Oregon agricultural sales climb to $3.4 billion in 2003

February 25, 2004

CORVALLIS – Oregon farmers and ranchers generated more than $3.4 billion during 2003 in sales of agricultural commodities, according to a recently completed report produced by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

The actual figure, $3.46 billion, represented an increase of 6 percent over the previous year.

"Sales of farm products experienced a good, but not great, increase from 2002 to 2003," said Larry Burt, Oregon State University Extension economist, who coordinated production of the annual report. "The farm sector in general has faced a lot of price instability and market volatility over the past few years, but some commodities enjoyed significant growth in terms of market prices and market share."

About 72 percent of the total came from sales of crops and 28 percent from livestock and poultry, Burt said. This approximate 70/30 ratio of crop to livestock sales has held steady in Oregon agriculture for the past several years, he added.

After falling to second place in 2002, cattle and calves rose again to number one on the gross sales list with total earnings of $543 million. Nursery crops placed a close second with sales of $542.7 million.

Cattle and calf sales rose a healthy 17 percent from 2002 to 2003 thanks to strengthening prices, said Burt. Continued strong demand has produced steady year-to-year growth in Oregon nursery crop sales over the past two decades, he added.

Two other agricultural commodity groups made noticeable gains in sales in 2003. Small fruits and berries climbed 17 percent to $98 million, thanks primarily to strong prices for cranberries, blackberries and blueberries. Sales of tree fruits and nuts was also up 17 percent to $222 million, due to increased wine grape, winter pear and hazelnut production and much stronger prices for apples and sweet cherries. Greatly improved yields also benefited the state's sweet cherry growers.

Vegetable crops as a sector also made gains with gross farm sales up 12 percent to $244 million, which was primarily due to a 53 percent increase in storage onion prices.

Just two commodity sectors – field crops and poultry – suffered downturns in 2003, according to Burt.

Field crops, including potatoes, hops and peppermint for oil, experienced a drop of 12 percent in gross farm sales to $185 million, mostly due to weaker prices for some crops, and reduced sales of vegetable and flower seeds.

Poultry sales dropped slightly, down 2 percent to $80 million, Burt said. Production of broiler chickens and eggs decreased slightly as a number of producers left the industry, but slight price increases partially offset the production declines, he added.

Seven commodity categories grossed more than $200 million: nursery and greenhouse crops, $673 million; cattle and calves, $543 million; small woodlots and Christmas trees, $308 million; grass and legume seeds, $288 million; dairy products, $282 million; vegetable and truck crops, $244 million; and tree fruits and nuts, $222 million; hay and forage crops, $206 million.

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

"The amazing breadth of agricultural commodities produced in Oregon is the key characteristic that makes farming and ranching a relatively stable sector of the state 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, $486 million; Clackamas County, $341 million; Yamhill County, $225 million; Washington County, $223 million; and Umatilla County, $200 million.

The $3.46 billion in sales generated by farmers and ranchers is only one component of agriculture's effect on the state's economy, Burt noted. Agricultural sales, and the farm and ranch activity behind it, generates additional value through farm purchases, services to farmers, farm employment, product processing, and distribution, he said.

The economic data summarized in the year-end report on agricultural sales are based on farm level statistics from various sources, including county Extension field faculty and specialists who gather information through personal observation and contacts with producers, growers, processors and wholesalers.

The complete publication, "2003 Oregon County and State Agricultural Estimates," Special Report 790/Revised March 2004, is available online at: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/sr/sr790-03.pdf

Agricultural commodity sales by county were:

1) Marion, $486 million
2) Clackamas, $341 million
3) Yamhill, $225 million
4) Washington, $223 million
5) Umatilla, $200 million
6) Linn, $190 million
7) Morrow, $180 million
8) Malheur, $174 million
9) Klamath, $167 million
10) Polk, $119 million
11) Lane, $114 million
12) Benton, $91 million
13) Tillamook, $89 million
14) Jackson, $71 million
15) Multnomah, $71 million
16) Wasco, $65 million
17) Harney, $58 million
18) Douglas, $56 million
19) Hood River, $55 million
20) Baker, $52 million
21) Lake, $52 million
22) Coos, $50 million
23) Jefferson, $43 million
24) Union, $39 million
25) Crook, $36 million
26) Wallowa, $34 million
27) Grant, $26 million
28) Curry, $25 million
29) Columbia, $24 million
30) Josephine, $23 million
31) Sherman, $23 million
32) Deschutes, $19 million
33) Gilliam, $17 million
34) Lincoln, $10 million
35) Wheeler, $9 million
36) Clatsop, $8 million

Note to Editors: A sidebar on individual commodities accompanies this release.

Author: Bob Rost
Source: Larry Burt