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.
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.