|Oregon agriculture visits Pacific Rim partners|
By Bruce Pokarney|
Editor's note: ODA Communications Director Bruce Pokarney participated in the governor's trade mission to Asia September 11-23.
It didn't take long during a nearly two-week governor's trade mission to Asia to realize several truths. Japan, South Korea, and China-the three stops we made across the Pacific-each have vast, sophisticated markets that have the channels necessary to provide products to increasingly affluent consumers. Secondly, Oregon agriculture produces many of the things these markets desire. Thirdly-and perhaps what became most clear during the mission-the opportunities for Oregon agricultural exports in Asia seem nearly boundless.
The September trade mission was led by Governor John Kitzhaber, who tended to a wider circle of economic interests, but paid significant attention to agriculture. Inside the larger circle, an 11-member agricultural delegation led by Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba, crammed each day with meetings and tours that seemed to merely scratch the surface of each country.
At the end of the exhausting 13-day mission, there was an overwhelming consensus that Oregon agriculture is primed to move forward in strengthening existing trade ties to Japan, Korea, and China, and create new ones.
"There are opportunities in each of these export markets," says Coba. "It's up to producers which ones they want to pursue-perhaps all three. But based on what we learned on this trip, I feel very good about things and the agricultural products we can get into these markets."
Japan: Old friends, new challenges
Keizoku wa chikara nari. Perseverance is strength. (Japanese proverb)
Once again, Japan's resolve is being put to the test. Crippled and literally shaken by this spring's triple disaster that included an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant failure, the Japanese are slowly re-emerging.
"For us to be there in person and showing our support for the Japanese during this tough time means a lot to them," says ODA Director Coba. "While they did lose some agricultural production, we are not trying to capitalize on the disaster. But showing our support and knowing that we have been in that market for the long haul does mean there could be additional opportunities for Oregon ag products moving into Japan."
US agricultural trade officials based in Tokyo emphasize the value of having the Oregon delegation stop in Japan.
"For the governor to come out here and reaffirm what has been an ongoing relationship between Oregon and Japan is really important-particularly at this time when the Japanese want their friends to stand up and be there with them." says Geoff Wiggin, an agricultural minister-counselor with the US Embassy.
Japan is still Oregon's number one ag export market, even though the $534 million worth of products sold to Japan in 2010 is half of what it was in 2008. Wiggin points out that it is not only the size of the market that counts, but the nature of the market.
"I don't care if it's corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, blueberries, or consumer ready-goods-this market buys it all," he says.
Because the exchange rate favors the US dollar-$1 equals about 80 yen at this time-Oregon growers exporting product to the Japanese market can make money. As is the case in all three Asian markets, blueberries are an especially hot product right now.
"There is less variety of blueberry products in Japan, but more volume of fresh and frozen berries being shipped there than some of the more stable blueberry items like a juice drink or in dairy products," says Eric Pond, chair of the Oregon Blueberry Commission and an organic blueberry grower from Jefferson who was part of the ag delegation.
Many other Oregon products have established themselves in Japan, including fresh cherries and seafood. But one of the more interesting presentations was made during a lunch in which we were served a cut of kobe beef-a highly desired meat that commands more than $120 a pound at retail. Japanese cattle producers increasingly depend on high-fiber straw exported by Oregon grass seed growers to create the unique marbling of the beef. As we were told in the presentation, what was on our plate was connected to a grass field somewhere in the Willamette Valley.
After the war, it was Oregon's wheat industry that established the first trade ties to Japan. Another member of the ag delegation-Union County wheat grower Dale Case-says it was good to pay old friends a visit.
"We thought it was important to go to Japan and say thank you for being a good customer, and to reassure them we plan on being around."
South Korea: Three little words
Aneun gildo muleogara. Even if you know the way, ask one more time. (Korean proverb)
The Koreans warn against being overconfident and feeling like you know it all. In the case of the visit to South Korea, the ag delegation learned a lot. But in this important market, it boils down to three words-free trade agreement.
"In every meeting, that was the topic of discussion-ratifying the Korean Free Trade Agreement," says ODA Director Coba. "We understand there is political sensitivity on the issue, but the fact of the matter is that Oregon and the US are getting squeezed out of the Korean market because we do not have a free trade agreement. We see competitors who produce the same products as Oregon taking more of the market share. For that reason alone, we are very supportive of quick ratification of KFTA."
(NOTE: Since this article was published, Congress approved free trade agreements in South Korea, Columbia, and Panama)
Coba and Governor Kitzhaber made the point clear during a private meeting with Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik. Tours of Korea's sophisticated, high-end retail outlets prove the point. Chile, with a free trade agreement with Korea, has a strong presence in these stores. Chilean wines, for instance, are plentiful and affordable even to middle class consumers while Oregon wines pay tariffs in excess of 20 percent. Since their 2003 agreement with Korea, Chile's wine exports have gone from nearly zero to 20 percent of the market.
