Celebrate Ag this holiday season

Thanksgiving is all about making time to reflect on the many things in life for which we are grateful. In conversations around the dinner table, Oregon Farm Bureau urges readers to remember the farm and ranch families who grew the food you’ll be enjoying not only during the holidays, but all year long.

While Oregon isn’t a major producer of turkeys, we do specialize in beef cattle; cattle and calves rank as Oregon’s #3 top agricultural commodity by production value, drawing in over $625 million a year.

Your holiday dining will almost certainly feature other prominent Oregon ag products. Oregon is Number 1 in the nation for producing hazelnuts and Dungeness crab; Number 2 for pears and onions; Number 3 for cranberries; and Number 4 for green peas and potatoes. Milk is Oregon’s Number 4 top ag commodity, valuing at $552 million, and is used to create a host of delicious dairy products.

You’ll #CelebrateAg when you raise a toast during the holidays. Oregon-grown hops are to thank for many of the region’s craft beers, and our state ranks Number 3 in the United States for growing hops. The Oregon wine industry has surged over the past decade, now to 1,297 vineyards with 908 wineries. Wine grapes are the state’s Number 7 top ag commodity, valuing at $238 million.

Few things are more festive than purchasing a fresh Christmas tree. Did you know that Oregon is Number 1 in the nation for Christmas tree production? Because more people are staying at home this year due to the pandemic, there is expected to be increased interest in purchasing a live, fragrant tree that can be enjoyed all season long. 

Beyond seasonal favorites, there are many other reasons to #CelebrateAg.

For one, Oregon agriculture is sustainable. Through Oregon Farm Bureau’s Century Farm & Ranch Program, an impressive 1,235 farms and ranches have remained operational, on the same land, and within the same family for at least 100 years, and 47 families have reached the 150-year milestone.

Agriculture is also family-based. Nearly 97% of Oregon’s farms and ranches — including commercial-scale farms — are family-owned and operated. Some are “corporate farms” that incorporated for tax purposes or succession-plan reasons. In agriculture, “big” doesn’t mean “bad.”

Agriculture benefits the environment. The wide, open spaces created by farms and ranches not only preserve Oregon’s cherished landscapes, but also provide 70% of the state’s wildlife habitat. 551,000 acres of Oregon ag land are enrolled in the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program, which helps improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat on private land. And, combined, U.S. agriculture, land use, and forestry are a net sink for carbon emissions, removing 172 million metric tons of C02-equivalent emissions from the atmosphere in 2017.

Whether for the simple pleasure of enjoying Oregon-grown food—or for agriculture’s countless other contributions to society—please join us and take a moment to #CelebrateAg this holiday season.

(Barb Iverson is president of the Oregon Farm Bureau.)