Capital Press | Capital Press Thu, 5 Mar 2015 04:14:26 -0500 en Capital Press | New Kuhn Krause DOMINATOR® 4855 Wed, 4 Mar 2015 13:06:52 -0500 The Kuhn Krause DOMINATOR established an industry standard for a primary tillage product, designed to reduce subsoil compaction, provide residue management and maintain a level field finish. In an effort to continually improve our product’s performance and meet or exceed customer expectations, we are pleased to introduce the new DOMINATOR 4855. Available in 7-, 9-, 11- and 13-shank configurations, the DOMINATOR 4855 will continue to incorporate our proven 5-step system for residue management with additional product improvements, generated from customer and dealer feedback.

With a focus on serviceability and productivity with minimal downtime, 2 ¾” diameter slip-in spindles and 8-bolt wheel hubs (rated at 10,000 pounds each) are used on all walking beam weldments. New 360/65R x 17.5 metrics are standard on the 4855-11 and 4855-13 (optional on the 4855-7 and 4855-9). This new tire size maintains flotation capabilities while increasing the weight capacity by 2,200 pounds per tire to improve transport reliability. Hardened bushings and heat-treated pins replace grease zerks and standard pivot pins in the parallel mount for the rear disc conditioner’s lower links, eliminating the need for daily grease maintenance.

A new angular contact bearing cartridge has been incorporated into each rear disc conditioner blade assembly. The new bearing utilizes a heavy-duty, multi-lip (5) bearing seal and a machined hub spindle. A skid wear guard adds extra protection to the new machined cast bearing housing. Each disc conditioner blade is secured to the hub spindle and bearing assembly with a 5-bolt blade pattern, which will make changing blades quick and simple. The 24/7® Soil Conditioning Reel option will consist of a new heavy-duty round bar reel with maintenance-free bearing assemblies (no daily grease required) mounted on heavy-duty ductile cast bearing arms. For complete machine specifications and additional details, visit

Kuhn Krause, Inc., a subsidiary of Kuhn North America, Inc., is a leading innovator in the field of agricultural equipment, specializing in tillage and grain drill equipment. Kuhn Krause products are sold through farm equipment dealers throughout the United States, Canada and many other countries.

Groups sue to block Wildlife Services from killing wolves Wed, 4 Mar 2015 12:04:35 -0500 Matw Weaver Five conservation groups this week sued to block USDA Wildlife Services from killing problem wolves in Washington state without first preparing an environmental impact statement.

The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has a contract with Wildlife Services to assist with wolf management, department wolf policy lead David Ware said.

An environmental impact statement is required under the federal National Environmental Policy Act, according to the complaint. The agency instead wrote an environmental assessment, which is less thorough and needs to be updated, the suit says.

“We think (Wildlife Services is) a bad influence on state wildlife agencies,” said Nick Cady, legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We believe state wildlife managers, because they have a more rigorous responsibility to public trust and the state’s conservation goals, would be much more responsible.”

Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, said it’s too early to say how the lawsuit might impact wolf management.

“We have to make sure we maintain the ability of our wildlife managers to use lethal force to manage problem wolves,” Field said.

Cady doesn’t foresee an impact on ranchers experiencing problems with wolves.

“If the state wants to carry out a kill order, this won’t prevent that,” he said.

The relief sought by the plaintiffs would prevent Wildlife Services from wolf damage management activities until it updates its environmental assessment or impact statement to include Washington State University researcher Robert Wielgus’ study on the effects killing wolves have on livestock depredation. The study was published last year.

This would reduce the amount of lethal control of problem wolves in Washington by making it more expensive for the state department, the complaint states.

Cady expects the lawsuit will take several years to be resolved.

The Western Environmental Law Center in Eugene, Ore., filed the suit on behalf of Cascadia Wildlands and Predator Defense, both based in Eugene; WildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, N.M.; Kettle Range Conservation Group, based in Republic, Wash.; and the Lands Council, based in Spokane.

Several groups in Idaho filed a similar lawsuit against Wildlife Services in February. Cady said the Washington suit is not related to the Idaho suit.



Cascadia Wildlands:

WildEarth Guardians:

Kettle Range Conservation Group:

The Lands Council:

Predator Defense:

Analyst expects lower alfalfa hay prices in 2015 Wed, 4 Mar 2015 11:51:35 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas BURLEY, Idaho — Significantly lower milk prices, combined with larger-than normal carryover of export and feeder hay, are likely to bring lower prices for alfalfa hay in the West this year.