Geographically, South Korea is relatively small but has a population of 50 million people, making it the third most densely populated nation in the world. Korea is 50 percent dependent on agricultural products imported for food. Add feed grains, that dependency rises to 77 percent. Koreans continue to be important customers for Oregon products. The state exported $368 million of ag products last year.
No prospect is more exciting than the Oregon blueberry.
"The supply of blueberry products is having a hard time catching up with demand," says Sang Young Oh, a marketing specialist with the US Agricultural Trade Office in Seoul.
ODA, federal officials, and the blueberry industry have been working on gaining an agreement separate from KFTA that would allow fresh Oregon blueberries into the Korean marketplace. Upon our return home, we learned that access has been granted and, with protocols fully developed, fresh berries from Oregon will enter South Korea next season. We found frozen Oregon blueberries in one of Seoul's upscale grocery stores, a 12-ounce package that would cost about $2.50 locally that sells for $9.30 in Korea. Imagine what a package of fresh blueberries would go for.
The Koreans have become just as health conscious about food as the Japanese-maybe more. They see blueberries as valuable as ginseng and other culturally-important herbs and foods. Director Coba even joked with the Korean prime minister that eating Oregon blueberries might improve his eyesight enough to do away with his glasses-a comment that drew chuckles during the high level meeting.
The delegation toured a cargo handling facility owned by Asiana Airlines near the airport at Incheon. Asiana last month launched a direct cargo flight from Portland to South Korea. The technical sophistication of accepting, processing, and distributing imports at the Asiana facility was impressive. We were told that it will be possible for an Oregon blueberry picked in the field on a Tuesday morning to get into the mouth of a Korean consumer by Thursday afternoon, thanks to the new direct service and facility.
The cutting-edge technology, food traceability, innovative packaging, and need for imported food makes the Korean marketplace a key export destination for Oregon agriculture.
China: Chi-gantus market
Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. (Chinese proverb)
China is doing anything but growing slowly. Its annual double-digit economic growth has transformed it into the world's second largest economy. Everything about China is big, "Chi-gantus" as Director Coba coins it. The market is huge with opportunity. The country has tremendous agricultural production, but with a population of 1.3 billion and with less than 10 percent of its land even able to grow anything, imports will always be critical. The US actually has a trade surplus with China, shipping more than $17 billion of ag products in 2010. Oregon was responsible for $420 million of that total.
"They are concerned about their future ability to produce food," says Chanda Beckman, agricultural counsel with the US Agricultural Trade Office in China.
China, in fact, is buying land around the world to produce food it can't grow in its own country. It's a fascinating country that claims to be "socialist with Chinese characteristics." But to the first time visitor, it looks very western. Shopping malls are plentiful in the large cities. We even saw a large billboard featuring American actor George Clooney on the side of a downtown Beijing commercial building pitching Omega watches. What would Chairman Mao think?
Oregon agriculture has a presence even in the most hallowed of places. At Tiananmen Square, the site where tanks confronted protesters more than 20 years ago, landscaping featuring Oregon grass is now entrenched. It was Oregon's grass seed industry that established the first trade ties to China, now others are following suit. Oregon's specialty crops, along with animal feed crops, have strong opportunities.
The Chinese consumer is becoming increasingly interested in safe and wholesome food, which plays into the interest of Oregon.
"We've been working for a number of years on a joint relationship with the government in China to inspect and certify US food products going into that marketplace," says ODA Assistant Director Dalton Hobbs. "There are still some technical issues to work out, but going over there and meeting with Chinese officials has brought us closer to opening up the market more for Oregon agricultural products."
The high level meeting with AQSIQ-the government agency that needs to okay any testing and certification agreement-went well. Having Governor Kitzhaber attend gave it an even higher profile.
"I think the future is very bright in terms of the Chinese market for Oregon agricultural products," says Governor Kitzhaber. "We spent time on the effort to make the Oregon Department of Agriculture the inspection and quality agency, if you will, for import and export in and out of China. We think that can help open the market even more."
If all goes according to plan, ODA could have the same arrangement to pre-certify ag products going into China that it has had with Japan, Korea, and Taiwan for several years.
Along the way, the delegation visited the Port of Tianjin, the world's sixth largest port and a partner with the Port of Portland, along with a tour of green space and city parks in Shanghai. Could there be a use for imported Oregon nursery stock? The Chinese seem interested.
For China, the word "potential" just doesn't seem big enough.
The return home
All 11 agricultural delegation members returned from the governor's trade mission with a healthy appreciation and respect for the sophisticated export markets of Japan, Korea, and China. Even for those who have been there before, this trip was eye-opening. While Japan has been an advanced, mature market for years, South Korea and China have come very far, very fast.
