Capital Press | Capital Press Thu, 28 Jul 2016 22:52:11 -0400 en Capital Press | New psyllid quarantine plans advance as research intensifies Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:28:22 -0400 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — As industry-funded research into combating the Asian citrus psyllid intensifies, California officials are entering the final stretch in considering whether to modify the quarantine against the pest.

The state Department of Food and Agriculture has been reviewing comments received by a June 30 deadline and will likely hold more discussions with citrus industry leaders about its plan to take a more regional approach with the quarantine, said Victoria Hornbaker, the CDFA’s citrus program manager.

Proposed changes, which could include stricter controls on moving fruit between designated regions within the state, could be in place within six to nine months, Hornbaker said.

“It’s a regular rulemaking process, and technically it hasn’t started the process yet,” she said. “We’ve been seeing some expansion of the Asian citrus psyllid into new areas and we’ve had increased finds in the Central Valley. That’s why we’re dedicated to trying to find something that will work better for the industry to help them protect themselves.”

The idea of setting quarantines by region — the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, the greater San Francisco Bay area and Southern California — was prompted by the ever expanding quarantine zone for the psyllid, which can carry the deadly tree disease huanglongbing.

California’s existing quarantine now covers nearly one-third of the state’s total land mass. Portions of Merced and Monterey counties were the latest to be added to the zone in mid-July after psyllid discoveries in those areas.

Under the existing rules, fruit moved from the zone has to be free of leaves and debris and nurseries must be USDA-certified. With the changes, those moving fruit between regions would have to take added precautions, including wet-washing the fruit.

The proposed changes come as the College of Agriculture at California Polytechnic University-Pomona has opened a 5,040-square-foot research and insect production greenhouse that will rear a predator wasp that feeds on Asian citrus psyllids.

The greenhouse was built through a $400,000 grant from the state Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, which is funded by citrus growers. Hornbaker said predator insects are already used in urban areas in Southern California to avoid having to use chemical treatments, and they will be deployed in Kern County soon.

Meanwhile, the citrus industry and the University of California-Riverside are teaming to build a top-notch laboratory near that campus that will enable researchers to try to neutralize huanglongbing, which has already devastated the citrus industries in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. Numerous other research projects are ongoing.

“We’ve got some of the best researchers in the world working on the problem, and some of those researchers reside in California,” Hornbaker said. “We’re working hard with all these researchers to improve technologies, to improve traps and find new ways of surveying for insects and the disease.”

Lost Valley Ranch dairy to locate on former tree farm in E. Oregon Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:41:00 -0400 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group BOARDMAN, Ore. — Morrow County could soon be home to another giant dairy farm with tens of thousands of milking cows near Boardman.

Willow Creek Dairy, run by Greg te Velde of California, was established in 2002 on land leased from nearby Threemile Canyon Farms. Now, te Velde is looking to relocate and expand his operation onto 7,288 acres purchased last year from the former Boardman Tree Farm.

If permitted, the dairy — renamed Lost Valley Ranch — would house 30,000 cows, making it the second-largest in the state behind only Threemile Canyon. But before that can happen, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Quality must sign off on an application to register the farm as a confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO.

The application includes an animal waste management plan and water pollution permit that details how Lost Valley will handle the 187 million gallons of manure it will generate annually.

“It regulates all of the manure and process wastewater,” said Wyn Matthews, who manages the CAFO program for ODA. “The permit is protective of both surface water and groundwater.”

A public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at the Port of Morrow Riverfront Center to ask questions and submit comments. Written comments will also be accepted through 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4.

Don Butcher, wastewater permitting manager for DEQ in Pendleton, said there has been some concern about Lost Valley’s location within the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area, which was designated by the agency in 1990 due to high levels of nitrates that exceeded federal safe drinking water standards.

Animal waste has the potential to load even more nitrates in groundwater, if it isn’t dealt with properly. However, Butcher said the dairy’s plan might just prove to be a template for permitting future facilities.

“We were pretty satisfied with how the permit finally came out for public comment,” Butcher said.

Details in the application were ironed out over a period of months, according to te Velde. They include designs for a wastewater lagoon, land application and extensive groundwater and soil monitoring. Overall, te Velde said he is relatively confident they have everything covered.

“We’re abiding by the CAFO rules provided by the state,” he said.

Lost Valley Ranch would be about a mile and a half east of where Homestead Lane meets Poleline Road. About 5,900 acres of the property would be used to grow feed for the cows, such as corn silage, alfalfa and triticale.

Currently, the dairy produces roughly 70,000 gallons of milk every day for Tillamook Cheese, which operates a plant just down Interstate 84 at the Port of Morrow. The location is great, te Velde said, and will keep Lost Valley sustainable in the long run.

“We like it here. It’s a great area to farm,” he said.

Others, including Morrow County, have their concerns. Planning Director Carla McLane said that while she did sign the project’s land use compatibility, she did so with trepidation. That is based in part on the location within the Groundwater Management Area.

“The fact that there are already two dairies and a beef CAFO within a three- or four-mile radius, with some significantly closer, only increases the concerns about the development of another much larger dairy,” McLane wrote in comments submitted to ODA.

The dairy would also span three other critical groundwater areas, McLane wrote, which in some cases have completely restricted the use of groundwater for agriculture. McLane requested the hearing Thursday so their issues can be fully discussed.

The Riverfront Center is located at 2 Marine Drive in Boardman. Written comments can be submitted to Matthews at the ODA’s CAFO program, 635 Capitol Street NE, Salem, OR 97301, or emailed to

Stinkbugs’ natural predator has arrived in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:04:01 -0400 Eric Mortenson Discovering the Portland presence of a wasp that kills the eggs of the dreaded brown marmorated stinkbug might be cause for more head scratching than fist bumps, but researchers will take good breaks where they find them.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced that one of its entomologists discovered a cluster of stinkbug eggs in Portland that had been obliterated by a tiny, parasitic wasp called Trissolcus japonicus. The finding may speed up control of brown marmorated stinkbug.

Like the stinkbug, referred to as BMSB, the wasp isn’t native to Oregon. The female wasp lays its eggs inside the eggs of stinkbugs. The developing wasp larvae essentially eat their way out as they grow, destroying the host.

That trait caught they eye of researchers at ODA, Oregon State University and elsewhere, because BMSB will eat nearly anything and are considered a major threat to fruit, berry, vegetable and nut crops. Its discovery in southeast Portland’s venerable Ladd’s Addition neighborhood in 2004 touched off a program, funded by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Services, to find a method of biocontrol, as bug-on-bug predation is called.

The state ag department leases space at OSU, which cooperates in the research, to raise the wasps in quarantine and sic them on BMSB in the laboratory.

One of the key questions is whether the wasps might harm beneficial native bugs as well. Entomologists have been working on it since 2011; the idea is to gather enough data to petition USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service for permission to release the predator wasps. Researchers in New York, Delaware, Florida, Michigan and California are doing similar work.

In 2014, things began to go sideways. The wasp was found in a mid-Atlantic state, and researchers immediately suspected wasps had escaped from quarantine. But DNA analysis showed it wasn’t from any of the colonies that researchers around the country keep in quarantine.

Last summer, the same thing happened in Vancouver, Wash. A wasp was recovered by Washington State University, but it also wasn’t from any of the quarantined populations. What’s more, it wasn’t from the same group as the wasp caught in the mid-Atlantic state.

This summer, entomologist Chris Hedstrom of ODA was checking a private property site near Oregon Health & Science University in Portland when he came across a cluster of BMSB eggs by accident.

The eggs had been wiped out, and it was clear wasp larvae were to blame. Wasps roughly chew their way out, while stinkbugs emerge through a neat hole, Hedstrom said.

“Oh, we have something here,” Hedstrom described his reaction.

