By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
Sen. Rick Metsger walked into Rep. Patti Smith’s office with a tasty treat on Monday to celebrate their fruitful victory. Metsger, D-Mt. Hood, delivered a Bosc and an Anjou pear to the office of his Republican teammate — along with some good news.
Metsger had just gotten the full Senate to approve the pear as Oregon’s official state fruit. Metsger was feeling triumphant that he and Smith, who had also been given a nod by the House, were successful in their bid to elevate the status of the pear.
“I think the legislature clearly understood that this is, by far, the highest value food crop in Oregon and is a vital part of our economy,” said Metsger. “It’s only right that we acknowledge it as a symbol of our state’s agriculture.
Smith enjoyed the tasty treat and the satisfaction of knowing that House Resolution 8 now awaits only the signature of Gov. Ted Kulongoski to become official.
“This is just a real positive for Oregon’s agriculture economy, especially in the Hood River Valley where the pear has proven its value,” Smith said.
They were joined in their celebration by the Pear Bureau Northwest, which had broached them with the idea on behalf of the state’s 370 pear growers.
Pears are Oregon’s top fruit crop and its 10th agricultural commodity overall with a value of $72 million in 2004.
Oregon ranks second in fresh pear production in the country, producing an average of 140 million pounds of Bartlett pears and another 264 million pounds of other winter pears, such as Anjou, Bosc and Comice.