Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Ranchers fear Forest Service taking their grazing

- Ranchers in Okanogan County, Washington, believe the USFS is trying to take away rights to graze cattle on federal land. A county commissioner says more of the same might be happening in the West.

China boosts apple exports to U.S.

- Washington apple producers have benefited from full varietal access to China, which is also stepping up its export game

Chinese pear sales grow slowly in U.S.

- Imports of Chinese pears in the U.S. are slowly growing while imports of U.S. pears in China maybe stalled. Chinese growers may try to block our cherries.

Trade groups pursue joint plan

- Northwest Fruit Exporters and the Northwest Horticultural Council are working toward joint operations by fall. Both deal with foreign market issues for the Northwest tree fruit industry.

China boosts apple exports to U.S.

- Washington apple producers have benefitted from full varietal access into China, but China is also stepping up its game.

U.S. hops supply catches up to demand

- The U.S. hops industry has crossed the summit from too little supply to the start of too much as inventory is up for the second March in a row. Acreage and prices will start to decline next year, sources say.

WAFLA moves H-2A workers to PNW by air

- The farm labor association WAFLA has brought workers from Mexico to Idaho for the first time by air and plans to do more instead of using buses for the whole journey.

Apple commission plans to boost overseas promotions

- Reallocating dollars and encouraging shippers to use the Washington apple logo more overseas to build brand identity are two ways the Washington Apple Commission is trying to heighten promotions in an increasingly competiti...

Produce safety water rule reconsidered

- Water safety testing requirements for growers under the Food Safety Modernization Act are being reconsidered by the acting commissioner of the FDA, says a Yakima grower who testified for federal specialty crop funding.

Gala prices fall as marketers struggle with huge crop

- The crop shrinks. Prices drop. Washington apple marketers continue to deal with selling their second largest crop amid a strong national crop year.

Farm settles labor lawsuit for $1.2 million

- While continuing to deny wrongdoing, Mercer Canyons Inc. will pay $1.2 million to end a lawsuit accusing it of violating laws to avoid fully paying workers.

Winter delays Washington fruit tree pruning, bloom

- Pruning, bloom and the start of cherry harvest are all being delayed this year in Central Washington because of prolonged winter weather compared to the two most recent years.

Washington state’s snowpack improves

- After a cold, dry January, mountain snows developed nicely in Washington in February and are continuing into March providing optimism for irrigators.

Canal repairs delay irrigation start-up in Washington

- One of Washington’s largest irrigation districts will be seven days late in its spring startup of water deliveries to farmers because of canal damage from flash flooding.

Washington may reach 15,000 H-2A workers this year

- With domestic farm laborers continuing to grow scarce, the farm labor association WAFLA expects to help growers hirer more foreign guestworkers this year and hopes the process is made easier by the Trump administration.

No widespread crackdown on illegal immigrants seen in Yakima Valley

- U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents have reportedly arrested tree fruit packing shed employees in the Yakima Valley as alleged criminal illegal aliens. Workers and employers througout the region are said to...

Washington wine industry pioneer Terry Flanagan dies at age 79

- Terry Flanagan, who helped establish the modern wine industry in Northcentral Washington, has died at 79.

Good relations keep unions at bay, attorneys say

- The best deterrent to unionization is for employers to listen and treat employees well, labor attorneys say.

Report quantifies value of Washington’s H-2A workers

- Foreign farmworkers harvested a large part of Washington’s tree fruit crop in 2014, contributing to to the state’s economy, an economic analysis shows.

Pessimism on immigration reform

- Labor association leaders from Washington and North Carolina are not optimistic about immigration reform clearing Republicans divided in the House and Democratic opposition in the Senate.

ICE arrests of criminal illegal immigrants spark concerns

- Workers and to some degree employers are concerned about ICE arrests of criminal illegal aliens, say some at a labor conference.

Tree fruit growers talk pedestrian orchards, varieties

- An International Fruit Tree Association gathering drew growers from around the world where new varieties, horticultural practices and short orchards were among the topics.

Forecast models expand to honeybees, tree fruit size

- New prediction models of a Decision Aid System for Washington tree fruit growers will be tested this year for fruit size, honeybee foraging and blossom timing.

Mexico taking more of plentiful Red Delicious crop

- Washington apple exports to Mexico, China and India are up compared to last year but could be better if the dollar was weaker and fruit was smaller.

Stemilt builds advanced fruit shipping, storage center

- A large Washington tree fruit company is building what is probably the largest and most advanced automated packed fruit storage and shipping facility in the state.

State offers 3,000-acre lease in Horse Heaven Hills

- Bids are due April 6 to lease 3,000 acres of agricultural land from the state Department of Natural Resources in the Horse Heaven Hills with the lessee building a water system.

Wine packaging competition getting keener

- One of the largest wine packing suppliers in North America says global competition continues to impact the business. There are 30 to 40 wine bottle suppliers west of the Rockies.

Apple Commission gets new members

- Two apple growers won elections and have been appointed to the Washington Apple Commission by the director of the state Department of Agriculture.

Red Delicious prices dropping with two-thirds still unsold

- It’s not the worst but not the best year in Washington apple prices as a large crop in the state and nationally and an abundance of Red Delicious and Gala hold prices down.

Westerners back bill to legalize DACA expansion

- Washington Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert are among 15 co-sponsors of legislation to protect illegal aliens from deportation who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Apple truck plunges into Columbia River

- A second truckload of apples crashed into the Columbia River in Central Washington, Feb. 9, three days after a first one. They were 75 miles apart and unrelated.

A voice for the tree fruit industry

- Chris Schlect is retiring in March after more than 36 years as president of Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, Wash. He helped develop the council into a strong voice for the tree fruit industry on many issues at th...

Washington wine grape growers rebrand

- Washington’s wine grape growers association renamed itself “Washington Winegrowers Association” at its annual convention.

Washington lags other Western states in snowpack

- Washington’s snowpack while aided by recent storms isn’t as healthy as people may think. Oregon, California and southern Idaho have been benefitting most from winter storms.

NAFTA rewrite could help labor picture, economist says

- A revised North American Free Trade Agreement could be an instrument to allow workers, on visas, to go where needed among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, an economist says.

State attorney general pushes WAFLA probe after setback

- A Superior Court judge has stopped the Washington Attorney General’s demand for information from a farm labor association related to biasing a state wage survey. But the AG intends to keep investigating.

Commodities have mixed experiences in China

- Apple exports to China haven’t met industry expectations, but other commodities have thrived.

Immigration reform likely to be piecemeal effort

- A number of enforcement and border security-type immigration bills may be introduced soon in the U.S. House as the Senate is busy considering cabinet appointments and a Supreme Court nominee, a former Bush administration of...