Oregon nurseries rebounding after housing bust

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon nurseries that survived the housing bust and recession have started to recover.

The business is tied to construction of homes and commercial buildings, and it’s seeing signs of rebounds such as shortages in plant material, said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

“Oregon is primed to shore up those shortages because of our ability to grow things faster with higher quality,” he told the Salem agricultural publication Capital Press.

Stone said, though, that the “rocketship growth” of previous years isn’t likely to return.

“Oregon will lag the rest of the country; we’re usually one of the first ones in a recession and one of the last ones out,” he said.

He said two measures from the Legislature will help the rebound. One would allow undocumented workers in Oregon to obtain a driver’s card.

“It was our No. 1 legislative priority,” Stone said. “We believe folks in the agriculture community should be able to get to work.”

The cards will be issued to applicants who fulfill minimum state requirements and have lived in Oregon for more than one year. The cards must be renewed every four years, unlike state driver’s licenses, which are renewed every eight years. Cards can be used only to provide evidence of driving privileges.

The other measure creates a fund for water development projects, and nursery owners supported it because they realize climate change is occurring and understand it could diminish water resources.

“Without reliable water storage and balance, there will be a long-term impact on the survivability of this industry,” he said.

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