Capital Press | Capital Press Thu, 29 Sep 2016 23:29:44 -0400 en Capital Press | ‘Geeks meet dirt’ as Idaho company seeks farm solutions Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:37:56 -0400 Sean Ellis CALDWELL, Idaho — A new Idaho company that matches the state’s farm and hi-tech industries hopes to develop solutions that will save farmers money and boost productivity.

The company, Kairosys, matches the agricultural knowledge of vineyard owner and bee scientist Ron Bitner with the technological savvy of two former employees of Boise-based Micron Technology, a global leader in the semiconductor industry.

Tony Brower has 20 years of diverse experience in the semiconductor industry, including in business planning and data base access, and Jai Jaiprakash, an engineer, is an expert in the use of sensors and product development.

The company’s motto is, “Geeks meet dirt,” and Bitner believes it has the ability to solve many problems farmers face by making sense of the large amounts of information being collected on the farm and figuring out how it can be used to benefit farmers.

“People are collecting thousands of points of data but what does it mean?” he said. “That’s what Jay’s background is: taking all of that historical data (and) looking for trends.”

The company’s first project is developing an app that uses sensors placed in leafcutter bee incubators to predict when the bees will hatch for the alfalfa seed industry.

“That way, a farmer can predict pretty accurately when his bees are going to hatch and how long he can hold them if the weather’s cold or if he has to spray,” said Bitner, who has four decades of experience in the alfalfa seed industry.

During the spring, alfalfa seed growers have about $100,000 worth of bees in incubators “and they just can’t hardly sleep at night,” Bitner said. “But if they have something tracking the bees for them, it’s just insurance for them. We’re trying to help them time the release of their bees and user fewer bees.”

He expects to have the app developed by next spring.

“We have to work out the details (but) farmers are ready for it,” he said. “We already have people asking for it.”

The company is also studying bloom times in alfalfa seed and how it ties in with the bees, as well as bug counts in seed fields to determine how chemicals affect them.

More projects will follow, Bitner said.

Kairosys is also partnering with USDA researchers to see how its technology can be used to help the nation’s honeybee industry.

Matt Borud, chief business development officer for the Idaho Department of Commerce, said Kairosys is exactly what former IDC Director Jeff Sayer had in mind when he kicked off an effort last year to bring the state’s ag and tech sectors together to create jobs and solve problems for farmers.

“I think it’s the poster child example,” he said. “It’s exactly the type of venture Jeff had in mind and we think there are still plenty more opportunities like this out there.”

He said current IDC Director Megan Ronk shares Sayer’s vision of turning Idaho into a Silicon Valley of agricultural technology.

Hanjin bankruptcy causes grass seed airlift Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:42:02 -0400 Dan Wheat CANBY, Ore. — It wasn’t something Lucas Solis intended to do, but he thinks he may have set a record for the air shipment of grass seed.

Solis is general manager of Pure Seed, a Canby, Ore., company that produces and sells turf and forage grass seed in North America and overseas.

In mid-August, Pure Seed delivered four containers, just under 200,000 pounds, of perennial ryegrass seed to the Port of Seattle for shipment to the Middle East. It was supposed to reach the United Arab Emirates by the end of September for overseeding high profile golf courses, including one that will host the Abu Dhabi HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Co.) 2017 Golf Championship Jan. 19-22.

“Everyone was concerned about Hanjin. Our shipping team reached out to them and they assured us there would be no delays,” Solis said. “The next shipper wasn’t going to make the deadline, so we decided to stay with Hanjin.”

A few weeks later, South Korea-based Hanjin, the world’s seventh largest shipping company, filed for bankruptcy.

At that point, Pure Seed’s shipment was stuck at a port in Busan, South Korea.

“We scrambled for two weeks for another shipper. It was chaotic,” Solis said.

Eventually, Pure Seed decided to air freight 88,000 pounds of ryegrass seed to the UAE. Loading was set for Sept. 28-29 at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The rest of the seed, stuck in Busan, is scheduled to reach UAE by the end of October on another shipping line.

The ocean freight and related costs of the original shipment was about $20,000, Solis said. The air freight will cost about $60,000 more and be borne by Pure Seed, distributors and management companies, he said.

“This must be some sort of Guinness record for seed shipment. In terms of sheer volume of seed, I’ve never heard of anyone doing this,” Solis said.

Hanjin has been a major shipper between the U.S. West Coast and Asia. Pure Seed, like many exporters, has relied on Hanjin and now is getting quotes from other shippers.

Solis believes that in the long term things will even out because there has been an oversupply of shipping capacity for several years.

But, he says, in the short term prices will go up and there are “layers of complexity” in figuring out logistics of billions of dollars worth of cargo stuck on Hanjin vessels and shippers changing routes.

“I’ve heard freight rates to Asia will go up 50 to 100 percent. I met with import agents in China two weeks ago and they quoted the same figures,” he said. “That’s a big hit for sure.”

No one really knows how big a problem Hanjin’s bankruptcy will become for West Coast exporters but it potentially will impact their competitiveness in supplying markets, Solis said.

“If costs go to a point where we’re not competitive, I don’t think it would mean a total loss but it could be a percentage loss of our business,” he said.

Washington pay floor to rise to at least $9.53 Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:04:14 -0400 Don Jenkins The Washington Department of Labor and Industries announced Wednesday that the state’s minimum wage will rise by 6 cents an hour to $9.53 on Jan. 1, unless voters pass a measure to push the pay floor to the highest in the country among states.

After two years at $9.47 an hour because of low inflation, Washington’s minimum wage will rise to reflect a 0.7 percent increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners, according to L&I. An initiative voters approved in 1998 requires annual adjustments for inflation.

The hike will make Washington’s minimum wage the eighth highest among the 50 states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Washington’s minimum wage would tie for highest if Initiative 1433 passes in November.

The measure calls for raising the wage to $11 on Jan. 1, the same day Massachusetts will raise its current $10 pay floor by $1.

Washington’s wage would be increased annually until reaching $13.50 in 2020, under I-1433.

Automatic adjustments for inflation would then resume.

I-1433 would not prevent cities from adopting higher minimum wages, as has Seattle, Tacoma and SeaTac.

I-1433 also would mandate employers provide paid family leave. Accrued benefits would carry over from year to year for seasonal workers.

As of Wednesday, the initiative’s campaign committee, Raise Up Wa, had reported raising $3.5 million, including $1 million from Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, according to the Public Disclosure Committee.

The No on I-1433 committee had reported raising $53,646, including $5,000 from the Washington Farm Bureau.

The farm bureau maintains that state and local minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, put producers in those areas at a disadvantage against their competitors elsewhere.

The trend nationwide has been for states to adopt higher minimum wages and more complex rate schedules.

The Oregon Legislature this year adopted a three-tier approach.

As of July 1, the minimum wage rose to $9.50 in 18 rural counties, and $9.75 in three Portland Metro counties and the state’s other 15 counties.

By mid-2020, the rural wage will be $12.50, the Portland area wage $14.75 and the so-called “standard wage” for everywhere else will be $13.50.

After that, the standard wage will be adjusted annually for inflation. The rural wage will then be set at $1 less than the standard wage, while the Portland wage will be $1.25 more than the standard wage.

California’s minimum wage will increase on Jan. 1 to $10.50 from $10.

The wage will gradually rise to $15 in 2022 for businesses with more than 25 workers and in 2023 for businesses with fewer. The wages will then be adjusted by inflation.

Idaho has adopted the federal minimum wage as its state minimum wage.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal pay floor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Portland daily grain report Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:52:11 -0400 Portland, Ore., Thursday, Sept. 29, 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 December futures trended mixed, 4.00 cents lower to 2.25 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 September delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as lower 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 lower 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 September delivery were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for September 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 September were not available as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during September trended lower 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

Sep 4.6925-4.7600

Oct 4.6925-4.7800

Nov 4.7100-4.8600

Dec 4.8000-4.9425

Jan 5.0200-5.0300

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Sep 4.6925-4.8425

Oct 4.6925-4.8425

Nov 4.7425-4.8425

Dec 4.8000-4.9425

Jan NA

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

Ordinary protein

Sep 4.7500-4.8800

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Sep 4.7500-4.8425

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


Ordinary protein 4.2025-4.4925

11 pct protein 4.7925

11.5 pct protein

Sep 4.9425-5.0925

Oct 5.0425-5.1925

Nov 5.0425-5.2425

Dec 5.0425-5.3425

Jan 5.2075-5.2575

12 pct protein 5.0225-5.2425

13 pct protein 5.1825-5.5425

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 5.5775-5.8275

14 pct protein

Sep 6.0575-6.3575

Oct 6.0575-6.3575

Nov 6.0575-6.3575

Dec 6.0575-6.3575

Jan 6.1350-6.1850

15 pct protein 6.2975-6.5975

16 pct protein 6.5375-6.8375

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Sep NA

Oct 4.2150-4.3450

Nov 4.2150-4.2650

Dec 4.2150-4.2650

Jan 4.2750-4.3150

Feb 4.2750-4.3150

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Sep 10.3925

Oct 10.4225

Nov 10.4725-10.4925

Dec 10.5325

Jan 10.4525-10.4725

Feb NA

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Aug 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 4.8900

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 4.6200

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.0100

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 5.9700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Clinton, Trump split over WOTUS Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:47:56 -0400 Hillary Clinton supports the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule. Donald Trump says he would eliminate it if elected.