How much lower is hard to forecast, Seth Hoyt, hay market analyst and publisher of the Hoyt Report, said during the Idaho Hay and Forage Association annual convention in Burley on Feb. 27.

The wildcards are hay production in California and export demand, he said.

“Last fall, we thought we’d see more (alfalfa) acres in the West,” but they’ve dropped, and the drought in California continues, Hoyt said.

The whole picture for alfalfa acres in the West is they’ll be the same or lower. The drought situation grew in February, even in Nevada, and it’s dry in other parts of the West, he said.

With costs of production in California at $16 per hundredweight for milk fetching $14 a hundredweight, dairymen aren’t going to buy alfalfa hay as aggressively as last year, he said.

Idaho’s alfalfa price is going to be heavily influenced by the price of delivered supreme hay in central California. Last year, that price averaged $339 a ton, Hoyt said.

It’s hard to say what the price will be this year. Premium hay at the stack at $205 to $210 a ton in Idaho would deliver to Tulare at $280 to $285, he said.

California dairymen reduced alfalfa in rations in 2014, trying to keep costs down, but the state has 1.78 million dairy cows. They all have to eat, and those dairymen are going to be looking for quality hay from out of state, he said.

Corn in rations will become a bigger consideration if rolled corn prices remain competitive. Rolled corn delivered to Tulare was $196 a ton on Feb. 26, he said.

High prices for dry cow alfalfa in 2014 had California dairymen switching to wheat straw and by-product feeds such as almond husks, which led to a rise in wheat straw prices and a drop in prices for fair-quality alfalfa, he said.

Byproduct feed demand could remain in good demand if prices remain competitive. And if wheat straw prices remain strong and dry cow alfalfa prices are the same to lower this year, dairymen could switch back to alfalfa for dry cows, he said.

Hay exports were down 14 percent year over year from West Coast ports in the first nine months of 2014 and were also held up by port slowdowns in the last quarter of the year, Hoyt said.

Exports to China last year dropped when the government went to zero tolerance on GMO alfalfa hay, but resolution to the testing requirements are anticipated and China is expected to continue to be a strong market. Exports to the United Arab Emirates were down 50 percent in 2014 do to overbuying the previous years and they might not increase in 2015, he said.

Saudi Arabia is expected to buy more U.S. hay this year, but it’s not a big buyer of U.S. hay. U.S. hay exports to Japan were down 3 percent in 2014, due to the weak yen, a challenge that is likely to continue this year, he said

Customers remain committed to Idaho wheat despite 2014 losses Wed, 4 Mar 2015 11:46:44 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — Major Idaho wheat customers remain committed to the state’s growers despite the significant losses in 2014 caused by heavy August rains, Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson told lawmakers March 2.

Jacobson said the wettest August in parts of Southern and Eastern Idaho since 1953 caused an estimated $210 million in losses to Idaho’s wheat and barley crops, with wheat accounting for about two-thirds of that total.

Idaho produces a consistent crop every year and the state’s wheat customers understand last year’s losses were a rare event, he said.

“These companies come to Idaho because of the consistency of our harvest” and they understand “it’s been 60-some years since we had something like that,” he told members of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee.

IWC commissioner Ned Moon told the Capital Press that millers helped Idaho growers survive the losses by using as much of the damaged wheat as they could while still meeting their quality parameters.

He said the rains were devastating but the industry’s customers “did everything they possibly could in order to make it work.”

Moon said that included using some wheat with lower falling number test scores, which measure wheat quality, than they normally would.

“They didn’t run away from us,” said IWC commissioner Gordon Gallup. “They definitely worked with us.”

Jacobson said buyers did everything they could to use as much of that damaged wheat as possible.

“They wanted to keep the growers healthy so that the industry would bounce back this year,” he said.

Jacobson said the 2014 losses have also impacted the commission’s fiscal year 2015 budget. The approved budget is $3.2 million but the commission will end up spending only about $2.8 million in fiscal 2015 because of reduced revenue from the state’s wheat assessment.

And by the end of this year, the commission’s $3.8 million reserve is expected to decrease to about $3.4 million.

Despite the 2014 losses, wheat remained the state’s second largest crop in terms of revenue with $732 million in cash receipts last year, Jacobson said.

