BIZTIPS - February 22, 2004

Biz Tips: “Not your Father's Ag Industry"
February 22, 2004
By Art Hill

Tradition.  It’s the bedrock of agriculture. But like other industries, ag is being shaped by global forces just as powerful as rain and drought, wind and cold. These forces include global trade agreements, environmental militancy, bioterrorism, instantaneous communications, and scientific discoveries unimagined even 20 years ago.

Of course, farm communities have always pulled together to meet challenges. Now they’re more connected than ever.  Producers are likely to be studying potato crop computer simulation in New Zealand or installing a Global Positioning System on a combine; experimenting with oil seed crushing or researching genetic crop engineering on the Internet. Our own Governor and Department of Agriculture Director are as likely to be in China, where Oregon has captured 60 percent of the grass seed market, as they are to be in Europe developing new markets for Oregon livestock and food crops.

Fact: high tech and agriculture are Oregon’s no.1 and no.2 industries.  That’s appropriate, because today’s agriculture IS high tech. From no-till seeding to satellite-guided application of soil treatments; from buried moisture sensors to genetic crop design, some ag technology is already in widespread use, the rest is still in development.

There are plenty of lower-tech innovations too - crops and crop rotations that build or conserve soil resources, high value products made locally from low value commodities, certification of specialty products for niche markets.

For ag industry information that could impact your business, check our website  Under “College Resources” click on “Business/Industry” then “Agribusiness.” We welcome hearing about sites you use to track the industry too.

The next time somebody says Oregon’s ag industry is not as important as it was traditionally, remind them that 80% of Oregon’s ag products are now sold outside the state, and 40% of those are shipped internationally.  I don’t know about you, but I like any business - traditional or not - that exports products and imports money.

Content © 2004 East Oregonian