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Oregon ag commodities enjoy a strong decade


WhileOregon agriculture’s overall growth curve has slowed down in recent years,certain crops and livestock commodities have enjoyed a very healthy increase inproduction value over thepast decade.

In fact, only one commodity in the top20 has recorded a decrease over the 10-year period, and that drop is very small, the state Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday.

Newlyreleased statistics from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service provides a preliminary picture of 2015’s crop and livestock value ofproduction. The numbers indicate that Oregonagriculture continues to be amajor contributor to the state’s economy with an overall production valueexpected to be in the neighborhood of $5.4 billion– similar to the precedingtwo years.

Thevalue of agricultural production in Oregon last year includes a top ten listwith familiar names. Onions returned to the list while hazelnuts dropped out:

(1) Cattle and calves,$914 million

(2) Greenhouse and nurseryproducts,$894 million

(3) Hay,$604million

(4) Milk,$474million

(5) Grass seed,$383million

(6) Wheat,$217million

(7) Potatoes,$176million

(8) Pears,$152million

(9) Wine grapes,$147million

(10) Onions,$125million

Oregonproduces more than 220 agricultural commodities, so there are always winnersand losers any given year. Several top ten commodities dropped in productionvalue in 2015, but still show strong gainsover a 10-year period.

For thesecond year in a row, cattle and calves tops the list with a production valueof $914 million, which is slightly down from 2014. However, over a 10-yearperiod beginning in 2005, the valuehas increased 71 percent.

The cattleindustry tends to be cyclical, and the strong prices enjoyed the past couple ofyears are weakening in 2016. Nonetheless, cattle and calves is expected to be amainstay at or near thetop of all commodities in the foreseeable future.

Thegreenhouse and nursery sector has steadily recovered from the nation’s economicrecession shortly after the commodity reached above the billion dollar mark in2007. Greenhouse and nursery’s productionvalue hit a low point of $667 millionin 2010. The industry is now fairly close to where it was a decade ago, at $894million– a 3 percent increase from 2005.

Haysaw a near $100 million decrease in 2015, compared to 2014. However, thecommodity remains solidly in the No. 3 position in Oregon and hasactually increased in production value the past 10years by 70 percent.

Similarly, milk recorded a big drop last year of more than $180 million, buthas increased 32 percent since 2005. Like greenhouse and nursery, the grassseed industry suffered greatly during therecession but is now back to where itwas 10 years ago, recording a 2 percent increase since 2005 to $383 million.

Wheatprices continue to decrease the crop’s value, which also saw a drop from 2014to 2015. However, wheat is still 20 percent higher in production value than itwas 10 years ago. The pendulum has swungwidely over the years. Five years ago,wheat’s value was $441 million– twice as much as last year’s figure.

Potatoesremains in 7thplace among Oregon’s top commodities and recorded aslight increase in 2015. Potatoes was also 7thin 2005, but thevalue has increased 36 percent since then. Pears moved up to 8thafter showing a healthy gain in 2015. Going back 10 years, that increase hasbeen a remarkable 108 percent.

Easilythe most astonishing growth over the years has been the wine grape sector. Just10 years ago, the production value stood at $36 million. In 2015, it topped$147 million – a whopping 308 percent increasefrom 2005. No other Oregonagricultural commodity has seen a higher increase.

Afterdropping out of the top 10 for a year, onions has returned after a moderateincrease in production value this past yearto $125 million, exactly where it was 10 years ago. Gone from the top 10is hazelnuts,which saw a large decrease in production in 2015. Nonetheless,its value has grown 50 percent from 2005.

Alsooutside the top 10, there are three commodities that have shown triple-digitpercentage increases over a 10-year period.

Blueberries remains a shooting staramong Oregon crops, with a slight bump in 2015,but a huge jump of 246 percentsince 2005. Last year’s production of 96.9 million pounds harvested is a recordin Oregon and the second consecutive year the value has topped $100 million.

Theother two growth commodities include eggs and apples. Egg production value lastyear skyrocketed to $116 million, which is a 131 percent increase from 2005.Coincidentally, the value of production forapples has also increased 131percent over that same 10 year period, even though the number is only $44million. The growing interest in ciders is one possible reason for the recenthigher number.

Theonly Oregon agricultural commodity in the top 20 to actually lose productionvalue in the past 10 years is Christmas trees. Still, the decrease is only 2percent, and the production value of Christmas trees lastyear was actually $20million more than in 2014.

Overall,the swings in production and prices for Oregon crops and livestock have notbeen tremendously dramatic, with a couple of exceptions. The top 10 and eventhe top 20 generally contains the same nameswith a few changes in ranking.Look for that to continue when statistics for 2016 are tabulated.

Todownload a copy of the latest Oregon Agriculture Facts & Figures brochure,go to:

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