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Oregon Farmers Can Now Export to China

December 15, 2014

Oregon as a whole ranks eighth in the universe for cranberry production, with Curry County ranking second in Oregon. Farmers in the small coastal county account for almost half (40%) of all cranberries produced in the state. Although the farmers, along with other fruit growers, can export their fresh product to countries like China, they were prohibited from exporting the product in frozen form.

That is, prohibited until cranberry grower Robert McKenzie decided to make a difference. McKenzie approached the Curry County Commissioners’ Office about his dilemma. The Commissioners Office worked closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to help their valued farmers export frozen fruits to China—the large market McKenzie couldn’t export to due to federal policy.

The battle embroiled the states of Washington and Idaho too that wrote the United States Department of Agriculture requesting change to allow frozen fruits, if eligible, to receive certification their product was disease and insect free.

The work paid off. In October McKenzie received the good news—frozen cranberries, along with blueberries, cherries and strawberries could now be shipped to China. Permitting the export means cranberry farmers can obtain a higher price for the product, and drive more interest in producing the anti-oxidant rich crop. With Oregon ranking second in blueberry production, this policy change can be a major influence on growing Oregon’s exports.