Vote YES on Measure 104

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!

Continue Learning

I have always said that one of my favorite things about farming is the continual opportunities to learn. Learn not just about dirt or pesticides, but also tax planning, land use, water resources, immigration and labor. The list goes on and on, especially today. Today I’m attending the Dunn Carney Ag Summit.

The morning has started out with Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba and continues into the afternoon with more great speakers.

I always look forward to these kinds of opportunities and since it is pouring rain outside it gives me a break from my own office!! Have a great Friday everyone!

2013, Whirlwind of Year

This past year has been busy to say the least.  I keep thinking (and hearing from other people) that you don’t have to get all your growing up done all in one year, but that seems to be what I’m accomplishing at this rate!  So as 2013 comes to a close and I raise a glass of sparkling cider at 9pm (east coast New Year’s since I’m asleep by 9 every night…thank you baby in my tummy) I have a lot, and I mean a lot to be thankful for!

The year started out with a big thanks for all the support I received for being chosen as a finalist in the US Farmer & Rancher Alliance’s “Face of Farming & Ranching.”  While I was sad to not get such a wonderful opportunity, I have seen what these four faces have done the past year and I couldn’t be more amazed at the hard work and dedication they have put in to make agriculture closer the fore front of people’s mind.

I also spent a fair amount of time at the Oregon Capital in Salem.  I testified on a number of bills to help our farmers in my local area and statewide.  Although we didn’t win all the battles, we did get some great legislation passed for Oregon Farmers. Just a few of these topics dealt with GMO production; how our state will handle this in the future and why we need to work together as farmers instead of against each other; and a land use issue about a new bypass that would devastate acres and acres of farmland that my neighbors have been farming for generations.

I received an award from DTN, Progressive Farmer & John Deere for being one of the America’s Top Young Farmers & Ranchers!  Which included an awesome trip back to Chicago to meet with other farmers from across the country.


And on a more personal note I was lucky enough to marry the man of my dreams in June of this past year, and also share the news that we are also expecting our first little farmer kiddo in May 2014! (Yes, for those you doing math…it works!)


So I just have to say, that yes, farming is tough, brutal at times, stressful just about always, and at times soul testing; but for me I feel like I’m right where I need to be.   Just chugging along into another year of challenges, another year of testifying for farmer’s rights to keep farming, another year of spreading the news of what we’re up to at Kirsch Family Farms, and another year of many more adventures yet to to be seen!  I hope everyone has a wonderful start to what I just know is going to be another great year!

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