Representative Helfrich Sends Letter to Governor Kotek Urging State Disaster Declaration for Oregon Cherry Industry
SALEM, OR – This week, Representative Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) sent a letter to Governor Tina Kotek urging her to issue a State Disaster for Oregon’s cherry industry.
Sweet cherries are one of the state’s top 20 most valuable commodities, but, due to harsh weather conditions and Oregon’s cherry crop overlapping with California cherry harvest, producers are facing severe financial losses.
“The market glut created by the late arrival of the California cherry harvest season forced Oregon growers to harvest less than 75 percent of their crop; many of our smaller growers had to leave 50 percent or more of cherries unpicked,” wrote Helfrich. “The usual month-long cherry harvest in Wasco and Hood River counties was less than two weeks this year because of the crowded market. Without timely assistance, Oregon cherry growers’ livelihoods are at risk of being lost altogether.”
As Vice Chair of the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness, Helfrich also highlighted the risk this crisis poses to Oregon’s severe housing shortage.
“Oregon’s top-producing cherry counties – Wasco and Hood River – provide two-thirds of the state’s registered agricultural labor housing. This housing is provided for both farm workers and their families. Less cherry harvest work means less housing is available, adding to Oregon’s precarious housing crisis,” wrote Helfrich.
Helfrich noted that declaring a state disaster for Oregon’s cherry industry would provide critical relief and reinforce the state’s commitment to the agricultural community.
“In light of current circumstances and to provide the necessary support to our cherished sweet cherry producers, I earnestly request that you declare a State Disaster for the Oregon cherry industry,” wrote Helfrich. “Such a declaration would enable the affected farmers to access critical resources and relief measures to help them recover from the damage incurred.