Oregonians love this state’s farmland.
Whether we live in cities, small towns, or rural areas, we appreciate its beauty and the bounty it brings to our tables. That is a key reason a full two-thirds of Oregonians—from every corner of the state—believe farmland should be protected from incompatible sprawl.
But farmland means far more to Oregon than beautiful vistas or even delicious food. Oregon’s farmland is an economic engine for the whole state. Farmland creates, protects, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in cities and rural areas alike.
Great & Growing, a new report from 1000 Friends of Oregon, is an exploration of Oregon agriculture and its related industries, which together we call the “agri-cluster.” The agri-cluster contributes a great deal to Oregon’s economy and quality of life on a statewide basis and at the local level.
In this report, we chronicle these impacts and visit four counties that directly depend on agriculture. As you read it, we hope you learn more about Oregon agriculture and are inspired to help defend our farmland and grow its positive impact for Oregon.
Oregon’s agricultural strength extends to all corners of the state.
From the dairies of Tillamook County to the ranches of Malheur County, Jackson County orchards to the seed industry in Jefferson County and the vineyards of Yamhill County, our whole state hums with the industry of agriculture. Even urban counties are major farming centers; in fact, five of Oregon’s top ten farming counties are considered urban.
Urban and rural jobs depend on agriculture.
Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians have a job thanks in part to agriculture. Most of them do not work directly in Oregon’s fields and ranches, but in supportive industries like suppliers, processors, distributors, and retail across Oregon’s agri-cluster. These jobs are especially important in rural communities, but they also matter in Oregon’s urban counties. These jobs are surprisingly stable, even in our recent recession, and most can’t be easily outsourced to other states and nations.
Oregon’s agriculture industry, the state’s second-largest, is traded-sector.
This means that a large percentage of its economic activity comes from out-of-state domestic and foreign sources. With as much as 80 percent of our produce leaving Oregon, this adds up to several billion dollars of new money entering the state.
State and local leaders should continue working to grow Oregon's agri-cluster.
Opportunities to grow the agri-cluster include stronger protections for farmland, modernizing infrastructure like irrigation systems and rural roads, educating new farmers, and improving local connections for Oregon farmers.
Read the Report
Download the Report
Help These Impacts Grow
If you appreciate Oregon farmland and all it does for our state's economy, you can help protect it. Here are some simple things you can do:
- Become a member of 1000 Friends of Oregon. Our members drive our work to prevent sprawl and promote Oregon agriculture throughout the state. Please join with a gift today.
- Through December 31, 2013: Give to 1000 Friends through the Willamette Week Give!Guide and earn special rewards, like free wine tastings from Winter's Hill Vineyard, which is also providing a match for every donation! Learn more at friends.org/giveguide, or go directly to GIVE! at www.giveguide.org. (You'll find us in the Environment category.)
- Sign up for emails from 1000 Friends. We keep in touch with several thousands Oregonians who want to know about what's happening in their communities. By signing up for our emails, we can keep you posted about opportunities to take action and speak up for Oregon farmland
- Share your love of Oregon agriculture. Purchase Oregon products. Talk to friends and family over the dinner (or Thanksgiving) table. Post on social media about your favorite farm products. If you use the hashtag #greatandgrowing, we may just reshare it!
Photos: Zach Dischner, via Flickr. Creative Commons.