The candidates made their comments in statements published Sept. 20 on

“I support the rule, but know we have to work with all stakeholders to ensure its common sense implementation,” the Democratic nominee told the publication. “I was pleased the EPA worked hard to ensure the Clean Water Rule maintains longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, while clarifying the Clean Water Act and ensuring much-needed certainty for all stakeholders so our families and businesses can rely on clean water.”

Her Republican opponent took the opposite position.

“I will eliminate the unconstitutional Waters of the U.S. rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations,” Trump said. “I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. As importantly, I will appoint a pro-farmer administrator of EPA.”

EPA and the Corps of Engineers worked on the rule for a couple of years in the hopes of reconciling two separate Supreme Court decisions in cases involving the Clean Water Act. The object was to better define what constitutes “waters of the United States,” which the act gives the federal government authority to regulate.

Despite the government’s protest to the contrary, farm and ranch groups worried the feds would use the opportunity to expand their authority over “waters,” and therefore adjacent lands not previously subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. Such a designation could have profound and expensive consequences for landowners.

We’ve never been a fan of WOTUS, as it is popularly known, because the rule expands the authority of the federal government, specifically the bureaucrats the rule charges with making the determinations.

The attorney general of North Dakota — joined by Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming — filed suit. On Aug. 27, North Dakota U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson granted a preliminary injunction delaying the rule’s implementation.

In his ruling, Erickson said the states were likely to succeed on the merits because the EPA had adopted an “exceptionally expansive” regulatory scheme, allowing the EPA to regulate “waters that do not bear any effect on the ‘chemical, physical and biological integrity’ of any navigable-in-fact water.”

Now it’s up to the courts to decide. That won’t happen before the election. Should the rule stand, the next president will decide how the rule is implemented.

Hillary Clinton supports the rule, and Donald Trump doesn’t.

WOTUS is just one important issue. Before casting their vote, farmers and ranchers should factor those positions as well as the candidates’ positions on trade, immigration, taxes, private property and environmental issues.

GMO labeling rules that matter and rules that don’t Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:46:42 -0400 Duane Grant Some people can pick between Coke and Pepsi in blind taste tests. Only a few can explain what separates bourbon from whiskey. And it often takes a parent to know which twin is which.

Yet nobody — absolutely nobody — can tell the difference between sugar that comes from GMO crops and sugar that doesn’t.

You can look at the sugar with your eyes. You can taste it with your mouth. You can even have expert scientists study it at the molecular level using ultra-powerful gas-spectrometer analysis.

And still, nobody can tell the difference.

So why would anybody want the U.S. Department of Agriculture to try?

A few anti-biotech activists are demanding that USDA make the futile attempt, as part of a new federal GMO disclosure law. Over the next few months, regulators will propose a series of specific rules — and one of the first they’ll have to consider involves refined products.

“USDA’s biggest task in writing the rule may be deciding whether highly refined produces like beet sugar, soybean oil, and high fructose corn syrup would need to be labeled because they are derived from genetically modified plants,” wrote Agri-Pulse, a weekly newsletter.

This may be a big task, but it has a simple answer: Putting GMO labels on highly refined products is pointless.

In July, President Obama signed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, passed a few weeks earlier by bipartisan majorities in Congress. It wiped out the threat of states creating a confusing patchwork of expensive and contradictory regulations for labeling food with GMO ingredients. In return, the law mandated national standards — and now it’s up to USDA officials to propose what this will mean in practice.

Logic would suggest that a food should carry a GMO label only when some element of it can be traced back to a GMO source.

With highly refined products, however, this is impossible — and sugar offers a great example of why.

I grow sugar beets on about 7,000 acres in Idaho, and also belong to a cooperative that supplies about 10 percent of America’s sugar.

We prefer to grow GMO beets because they make economic and environmental sense, helping farmers like me to fight weeds and conserve natural resources as we produce more food on less land than ever before.

When we harvest our beets, we pull up the conical roots that contain a high concentration of sucrose. Next we slice them into strips that look like French fries. Then we boil these pieces, freeing the sucrose from the fiber. Finally, we evaporate the water and crystallize the sucrose, producing the pure white sugar that you buy in grocery stores.

By the time this intense process of refinement converts our crops into granules of sugar, it has erased any indication that the original plant was the product of biotechnology.

Even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t much matter: GMO foods are safe and healthy to eat, according to everybody who has examined the matter, from the American Medical Association to the World Health Organization.

Yet nothing distinguishes the sugar of GMO beets from the sugar of organic beets. They are totally the same, all the way down to the molecular level.

So why would we want to label sugar as GMO or non-GMO? It doesn’t make any sense.

It would also be a lie.

We label products to inform consumers about their contents. Slapping a GMO label on a package of sugar, however, would reveal nothing about the makeup of the sugar. It would simply identify a mode of agricultural production.

That’s not a label for food. That’s a label for a farming practice, which is not the same thing. Pretending otherwise is either an act of ignorance or an act of deception, and it’s outside the scope of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, too.

As regulators develop the particular rules that will govern the details of the new federal law, they may encounter a number of thorny questions with no obvious answers. The labeling of highly refined products, however, is not one of them.

This is a clear case of a rule that doesn’t need to be written.

Duane Grant grows potatoes, malt barley, sugar beets, corn, dry beans, alfalfa wheat and onion seed on a family farm near Rupert, Idaho. He is a member of the Global Farmer Network,

Wolves thrive even without lawsuits Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:46:13 -0400 You must forgive us if we feel a bit gobsmacked every time a pro-wolf group runs to the judiciary to complain that their favorite apex predator isn’t getting enough love from wildlife managers.

It is an act aimed at getting publicity and raising money and has little or nothing to do with the welfare of gray wolves in the West.

The wolves are doing just fine. Really.

There is no shortage of gray wolves. Some 55,000 live in Canada, and 10,000 or so are in British Columbia alone. Up to 11,000 live in Alaska. An estimated 4,000 roam the Great Lakes region of the U.S. More than 1,200 more are in Montana and Idaho. The populations in Washington state and Oregon are growing at an annual rate of more than 30 percent, meaning they will double every few years. Wolves have even taken up residence in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

So what, exactly, is the problem? The pro-wolfers appear to have won the battle, and the war. Why are they pressing their case against wildlife managers for not providing “adequate” protection for wolves?

In our opinion, it’s about money. Environmental and conservation groups can never declare victory and go home. They can never congratulate themselves for a “mission accomplished” and move on with their lives. That’s not how it works.

How it works is the wolf cause is held up as a “matter of the life and death,” and is usually accompanied by a plea for money.

If a conservation group were to tell supporters, “Yep, the gray wolf populations are now in good shape, thanks to us (and a poorly written Endangered Species Act). It’s time to get back to our lives,” that group would never be able to raise a penny. Instead, their money pleas will continue, along with efforts to stop livestock grazing on public land. Because of poorly written federal laws and a judiciary that is easily swayed by fuzzy logic, these groups will continue.

The irony is the gray wolf would have succeeded even if radical conservation groups never existed. By reintroducing wolves to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park and protection from wildlife managers, the wolf population would have increased even without conservationists hollering from the back seat.

Wolves are robust, smart and have a survival instinct unsurpassed in nature. Because they live in packs and follow food sources, they spread naturally across the landscape. In fact, they were never reintroduced in Washington and Oregon; they dispersed from Idaho and British Columbia naturally. If they find food, they will stay. If they don’t, they will move on.

A relatively small number of wolves have created problems by preying on livestock, killing sheep and cattle. If every one of those wolves had been killed immediately, the overall population would still be rapidly growing.

Yet in Oregon, wolf groups are again heading to court, arguing that wildlife managers are not providing adequate protection. Note: Wolves will not be killed anywhere in Oregon without the express permission of wildlife managers. In all phases of the state wolf plan, non-lethal methods of stopping wolves from attacking livestock must be undertaken before lethal removal will even be considered.

In our book, that’s good protection for wolves.

So it goes. Lawsuits, fundraising, even the occasional mindless threats against anyone who happens to get caught up in the issue. And all the while wolves are doing just fine.

Idaho farmers concerned about clout of ‘Great State of Ada’ Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:36:25 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — In rural Idaho, farmers often refer to the Boise area, which is in Ada County, as “the Great State of Ada.”

It’s not a term of endearment.

