Recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that Oregon’s agriculture production is worth a record $5.4 billion, a record high for our state, suggesting that our agriculture industry is largely recovered from the most recent recession. I know this firsthand as I am receiving the highest prices ever in my years of farming. Our state needs to take advantage of this upward momentum; one sure-fire way to do so is to expand exports.

Our region has the capability to expand our exports to meet the increasing demands of global markets. Expansion of our ports allows for increased trade with Asian markets for bulk commodity industries, like coal, agriculture, and timber industries. More trade means more economic activity, resulting in increased opportunities, through job growth and state revenues. Private investments, such as the proposed export facilities made possible by coal exports, provide a stimulus for the entire export industry.

Most of our state’s agriculture products increased their production over the past year. So, providing new outlets for this production will help the in the long-term growth of our industry.  Our state’s top ten agricultural products include: greenhouse and nursery products, cattle and calves, hay, milk, wheat, grass seed, potatoes, pears, corn for grain, and onion.

As a grass seed farmer, I understand how expanded exports can directly affect a small farm. My farm’s grass seed is now being exported to China, a market that was not available a few years ago. This new market helped my farm in two ways: First, my farm’s cash flow increased because of higher prices from demand from China and secondly I am paid more quickly for my grass seed as it is shipped immediately upon harvesting and processing, which helps me pay my suppliers more quickly putting dollars to work in the community sooner than normal.

My story is not unique in agriculture, yet it illustrates the opportunities created when exports are expanded and when my shipping costs are lowered because of expanded export capacity.

With our state rebounding in agriculture production, creating an opportunity for Oregon products, like my own, to reach new and growing markets would provide long-term industry growth.