The Oregon Department of Agriculture has a three-fold mission: food safety and consumer protection; protecting the natural resource base; and marketing agricultural products.
More than 40,000 farms and ranches make up Oregon’s diverse agricultural landscape. These producers generate over $4.5 billion in annual farm gate sales and services from more than 220 different commercial commodities. Many of Oregon’s products are unique; Oregon leads the nation in production of blackberries and several other cranberries; hazelnuts; ryegrass and several other cool season grasses and clover seeds; Christmas trees; Dungeness crab; peppermint; and several nursery products and specialty seeds. Oregon is also a major producer of onions, hops, green beans, blueberries, cherries, pears, and many other specialty products.
Oregon boasts over 1,000 Century Farms, signifying ownership and operation in the same family for more than 100 years. More than 98% of Oregon’s farms are family owned and operated, with 88% of these as sole proprietor farms or ranches; another 5-6% as family partnerships, with an equal amount organized as family corporations.
Oregon’s agricultural diversity lends itself to many specialty crops that are labor intensive. Tree fruits, berries, nursery, vineyards, and many other crops require labor rates much higher than traditional field crops grown in other areas. To emphasize the point, Oregon ranks 26th in total agricultural output among states, but ranks 5th of all states in overall employee compensation paid to farm workers. Reliance on adequate labor is critical for Oregon’s crop mix.
With nursery production leading the way and approaching one billion dollars in value, Oregon's total value of agricultural production has increased 18 of the past 19 years. Diversity and high quality will continue to be the key terms to describe Oregon agriculture.