As the state’s population center rapidly shifts to the Boise area, Idahoans involved in agriculture see the prospect of more urbanites with less understanding of agriculture wielding more clout in the state legislature.

The question they ask one another has no easy answer: What can they do about it?

“Currently it’s not a problem, but I am concerned in the long term,” said Sen. Jim Patrick, a Republican farmer from Twin Falls. “When I run into people in Boise ... they just don’t comprehend what we do and why we do it.”

They fear the problem will only continue to grow as Ada County grows. Idaho’s population grew by more than 27 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and much of that growth was in Ada County and adjacent Canyon County, Idaho’s two most populous.

For example, Ada County grew by 29 percent and Canyon County grew by 44 percent. At the same time, the population of such rural areas as Bear Lake and Caribou counties shrank by 5 percent or more.

Ada and Canyon counties now have a combined population of 641,689 — 39 percent of Idaho’s total population of 1.65 million.

“The power is shifting to Ada County,” said Sen. Mark Harris, a Republican rancher from Soda Springs in Eastern Idaho. “Every time there’s a census, that area picks up more seats in the legislature and rural areas lose seats.”

Idaho’s population growth is among the fastest in the nation due to a couple of main factors, according to Craig Shaul, a research supervisor at the state Department of Labor.

Idaho’s job growth is among the nation’s fastest and “a lot of those jobs will be located in urban centers such as Boise,” he said.

The state is also attracting retirees looking to settle in a quiet area with a high quality of life and access to good medical care.

Don Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed Co. and an Idaho Bean Commission member, said he’s concerned about the political ramifications of the population shift. He’s equally concerned the shift will result in a loss of farmland in Ada and Canyon counties.

“Agriculture doesn’t have the voice it once had in Idaho and, sooner or later, we are going to be forced out,” he said. “And I’m not sure the general populace in Idaho gives a damn.”

Idaho has 35 legislative districts; 13 of them are in Ada and Canyon counties. At the opposite end of the scale, District 32 in the southeastern corner of the state encompasses four counties: Bear Lake, Caribou, Franklin and Oneida. Districts are based on the population.

The growth spurt is projected to continue, too.

According to COMPASS, a southwestern Idaho planning organization, the combined population of Ada and Canyon counties will increase from 646,000 now to more than 1 million by 2040. That means those two counties will have 43 percent of the state’s total population.

Some farmers, including Mark Darrington of Declo, said the loss of rural Idaho’s clout in the legislature is inevitable and the industry needs to make sure it continues to employ high-quality lobbyists who can make sure urban lawmakers understand the important role agriculture plays in the state’s economy.

According to University of Idaho economists, agriculture is the state’s top economic sector and is responsible for one of every seven jobs in the state, 20 percent of total sales and 14 percent of Idaho’s gross state product.

“Absolutely we stand in danger of losing our agricultural clout and of course that’s a concern,” Darrington said. “But I don’t know how you can change the way the (system) is set up. The rules are the rules of how we make legislative districts.”

He said that makes it more important to ensure that legislators understand “there’s a huge economic engine out there that drives the state that is outside of Ada County.”

Food Producers of Idaho Executive Director Rick Waitley said folks in the farming industry “should not assume ... that legislators, because they are from the urban area, are not understanding and sympathetic to the needs of the agriculture industry.”

“We need to always be mindful to look for every opportunity to promote, educate and advocate for agriculture when we can,” said Waitley, who is also state director of Idaho Ag in the Classroom. The nonprofit sends volunteers into school classrooms to teach students about agriculture.

Tolmie, the bean commission member, was less hopeful about the ability to “get through” to urban folks, some of whom already hold strong opinions about farming.

“Education is probably the solution but very few people truly want to be educated” when it comes to production agriculture, Tolmie said. “They want the romantic version of a farm — 2 acres, organic and some chickens. But the reality of farming, they want nothing to do with.”

Random interviews with half a dozen Boise residents showed mixed results when it comes to their understanding of farming and support of production agriculture.

Jacy Stevens has lived in Boise five years and works at a hair salon. She said she doesn’t have strong opinions on issues such as genetically modified crops, organic foods or the use of pesticides.

“I don’t know how to produce food so I’m not going to sit there and tell (farmers) they can’t use pesticides if that’s what they need,” she said. “I’m not a professional in that field, so any choices that (farmers) make when it comes to organic or the use of pesticides, all of my trust goes into them ... because they obviously know how to grow food.”

Others had stronger — and divergent — opinions about hot-topic agricultural issues.

Rick Hobson, who has lived in Boise since 1959, said it’s important to support farmers — “That’s where we get our food” — but he also said pesticides, genetically modified crops called GMOs, the die-off of honeybees and climate change are important concerns to him.

Farmers, particularly big ones, “want to make a profit but they need to be held accountable,” he said. “The average citizen in Boise, as well as rural residents, needs to have influence on what’s going on with them.”

Darrell Defabry, who is in the real estate business, said he loves farmers: “Why wouldn’t you?”

But when asked if that includes bigger farms, he admitted, “I prefer smaller farmers.”

He also prefers non-GMO crops, as does Christopher Cook, an attorney.

But while Defabry said he wouldn’t vote to ban the planting of GMO crops in Idaho, Cook would.

“I would support a ban on (GMOs),” Cook said. “There are so many subsidies for (farmers) that I’m not really concerned about their ability to make money. I think they’re doing pretty well. I think they should think less about profits and more about sustainability and people’s health.”

Rep. Gayle Batt, a Republican from Wilder and member of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee, said the writing’s on the wall that Boise will be the next Portland or Seattle, meaning that urbanites will use their political clout to make decisions for the rest of the state.

But rather than shun or fear those urbanites, agriculture needs to try to understand and reach out to them, said Batt.

“We need to look at them as opportunities for education and not fear them,” she said. “It would be a mistake on our part if we didn’t know what they are thinking and kept ignoring it.”

Harris, the Republican rancher, stayed in Meridian, a fast-growing suburb of Boise, for almost three months during the 2016 legislative session. He said there appear to be plenty of people in Ada County who still understand the important role agriculture plays in the state.

On the flip side, “As people get disconnected from the land, they lose interest in it,” he added.

“I think people for the most part still understand the importance of agriculture,” Harris said. “But agriculture can’t drop the ball. We have to keep educating people.”

Clinton, Trump give positions on ag, regulatory policy Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:32:57 -0400 This week the American Farm Bureau Federation released answers Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have submitted on questions concerning farm policy, regulatory reform, environmental laws and other issues important to farmers and ranchers.

Clinton’s campaign responded in the third person, while Trump’s answers were submitted in first-person form.

With the exception of minor edits of style, the candidates’ answers are presented as released by Farm Bureau.

CLINTON: “Hillary is committed to operating the U.S. government in as open and transparent a way as possible. She will continue and expand the open-government initiatives started by the current Administration and will direct federal agencies to increase the amount of information they voluntarily disclose online.

As president, she will always engage a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, to hear their concerns and ideas for how we can ensure our agriculture sector remains vibrant. If there are implementation challenges with a particular regulation, Hillary will work with all stakeholders to address them.”

TRUMP: “Our nation’s regulatory system is completely broken. Terrible rules are written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who often know nothing about the people they are regulating. The regulators have all of the power, and our nation’s farmers are often forced to endure costly, burdensome, and unwise regulations that are bad for American farmers and consumers. Hillary Clinton will do the bidding of the radical environmentalists. Whether through excessive land-use restrictions that impact farmers and ranchers, environmental requirements that impose enormous costs on farmers, or over-reaching food product regulations, federal regulatory burdens have increased dramatically in recent years. This must change.

As President, I will work with Congress to reform our regulatory system. We will reduce the power of government bureaucrats, and increase the freedom of our nation’s farmers to be as productive as possible. We will increase transparency and accountability in the regulatory process. Rational cost-benefit tests will be used to ensure that any regulation is justified before it is adopted.

TRUMP: “First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional “Waters of the U.S.” rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations. This rule is so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles or mostly dry areas on private property. I will also ensure that these agencies respect the valid exclusions under environmental statutes for agricultural practices. To be clear, my Administration will work to ensure clean water for all Americans while also restoring the proper limits of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama-Clinton team, my Administration will work cooperatively with the States — most of which have been completely ignored by EPA under the Obama Administration-to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals.”

CLINTON: “The Clean Water Act is one of our most successful environmental regulations, helping fulfill the basic right of all Americans to accessing clean water. Not too long ago our rivers were literally on fire, and polluters were free to dump toxic chemicals at will. The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law.”

CLINTON: “Hillary Clinton rejects the false choice between strengthening our economy and protecting our environment and climate. This is particularly true in light of the historic Paris Climate Agreement reached last December, in which all countries committed to take national action to cut their carbon pollution. As President, Hillary will go beyond the agreement made in Paris, cutting our emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

As President, Hillary will work to make the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st century, and build off the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change while protecting kids’ health, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs.

