CORVALLIS - Oregon agriculture continued a five-year growth trend in 1996 as the state's farmers and ranchers earned $3.25 billion in sales of agricultural commodities, according to a report recently published by the Oregon State University Extension Service.
Of that total, about 77 percent of sales came from crops and 23 percent from livestock and poultry, said Larry Burt, an Oregon State University Extension economist who help compile the report. The data are based on economic analyses of statistics from several sources including county Extension agents, producers, growers, processors and wholesalers.
Eight Oregon agricultural commodities earned more than $100 million in sales: farm forestry, with sales of $391 million; cattle and calves, $339 million; nursery crops, $307 million; wheat, $284 million; dairy products, $219 million; potatoes, $139 million; perennial rye grass, $118 million; and alfalfa hay, $101 million.
Three agricultural commodity groups made significant gains in sales in 1996. Sales of grass and legume seeds jumped a whopping 32 percent to $317 million; small fruits and berries were up 15 percent to $96 million, and hay and silage were up to $142 million, an 11 percent increase.
No major crop category suffered significant losses in sales in 1996. Grains fell the most, down 3.6 percent to $322 million, due primarily to weaker global grain prices, experts say.
"Eighty-seven commodities grossed $1 million or more in sales, an indication of the diversity of Oregon agriculture," said Burt.
Ten Oregon counties had more than $100 million in farm sales. The top five were Marion County, $442 million; Umatilla County, $275 million; Clackamas County, $244 million; Linn County, $212 million; and Washington County, $188 million.
Burt gave the following highlights for individual commodities from the annual report: Grains:
Sales were down slightly due to lower than expected wheat prices. Specialty:
(Products including nursery and greenhouse, farm forestry and Christmas trees) Down just 2 percent mostly because of declining sales in farm forestry. "Although farm forestry led all agricultural commodity sales in 1996, earnings from this sector were down a bit because of reduced harvest by small woodlot owners," said Burt. Hay and silage: Sales were up 11 percent to $142 million due primarily to higher production and strengthening prices. Grass seed crops: Up 32 percent in sales to $316 million because of significantly higher prices in 1996 for most grass seed varieties. Small fruits and berries: Up 15 percent to $96 million. "Weather-caused yield declines were more than offset by price increases," Burt noted. Dairy:
Sales remained steady from 1995 levels. Dairy cow numbers dropped somewhat in 1996, but price increases kept overall sales levels from falling. Eggs and poultry: Up four percent to $85 million. The Oregon poultry industry downsized last year, but climbing prices for poultry products brought good returns to poultry producers. Field crops: Sales remained steady from 1995 levels. Potato prices slumped a bit, but increases in 1996 production made up the loss. Vegetable crops: Sales were up seven percent to $261 million. Onion sales recovered from a dip in 1995 because of improved yields and prices in 1996. Corn production and prices also improved and snap bean production remained steady. Cattle and calves: Sales remained basically the same as in 1995. According to Burt, in 1996 the cattle industry began to recover somewhat as cattle prices, which dropped significantly in 1995, began to stabilize. Tree fruits and nuts: Sales remained steady from 1995 levels. Strong winter pear prices brought good returns to pear growers. Hazelnut prices and production were down in 1996, contributing to a hefty drop in sales from $35 million in 1995 to $18 million last year. Other animal products: (Including horses, mink, llamas, buffalo, emus, rabbits) Sales rose about 5 percent to $93 million.
The $3.25 billion in sales generated by farmers and ranchers is only one component of agriculture's effect on the state's economy, Burt noted. Additional value is produced through farm purchases, services to farmers, farm employment and processing of agricultural goods, he pointed out.
Agricultural commodity sales by county were:
Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.
Larry Burt, 541-737-6126