzzle of why I believe so strongly that this is not the right sales tax for our state.

But then, you may see another ad, one with a farmer named Don Schoen.

He appears to be a hazelnut farmer by all camera angles provided.  A good friend of mine and fellow agvocate, Anna Scharf did a little researching however and we found some interesting information.  Information that even Mr. Schoen might be interested to read…here are Anna’s findings…

Farmer Don Schoen a farmer from Hillsboro who has about 3,600 hazelnut trees is quoted on the save Helvetia website as saying “My farm is smack-dab in the middle of the proposed urban reserves….. We export about 35% of our crop – the rest is bought by local companies, such as Burgerville, for their hazelnut milkshakes and Oregon Bread, for their hazelnut bread.  I need the certainty of rural reserves in order to continue to invest in a long-term crop like hazelnuts.” (Source- www.savehelvetia.org)

When Mr. Schoen is advocating for a Yes vote on Measure 97, maybe he should remember that it is NOT just “out of state big business (Monsanto and Wells Fargo)” that will pay; it is also Burgerville who will be TAXED on their gross sales. “All Burgerville locations are within an 80-mile (129-km) radius, mostly in the Portland metropolitan area, and the chain had annual revenue of around $75 million in 2010” (source – Wikipedia). Their “fair 2.5% TAX” would be ~$1.875M.  Oregon Bread (which is produced by Franz Bakery), which Mr. Schoen states also purchases his hazelnuts, is a fourth generation, family-owned baking company based in Portland, OR since 1906.  They are also considered a “Big business” that will be forced to pay their “fair 2.5% TAX” on their over $25M in annual sales. Where will Burgerville and Oregon Bread come up with the money? Consumers of course! Measure 97 the hidden sales tax on consumers!
Get the facts, get educated and VOTE NO on Measure 97

So there you go…farmer vs. farmer, but I’m hoping that you all will vote with this farmer and many others across the state and say NO to Measure 97!!

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