Over the past seven years, the amount of wind power in the US has grown threefold and the amount of solar power has grown 30-fold. Renewable energy is now the fastest growing source of job creation in the country. America’s farm communities have played a critical role in this progress with 99 percent of utility-scale wind production occurring in rural areas, attracting more than $100 billion in private investment. Meanwhile, electricity prices have fallen by 10 percent for American families and businesses in real terms.

Landmark vehicle standards under the Clean Air Act are reducing U.S. oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and saving the average driver $130 to $180 a year. The Renewable Fuel Standard is cutting U.S. oil dependence and carbon pollution even more.

As President, Clinton will work to build on this progress, including by launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to forge new federal partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed. This includes expanding the Rural Utilities Service and other successful USDA energy programs and ensuring the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle, in getting low-cost wind and other renewable energy from rural communities to the rest of the country, and helping electric coops capture the clean energy and energy efficiency opportunities of the 21st century.”

TRUMP: “I strongly oppose the extreme, climate alarmism agenda of the Obama-Clinton years. Too often, the Obama-Clinton team imposed billions of dollars in environmental costs on American citizens without achieving real environmental benefits. In fact, the Obama EPA cut funding to the States for water infrastructure and programs that help rural communities while increasing spending on EPA bureaucrats, lawyers, and UN climate programs.

As President, I will rescind the Climate Action Plan (including the Clean Power Plan) and other excessive regulations issued under the Clean Air Act that impose unjustified costs on American workers and farmers. My administration will work cooperatively with the States to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals. Affordable energy is critical to the success of American farmers. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama-Clinton climate agenda will cost the U.S. over $5 trillion. We cannot afford to allow the Obama-Clinton policies of high energy costs and overreaching regulations to continue any longer.”

TRUMP: “America is blessed with abundant natural resources and beautiful wildlife. Our nation has a proud tradition of conservation and stewardship. This is more true for farmers than anyone else. Farmers care more for the environment than the radical environmentalists. Regrettably, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has a poor track record of actually helping to recover animals at risk of extinction. In truth, the ESA has become a tool to block economic development, deny property rights to American landowners, and enrich activist groups and lawyers. Instead of saving endangered species, the Obama-Clinton bureaucrats are endangering American workers with disastrous choices made at the whim of extreme activist groups.

As President, I will direct the Interior Department and Commerce Department to conduct a top-down review of all Obama Administration settlements, rules, and executive actions under the Endangered Species Act and other similar laws, and we will change or rescind any of those actions that are unlawful, bad for American farmers and workers, or not in the national interest. I will also work closely with Congress to improve and modernize the Endangered Species Act-a law that is now more than 30 years old-so that it is more transparent, uses the best science, incentivizes species conservation, protects private property rights, and no longer imposes needless and unwarranted costs on American landowners.”

CLINTON: “Hillary knows that America’s ranchers and farmers are proud stewards of their lands, and that America’s wildlife depend on the health of working lands to survive and thrive. That is why she will increase both the availability and accessibility of funding to incentivize voluntary private conservation. For example, Hillary will work to fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will instruct her Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “one-stop shop” to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that can provide financial support for their conservation practices, including securing additional access for sportsmen, including hunters.

Hillary also believes that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction and need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. To this end, Hillary will propose nearly doubling the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to $100 million per year. This type of support for the voluntary conservation of at-risk wildlife can help reduce the need for species to receive the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). For wildlife that are listed as threatened or endangered, Hillary will direct federal agencies to take full advantage of the flexible tools available under the ESA that respect and accommodate landowner interests, including safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation agreements, and other forms of voluntary conservation measures.”

CLINTON: “Hillary knows that migrant farmworkers play a critical role in developing and supporting our agricultural economy. She has heard from farmers across the country who have expressed their frustrations about our broken immigration system.

That’s why as president, Hillary will introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within her first 100 days in office. It will treat every person with dignity, fix the family visa backlog, uphold the rule of law, protect our borders and national security, and bring millions of hardworking people into the formal economy. Hillary understands that the agricultural industry needs comprehensive immigration reform to protect both farm owners and the workers they employ, and ensure American families are able to put affordable, fresh food on their tables.”

TRUMP: “I recognize the unique labor challenges facing the American farm community and will include farmers and ranchers in the process of determining the best possible immigration policies. To be clear, the Obama-Clinton system of open borders is wreaking havoc on our rural communities. Enormous stresses are being placed on state and local government services, while jobs for American citizens and wages for American workers are in decline. Here are my three core principles of real immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

TRUMP: “As President, I will be an aggressive proponent for defending the economic interests of American workers and farmers on the world stage. I will fight against unfair trade deals and foreign trade practices that disadvantage the United States.

“I strongly oppose TPP as drafted and will work hard to develop trade agreements that are in the national interest and benefit American workers including our farmers.”

CLINTON: “Hillary has a long record of standing up to countries like China. She fought against the Chinese when they tried to discriminate against New York companies, and she went toe-to-toe with them as Secretary of State. As president, Hillary will also crack down on foreign countries who cheat the rules by appointing a new trade prosecutor to keep other countries honest, and will use all of our tools to ensure other countries treat our products fairly, including our anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws, and pursuing taking cases at the WTO. Hillary has also established a plan to stop rewarding U.S. companies for moving jobs overseas.”

On TPP — “For generations, America has been the breadbasket of the world. Hillary believes we can and must forge better trade deals for American workers, farmers, and other businesses. She believes any trade deal must create American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security. Every new trade deal must meet that test.

In fact, Hillary opposed the only multilateral trade deal she voted on in the Senate because it didn’t meet that standard. And as soon as the details of the final TPP deal were finalized — including what it contains on currency manipulation and pharmaceuticals — she came out in opposition. It didn’t meet her standard. The TPP also contains a weak “rules of origin” standard on automobiles that gives a backdoor into our markets to countries like China. Hillary has been clear and specific in her opposition to the TPP. She opposes it now, she opposes it in November, and she will not move it forward in January.”

CLINTON: “Hillary knows the Farm Bill’s reauthorization presents an incredibly important opportunity to set both our agricultural and rural development policy priorities-which are central to our economy, energy, and food security.

That’s why she will work to ensure we provide a focused safety net for farmers and ranchers by continuing to make progress in targeting federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs-which is all the more important with current commodity market prices. She will also support the next generation of farmers by doubling funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program and strengthening USDA grant programs to make them less about bureaucratic buckets and more about funding flexibility, leveraging local resources, and measuring results.

The Farm Bill also provides the opportunity to improve and enhance our rural development programs that are so pivotal to raising the standard of living in many rural communities-including programs to enhance broadband access, improve soil health and manage wastewater, and expand access to credit for small businesses.”

TRUMP: “The Trump-Pence Administration will be an active participant in writing the next Farm Bill and delivering it on time! Our farmers deserve a good farm bill written by those who are thankful for our remarkable food system in this country.

I support a strong safety net for our nation’s farmers.

“Importantly, I have assembled an Agriculture Advisory Committee comprised of leaders who represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving with them in serving all Americans from the White House.

TRUMP: “I support the use of technology in food production, which has enabled American farmers to increase yields to levels never before experienced in the history of the world. Through innovation, American farmers are producing crops more resilient to drought, heat, and pests. Government should not block positive technological advancements in agriculture. Agency reviews need to be streamlined with all unnecessary red-tape cut out.”

CLINTON: “Our goal should be to find policy solutions that are grounded in science and respect consumers. Hillary understands the need for a national solution to the GMO labeling question — one that provides consistency to food companies and consumers across state lines. And she is glad Republicans and Democrats have worked together to build a bipartisan solution to this issue.”

CLINTON: “Due to the ingenuity of America’s farmers and ranchers, consumers across the world have access to better, safer, and a wider variety of food options than ever before. Hillary Clinton believes that supporting that ingenuity goes hand in hand with ensuring food quality and safety.

That’s why, as president, Hillary will fight to increase our investment in the basic and applied research that makes agricultural advancements possible.

She will also fight to ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers of all sizes have the tools they need to succeed. That means expanding access to capital; investing in rural transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure; and continuing to make progress in targeting federal resources in commodity payment, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs.

Hillary also believes we should work to build a strong local and regional food system by doubling funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. By expanding food hubs and farmers markets, increasing access to fresh food, and encouraging direct sales to local schools, hospitals, retailers and wholesalers, we can increase consumer access to food and support American farmers and ranchers.”

“As president, Hillary will always engage a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, to hear their concerns and ideas for how we can ensure our rural communities and our agriculture sector remain vibrant. If there are implementation challenges with a particular regulation, Hillary will work with all stakeholders to address them.”

TRUMP: “The Trump Administration will be a pro-agriculture Administration. As President, I will fight for American farmers and their families.