Recognizing the potential importance of the find, Hedstrom returned within 15 hours and set what are called “sentinel” traps baited with BMSB eggs collected in ODA’s laboratory in Salem.

Two days later, he found wasps had struck again. He collected the eggs and adult “guardian” wasps that hang to protect the cluster from other parasitoids after they’ve deposited their young into the BMSB eggs. A single female can parasitize an entire egg cluster, Hedstrom said.

In July, the wasp larvae emerged in captivity and have since been identified as Trissolcus japonicus.

Additional study by the Smithsonian’s Systematic Entomology Lab will determine the lineage of the Portland wasps. Hedstrom believes they are part of the Vancouver group, given the relative proximity.

He said the wasps probably arrived in the Pacific Northwest the same way BMSB did — by hitching a ride into the Port of Portland or Port of Vancouver.

Hedstrom said the findings may speed up the process of gaining APHIS approval to release wasps as a biocontrol agent.

Hedstroms said the development is encouraging after years of telling growers it will take more time before biocontrols gain approval.

“We still have to error on the side of caution,” he said.

Idaho growers reporting strong wheat harvest Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:02:25 -0400 John O’Connell AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho — Though grain prices remain low, Idaho growers say they’ve been mostly pleased by plump kernels, decent quality and above-average yields at the start of the 2016 fall wheat harvest.

With harvest starting slightly later than normal, some growers have been forced to switch fields upon encountering green patches while cutting their grain.

But they’ve also reported strong yields, test weights above 60 pounds per bushel and fewer disease problems than expected.

“We’re getting a good start on soft white winters, and we’re seeing areas from the west towards the east with excellent yields,” said Jim Rooney, with Lansing Trade Group.

Protein levels have been below average — a common challenge in high-yielding seasons. Rooney said growers should expect steep discounts for low protein levels in hard wheat varieties, as well as generous premiums for high protein levels.

Early this season, crop pathologists warned conditions were aligned to cause Idaho growers problems with several diseases and pests, including fusarium headblight, stripe rust, barley yellow dwarf virus and wireworms. Rooney believes growers generally avoided major crop damage due to favorable weather conditions and good management, such as using seed treatments and delaying fall planting until after aphid migrations, in the case of barley yellow dwarf.

Rooney said stripe rust caused headaches for growers who planted susceptible varieties this season, even some who sprayed three fungicide applications, but resistant varieties, such as SY Ovation, escaped damage.

Roughly 15 percent through his harvest, Declo grower Mark Darrington said his yields were slightly above average and his test weights were about 61 pounds per bushel on soft white wheat.

“If you planned ahead and put a disease package on when you were planting wheat varieties, you were less subject to rust and in good shape,” Darrington said.

Idaho Falls grower Gary Dixon, while preparing to start harvest, was optimistic about full kernels and good yield and quality.

“I think it’s going to be one of our better crops,” Dixon said.

Inkom grower Bill McNabb, who started cutting July 25, said kernels are plump in his fall grain, but he’s worried the heat could stress his spring wheat.

With 10 percent of his harvest complete, American Falls grower Doug Ruff said he’s been pleased by his crop, as have other growers in his area. Soda Springs dryland farmer Sid Cellan believes this year’s crop will be about average, following a “once-in-a-lifetime” crop last season. He’s pleased that hot weather helped him avoid a wireworm problem, forcing the pests deep into the soil.

Grower returns, however, remain in the cellar, with prices out of Meridian at $4.13 per bushel for hard red winter and $4.30 for soft white.

According to USDA, the average price for wheat is expected to finish the marketing year at $3.80 per bushel, down from $5.99 three years ago.

Kansas State University Extension economist Dan O’Brien explained major growing areas throughout the U.S. and the world have all had bumper crops, and it’s projected that for every 100 bushels of wheat raised in the U.S. this season, 49 bushels will be unused at the marketing year’s end.

“We’ve overwhelmed our elevator system to the degree that we’re putting wheat on the ground,” O’Brien said, adding economics could dictate feeding hard red wheat to cattle.

Higher yields help dryland wheat farmers offset lower prices Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:53:01 -0400 Matw Weaver Dryland wheat farmers in Eastern Washington are reporting above-average yields during this year’s harvest.

Juliann Dodds, senior vice president and commercial banking manager team lead at Umpqua Bank in Moses Lake, Wash., said she’s hearing from farmers whose yields are running as high as 100 bushels per acre, instead of the normal yields around 50 to 60 bushels per acre.

Timely rains in spring and early summer boosted yields after a dry 2015, Dodds said.

Dodds hopes forecasts for another mild winter prove true, allowing for similar soil moisture levels.

“We have seen numbers like this before, but it’s been a really long time,” she said. “It’s a year we needed because last year was so difficult.”

Chris Herron, a Connell, Wash., wheat farmer, said he typically averages 35 to 38 bushels per acre. This year, his area is cutting in the low-50 to mid-60 bushels per acre, he said.

“It rained more this year than it did last year,” he said. “It allows a little extra cash to flow through the operation, maybe take care of some of the things you’ve been letting go by for a year or two, like repair the door to the shop or update a piece of equipment.”

Herron planned to use his added income to write a check to the Washington Wheat Growers political action committee, which is a nonprofit lobbying group. It’s an election year, and he wants to make sure to do his part to help people who help agriculture get elected, he said.

Ritzville, Wash., wheat farmer Eric Maier started harvesting roughly a week ago. He usually gets bushels per acre in the mid-40s, but this year is experiencing up to 56 bushels per acre.

“After two or three years of crops not being up to the average, it’s nice to have this happen,” Maier said. “Last year was incredibly dry and incredibly hot.”

Winter weather made the difference this year, he said. “We had a lot of moisture throughout the winter.”

Yields would have been even higher, but his fields experienced some frost damage, Maier said.

The yields come as prices are lower. Soft white wheat is priced at roughly $5.10 to $5.15 per bushel on the Portland market, while hard red winter wheat is $4.58 to $4.79 per bushel.

“It is frustrating; it would be great to have high price-high yield,” Maier said. “This year, at least we have the bushels to make up for the lower price.”

Maier estimated his cost of production at about $6.25 per bushel. He plans to rely on conservation program payments to make up the difference.

Herron finished harvesting July 26. His income per acre is above his cost of production because he was able to market well, he said.

“Yield’s up, price is down, so the end result is an above-average year, not a great year,” Herron said.

Platforms offer insight into key ag issues Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:22:11 -0400 The two major political parties have approved their 2016 platforms.

While presidential candidates of both stripes have in the past freely diverged from specific points in their party’s platform — and we would expect the same of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — the documents provide a point for comparison of the policy priorities of each party.

Have a look.

Each party promises to protect and advance the interests of farmers.

The GOP says it will change capital gains and estate tax laws to ensure farms can stay in the family. Republicans favor ending direct payment programs in favor of risk-management programs, such as crop insurance.

Democrats promise unspecified programs to “protect and enhance family farms, a cherished way of life....” Democrats say they’ll do more to support young farmers and ranchers, and will promote “environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.” It favors a “focused” safety net for farmers.

Republicans say they want to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency. The platform demands “an end to the EPA’s participation in ‘sue and settle’ lawsuits, sweetheart litigation brought by environmental groups to expand the Agency’s regulatory activities against the wishes of Congress and the public.” It supports legislation giving the states a larger role in protecting the environment.

Democrats take note of EPA programs, particularly the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, but say more needs to be done. The Democrats want to enlist farmers as “partners in promoting conservation and stewardship.” Republicans want regulators to shift from punitive enforcement to “a spirit of cooperation” with producers, processors and the public.

The Democrats promise more and stronger regulation on just about every front. The GOP says it will reduce government regulation, and wants Congress to approve any regulation that will cost consumers more than $100 million.

The Democrats oppose any attempt to “weaken” the Endangered Species Act. Republicans want to block attempts by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to “expand jurisdiction over water, including water that is clearly not navigable.”

