Several agricultural and forestry associations are available for producers to join. I think it’s extremely important for producers to get connected with at least one association so they do not get left out of anything critical to the business or pleasure of farming and ranching. Too many times someone gets left out of the loop. Don’t let it be you.
The benefits of belonging to an association depend on the group, so you might want to join more than one. Also, the groups have many members in common and that helps with communication in the industries. Some family farms have one person belong to one group, while another family member belongs to a different group. That way, information can be shared at family business meetings and the whole unit can reap the benefits of several associations.
Benefits that are common among the groups include business networking and marketing, cooperative working relationships, advocacy for special interests and problems, educational programs, and more. Many groups have mailing lists and monthly meetings, as well as social gatherings, such as summer picnics and fall banquets.
One group that covers many different commodities is the Farm Bureau. Its meetings always have excellent discussions on farming issues, including governmental policy, leadership and production management. I find this group to be the most legislatively informed association. Plus, the Farm Bureau has specific programs, such as Young Farmers and Ranchers, which give people many opportunities to get involved. They usually have guest speakers that further enrich the experience.
Other groups are more specific in the commodity type they serve. For example, the county livestock associations deal with issues surrounding production and management of several species of livestock including cattle, sheep, goats and others. They also have business meetings and annual banquets for members and guests, and work closely with OSU Extension Service in providing educational programs, tours and other events.
There are Small Woodlands Association chapters that are made up of producers of small forested acreage, which operate much like the livestock groups, except they focus on wood production. And, OSU has a Master Woodland Managers program that benefits the participants and those they assist.
For field crops, there are the Oregon Wheat Growers League, the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association, Oregon Essential Oil Growers Association, Oregon Seed Growers League and more. These groups have annual meetings, tours and newsletters to keep you informed and get you involved.
County soil and water conservation districts, plus other government agencies and watershed councils are also out there to serve you.
Of course, the Oregon State University Extension Service can keep you informed and connected to all these groups. I apologize in advance if I left your group out of these examples. Please let me know how I can share your information with others.