Forage production is an economically important crop to the state of Oregon. Forages are grown on 2.982 million acres in Oregon, with hay alone ranking 3rd of all Oregon crops with a value of $585 million. In total, Oregon forages are valued at $1.184 Billion. In addition to their financial value and support of Oregon’s livestock industries, forages protect and improve soils, promote less pesticide use, diversify income, and add beauty to the landscape.

Given the socio-economic significance of forage production in the state, it is important that farmers are able to manage risk associated with forage production and make important management decisions with economic considerations.

Forage Production Economics

From leasing out pasture to applying different levels of fertilizer, forage producers are faced with many different types of decisions that can significantly impact the economic sustainability of their operation. Understanding the trade-offs of different types of decisions can help farmers weigh the different options and select the management strategy that best matches their operations.

Lease Rates

Pasture lease rates are some of the most common questions received by our county faculty. Lease rates are influenced by the availability of other forage resources (supply) and the number of farmers looking for pasture to lease (supply). There are also several other considerations regarding pasture lease rates, such as the quality of the forage, the length of the lease and the management responsibilities. Here are a few resources available to help you determine the fair market lease rate for your pastures.

Hay Prices

Hay prices are varied across different regions in Oregon and are dependent on the type of bale sold, quality of forage and forage species. The most readily available public resource for hay prices is provided by the USDA Ag Marketing Service.

Production Decisions

Information to be added. 


Risk Management

Risk is an inherent part of farming. There are five different kinds of risk associated with farming:  1. Production risk, 2. Marketing risk, 3. Financial risk, 4. Legal risk and 5. Human resource risk. Understanding these risks and how to manage them can help long-term sustainability of a farming operation.

Production Risk

Production risk is associated with changes in the expected levels of yield or output. Events such as climate, wildfire and genetics influence production risk. While a farmer cannot necessarily prevent any single event from occurring, there are steps that can either reduce the impact of these risks or help mitigate the losses incurred. Below are a few resources to available for forage producers to manage production risk.

Crop and Forage Insurance

Information to be added. 


Managing drought guide:

Drought monitor:

Marketing Risk

In farming, marketing risk is the uncertainty of prices that a farmer will receive at the market. Along with production, marketing risk has a significant impact on the profitability of forage producers. Unfortunately, individual farmers have little control over market commodity prices.  Managing market risk can include activities such as contracting or hedging and participating in government programs.

Financial Risk

Financial risk occurs when a farm has debt and needs to meet the terms of the loan; Factors that threaten the financial health of a farming operation are considered as financial risk. Financial risk includes factors such as cash flow, ability to absorb short-term losses and the cost of borrowing money. Forage producers can manage their financial risks by using budgeting resources.

  • Enterprise budgets
  • Financial statements


Legal Risk

Information to be added. 

Human Resource Risk

Information to be added. 

Oregon Forage Production Facts & Statistics

Forages are grown in every county in Oregon. There are scores of forages produced in Oregon. Oregon’s most valuable forage crop is alfalfa hay, grown on 420,000 acres, a production of over 2 million tons and valued at $354 million.  Other hay is grown on 680,000 acres and the 1.36 million tons is valued at $231 million.  Cultivated pastures are grown on 850,000 acres, with the 2.5 million tons valued at $175 million. Hill-land pastures are grown on 1 million acres, with 3 million tons and valued at $150 million. Corn silage is grown on 32,000 acres, produces 864,000 tons and is valued at $43 million. 

Forage Production by County

Forage Production by Type




Material below to be incorporated into the appropriate sections above.

Enterprise Budgets

Marketing Reports


Market Resources