The Democrats’ platform wants to expand access to public lands, and at the same time “strengthen protections for natural and cultural resources.” It supports the creation of a trust fund to expand outdoor recreational opportunities. The Democrats want to create more jobs and billions of dollars in activity by doubling the size of the “outdoor economy.”

Republicans want Congress to explore transferring to ranchers, timbermen and miners some public land, arguing that private owners are the best stewards of the land because conservation serves their economic interests. It favors maximizing timber harvest on public land.

We think the GOP platform is better for farmers and ranchers. But we urge caution.

Platforms are gauzy documents long on ideology and short on specifics. They are points of departure for candidates up and down the ticket who are free to put their spin on policy.

By what mechanics will either party deliver its vision?

Details are important. Even ideas we agree with can turn sour if they are realized through objectionable means.

Proposed organic livestock rules must be rewritten Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:20:40 -0400 USDA’s proposed rules dictating how farmers and ranchers should raise organic livestock and poultry will needlessly increase expenses, make more organic farmers abandon the practice and expose livestock and poultry to disease.

In addition, many in agriculture question whether the USDA even has the legal authority to issue the rules.

USDA’s National Organic Program has been successful in setting the standards for raising organically grown crops, livestock and poultry. It regulates which inputs can and cannot be used, and all farmers know the rules from the beginning. Some 3,500 farmers now produce organic livestock and poultry.

For that success, USDA must be congratulated.

The new rules, however, go far beyond those criteria and aim to force farmers to abandon modern agricultural principles and replace them with what looks good to consumers, according the National Association of State Directors of Agriculture.

On the heels of last year’s massive outbreak of avian flu at Midwest turkey and chicken farms, it appears USDA’s National Organic Program did not get the message: Flocks need more protection from the spread of diseases.

The proposed organic rules do just the opposite. They require poultry to spend more time outside, where they can mingle with wild birds. In the case of avian flu, wild birds were the primary carriers of the disease.

“The proposed rule flies in the face of modern, peer-reviewed science on animal husbandry practices which should be the driving principles behind safe, efficient, sustainable, and profitable food production,” NASDA wrote to USDA about the proposed organic rule.

During the avian flu outbreak, 223 flocks of turkeys and chickens were infected in 15 states. More than 48 million birds had to be euthanized, according to USDA. The overall cost of responding to the crisis and its impact on the U.S. economy was estimated at $3.3 billion.

“In short, last year’s (highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak) was the most devastating animal health incident in our nation’s history,” NASDA wrote. “As written, the proposed rule changes will effectively create a contradictory regulatory framework where organic producers will have to expose their poultry and livestock to enhanced mortality, predation, animal health, and biosecurity risks or allow their organic certification to lapse.”

The rules would also have a huge impact on organic dairy farmers, the agriculture directors wrote.

The proposal would require organic livestock producers to provide “sufficient space and freedom to lie down in full lateral recumbence, turn around, stand up, fully stretch their limbs without touching other animals and express normal patterns of behavior,” NASDA wrote.

This would cause massive problems for organic dairies, the agriculture directors wrote.

“Stall systems are built at very specific dimensions for cow comfort, to allow cows to be kept as sanitary as possible, and provide for efficient manure removal,” NASDA wrote. “This proposal, which would effectively double the size requirements for dairy stalls, would lead to unsanitary living conditions and increased rates of mammary infection due to pathogen exposure.”

If anyone knows about livestock and poultry, it’s the state directors of agriculture, who are often the first responders to disease outbreaks.

They are asking the USDA to rethink these proposed organic rules. For the sake of organic farmers, their comments must be heeded.

Whole Foods’ sales fall again as competitors draw customers Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:19:34 -0400 CANDICE CHOIAP Food Industry Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Whole Foods saw a key sales figure fall for the fourth straight quarter as it fights to distinguish itself from a growing number of competitors that it says may offer “good enough” alternatives that are more convenient.

The Austin, Texas-based company said Wednesday that sales declined 2.6 percent at established locations for the three months ended July 3 as customer visits dropped. For the current quarter so far, the figure is down 2.4 percent.

“It’s very, very competitive out there,” co-CEO Walter Robb said during the company’s earnings call.

“That’s the world we’re in, and customers have lots of choices,” he added.

Whole Foods’ shares sank 5 percent to $31.95 in after-market trading.

In addition to other natural and organic grocers, the company cited pressure from restaurant chains, meal-delivery companies and traditional supermarkets such as Kroger.

Co-CEO John Mackey said people might not be driving as far as they used to because they can now get “good enough” alternatives closer to home. He noted that there’s overlap in the products Whole Foods and its competitors offer.

“There’s no sense in denying it,” Mackey said.

Those pressures underscore why Whole Foods Market Inc. is trying to broaden its appeal by keeping down prices, in part by pushing more of its 365 house brand products. The company also started a new chain named after 365, which has a minimalist design and lower costs that better position it to compete with Trader Joe’s.

Only two 365 locations have opened so far, and executives said it’s too early to share details on how they’ve been performing. But they said the stores appear to be drawing different types of customers from those who go to Whole Foods.

The new chain would be in addition to the company’s 455 namesake locations in the U.S, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The 365 chain, which does not have meat counters, is also serving as a model for reducing operational costs at the flagship stores. Whole Foods has said it will slash $300 million in costs to help it navigate slumping sales.

Whole Foods is also exploring other avenues for growth, including meal kit delivery.

“There’s a lot of people in the Willy Wonka factory working on this,” Robb said.

For its fiscal third quarter, Whole Foods Market Inc.’s profit fell to $120 million, or 37 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

A year ago, the company earned $154 million, or 43 cents per share. For its fiscal fourth quarter, it said it expects earnings of 23 cents to 24 cents per share. That was a penny short of Wall Street expectations.

Total revenue rose to $3.7 billion, but was just short of the $3.72 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Cabela’s reports 6 percent decline in second-quarter profit Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:17:03 -0400 JOSH FUNKAP Business Writer OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Cabela’s Inc. reported a 6 percent decline in its second-quarter profit Thursday, but didn’t offer any new clues about its long-term strategic plans.

The Sidney, Nebraska-based company reported net income of $37.8 million, or 55 cents per share. That’s down from last year’s $40.1 million, or 56 cents per share.

But this year’s results were weighed down by restructuring charges of $959 million as Cabela’s works to reduce expenses. Excluding those, the outdoor gear seller would have reported earnings per share of 59 cents.

The 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected earnings of 61 cents per share, on average.

Cabela’s is in the midst of a strategic review that began in December after an activist investor began urging it to consider selling all or part of the company. The retailer said Thursday that review is ongoing, so officials won’t comment on it.

Activist investment firm Elliott Management began pushing for significant changes at Cabela’s last October. Elliott owns 7.4 percent of Cabela’s shares and holds options to buy another 3.8 percent.

Cabela’s decisions are being watched closely in its hometown of Sidney. The company employs about 2,000 people in the western Nebraska town of about 7,000.

Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner said the company is successfully limiting expenses. So he reiterated Cabela’s outlook for high-single-digit or low-double-digit growth in the company’s full year earnings per share.

Stifel analyst Jim Duffy said Cabela’s reported shrinking profit margins in the quarter as it offered more discounts to boost sales. That’s not sustainable, but Duffy said Cabela’s cost-cutting in this quarter helped offset the smaller profit margin.

Cabela’s posted revenue of $929.9 million in the period, up 11.2 percent year over year, and topping Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $911.5 million.

In morning trading, Cabela’s shares fell 4.3 percent, or $2.32, to $51.51.

Portland daily grain report Thu, 28 Jul 2016 10:14:04 -0400 Portland, Ore., Thursday, July 28, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

Bids for grains delivered to Portland, Oregon in dollars per bushel.

