Agriculture is everywhere in Oregon. You can find it in every corner of the state, and it shapes who we are as a people, our health and our culture. Agriculture is also vital to good local jobs, which is why our leaders value the important work that men and women in agriculture do every day.
Governor John Kitzhaber spoke about the importance of Oregon agriculture last summer, saying:
Agriculture is Oregon, Oregon is Agriculture. And we all support the agricultural industry in ways direct and indirect. But I think it’s important for us to understand that agriculture is not only an important part of our economy, it’s a part of the fabric of this state and of the community we call Oregon.
Probably nobody works harder than people in our agriculture community, they have a very strong work ethic. I think that ethic is important to the success of agriculture but I think that the whole idea of a work ethic is important for people whether they work in the fields or whether they work in the office. I try to instill that ethic in my 15 year old son. It’s a very important part of who we are, and it’s certainly a part of Oregon agriculture.
People don’t understand, I think, the scope of the impact that agriculture has on the economy. When we sell our products, particularly in Asia, along with the sales comes this image of Oregon as a green sustainable place that produces high quality, not only agriculture products, but other products as well. And, it’s a tremendous marketing tool. The central reason that I go to Asia every year is to promote Oregon agriculture in Korea, Japan,[and] China. 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 in Hong Kong.
People need to understand that agriculture is not just about growing food, it’s about promoting Oregon. It’s about keeping the land clean and sustainable. And, it’s about us, it’s about our communities. Actually, agriculture has been one of our bright spots during the recession; it’s our second highest trading sector after technology. In 2012, 25 of our 36 counties showed an increase in their overall agricultural product.
Most of the things that affect people’s lifetime health status, have nothing to do with healthcare. They have to do with lifestyle, behavior and environmental issues. We are what we eat, and food is a building block of a healthy life. We produce fabulous agricultural products, dairy products, seafood and wheat here in the state of Oregon.
Oregonians are very ingenious people and they are very hard working and highly motivated. We are blessed with this wonderful climate, with rich soil, with water. And, they’re taking advantage of it! One of the strengths of Oregon agriculture is it’s not a monoculture, it’s very diversified.
This is where I live, this is where my son was born, and I want to do everything I can to make sure it remains as beautiful and pristine and is built on a solid sense of community belonging.
If you take agriculture away from Oregon, Oregon isn’t Oregon any more. I mean not just in terms of its contribution to the economy, but in terms of our open spaces, in terms of the greenery, in terms of the culture of the agriculturist, the culture of the rancher, are part of who we are, part of who we are when we got here. They’re an important element of our community and what defines us today.
We are so lucky to live in Oregon and have healthy Oregon foods available to us more than ever!
You can get Oregon foods in your school, restaurants, grocery stores, farm stands, and farmer’s markets. With 37,000 family farms producing over 220 different crops there are lots of great choices that both nourish your family and help our farmer’s and communities prosper.
Tell us about your favorite place to get Oregon agriculture products in the comments section below.