Oregon is blessed with a rich agricultural bounty, thanks to fertile farmland and diverse regional climates, with over 220 different commodities raised here. Yet despite this abundance, a staggering one in six Oregonians are fearful they will not have enough food for their next meal.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy recently crunched data from a new USDA report, and the results are heartbreaking. Since the Great Recession (2010-2012), food insecurity in Oregon has risen 18.4%, the largest increase in the nation.
Farm Bureau members are doing their part to fight this alarming trend.
Many of our members participate in, and OFB has been a longtime supporter of, Farmers Ending Hunger. Through this program, farmers and ranchers donate a portion of their harvest to feed hungry Oregonians. The organization collects the donated crops, cleans and packages it, and delivers it to local food banks.
In Marion County, Farm Bureau members are involved in a similar project called Salem Harvest. Every year thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables are harvested from participating farms, and the food is given to organizations that help families in need.
In the 2014 state legislature, OFB partnered with the Oregon Food Bank to reinstate the Crop Donation Tax Credit. This allows farmers and ranchers to receive a tax credit of 15% of the wholesale value of a food crop they donate to a charitable organization. Before the credit, many farmers donated crops at a cost to their business because it was the right thing to do. This tax credit incentivizes even more farmers and ranchers to participate.
Over the years, County Farm Bureaus across the state and the OFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee have donated thousands of pounds of food to local food banks. Just this year alone, the OFB Women’s Advisory Council donated $4,000 worth of groceries for families staying at Oregon’s three Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Just as important as farmers helping hungry families in their communities is the need for the state legislature to support rural Oregonians through sensible public policy. Agriculture is a critical job provider in rural areas — farms, ranches, ag suppliers, distribution centers, and food processors all provide much-needed employment. If laws that hurt the agriculture sector continue to be passed, jobs will continue to disappear and rural poverty will continue to rise.
In this week of Thanksgiving, please remember your Oregon neighbors who don’t know where their next meal will come from. Give thanks for the bounty in your life. And give thanks for the farming and ranching families across America who raise our food, foliage, fiber, and fuel.
Story by Oregon Farm Bureau