Oregon values vibrant rural communities and independent, family-scale farms but factory farms put small farms out of business.
Oregon is lucky to have high value agricultural lands and has more concentrated ag production than the national average. Thirty years ago, Oregon was home to more than twice as many dairies as today, most of them small, family-owned independent businesses. These and thousands of other small family farms in Oregon are part of what makes our state a leader in sustainable agricultural practices and strong community-based food systems.
But Oregon has lost more than half of its licensed dairies since 1990. Today, just over 200 family-owned dairies remain in our state. (Source: Oregon Employment Department) Mega-dairies have taken their place, and they have an unfair advantage. Mega-dairies are appealing to processors, like Tillamook’s Columbia River Processing in Boardman, which profit from the ability to get their milk supply from fewer, larger operations. By confining thousands of cows in an industrial milking operation, they can produce milk more cheaply, which, in turn, lowers milk prices. When small family farms can’t compete, they go out of business, which harms families and communities and destroys a piece of our state’s heritage in the process.
We’ve seen what factory dairies have done to small-scale dairy farms in Oregon. Small family chicken farms could face similar effects. Out-of-state corporations are trying to build massive industrial chicken operations in the Willamette Valley, despite local opposition, further jeopardizing the health and well-being of Oregonians.
What’s worse: Current laws treat factory farms the same as family-scale farms. Industrial animal factories and the mega-corporations that control them have exploited these laws to pollute Oregon’s air and water and threaten animal welfare — all while pushing out small, independent farms that strengthen, rather than extracting from, our rural communities.
We need to ensure that independent family farms, not factory farms, are the future of livestock production in Oregon. We need to transition our livestock market so that it works for small farmers. Oregon deserves a food system that prioritizes independent family farmers, produces healthy food for consumers, and protects our environment. Factory farms won’t get us there.
Take action to protect Oregon’s small farmers from factory farms. It’s time for a factory farm moratorium in Oregon