In early trading September futures trended 1.25 to 3.25 cents per bushel higher compared to Wednesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for July delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested early trading, but bids were indicated as mixed compared to Wednesday’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not well tested in early trading, but bids were indicated as steady to higher compared to Wednesday’s noon bids for the same delivery period.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Wednesday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Wednesday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during July trended lower compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during July trended higher in early trading compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul 5.1000-5.1500

Aug NC 5.1000-5.1800

Sep 5.1000-5.2100

Oct NA

Nov NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul 5.1750-5.2000

Aug NC 5.1750-5.2000

Sep 4.9250-5.2000

Oct NA

Nov NA

US 1 White Club Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jul 5.1000-5.2500

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul 5.1750-5.2000

US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat - (Exporter bids-falling numbers of 300 or


Ordinary protein 4.5875-4.7975

11 pct protein 4.7875-4.9875

11.5 pct protein

Jul 4.8875-5.0875

Aug NC 4.8375-5.1375

Sep 4.8875-5.1375

Oct 5.0450-5.4450

Nov 5.0450-5.4450

12 pct protein 4.9375-5.1375

13 pct protein 5.0375-5.2375

US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat (with a minimum of 300 falling numbers, a maximum

of 0.5 part per million vomitoxin, and a maximum of one percent total damage)

13 pct protein 5.3450-5.6150

14 pct protein

Jul 5.6650-5.8650

Aug NC 5.6650-6.0150

Sep 5.6650-6.0150

Oct 6.1200-6.1700

Nov 6.1200-6.1700

15 pct protein 5.8250-6.0650

16 pct protein 5.9750-6.2650

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul 4.4225-4.5225

Aug 4.4225-4.5225

Sep 4.5225

Oct 4.4400-4.5500

Nov 4.4400-4.5500

Dec 4.4500-4.5200

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul 11.2250

Aug 11.2250

Sep 11.1425-11.1625

Oct 11.1625

Nov 11.1425

Dec 11.1175-11.1275

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jun 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 5.4600

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.1700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.3900

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.3500

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Opening new markets for American agriculture Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:16:16 -0400 Mark Samson If you’re looking for a growth industry, check out Idaho’s food and agricultural exports: The number of jobs supported by agricultural exports has been trending upward since the 1990s. More than 1 million American jobs are supported by agricultural exports, including 24,000 jobs in Idaho.

That’s a substantial part of the estimated 11.5 million jobs supported by exports all across the country. Agricultural exports help support rural communities across the country, with each dollar of exports stimulating another $1.27 in business activity.

Our state’s agricultural exports support jobs in transportation, processing, packaging and many more areas; roughly 80 percent of these jobs are in non-farm sectors. So while the benefits of trade for Idaho’s rural farmers and ranchers are clear, there are also positive impacts rippling throughout the entire job market stimulating our national economy.

Here in Idaho, we’re accustomed to producing the best agricultural goods. Our producers keep Americans fed and clothed while contributing to the food security for nations across the globe. Their hard work is a symbol of where we come from, a reflection of our shared values, and an economic driver for our state’s economy.

For the U.S. economy as a whole, agricultural exports represent a consistent success story through good times and challenges. Agricultural exports have grown much faster over the past decade than even manufacturing exports.

In fact, over the past seven years, U.S. farmers and ranchers are responsible for exporting $1 trillion in food and agricultural goods to countries around the world. At USDA, we’re working aggressively to maintain this historic momentum by expanding foreign markets to help drive demand for American-grown goods.

We’re leading more trade missions and generating more sales as a result than ever before. We have saved U.S. businesses billions of dollars by removing unfair barriers to trade. In 2015 alone, USDA resolved more than 150 trade-related issues involving U.S. agricultural exports valued at $2.4 billion. And we’ve worked to expand trade relations with many of the world’s fastest-growing nations.

More simply, as the rest of the world continues to become more developed and populations grow, so does the demand for American agricultural exports.

That is why the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is so important to Idaho. The TPP is a 21st century trade agreement that helps to level the playing field for American businesses while ensuring the highest labor and environmental standards. U.S. trade with the 11 TPP countries accounted for 42 percent of U.S. agricultural exports in 2014, contributing $63 billion to the U.S. economy. Easier access to these markets with fewer taxes on our goods allows for even the smallest-scale producers to expand their reach.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, ratifying the TPP will boost annual net farm income in the United States by $4.4 billion. The TPP also removes 3,900 taxes on U.S. agricultural goods, such as beef, wheat, potatoes and dairy products grown right here in Idaho. Failure by Congress to pass the agreement, however, costs the U.S. economy a permanent loss of $94 billion each year.

With TPP, local products are able to compete on a more level playing field, reaching high-demand markets both at home and abroad. And, most important, TPP provides the United States an opportunity to help write the global rules on trade rather than nations like China. While China moves forward with its own trade deals that don’t reflect our interests and our values, TPP promises to make a lasting contribution to the American economy by giving more Americans a fair shot, more higher-paying jobs, and households with paychecks that go further.

Strong trade deals like TPP that meet our standards, reduce taxes and level the playing field for our businesses can power Idaho’s economy for decades to come. Let’s hope Congress gets the message.

Mark Samson is state executive director of the Idaho Farm Service Agency. Wally Hedrick, director of Idaho Rural Development, co-authored this article.

TPP backers want treaty approved after election, before inauguration Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:01:44 -0400 Don Jenkins Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may agree on only one issue in the November presidential election: They don’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The 12-nation treaty would meld existing trade agreements with six Pacific Rim nations and include five other up-and-coming trade partners. Included in the deal are three of the largest U.S. trade partners: Canada, Mexico and Japan.

But both the Democratic and Republican nominees have come out against the TPP, and demanded that their running mates switch positions and do the same.

Trump was first to condemn the treaty.

He announced his bid for president on June 16, 2015, at the Trump Tower in New York City.

But before he talked about terrorism or immigration, he riffed on trade.

“We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us,” Trump said.

Then, pressured by left-leaning Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, Clinton reversed course — she once called it the “gold standard” of trade deals — and joined Trump’s criticism of the TPP.

At a reconciliation rally this month with Bernie Sanders, Clinton denounced TPP.

“And we’re going to say ‘no’ to a tax on working families and no to bad trade deals and unfair trade practices, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she said.

TPP has broad-based support from agriculture. In April, 229 farm associations and food processors signed a letter to House and Senate leaders backing TPP. The following month, Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall made a joint pitch in a conference call to reporters.

“No country — no country — is going to realize more benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership than the United States,” Vilsack said.

TPP’s agricultural supporters argue lower tariffs and the elimination of non-tariff barriers, such as protectionist-motivated food safety and phytosanitary restrictions, will help farmers export more food, particularly to Japan and Vietnam.

But not all farm groups favor TPP. The National Farmers Union has historically opposed trade agreements, warning they increase the trade deficit to the detriment of the entire U.S. economy. The group also has historically been on the losing end of the argument, after prolonged and bitter fights.

“The history on these things is you never kill them, you just delay them,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union and a former North Dakota commissioner of agriculture.

“That’s what was set up to happen this time,” he said. “Then along came Donald Trump.”

With both candidates committed to opposing TPP, supporters say the only chance for it to gain congressional approval is during the lame-duck session that will follow the November election.

On Jan. 20, President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated TPP, will leave office. That would likely leave an anti-TPP president — either Clinton or Trump — in charge. The new Congress may also have more Democrats, who would likely line up against the treaty.

Republicans typically provide most of the votes for free-trade agreements.

“It would really be difficult for a new administration and new Congress in 2017 to take up and pass something as monumental as TPP,” said Kent Bacus, associate director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

That leaves TPP supporters such as Bacus thinking about a post-election and pre-inauguration ratification vote.

“We have a Democratic administration that’s strongly supportive of it and plenty of pro-trade Democrats, but this is an election year and a lot of people are worried about getting attacked by anti-trade groups,” Bacus said. “Hopefully, some will come out after the election and support TPP.”

