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Jefferson County

Land-Use FAQ’s

Jefferson County was created in 1914, and was named after Mount Jefferson, the second highest peak in Oregon with an elevation of 10,497 feet, which marks the County’s western skyline.

The HDFFA provides educational information for agricultural producers to make choices that benefit their viability. Below are frequently asked questions about farmland in Jefferson County.  Note that these are only recommendations updated 3/21/12.

Frequently Asked Questions: Click on the following FAQ’s to read the answers.

What if my parcel doesn't qualify as a farm but I still want to live and farm on it?

There are a couple of ways to get a non-farm dwelling on EFU that doesn’t qualify as a farm because it is too small, has limited water, or has poor soils.  All three of these require you obtain a Conditional Use Permit from the County.

Can I divide my farm land?

There are ways to partition (divide a parcel into three or fewer parcels) farm land (zoned EFU) in Jefferson County – however, subdivisions (divide a parcel into more than three parcels) are not allowed.  There are two basic types of land partitions possible for farm ground (zoned EFU) in Jefferson County.

  1. Farm land division
  2. Nonfarm land division

1.   Farm Land Division

A farm land division is subject to the minimum parcel size requirement of the applicable farm zones.  In other words, if your parcel is in the EFU A-1 or A-2 zone,, you would need to have a minimum of 80 acres of land for each new farm parcel.  In the RL zone, you would need a minimum of 160 acres for each new parcel.

2.   Non-farm Land Division

In the EFU A-1 zone, if the original or parent parcel was created before July 1, 2001, one or two new nonfarm parcels may be divided off the parent parcel – as long as the parent parcel retains the minimum acreage of irrigation required in the subzone.  There is no minimum lot size for the new nonfarm parcel, but you will need to show that the new parcel is located on a part of the parcel that’s not suitable for farming because of slope or poor soils.

You will need to follow the standard steps for a new house on either a farm or non-farm parcel.

Can I have a second house where a relative who helps on the farm can live?

You can have a relative farm assistance dwelling on your farm if:

  • The parcel is used as a farm
  • The dwelling is located on the same parcel as the main farmer’s dwelling, and is occupied by a relative of the farmer or farmer’s spouse who assists the farmer.

Can I have a house on my farm land?

There are four ways to get a Farm Dwelling in Jefferson County:

  1. Large Tract Dwelling:  Your parcel has the minimum number of acres for its zone (EFU A-1 or A-2 = 160; RL = 320) and is currently being farmed.  If you don’t know your zone, you will need to check with Jefferson County planning department or the tax assessor’s office.  Your address should be enough for them to tell you your zone.
  2. Income Test: Your parcel is currently in farm use and is  making at least $40,000 in gross annual sales on land not identified as high value* or $80,000 on land that is identified as high value owned land, not leased or rented).  Non-contiguous lots can be used to determine the gross annual sales.
  3. Median Test  Your parcel is as least as large as the median size of commercial farm or ranches capable of generating at least $10,000 in gross annual sales within a study area of one mile)
  4. Relocated Farm Test:  Within the last two years, you owned and operated a farm that met the Income Test, and your new parcel meets the minimum lot size for your zone

In addition to meeting one of the tests, the house must be occupied by those who are farming the land; and there can’t be any other dwellings on the parcel (unless you get approval for an accessory dwelling or a relative farm assistance dwelling, as described below). The County must review an application to be sure that you’ve passed one of the tests, and there is an application fee.

*See state statute ORS 215.710.   High-value farm land is in a tract composed predominantly of soils that are classified as prime, unique, Class I or Class II.   Your soil classification can be obtained from the National Resources Conservation Service office (www.nrcs.usda.gov). Outside of the Willamette Valley, high value farmland includes tracts growing perennials for market or research purposes including, but not limited to, nursery stock, berries, fruits, nuts, Christmas trees or vineyards but not including seed crops, hay, pasture or alfalfa.

I need help, can I hire farm workers?

You can have an accessory dwelling for farm help if your property is classified as a farm (see above), and if the accessory dwelling will be:

  • Occupied by persons who are mainly engaged in the farming use of the parcel, and whose seasonal or year-round help is required by the main farmer;
  • Located on the same parcel as the main farm dwelling

What can I sell on my farm stand?

Farm crops and livestock grown on the farm, fresh or processed, but not ready prepared items.

  • Examples of items allowed= jams, syrups, apple cider in sealed container
  • Examples of prepared items not allowed= baked goods, drinks by the glass

Farm crops and livestock grown on any other farm in Oregon, fresh or processed, but not ready prepared.

Retail incidental items and fee-based activities used to promote sales.

  • Examples of retail incidental items= anything not produced on the farm or neighboring farm, such as candles, towels, cooking utensils, etc.
  • Examples of fee-based promotional activities= hay rides

What are the limitations of my farm stand?

  • Annual sales of incidental items and fee-based activities must be ≤ 25% of total annual sales for the farm stand.
  • The farm stand cannot be used as a place of residency, for banquets, or for special events such as public gatherings or public entertainment.

Structurally, the farm stand should be designed for the sale of crops and livestock only.

What else should I know?

Make sure you are up to date with Oregon Department of Agriculture codes, Department of Quality, and signage rules.

Can I have a processing facility?

You may have a facility to process farm crops (not animals)if:

  • It is located on a farm (as designated by Jefferson County) and
  • The farm provides at least ¼ of the crops process at the facility and
  • The processing facility does not exceed 10,000 square feet of floor area within an existing or new building.  Any additional floor area must be designated for other activities and
  • It complies with all applicable siting standards, standards may not be applied to prohibit the siting of the facility.

Things to keep in mind when considering a processing facility:

  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture is in charge of monitoring, licensing, and inspecting the facility. They are an excellent first resource to explain compliance with health and safety standards.
  • Adequate water and sewer must be available as well as proper sanitation for workers.  The Department of Environmental Quality or the County will determine your compliance.
  • Area – floors, walls, equipment must be easily cleaned and made out of specific materials
  • Access to pets, children, casual visitors, rodents must be controlled

Is my property considered a winery?

If you produce less than 50,000 gallons of wine per year, your property may be considered a winery if;

  • You have at least 15 acres of onsite vineyard and/or
  • You have at least 15 acres of vineyard on an adjacent property and/or
  • You have a long-term contract guaranteeing you the purchase of all grapes from at least 15 acres on an adjacent property.
  • The 15-acre minimum may be achieved by any combination of the acceptable properties.

If you produce at least 50,000 and no more than 100,000 gallons of wine per year, your property may be considered a winery if;

  • You have at least 40 acres of onsite vineyard and/or
  • You have at least 40 acres of vineyard on an adjacent property and/or
  • You have a long-term contract guaranteeing you the purchase of all grapes from an adjacent property (at least 40 acres).

You may be considered a winery if you obtain grapes from any combination of the three previously mentioned qualifications.

** You must be able to show (have proof) that the qualifying acreage of vineyard has been planted, or that a contract has been executed.

What can I sell at my winery?

  • Wine produced in conjunction with the winery
  • Incidental items directly related to the sale of wine. (Examples include: corkscrews, wine glasses, cookbooks)
  • Food items as a limited service restaurant.  “Limited service” includes selling individually portioned, prepackaged items distributed by a commercial distributor and nonperishable beverages.
  • Approval is subject to limiting winery to the sale of these items.

Can I locate the winery anywhere on my property?

  • Two conditions must be followed in order to avoid demonstrated conflicts with farming or forest practices on adjacent lands,
    • A 100 foot setback from all property lines.  This includes the winery building as well as public gathering places.
    • The winery must have direct road access as well as adequate circulation and parking.