The preservation of farmland makes little sense unless that land is productive. Farmland cannot simply be set aside as empty space; rather, it must be a vital and balanced part of Oregon's economy, for decades and centuries. Where there are rising fuel prices, the costs of food will also rise, and even more so when that food comes from far away. And with the advent of the era of global warming, uncertainty abounds for the long term.

All of these factors and many more incline Friends of French Prairie to promote sustainable agriculture. "Sustainable" is today's term for any venture that can survive in more or less its present form across the years. To be sustainable, farming must produce healthful and affordable local food, protect the soil and environment, and pay the bills. This page, therefore serves as a gateway to sustainable agriculture.

The material found here is intended to provide an overview of the subject, define its relevance for French Prairie, and educate the reader.

Click on the links below to go to the individual section treating the issue.

Major Topics Described on this page:

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals--environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. A variety of philosophies, policies and practices have contributed to these goals. People in many different capacities, from farmers to consumers, have shared this vision and contributed to it. Despite the diversity of people and perspectives, the following themes commonly weave through definitions of sustainable agriculture.

Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance. Stewardship of human resources includes consideration of social responsibilities such as working and living conditions of laborers, the needs of rural communities, and consumer health and safety both in the present and the future. Stewardship of land and natural resources involves maintaining or enhancing this vital resource base for the long term by stewarding the food production resource base for the use of future generations.

A systems perspective is essential to understanding sustainability. The system is envisioned in its broadest sense, from the individual farm, to the local ecosystem, and to communities affected by this farming system both locally and globally. An emphasis on the system allows a larger and more thorough view of the consequences of farming practices on both human communities and the environment. A systems approach gives us the tools to explore the interconnections between farming and other aspects of our environment.
A systems approach also implies interdisciplinary efforts in research and education. This requires not only the input of researchers from various disciplines, but also farmers, farmworkers, consumers, policymakers and others.

Making the transition to sustainable agriculture is a process. For farmers, the transition to sustainable agriculture normally requires a series of small, realistic steps. Family economics and personal goals influence how fast or how far participants can go in the transition. It is important to realize that each small decision can make a difference and contribute to advancing the entire system further on the "sustainable agriculture continuum." The key to moving forward is the will to take the next step.

Finally, it is important to point out that reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system, including farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers, and consumers. Each group has its own part to play, its own unique contribution to make to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community.

Excertped from: University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program.  Download the entire paper in PDF here, or visit the UC Davis web site.


Sustainable Agriculture Presentation

View a presentation entitled “What is Sustainable Agriculture? Why is it important?” by Nick Andrews, Small Farms Extension Agent at the North Willamette Research & Extension Center (OSU). Download the PDF here.


Great and Growing: a report from 1000 Friends of Oregon

1000 Friends of Oregon released a major report on Oregon's agriculture industry in December, 2013. Entitled Great & Growing: People and Jobs in Oregon's Agri-Cluster, the report aggregates and shares key information about employment, exports, and community impacts of Oregon agriculture. This report is must reading for those interested in and supportive of Oregon agriculture, and certainly should be of interest to all those curious about the size and importance of agriculture as an economic sector in the State’s economy. Download Great & Growing in PDF here.


House Bill 2427 was signed by Governor Kitzhaber on August 14, 2013

Defines Willamette Valley Protected District

After a nearly two years of grass roots effort (frequently led by Friends of Family Farmers) and legal action (led by the vegetable seed and fresh vegetable industries), and finally legislative action (a House Bill also passed by the Senate), the Governor signed the bill which defines the Willamette Valley protected district.

The bill imposes a temporary limitation on amount and purpose of canola production within protected district. Makes violation subject to civil penalty, not to exceed $25,000. Applies to canola planted on or after effective date of Act and before January 2, 2019. Requires Oregon State University to conduct study of canola to determine compatibility of canola production and other crop production within protected district. Imposes conditions on growing of canola for study purposes. Prescribes certain content for inclusion in report of study results. Requires university to report study results to interim committee of Legislative Assembly no later than November 1, 2017. Requires university to continue monitoring of study area to extent practicable for five years after completion of study. Appropriates money for 2013-2015 biennium for carrying out study and post-study monitoring.


Growing Canola in the Willamette Valley

A new problem appearing in the Willamette is the growing of canola for seed intended to crush for oil. Oregon Department of Agriculture is scheduled to issue a Temporary Administrative Rule on August 10 to allow canola to be grown on 480,000 acres in the Willamette Valley. What's wrong with growing canola? Once canola is in the ground, it is nearly impossible to keep it from cross-pollinating with similar brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, etc), becoming a noxious weed, and bringing large amounts of pests to the area. This happens due to weather (wind, storms), animals (bees, birds, beetles), and as transportation vehicles travel through even protected areas. Cross contamination of crops can be ruinous to Oregon's specialty seed industry -known around the world for producing excellent quality seeds – and for organically certified farmers since current USDA Organic guidelines do not allow for genetically engineered material. A number of domestic and international seed purchasers have already made statements saying they will no longer purchase seeds from Oregon producers if the Willamette Valley is opened up for canola production.

