Oregon Community Food Systems Network – Public Policy Update

The Oregon Community Food Systems Network (OCFSN) has 53 organizational members across Oregon who together are working toward the shared vision that all Oregonians thrive with healthy, affordable foods from an environmentally and economically resilient regional food system. Supportive public policy – at the local, state, and federal levels – is needed to get there.

Network members are coming together to build stronger alliances for the 2019 Oregon Legislature, which runs January 22 until June 30. Through the OCFSN Policy Committee, members are sharing information about their priority bills through our newsletter, through a series of webinars, and by creating a “community food systems guide to the Oregon Legislature.”

OCFSN also offered a webinar last month called, “How to work on state legislation legally and effectively,” so that nonprofit 501c3 organizations know their options. The webinar recording is posted on YouTube.

What bills are coming?

Drafts of specific bills have not yet been released to the public by the Legislature. However, the following topics that OCFSN members believe are important to small farms, local food systems, and food security in Oregon are expected to come up before the Legislature this session:

  • Funding a statewide “Double Up Food Bucks” SNAP-Match program at farmers markets and rural grocery stores, at $3 million over the next biennium;
  • Oregon Farm to School: maintain or increase funding;
  • Clean Energy & Jobs bill: a “cap and invest” approach to reduce carbon emissions and build community resiliency;
  • Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program: funding to implement this program, created by the 2018 Legislature;
  • Support for beginning farmers & ranchers (waiting on specifics), could include tax credits to land owners when they lease to beginning farmers and ranchers;
  • Defend Oregon land use planning system against removal of land use protections;
  • Farm Direct Nutrition Program for seniors and also women, infants, and children (WIC): maintain funding;
  • Create liability for patent holders and manufacturers of GE (genetically engineered) seed in contamination events in Oregon. Does not pit farmer against farmer (2017 version, H.B. 2739, will be updated).

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