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Sustainability in Oregon agriculture

Introduction

Wahl ranch in Curry County  
Oregon’s agricultural producers have shown a commitment to sustainability in many ways.  Producers are enhancing wildlife habitat on their lands, restoring streamside areas, using energy efficiently, and protecting water quality.  Many agricultural businesses have instituted programs to increase job satisfaction, safety, and health among their workers. Farmers and ranchers are also diversifying the products they produce, marketing ecosystem services, employing land use protection tools, and using succession planning to help ensure economic sustainability within their operations.

As consumer demand for sustainably produced products grows, many agricultural producers and organizations are working to better document their sustainable practices.  This is happening through producers’ marketing efforts, industry-led certification and sustainability programs, and a variety of third-party sustainability certifications.

This Web site provides information about agricultural producer and industry-led sustainability efforts, as well as ODA's work in the sustainability arena.  It also includes information for producers who are interested in learning more about sustainability topics and certification programs. 

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Common elements of sustainability programs

Streamside planting project  
  • Soil and water conservation
  • Fish and wildlife habitat
  • Worker health and safety
  • Animal health and welfare
  • Energy intensity

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Industry-led sustainability programs

Winery in Yamhill County, Oregon  
  • Carbon Reduction Challenge - www.crchallenge.org. The Carbon Reduction Challenge seeks to enlist and inspire businesses to measure and progressively reduce greenhouse gases through a commitment to transparent and verifiable certification in partnership with the Oregon Wine Board, Oregon Environmental Council and Low Input Viticulture and Enology.
  • Oregon certified sustainable wine. In partnership with certification agencies throughout the state, the Oregon Wine Board has created a unifying platform and certification logo to help consumers easily identify and purchase sustainable wines.  The goal of Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) is to communicate these practices in an understandable manner, highlight shared principles among the various certification philosophies and forge relationships with consumers who make environmental awareness or action a priority.
  • Northwest sustainable dairies.  The Dairy Farmers of Oregon and Washington State Dairy Federation have collaborated to establish the Northwest Sustainable Dairies program.  The program describes the regulations that Oregon and Washington dairies are required to follow under state and federal laws, as well as recommended sustainable practices for dairies in the two states.
  • Nursery sustainability initiative. Oregon Association of Nurseries has launched an initiative to establish sustainability goals for Oregon's nursery and greenhouse industry. 
  • Climate friendly nurseries.  Oregon Association of Nurseries, Oregon Environmental Council, and Oregon State University are partnering with consulting firm Ecos Consulting and several of Oregon’s nurseries to inventory nursery greenhouse gas emissions and identify strategies that can reduce emissions.
  • Christmas tree certification programs.  Oregon State University, funded in part through a Specialty Crop Grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, is working to establish sustainability certification standards for the Christmas tree industry in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Northwest Food Processors Association (NWFPA) Energy Efficiency Program. NWFPA became the first organization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Energy documenting both parties' commitment to achieve energy efficiency goals.

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Oregon Department of Agriculture sustainability programs

A variety of ODA programs support sustainability in agriculture, including environmental and economic sustainability.
  • Commodity Inspection Programs conduct independent, third-party audits for producers and processors for a variety of certifications, including sustainable certification programs.
  • The Agricultural Marketing Program promotes Oregon agriculture’s sustainability efforts to local, regional, and national and international customers.
  • Pesticides and Fertilizer Programs work to ensure pesticides are applied safely and legally, and license fertilizer products sold in Oregon.
  • The Natural Resources Program Area works with agricultural producers to protect water quality, keep farmland and rangeland in agricultural use, and support Oregon’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
  • The Plant Program Area works to identify invasive species, including invasive plants, plant pests, and diseases, and prevent or eradicate invasive species in Oregon.
  • The Animal Health Program works with livestock producers to identify and prevent livestock diseases. 
  • The Measurement Standards Program implements Oregon's renewable fuel standards for ethanol and biodiesel.
  • The Food Safety Program helps farmers and food businesses meet food safety standards and protect public health.
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