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.
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.