By JOSEPH LARRILAND-RICHARDSON and PAUL KAMMERT | OregonLive StaffODAP, Ore.
(AP) The Oregon State Fair is closing as crop failure threatens the livelihood of dozens of farmers in a drought-ravaged region that is the state’s largest farm market.
Organizers say the Fair has been unable to attract new farmers since it opened in 1872.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture says the Fair’s current crop crop yield of 2,300 acres is less than half of the state average of 5,500 acres.
The Fair, which has been in operation since 1872, was the first to offer a free admission to all farmers in Oregon for nearly 150 years.
The agency says the state had been trying to get more farmers into the market since it closed its doors in January 2019.
The state is working to expand the farm market in the rural towns where most of the growers live.
The USDA has offered $2,500 in scholarships to farmers in the towns that were hit hardest by the drought, including $1,000 to a person in rural Portland and $2.5,000 in a town in Biddeford, Oregon.
The money will be used to help people in the area get new seeds and grow their crops.
The Department of Labor and Industry has been working with the Fair to help farm workers find work in the market, which is scheduled to reopen at the end of June.