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Economic outlook from the Oregon Agriculture Department

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Oregon’s scenic vistas owe much to production agriculture — blossoming pear orchards, rolling vineyards, cattle grazing in vast green meadows are but a few examples among 220 different crops and commodities. But it’s much more than a pretty picture. Gross sales at Oregon’s farm gate surpassed $4 billion for the first time in 2004. Meanwhile, growers forked out more than $3 billion to farm-related industries, supporting jobs such as engineering, legal and marketing services, food processing, warehousing, transportation and inspection, along with manufacturing and sales of machinery, feed, fertilizer and seed. Oregon has more than 150,000 such jobs with a payroll exceeding $2.5 billion. On-farm employment averages about 55,000 yearly, with peaks of 90,000 and lows of 30,000. About 80% of Oregon agriculture leaves the state and one-half of that goes overseas. The state has more than 40,000 farms, but most are not engaged in agriculture for a living. In 2002, farms with less than $10,000 in annual sales made up nearly 70% of all operations. These are lifestyle, hobby or retiree ventures generating less than 2% of agricultural output. Medium-sized farmers are being squeezed by increased costs, pressure from cheap imports and limited market access. Many work off-farm jobs to supplement their farm income. Large family farms with over $250,000 in gross sales numbered just 2,250 in 2002 but accounted for 80% of output. To stay competitive, Oregon’s farms and ranches are becoming more complex, diversified and technologically sophisticated.

— Brent Searle, policy analyst,
Oregon Department of Agriculture


Value of Oregon’s farm and ranch production, 1985-2004

04_06farmincomchart.jpg Oregon agriculture operations

% of farms % of ag production $ % of acres under management
1992 1997 2002 1992 1997 2002 1992 1997 2002
Small farms
(less than $10,000 in annual sales)
62.10% 61.80% 69.00% 2.30% 1.90% 1.90% 11% 9% 13%
($10,000-$250,000 in annual sales)
31.60% 31.20% 25.30% 27.10% 21.50% 18.60% 51% 51% 45%
Full-time commercial
($250,000+ annual sales)
6.30% 7.00% 5.60% 70.60% 76.60% 79.60% 38% 40% 42%









Sources: Oregon Agricultural Statistics Service; U.S. Census of Agriculture.


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