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SEDCOR Hosts Second Annual Ag Breakfast

Thursday, April 2, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Elizabeth Peters
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Nearly 150 agriculture producers from across Marion and Polk County gathered in the new Mt. Angel Festhalle for the Second Annual Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR) Ag Breakfast in February. Title Sponsor for the Event was AKT Agribusiness.


The event was created to address the changes and coming needs of the Mid- Willamette Valley agriculture industry. “From the field to processing, shipping and distribution, suppliers and service companies, agriculture is an economic powerhouse for our region,” said Chad Freeman, SEDCOR President. “It’s the second-largest industry in Oregon—accounting for 15 percent of the state’s economic activity—and the largest industry in Marion County.


Passing the agriculture business to the next generation was the focus of this year’s gathering. Featured speaker was Dr. Sherri Noxel, Director of the Oregon State University Austin Family Business Program. Dr. Noxel designs programs for Oregon’s multigenerational businesses. The aging ownership of farms is a significant problem, both locally and nationally. “The average age of the farm owner is almost 60 years,” said Noxel. “In 1970 the average farm owner was 50. For every young family farm owner in Oregon there are three senior farmers.”


 “Oregon’s agricultural acreage has reduced 20 percent since the 1950’s,” said Theresa Haskins, SEDCOR Board Chair. “That’s more than 4.6 million acres out of production. Reasons for that include urban growth, higher productivity in farming methods, and changes in the family farm.” “We’re here today to talk about how we can sustain our critical agriculture industry by passing the torch to the next generation of leaders,” said Haskins.


Noxel reported that farm ownership by families – including partnerships and corporations that are under family control – is estimated at 90 percent, particularly in row crops such as wheat. Her primary focus was on the importance of open and honest communication, and preparing a succession plan with all of the family members. “Clarify and understand the way that family business owners manage and define the three primary roles they have in this large and complex family business,” Noxel said. “If you think of the family business as a system you have three roles, first is your family role--parent, sibling, child. Second you are a business leader, a president or senior manager. And third you are a shareholder. Each one of those roles has different, and sometimes conflicting, responsibilities.”


SEDCOR plans to hold an Ag Breakfast each year. “Changing markets, changes in consumer preferences, and changes in ownership will continue to change the composition and appearance of the sector,” said Freeman. “But agriculture will play an important role in the region’s future economy, and we intend to do all that we can to support this vital industry.”

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