Through hard work, persistence and innovation, and making wise use of our nation’s God-given lands and resources, American farmers are the best in the world at growing the food and other products that people need to flourish. Growing our farm sector and supporting our nation’s farmers are absolutely critical steps to making America great again.

Too often, bad policies and needless government mandates harm farmers and make food and farm products more costly for consumers. I support, and will implement, policies that are good for farmers and consumers. For example, I oppose unwarranted government mandates that hurt farmers and confuse consumers, such as mandatory biotech labeling. I will also fight for tax reform that reduces tax burdens on American farmers.

We will end the death tax. I will reverse the EPA’s war on farmers by rescinding the Waters of the U.S. rule, climate rule, and the host of other regulations that are harming farmers without helping the environment. I will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will defend the 2nd Amendment. Hillary Clinton will appoint justices who will eviscerate 2nd Amendment rights. Most importantly, we will get the entire U.S. economy growing again, which will be a boon to the Agriculture sector as well.”

TRUMP: “Yes. I support the use of domestic energy sources including farm-grown fuel stocks such as ethanol. We will implement an America First Energy Plan that enables the United States to become the world’s dominant leader in energy production and gets the government out of the way of innovation among all forms of energy. My administration will develop a regulatory and legislative roadmap to:

• Restore the important role of U.S. coal in the American economy.

• Rescind Obama’s executive actions and regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, illegal, or contrary to the national interest, including the Climate Action Plan and Waters of the U.S. rule.

• Lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas.

• Support the Keystone XL Pipeline and other important energy infrastructure projects.

• Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies.

• Ensure affordable, reliable, clean electricity from coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, and other domestic sources.

• Encourage the use of free-market principles in energy policy instead of the federal government choosing winners and losers.

• End U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement and stop payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs.

• Select top officials at the Energy Department, FERC, NRC, EPA, Interior Department, and other relevant federal agencies who will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, implement policies that are consistent with an America First energy plan, and not seek to use their power to push an extreme environmental agenda.”

CLINTON: “Rural America is a leader in energy production — helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our economy more resilient. Renewable fuels can also play an important role in reducing carbon pollution. Rural innovators are finding new ways to produce low-carbon biofuels, using feedstocks ranging from algae to agricultural waste, with a wide range of transportation applications. And electricity generated from wind and solar energy can improve air quality, help achieve attainment of Clean Air Act standards, and lower taxpayers’ pollution control costs.

America’s farm communities are already playing a critical role in renewable energy production.

For example, 99 percent of all wind production occurs in rural counties — attracting more than

$100 billion in new investment and providing an important supplementary source of income to family farms. Meanwhile, electricity prices have fallen by 10 percent for American families and businesses in real terms.

As president, Hillary will work to build on this progress, including by launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to forge new federal partnerships with states, cities, and rural communities across the country, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to cut emissions and expand clean energy. This includes expanding the Rural Utilities Service and other successful USDA energy programs and ensuring the federal government is a partner, not an obstacle, in getting low-cost wind and other renewable energy from rural communities to the rest of the country, and helping electric coops capture the clean energy and energy efficiency opportunities of the 21st century.

Hillary will also defend the Clean Power Plan, which the EPA estimates will deliver between $55 billion and $93 billion in annual economic and public health benefits by 2030, with Americans’ electricity bills falling by between 7 and 8 percent.

Hillary will invest in advanced biofuels research and development, double loan guarantees made through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, support the expansion of blender pumps and combat efforts by oil companies to limit consumer access to cleaner renewable fuels. She also is committed to getting the RFS back on track to effectively drive the development of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels.”

ConAgra beats 1Q profit forecasts on lower costs Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:30:48 -0400 NEW YORK (AP) — ConAgra’s first-quarter profit easily Wall Street expectations as lower costs offset a decline in sales.

The company registered a hefty charge a year ago as it cut jobs and divested some businesses. It sold off most of its private-label operations over the last year to focus on key brands like Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National hot dogs and other top-selling packaged foods. The company also moved its headquarters to Chicago from Omaha, Neb.

ConAgra Foods Inc. is working through a split into two independent companies called ConAgra Brands and Lamb Weston.

The company earned $186.2 million, or 42 cents per share, during the quarter. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 61 cents per share. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 48 cents per share.

Revenue fell 4.6 percent to $2.67 billion, which fell short of the $2.74 billion Wall Street was looking for.

Sales in the grocery and snacks segment fell 5 percent while sales in the refrigerated and frozen segment fell 8 percent. International segment sales fell 6 percent while foodservice unit sales fell 1 percent. The commercial segment saw sales fall 2 percent.

ConAgra shares have increased slightly more than 2 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen 6 percent. The stock has risen almost 7 percent in the last 12 months.

PepsiCo’s drinks, snacks boost sales in North America Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:28:13 -0400 PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) — PepsiCo sold more of its beverages and Frito-Lay snacks in North America during the third quarter, helping it deliver a profit that beat Wall Street expectations.

The maker of Gatorade sports drinks and Mountain Dew soda said sales volume for both snacks and drinks rose 2 percent for its flagship region, although it did not specify which of its products drove the growth. Higher pricing also helped lift revenue.

The results underscore PepsiCo’s diversified lineup of products, which include Sabra dips, Naked juices and Quaker oatmeal. That has helped the Purchase, New York-based company offset an ongoing decline in soda consumption in the U.S., which has dragged down the performance of its namesake product.

CEO Indra Nooyi noted earlier this year that the company gets less than 25 percent of its revenue from soda.

During an earnings call Thursday, Nooyi also noted that about 9 percent of the company’s sales come from “innovation,” or new products. The metric is intended to reassure investors, with major packaged food and beverage companies trying to show that they’re adapting their offerings to shifting tastes and competition. Last week, for instance, General Mills said its U.S. yogurt sales were down 15 percent during the quarter, while cereal sales were down 4 percent.

The type of products PepsiCo considers innovative varies greatly. As examples, the company cited organic Gatorade, baked Cheetos and Sabra guacamole. With people increasingly showing interest in more wholesome foods, PepsiCo also noted that 45 percent of its revenue is from “guilt-free” products. Under the company’s definition, its Mountain Dew Kickstart would qualify as “guilt-free” because it has less than 70 calories for a 12-ounce serving.

Coca-Cola, which relies on sodas for nearly three-quarters of its revenue, reports its third-quarter results Oct. 26. The Atlanta beverage maker has also been working on diversifying its lineup of drinks and changing up cans and bottles to be more appealing to customers.

For the three months ended Sept. 3, PepsiCo said it earned $1.99 billion, or $1.37 per share. After excluding the impact of one-time costs and restructuring changes, it said it earned $1.40 per share. That was better than the $1.32 per share that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected.

Stifel analyst Mark Swartzberg said he believes Gatorade and other non-carbonated drinks drove the volume growth for the company’s North American beverage business during the quarter.

The company boosted its full-year profit outlook given its performance to date and shares rose 1.6 percent Thursday.

Revenue declined to $16.03 billion from $16.33 billion, hurt by foreign currency exchange translation and the Venezuela deconsolidation. Still, the performance topped the $15.89 billion analysts expected.

PepsiCo Inc. now foresees full-year earnings of $4.78 per share. Its prior outlook was for earnings of $4.71 per share. That outlook is also better than the per-share projections of $4.76 for this year from industry analysts.

Wolves attack two more calves in N.E. Washington Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:25:07 -0400 Don Jenkins Two more calves have been attacked in northeastern Washington, including one by the wolfpack targeted for elimination by wildlife managers, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday.

WDFW investigators confirmed Tuesday that a calf had been injured by the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County.

Wildlife managers killed five adults and one pup in the pack between Aug. 4 and 22 and are hunting for the two surviving adults. The pack also may have up to four pups, according to WDFW.

On Wednesday, WDFW also determined a calf had probably been killed by the Smackout pack, whose territory straddles Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. Previously, WDFW confirmed on Sept. 21 that the pack had killed a calf.

WDFW’s policy calls for the department to consider shooting wolves to stop attacks on livestock after four confirmed depredations. Attacks classified as probable do not count toward the four.

WDFW investigators have confirmed the Profanity Peak pack has attacked nine head of livestock in the Colville National Forest. Wolves were probably responsible for another five depredations, but there wasn’t enough evidence to rule out other predators, according to WDFW.

The first depredation was confirmed July 8.

WDFW has said finding the surviving members of the Profanity Peak pack will be difficult in the area’s rugged timberlands.

WDFW’s plan to remove the entire pack has outraged some environmental groups, which argue that wolves should not be shot on public lands to protect cattle.

Some conservation groups that collaborated with producer organizations on the state’s wolf-control policy have supported WDFW.

In exchange for the state stepping in to stop chronic depredations, ranchers are expected to take measures to prevent conflicts between livestock and Washington’s growing wolf population.

