Oregon’s agriculture, food and fiber sector value exceeds $ 42 million, number of farms increases, report says

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than 2,000 new farms have been established in Oregon in recent years, and the total value of the state’s agriculture, food and fiber sector exceeds $ 42 billion, according to a new analysis report economics written by researchers at Oregon State University.

Researchers from the College of Agricultural Sciences and the OSU Extension Service prepared the report every five to six years in partnership with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The latest report provides a broad economic overview of the agriculture, food and fiber industry, as well as an overview of new developments, including the recreational hemp and marijuana industries and the impact of forest fires and COVID-19.

“The report provides an overview of the state of Oregon’s agriculture, food and fiber sector,” said Jeff Reimer, professor of applied economics and one of the report’s authors. “We are able to do this analysis which shows links that would not be apparent if you only looked at the statistics on the economy. “

Highlights of the report include:

  • The agriculture, food and fiber industry is responsible for 9.1% of Oregon’s economy and 371,300 jobs.

  • Agricultural exports have increased by 25% since the publication of the last report in 2015.

  • The number of small and large farms has increased, but there has been a decrease in medium-sized farms. There were 3,417 new farms of one to nine acres, 21 new farms over 2,000 acres, but a loss of 1,217 farms of 50 to 999 acres.

  • The number of certified organic farms and the number of acres cultivated organically declined, but the value of products sold per organic acre nearly doubled, reflecting strong consumer demand for organic products.

The report notes that 64,000 acres of hemp are registered in Oregon and can generate potential gross revenues of $ 15,000 to $ 25,000 per acre. This income comes mainly from essential oils (such as cannabidiol or CBD) extracted from hemp flowers.

Gordon Jones, assistant professor at the Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center and co-author of the report, notes that economic estimates for hemp still have some uncertainty, in part because federal legislation that made growth legal was not passed. than in 2018.

There is more data on recreational marijuana, which was legalized in Oregon in 2015. It is now a $ 1.4 billion industry that employs nearly 10,000 people in the United States. State, according to the report.

The impacts of wildfires, particularly from 2020, on wine, hemp, hops, recreational marijuana, and livestock and other farm animals are also detailed in the report.

The impacts of COVID-19 are still being unraveled, said Bruce Sorte, Extension economist and co-author of the report, but he notes that the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the mechanization of the food industry and the functioning of the food supply chain.

“It will be a particular challenge for rural communities as the labor market is disrupted,” he said. “While employers are struggling to find workers right now, I expect it to be a lot less difficult after COVID, especially in food processing. Workers who are reluctant to return to work now may find these jobs are not available after COVID. “

The report also describes long-term challenges for the sector, including the availability and cost of labor, a slowly warming climate, a stronger US dollar against the currencies of other countries, the increased cost of Oregon products to overseas buyers; and lower cost of imports. , and rising feed costs for livestock and poultry.

Sector strengths described in the report include the sustained pace of economic recovery after the first months of the pandemic; Oregon’s continued comparative advantage in many crops including seed crops, hazelnuts, pears, wine grapes, hops, potatoes, onions, mint, cherries, wheat , beef and dairy products; the end of the trade war; and a recent commitment by China to increase its purchases of American agricultural products.

“The agriculture, food and fiber industry is extremely resilient and thus helps our economy to remain very resilient,” Sorte said. “This has been shown throughout the previous deep recession and now this pandemic. “

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