Oregon farmers and ranchers enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2005, generating more than $4 billion in product sales - the highest annual agricultural earnings estimate recorded since the Oregon State University Extension Service began compiling the data three decades ago.
Thirteen Oregon counties had more than $100 million in farm sales, led by Marion County, with $540 million; Clackamas County, $362 million; Washington County, $275 million; Umatilla County, $275 million; and Yamhill County, $264 million.
The 2005 sales of $4.1 billion is a 5% increase over the total recorded for 2004.
"While breaking the $4 billion mark is noteworthy, 2005 can best be described as a good but not necessarily great year for Oregon agriculture," says Larry Burt, an OSU Extension economist and the primary author and coordinator of the annual report.
"Price instability and market volatility depressed earnings in some sectors of the farm and ranch economy," he says. "On the other hand, several commodities enjoyed significant growth in value of sales in 2005."
About 72% of the total earnings came from sales of crops, while 28% originated with livestock and poultry, Burt says. This approximate 70/30 ratio of crop to livestock sales has held steady in Oregon agriculture for the past several years, he adds.
For the second straight year, cattle and calves continued the state's number one agricultural commodity in gross sales with a total value of $619 million. Nursery crops came in a close second with sales of $618 million.
Taking Oregon's ornamental crops as a whole - including nursery, greenhouse crops and Christmas trees - this sector far exceeded all other agricultural commodities with 2005 earnings of $878 million, Burt explains. This is about 2.6% above the 2004 level and more than 25% of the estimated statewide total for all commodities, he says.
Poultry and other animal products made significant gains in sales in 2005.
"Poultry gross sales climbed 17% over year-earlier levels due in large part to increased value of broiler chicken sales of just over 28%," Burt says. "Chicken egg production statewide increased slightly from 2004 levels and a 7% price improvement led to chicken egg value of sales improving to just over $50 million, a 9% increase compared to 2004."
Other animal products - excluding cattle, dairy and poultry - posted a gain of slightly more than 17% in sales from 2004 to 2005.
A more extensive report on Oregonâ€™s 2005 farm year will appear in the May issue of Western Farmer-Stockman.