Friday, January 30, 2009

Seattle, San Francisco garden shows ending

Duane Kelly, chairman of Salmon Bay Events, made an announcement this morning that surprised many people in the industry -- that the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, and the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, will both end with their 2009 editions, unless he can find a buyer for them. From the official press release:
“My wife Alice and I have decided that this year’s event will be our last as organizers and we are pulling out all of the stops to make it the best on record. We’ve enjoyed every minute of the past 21 years but are ready to pursue some other passions,” Kelly said. “We had hoped to sell the shows to buyers that are committed to maintaining their level of quality. However, to date, we have been unsuccessful.”
As it stands now, the final Northwest Flower & Garden Show will be held Feb. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. For more information on the two shows, see www.gardenshow.com.

ADD: Coverage in the Seattle Times.

Short notice

We received this information today, and although it's very short notice for most folks, it still is worth passing along:
Do you have old pesticides you want to get rid of? There will be a FREE collection event (PDF flier) on Saturday, Feb. 7 from 9 a.m.-3 for Marion and Clackamas county residents. This is a great opportunity to safely and anonymously dispose of your old pesticides. You MUST pre-register, using this application. Applications are due today (Friday, Jan. 30, 2009). You can also read more about it on the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District's Website: www.marionswcd.net. For details, contact Scott Eden,
Resource Conservationist, Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, 650 Hawthorne Ave S.E., # 130, Salem, OR 97301.

State of Perfection Tour IV

Stop four on our State of Perfection Tour was at Alpha Nursery in Salem, Ore., a multi-generational family business. As always, we asked them about a favorite plant and Josh Zielinski identified a Photinia fraserii variety that happens to be the nursery's only patent (so far):



Come back next Friday for the final installment in this series, at Champoeg Horticulture in Aurora, Ore.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chemeketa announces spring hort, landscaping offerings

Chemeketa Community College has announced its spring offerings in horticulture, landscaping and pesticides. Registration begins March 10 and spring term runs March 30-June 12. New courses include "Identification of Herbaceous Plants 1," "Nursery and Greenhouse Business Management," "Success in the Nursery and Greenhouse Workplace," and "Hop Cultivation." To see the full listing of offerings, browse Chemeketa's Natural Resources page. Starting March 10, students can register on the web at http://my.chemeketa.edu. If the student has not attended a class at Chemeketa within the last year they must call 503-399-5139 or 503-589-7946 for registration information.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Card check fight heads to airwaves

With a new Congress now in session, pro-union advocates are taking to the airwaves with a campaign promoting the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). This proposal, often called the "card-check bill," would allow union organizers to represent workplaces in which they can get 50 percent plus one of the employees to sign a card favoring union representation. There is no shortage of coverage to be found on the matter, including this article that explains some of the concerns small businesses have. Expect to hear further debate on the proposal this year.

Do ask, do tell

Metal thefts long have been a concern for nurseries and growers. The thieves target irrigation pipes and other pieces of equipment, and then sell them anonymously to scrap metal dealers for cash (often to fund drug habits). That's why the Oregon Association of Nurseries has been among the strongest voices asking for greater enforcement and accountability – and it appears that legislators are listening. Rep. Greg Macpherson is a cosponsor of newly-introduced legislation that would crack down on this activity and require greater documentation of transactions. He told the Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, Ore.):
“Currently, there isn’t that accountability piece ... “You have that convenient excuse of ‘I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t ask; I didn’t have to.’ ”
One could call this new legislation a "Do ask, do tell" policy.

Emergency Conservation Program available to storm-damaged nurseries

The following press release was issued on Friday:
The USDA/Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Oregon has announced that the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) is available to assist nurseries and other farm operations that suffered damage during the ice and snow storms in late December.

The Emergency Conservation Program provides emergency funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. ECP is administered by state and county FSA committees. Subject to availability of funds, locally-elected county committees are authorized to implement ECP for all disasters.

Plant nurseries and other farm operations that sustained damage to hoop houses or other temporary structures due to the ice and snow should contact their local FSA Office to inquire about signup dates for the ECP. Funds may be made available to assist with debris removal of damaged structures. Damaged permanent irrigation systems may also be eligible. Permanent structures such as green houses, storage buildings or livestock barns are not eligible nor are portable irrigation systems.

