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Early estimates on Oregon storm damage exceed $18 million


January 7, 2009
By Elizabeth Peters

Jan. 7, 2009, Wilsonville, OR — In a survey conducted by the OregonAssociation of Nurseries, 160 growers in 12 counties reportedthat damage to nursery structures and crops due to late December stormsrange from $18 million to $31 million.

Jan. 7, 2009, Wilsonville, OR — In a survey conducted by the Oregon Association of Nurseries, 160 growers in 12 counties reported that damage to nursery structures and crops due to late December storms range from $18 million to $31 million.
 
“It’s now clear that damage to nursery and greenhouse structures and crops was widespread and extensive,” said OAN president Tom McNabb of Yule Tree Farms.
 
Hardest hit by the unusual series of snow and ice storms were many greenhouses and other structures used in the production of nursery and greenhouse crops. Growers reported the total estimated cost to repair or replace damaged greenhouses and structures equals $10.8 million.
 
In the survey, the Association asked its members to provide low and high estimates for crop damage because many plants are still in winter dormancy. “Given the nature of our industry, the full extent of crop damage may not be fully known until spring, when plants begin to show new growth,” said McNabb. The reported low and high estimates for nursery and greenhouse crop damage received from growers in 12 Oregon counties ranges from $6.8 to $19.9 million.
 
As expected, Oregon's top nursery and greenhouse counties were hit hardest by the storms and thereby suffered the greatest damage. These five counties produce 86 percent of the state’s nursery crops each year.
 
In all, nurseries and greenhouse growers in 12 Oregon counties reported damage, prompting the Association to seek agricultural disaster declarations in Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill counties. The range of support could come primarily in the form of low-cost loans to impacted growers.
 
“Our growers are self-reliant and unaccustomed to government assistance,” said McNabb. “But, during these tough economic times, when banks are more cautious about making farm loans, we need access to federal assistance. This could not have come at a worse time for Oregon nursery and greenhouse growers.”
 
The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,500 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with annual sales of more than $1 billion US. For information visit the website at www.oan.org, or call 503-682-5089.

Elizabeth Peters is director of Communications and Publications with the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

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