And it was the opportunity to meet people face-to-face that may set a stronger foundation for future trade.
"We didn't expect to come back with a new manufacturing plant," says Governor Kitzhaber. "But in Asia, I have learned in my years in government that a lot of economic activity is based on personal relationships. Establishing these relationships is extraordinarily important."
Or as wheat grower Dale Case remarked: "I'm totally impressed with the progress these countries have made. It has been mind boggling, but the trip was well worth it."
|Board of Agriculture profile|
State Board of Agriculture member Bob Levy and his wife Bobby were part of the agriculture delegation that participated in the governor's trade mission to Asia in September. As an Eastern Oregon farmer and rancher, Bob was fascinated with the sophistication of the marketplace in Japan, Korea, and China. He also sees tremendous potential for Oregon ag exports to all three markets:|
Q What was your overall impression of the governor's trade mission to Asia?
I was impressed with Governor Kitzhaber's leadership on the trade mission and the importance that such a trade mission has to the ongoing development of agricultural exports to Japan, Korea, and China. I saw impressive opportunities in China in regards to increasing exports that would be difficult to put together without the leadership of a governor. I think all of us in agriculture should be appreciative of the governor's efforts.
Q What specifically impressed you about the three markets we visited-Japan, Korea, and China?
I think the tremendous growth in the Chinese market is what impressed me most. With 1.4 billion people-when I look at the agricultural development that I saw as we took the bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin, and along the roads here, it's obvious that this country is made up of many small farmers with small plots. As this country continues to raise its standard of living-as their wages go up and their affluence increases, I believe our productive capacity will allow us to enter these markets on a very competitive basis.
Q You toured many retail grocery outlets in all three countries. What did you think?
It was interesting. My initial impression in the grocery outlets is that their food safety and security issues, their traceability system, and their displays are certainly equal to or superior to anything I've seen even in the best supermarkets in the US. We saw individually wrapped packages of asparagus, individually wrapped apples, pears, and peaches. It's an amazing product display. We also saw a US beef promotion in a store in Korea. There was tremendous acceptance of US beef there. That's just one example. I think in all three markets we saw that consumers like the things Oregon can produce. So there is a lot of opportunity for us.
Q What message do you bring back to the rest of the Board of Agriculture?
I think the message is that we need to continue focusing on the issues ODA has already outlined for us as a board, which includes getting ahead of the traceability issue, how we certify products for food safety, how we certify them for export, and how we are able to trace back the products to their source when there are food safety issues. We had duck for dinner in a Beijing restaurant and we saw that they were able to trace that individual duck back to where it was produced and know it's life history. That kind of traceability is a big deal in Asia.
Q So you were glad to be on this mission?
Yes. It has been a great experience.
A large portion of this issue of the Agriculture Quarterly is dedicated to Governor Kitzhaber's recent trade mission to Asia, which included an 11-member agriculture delegation consisting of industry folks, ODA staff, and myself. I've participated in several trade missions in my tenure as ODA director, yet I come back home each time simply amazed and encouraged. This trip is no exception.|
Why do we go on these overseas missions? That's a fair question and there are many ways to answer. At the basic level, Oregon agriculture depends on the export market. More than 40 percent of what we produce goes to another country. Asia is our top trade partner. Japan remains Oregon agriculture's number one customer. South Korea is a sophisticated, loyal customer filled with additional opportunities. China represents the fastest growing export market for our products. The sheer volume of food and other agricultural products they buy from us-an amount that is sure to increase tremendously in the future-makes these three countries vital customers.
In the world of trade, and especially in Asia, it's all about relationships. Traveling overseas and meeting with these important customers is critical. You can only do so much by phone and by email. You've also got to be there in person to reinforce that relationship face to face. We saw just how much that means. It was especially important to convey our support and assurance to the Japanese following their tragic natural disaster last spring.
Having Governor Kitzhaber present raised the profile of the entire mission. It was clear that the governor understands the economic impact that Oregon agriculture delivers, and he made ag one of his centerpieces in each of the three stops. We met with South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik and conveyed support for a Korean Free Trade Agreement-something that would be huge for Oregon producers. We met with State Councilor Madam Liu Yangdong, a high-ranking Chinese official, who is working to strengthen ties between our state and her country. We met with an important government agency, AQSIQ, which is working with us to create an inspection and certification system that would allow ODA to streamline food exports into China. Having the governor with us makes it easier-in some cases, makes it possible in the first place-to hold these important meetings and gain access to influential decision makers.
We also brought industry folks with us, which is extremely important. In this case, we had a blueberry grower, a wheat grower, and a Board of Agriculture member. Often times, the ag producers we take have not been to these markets and it's a real eye opener for them. In this case, they now understand what the market is like, what the people are like, what they are interested in, and how much they spend for premium products. As an example, some of our folks went into a grocery store and saw what blueberries sell for. It's a lot more than what they sell for in the US. So that's the reason we are in these markets. We aren't excluding local or domestic markets from Oregon agriculture, but this is the third leg of the stool-another opportunity to diversify markets.