Individual or cumulative requests for cost-sharing of $50,000 or less per person, per disaster are approved at the county committee level. Cost-sharing from $50,001 to $100,000 is approved at the state committee level. Cost-sharing over $100,000 must be approved by FSA's national office.

The FSA Offices will compile notice of losses and make site visits to determine eligibility for the program. ECP program participants receive cost-share assistance of up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved emergency conservation practices, as determined by county FSA committees. Landowner and/or operators should visit the local FSA office as soon as possible. The location of local offices may be found here.

You may also find telephone number and location in your local telephone directory under US Government/Farm Service Agency or USDA.

Friday, January 23, 2009

State of Perfection Tour III

Stop three on our State of Perfection Tour was at JLPN, Inc. – that stands for Johnathon Lee Propagation Nursery – where owners John and Crystal Lewis specialize in, what else, propagation. As with our other stops, we asked John to talk about a favorite that he grows at his nursery, and his was a simple red oak. He talks about it on the video:



Come back next Friday for the next installment in this series, which happens to be just down the road a piece from JLPN. Alpha Nursery is also located in Salem, Ore.

Forced to innovate

Medill Reports (Chicago, Ill.) has this article on what nurseries are doing to cope with the tougher economic climate this year. As we've been saying in Digger magazine, times are tough, but it helps to market your business wisely, and look for the opportunities present in a down economy.

Back to life

The South County Spotlight (Scappoose, Ore.) has a story about how the nurseries in Columbia County are recovering from the December storms.

'Less care' ... not 'no care'

Gardening columnist Carol Savonen's newest installment in the Salem, Ore. Statesman Journal concerns native plants, and how they can make a garden more attractive and easier to care for at the same time. But there's an important bit of advice in there:
This doesn't mean that you can just plant them and walk away. "Many gardeners make the mistake of thinking that native plants can fend for themselves in the garden," said Linda McMahan, native plant expert and horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service in Yamhill County. "Establishing native plants requires care." Each type of native plant does best only when its requirements for temperature, moisture, light, soil and terrain are met. The first thing to do when considering growing natives is to pay attention to the microenvironments in your home landscape. Walk your yard and pick one area where you'd like to introduce a few natives this spring. Which way does that part of your yard face? How many hours of sunlight does it receive? Is it well-drained or soggy all winter? With those factors in mind, choose native plants accordingly.
Good advice to give your customers. Remember, their success is your success. If you steer them right, they'll be back for more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New NWREC plant health educator

The North Willamette Research and Extension Center has hired a new bilingual extension educator in nursery plant health. Dr. Luisa Santamaria will be introduced at a reception from 2-6 p.m. Friday, March 6 at NWREC, 15210 N.E. Miley Road, Aurora, Ore (directions).

Dr. Santamaria is currently working as a post-doctoral Research Associate with Tennessee State University in McMinnville, investigating Phytophthora subspecies in nurseries systems. She has an M.S. degree in Horticulture and a Ph.D in Plant Pathology from the University of Delaware.

In addition to work on Phytophthora in nurseries, Dr. Santamaria has worked with downy mildew resistance of lima beans;Solanum resistance to Meloidogine nematodes; isolation and culturing of different groups of nitrogen-fixing bacteria; seed germination and regeneration in vitro of endangered species of orchids; and micropropagation protocols for commercialization of species of potatoes, strawberry, garlic, and gerbera.

OAN legislative agenda

The Oregon Association of Nurseries announced its federal and state legislative agendas for 2009. On the federal level, the top priority continues to be comprehensive immigration reform, which includes border security, an adjustment of status for workers currently in the United States, and a visa system that is flexible and provides for a future flow of workers.

Other federal priorities include implementation of various initiatives in the 2008 Farm Bill; reauthorization of transportation projects that may include use of plant materials to achieve environmental goals; a national strategy for plant pest and disease control efforts; funding for development and implementation of the systems approach to battling pest and disease issues; and a balanced approach to pesticide rulemaking. The OAN is opposed to expansions of the Clean Water Act that would apply the law to ponds and irrigation conveyance structures, and it also opposes card-check unionization.