Johnson of the National Farmers Union is thinking the same thing.

He agrees the trade deal’s best chances are with a lame-duck Congress. He also says passing TPP in December would reaffirm suspicions about the political establishment.

“To deal with an issue of this consequence in a lame-duck session would be done for only reason — because nobody had the guts to do it before the election,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of a rotten way to run a government.”

The Republican Party has led the way on trade deals.

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed the first agreement, with Israel. The House ratified it unanimously, and the Senate approved it by voice vote.

In 1993, Republicans provided most of the votes for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed by President Bill Clinton.

Free-trade agreements proliferated during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, always with more support from Republicans than Democrats. The U.S. now has free-trade agreements with 20 countries, including six of the 11 TPP partners.

The 2012 Republican Party platform lauded trade agreements and criticized Obama for not pursuing more.

Former Washington state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance, who’s running against pro-trade Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, said he now meets Republicans who find his support for TPP “shocking.”

“They’re listening to national messages, which are coming from Trump, but others, too,” Vance said.

Vance said he finds the attitude remarkable in a state that practically boasts about its dependence on trade.

“Our whole economy is based on trade,” he said. “We don’t eat all that wheat they grow in the Palouse.”

In his acceptance speech at the Republican party’s national convention in Cleveland, Trump said he would make trade a signature issue of his presidency.

“Using the greatest business people in the world, which our country has, I’m going to turn our bad trade agreements into great trade agreements,” he said.

He promised “individual deals with individual countries,” rather than “massive” deals “no one reads or understands.”

Trump also predicted that Sanders supporters “will join our movement because we will fix his biggest single issue: Trade deals that strip our country of its jobs and strip us of our wealth as a country.”

Throughout the speech, Sanders sent out uncomplimentary tweets, including one that called Trump a “hypocrite” for making Trump-branded products in “low-wage countries abroad.”

Nevertheless, Trump, the Republican nominee, and Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, are simpatico on free-trade agreements and TPP.

“It’s a turning point for this country,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of the cattle and sheep producer group R-CALF USA, which opposes TPP.

“I think it reflects the fact we have not achieved the prosperity free-trade agreements are supposed to bestow on citizens. It simply has not materialized,” he said.

His organization argues that TPP would make U.S.-raised beef an “undifferentiated cog” in an international market managed by multi-national meat packers.

“It’s called free trade, but what it really is, is globalization,” Bullard said.

The repeal by Congress last year of the country-of-origin-labeling law for beef and pork was a “huge factor in generating awareness,” Bullard said.

Liberal consumer groups and some ranchers liked the COOL law, but the World Trade Organization ruled it was discriminatory and authorized Canada and Mexico to impose $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs.

“We do not want a vote in the lame-duck session because we believe that’s the only time the agreement could pass Congress,” Bullard said. “We’d like to see both parties support their presidential candidates’ positions on TPP.”

Mindful of a post-election vote on TPP, Republicans ended their platform’s section on trade with this: “Significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a lame-duck Congress.”

Free-trade voices may re-emerge after the election, particularly from lawmakers who represent farm districts and states, said Floyd Gaibler, director of trade policy for the U.S. Grains Council.

“From a political standpoint, I think agriculture has a lot of influence,” he said. “But there’s no doubt about it. You have to acknowledge it’s a pretty heavy lift. The (Obama) administration has to put its full political weight behind it.”

TPP supporters also hope Japan’s legislative branch, the Diet, will approve the agreement in September. Because of the size of their economies, the U.S. and Japan are indispensable for TPP ratification.

The Japan Times reported recently that business leaders have asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call the Diet into a special session to vote on TPP, hoping to build momentum for U.S. approval after the presidential election.

Bacus of the NCBA agreed that passing TPP will be difficult, but not impossible.

“It’s definitely something we can achieve, but it’s something we need all agriculture to get behind,” he said.

Besides the immediate benefits of lower tariffs, farm groups are presenting a bigger-picture argument that TPP will also lead to more access to non-TPP countries in Asia, such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

They also argue that embracing TPP will give the U.S. more leverage in negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.

If the U.S. rejects TPP, they say, China, which is not a TPP partner, will fill a power vacuum and dictate trade policies to Pacific Rim nations, while the U.S. will look like an untrustworthy negotiator.

“I don’t know what plan B is,” the grains council’s Gaibler said.

TPP would add Japan, Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brunei to the countries the U.S. has free-trade agreements with. Even without trade agreements, the Washington State Department of Agriculture has participated in trade missions to Vietnam and Japan.

“If the Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn’t go through, I don’t see us being able to back away from Southeast Asia,” said Joe Bippert, manager of WSDA’s international marketing program.

Although he staunchly opposes TPP, Johnson, of the National Farmers Union, said he hopes the U.S. will pursue trade opportunities.

“I am a trade proponent,” he said. “I’m against stupid trade agreements. I don’t mean to sound like Donald Trump here.”

Angry cow killed after running over police officer Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:50:12 -0400 LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — A cow that escaped a county fairgrounds in southern Washington was killed after it ran over an officer and its owner.

The Daily News in Longview reports the cow somehow got out of the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon and strode through Longview.

The farm animal, estimated to weigh 800 pounds, at some point charged out of a slough and ran over an officer who suffered a leg injury.

Longview Police Department patrol officer Mike Berndt says the cow then took off running. During an hour-long frenzy, it also ran over its juvenile owner, dented several patrol vehicles and ran into two other cars.

Police used a taser on the cow and then killed it with a shotgun in a residential yard.

N. Dakota attorney general wants more detail in corporate farming suit Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:45:18 -0400 BLAKE NICHOLSON BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s attorney general says a lawsuit challenging the state’s anti-corporate farming law is so vague that his office can’t even respond to it.

Wayne Stenehjem has asked a federal judge to order the North Dakota Farm Bureau and other plaintiffs to amend their complaint to more specifically detail why they believe the law is unconstitutional.

He noted that the law “takes up nearly 20 pages of the North Dakota Century Code” and argued that the lawsuit makes only “numerous sweeping references” to the law’s supposed problems.

“Farm Bureau does not reasonably detail what particular statute or statutes, within an entire chapter, violates the U.S. Constitution,” Stenehjem wrote, adding that the state “should not be relegated to speculation or outright guesswork.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Wednesday was the state’s deadline to formally respond to the lawsuit. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Bismarck on June 2 by the state Farm Bureau, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and a dairy company in that state that seeks to expand into North Dakota.

Voters approved the anti-corporate farming law in 1932 to safeguard North Dakota’s family farming heritage. The lawsuit maintains that it actually hurts the agriculture industry by restricting business tools available to farmers, lowering the value of their operations, discriminating against residents of other states and interfering with interstate commerce.

The Legislature last year decided to allow non-family corporations to own hog and dairy operations in order to boost those dying industries in the state. However, state residents in the June primary election overwhelmingly rejected those exemptions.

North Dakota is among only nine states that restrict corporate farming. Some other states have had such laws challenged in the courts and haven’t fared well. For example, a corporate farming ban approved by South Dakota voters in 1998 was struck down as unconstitutional because it interfered with interstate commerce.

In his motion, Stenehjem said North Dakota’s law has survived previous challenges in both state and federal court.

Feds to complete purchase of Maine blueberries Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:40:58 -0400 PATRICK WHITTLE PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — In the face of industry pressure, the federal government is spending up to $4.4 million to complete a plan to help Maine’s blueberry industry by buying surplus crop.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in April it would buy up to $13 million in wild blueberries to help with falling prices and over-supply. Wild blueberries are one of Maine’s signature exports, and recent years of large harvests have left the industry with excess berries.

The USDA has bought $8.6 million in blueberries, the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine said.