The trade mission was a success. I'm feeling good about things. I've been to Asia a dozen or more times and I'm constantly amazed at how much more I learn on every trip. I think all of our agricultural delegation felt as overwhelmed as I did in terms of where to go from here. But this experience gave us a whole different perspective on the markets we are trying to become competitive in and what we need to do. The bottom line is that these are markets we can get Oregon ag products into.
|Nutrient management strategies help onion producer reduce nitrogen use by two-thirds|
By Stephanie Page|
Since 2000, River Point Farms in Hermiston, Oregon, has reduced the amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied annually to onion fields by a whopping sixty-seven percent. This is just one of several achievements in sustainability by the largest grower, packer, shipper and processor of onions in the United States, but it is an especially significant accomplishment because of the groundwater quality implications. By minimizing nitrogen left over in the soil throughout the growing season, River Point Farms also minimizes risk of nitrate leaching into the groundwater and helps protect drinking water in the region.
River Point Farms is located within the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) in Morrow and Umatilla Counties. The GWMA was established in 1990 to address nitrate concerns in groundwater. Nitrate in wells and drinking water above state water quality standards is a potential human health concern. An action plan developed in 1997 identified and addressed several potential sources of nitrate, including irrigated agriculture.
Dr. Bill Dean, Research Director for River Point Farms, explains that groundwater concerns and economics have driven the advances in nitrogen management at the farm. "We know that there are groundwater issues in the area, and we want to be good stewards and not contribute to the problem. The second reason is just economics-we want to be efficient so we can maintain our market share and continue to operate at a reasonable cost. Nitrogen, like all of our fertilizer products, continues to increase in price. We continue to look throughout the company for changes that will help us be sustainable."
Dean was recently asked to co-chair the irrigated agriculture subcommittee for the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area advisory committee, and has talked with several growers about their fertilizer management practices. "I don't believe I'm using a unique strategy at all," he says. "Other growers have done similar things. I'm surprised at the changes that we and other growers have been able to make without jeopardizing productivity."
River Point Farms' basic nutrient strategies include setting goals for not-to-exceed nutrient levels in the soil, frequent data gathering, and adaptive management according to the data. "It amounts to knowing what your crop's general needs are and looking specifically what the farm soil type is like, irrigation practices, and sampling on a weekly basis to see what the nitrate and ammonia levels are in the soils to make sure you don't over or under apply to meet the crop's needs. There's nothing particularly magic about it, except maybe the nutrient limits that we set in the soil. Those are so soil dependent I'd hate to give anybody a recommendation without knowing their specific farm and soil type."
The farm's nutrient management strategies are not without risk and cost. There is always a risk that changing fertilizer application levels can affect crop yields. But "We have either maintained or increased our yields-it has not been deleterious to our yields," says Bill Dean. "We take extensive data-I don't make carte blanche changes without testing things. I run a research program and advise the farm what to do based on those results."
There are also labor and other costs associated with intensive soil sample collection, sample analysis through local laboratories, and data interpretation. "The labor involved is for a sampler during about 30 percent of the year," says Bill Dean, "but the cost savings on nitrogen fertilizer more than pay for the analysis and the sampling."
In addition to fertilizer management, many growers in the area, including River Point Farms, have highly sophisticated irrigation water management and application systems. They use soil moisture monitoring and weather data to make informed decisions about when and how much to irrigate.
"On an individual basis, we understand that nitrates are only moving where there is water moving," says Bill Dean. "We need to be concerned not only about how much nitrogen has been put on, but also irrigation practices. Somebody might not be putting on too much fertilizer, but might be putting water on at the wrong time or in too large amounts. Nitrogen may also get leached from rainfall accumulating in low lying areas."
River Point Farms and other farm managers in the area remain committed to learning more about how their and other growers' practices affect groundwater quality. Dean explains that recent monitoring data of wells in the GWMA don't show the nitrate reductions that might be expected after farmers' significant advances in nutrient management.
"I'm surprised the reports that have come out for the Lower Umatilla Groundwater Management Area have showed the continued, albeit slight, increase in nitrates in the groundwater," says Bill Dean. "The ecology of this whole system has been very intriguing. I think there are things that we can all learn about the locations of wells and things that are going on in proximity to those wells that are not ag-related but are small ownership related. We might want to educate the community better once we understand what those influences are. It will take a lot of cooperation with small and large landowners, and I think that's been the goal of the Groundwater Management Area. They've made some good progress but I think these results will open up some other areas of investigation."