On the state level, the OAN is following issues related to labor, water, taxation, transportation, metal theft, land use and the environment. It opposes attempts to regulate immigration at the state level. In terms of wages, the OAN may seek measures, such as tax credits, to mitigate the impact of automatic minimum wage hikes on agricultural employers. OAN supports measures to increase freight mobility. Metal thefts remain a concern for nursery producers, and OAN will pursue a bill to increase enforcement against metal thieves.

To download these agendas, click on the links in the first sentence of this post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

44

Now that the historic moment has passed and President Barack Obama has been sworn in, expect to start seeing (and hearing) more analysis on how the new administration will affect agriculture and the nursery industry. Here's a well-rounded piece from the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Citrus longhorned beetle fears spur federal order

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a federal order (PDF) restricting importation of several plants from several countries (mostly in Asia) due to the threat of the citrus longhorned beetle (pictured; photo courtesy of Wikipedia) and the Asian longhorned beetle. The affected countries include the following: Afghanistan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The European Union is also affected but not as severely. Only certain species are regulated, so be sure and read the official order if you have questions about what is and what isn't.

State of Perfection Tour II

The second stop on our State of Perfection Tour was at Don Schmidt Nursery in Boring, Ore., where second-generation owner Jim Schmidt grows more than 350 varieties of Japanese maple trees. We asked him about his favorite, and while he said it's hard to single just one out, he especially enjoys the Sango-kaku Japanese maple. In this clip, he talks about it:



Remember to come back each Friday for a new clip until we have posted all five. Next week: Alpha Nursery in Salem, Ore.

Toot

I just wanted to drop an announcement in that we have exceeded 1,000 unique visitors, 2,000 visits and 4,000 pageviews since we started keeping statistics on this blog in late October. Thanks to everyone for dropping in. We would love to hear your thoughts as to how we could improve this blog, and you're always welcome to share your thoughts on any post by leaving a comment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nurseries more affected by recession than most

One resource for good information on agricultural markets is the quarterly Knowledge Center Market Snapshots, which are reports by Northwest Farm Credit Services. As one might expect, the latest batch of snapshots indicates that demand is softening, or at best, level, for nearly all agricultural commodities: beef, wheat, dairy, fruits, forest products, wine, hay and potatoes. Things are looking particularly dour, however, for the nursery industry. Here's what the latest Market Snapshot (dated 31.Dec) had to say:
"Although the recession impacts virtually every business, the nursery industry is experiencing its worst economic downturn since the 1980s. Bookings for 2009 delivery are down 20-30 percent from last year for many producers. In addition to economic challenges, many nursery producers experienced severe damage to greenhouses from snow and ice storms in December."
The rest of the report adds more information, not much of it positive, but it also shares some tips for getting along in this rough economy. It's behind a registration wall, but signup is free. Just go to www.farm-credit.com/resources and look for the link on the left to register. After you get your login, click on Knowledge Center and then Market Snapshots.

Down with YGP

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that our friends at the 2009 Yard Garden and Patio Show Presented by Dennis Seven Dees Landscape and Garden Centers have a new blog going over at www.ygpshow.blogspot.com. Not only that, but they've started a Facebook fan page where you can receive updates and even sign up to be a YGP fan. The show is Feb. 27-March 1 at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (map/directions), Portland, Ore. We'll be there and we hope you will too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Governor, ODA director seek disaster declaration

Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, have gone to bat for Oregon nurseries by seeking a disaster declaration, which would free up assistance to those who suffered winter storm damage.

The announcement was made at an OAN-organized meeting Tuesday afternoon in Wilsonville. On Monday, Kulongoski wrote a letter asking the U.S. secretary of agriculture to declare a disaster. Previously, on Jan. 2, Coba wrote a letter to Larry Frey, who directs the USDA Farm Service Agency at the state level in Oregon. Kulongoski’s letter sought a secretarial disaster declaration, while Coba’s asked for an administrative disaster declaration.

Both declarations have the potential to free up aid for growers suffering the effects of collapsed hoop houses and frozen field-grown crops due to the abnormally high amount of snow and ice that fell in December. This would be in addition to programs that help growers even without a disaster declaration.

