Oregon’s bounty keeps fresh, healthy food on tables throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the world. From berries to nuts, hops to wine grapes, fruits to vegetables – the state has a long tradition of growing a wide variety of popular crops consumed at home and abroad.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber recently appeared on the KATU television show AM Northwest to discuss the importance of agriculture to the state economy and culture. “We all support the agriculture industry in ways direct and indirect,” said Gov. Kitzhaber. “But I think it is important for us to understand that agriculture is not only an important part of our economy, it is a part of the fabric of the state and of the community we call Oregon.”
Starting with the wheat fleet in the mid-1800s, the Portland Harbor and the Port of Portland have long been a part of that success story as well. The river system serves as a marine highway and a gateway to the globe by providing access to international markets. Today, Oregon exports travel across the Pacific Ocean by ship and by plane, making agriculture the state’s second strongest traded sector industry after high tech. It is a $3.5 billion industry supporting 140,000 jobs.
Demand for foods grown in Oregon is steadily increasing in Asia, supporting the state’s 37,000 family farms producing more than 220 different crops. “One of the central reasons that I go to Asia … is to promote Oregon agriculture – in Korea, Japan, China,” said Gov. Kitzhaber. “When I was in Hong Kong, I saw Tillamook Cheese, I saw Oregon Anjou pears, and I saw Oregon country beef on the shelves of a small store on a side street.”