Since reporting the farm's accomplishments in reducing its nitrogen use, Dean has been inundated with interest from customers, grower associations, and agencies that work with agriculture to protect water quality.
"I've just finished writing a manual for our farm called "Safe and Sustainable Onion Production" and will be ready to share that with our customers sometime in the next couple of months, because they have expressed a lot of interest in what people generally refer to as sustainable farming," says Bill Dean. "Nitrogen management is only one component of what we're doing in that regard. We want to show people that we are being responsible with resources, and we want to show people that we will be here a hundred years from now."
|FoodCorps comes to Oregon|
The first class of four FoodCorps members joined with kids going back to school last month. Their assignment is to reverse childhood obesity by linking youngsters up with healthy, local food. |
"We are excited to be one of ten states to participate in this program to help communities connect children to healthy food," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba. "There is a great deal of momentum in our state that sets the stage for a successful FoodCorps initiative. I'm hopeful that the end result will be a link between kids and our wonderful, locally-grown food."
Patterned after the public service model of AmeriCorps, FoodCorps leverages federal funds to help its service members accomplish program goals.
"FoodCorps members are focusing specifically on farm to school and school garden related activities," says Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, ODA's Farm to School Program Manager. "They will build and tend school gardens, teach kids about nutrition and agriculture, and help schools source more local agricultural products."
Using FoodCorps members as a catalyst for volunteers can help in many ways. While a typical day in the life of a FoodCorps member depends on the site, Ratcliffe expects a strong, local impact.
"I can envision the member teaching third, fifth, and ninth graders in the school garden for an hour Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday, they might be seeking donations from the community for the school garden program. On Thursday, they might be training adult volunteers on how to maintain the garden over the summer."
To date, nearly half of Oregon's school districts indicate they are purchasing locally. Increasing that percentage is a worthy goal that FoodCorps may help achieve.
The four FoodCorps members in Oregon, as well as those in other sites around the nation, are committing to at least 1,700 hours of service over the next year. Another four FoodCorps members will be funded for the next two years and, hopefully, beyond if all goes well.
|2011 legislative roundup|
The 2011 Oregon Legislative Session produced dozens of bills that affect how farmers and ranchers conduct business. Below is a summary of selected approved legislation organized by topic area. With the governor's signature, these bills are now law in Oregon unless noted otherwise. For more information on all ag-related legislation and links to the final bill language, go to http://oregon.gov/ODA/ag_leg.shtml|
HB 2541: Inheritance Taxes
Provides a tax credit for natural resources estates on inheritance taxes. Act takes effect on the 91st day after Legislative adjournment.
HR 3672: Business Energy Tax Credits
Amends, sunsets and creates a number of tax credit programs within the Oregon Department of Energy. The bill is effective on the 91st day following adjournment of the legislative session and most changes take effect at that time, although some are retroactive. Changes to the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) and the Biomass Producer and Collector Tax Credit (BPC) are effective beginning January 1, 2012.
HB 3560: Wolf Compensation Bill
Creates a wolf compensation program in conjunction with interested counties. The fund is to be used to provide grants to counties so they may compensate persons for loss or injury to livestock or working dogs from wolf depredation, and to provide financial assistance to persons who implement management techniques and nonlethal methods to repel wolves. Describes conditions a county must meet to qualify for a grant, including an unspecified funding match. Allows the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture to make rules to implement a county grant program.
HB 3636: Predator Control Funding
Each application for the purchase and issuance of a license, tag, or permit to hunt wildlife will allow the applicant to make a voluntary contribution for predatory animal control (to the extent allowable under federal and state law), in the county or counties in which the license, tag, or permit allows the person to hunt. First $45,000 collected goes to ODFW to modify system to associate donations to counties; grants will be phased in over time.
SB 600: Maintaining Ag Waterways
Oregon Department of State Lands may establish by rule a general permit that allows farmers to remove up to 100 cubic yards of material from a waterway, including in essential indigenous anadromous salmonid habitat, for the purpose of maintaining drainage and protecting agricultural land. The department may waive the fees specified for removal taking place under the provisions of this section. Implementation may require rules by State Lands before effective.
HB 3408: Siting Reservoirs on Agricultural Land
Irrigation reservoirs, canals, delivery lines, and those structures and accessory operational facilities associated with an irrigation district are outright permitted in an agriculture zone.
Weeds and pests
HB 2122: Regulation of Firewood Harvested Outside the Pacific Northwest
Provides ODA the authority to require that firewood harvested outside the Pacific Northwest be treated to kill pests and diseases before it can be transported or sold in Oregon. The goal is to protect Oregon's trees from harmful invasive species like emerald ash borer.
HB 3358: Weed Grants
Declares noxious weeds a threat to Oregon economy and requires department to establish a grant program to assist county weed control districts. Requires county to establish a weed control district and provide matching funds in order to be eligible for a grant.