Drought nearly empties Phillips Reservoir in Eastern Oregon Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:50:41 -0400 JAYSON JACOBYBaker City Herald BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) — Reaching the shore of Phillips Reservoir requires a long and dusty downhill walk these days.

Almost as long as it’s ever been, in fact.

But nothing like as long as it will take to refill this largest reservoir that’s wholly within Baker County, said Jeff Colton, manager of the Baker Valley Irrigation District.

After four years of drought, it probably will take two winters with deeper than average mountain snowpacks to replenish Phillips, which collects the waters of the Powder River and several minor tributaries.

Water from the reservoir irrigates more than 30,000 acres of crops, mainly in Baker Valley.

“I’m hoping we’ll start pulling out of this cycle,” Colton said. “I’m ready for it.”

That cycle has depleted the reservoir, which is about 17 miles southwest of Baker City, to its lowest level since 2001, and to its third-lowest volume since Mason Dam was built in the late 1960s.

As of Wednesday morning the reservoir was holding about 2,780 acre-feet of water.

That’s about 4 percent of its capacity of 73,500 acre-feet.

The reservoir has been lower in the last week of September just twice — in 2001, when the volume was 2,665 acre-feet on this date, and in 1988, when it was 1,318 acre-feet.

Mark Ward, who with his brother, Craig, raises potatoes, wheat, alfalfa and peppermint on their family’s farm in Baker Valley, said the current drought is the worst he’s seen since he graduated from college in 1979.

“Maybe a single year was worse, but this is prolonged,” Ward said.

With the reservoir failing to reach even half full this spring, the irrigation district was able to dole out much less water than is available during a year when Phillips refills — 1.25 acre-feet of water per acre, as compared with 3.5 acre-feet.

Ward said the water shortage forced his family to leave about 15 percent of its acreage fallow.

Nor was the scarcity of water from Phillips Reservoir the only challenge this year.

Rainfall, too, was scanty during the growing season.

Rain totals have been below average every month this year except July.

Even if precipitation during October, November and December is average, 2016 will be the second-driest year on record at the airport, where statistics date to 1943.

Only 2002, when precipitation totaled 5.63 inches, would be drier.

The annual average at the airport is 10.15 inches.

Barring an abnormally soggy autumn, 2016 will be the fourth year in the past five that’s drier than usual.

And although the amount of water in Phillips Reservoir is influenced more by the snowpack in the Elkhorn Mountains than by rainfall in Baker Valley, there is a correlation.

Some evacuation orders lifted in California wildfire areas Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:50:23 -0400 MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) — Some evacuations were lifted as cooler weather gave firefighters a boost in their struggle with a wildfire burning through dry brush that was threatening hundreds of structures Thursday in a remote area of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mandatory evacuations were lifted Wednesday for Santa Cruz County, but orders remained in effect for neighboring Santa Clara County, where most of the 300 threatened structures are located, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The wildfire in steep terrain south of San Jose had charred more than 6 square miles and was 22 percent contained by Thursday morning, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rahn said.

The blaze broke out Monday during a statewide heat wave that brought witheringly low humidity and temperatures in the upper 90s. A 10-degree drop in temperatures and increased humidity helped fire crews. The cooling trend was expected to last through the week.

The blaze won’t be fully contained before next week, officials estimated.

It was among several blazes burning during a time of year when the drought-stricken state sees its largest and most damaging wildfires, state forestry officials said.

The fire gutted at least one home and threatened more than 325 buildings, though it was not clear how many were homes or smaller structures.

The area is dotted with marijuana growing operations, though the number of plants at risk is unclear. When Anthony Lopez returned to check on his home, which was still under an evacuation order, he was overjoyed to find dozens of his marijuana plants intact Tuesday.

Though the vast majority of California’s marijuana is planted north of San Francisco, growers still find remote, densely forested land popular places to cultivate pot.

This summer, firefighters in nearby Monterey County rescued several pot farmers trapped for three days by a fast-moving wildfire. The growers said 900 plants were destroyed. No arrests were made after police said the evidence went up in smoke.

North of San Francisco, officials said a grass fire that spread from the side of a highway into a row of homes in Petaluma may have been started by a discarded cigarette. Four homes were destroyed and 10 were damaged.

Judge rules N. Dakota corporate farming lawsuit is detailed enough Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:37:52 -0400 BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a request by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to order a more detailed complaint in a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the state’s Depression-era anti-corporate farming law.

Plaintiffs including the North Dakota Farm Bureau sued in June, saying the law that aims to protect the state’s family farming heritage actually hurts the agriculture industry and interferes with interstate commerce.

Stenehjem maintained the lawsuit was so vague that his office couldn’t even respond to it. He asked U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland to order the plaintiffs to more specifically detail why they believe the law is unconstitutional.

Hovland has denied Stenehjem’s motion, saying the lawsuit “is more than sufficiently clear” for the state to file a response.

Oregon Tilth helps fund OSU organic Extension position Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:49:43 -0400 Eric Mortenson In a move that highlights the growing influence of organic agriculture in the state, the Oregon non-profit that issues USDA certification will help fund an organic Extension program at Oregon State University.

In academic circles, at least, the decision is significant. Oregon Tilth will provide $100,000 over four years to a new organic program within OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems. The contribution matches OSU’s support for the program. A Dutch company, Vitalis Organic Seeds, also plans to provide financial support. Details of the company’s involvement were not immediately available.

Oregon State professors say multiple campus researchers are involved in organic crop trials or other projects, but the work is largely the result of individual professors pursuing their own interests. Conferring program status on organic work will bring all that research under the same umbrella, said Garry Stephenson, director of OSU’s small farms center.

“It also a recognition that some kinds of research need to be more specialized,” Stephenson said. “We have a lot of disciplines that are production-system neutral, but when it comes to other areas we need people who are more specialized in what are called biological approaches.”

Oregon Tilth Executive Director Chris Schreiner said the non-profit’s investment in the OSU program is a statement about the rising impact of organic agriculture.

“I think it absolutely is,” Schreiner said. “We wanted to send a message to the OSU administration that the organic sector wants and values an organic Extension program.”

The investment means Oregon Tilth “puts some skin in the game,” he said, and it may encourage involvement by for-profit businesses such as Vitalis.

The investment is recognition by organic producers that “land-grant universities, and Extension programs and Extension agents are really seen as a credible, valued source of expertise,” Schreiner said.

With demand for organic products outstripping supply, Oregon Tilth and other organizations are focused on helping more farmers transition to organic production and recognize the importance of a partnership with a land-grant university, he said.

Oregon Tilth, which has been around since 1979 and like OSU is based on Corvallis, has been informally involved and has provided funding to the university since 2009. The group certifies organic producers for the USDA.

The money primarily will support the salary of Nick Andrews, a small farms Extension agent based out of OSU’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center.

Andrews said an advisory committee will guide the program’s development. He envisions four or five more faculty members eventually working on organic annual and perennial crop production, organic livestock, organic food systems and other specialties.

The joint venture comes as a new survey by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) showed farmers and ranchers sold $6.2 billion in organic products in 2015, a 13 percent increase over 2014.

California’s organic producers had sales of $2.4 billion in 2015, nearly 40 percent of the national total. Washington and Oregon were second and fourth in organic production, with sales of $626 million and $269 million, respectively. Pennsylvania was third.

Oregon State joins other land-grant universities that are putting increased emphasis on organic agriculture. North Carolina State has a Center for Environmental Farming Systems; the University of Minnesota established an Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; and U.C. Davis uses an Organic Farming Research Workgroup to coordinate its research and Extension work, according to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Private universities also embrace organic agriculture. The Evergreen State College, an offbeat institution in Olympia, Wash., has had an organic farm since 1972 and produces food for the campus cafeteria. Evergreen students can enroll in a Practice of Organic Farming program.

Heavy rains a mixed blessing for Idaho growers Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:30:40 -0400 John O’Connell ARBON VALLEY, Idaho — Recent heavy rainstorms throughout Idaho have stretched the irrigation supply for some growers, following a dry summer, and supplied the necessary soil moisture for dryland farmers to plant fall grains.

The return of moisture to the state has been a mixed blessing for other growers, however, delaying potato harvest and the planting of fall grain in fields coming out of spuds, and damaging some fourth-cutting alfalfa.

Ken Campbell, a dryland farmer in southeastern Idaho’s Arbon Valley, normally likes to plant his fall wheat in late August or early September. This fall, however, he was forced to wait until the end of September to start planting, during a break in the storms that supplied him with enough soil moisture to germinate his fall wheat seeds.

“We have 3 inches of rain here over the last 10 days. It’s the first rains we’ve had since early June,” Campbell said, adding more rain was in the forecast for the weekend. “Unfortunately, we’re still trying to get safflower harvested, and now we’re trying to plant at the same time.”

Before the storms arrived, however, Campbell worried about a mid-October insurance deadline, when he’d be forced to plant, even if the soil remained dry.

