Tag Archives: ORleg

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

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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Photo Friday…Fkr or Frk…what?

19 Feb

Some of you may know the outcome of the minimum wage issue in Oregon (bill to increase the wage passed the House), some of you may care and some of you may not.  But for me, as a business owner and Oregonian, this is so annoying frustrating infuriating…unbelievable.  I could go on and on about how unions pushed this bill, how Democrats voted yea even though they admitted it was a bad bill for Oregon, or how protesters stormed the House floor even when they were getting what they wanted (because it still wasn’t enough).   But I don’t have the energy for a post about that today, I’m too tired with real life, real work, and dealing with real issues that fall on deaf ears at Legislature.  So instead I’m going to share this ridiculous photo, that I just noticed after looking at it on my desk for almost two years.

12735962_10100856612104379_775917461_nCan you see the mistake?  I always joke that I don’t know how to say my last name correctly…apparently I also don’t spell it correctly.  Happy Friday!

Sincerely, Brenda Frketich

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