Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP)

OAHP supporters at the State Capitol to lobby for HB 2729 – the OAHP funding bill.

What would funding the OAHP do?

The OAHP provides the structure and funding to keep working lands working, while preserving and enhancing fish and wildlife benefits on these lands. The program includes the following components:

  • The Oregon Agricultural Heritage Fund – to fund program options
  • The Oregon Agricultural Heritage Commission – to evaluate grant applications and oversee investments
  • Matching grants for three types of voluntary conservation projects
    • Permanent working lands conservation easements
    • Temporary working lands conservation covenants
    • Conservation management plans
  • Succession planning workshops

Why is the OAHP needed?

  • A historic opportunity – Two-thirds (10.45M acres) of Oregon’s agricultural lands will change hands in the next 20 years, yet up to 80% of Oregon farmers and ranchers may not have a succession plan.
  • Agriculture at risk – In this transition, productive land and associated habitat are vulnerable to sale for non-farm uses, fragmentation into unviable parcel sizes, and eventual development. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture confirms that Oregon continues to lose farmland. Read the OAHP Coalition’s press release here.
  • Lost Federal dollars – A federal program exists to permanently protect US agricultural land – NRCS’s Agricultural Land Easement program (ACEP-ALE). Yet each year, Oregon leaves millions of federal dollars on the table because we do not have a state grant program to match this funding. The 2018 Farm Bill has more funding than ever for agricultural land protection; Oregon’s legislature must step up and invest in protecting the State’s agricultural lands.

To seize these opportunities and confront these risks, the OAHP Coalition is advocating for House Bill 2729 – the OAHP funding bill. On March 28, 2019, HB 2729 unanimously passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture and Land Use and was referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means – the State’s budget committee! The Capital Press published a great article about the bill and OAHP, highlighting the voices of legislative champions and Oregon Agriculture Heritage Commissioners.

What happens next with the OAHP proposal?

We need your help to pass the bill and secure the full $10 million funding request for OAHP! The only way we will get funding in this tight budget climate is if legislators hear from YOU about why this program is important for you and their legislative district.

How you can help:

If you do reach out to a legislator, please let Gordon Levitt, COLT’s Legislative Coordinator, know via email (gordon@oregonlandtrusts.org). If you would like to show your support for OAHP in another way, please take two minutes to complete this OAHP Advocacy Options form.

Read our talking points about the OAHP

History of OAHP

September 19, 2017: Governor Brown signed into law the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program. Pictured from left to right are Jerome Rosa of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Kelley Beamer of the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts, Meta Loftsgaarden of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest, Representative Brian Clem, Governor Kate Brown, Mary Anne Cooper of the Oregon Farm Bureau, Representative Brad Witt, Governor Brown’s Natural Resource Advisors Jason Miner and Laurie Aunan, and Jim Desmond of The Nature Conservancy. These organizations all worked together to pass the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program.

 

July 7, 2017: The Oregon House and Senate passed HB 3249 creating the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, the state’s first voluntary farm and natural resource conservation program.

Oregon’s rich agricultural heritage and diverse farm and ranch lands have drawn people to the state for more than 150 years. These “working lands” are the cornerstone

The Oregon Working Lands Database provided key data that informed the development of the OAHP

of the state’s rural communities and provide myriad benefits to the natural environment. More than one quarter of Oregon’s 63 million acres are private working lands that create agricultural production valued at $5.4 billion—the state’s second-largest economic driver.  At the same time, well managed agricultural lands support valuable fish and wildlife habitat as well as enhancing other natural resources.

For forty years, Oregon’s unique land use system has helped protect working landscapes. Even with a strong economic position and state protections, farms and ranch productivity is increasingly challenged by rising production costs, loss of processing facilities, fragmentation through new land uses, conversion to non-farm uses, complex regulations, and planning for generational transfers.

Governor Brown’s office convened a group of landowners, conservation and agricultural organizations and agencies to work with landowners, tribal governments, agencies and interested organizations to identify voluntary tools to help landowners maintain working farms and ranches while providing incentives and support for conservation benefits on those lands.  The result of this effort was the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program (OAHP).

C2 Cattle Ranch in Jackson County, protected with a conservation easement by the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy

Woody Wolfe (left) speaks with elected officials and partners on his farm, which is protected with a conservation easement held by Wallowa Land Trust.

Who developed the OAHP?
The Governor’s office convened a work group with representatives from a diverse coalition of agricultural and conservation organizations to develop a synergistic suite of programs to address both farm and ranch succession and land preservation. The work group consisted of:

 

 

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