Chinook Observer 

Ag census finds growth for shellfish, cranberries

 

February 29, 2024



Twenty-nine Pacific County shellfish farms produced $43.25 million in oysters and clams in 2022, according to just-released results of the U.S. Census of Agriculture. This more than doubles the $20.8 million sold by 27 producers in 2017, when the definitive agricultural census was last conducted.

Washington’s oystering counties shuffled places between 2017 and 2022. Pacific moved from third place to second, behind Mason on south Puget Sound, which sold $50.5 million in farmed shellfish in 2022, up from $37.4 million in 2017. Thurston County, in first place in 2017 with $38.15 million, slipped to third in 2022, with $30.9 million. Statewide mollusk farms totaled $166.4 million in 2022 sales, up 41% from $118.5 million in 2017, and up 80% from 2012’s $92.4 million. Washington state accounted for 30.5% of U.S. farmed shellfish sales in 2022. Pacific County alone produced 8% of the national total. Washington led the nation in shellfish sales in 2022, followed by Virginia with $93.55 million and Florida at $53.35 million. On the West Coast, California’s total was $31.5 million and Oregon sold $19.65 million, plus minor sums in Hawaii and Alaska. Results of a specialized aquaculture census will be released this December, and are expected to reveal a more detailed picture of this essential county industry.

Other farming

Cranberries — one of Pacific County’s most visible crops — showed resiliency in the latest census. There were 82 cranberry farms in the county in 2022, up from 66 five years earlier. Total acreage in cranberries increased to 1,579 in 2022, up from 1,297 in 2017. Pacific continued to dominate the cranberry industry in Washington, topping the 16 farms in Grays Harbor and four in other Washington counties. However, southwestern Oregon’s Coos County is tops on the West Coast, with 98 farms and 2,464 acres in cranberries. Growth in the county’s berry business contrasts with the situation for local beef and dairy farms.

There were 82 beef growers in the county in 2022 with 1,431 head of cattle. Seventy-one of those ranchers sold 1,935 beef cattle in 2022. Five years before, there were 96 local cattle producers with 2,411 head in their herds. Ninety-five of those ranches sold 3,735 head in 2017.

 

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