Oregon Farms See Record Sales in 2011

An unprecendented year in Oregon farming, ranching and fisheries gives the entire state reason to celebrate. 34 of 36 counties saw growth in farm sales, as the state's producers hit a record $5.2 billion in sales. More remarkably, 31 Oregon counties saw double-digit growth in agricultural sales. Once again, the Oregon agricultural industry proves its contributions to the Oregon economy can't be doubted, and shouldn't be compromised.

These numbers were reported by Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture this week, and the evidence for a broadly-based impressive year grows from there. 66 of 89 commodities saw growth, particularly wheat, cattle, dairy, and small fruits and berries. The counties with the largest growth include coastal counties (partially because fisheries were included in the totals for the first time, though their impact was small on the overall numbers), and Wasco County, which saw its sales grow 27 percent.

But the most remarkable thing about 2011's agricultural sales is how broadly the growth was shared across the state. "East, west, urban, rural--agriculture across the board did well," said ODA land use specialist Jim Johnson in an ODA "Story of the Week".

Indeed, agriculture continues to be a growing industry in counties that many Oregonians think of as urban--including Washington (up 24%), Marion (up 22%), and Clackamas (up 12%) counties. The top ten producers list saw some shifting, but all three of these counties continue to be among the state's biggest agricultural contributors:

1. Marion County  $616 million
2. Umatilla County  $503 million
3. Morrow County  $477 million
4. Clackamas County  $332 million
5. Malheur County  $296 million
6. Washington County  $284 million
7. Klamath County  $283 million
8. Linn County  $279 million
9. Yamhill County  $259 million
10. Polk County  $156 million

As communities across the state look toward their future, they should remember that agricultural land is not vacant land waiting to be developed. It's active, productive land that directly contributes to local economies, and supports one of the state's most reliable and stable industries. A thriving agricultural industry supports thousands of good jobs all across Oregon--not just for the farmers and their workers, but for food processors, port and freight workers, and distributors and restaurants. And the economic impact multiplies from there, solidifying Oregon agriculture's role as an industry that cannot be outsourced. Given that the industry depends on healthy, protected farm and ranching lands, it's all the more reason for Oregonians to fight to protect its vibrancy from ill-conceived growth.

For more information on this record year for Oregon agriculture, read this story from the Oregonian, and this ODA "Story of the Week".