Agriculture

Agriculture

Wheat harvest links Oregon farmers to flour mills of Asia

From Gilliam County in Oregon, with fewer than 2,000 people, wheat kernels will go to flour mills in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. It is a diminished group of farmers who can make a living doing with wheat. Chuck Greenfield’s employer, Marc Pryor, said the Oregon county had about 150 wheat farmers in the 1970s. Now Marc Pryor estimates the number is in the teens. It’s a classic example of the economy of scale: Like most crops, wheat’s narrow profit margin makes it critical to spread input, equipment and labor costs over more acreage, and it forced many farmers to get bigger or get out.

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