CORVALLIS - In 1999, Oregon farmers and ranchers once again topped the $3 billion mark in sales of agricultural commodities, according to a report issued by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Sales totaled nearly $3.14 billion for the year, an increase of less than 1 percent over the previous year.
"Sales of farm products had one of the smallest year-to-year increases in a long time," said Larry Burt, Oregon State University Extension economist who helped compile the annual report. "The farm sector in general has faced tough times for several years, so Oregon farmers and ranchers overall did well just to hold their own."

About 74 percent came from sales of crops and 26 percent from livestock and poultry, reflecting the crop orientation of Oregon agriculture, Burt said.

For the second consecutive year, nursery crops topped the list with sales of $425 million. Strong demand has encouraged steady growth in Oregon's nursery crop sales since the early 1980s, Burt noted. Cattle and calves ranked second with sales of $418 million, up almost 14 percent over 1998 when low cattle prices took a toll on ranchers. Level to modest increases in prices and an increase in the number of head sold contributed to the upswing in value of cattle and calf sales.

Two other agricultural commodity groups made significant gains in sales in 1999. Small fruits and berries jumped 26 percent to $102 million, thanks primarily to a strong increase in prices for some berries compared to 1998. Poultry sales were up 25 percent to $93 million, largely on the strength of increased chicken egg production and higher egg prices.

On the down side, grain sales dropped 36 percent to $112 million, largely due to continued weakness in global wheat prices, reduced acreage and lower yields in many drought-affected counties. And vegetable and truck crops slumped 29 percent to $210 million due in part to much lower dry storage onion prices and reduced processed vegetable production in the Willamette Valley. Eight commodity categories grossed more than $200 million: nursery and greenhouse crops, $539 million; grass and legume seeds, $369 million; small woodlots and Christmas trees, $301 million; dairy products, $250 million; field crops, $223 million; vegetable and truck crops, $210 million; and tree fruits and nuts, $206 million.

Eighty-six commodities grossed $1 million or more in sales, an indication of the great diversity of Oregon agriculture, according to Burt.

"The amazing range of agricultural commodities produced in Oregon is the essential characteristic that makes farming and ranching a more stable sector of the state's economy," Burt said. "A good year in one production area usually compensates for a down year in another."

Eleven Oregon counties had more than $100 million in farm sales. The top five were Marion County, $464 million; Clackamas County, $292 million; Umatilla County, $219 million; Washington County, $211 million; and Linn County, $202 million.

The $3.1 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.

In putting together the year-end report on agricultural sales, Burt helps gather and analyze farm level statistics from various sources, including county Extension agents and specialists who rely on personal observation and their contacts with producers, growers, processors and wholesalers.

The complete publication, "1999 Oregon County and State Agricultural Estimates," Special Report 790/Revised January 2000, is available from the Economic Information Office, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 219 Ballard Extension Hall, Corvallis OR 97331-3601, telephone 541-737-6126, or e-mail:

The report is also available on the Internet at Search for Oregon county and state agricultural estimates.

More detailed agricultural sales and production statistics as well as an interactive database that can be used to make historical comparisons is available at Agricultural commodity sales by county were:

1) Marion, $464 million
2) Clackamas, $292 million
3) Umatilla, $219 million
4) Washington, $211 million
5) Linn, $202 million
6) Yamhill, $199 million
7) Malheur, $155 million
8) Klamath, $127 million
9) Polk, $108 million
10) Morrow, $101 million
11) Lane, $89 million
12) Tillamook, $85 million
13) Benton, $82 million
14) Douglas, $70 million
15) Multnomah, $61 million
16) Wasco, $59 million
17) Hood River, $57 million
18) Baker, $53 million
19) Jackson, $49 million
20) Jefferson, $47 million
21) Lake, $45 million
22) Union, $42 million
23) Harney, $41 million
24) Coos, $36 million
25) Crook, $34 million
26) Columbia, $29 million
27) Wallowa, $29 million
28) Sherman, $25 million
29) Deschutes, $21 million
30) Grant, $21 million
31) Josephine, $20 million
32) Clatsop, $16 million
33) Curry, $13 million
34) Gilliam, $13 million
35) Lincoln, $8 million
36) Wheeler, $7 million.

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Larry Burt, 541-737-1436