We live in a state that is a melting pot for agriculture. The ideal climate and fertile soil allows us to grow hazelnuts, grapes, timber, and livestock. According to data issued by the USDA, in 2015 Oregon was top 10 in the U.S. for production in multiple categories including: fruits, tree nuts and berries, Christmas trees, vegetables, melons and potatoes, and nursery, greenhouse and floriculture. The data shows the diversity, quality, and quantity of Oregon’s agriculture.
The future holds some uncertainty though. The potential minimum wage increase and the emphasis on food safety regulations will raise operating costs and some may not be able to sustain them over time. Another concern is farmers planting established crops such as hazelnuts and blueberries, which limits land available for vegetables.
One thing is for certain: people have to eat. While the total fresh market crop production decreased nationally, it is on the rise in Oregon. Consumers are demanding fresh produce and not processed. To work with the fresh market emphasis, farmers have been diversifying to survive like growing seed and changing their crops from year to year depending on market trends. Now there are twice as many vegetables produced for fresh market consumption compared to processed produce, although NORPAC is still producing 600 million pounds from its CO-OP members.
As farmers, we’ve always known Oregon’s potential for agriculture. Consumers are becoming more aware of what’s in their food and demanding fresher ingredients. Luckily, Oregon provides fresh produce to meet the demand and support it’s farmers.