Expo examines precision farming tools Wed, 4 Mar 2015 10:24:00 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski Drones offer a revolutionary way for farmers to check on their crops, but the technology has its drawbacks, says entrepreneur Young Kim.

The unmanned aircraft aren’t cheap and require people to operate, said Kim, the CEO of Digital Harvest, an agricultural technology firm.

“That doesn’t scale very well,” he said.

Satellites, on the other hand, can more easily monitor vast swaths of farmland but don’t provide as much detail.

“They both have limitations,” he said.

Working in conjunction, though, drones and satellites will allow farmers to sort through layers of data and zero in on details that are relevant to decision-making, Kim said.

The constraints and possibilities of remote sensing in agriculture will be the focus of Kim’s presentation during the upcoming Precision Farming Expo, which will be held March 17-18 in Salem, Ore.

As low orbit micro-satellites come online, the resolution of images shot from space is expected to improve and add to the spectrum of information available about crops, he said.

However, Kim said the tech industry should be careful to “manage expectations” and not oversell its current capabilities.

His company, Digital Harvest, runs raw data through algorithms to gauge the chemical health and water usage of crops, among other attributes.

“We want to absorb complexity and deliver simplicity to the growers,” he said.

Agriculture is a large, stable industry that’s primed to take advantage of the growing power of mobile computing, robotics and data analysis, said Jeff Lorton, the expo’s organizer.

“Venture capitalists are all tuning in to agritech,” he said.

Aside from technological developments, speakers at the Precision Farming Expo will also discuss the regulatory landscape, he said.

Since last year’s event, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed rules to clarify the commercial use of drones, which had previously been in a regulatory gray area.

Drones create new economic opportunities but the federal government is concerned about risks to safety and privacy.

An important component of the FAA’s proposal is that drone operators would be required to get certificates ensuring basic aeronautical knowledge but not full pilot’s licenses, which will open the field to an “enormous number of people,” said Lorton.

The expo will feature a panel of experts on unmanned aerial vehicles, including attorney Lisa Ellman, who helped steer the Obama administration’s policy toward the devices during her tenure at the U.S. Department of Justice.

“There’s no denying we’re going to be drone-heavy,” said Lorton.

Precision Farming Expo

Date: March 17-18

Location: Salem Convention Center

Cost: $120


Wolf report may be starting point for removal from endangered status Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:42:33 -0500 Eric Mortenson Oregon’s latest wolf count is on the agenda March 6 when the state Fish & Wildlife Commission meets in Salem. The commission is due for a briefing on a report that may serve as the foundation for removing gray wolves from Oregon’s endangered species list later this year.

The 2014 report from department wildlife biologists says Oregon has a minimum of 77 wolves in nine packs. More importantly, eight of those packs contained breeding pairs, meaning they had at least two pups that survived to the end of the year.

Under the Oregon wolf plan, the hard-fought compromise that governs wolf conservation and management in the state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife can propose delisting if the state has four or more breeding pairs for three consecutive years. Oregon counted six breeding pairs in 2012 and four in 2013.

State delisting would eliminate endangered species status for wolves in the eastern third of the state and give cattle ranchers more leeway to protect livestock. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already delisted wolves in Northeast Oregon, but they remain under state ESA protection. Wolves in the rest of Oregon — such as well-traveled OR-7 and his mate and pups in the Southwest Oregon Cascades — remain covered under the federal ESA.

Delisting would be a lengthy public process that would include time for comment, according to ODFW. The commission isn’t expected to take any action toward that on Friday, but may direct staff at its April meeting to begin the process.

Conservation groups have warned against delisting Oregon wolves too soon. Oregon Wild, a key player in formulating the wolf plan, said the wolf count represents “great progress” but does not represent biological recovery. Conservation director Doug Heiken has said the state needs to see better geographical distribution of wolves as well. He said that will happen over time if wolves are not prematurely delisted and “persecuted.”

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association holds the opposite view. Spokeswoman Kayli Hanley said Oregon has allowed the wolf population to grow unchecked. Ranchers expect more attacks on livestock this year if wolves continue to remain on the endangered species list, she said in an email.

The meeting is at 8 a.m. Friday in ODFW’s commission room, 4034 Fairview Industrial Drive S.E., Salem.

