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Should industrial ag be rewarded for attacking small farmers?

Should industrial ag be rewarded for attacking small farmers?

Last year, the Oregon Department of Agriculture changed their classification of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to include farms which had 3 whole goats – so long as they went inside for any amount of time. Milking would count, keeping out of the snow would count, and these small producers would have to expend time and money to meet a set of compliance standards created to manage large-scale operations.

January 2023, this surprise decision was announced in a committee meeting after members of the “dairy industry” voiced concerns. Excluding small farms from CAFO classification was said to be unfair competition against massive industrial farms.

That’s pretty lame. To the ODA’s credit, they quickly rolled back this decision after a lawsuit was filed by two farms in Oregon. The case will continue, but it seems clear this action by the state shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Outrage flowed through social media. Some time later, Friends of Family Farms made a post clarifying that the CAFO and SB 85 were not related. SB 85 was a senate bill that succeeded in blocking Foster Farms from their plan to produce millions of chickens per year around Scio, Oregon, against local pushback.

Confusion appears to have stemmed from videos on social media which blurred the two unrelated situations together, speaking in a general skepticism of any regulation by the state. Homesteads, hobby farms, and other cottage industry food producers were under pressure from the state, because big farms tattled baselessly on small farms, and some amount of the public response was employed to pull against the regulation of big farms in another sector.

SB 85 passed, so it didn’t work. It’s possible this hype was all just the standard meandering skepticism of government and regulation that is commonplace on the Internet. If this was a conscious effort to appropriate unrelated outrage for their undue cause, I think it’s an interesting strategy to look out for in the future.

I don’t know exactly how massive food production outfits found a way to side-car with the cause of supporting the cottage industry and independent small-scale farming operations. It seems like a particularly seedy grift, implying “hey, the gov is mean to us too. let’s be on the same side…”

No. That’s not in the cards so long as industrial ag continues to be the primary source of opposition to independent agriculture – and access to raw milk. Large food processing facilities are under-regulated.

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