Over the past two decades, Oregon’s nursery and greenhouse sales have skyrocketed, climbing from gross sales of $315 million in 1990 to a peak of more than three times that — almost $1 billion — in 2007. Recent years have seen a decline, to $676 million in 2010, largely due to the housing crash and Great Recession. How do we know? Because of the annual survey done by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Oregon field office, which distributes the survey and compiles the results. It was a major blow to the nursery industry this week, when USDA announced that this survey is being discontinued, along with others tracking the pulse of various agricultural sectors. Federal budget cuts are responsible.
The absence of the annual survey will be starkly felt by Oregon’s nursery industry, according to Elizabeth Peters, communications director for the 1,200-member Oregon Association of Nurseries. “It is very important for us when we do our advocacy work to have a sense of the size and scope of the largest agricultural sector in Oregon,” she told the Capital Press. “We’re starting to brainstorm on ways to find some type of support somewhere to continue the survey.”