Supporting small, local, and regional farms
HB 2336: Small Farm Exemption from Food Safety Licensing & Inspection
Supports small local farmers and the growth of famers' markets by modifying state laws to provide licensing and inspection exemptions for farmers whose annual sales at farmers markets and direct sales to the public total less than $20,000. The Oregon Department of Agriculture will draft rules to implement the new law.
HB 2872: Small Farm Poultry Exemption
Allows the slaughter of up to 1,000 poultry annually by small producers for sale to the public. The grower may slaughter and process only poultry that are free from disease and have been raised by the grower since two weeks of age. The grower must slaughter the poultry at the business premises of the grower in a facility that meets the requirements in ORS 619.026 and any ODA rules adopted under ORS 619.046. The grower may not allow other persons to use the facility. The grower must comply with any federal limitations or prohibitions on introducing the poultry or products produced from the poultry into interstate commerce.
HB 2800: Farm to School
Funds food-based, agriculture-based, and garden-based educational activities in school districts and supports schools in the purchase of foods produced or processed in Oregon. $200,000 allocated for the 2011-13 biennium.
On-farm activities and land use
SB 960: Agri-Tourism
Expands the opportunities for farmers to supplement their farm income with agri-tourism activities, like special events and weddings, in compliance with county approvals and permits, incidental to farming activities.
HB 3280: Expands On-Site Winery Activities
Allows wineries to market and sell wine produced in conjunction with the winery, including wine tours; wine tastings in a tasting room or other location at the winery; wine clubs; and similar activities conducted for the primary purpose of promoting wine produced in conjunction with the winery.
HB 3290: Farm Income Standard for Dwellings in EFU zones
In any rule adopted by the Land Conservation and Development Commission that establishes a farm income standard to determine whether a dwelling is customarily provided in conjunction with farm use on a tract, the commission shall allow a farm operator to satisfy the income standard by earning the required amount or more of farm income on the tract: (1) In at least three of the last five years; (2) In each of the last two years; or (3) Based on the average farm income earned on the tract in the best three of the last five years.
SB 120:New Fee Schedule for Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
The current Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit has been in place for 25 years. Since that time, the size, complexity, and the regulatory requirements of CAFO permitted operations have changed. This legislation increases the annual permit fee paid by those who are primarily dairy, beef, poultry, and pork operators. The new law replaces the $25 annual fee previously charged for each permitted facility with a tiered annual fee not exceeding $300 based on size of operation. Applies to annual permit periods beginning on or after May 15, 2011.
SB 805: Hen Cage Requirements
Requires ODA to adopt rules regulating confinement of laying hens. Prescribes minimum criteria for rules. Prohibits commercial owner/operators from confining a laying hen in an enclosure that does not comply with rules. Prohibits sale of eggs or egg products when a person knows or "reasonably" should know said eggs were produced from enclosures that do not comply with adopted rules. On or after effective date of this Act (Jan 1, 2012), specifies standards that are equivalent to requirements for certification of "enriched colony facility systems" established by the American Humane Association's farm animal welfare certification program. On or after July 1, 2015, the department is directed to inspect commercial egg producing farms at "reasonable times" to enforce provisions of this Act.
HB 2827: Winter Standards for Diesel Fuel
Allows the sale of diesel fuels containing additives between the dates of 10/01 through 2/28 of the following year that may lower the content of biodiesel below the 5 percent standard in order to address winter temperatures.
SB 946: Abolishes Oregon Grains and Highland Bentgrass Commissions
This bill transfers records and property of the Oregon Grains Commission and the Oregon Highland Bentgrass Commission to the Wheat Commission and Fine Fescue Commissions respectively.
|A closer look at Oregon's graying agriculture|
In general, Oregon agriculture is getting older as the average age of farmers and ranchers is trending up. However, a closer look at US Census of Agriculture data shows that many successful operations are run by relatively younger men and women. It all depends on the types of farms they operate.|
"There is still plenty of concern about the aging of agriculture, both in Oregon and nationally," says Brent Searle, special assistant to the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. "But when you delve into the statistics of the latest census and look at the type of farm and who is running it, it gets very interesting."
In the most recent census, the average age of principal operator in Oregon-the person most responsible for the day-to-day decisions and management of the farm-is at an all-time high of 57.5 years old. That average has trended up for a couple of decades. As recently as 1982, the average age of principal operator was 50.4 years old. Currently, Oregon exceeds the national average.
"Operators age 65 and over represent about 28 percent of all farmers and ranchers in Oregon while, at the other end of the spectrum, those under the age of 45 represent about 15 percent," says Searle. "That's about a 2:1 ratio of those we think will be exiting soon from farming as opposed to those who are coming up. It's a big chunk, and that's a concern. But just looking at the overall average age of farmer may not truly reflect what is going on."