“We all felt like we’d probably get (rain), and we did, so I’m glad of it,” Campbell said.

Sid Cellan, a dryland grower in Caribou County, said grain harvest and fall grain planting are mostly complete in his area — though the majority of the barley has remained in farm storages as the malting companies are still working through last year’s crop.

Cellan still has 50 acres of barley left to harvest but emphasized, “I don’t care if I get it in or not. It’s much-needed moisture.”

His region received 2.7 inches of moisture within the span of a week, and recently planted fall wheat has already begun to sprout. He said the moisture has also “mellowed” the soil and made his fall tillage much easier.

“There was some uncertainty at planting, but now we’ve got plenty of rain to get the grain up,” Cellan said.

Steve Howser, general manager with Aberdeen Springfield Canal Co., ran out of water and had to shut off his canal system a few weeks early. The recent rains have brought his natural flow water rights back in priority, and he’s reopened his gates, hoping to resume deliveries for sugar beet growers who moisten fields before harvesting. He said some growers have already started harvesting beets along the canal, benefiting from the rain.

“It’ll be very comforting if I can have water in the canal for them if they need it,” Howser said.

For other growers, the timing made the rainfall mostly a nuisance. According to a USDA crop progress report for the week ending Sept. 25, moisture damaged cut beans and alfalfa in Jerome and Twin Falls counties.

Caribou County potato farmers have had their spud harvests delayed by more than a week already, said Grace seed grower Marc Gibbs. Gibbs must harvest spuds before he can plant fall wheat in the same fields and noted his fall grain yields tend to drop by 10 to 15 percent when he plants after Oct. 10.

“The further we get behind we see reduced yields in this valley,” Gibbs said. “We can’t handle a lot more storms.”

Pacific port parties to talk contract Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:10:57 -0400 Dan Wheat The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have agreed to talk about extending their contract that expires July 1, 2019.

Inability of the two parties to reach an agreement two years ago led to a union slowdown of work for months at 29 West Coast ports that cost farmers, manufacturers and retailers across the western U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars in losses because they could not get goods to markets.

In a joint news release, Sept. 27, the PMA and ILWU said they have agreed to discuss the idea of a contract extension and have tentatively scheduled talks for Nov. 1 and 2. Neither side will make any additional comments prior to the talks, the release states.

At a February conference in Long Beach, Calif., the presidents of ILWU and PMA said they were willing to raise the possibility extending the contract.

In light of that, nine members of Congress, led by Washington Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert, sent both parties a letter urging them to find ways to prevent future port disruptions. Members of Congress from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado and American Samoa signed the letter.

The PMA represents 78 shippers and terminal operators in negotiating and administering maritime labor agreements with the ILWU. The ILWU represents about 14,200 workers at the 29 ports. Both organizations are headquartered in San Francisco.

Hop supply catching up to demand Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:37:38 -0400 Dan Wheat YAKIMA, Wash. — Pacific Northwest hop growers are wrapping up nearly two months of harvest of a good crop with minimal mildew and pre-harvest stocks at just 2 percent ahead of last year.

That shows supply is closer to equilibrium with demand after years of lagging behind, says Pete Mahony, director of supply chain management and purchasing for John I. Haas, Yakima, a leader in hop production, processing, research and development.

Growers, dealers and brewers held 85 million pounds of hops on Sept. 1 from prior seasons, 2 percent more than 83 million pounds a year earlier, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Sept. 22.

The amount held by brewers, 36 million pounds, was down 3 percent from last year while the 49 million pounds held by dealers and growers was up 7 percent, NASS said.

In March, hop stocks were up 10 percent from a year earlier. At that time, Mahony said production was doing better toward meeting demand but desired breathing room in supply was still lacking.

Now Mahony says he’s encouraged that inventory is only 2 percent ahead of last year, at this time, and that he thought it would be more.

U.S. growers produced 71 million pounds in 2014 and 79 million pounds in 2015, an increase of 11 million pounds.

“So to see inventory up only 2 percent tells me we’re still close to being in balance, but I do feel we are getting breathing room in several varieties,” he said.

At one point it looked like this year’s crop would be 97 million or 98 million pounds but now it looks closer to the forecast of 92 million, up 13 million or 17 percent from 2015, Mahony said.

“That’s still a sizable increase so going forward we will have some breathing room in some aroma varieties,” he said.

Growth in the craft brewing industry has created demand for aroma hops in recent years.

Some aroma varieties still will be behind demand and growers will adjust accordingly, said Jaki Brophy, spokeswoman for the Washington Hop Commission and Hop Growers of America in Moxee.

Northwest harvest began in August and will finish the first week of October, she said.

Some new plantings are outperforming established yards in rare cases and late rain caused mildew on some alpha variety cones in the Yakima Valley, Brophy said.

“There was some cone damage, but the lupulin (inner part of the cone containing the oil) was fine so it didn’t affect quality a lot,” she said.

The mildew damage occurred with some CTZ-group alpha varieties in the Yakima Valley, Mahony said.

“It’s been a really good harvest from the weather standpoint,” he said. “No real extremes. Few hot days, cool nights and little rain. Good weather allows hop cones to finish off and size up.”

More than 70 percent of U.S. hop acreage is in Washington’s Yakima Valley. Oregon and Idaho account for most of the rest of production with minor amounts from Michigan and other states.

Portland daily grain report Wed, 28 Sep 2016 09:18:54 -0400 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 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 December futures trended 1.50 to five cents per bushel higher compared to Tuesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for September delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Tuesday’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 higher compared to Tuesday’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 September delivery were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for September delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Tuesday’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 September were not available as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during September trended lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

Sep 4.7500-4.8550

Oct 4.7500-4.8550

Nov 4.7500-4.8600

Dec 4.8000-5.0050

Jan 5.0300-5.0675

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Sep 4.7500-4.9050

Oct 4.7500-4.9050

Nov 4.7500-4.9050

Dec 4.8000-5.0050

Jan NA

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

Ordinary protein

Sep 4.7500-4.8800

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Sep 4.7500-4.9050

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


Ordinary protein NA

11 pct protein NA

11.5 pct protein

Sep NA

Oct 5.0600-5.2100

Nov 5.0600-5.2600

Dec 5.0600-5.3600

Jan 5.2250-5.2750

12 pct protein NA

13 pct protein NA

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 5.5475-5.7975

14 pct protein

Sep 6.0275-6.3275

Oct 6.0275-6.3275

Nov 6.0275-6.3275

Dec 6.0275-6.3275

Jan 6.1025-6.1525

15 pct protein 6.2675-6.5675

16 pct protein 6.5075-6.8075

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Sep NA

Oct 4.2225-4.3525

Nov 4.2225-4.2725

Dec 4.2225-4.2725

Jan 4.2825-4.3225

Feb 4.2825-4.3225

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Sep 10.5175

Oct 10.4775-10.5475

Nov 10.4975-10.5775

Dec 10.5575-10.6075

Jan 10.5075-10.5575

Feb NA

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Aug 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 4.8900

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 4.6200

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.0100

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 5.9700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

U.S. cattle prices continue to erode as supplies rise Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:34:15 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas Rising beef supplies and large supplies of competing proteins are eroding prices on fed cattle headed for slaughter, and market volatility continues to be the focal point of the U.S. market.

In their latest beef quarterly report, Rabobank analysts said meeting the bank’s third-quarter forecast of $120 per hundredweight for fed steers will be increasingly difficult, despite an expected seasonal price improvement.

The weekly average fed steer price for the first eight week of the third quarter was $117 per hundredweight, causing the analysts to revise the fourth-quarter forecast down $5 per hundredweight to $125.

The analysts were unavailable for comment this week, but their report said a huge determination of the direction for fed cattle prices for the remainder of the year will be weekly average carcass weights.

That weighted average of fed steers and heifers is running about 863 pounds, down an encouraging 11 pounds below year-ago levels but still 19 pounds above the five-year average.

“Given the aggressive pace at which cattle feeders have been selling cattle, combined with the memory of the complications caused by excessive carcass weights during Q4 2015, expectations are for carcass weights to drop, reducing total tonnage entering the market place,” the analysts stated.

However, it wasn’t until August and September of last year that weights really started to accelerate. So there’s still time to alter the trajectory for the remainder of the year, they pointed out.

Volatility in cash markets, with extreme price swings week to week, equal volatility in the futures markets and the exceptionally wide difference between cash prices and the futures market also continue to pressure fed markets, the analysts said.

Prices for feeder cattle have seen modest improvement in recent weeks, with the CME Feeder Index up almost $10 a hundredweight from the summer low to $150 per hundredweight. The improvement has been a reaction to the decline in corn prices, which have dropped more than $1 per bushel. But improvements in the deferred live cattle futures prices are needed for additional price recovery, they stated.

