Tag Archives: Oregon Farmers

A Call To Action: Farmers, Ranchers, & Foresters against HB 2859

27 Feb

This Wednesday at 1pm I’m hoping to see the Oregon Capital building FULL of Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and woodland owners.  We have been hearing from our industry advocates all winter that they are going to need our help this legislative session and that time is now.

The Oregon Legislature has been scrapping for any amount of money they can get their hands on.  Our state is working with a deficit, which it seems like instead of working through the budget they have, many legislators are grasping at straws to fill the gap.  Silly ideas like a coffee tax, or old car tax have already come and gone.  But Wednesday there will be a hearing to take away tax exemptions that are so valuable to farmers in Oregon, I really can’t stress enough how it would make farming here basically impossible.

Without going into too much detail here, Oregon has a very unique land use system.  One that designates land around the state that is Exclusive Farm Use only (EFU).  This land is used to farm, and grow crops. Basically it disallows you from selling as industrial ground, or ground for housing, development, etc.  Because this limits our ability in what we can do on the land that we own, in turn the state has given us a reduced property tax on those parcels.  The state deemed that ground, because they value farm land, as the highest value being farming.  In my opinion I would have to agree, we have some of the best soil in the world here in Oregon.  So that means that I can’t turn around, sell by the square foot to developers, and make a fortune.  Because of the land use system, and the protections that have been hard fought in this state (and I believe rightly so) that ability is taken from us.

So here is the deal, if you as the state think that our farm ground is so valuable that you give us a special assessment in order to farm, why in the world would you take that assessment away, tax us the same as industrial ground, and then force us to keep it as farm ground?  It makes no sense, and you can rest assured that this gutting of farm assessments, is in turn a gutting of land use laws as they stand today.  This will break our system here in Oregon, one that has allowed me as the third generation on this farm to continue farming. The landscape in Oregon – both figuratively and literally – could change. Who really wants that?

final-112Meet the fourth generation on our farm.  These farm boys love hanging out in our fields, fields that will be too expensive to farm if HB2859 is passed.final-111

The other issue in this legislation is removing our personal property tax exemptions, which would end up driving farms into the ground, ending the legacy that is farming in Oregon.  Our industry by nature creates a significant amount of capital expenditure.  We have millions of dollars worth of equipment sitting in our barns, equipment that will only see the light of day for a fraction of the year.  Take a piece of harvesting equipment, like a combine for example, the cost of which could be anywhere from $350,000 to a half million dollars.  This essential piece of equipment will be used for only about 3 weeks on our farm.

So why bother to upgrade?  We update equipment on our farm as technology changes and equipment becomes more efficient for our farm, our soil, and the environment. Just like many households update appliances in their kitchens.  But how can you afford to update if every time you parked a newer piece of equipment in your barn your tax bill increased so significantly it never penciled?  I did the math, and this part of the legislation alone would take our average profit for the past 5 years.  We could never justify planning for the future on our farm, which is what we do every time we make business decisions.  My business plan is not for the next 5 years, or even the next decade, it’s what is going to be best for my grandchildren and their children.  Between land rent, land taxes and property taxes, I just don’t know how our farm would survive.

Our legislature has to take a hard look at their budget and work within their constraints.  I was at a meeting where Representative Tina Kotek spoke a few months ago and something she said made me realize how concerned we all should be this year.  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 goes against everything I believe to my core, everything that business, school, farming, and life has taught me.  No, you need to find what you can pay for and THEN and only then decide on what decisions are best for Oregonians.

We seem to be living in a backwards world here and it’s scary!  So please, come and stand up for Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and woodland owners on Wednesday!  Tell the legislature that they need to work within their budget just like the rest of the real world.  They need to stand up for farm, ranch and timber!

To write a letter to your legislator you can use the link below through Oregon Farm Bureau:
http://oregonfb.org/advocacy/?vvsrc=%2fCampaigns%2f50222%2fRespond

2013, Whirlwind of Year

30 Dec

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.

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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!)

Wedding

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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