SALEM — Farm income fell just slightly in Oregon last year, continuing a downward trend that began in 2003.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture released figures last week showing net farm income at $861 million for 2008, holding nearly steady at jjust one tenth of a percent off the previous year.
But it was significantly lower than the 2003 record of $1.14 billion and a 12 percent decline from the five-year average.
Rapidly increasing expenses were blamed for eroding income in 2008 as many farmers and ranchers struggled to keep up with bigger bills for production.
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The cost of fertilizers increased nearly 30 percent and has risen almost 70 percent over the five-year average.
Pesticide costs rose 17 percent last year and are up more than 25 percent over the five-year average.
Labor, however, was by far the greatest cost incurred by agricultural producers, accounting for more than 40 percent of total production costs and up more than 3 percent in 2008.