Commission executive director Nancy McBrady said the group requested the federal agency spend the rest of the money. A USDA spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agency is working to complete the purchase.

“It’s immensely helpful to our industry,” McBrady said. “It’s sort of an oversupply situation and we also face competition from cultivated blueberries.”

Wild blueberries are different from cultivated blueberries in that they are smaller, have a more intense taste and are richer in antioxidants. Maine is by far the U.S.’s biggest producer of wild blueberries, which are also harvested in Atlantic Canada provinces.

The USDA’s purchase of wild blueberries could eventually impact prices to consumers, which have been lower in recent years because of the big harvests and competition from Canada, where the dollar is weaker. Frozen wild blueberries slid from 90 cents per pound in 2011 to 60 cents per pound in 2014, the blueberry commission has said.

The USDA uses its “bonus buy” program to assist food producers and provide food for charitable organizations.

Ed Flanagan, chief executive officer of wild blueberry giant Wyman’s of Maine, said the USDA’s $8.4 million purchase followed a public bidding process in June. He said he hopes the agency completes the full purchase, as this year could yield another big crop. Harvesting typically happens in late July and early August.

“If this crop turns out to be as significant as we think, I think that will keep the desire on the industry’s part high for them to complete it,” Flanagan said.

Dow Chemical 2nd-quarter performance tops Street’s view Thu, 28 Jul 2016 08:24:13 -0400 MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) — Dow Chemical’s second-quarter profit surged, thanks mostly to a large gain related to the restructuring of its ownership in Dow Corning.

Dow Chemical announced last month that it was now the sole owner of Dow Corning’s silicones unit, which had previously been equally owned by Dow Chemical and Corning Inc.

Dow Chemical, a specialty chemicals maker, reported net income available to common shareholders of $3.12 billion, or $2.61 per share, for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $1.14 billion, or 97 cents per share, a year ago.

Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains, came to 95 cents per share. This easily topped the 85 cents per share that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research called for.

Revenue for the Midland, Michigan-based company slipped to $11.95 billion from $12.91 billion, but still beat the $11.27 billion in revenue that analysts polled by Zacks expected.

Shareholders approved the merger of agriculture and chemicals companies DuPont and Dow Chemical last week. Once complete, the century-old companies plan to break up into three parts. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, if it gets the nod from regulators.

Shares of Dow Chemical Co. climbed slightly in Thursday premarket trading.

Cities pan county’s bid to change zoning of ag land Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:00:18 -0400 Eric Mortenson WILSONVILLE, Ore. — Clackamas County’s bid to review the status of three land parcels now set aside for agriculture is a concern to farm groups, and the cities that would have to service new development aren’t hot for the idea either.

Charlotte Lehan, a former county commissioner, former Wilsonville mayor and now member of the city council, said it would be “very difficult and very expensive” for the city to provide water and sewer to new development south of the Willamette River.

She said development in the area Clackamas County seeks to review would increase congestion on the Boone Bridge, which carries north-south Interstate 5 traffic across the river. She said a clogged bridge would be “disastrous” for the city.

“I-5 is Wilsonville’s lifeline,” she said. “When the Boone Bridge isn’t working, nothing works. We have to protect the functionality of Interstate 5.”

The arguments back and forth are part of a long-running disconnect over Oregon’s unusual statewide land-use planning system, which was designed to protect farm and forest land from urban sprawl. Under the system, cities are held in check by urban growth boundaries that can be amended in a controlled manner. But development pressure at the edges of cities remains a continuing issue all over the state.

In the Portland area, land-use planning for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties is done by Metro, which has an elected board. Seeking to end ceaseless arguments, the counties and Metro agreed to a system of urban and rural reserves that was intended to set growth patterns for 50 years.

Clackamas County’s Board of Commissioners now wants to know whether three areas south and southeast of the Portland urban center, previously set aside as rural reserves and thus open to farming, would be more beneficial as “employment lands.”

The county commissioners cite a study by a consulting firm, Johnson Economics and Mackenzie, that said the county is short between 329 and 934 acres of industrial land and up to 246 acres of commercial land, an overall shortage of up to 1,180 acres over the next 20 years.

A majority of the commissioners want to review the status of 800 acres south of the city of Wilsonville; 400 acres adjacent to the urban growth boundary of the city of Canby; and 425 acres south of the Clackamas River along Springwater Road, outside Estacada. County officials believe the land should revert to “undesignated” rather than rural reserves.

County officials have dismissed concerns as overwrought. They point out that any land-use change would take years to accomplish and would be subject to legal review or appeal.

Nonetheless, the proposal has reopened a can of worms. Friends of French Prairie, a farming advocacy group, maintains that allowing development to jump across the Willamette River south of Wilsonville would crack open the state’s prime agricultural areas.

In a guest editorial written for the Capital Press, Friends of French Prairie President Ben Williams questioned the validity of the county’s employment lands report and some of the land is owned by people who have contributed heavily to commissioners’ election campaigns.

Board members of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District took the unusual step of publicly warning against a land-use change. “The District believes the County’s current initiative to create employment lands may not adequately consider the long-term value of high-value farmland,” the district said in a letter to Clackamas commissioners. “A significant amount of the land proposed for reconsideration as employment land is high-value farmland, an irreplaceable natural resource.”

Lehan, the Wilsonville council member critical of the land-use review, said her fast-growing city has planned for additional industrial growth in its Coffee Creek and Basalt Creek areas, and for residential development in an area called Frog Pond. The city doesn’t need more “employment land,” she said.

“I know how development works and what it takes for a city to support it,” Lehan said. “I’m not anti-growth by any means.”

Lehan was Clackamas County board chair until defeated in 2012 by the current board chair, Commissioner John Ludlow, who is often critical of Metro and of Portland’s influence on its suburban neighbors.

Canby City Administrator Rick Robinson made a point similar to Lehan’s: the city has an existing industrial park that isn’t full. The 400 acres Clackamas County wants to revert to undesignated status is outside the city limits and outside the city’s urban growth boundary, he said. Some of it is farmed now, and much of it is Class 1 agricultural soil, he said. Robinson said the Canby City Council hasn’t taken a position on the Clackamas review proposal.

The third area considered by Clackamas County is outside the city of Estacada. The mayor and city manager were unavailable to discuss the issue.

Washington youths win awards at Holstein convention Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:00:25 -0400 Janae Sargent Five Junior Holstein Association members from Washington state took home awards from the National Holstein Convention June 27-July 1 in Saratoga, N.Y.

The Washington State Holstein Association took 21 junior members to the convention to compete in jeopardy, quiz tournaments and banner-making contests.

The convention is aimed at educating young people about the dairy industry, providing opportunities to see dairy operations across the U.S. and helping young farmers network.

Among the Washington contingent was Cassy Schilter from Chehalis, Wash., who won the Junior Jeopardy contest. Michelle Schilter, a planning committee member and Cassy’s mother, said Cassy is the first junior member from Washington to win the national contest.

The Washington state juniors also won the banner-making contest, beating out contestants from nine other states.

“It’s pretty amazing how many juniors were there,” Schilter said. “Our kids did a really great job working as a team on the banner.”

The convention is hosted by the National Holstein Association, which has 20,000 adult members and 8,000 junior members. The association is open to anyone interested in breeding, raising and milking registered Holstein cattle.

Schilter said the convention, which is held in different locations from year to year, is a great opportunity for kids to see a world beyond their own backyard.

The 2017 National Holstein Convention will be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bellevue, Wash. Schilter said she expects between 1,500 and 2,000 people to attend the convention.

Oregon farmer challenging order to confine hogs Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:32:30 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski A pig breeder is challenging the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s order to build a confinement facility for his hogs, arguing it would hurt their health.

Luther Clevenger and his wife, Julie, raise Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs and other livestock on their 15-acre property near Aumsville, Ore., which has experienced water drainage problems during heavy winter rains.

