Land use in Oregon
For more than 40 years, Oregon has maintained a strong policy to protect farmland. This policy was adopted by the state legislature in 1973:
- Open land used for agriculture is a vital natural and economic asset for all the people of the state.
- Preservation of a maximum amount of agricultural land, in large blocks, is necessary to maintain the agricultural economy of the state and for the assurance of adequate, healthful, and nutritious food.
- Expansion of urban development in rural areas is a public concern because of the conflicts between farm and urban activities.
- Incentives and privileges are justified to owners of land in exclusive farm use zones because such zoning substantially limits alternatives to the use of rural lands (ORS 215.243).
Oregon's Statewide Planning Program has carried out the policy over the years and has effectively slowed the loss of farmland in Oregon.
Right to farm
Legislation adopted in 1993 and updated in 1995 and 2001, declares farm and forest practices as critical to the welfare of the Oregon economy, and establishes a right to farm law. This law protects growers from court decisions based on customary noises, smells, dust, or other nuisances associated with farming. It also limits local governments, and special districts from administratively declaring certain farm and forest products to be nuisances or trespasses (ORS 30.930).
With the average age of a farmer in Oregon edging toward 60, as many as 10.45 million acres (or 64%) of Oregon farm and ranch land is expected to change hands in the next 20 years. It is often much more difficult and expensive to administer a farm estate that has not created a succession plan. The expense and stress of an unplanned estate often causes heirs to sell farmland and other assets to pay for attorney's fees. Without a succession plan, land and farm business might not pass in the way the farmer intended.
It can take years to create a good plan for your exit from farming and for the future of your estate. The earlier one starts, the more likely the outcome will be better for your loved ones. Resources exist for farmers and ranchers looking to plan for succession, helping to leave a viable farm business to the next generation and a legacy of farmland.