As part of the Pride in Agriculture series, today we’ll hear from Kirk Maag (he/him), who lives in Portland, Oregon where he is an agriculture and timber attorney. Kirk also serves as a board member for the Oregon FFA Foundation and Cultivating Change Foundation. You can connect with Kirk on Facebook and LinkedIn.
How are you involved in the agriculture community?
I grew up working alongside my parents and grandparents on a family farm and feedlot in eastern Oregon. I was very involved in 4-H and FFA growing up. After high school, I took a gap year and served as an Oregon FFA State Officer prior to enrolling at Oregon State University majoring in Environmental Economics, Policy, and Management. Under the mentorship of Dr. Fred Obermiller, I developed a passion for environmental and natural resources law and policy, which motivated me to attend law school.
I attended law school at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, before returning to the west coast. I first worked for a year as a law clerk to Judge Carlos Bea on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, then started my career in private practice at Stoel Rives LLP where I’ve been since 2010.
I’m fortunate to represent clients in the agriculture and timber industries, helping clients navigate complex regulations and buy, sell, and operate farmland and forestland. It’s an incredibly satisfying career.
Why are you proud to be part of the agriculture community?
The agriculture industry produces the food and fiber needed to keep us fed and clothed. The industry continues to innovate to feed, clothe, and shelter a growing world population.
In terms of the people, I’ve found my closest friendships with people in the agriculture community–people who share a common affinity for the agriculture industry and rural communities.
How have you felt or seen support for LGBTQ+ in the agriculture community?
I have been on the Board of Directors for the Cultivating Change Foundation since its founding. The Foundation’s mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ+ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community. This work has been incredibly rewarding because I’ve seen the Oregon agriculture community come together to show support for LGBTQ+ agriculturists and make us feel seen and welcome.
We still have work to do to ensure that every young person who is passionate about agriculture knows there is a place for them in the agriculture industry regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ members of the agriculture community?
Find opportunities to build community with other LGBTQ+ agriculturists or members of other underrepresented groups. Cultivate community with allies. Share your story with people.
What can people in the larger agriculture community do to be strong allies of LGBTQ+?
Show up to events designed to value and elevate individuals from underrepresented groups in the agriculture industry. You might not have a specific opportunity to attend an LGBTQ+-focused event in your community, but there are opportunities to show your support for making agriculture more inclusive.
Is there anything else you’d like to share during June Pride Month?
I’m excited for the return of the Cultivating Change Summit coming up in DC on October 2-4!
The Pride in Agriculture series highlights voices from LGBTQ+ people and allies in agriculture to feature the diversity and leadership within our industry who work to make our community a better place for everyone. To have your LGBTQ+ or Ally story featured, contact Ryan Goodman here.
Consider making a contribution this month to the Cultivating Change Foundation, whose mission is to value and elevate LGBTQ+ agriculturists through advocacy, education, and community.