ODA inspected the operation repeatedly this year after receiving several complaints that Clevenger’s 200 pigs were “creating a huge mess and affecting the property values of all the adjacent property owners” and that water was flowing onto neighbors’ lots.

The agency ultimately concluded that Clevenger’s farm was violating water quality standards and ordered a multi-pronged “plan of correction,” requiring him to construct a “swine confinement facility” to prevent pollutant discharges to the “surface water of Oregon,” according to ODA.

Currently, the pigs are raised on pasture but have access to portable shelters.

The plan also requires Clevenger to store manure and wastewater from the facility so that none is discharged into waterways, apply manure to the soil at agronomic rates and maintain grassed filter strips, among other measures.

Clevenger recently filed a petition in Marion County Circuit Court asking for the “plan of correction” to be overturned, arguing he hasn’t polluted state waters.

Water had collected on a neighbor’s property during winter, but that’s because the previous property owner filled a natural drain to expand his lawn. Clevenger said.

While he’s not opposed to reducing his number of pigs or working with the Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District to improve drainage issues, Clevenger said the confinement facility isn’t feasible for his rare hogs.

“This breed can’t be confined. They don’t work in confinement,” he said.

When Clevenger has confined the pigs in the past, even for relatively short periods of time, they’ve lost weight and some have even died, he said.

“If you have them out on pasture, they do fine,” he said.

People who buy from Clevenger generally raise the hogs organically or without antibiotics, and sell the meat through a “Community Supported Agriculture” model or other specialty markets, and they “prize pastured pigs,” according to his petition.

Clevenger has invested substantial amount of money in acquiring Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs from “all available genetic lines,” which has involved flying them from other locations and importing frozen semen from Ireland, the petition said.

Bruce Pokarney, communications director for ODA, said the agency can’t discuss the litigation but could “talk about all the details once the issue is settled.”

Portland students to learn about ag, rangeland at rural school Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:06:11 -0400 Eric Mortenson Burnt River School’s invitation to Portland students paid off, and the rural Eastern Oregon school will host up to eight urban kids when classes begin next fall, and eight more in the spring,

“It’s happening,” Superintendent Lorrie Andrews said. The district is arranging places for the students to stay while in school.

The school, which had a total of 34 students in 2015-16, offers the Burnt River Integrated Agriculture/Science Research Ranch program, or BRIARR, a dip into the ag and natural resource issues common to the area. The K-12 public charter school is in Unity, Ore., about 50 miles east of John Day.

Students will learn about animal production science, sustainable rangeland science and forest restoration studies, and do water quality monitoring with the Powder Basin Watershed Council.

The invitation to Portland students was intended to help bridge the urban-rural divide, but it could help the district financially, as well. The state provides districts about $7,100 per student, and that funding follows the student during their time in the rural district.

Portland Public Schools sent an email to its high school families last spring, telling them of the opportunity, and Andrews received about two dozen email queries within a couple days.

After clearing interviews and securing placement with host families, eight girls will attend the school fall semester, and eight boys will attend in spring.

WAFLA says 2016 wage survey better than last year’s Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:04:12 -0400 Dan Wheat OLYMPIA — The Washington State Employment Security Department has done a good job engaging the industry in drafting an agricultural wage and prevailing practices survey but key issues about survey questions remain unresolved, says the farm labor association WAFLA.

ESD will send the voluntary survey to about half the state’s approximate 6,000 agricultural employers in September. It asks about wages, bonuses and housing and is used by the U.S. Department of Labor to set minimum piece-rate wages and employment standards for employers using H-2A-visa foreign agricultural guestworkers that affect pay for domestic workers.

DOL uses a separate mandatory USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service survey to set a minimum hourly wage for H-2A workers known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate.

“The 2016 survey is a clear improvement from the 2015 survey and comes much closer to the standards required by the Department of Labor,” said Dan Fazio, WAFLA executive director.

ESD was “extremely responsive” in working with WAFLA and other stakeholders and adopted “nearly all our recommendations,” Fazio said.

WAFLA remains the subject of a state attorney general’s investigation regarding whether it violated state or federal laws by advising growers to report hourly wages instead of piece-rate wages in ESD’s 2015 wage and prevailing practices survey. ESD concluded WAFLA’s advice skewed lower how much workers earn picking Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Fuji apples.

Fazio has said he’s confident the guidance was legal, that the survey made growers choose between reporting hourly wages or piece-rates at peak of harvest.

WAFLA warned farmers reporting piece-rates when labor demand is highest could artificially inflate prevailing wages for the next season.

WAFLA and ESD will meet in late August to discuss the investigation, Fazio said.

WAFLA will host webinars for its members with ESD staff to explain the 2016 survey to growers.

The biggest change is ESD plans to separately survey workers to test the veracity of employer responses as required by DOL, Fazio said.

The survey will be conducted by the University of Washington.

The most important unresolved issue is determination of piece-rate wages, Fazio said.

Survey guidance was written over 30 years ago when employers were allowed in many places to pay solely by piece rate without any minimum hourly guarantee, he said. Federal survey guidance documents require ESD to indicate when a piece rate carries an hourly guarantee, he said.

He said the ESD survey must quantify the hourly guarantee employers offer to accurately determine the true wage.

“Piece rates are a dynamic, market-driven pay scale that are not amenable to government surveys, mandates and wage setting,” he said. “How do you capture the difference between my hourly guarantee and yours if we’re not required to report it?”

Gustavo Aviles, an ESD program manager, said DOL does not require reporting of both piece rate and the hourly guarantee. He said ESD is only trying to establish the prevailing wage of wages actually paid, whether hourly or piece rate.

Surveys will be sent to about 3,000 employers and 6,500 workers with greater chance of employers with more workers getting one, said Zoe Zadworny, an ESD economic analyst. Responses are due in mid-November, she said.

The H-2A program requires free housing for workers and could also require free housing to non-employee family members if it is a prevailing practice among employers who do not use the H-2A program, Fazio said.

Great Oregon Steam-Up puts history on display Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:58:29 -0400 Janae Sargent BROOKS, Ore. — Antique Powerland brings families, hobbyists, enthusiasts and artists together each year to experience the history and romance of steam-powered machinery at the Great Oregon Steam-Up.

The 46th annual Great Oregon Steam-Up is a volunteer-driven event that draws approximately 25,000 people to the Antique Powerland living museum to see fully operating steam-powered machinery over two weekends.

This year’s event will be July 30-31 and Aug. 6-7.

Show Manager Evan Burroughs said most of the equipment in the show is pre-World War II and fully restored.

The show will feature early steam-powered farm machinery, fire trucks, vintage trucks, antique cars, logging gear, a unique operating steam sawmill and various steam-powered engines.

Burroughs said the event will feature more than 500 individual pieces from Oregon, California and the Midwest.

Executive Director Pamela Vorachek said her favorite part of the event is seeing the interest expressed by generations of attendees.

“We truly have something for everyone,” Vorachek said.

Each day of the show opens at 7 a.m. in Brooks, Ore. Visitors should take Interstate 5 to exit 263 and turn west on Brooklake Road.

More than 700 volunteers will run swap meets, flea markets, raffle drawings, youth-focused events, educational booths and a daily parade of antique tractors.

Returning favorites for children are the 1/8-scale railroad rides and the steam-driven ice cream maker.

A feature new to the 2016 show is the Steampunk Art Show. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that features steam-powered machinery. Vorachek said the volunteers added it to attract younger attendees.

During the second weekend of the show, Vorachek said Steampunks are invited to watch Steampunk artist Chuck Dolence demonstrate how he creates artwork out of radio cables.

Burroughs described the event as educational entertainment, saying attendees can come just to be entertained or can dig in and learn a lot from the vendors and hobbyists who bring their machinery to the show.

“I like being able to show the modern public the tools their grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents used to provide a living for their families,” Burroughs said. “These are tools you can trace to modern agriculture and see that a lot of the features are very similar.”

