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Grass industry dries up

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High Five
Monday, August 03, 2009

Oregon's grass-seed business is hurting as demand shrinks and competition gets tougher than ever.

The Willamette Valley, stretching from Portland's outskirts south past Eugene, depends on farms, plant nurseries and food processors for the wages that flow through communities. Grass seed, a specialty product with proprietary varieties, has shone as farmers move from commodities to value-added goods.

But when housing starts collapsed last year, landscapers stopped planting lawns. Golf courses stopped reseeding. Ranchers planted less grass to feed fewer cattle. Prices plunged for grass seed that growers had raised using the highest-priced fuel in history, costs further inflated by an ethanol boom that made fertilizer expensive and farm equipment scarce.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

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