A recent analysis by the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) states, "the eventual exit of older farmers appears less ominous based on the types of farms they operate." A look at Oregon's data seems to support that statement.
"Most of our operators over age 65-about two-thirds of them-tend to be in the retirement, residential, or lifestyle categories of farm operations," says Searle. "They aren't in full scale production anymore even though they are counted as agricultural operators. These folks rent out a lot of their land and control about 15 percent of the state's farm acreage. So they are important contributors to the landscape and the caring of our natural resources. They also provide a potential land base for new farmers looking for opportunities."
The census shows that 18 percent of all Oregon farms are operated by those 65 and older who fit into the retirement, residential, or lifestyle category. About 7 percent are operated by those 65 and older who are classified as small to medium-sized farms-operators who claim farming as their major occupation with annual sales less than $250,000. Only about 3 percent of the operations are run by those 65 and older that are classified as large family farms or non-family farms-operations with annual sales more than $250,000.
"On average, farms with higher levels of sales are generally associated with younger aged farmers as a group," says Searle.
As an example, Oregon farmers earning at least $100,000 or more annually in total sales, before expenses, are two to three years younger as an age group, on average, than those earning less than $100,000 in sales. The average age for the former is 55 years compared to nearly 58 years for the latter.
"In fact, only 18 percent of Oregon farmers with sales over $500,000 are 65 or older while 32 percent of farmers with annual sales between $2,500 and $100,000 are 65 or older," says Searle.
The census also shows that farms with higher annual sales are often multi-generational and have more households sharing in the net farm income.
"The good news is many farmers bring in their children or younger operators when the scale or amount of sales is large enough to support it," says Searle. "The bad news is that the farmers in the middle-those with annual sales less than $250,000 but who claim farming as their principal occupation-appear to have a hard time integrating family members or a new generation into an operation. Economics simply make it very challenging."
Solutions to the challenge of Oregon's aging farm population are not easy to find. Certainly, a single approach does not fit the diversity and complexity of the state's agriculture.
"Based on the statistics, the traditional or higher value farms are the ones that are more able to bring along the younger generation," says Searle. "Policies such as inheritance, taxation, farm succession-those issues are big when there is a family farm transition taking place. On the other end, you have new entry, small farmers. Their issues are finances and access to land. One approach could be to pair them up with some of the retiring farmers and finding matches where land is available, allowing these younger operators to start small and grow."
Despite Oregon's mosaic of farm types, commodities, and markets, they all aim to be economically, environmentally, and socially viable. Oregon needs a healthy agriculture industry.
"We must focus on keeping agriculture in Oregon viable and showing that the industry is a place younger people can come into," says Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba. "Anything we can do to promote a good business climate and help farmers be successful, that's where we need to focus our attention."
Despite current challenges facing agriculture, the recent census continues to demonstrate that Oregon operators are in it for the long haul. About 71 percent of the state's 38,553 principal operators-some 27,446 farmers and ranchers-have been on their present farm for more than ten years.
Communities supporting agriculture and government entities being aware of regulatory impacts on farming both have a role in the competitiveness of growers and how young people may feel about agriculture as a livelihood. But an influx of younger operators is clearly needed to sustain all types of Oregon farms.
|Oregon ag's Top 10 trending up and down|
Oregon agriculture's roller coaster ride this past decade is reflected in a close look at six years of statistics for each of the state's top ten commodities. From nursery crops to cherries, the production value of Oregon's leading crops and livestock has swung high and low, with some trending up, others trending down.|
Newly revised figures released by the Oregon Agricultural Statistics Service (OASS) contain preliminary numbers for the 2010 value of production. The overall trend shows farms and ranches have bounced back from a troubling 2009 but still not to the previous levels of 2007 and 2008. The preliminary 2010 production value is $4.4 billion, up 7 percent from 2009. That's still down from the $4.9 billion in both 2007 and 2008. However, the trend appears to be on the upswing.
The leading commodities generally continue to be unchanged. But Oregon's 2010 value of agricultural production-the total value of crops and livestock sold off the farm-includes a top ten list that has a new name and a rank order that has varied from year to year:
Cherries are a first time member of the top ten and represent one of the brighter stories in Oregon agriculture the past six years. In 2005, production value for cherries was only $36 million and the commodity ranked #13 of all agricultural commodities in the state. Its steady growth hit a high of $83 million in 2009 and last year's value-down just a bit-is still a 113 percent increase from 2005.
- Greenhouse and nursery products $667 million
- Cattle and calves $493 million
- Hay $473 million
- Wheat $442 million
- Milk $415 million
- Grass seed $256 million
- Potatoes $141 million
- Onions $130 million
- Christmas trees $100 million
- Cherries $77 million
For the first time in many years, pears dropped from the top ten list even though its 2010 value of $76 million is even higher than it was in 2005. The commodity is one of the more stable ones over the six year period despite now being ranked #11.
