Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

DACA, immigration reform pushed in U.S. House

- Thirty-four U.S. House Republicans and a group of mayors, business and community leaders called the New American Economy say now is the time for DACA passage and immigration reform.

Coping with fire loss, looking for solutions

- Wildfires burned nearly 9 million acres in the West this year and the owner of one small ranch in Washington is trying to educate firefighers on the value of rangeland and change policy that allows them to disregard it.

Lenders see consolidation of WA tree fruit companies

- Too much fruit and too many packing lines spells pain for the Washington tree fruit industry but consolidations will bring gains, lenders tell growers.

Some ag employers don’t support H-2C plan

- The proposed H-2C visa for agricultural foreign guestworkers was not popular at a meeting of the National Council of Agricultural Employers last week in Las Vegas.

Seattle firm helps fight citrus greening disease

- Florida citrus producers are looking to a Seattle company to help rebuild the state’s citrus orchards devastated by disease and recent hurricanes.

Stemilt sues ex-employee over alleged billing scheme

- The orchard management subsidiary of a large Washington tree fruit company fires and sues an employee it claims undeservedly billed it more than $1.1 million in the hiring of foreign guestworkers.

U.S. hay exports heading for new records

- West Coast hay exports, the vast majority of U.S. hay exports, are likely to set new volume and dollar records in 2017, analysts say.

H-2A minimum wage likely to increase

- USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has released data for the basis of increasing the minimum wage for H-2A workers by 5.53 percent in Washington and Oregon next year.

Forest bill allows tribes to grab county power, lawyer says

- A bill that recently passed the U.S. House allows Indian tribes to seek and take power over federal lands from counties, a lawyer told the Washington Farm Bureau convention.

No quick Hirst fix, Farm Bureau told

- The Hirst water decision won’t be resolved any time soon and Republicans can’t expect to Democrats to join them for a governing coalition in the Legislature, an observer tells the Farm Bureau convention.

Washington bullish on apples, survey shows

- Big growth in number of trees coupled with the first uptick in apple acreage in years shows the competitiveness and bullishness of the Washington apple industry, analyst says.

Washington wine grape acreage growth rate slows

- Washington’s wine grape vineyards expanded in the last six years at a little more than half the rate they expanded in the prior five years.

H-2A use up 20 percent nationally

- The number of agricultural foreign guestworkers in the U.S. keeps increasing but the system may not keep up with the need, a national farm employer advocate says.

Washington apple crop grows

- With harvest almost complete, Washington’s apple crop is 5.8 percent greater than anticipated at picking start three months ago. It adds to price pressure.

WTO ruling helps apples, other exports to Indonesia

- The World Trade Organization has upheld a ruling it issued a year ago that Indonesia’s import licensing regimes for horticultural and animal products are inconsistent with WTO rules.

Agriculture needs Trump, adviser says

- One year after President Donald Trump’s election, lawyer who was key in picking Trump’s agricultural advisory team remains bullish about the president.

Marsh succeeds Gasperini at NCAE

- The former CEO of Western United Dairymen, Michael Marsh, is the new president and CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers.

Late wildfire damages Washington orchard

- A late season wildfire just northwest of Wenatchee, Wash., burned about 1,100 acres of federal and private grassland and did about $50,000 to $100,000 worth of damage to an apple orchard.

Weed control needs refinement, scientist says

- Managing invasive weeds can be tricky and how to restore landscapes need more research, an ecologist says at a weed conference.

Late wildfire burns grasslands near Wenatchee

- A late season wildfire just northwest of Wenatchee, Wash., sent firefighters scurrying on Nov. 1. More than 700 acres burned but that estimate was expected to grow close to 1,000 acres.

Ag groups want Goodlatte bill to address illegal immigrants

- While appreciative a bill improving the nation’s agricultural guestworker program has made it out of a House committee, trade associations say it must retain illegal workers already here.

Cashmere, Wash., FFA wins national competition

- Four FFA students from Cashmere High School, Cashmere, Wash., won the school’s first national FFA championship and another team placed second. Two California teams won championships.

India promoter overcharged apple, pear groups $720,000, auditors say

- The Washington Apple Commission and The Pear Bureau Northwest have quit doing business with a promoter in India after discovering apparent fraud.

Tree fruit trade group combination awaits federal review

- Northwest Fruit Exporters and the Northwest Horticultural Council had hoped to finalize combined operations by now but are waiting on federal review.

Fruit industry keeps eye peeled on NAFTA

- The Northwest Horticultural Council is concerned about protecting Northwest tree fruit exports as it assists in new NAFTA negotiations.

Growing worries: Tree fruit industry faces challenges from all angles

- A lot of things from lack of immigration reform and workers to the Food Safety Modernization Act make tree fruit growers worry about their future. A lawsuit over piece-rate pay accentuates those concerns.

Growers hope administration changes water rule

- The Northwest Horticultural Council is hopeful the Trump administration will improve agricultural water portion of Produce Safety Rule and clarify difference between farm and processor.

More farmworker housing planned in Washington

- While proceeding to build farmworker housing in Okanogan and Chelan, the farm labor association WAFLA also hopes to open a 150 to 200-bed facility in Cashmere, Wash., in 2019.

Yakima Basin reservoirs higher than normal

- The Yakima Basin’s mountain reservoirs have greater water carryover than usual heading into winter rebuilding for next year’s season.

Apples top Washington crop, but varieties in ‘turmoil’

- Apples led Washington’s agricultural production for the 12th year in a row in 2016 with $2.39 billion of the state’s total $10.6 billion in farmgate value. But there’s a lot of “turmoil” i...

Survey reflects California labor shortage

- The California Farm Bureau Federation released its first labor survey in five years which shows a continuing shortage of workers for farmers with labor-intensive crops like tree fruit and wine grapes.

Weather pushes wine grape harvest

- Wine grape harvest is probably 80 to 90 percent done in Washington but vineyards still picking are busy trying to beat forecasts of rain and colder temperatures. Washington’s harvest appears relatively normal compare...

Israeli company works on robotic apple picker

- Companies in Israel and California are the only two in the world actively working on developing robotic apple pickers as a solution to a shortage of human pickers.