Crops top $5 billion in value; beef leads way

    PORTLAND — For the second year in a row, beef is Oregon's No. 1 agricultural commodity.

    The state Department of Agriculture this week released the list of Oregon's top 10 crop and livestock values for 2015. The commodities on the list are the same as the year before, except onions replaced hazelnuts.

    Cattle and calves brought in $914 million, down from $922 million in 2014, edging greenhouse and nursery products for the top spot.

    Agriculture Department spokesman Bruce Pokarney said in a news release that the cattle industry is cyclical and prices have weakened in 2016: "Nonetheless, cattle and calves is expected to be a mainstay at or near the top all commodities in the foreseeable future."

    Rounding out the top 10 for 2015 were hay, milk, grass seed, wheat, potatoes, pears, wine grapes and onions. Hay and milk retained their positions despite seeing their values drop by $100 million and $180 million, respectively.

    Though ninth of the list, the wine grape sector has been the greatest gainer over the past decade. Pokarney said the production value for 2015 was $147 million, an increase of more than 300 percent since 2005.

    Outside the top 10, three commodities that have shown tremendous growth in the last decade are blueberries, eggs and apples. Oregon harvested a record 97 million pounds of blueberries last year, satisfying demand for the berry that has a reputation as a superfood. The Oregon crop value is up about 250 percent since 2005.

    As for apples, Pokarney said the growing popularity of ciders is perhaps why the value of production has spiked 131 percent since 2005.

    The state produces more than 220 agricultural commodities and the overall crop value for 2015 was $5.4 billion, similar to 2014. Only one of Oregon's top 20 commodities, Christmas trees, has declined in production value over the past decade, and it's only down 2 percent.

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