Land-Poor, Cash-Poor

Farmers often have been land-rich and cash-poor. Today, the downturn in the real estate market has made Oregon farmers both land-poor and cash-poor; and they are feeling the pinch of what that truly means.

Besides the downturn in the real estate market, the banking crisis also has limited farming operations’ access to financing. For example, pear packers in southern Oregon currently cannot finance operational expenses through traditional means. To address this problem, they want lands they own near the Urban Growth Boundary to be rezoned as residential. Then the land either can be sold at a higher price, or the added development rights will allow the bank to value the land higher as collateral. Grass seed growers in the Willamette Valley also face this problem. Most of last year’s crop sits unsold in storage sheds, and grass seed farmers don’t have the cash to buy seed and other inputs to plant the coming year’s crop.

Most Oregonians believe land use laws in Oregon are designed to protect agriculture. Unfortunately, these laws stifle agriculture’s ability to survive downturns in the market. In other states, farmers can finance their operation using land as collateral with higher valued development rights; and if needed, they can sell a couple acres to survive troubled times. In Oregon, that isn’t an option.

Karla Kay Edwards is Rural Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute. She has held positions of leadership in numerous organizations focusing on agricultural and rural industries and issues, including the Fresno (California) Farm Bureau, Washington Cattlemen’s Association and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 30 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    You do point to a travesty inflicted on farmers by local and state government. The holier than thou city of

    Portland has effectively confiscated metro area farmland, restricting it to supplying only the most

    expensive of locally grown “organic” produce. In the city of Portland, land of utopian lunancy, it’s o.k. to

    mandate ethanol made from corn shipped thousands of miles to a Northwest ethanol refinery, but produce

    must be grown locally by a peasent made class of farmers.

    Current leaders of Oregon, Portland cityhall, and Multnomah County are too messed up to understand

    ricardian economics. Global specialization is a vital underpinning of modern day economic prosperity.

    Economic growth is the only real way to steadily expand government services. Therefore, if government

    wants to expand public services, current regulation and central planning bureaucracy must be loosened

    so markets can find the highest value use of local and state resources.

  • Brodhead For Congress

    As part of my platform , I will submit a bill that eliminates inheritance tax on Farm Land and Small business.

  • Marie

    Although I do agree with you about Oregon Land Use laws being too restrictive, however your make a poor argument for it. Re-zoning farm ground to be residential or commercial ground will not help the farmer get more money or if it does that’s a temporary fix to a bigger problem. Certain agriculture lending institutions have strict polices on lending on land in “transition” and loans made in high development areas are heavily scrutinized. If the farmer can’t get financing currently what problem our we solving by lending them more money and adding to their debt? Yes, their land has value however a lender needs to be able to see the repayment before extending further credit. Yes they can sale their land for the repayment but I know of many example of farm ground that had a high value you on it becuase it was in a development area and in these current economic times the farm ground value has gone back to “farm ground” price….i.e. the teton basin. Many economists and industry folk don’t see big development times happening again for a while. So what value are they really adding?

    So while I agree with you that Oregon’s Land Use laws suck and yes I do agree in some ways that they are hurting the farmer but I disagree with this arguement.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty funny. BlueOregon’s Carla is advocating that’s it’s better for farmers if they have no UGB or Urban Reserves.

  • Jack

    Boycott anything ORGANIC and also Free Range Chickens.

    • valley p

      Why not just inject pesticides and hormones directly into your veins and make a real point of it?

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