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The good: Drought took its toll on mid-valley farmers in 2015, knocking grass seed yields down by as much as 25 to 50 percent depending on field location and soil type.

With a record December rainfall, the good news is that perhaps drought will not again be a factor.

In step with rapidly declining international oil prices, mid-valley farmers should enjoy lower input prices for necessities such as fertilizer.

Producers continue to diversify with grass seed acres being converted to filbert orchards due to an expected international marketing opportunity.

The bad: Producers are looking at lower commodity prices and livestock prices have dropped significantly as the number of cows available nationwide has rebounded much faster than anticipated.

Although problems at the Port of Portland have receded due to the signing of a contract with the longshoreman’s union, international clients are diversifying their purchases, hedging their bets against future delivery issues caused by work slow downs.

The uncertain: What’s going to happen to local land values? Oregon farms have traditionally been family-owned, but that is changing as corporations are investing statewide, often sight-unseen.

Farmland prices of $10,000 or more per acre are no longer uncommon. High quality irrigated properties will continue to bring premium, if not record prices, which may put smaller, family run operations out of the race when it comes to competing for new land opportunities.

Producers are also closely watching legislation that would impose stricter rules regarding carbon emissions.

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— Alex Paul, Democrat-Herald

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