Umatilla County second in state for ag sales

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SALEM — Despite a drop in sales, Umatilla County remained the second-highest agricultural producer among Oregon’s 36 counties last year, state officials said Friday.

The county produced $487 million in farm and ranch sales in 2012, according to statistics compiled by Oregon State University. Marion County was first with $639 million.

The top 10

Marion — $639 million

Umatilla — $487 million

Morrow — $482 million

Malheur — $373 million

Clackamas — $343 million

Linn — $301 million

Washington — $292 million

Klamath — $290 million

Yamhill — $269 million

Polk — $162 million

“For the first time in recent memory, three of the top four counties are east of the Cascades,” said Bruce Pokarney, Oregon Department of Agriculture spokesman. “Umatilla and Morrow counties held steady at number two and number three respectively. But Malheur County jumped up a spot to number four, dropping Clackamas County to (fifth place).”

Linn County moved up a couple of spots in 2012 to number six with Washington County dropping to seventh place and Klamath County to number eight. Yamhill and Polk counties remained in ninth and tenth places.

Of those in the top ten, only Umatilla County showed a decrease in gross farm and ranch sales last year, said Jim Johnson, ODA land use specialist. The county had a 3.2 percent drop in sales from the $503 million it posted in 2011.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the reasons for the decline, but a drop in vegetable and truck crops in Umatilla County was a factor,” he said.

Johnson said with that exception, Eastern Oregon counties did well in 2012.

“They’ve not just come back strong, they’ve expanded,” he said. “When you look at the growth the past few years of high value crop production in irrigated agriculture in Morrow, Umatilla, and Malheur counties, to me, that is economic development in its truest sense.”

Oregon’s total agricultural sales for 2012 is up nearly 3.4 percent at more than $5.48 billion, another record high for the state. Eleven counties recorded double digit increases this past year.

Nearly half of Oregon’s agricultural production still takes place in the Willamette Valley. However, the impact of agriculture remains even greater in rural Oregon as farming and ranching represent a larger percentage of the local economy.

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