The grass is greener

Grass seed remains one of Oregon's top agriculture commodities, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture, but the industry has struggled in recent years.

Grass seed growers face another hurdle this year as a cool spring has pushed harvest later than normal. Oregon Seed Council officials report the grass seed crop looks very good, but warm weather may not hold long enough for farmers to harvest. Inclement weather too soon could be yet another setback in an industry that has seen a nearly 50 percent drop in value since 2008. Acreage planted has dropped 30 percent, with many farmers switching to wheat.


Everything is fines

Dale Hagglund, owner of Aircraft Service LLC, a crop-dusting company, has appealed $90,000 in fines issued by the ODA for crop damage Hagglund allegedly caused via pesticide applications in October 2010. 

The ODA issued ten, $9,000 penalties in late July for five incidents, dinging Hagglund once each as the applicator and as the owner of the company. Hagglund, however, claims his applications of glyphosate herbicide were according to label instructions, and no applications were made during less than ideal circumstances.


Growing markets

Across the nation, farmers markets are becoming more popular, with an estimated 1,000 new markets starting in 2011, bringing the registered total to more than 7,000 nationwide.

According to the USDA, nearly 12 percent of those registered markets also accept SNAP benefits (food stamps). According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, SNAP redemption in 2010 equalled roughly $7.5 million at farmers markets and direct-to-consumer retail outlets. 

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