Adult admission is $12 for one day or $20 for a weekend pass. There is a $30 pass for families. Admission for children younger than 12 is free.

Antique Powerland is a campus made up of 12 power museums whose mission is to educate the public about the history and operation of machines and the role they played in modern technology and the quality of life.

“Having events like this where you see the machines running makes it real and relevant,” Vorachek said. “At Great Oregon Steam-Up you can watch the transition and technology changes that happened to get us where we are today. It’s what we mean when we say history comes alive.”

Ecology may reconsider cost of Washington dairy rules Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:47:45 -0400 Don Jenkins BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Dairy farmers and environmentalists Tuesday criticized new manure-control rules the state Department of Ecology plans to finalize early next year, accusing state regulators of being too meddlesome or too lax.

At the first of two public hearings on the proposal, farmers said dairies already are heavily regulated and that Ecology’s new layer of mandates would be unnecessary, expensive and even dispiriting.

“Boy, you guys just whipped the energy out of me,” said Snohomish County dairy farmer Don Tillman, 82.

More than 100 people attended the hearing at Whatcom Community College on Ecology’s proposal to require up to 300 mid-sized and large dairies to obtain a permit to operate a concentrated animal feeding operation.

Ecology estimates that complying with the permit will cost a dairy between $11,000 and $25,000 over five years.

To ease the financial hardship on the industry, the agency plans to exempt from the rules about 100 dairies that have fewer than 200 mature cows.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Ecology’s special assistant on water policy Kelly Susewind said the department may consider redrawing the line and exempting more dairies.

He said dairy farmers have raised valid concerns that Ecology’s analysis didn’t account for all costs.

Ecology didn’t include the financial impact of not being able to spread manure within 100 feet of ditches and other waterways that are unprotected by vegetation or other measures, such as an embankment.

Ecology says it plans to allow commercial fertilizers in the buffers, though that will increase production costs and could hinder organic farming.

Also, Ecology assumed every dairy has just one lagoon, though many dairies have multiple lagoons. The agency estimated a lagoon assessment would cost $7,400.

“If you want us out of here, you may get your way because this is cost-prohibitive,” testified Lynden, Wash., dairy farmer Sherman Polinder.

“I think the ag land will be replaced with towns and cities,” he said. “And you’re going to have more problems than you have now.”

Environmentalists testified that Ecology should require dairies to line lagoons with synthetic fabric to prevent leaks and to install wells to monitor groundwater.

Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director Chris Wilke said Ecology has yielded too much to farm interests, calling the agency’s proposal a “travesty.”

“We understand Ecology is under big pressure from the agricultural lobby,” he said.

Susewind said soil tests should detect threats to groundwater, without requiring farmers to drill numerous wells to trace sources of pollution.

Ecology says it does not have enough evidence of actual groundwater pollution to justify mandating synthetic liners. The agency hopes to collect more information about pollution coming from dairies over the next five years, One farmer Tuesday characterized the new permit as an expensive research project paid for by dairies.

A second hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Yakima. Ecology chose to hold hearings in the two counties with the most dairies. Although the rules could apply to other livestock operations, dairies will be most affected because they must store and apply large amounts of manure.

Ecology maintains that manure seeps into the ground from storage lagoons, even those designed to standards set by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. To avoid coming under the new permit and its requirements, a dairy would have to make the case that manure seeping from its lagoons isn’t reaching groundwater, according to Ecology.

The second hearing will be 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Yakima Convention Center, Room B, 10 North Eighth St.

North Idaho growers open flour mill Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:08:05 -0400 John O’Connell BONNER’S FERRY, Idaho — Some of Tim Dillin’s grain crop is processed on his own farm in a small mill operated by his wife, Julie.

He proposed opening a farm-based mill in the spring of 2015, as a means of providing his wife a post-retirement activity.

Julie Dillin, who retired in June 2015 following a 35-year career as an elementary school teacher, now spends her days loading the mill, bagging flour and applying labels by hand. She sells her product directly to customers.

“When I retired, I knew I wanted to do something completely different from teaching and something where I could stay at home and be on the farm, because it’s beautiful out there,” she said.

To learn the ropes of the business, the Dillins toured a couple of other mills in the region, including a Lewiston, Idaho, flour mill and winery and Camas Country Mills in Eugene, Ore. The owner of the Lewiston facility sold them a 30-inch stone mill, which he’d used only briefly before upgrading to a larger size.

They purchased a prefabricated 14- by 32-foot structure to house their mill in May 2015, later adding a 12- by 16-foot storage shed. They officially opened for business after hosting an open house in October.

“It’s definitely not paying for itself, but we’ll keep working at it,” Tim Dillin said.

Julie Dillin spends about 10 hours per week working in the mill. They can process up to 200 pounds of flour per hour.

“I think it’s a great product. Other people who bake with it feel it’s the best bread they’ve ever had,” Julie Dillin said. “People now seem to want to know where their food is coming from, and they’re interested in buying local. We know of no one in this area who is milling their own flour.”

They offer three types of wheat flour — hard white, soft white and hard red — as well as barley flour. Tim Dillin, who farms on 1,600 acres, raises a healthy barley variety developed in Aberdeen, Idaho, called Transit, for milling.

Though there are currently no genetically modified wheat or barley varieties on the market, they label their product as GMO-free, given the high level of customer interest in the topic.

Julie Dillin sells bagged flour, a popular pancake mix with barley and soft white flour and seasonal baked-good mixes. She spends much of her time developing recipes, especially with barley flour, and works several hours per week in the kitchen preparing free samples.

She attends the farmers’ market in Troy, Mont., and also sells to local bakeries and a pizza restaurant. They plan to sell flour online soon under the domain name, and are setting up a Facebook page with the same address.

Researchers help nursery industry with native plant goals Wed, 27 Jul 2016 09:32:40 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — Researchers will try to develop 10 new native plant species for the state’s landscape nursery industry over the next two years.

The goal is to find water-conserving native plants that are also aesthetically pleasing, said Ann Bates, administrator of the Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association.

“Native plants are a little bit hard to sell sometimes,” she said. “The public may want them but they are not the prettiest plants on the lot. We want to find native plants that are more pleasing to the eye and wanted more by the consumer.”

INLA received a $99,000 specialty crop grant from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to support the project. University of Idaho researchers Stephen Love and Robert Tripepi are partnering with the nursery association on the project.

Love will collect new native plant germplasm, evaluate it and identify promising native plant species with commercial potential, while Tripepi, who specializes in plant propagation, will build up large numbers of the plant seed to help with the commercialization part of the project.

According to the INLA grant application, there is growing demand for drought-tolerant landscape plants in the Intermountain West but Idaho’s nursery crop growers face a disadvantage in competing for this demand due to a lack of suitable plant species and materials.

The key is to find native plants that are pleasing to the eye and that consumers will want, Love said.

“We’re not looking for something that looks like sagebrush ... or cactus,” he said. “We’re trying to find plants that create a very unique and very beautiful landscape.”

The project will “infuse new, sustainable plant products into the Idaho nursery industry,” according to the grant application. “The short-term impact will be competitive placement of the Idaho nursery industry among increasingly conservation-minded customers.”

The long-term impact would be an “increase in water-conserving urban landscape designs that will decrease water usage, thereby preserving a limited resource for food production and other critical needs.”

Tripepi said he will use tissue cultures and stem cuttings to build up large populations of the targeted plants to sell to nurseries.

UI’s native plant project has been around since 2005, funded partly by the INLA, but the $99,000 grant will significantly expand the scope and speed of it, Love said.

Besides bringing in Tripepi, who will help propagate some of the more difficult plants, the money will also be used to recruit a master’s level student to assist him.

Love said researchers should “fairly easily reach that goal” of developing 10 new native plant species over two years.