At the Tuesday meeting, state and federal officials — including Coba and Frey — outlined aid programs that are available, or may become available, for Oregon growers. Among others, these programs include low-interest loans, conservation grants to repair damage to land, assistance for non-insured crops, commodity insurance programs, assistance to replace revenue lost due to disaster, and a tree-specific program that covers losses due to adverse weather.

Over the next several days, the Oregon Association of Nurseries plans to make information about these programs available to members in much greater detail on its Web site, www.oan.org. There also will be information on the Daily Digger blog, www.diggermag.blogspot.com, under the label “Storm Damage Resources.” Both will be updated regularly, so check back as new information is posted.

That didn't take long

Then again, it usually doesn't. Last week, U.S. Customs and Immigration Service announced that it reached the maximum number of applications allowed for H-2B guest worker visas during the second half of fiscal 2009, which starts April 1. Out of the 50,000 applications received, USCIS will randomly select 33,000 visa recipients. The number was reached Jan. 2, 2009, but the announcement was made Jan. 7. The H-2B program is intended for industries, including landscapers, that have a need for seasonal workers that cannot be met with American workers.

Corey Connors, director of legislative relations for the American Nursery and Landscape Association, would like to see an annual cap that allows more than just 66,000 H-2B guest workers per year. The program formerly allowed as many as 120,000 per year. “ANLA and other green industry organizations continue to advocate for an returning guest worker exemption for the H-2B program,” he stated in an e-mail to ANLA members. “But given the current political climate, a clean extension without significant concessions to labor is extremely unlikely.”

Last summer, Connors called for reform, including an exemption for returning seasonal workers. The latest cap count information can be viewed at the USCIS Web site.

Five finalists chosen for OSU dean of agricultural sciences

Following a nationwide search, a search committee has selected five finalists for the vacant position of dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. According to search committee director Cyril Clarke, the committee plans to bring the candidates out for on-campus and statewide interviews with various college stakeholders from Feb. 5-25. The five finalists were chosen from among 11 interviewed candidates and 40 initial applicants. They include:
  • Dr. Craig Beyrouti, head of the Agronomy Department at Purdue University;
  • Dr. Gregory Bohach, director of the Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho;
  • Dr. Bill Boggess, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at OSU and executive associate dean for the college;
  • Dr. Steven Lommel, interim associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University, and assistant vice-chancellor for research and graduate programs there; and
  • Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of agricultural research programs and associate dean of the College of Agriculture at Purdue University.
“The large number of candidates selected for on-campus interviews reflects the exceptional quality of the applicant pool and the excellent reputation that the College and Agricultural Experiment Station enjoy nationwide,” Clarke stated in an e-mail to stakeholders. You can read the candidate biographies and their interview dates here. The person chosen will replace Dr. Thayne Dutson, who served in the position from 1993 until his retirement on June 30, 2008.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back to Basics: A Grower's Seminar

Note 12.Jan.09: The original posting mistakenly stated the event is Tuesday. It is actually Wednesday. We apologize for the error.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, Greenhouse Chapter, will present "Back to Basics: A Grower's Seminar," all day next Wednesday, Jan. 14, at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn, 25425 S.W. 95th Ave., Wilsonville, Ore. (directions). Things get underway at 8 a.m. and wrap up by 5 p.m. The presenters include Jack Bigej, Roberta Gruber, Chris Gunterman, Jason Padden, Jay Pscheidt, Jake Socherman and Juan St. Amant. The cost is $40 per person or $100 for three people from the same company. For full details on all the presentations, you can view the event page and register online here, or you can download the event flier (PDF) here.

Disaster assistance meeting is Tuesday

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, the Oregon Association of Nurseries is holding a question and answer session about the recent winter storm damage, and what resources nursery owners may have to get back on their feet. OAN and its executive director, John Aguirre, will host the gathering. Attending will be Katy Coba (pictured), director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, plus Larry Frey, executive director of the USDA Farm Services Bureau. The meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. and will be at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn, 25425 S.W. 95th Ave., Wilsonville, Ore. Here's the agenda. If you have questions, call the OAN at 503-682-5089 or 800-342-6401. Directions:


View Larger Map

State of Perfection Tour I

The January print edition of Digger magazine featured a cover story on Oregon: The State of Perfection (download the PDF here). I visited with five wholesale nurseries to learn about how they got started, what they grow, why they feel so passionately about it, and how they make sure what they sell is top quality. The first stop was Oregon Pride Nurseries in McMinnville, Ore. (map), where I chatted with owner Mark Van Hoef, Operations Manager Christine Ames and Sales Manager Keith Kershaw. I also filmed our first State of Perfection video, which you will see below. We will post a new video each Friday morning for the next four weeks. In each one, we ask an Oregon grower to talk about a favorite plant or tree. Come back and see them all here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sean Hogan interviewed

Sean Hogan, co-founder of Cistus Nursery (Portland, Ore.), has a new book out called Trees for All Seasons: Broadleaved Evergreens for Temperate Climates. Kym Pokorny, garden writer at The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) recently interviewed him in conjunction with that book release. I particularly liked his answer to the question, "Why plant trees?":
An 88-year-old man in Florida was out planting tiny seedlings and someone asked him why. His answer was, "Clearly, there's no time to waste." We plant trees as hope for the future. All else aside, we're planting a tiny tree and picturing it in our mind's eye as a beautiful thing. I'm hoping to guide people to what will be there in 30 years, to get them to what they imagine.
Read the entire interview over there.

News reports on storm damage estimate

In the wake of the OAN's preliminary storm damage estimate of $18-$31 million, which affected both plant stock and greenhouse structures, several media outlets have published stories (some in addition to the initial round of stories last week):We'll let you know as we see others.

The great immigration debate

The Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee played host yesterday to a discussion on U.S. immigration policy. The presenters were Coalition for a Working Oregon Co-Chairman and OAN Government Relations Director Jeff Stone and Oregonians for Immigration Reform President Jim Ludwick. Each gave a 10 minute presentation, and then there was a question-and-answer period.

Stone advocated for comprehensive immigration reform that provides for enforcement, security and fairness, while providing assurance of an adequate labor supply for business interests. "We need a cogent immigration reform package," he said. "We need one that is fair not just to the workers but the employers." The Coalition for a Working Oregon will work to provide a strong voice in support of this reform, he said. "You have the 20 leading business associations in the state at one table, under one banner," he said.

Ludwick argued not only that illegal immigration should be curtailed as much as possible, but that the ranks of legal immigrants should be sharply curtailed from more than a million annually to 230,000 per year, which was the average yearly immigration into the U.S. from 1776-1976. Ludwick blamed swelling prison populations and increased second-language education costs on illegal immigrants, mentioning that 1,100 Oregon inmates have ICE holds and will be deported when they complete their sentences. "Illegal aliens cost more in services than they contribute in taxes," he said.

Stone and Ludwick disagreed over the proper role of state and federal governments in the immigration issue. Ludwick said states should take on enforcement when Congress fails to step in. Stone, however, said that immigration enforcement is the purview of the federal government. He criticized efforts by states such as Oklahoma to create their own laws, saying it results in unfairness for businesses and employees. "I do believe that over the next 18 months, (Congress) is going to address this," he said.

Stone said that it was a good discussion to have. "There are very few issues that raise the passion thermometer like immigration," he said. "It is important to hear both sides of the issue." He said that CWO will take its case on the road and visit with additional chambers and other business groups this year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Preliminary damage estimate: $18 million -$31 million

The winter storms of December 2008 were extraordinary for their cold temperatures, as well as the weight they placed on greenhouses and nursery structures. Removal of the snow from structure roofs was not an easy task, thanks to the freezing rain that affixed preceding and succeeding snows in place. The OAN surveyed its members to find out how much damage each of them sustained. While not all members are done submitting information, the OAN has arrived at a preliminary estimate. More than 160 nurseries in 12 Oregon counties reported damage that totals a range from $18 million to $31 million, according to an OAN press release. The OAN plans to seek disaster assistance for its members, including low-cost loans to rebuild and other forms of help.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nurseryman a finalist for Clackamas County Commission

Jim Gilbert was named as one of five finalists for a vacant position on the Clackamas County Commission. Gilbert is the owner of wholesale grower Northwoods Nursery and its retail/online arm, One Green World, both located near Molalla. Gilbert has twice run for the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat, but lost. The commission position, however, is nonpartisan. If selected, Gilbert would serve two years and then have the option to run for a full four-year term.