FOFP opposes the decision to allow the growing of canola in the Willamette Valley due to its potential to drastically and negatively impact both the fresh vegetable and seed crop industry—compounded by the invasive nature of the plant. You can voice your opposition by signing the petition to be sent to Oregon Department of Agriculture in opposition to this decision, by visiting the Friends of Family Farmers petition page at: Canola Petition

Read the full details in the Capital Press and Oregonian articles posted in Media Articles below, or on the Friends of Family Farmers page at: Canola in the valley


Sustainable Agriculture in French Prairie

FOFP supports sustainable agriculture as an approach that moves away from monoculture crops raised thousands of miles away, addresses the high transportation costs associated with monoculture, encourages good land stewardship, helps preserve agricultural lands near metro areas, and helps local farmers prosper.

The farmers and growers in the French Prairie Branding Program practice conventional and/or organic farming practices consistent with the ethos of sustainable agriculture. The result is a wide variety of food products grown locally (see French Prairie Brand page for farm details). Some are certified Century Farms, some new, small farming ventures. All are committed to good farming practices that make the most out of the high quality soil found in French Prairie.

White Papers & Media Articles on the subject

Local subjects (i.e. French Prairie, Oregon, Northwest, etc.)

Capital Press Transitioning farm always a challenge (from Associated Press)
December 13, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Oregon ag an economic powerhouse
December 4, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Canola bill goes to the Governor
July 5, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press ODA expands canola acreage in Willamette Valley
February 15, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press New canola rule under fire in legislature
February 15, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Oregon's Agricultural Progress Canola in the Valley
Winter 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Hearing brings out both sides of canola controversy
January 24, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Lawmakers propose canola ban
January 25, 2013
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Canola comment period extended
October 19, 2012
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian No canola this fall: Oregon Court of Appeals halts attempt to expand planting acres
August 31, 2012
[Download PDF here]
  Oregon Court of Appeals Order: ODA Temporary Ruling to expand canola growing area
August 31, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press 100 years later this farm's still growing hops
August 27, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Organic hop acres rising as Jan 1 deadline nears
August 27, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Final Ruling on canola stay expected soon
August 22, 2012
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Oregon Appeals Court halts canola rules after farm groups say they would cause irreparable harm
August 18, 2012
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Canola growing area expands, introducing a seed nightmare into the Willamette Valley
August 14, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press ODA Opens More Areas for Canola
August 10, 2012
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Oregon defines acreage where controversial canola can be grown
August 7, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Dairy profits on pampered cows
Feb. 10, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Brothers struggle in suddenly acidic soil
Feb. 24, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Exhibit unearths mysteries of soil
Feb. 24, 2012
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Hazelnuts lure grass seed growers
Feb. 24, 2012
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Farmers search for alternatives to grass seed
August 13, 2011
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Couple Engineers a natural farm
May 27, 2010
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Willamette Basin's stream health in jeopardy
Oct 20, 2009
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Canola good for biofuels, bad for other crops
Sept 1, 2009
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Oil seed for bio-fuels
August 28, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Meat producers feed demand for home deliveries
July 3, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press US must cultivate young farmers
February 13, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Service separates distributor from competition
February 12, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Ag needs to be a priority
February 12, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Farmers giving up field after field
January 26, 2009
[Download PDF here]
California drought may mean costlier groceries
January 26, 2009
[Download PDF here]
Drought Losses pass a quarter of a billion dollars
September 8, 2008
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Plowing a middle ground on farms: Ag and development interests square off
December 12, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Best of both worlds unite: organic no-till can save time, fuel and other input costs
December 12, 2008
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian It Could Happen To Our Food Supply
December 5, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Distributors Offer Growers Tips on Marketing Produce
November 28, 2008
[Download PDF here]
ODA - Oregon Agriculture Production 2008
November 27, 2008
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Oregon Agriculture: A Success Story Worth Protecting
October 7, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Slow Food Nation talks food policy
September 5, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Dairyman touts organics
September 5, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press ODA Mulls Sustainable Certification
August 22, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Virtual Marketplace Goes Online
August 22, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Oregon at a Crossroads: Saving French Prairie
August 15, 2008
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian Top Crops (in Oregon)
August 9, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Capital Press Community Supported Agriculture's get their participant's share
August 8, 2008
[Download PDF here]
The Oregonian A Shipping Case In Point: the blueberries’ trek
August 8, 2008
[Download PDF here]

National, Global level subjects

The new face of hunger: Briefings
April 17, 2008
[Download PDF here]
Food Prices--Cheap no more: Opinion
December 6, 2007
[Download PDF here]

Relevant and Helpful Links on the Subject

localharvest.org A national web site for locally grown food that allows you to search by Zip code for Farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Farmer’s Markets, Restaurants, Grocery/Co-ops, and much more.
cascadeharvest.org Cascade Harvest Coalition is a non-profit organization dedicated to “re-localizing” the food system in Washington State by more directly connecting consumers and producers.
ecotrust.org Ecotrust is a conservation organization committed to strengthening communities and the environment from Alaska to California.
sarep.ucdavis.edu University of California at Davis - Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
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