Our Strategic Advantage
Oregon is unmatched in the density of its diverse agricultural, environmental, and social landscape. As the founding college of the state’s land-grant institution dedicated to serving all Oregonians, the College of Agricultural Sciences stands at the crossroads of conservation and production. We find creative solutions at the confluence of diverse perspectives. As champions of science, we embrace differences to find common ground and create opportunity — committed each day to make tomorrow better.
Our inherent strengths and aspirational opportunities are identified through four strategic advantages through which we will advance that unifying purpose.
Coastal Food Systems
The College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) is a global leader in research, education and outreach in a wide range of transdisciplinary sciences related to coastal food systems, sustainable seafood harvest and production, and conservation of marine natural resources. Faculty and staff in CAS have broad expertise related to the marine and coastal environments ranging from aquaculture, biology, ecology, economics and policy, ecosystem services, fisheries, genomics, and seafood production and processing. CAS scientists have active projects in all five of the Earth’s ocean basins and engage with policymakers at national and international levels. The importance of this work will continue to grow as global human populations increase and our coastal and marine ecosystems are subjected to multiple anthropogenic impacts and natural disasters.
The College's research, education and outreach programs are collaborative and innovative, resulting in numerous programs with national or international prominence in coastal and marine systems. Formal institutes and centers include the Marine Mammal Institute, the Translational and Integrative Sciences Center, Food Innovation Center and the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. The College has several major research areas with national and international impact. Eight of 12 academic departments in CAS have faculty working on coastal or marine issues.
The College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) is dedicated to rethinking food— how it is grown, processed, distributed and put into the hands of consumers. We apply a systems-based approach to agriculture and food that supports the long-term viability of our diverse food-based economy and the communities that rely on a diverse food-based economy. We support resilient food systems that overcome and adapt to rapid population growth, urbanization, growing wealth and wealth inequality, changing consumption patterns, technology innovation, regulatory intervention and globalization. We strive to address and mitigate the effects of climate change, pandemics, and depletion of natural resources. We recognize that our food system is failing with respect to its ability to feed the future world population, deliver healthy diets, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and produce equal and equitable benefits. The challenges are vast and the need to provide sufficient, healthy and accessible food, with minimal environmental impact, is urgent.
The College works with diverse stakeholders of large, medium and small scale, including farmers and ranchers, entrepreneurs, food processors, nonprofit and community-based food system organizations, home gardeners, specialty food manufacturers, niche marketers and others. Located in the Pacific Northwest, we benefit from being in a region with tremendous diversity in agricultural and marine products, and expertise in a broad range of food chain activity, from production to processing, marketing and consumer outreach. CAS is in a strong position to support and develop a sustainable food system that promotes health, markets and access through integrated research, education and outreach activities.
Food Innovation For
Health, Markets And Access
Over the next 80 years, world population is expected to increase to 10.9 billion. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to increase from 328 million to 430 million. Numerous circumstances are impacting the ability to sustainably feed and support this growing population, including the impacts of global climate change.
To meet this challenge, agriculture in Oregon, the U.S. and globally, must become more sustainable. Sustainability means delivering adequate food, fiber and feed while also preserving the environment and improving human well-being across economic, environmental and social dimensions. Sustainable agricultural production systems support the livelihoods of farm businesses, families and workers, maintain and improve ecosystem services, and are competitive in regional, national and global markets. Sustainable agricultural systems also must be resilient to environmental and economic challenges, while embracing emerging technologies and economic opportunities.
Oregon agriculture is characterized by its diversity. With an emphasis on specialty crops, more than 220 commodities are produced, spanning field, seed and nursery; fruits, nuts and vegetables; cattle, milk, wheat, hay and potatoes; and commercial aquatic products. The state’s rich and varied geographic regions, growing demand for specialty crops, proximity to western U.S. and Asian markets and changing consumer expectations are key elements in the success of Oregon agriculture. Contributing to the diversity of Oregon’s agriculture are the forms of ownership and scale. As the College of Agricultural Sciences positions its research, teaching and outreach programs for the future, it does so with consideration of the tremendous diversity of Oregon agriculture.
As the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) positions its research, teaching and outreach programs for the future, it does so with consideration of the tremendous diversity of Oregon agriculture.
Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in the U.S., marked by volcanoes, abundant bodies of water, dense evergreen and mixed forests, as well as high deserts and semi-arid shrublands. At 11,249 feet (3,429 m), Mount Hood, a stratovolcano, is the state's highest point. Oregon's only national park, Crater Lake National Park, comprises the caldera surrounding Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. The state is also home to the single largest organism in the world, Armillaria ostoyae, a fungus that runs beneath 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) of the Malheur National Forest.
The diversity of Oregon’s landscapes is driven in part by its climate and precipitation and nearly 2,000 identified soils. Arid areas support much of the state’s livestock production on a mix of private and public lands with winter feed provided through irrigated hay production. These same areas also support abundant wildlife and provide recreational opportunities. Boreal and Oceanic areas produce timber, wildlife, water (?), and also support livestock grazing and recreation. The Columbia River Basin and the land associated with the Columbia River’s tributaries produce much of the state’s agricultural bounty.
Coastal communities and the Pacific Ocean contribute substantially to the Oregon economy with a large saltwater commercial fishing fleet that lands nearly 210 million pounds of fish annually. Dungeness crab, pink shrimp and shellfish aquaculture add to the $155 million annual contribution to the state’s economy that generates an estimated $544 million in household income. Ocean recreational fisheries generate an additional $60 million annually.
Because of its diverse landscapes and waterways, Oregon's economy is largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. Oregon is also the top timber producer of the contiguous United States; the timber industry dominated the state's economy in the 20th century.
Oregon’s working landscapes produce products with a farm gate value near $6 billion. According to a recent report by Oregon State University, the “economic footprint” of agriculture in Oregon accounts for over $50 billion, or 13.2 percent of the state’s economic activity. Associated jobs number over 326,617 or 13.8 percent of the state’s employment.
Oregon’s diversity of landscapes, cropping and grazing systems, and ocean environments create a diversity of opinions on how best to allocate and manage these resources.
The College is equipped for this challenge, having a large collaborative network of OSU researchers and teachers (academic, extension and others) with broad and deep expertise in almost all areas of agricultural and natural resources research and outreach across the state and beyond. Faculty, staff and administrators are well-connected to practitioners (growers, users, land managers, and state, federal and local agencies and NGOs).
Strong ties to stakeholders, communities and agencies allow us to identify problems and provide scientifically informed answers to questions related to sustainable landscape management.