OWA Members Oppose Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage: Jana’s Story

Posted on: January 14th, 2016

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes raising Oregon’s minimum wage. OWA members share the reasons why they are personally opposed to raising Oregon’s minimum wage.  Oregon Rancher & OWA member Jana Kittredge submitted the below testimony to the Oregon Legislature in opposition. 

Dear Senator Whitsett,

We would like to share the impacts that a minimum wage increase would have on our family’s farming operation.

In agriculture, our prices are primarily set at a commodity rate on national and international levels. Farmers are considered price takers and generally cannot increase the cost of our products to make up for increased production costs. We also operate on very thin margins. As you are aware, Oregon already has the third highest state minimum wage in the nation. Any proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage higher, would increase rates provided by suppliers and service companies and add significant costs to our operation.

A minimum wage increase would also affect my entire payroll. I must compete with other states and countries that typically have fewer expenses to farm than we do in Oregon. A minimum wage increase would impact our ability to compete effectively in the market and reduce the viability of my family’s farm.

I am concerned that increasing the minimum wage will change how farmers farm in Oregon. Oregon is known for its numerous and diverse commodities, including wine grapes, cattle, tree fruit, nursery products, and blueberries. Many of these crops have significant labor requirements during the critical times of harvest and shipping. If the state adopts a higher minimum wage, it will likely see accelerated mechanization of Oregon agriculture and farms moving away from hand harvested crops.

An increased minimum wage would hurt my family’s business and could reduce the number of jobs provided by small and mid-sized employers who are unable to absorb higher labor costs. I ask you to oppose a state minimum wage increase and support small businesses and family farmers in your district.

Please take our comments seriously! If Oregon’s big cities want an increase in minimum wage, let them be responsible for the economic hardships this will bring. Leave Oregon employers out of it! This is an unfair law and ruling when we are all having troubles making ends meet, especially those of us farming and ranching in Oregon. As our letter states, we cannot control the markets, minimum wage at $9.25/hr is fair! Generally, we will pay more to those who have better experience and make money for our operation (efficiency, knowledge, etc.) Increasing Oregon’s minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs!

Sincerely,

Scott and Jana Kittredge
Kittredge Ranch II
Fort Rock, Oregon

Fort Rock Winter

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