Five-year trend shows ups and downs in Oregon Ag
Crops & livestock generally bounce back from effects of national recession
By Oregon Agriculture Dept.
Oregon agriculture’s tremendous diversity is reflected in the fact that most crops and livestock are on the upswing the past five years while a handful are slow to reach 2007 production levels. Despite the ups and downs, the state once again enjoyed a record high agricultural production value in 2012 at $5.4 billion. That bottom line number is a half billion more than reported in 2007.
Newly revised figures released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), with assistance from Oregon State University, contain preliminary numbers for the 2012 value of production. The overall trend shows farms and ranches have not only bounced back from the days of recession, they have eclipsed 2011’s high water mark of $5.3 billion. Out of the top 40 commodities, only nine saw decreases in 2012 from the previous year. Compared with 2007 production, only eight have dropped.
Over the past 20 years, the leading Oregon agricultural commodities have generally stayed the same, with an occasional newcomer entering the picture. Oregon’s 2012 value of agricultural production– the total value of crops and livestock sold off the farm– includes a top ten list that contains familiar names but a rank order that varies from year to year:
Greenhouse and nursery products: $745 million
Cattle and calves: $653 million
Hay: $638 million
Milk: $497 million
Wheat: $472 million
Grass seed: $411 million
Potatoes: $172 million
Pears: $134 million
Corn for grain and silage: $119 million
Onions: $115 million
At least one longstanding member of the top ten has dropped out– Christmas trees ranked #12 last year with a value of $102 million. At different times in recent years, both blueberries and cherries have cracked the top ten but now find themselves at #11 and #14 respectively.
Over the past two decades, greenhouse and nursery production has been Oregon’s top ranked agricultural commodity nearly every year. At $745 million, the sector is up slightly from 2011 but remains 28 percent below its record high of more than $1 billion in 2007. The recession’s impact on
the housing market negatively impacted sales starting in 2008. It has been a long, slow journey back for the industry sector, which is still way short of that billion dollar mark of five years ago.
Cattle and calves have regained second place with a strong showing in 2012, gaining 7 percent from the previous year and an impressive 40 percent from its production value in 2007. The commodity was ranked #3 both in 2011 and five years ago.
At #3, hay remains one of the leading crops in Oregon, but its value last year dropped 12 percent from 2011. However, compared to 2007’s production value, hay has increased 38 percent. Remaining at #4, milk also saw a one-year drop in 2012 (6 percent) but remains 21 percent higher in production value than 2007’s number.
Wheat prices have been relatively high the past couple of years, allowing the one time leader of Oregon agriculture to bounce back into the top five. Prices softened a bit in 2012, dropping the value 6 percent from 2011. That’s still 31 percent better than 2007, making wheat another commodity that is generally trending up.
At #6, the story of grass seed parallels greenhouse and nursery products. The recession and corresponding housing market slump reduced demand and sales following 2007. While last year’s 20 percent increase in production value from 2011 was encouraging, grass seed’s value is still 19 percent below what it was in 2007, when it ranked second of all Oregon ag commodities.
Potatoes have ranked #7 for many years, but its value dropped 4 percent from 2011. That is still nearly 18 percent better than it was five years ago.
After greatly struggling in 2011 and dropping out of the top ten for a year, pears rebounded nicely in 2012, reaching #8 and increasing in production value by 73 percent from the previous year. That’s the highest percentage jump of any of the top commodities. The value of pears has also increased 58 percent from 2007.
For the second straight year, corn grown for grain and silage is in the top ten at #9, increasing in value by 10 percent from 2011. No other commodity has grown more dramatically over a five year period as the production value for corn grown for grain and silage has increased a whopping 138 percent since 2007.
Rounding out the top ten is onions, which dropped off the list in 2011 after being a mainstay for many years. Onions have shown good growth over both a one-year period (+25 percent) and a five-year period (+135 percent). Its return to the top ten pushed out blueberries and Christmas trees.
Outside the top ten, only a handful of commodities have trended down over the past five years– and none dramatically. Christmas trees, apples, grass and grain straw, horses and mules, cranberries, and strawberries have all seen production values drop from 2007.
Notable growth over the five-year stretch has been recorded for blueberries (+65 percent), wine grapes (+37 percent), cherries (+52 percent), mint (+67 percent), and blackberries (+56 percent). Watermelons (+204 percent) and sheep and lambs (+95 percent) have grown considerably as well, but the percentage growth is a little misleading since their overall value is not quite as high as some of the others that are trending up.
It’s hard to predict 2013 production values, but a five-year history suggests the general trend will be up.
For more information, contact Bruce Pokarney at (503) 986-4559.
Oregon Agricultural Facts and Figures Brochure