UPDATE (8.Jan.09): Gilbert was not selected. Former Estacada mayor Bob Austin was.

Monday, January 5, 2009

More storm damage coverage

Here's another story about storm damage to nurseries:Previously blogged on this site:More to come. We'll post them here when we see them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Minimum wage now $8.40 per hour

It's a familiar pattern: new year, new minimum wage. In Oregon, the state-mandated hourly rate is now $8.40, up 45 cents from $7.95 in 2008. Under Oregon law, the wage rises each year, automatically, based on increases in the consumer price index. As one might expect, many papers did stories on the new minimum wage, asking whether it is a blessing or a burden:Proponents say the wage hikes pumps more money back into local economies by increasing compensation for those who need it most (and are most likely to spend it). But the law, which was approved by voter initiative in 2002, has its critics. Groups such as the Oregon Farm Bureau and the Oregon Association of Nurseries say it's too much of a burden on Oregon's agricultural producers, who must compete against states where the wage is lower. Further, they say the increase is based on what's happening in Oregon's largest cities and ignores the realities in rural areas. Even in cities, small business owners struggling in the current economy are critical.

The Oregon Restaurant Association has announced it will push during the 2009 legislative session to end the automatic index-based increase. We blogged about that idea a few months ago; see this video for comments from OAN Director of Government Relations Jeff Stone.

A picture is worth ...




Here are a couple of photographs of the recent ice storm, provided by Carson Lord of Tree Frog Nursery in Silverton, Ore. The first photo is a pine topiary (Pinus sylvesteris), and the second is a laceleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum). Although these trees are hardy enough to withstand the ice covering them, the photos do give an idea what the weather was like – at the beginning. It got much worse, as these were taken Dec. 21, right before the bulk of the snow hit on Dec. 22.

OAN seeks disaster declaration

The Oregon Association of Nurseries is going to bat for industry members who incurred heavy damage due to recent snow and ice. Executive Director John Aguirre wrote a letter to Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, seeking her support for a federal disaster declaration, which would free up assistance for industry members. Here is the text of the letter in its entirety:
Dear Director Coba:

As you know from media reports, recent winter storms that hit the Pacific Northwest this December dealt a serious blow to many Oregon nursery and greenhouse growers. The OAN is currently collecting data from its members in an effort to assess the full extent of damage to structures and crops. Already, we've received reports from over 50 growers indicating modest to severe damage to greenhouse structures.

Many Oregon nursery and greenhouse growers rely upon heated and unheated frames, also referred to as hoop houses, to protect temperature sensitive plants from cold winter temperatures, to propagate plant material and to bring plants to market condition sooner than is possible in an outdoor environment. These structures are typically made of tubular galvanized steel and covered in a poly film.

It appears most of the damage suffered by our growers occurred to unheated cold frames. While these greenhouses are relatively simple in design and operation, they are not inexpensive. Typically, these hoop houses have systems to irrigate plants and ventilation fans to maintain proper airflow and temperature. Depending upon size, the basic cost of a commercial cold frame used by growers may range from $4,000 to $10,000, and higher.

Based on reports received to date, over 600 cold frames have been damaged or destroyed. We believe that number will increase significantly as more OAN members respond in the coming days to our request for information on storm-related damage. We are aware of some OAN members who have suffered more than $1 million in damage to structures.

We have not yet determined the extent of damage to nursery crops, but at this point we believe damage to structures is of far greater concern and more significant than any potential damage that may have occurred to nursery and greenhouse crops. The OAN intends to seek agriculture disaster declarations for those counties where nursery and greenhouse growers experienced storm-related damage. We know of growers in the following counties that have been affected by winter storm damage: Clackamas, Benton, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill.

Unfortunately, current economic conditions, a constrained lending environment and the looming demands of the upcoming shipping season make it essential that Oregon's nursery and greenhouse growers have access to U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster assistance programs at the earliest possible time. We ask your support for our efforts to seek disaster declarations that would provide our OAN members access to disaster assistance.

Next week, we will provide you and your staff with additional information regarding the extent and significance of storm-related damage. Thank you for considering the needs of our members at this time.

Sincerely,
John Aguirre
Executive Director
OAN expects to have a more complete tabulation of storm damage sometime next week and we will report that information here once it becomes available.