Greenhouse and nursery production remains Oregon's top ranked agricultural commodity, but it has suffered a huge drop in value over the past several years. At $667 million, the greenhouse and nursery sector has dropped 36 percent from its high water mark of more than $1 billion in 2007. The US economic recession-particularly the slowdown in the housing market-has had a significant negative impact on sales of nursery products. The decline in production value has been steady and steep in each of the past three years.
Now ranked #2, cattle and calves continues to follow its usual cycle of peaks and valleys. Always a top five commodity, cattle and calves are down from its value of $533 million in 2005, but trending up from the $426 million in 2008. Last year's increase is 17 percent over the value in 2009.
Hay enjoyed a spike in 2008 when its value reached $613 million, putting it #2 that year. Last year, it sat at $473 million, a figure more in line with the general six year trend. Hay currently ranks #3 in Oregon.
At one time, wheat was king of Oregon agriculture. But when 2005 rolled around, the price per bushel was historically low. Wheat has rebounded from the $180 million production value that year. In 2010, largely due to improved prices and good yields, its value hit $442 million, ranking it at #4. Many Willamette Valley growers last year replaced some of their grass seed fields with wheat.
Milk consistently ranks #5 on the list of Oregon's top ag commodities. Last year's value of $415 million is the highest mark in the past six years and a 35 percent increase over 2009.
No top ten commodity has dropped in value the past six years as much as grass seed. Ranked as high as #2 just a few years ago, grass seed has declined nearly 50 percent since 2008, from a high of $510 million that year to just $256 million last year. Like the nursery industry, the recession and the corresponding housing market slump have reduced demand and sales. A surplus of grass seed has also led to a big reduction in acreage planted.
Potatoes have ranked #7 for each of the past six years, saw a spike in 2008, but have generally trended flat-no big jumps, no big drops. Last year's value of $141 million is a small decrease from 2009.
At #8 last year, onions have experienced a strange, bumpy ride since 2005. Traditionally a top ten commodity, onions dropped off the map in 2007 at just $49 million-ranked at #16-but have since rebounded nicely to $130 million in 2010. Last year‘s production value is a 27 percent increase from 2009.
Finally, Christmas trees remain a top ten commodity even though last year's value of $100 million is the lowest in the past six years and a 21 percent drop from 2005.
Predicting 2011 production values may be a challenge, but this year's weather may have more to do with the numbers than any other recent year. Time will tell.
|Oregon Century Farm and Ranch awards|
The 2011 awards ceremony for the Oregon Century Farm and Ranch Program was held at the Oregon State Fair honoring families from across the state for operating as either a Century or Sesquicentennial Farm or Ranch. |
Ten farms and ranches from eight different counties were honored this year, bringing the total number of Oregon Century Farms and Ranches to 1,128.
Sesquicentennial award was given to Jackie and Charlotte Mader whose family has continuously farmed portions of their original family acreage in Marion County for 150 years or more.
The 2011 honorees
- Evelyn Bierly, Linn County
- Anna Muilenburg Brown, Union County
- Howard Cantrell, Union County
- Carpenter Family Farm, Jackson County (Rocky Knoll, Inc.)
- Chegwyn Farm, Yamhill County (Yamhill Soil and Conservation District)
- Robert & Christy Flowers, Klamath County
- Thompson Place, Douglas County
- Delbert Langdon Ranch, Douglas County
- P.J. Rohde Ranch, Inc., Umatilla County
- Ruth Woods, Tillamook County
|Join the hunt for threatened and endangered plants in Oregon.|
Want to learn about endangered plants in your county? 1) Visit the ODA Native Plant website and find your county on the map. 2) A click will reveal the list of threatened and endangered plants in your area. 3) Plant profile pages provide photos and information about characteristics and habitat.
|October 13, 2011|
CAFO Advisory Committee
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
635 Capitol St. NE, Salem
Basement Conference Room D
October 22, 2011
Ag in the Classroom (AITC) Fall Harvest Dinner & Auction
Linn County Fair & Expo Center, Albany
5:00 pm Social Hour/Silent Auction
6:30 pm Dinner
7:45 pm Oral Auction
Complete and return the registration form:
Or simply purchase your tickets online! http://aitc.oregonstate.edu/whats/harvest.htm
December 4-5, 2011
Oregon State Board of Agriculture
Oregon State University offers low-cost energy audits
Producers looking for energy saving opportunities on their farms can now schedule a low-cost assessment with Oregon State University's Energy Efficiency Center at $370 per assessment, one-quarter of the typical cost. OSU's Energy Efficiency Center has identified energy saving strategies for agricultural producers, including irrigation systems, insulating greenhouses, and lighting improvements, along with other savings opportunities.
For more information about the program, contact the Energy Efficiency Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-737-3004.