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Oregon net farm income dropped 5 percent in 2012

By Eric Mortenson

Capital Press

Oregon net farm income dropped 5 percent in 2012, but the state agriculture department says not to worry, it's cyclical.

Net farm income in Oregon dropped 5.2 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, but state ag officials say they aren’t worried about it.

The income figure is cyclical, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said in a news release. Generally, the department said, Oregon agriculture has recovered from the recession.

Net farm income in 2012 was $960 million, down from $1.01 billion recorded in 2011. In 2010, with the national economy wobbling, Oregon’s net farm income was $452 million. The record – $1.14 billion –was set in 2004.

“We weren’t all that far off last year,” department analyst Stephanie Page said. “Although you never like to see a drop in the numbers, I don’t think a 5.2 percent decrease after such a big year is that much of a concern.”

Farm income is projected to increase this year, she said.

Net farm income is what’s left after expenses such as land, equipment and labor are subtracted from the money growers receive for their product. Oregon ranked 31st nationally in net farm income in 2012. California was first, with $16 billion. Idaho ranked 14th nationally with net farm income of $2.7 billion in 2012; Washington was 18th with $2.1 billion.

Page said lack of access to irrigation water in some geographic areas of the state may be a reason Oregon trails its neighbors. Other factors include Oregon’s niche crop types and the size of farms located in the state. Compared to other states, Oregon has a higher percentage of small farms that generate less than $10,000 annually, she said.

Although dwarfed by such sectors as cattle, nursery production and even hay, Oregon’s high-value wine industry continues its sharp rise.

Wine grapes set a record for cash receipts, $94 million, in 2012, Page said. Cash receipts were $63 million in 2010 and about $81 million in 2011. For perspective, Oregon’s wine grapes fetched $26 million in 2000, she said.

Oregon pears and fescue grass seed did well in 2012, while milk and blueberry income decreased, Page said. Nationally, net farm income decreased 3.6 percent in 2012.



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