Umatilla County part of record year in Oregon farming

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Umatilla County farmers and ranchers shared in the bounty of a record-setting year for agricultural sales in 2011, new statistics show.

The county remained second-highest in Oregon for sales, recording a 27 percent increase over 2010, according to figures from Oregon State University. Gross farm sales were about $503 million last year compared to $397 million in 2010.

Marion County remained tops in sales with $616 million. Overall, 34 of the state's 36 counties increased agricultural sales last year.

According to OSU researchers, total sales statewide in 2011 increased 19.1 percent to a record $5.2 billion, besting the previous high of $4.9 billion set in 2008. Of the 89 commodities identified in the OSU report, 66 increased in sales compared with 2010.

In a release, Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba said that as the numbers have improved, so have nearly all of Oregon's county economies, reflecting the importance of farming, ranching and fishing.

"You won't find many Oregon industries that can say they grew by 19 percent last year," she said. "This growth comes on the heels of some challenging times and down years, but generally, 2011 was a great year for our producers."

Bruce Pokarney, agriculture department spokesman, said Umatilla and Morrow counties both solidified their hold on the No. 2 and 3 positions due cattle, grains and irrigated crops,

Umatilla County increased 27 percent while Morrow County increased 21 percent. Cattle sales grew nearly 13 percent while wheat jumped a whopping 47 percent with increased acreage and yields.

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