By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
Hood River legislators have brought the pear one step closer to becoming Oregon’s official state fruit.
Last week Sen. Rick Metsger gained approval for top ranking of the pear by the Business and Economic Development Committee which he chairs. Rep. Patti Smith, chief sponsor of House Joint Resolution 8, has already gotten it passed by the House in March.
If Metsger, D-Mt. Hood, is successful at getting the pear endorsed by the full Senate later this week, it will await only the signature of Gov. Ted Kulongoski for full endorsement.
“I think elevating the pear as the state fruit provides endless opportunity to gain more market attention for the growers of the Hood River Valley,” said Metsger.
At last week’s hearing, the local high school Blossom Court spoke out about the nutritional benefits of pears. Smith, R-Corbett, also testified that, as Oregon’s number one tree fruit crop, the pear has earned its place as the official state fruit.
“I am very excited about what this can do for Oregon’s agriculture economy, especially Hood River County,” she said.
Smith and Metsger, who co-sponsored HJR8, armed themselves with facts before presenting their case to fellow legislators. They are optimistic the pear is the best choice for state fruit because it brings $72 million per year into the state, which is the third largest producer of pears in the nation.
The bipartisan team joins the Northwest Pear Bureau in the belief that designating the pear as the state fruit will help Oregon’s 370 pear growers in the Gorge and the Rogue River Valley.