The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is an agency within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Its stated goal is “… to provide timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U. S. agriculture.” In addition to the Washington D.C. headquarters there are 45 field offices to assist in that goal. The Oregon field office is located in Portland, Oregon.
Field offices collect data using voluntary surveys from farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. They compile these data and, using sound statistical methods, provide recommended estimates for crops, stocks, livestock, chemical use, and other items. These recommendations are sent to the Washington, D.C., headquarters where statisticians issue the State and national estimates on scheduled dates throughout the year. About 300 national and 9,000 State reports are issued annually. Through cooperative agreements many States also publish county-level estimates of crops and livestock. Many field offices also conduct special surveys to fulfill local needs for statistical information.
Because of the economic sensitive nature of some reports, NASS has set up security guidelines that prevent reports from being released to the public before the official release date. In addition, the privacy of individually-reported information maintained is, by law. No information is shared with others.
The Oregon Field office prepares a number of reports. Some of these reports reflect Oregon’s diverse agriculture while others showcase the State’s agricultural base. The reports are designed to tell Oregon’s “Agricultural Story”. These reports include:
- Annual Agriculture and Fisheries Statistics Bulletin. This report is the State’s annual summary that contains most of the statistics published during the year and it also includes data for previous years.
- Agri-Facts. This bi-monthly digest has seasonally pertinent data.
- Agricultural Chemical Use. This national report consists of chemical application rates and acres of selected fruit and vegetable crops.
- Crop, Fruit and Nut and Livestock Reports. Displays detailed information about selected industries such as peaches, hazelnuts, hay, potatoes, wheat, barley and other crops as well as cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock.
- Nursery and Greenhouse Summary. Annual report that contains detailed information about plant materials, sales and labor data.
- Vineyard and Winery Report. Annual report that displays information about wine varieties, wine grape production and wine sales
- Crop Weather Report. Weekly report on crop condition, progress and weather; published during the growing season.
Oregon’s agriculture is as diverse as its geography. Historically, Oregon has been the number one provider of blackberries, hazelnuts, loganberries, black raspberries, boysenberries, youngberries, Dungeness crab, potted florist azaleas, grass seed, and Christmas trees in the Nation. Oregon’s varied geography, with its unique locales, enables a variety of crops and livestock to thrive.
In the cool moist climate of the Willamette valley, over 170 different crop and livestock items are produced, including grass and legume seeds, tree fruits and nuts, wine grapes, berries, vegetables, nursery, Christmas trees, and field crops such as wheat, oats, mint and hops, hay, livestock and poultry and miscellaneous field crops. On the coast, Tillamook County dairy farms are famous for their cheeses while cranberries are harvested near Coos Bay.
In contrast, the area east of the Cascades is considered as Oregon's semi-arid interior making up the vast portion of the land mass in the State. Here haying and raising cattle on ranges and pastures is common. Crops in this area are also grown in abundance, often requiring the need for irrigation making for some of the highest crop yields in the Nation for certain commodities.
Hood River county, amid the foothills of Mt Hood in north-central Oregon, produces high quality tree fruit, particularly apples and pears; while The Dalles, just to the east produces sweet cherries. The Rogue River Valley in southern Oregon produces pears and other tree fruits as well.
In the Wallowa/Blue Mountain area of northeastern Oregon, cattle, wheat, specialty grass seeds and some orchard crops are produced. The Snake River Basin to the south is irrigated by the Snake, Owyhee and Malheur Rivers to produce hay, grain, potatoes, onions, sugar beets, vegetables and seed crops. Its dairies also serve populations just across the border in Idaho. This area, also known as the Treasure Valley area is the largest producing area of storage onions in the Nation.
The southeastern part of the State, the high desert, is cattle country. Here cattle graze on thousands of acres of rangeland, supplemented by irrigated hay and pasture.
In central Oregon around Madras, Redmond and Prineville, rich soil irrigated by the Deschutes, the Crooked and the John Day rivers produce potatoes, mint, hay and other field crops in abundance. In south-central Oregon on a high plateau with sandy volcanic soils, the Klamath Basin specializes in fresh market potatoes, sugar beets and beef cattle.
During the 1980's and continuing into today, there appears to be a gradual movement from traditional grain production toward the production of specialty crops. The largest influence in this shift is the expansion of the greenhouse and nursery industry, which has become Oregon’s highest grossing commodity. The wine and vineyard industry has doubled its sales and planted acres in the past ten years. The Willamette Valley is well-suited to grow Pinot Noir, which has become Oregon’s leading wine. Organic foods have become popular, prompting local chefs to utilize them in their menus. Cattle farmers are becoming more sensitive to this market and a few receive premiums for organic meat. In addition to the move towards specialty crops, local farmer’s markets have grown, providing consumers with a direct link to their food.
In addition to specialty crops, Oregon does produce a substantial amount of traditional agricultural products such as wheat and potatoes. Historically; greenhouse and nursery products, cattle, hay, grass seed and milk have been the State’s top 5 producing commodities. These 5 commodities contribute over 60% of Oregon’s total agricultural value.