The last two years for Oregon agriculture have been very challenging to say the least. In 2020, producers dealt with not only the worldwide pandemic that shutdown the supply chain, but also historic wildfires over the summer and Labor Day weekend. And in 2021, not only have the impacts of COVID-19 stuck around, but producers were dealt a historic drought as well as more wildfires.
But despite all of that, Alexis Taylor, head of the Oregon Department of Agriculture said farmers continue to produce world class products. She said Oregon export numbers were pretty strong in 2020, as roughly $2.5 billion worth of agriculture, food and beverage products were shipped overseas, with 72% of that going to six markets. Taylor pointed out that while they continue to host virtual trade meetings, they are looking forward to a return to in person meetings.
“We are very anxious to get back overseas when we are able,” Taylor noted. “You know, our focus when we come out of this pandemic when we’re able to travel again looking toward 2022, likely, is spending some time with those key markets and some of our top trading partners and really reinvesting and reintroducing ourselves who we are as Oregon agriculture and the fantastic products we produce.”
Taylor noted the priorities post pandemic include Canada, Mexico, SE Asia, China and Japan.
Another issue for Oregon Ag, specifically the livestock sector over the past two years has been issues with packing houses. She said problems in Nebraska and Iowa ripple back to the rangelands of Oregon.
“And the small to mid-sized meat processors that we have in the state were already over capacity, and so we’ve done a lot of work with the Oregon legislature and our Oregon livestock sector to set up a state meat inspection program. We’re working through that now.”
Taylor added that the state legislature also provided ODA $2 million to create a grant program to expand or create new slaughter and processing facilities within the state to help meet the growing demand. Details of that program have yet to be introduced, but they are working on it.
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