In the cow-calf sector, the anticipation of higher cattle supplies is putting pressure on prices. Auction prices for fall-delivered calves have been trading in the $150 to $160 per hundredweight range for steers and the mid $130s to $140 for heifers.

“It is highly unusual that feeder cattle and calf prices are the same, showing the expectation of additional price weakness in the market to come as cattle inventory numbers build,” the analysts said.

Those disappointing prices have begun to have a negative impact on prices for cows and replacement heifers, they said.

Merger of world’s biggest beer makers clears final hurdle Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:47:54 -0400 DANICA KIRKA LONDON (AP) — A deal worth over $100 billion to combine the world’s two biggest beer companies cleared its last major hurdle Wednesday when the shareholders of SABMiller approved the takeover by Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev.

SABMiller shareholders approved the 79 billion pound ($103 billion) deal — dubbed Megabrew — despite opposition from some investors who saw their share of the payout shrink when the pound plunged following Britain’s vote to the leave the European Union. AB InBev shareholders also backed the transaction.

“We are committed to driving long-term growth and creating value for all our stakeholders,” Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev, said in a statement.

Regulators around the world have already approved the deal, which AB InBev says will create “the first truly global brewer.” The takeover is expected to be formally completed on Oct. 10, AB InBev said.

Acquiring SABMiller, which makes Fosters and Miller and traces its roots to the former South African Breweries, gives AB InBev a large presence in Africa while increasing its business in South America and Europe. The combined company will control almost a third of the global beer market.

The complicated deal was nearly derailed by the currency havoc caused by Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

In order to win approval from SABMiller’s two largest shareholders, AB InBev offered the U.S. tobacco company Altria and BevCo, an investment vehicle of the Santo Domingo family, a cash-and-stock deal that allows them to remain invested in the beer industry while avoiding taxes on a large cash payout. Other shareholders will receive a cash payment for their shares in British pounds.

The value of the cash offer declined in relation to the cash-and-stock deal as the pound weakened against the euro after the EU vote.

A group of smaller investors led by Aberdeen Asset Management opposed the deal, saying it undervalued SABMiller and left them at a disadvantage to Altria and BevCo, which together own about 40 percent of the company. In response, SABMiller agreed to recognize two classes of investors, with the deal requiring approval from 75 percent of smaller shareholders.

A British court must still approve the measure next week, but the hearing is largely considered uncontentious.

Aberdeen issued a statement expressing disappointment, but said it took comfort in securing a better deal for its clients — even though it argued the final price undervalued SABMiller.

“We take seriously our responsibilities as stewards of our clients’ capital and will continue to flag governance issues when appropriate with the companies we invest in,” it said. “AB InBev has acquired a great company at an attractive price and we hope that the combined business will prosper.”

Washington watchdog gives What’s Upstream more time Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:45:52 -0400 Don Jenkins What’s Upstream has until Oct. 17 to answer allegations that the federally funded campaign for new limits on Washington agriculture should have registered as a grass-roots lobbying organization, a spokeswoman for the Washington Public Disclosure Commission said Tuesday.

The PDC originally gave lead organizer Larry Wasserman, the Swinomish Indian tribe’s environmental policy director, one week to respond to the complaint filed Sept. 19 by Save Family Farming, a group formed to counter claims by What’s Upstream.

The PDC grants extensions at the requests of respondents, the spokeswoman said.

Save Family Farming accused Wasserman, the Environmental Protection Agency and Seattle lobbying firm Strategies 360 of waging a campaign to influence Washington legislators.

Organizations that present information calculated to shape state legislation must register and report their sources of money and expenditures. The PDC can levy fines of up to $10,000.

“We’re eager to hear from the PDC, but Mr. Wasserman should have the time to respond appropriately,” Save Family Farming director Gerald Baron said.

Wasserman declined to comment.

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission passed along to the Swinomish tribe some $655,000 in EPA grants between 2011 and 2015, ostensibly to educate the public about water-quality issues in north Puget Sound.

The tribe hired Strategies 360 to poll voters, test campaign messages and develop an advertising campaign. A website and billboards accused farmers of being unregulated polluters of water.

The website encouraged residents to ask legislators to mandate 100-foot buffers between farm fields and drainage ditches.

Six U.S. House members last week wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, following up on comments she made five months ago distancing her agency from What’s Upstream. McCarthy told a Senate committee that the campaign’s tone “distressed” the EPA and that the agency had cut off funding.

The congressmen, including Washington Republican Dan Newhouse, asked for a briefing from McCarthy on what the EPA has done since then to ensure the agency isn’t funding attacks on agriculture.

A Newhouse spokesman said McCarthy has not yet responded.

An EPA spokesman said the agency is working to schedule a briefing.

“We will be working on our response and will share it once the congressmen have received it,” the spokesman said in an email.

Newhouse recently used the What’s Upstream website as a backdrop for a House floor speech condemning the campaign.

An image taken from the website pictured a spawned-out salmon, purportedly linking farmers to dead fish.

“I’d like to point your attention to this poster,” Newhouse said. “Through this broad and unfair ad campaign, all farmers were demonized as careless polluters.”

Newhouse excoriated What’s Upstream as the House considered legislation that would bar federal agencies from soliciting support for pending regulations. The House passed the Regulatory Integrity Act 240-171 and sent the legislation to the Senate.

The White House said that senior advisers would recommend President Barack Obama veto the bill if it ever reached him.

The legislation could lead to a less informed public, according to the White House’s statement of administration policy.

The bill, introduced by Michigan Republican Tim Walberg, was at least partly a response to the EPA’s promotion of the new Waters of the United States rule. The U.S. Government Accountability Office found the EPA’s use of social media was “covert propaganda” because people could not tell that pro-rule messages circulated on the internet originated with the agency.

EPA cut off funding to What’s Upstream last spring when some federal lawmakers alleged the campaign violated existing federal laws against using EPA money to lobby.

An audit by the EPA’s inspector general into how the money was spent is ongoing, an agency official said Tuesday.

Reports of plastic prompt recall of Tyson chicken nuggets Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:40:28 -0400 SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Tyson Foods Inc. says it’s voluntarily recalling more than 132,000 pounds of chicken nuggets after receiving reports that “hard, white plastic” was found in some nuggets.

The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said Tuesday that the 5-pound bags of fully cooked panko chicken nuggets were sold at Costco stores nationwide. A small number of 20-pound cases of chicken patties, sold under the Spare Time brand, were sold to a single wholesaler in Pennsylvania.

Tyson says “a small number” of consumers contacted the company after finding small pieces of plastic in the chicken. Tyson says it’s issuing the recall “out of an abundance of caution” even though it’s only received a small number of reports of plastic. No injuries have been reported.

California heat wave intensifies wildfire Wed, 28 Sep 2016 08:21:15 -0400 NOAH BERGERand KRISTIN J. BENDER MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) — A heat wave stifling drought-stricken California worsened a wildfire Tuesday that burned buildings and forced people from their homes in remote communities along the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The blaze in a rugged area about 30 miles south of San Jose destroyed two houses and charred more than 3 square miles of dry brush and timber, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

One remote area where the fire burned is 30 minutes up a winding dirt road. Another is dotted with large-scale marijuana growing operations. A main route along the ridgetop is not accessible, even to firefighters, because of downed utility lines.

Flames lit up the mountainside above a roller coaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and a residence was reduced to rubble, though its hot tub still stood. The fire consumed a large home sitting on a hilltop plot and poured out thick, black smoke, while another house sat unscathed below.

The blaze broke out Monday during a statewide heat wave, and crews prepared for another day of witheringly low humidity and temperatures in the upper 90s.

The heat baked even coastal cities that normally benefit from the Pacific Ocean’s cooling effect. But the high temperatures were expected to start easing Tuesday.

“This fire is a good reminder that even though we are approaching October, this time of year is historically when we experience the largest and most damaging wildfires,” Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

It threatened 300 buildings, though it’s not clear if they were homes or smaller structures. The fire, which was partially under control, also burned close to television and radio towers. No injuries were reported.

Anthony Lopez returned to his home, which is still under evacuation orders, Tuesday. He was overjoyed to find his dozens of marijuana plants standing and his 1972 Buick Skylark uncharred.

Doreenann Bellamy packed her dog, photo albums and firearms into her pickup truck as she and her husband left their home.

“Everyone on the mountain has guns, and you’ve got to grab your guns first,” she told The Mercury News in San Jose.

Danielle Mays anxiously waited for a neighbor to bring her Boston terrier, Layla, and her cat, Callie.

“That’s it; that’s what matters,” Mays told the newspaper Monday. “I have fire insurance for the rest.”

To the north, crews gained control over a 2-square-mile fire that briefly threatened homes and The Geysers geothermal complex, a massive power producing facility.

Evacuations and road closure orders were lifted after firefighters got the blaze more than halfway contained, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

“It’s looking very good, but we still need to make sure smoke and small fires inside the perimeter are taken care of,” he said.