Four Takeaways from the 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture in Northwest Oregon

by Shaun Barrick

July 2, 2024

The Census of Agriculture, performed every five years by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It includes every farm where $1,000 or more of products were raised or sold during the census year. As the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data at the county level, the Census of Agriculture provides a unique window into the agricultural landscape of Northwest Oregon. Here are four takeaways from the 2022 USDA Census of Agriculture in Northwest Oregon.


The Number of Farms and Farmworkers is Down


The total number of farms and farmworkers decreased by 187 and 499, respectively, from 2017 to 2022. This left a total of 2,469 farms and 3,351 hired farm laborers spread throughout the five counties that make up Northwest Oregon. Of the five counties, Benton was the only county that added both farms and farm laborers. Lincoln County lost the largest number of farms at 85 (-22.1%) and lost the largest proportion of farmworkers at -40.6%. Columbia County lost the largest number of farmworkers at 271 (-33.5%).

Graph showing Change in Number of Farms and Hired Farm Labor by County, 2017-2022


Total Farm Acreage Increased in Four Counties


While the number of farms and farmworkers decreased in Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties, the overall acreage dedicated to farmland increased in those same counties. Clatsop had the largest percent increase at 18%, while Columbia saw the largest real gain by adding 5,897 acres of farmland between 2017 and 2022. Benton County, which was the only county to gain farms and farmworkers, lost acreage from 2017 to 2022. Total acreage decreased by 30,028 acres, a loss of 24% of the total farm acreage in the county.


Most Farms are Small and Family Owned


While the average acre per farm across the region varies from 68 to 138 acres, most of the region’s farms are between 10 and 49 acres. Most of these farms, regardless of size, are also family owned. Family-owned farms make up 93% to 98% of the farms in Northwest Oregon, with Clatsop County on the low end and Columbia County on the high end.

Graph 2 Graph showing Total Number of Farms by Acreage


Benton and Tillamook Competitive Nationally as Agricultural Producers


Two of Northwest Oregon’s counties stand out as agricultural producers. Benton County is the fourth largest producer in the state of cultivated Christmas trees and is the ninth largest producer in the United States. Tillamook County is the second largest producer of milk from cows in the state and the 96th largest producer in the United States. It is also the largest producer of aquaculture crops in Oregon and the 30th largest producer in the United States. These ranks were created using the market value of the products sold.


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