2017 Census of Agriculture – Wheeler County

by Dallas Fridley

November 1, 2019

The market value of agricultural products sold in Wheeler County totaled $11.1 million in 2017. Crops represented 33 percent or $3.7 million and livestock, poultry, and products about 67 percent or $7.4 million.

With 150 farms operating in 2017, agricultural product sales per farm averaged $77,021, well below Oregon’s $133,104. Wheeler County‘s 2017 agricultural sales total ranked 34th in Oregon, while its average sales per farm ranked 24th. Marion County earned the top spot in Oregon with $702 million in agricultural product sales. And Morrow County ranked highest for its per farm average, at about $1.6 million.
Not every farm in Wheeler County averaged $77,021 in agricultural product sales.  Operations with less than $2,500 in 2017 sales comprised 40 percent of Wheeler County’s farms, while those with sales of $100,000 or more represented 21 farms or 14 percent. Farms in the $100,000 or more group brought in $9 million or 81 percent of Wheeler County’s agricultural product sales total. In addition to sales, 23 percent of Wheeler County farms received government payments, averaging $26,303 per farm.

Wheeler County’s top crop in 2017, forage (hay/haylage), covered 7,921 acres, ranking 26th in Oregon, well below top ranked Harney County’s 172,642 acres. The market value of Wheeler County’s forage reached $2.7 million in 2017, ranking 25th in Oregon. Wheeler County’s livestock included 15,228 head of cattle and calves, which produced $7.3 million in sales.

Five counties in Oregon, including Wheeler County, reported negative net cash income in 2017. Wheeler County’s net cash income per farm averaged -$6,279, 34th, just ahead of Jackson County’s -$7,977 per farm. Top ranking Morrow County’s net cash income averaged $237,633 per farm, far above Oregon’s $19,757. Farm production expenses in Wheeler County averaged $95,618 in 2017, ranking 18th and well below Oregon’s $123,903 average.

Wheeler County’s 2017 agricultural census identified 150 farms, a loss of 2 percent compared with 2012. Land in farms also fell in 2017, dropping 14 percent to 556,967 acres. The average size of a Wheeler County farm fell to 3,713 acres (-12%), but remained substantially above Oregon’s 424 acre average.

Operations with 1,000 acres or more represented 46 percent (69 farms) of Wheeler County’s farms compared with Oregon’s 6 percent. About 33 percent of Oregon’s farms belonged to the one to nine acres group in 2017 compared with Wheeler County’s 1 percent. The 10 to 49 acres group led the state with 34 percent of Oregon’s farms, while in Wheeler County the group represented 20 percent (30 farms). In the 500 to 999 acres group, Wheeler County’s 9 percent (14 farms) far exceeded Oregon’s 3 percent.
Wheeler County was home to 262 farm producers (maximum of four producers per farm) in 2017, with about 59 percent or 155 male producers and 107 female producers. About 48 percent of Wheeler County’s farm producers were age 65 or older – and 89 percent of its farms were family farms.

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