Wash. House passes wage, paid leave bills to uninterested Senate Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:19:16 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — Bills to raise the state’s minimum wage and mandate paid leave, including for seasonal workers, passed the House Tuesday, but are likely to be shelved in the Senate.

Both bills passed on party-line 51-46 votes in the Democratic-controlled House.

House Bill 1355 would lift Washington’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2019.

House Bill 1356 would require employers to provide at least 40 hours of paid leave a year. Workers would be eligible for paid leave for sickness, family illnesses, to escape an abuser or stay home with a child whose school or daycare closed because of a public health emergency.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement praising the bills.

“I hope the Senate will act on these bills and follow the House’s leadership in building an economy that works for all Washingtonians,” he said.

The Senate already has had a chance to act this session on both policies, but didn’t. Identical minimum wage and paid leave bills were introduced by Senate Democrats, but the GOP-led Senate Commerce and Labor Committee didn’t hold hearings, letting the measures die.

Washington’s minimum wage, adjusted each year for inflation, is currently $9.47, already the highest in the country.

Democrats said raising the minimum wage was a moral imperative in an economy in which most minimum-wage worker are adults, many of whom have children to support.

“It’s a move in the right direction,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.

Republicans said hiking the wage floor was bad economics and defied the law of supply and demand. Raising labor costs will reduce the demand for it, said Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg.

“Unless we have a bill coming from the Flat Earth Society, this is most anti-science bill we will ever have,” he said.

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, said farmers would have to subtract higher labor costs from their bottomline.

“Agriculture has a problem in the fact that it can’t pass the cost along,” he said.

Dayton Republican Terry Nealey linked the community’s loss of Jolly Green Giant a decade ago to the state’s nation-leading minimum wage.

The company moved its asparagus canning plant to Peru in 2005. The loss of hundreds of jobs devastated the town, Nealey said.

“We want to keep many Jolly Green Giants alive. Let’s turn this bill down,” he said.

The Washington Farm Bureau opposed the bill, arguing the state’s minimum wage puts producers at a competitive disadvantage against growers in states that follow the federal standard of $7.25.

Under HB 1356, businesses with four to 50 employees would have to provide 40 hours of paid leave, businesses with 50 to 250 would have provide 56 hours and businesses with more than 250 workers would have to provide 72 hours.

The law would apply to seasonal workers who had accumulated at least 180 days on the job, even if the days were spread over more than one season.

Early spring pushes crops, raises frost worries Wed, 4 Mar 2015 10:09:07 -0500 Dan Wheat PROSSER, Wash. — Above normal temperatures in December and January shot up even more in February, pushing early bud development of fruit trees and waking up other plants and crops.

It was 67.5 degrees at the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus in Richland on Feb. 7, which was a February record at that site, said Nic Loyd, WSU AgWeatherNet meteorologist at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser.

The average February high at the center in Prosser was 53.5 degrees, which was 6.7 degrees above normal.

“That’s pretty impressive. It was 13 degrees warmer than last February, so that’s a big change,” he said.

It was the warmest February in Prosser since at least 1990, he said.

The February warmth provided the early window fruit tree nurseries needed to finish digging trees for shipment this spring that was cut off early by frozen ground Nov. 10.

“We were done the third week of February. It took us five days. Everyone I talked to (other nurseries) got them out,” said Pete Van Well, president of Van Well Nursery, East Wenatchee.

But the warmth also increases the specter of frosts or freezes nipping or doing major damage to buds before tree fruit is set, reducing crops.

Frost protection, field heaters and wind machines were used in the Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley the last week of February and first week of March as nighttime lows dipped below freezing.

Buds are two to three weeks ahead of normal throughout Central Washington, said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission in Yakima.

“It makes for an extra month of frost protection, which is an added expense to growers,” he said.

Apricots reportedly were blooming in a few early areas of the state on March 3, said Tim Smith, WSU tree fruit specialist in Wenatchee.

With 60s forecast for the weekend buds may wake up in the next couple weeks in Wenatchee and Red Delicious full bloom could be early, he said.

Warm weather allowed crews to plant 60 acres of apple trees Feb. 26-28, about a week ahead of schedule, at Zirkle Fruit Co.’s CRO Orchard at Rock Island, said Mike Meadows, orchard manager. Buds are swelling, he said, and with a low of 24 degrees the morning of March 3, he was close to using frost protection.

“I’ll start watering tomorrow, which is two to three weeks earlier than normal,” said Keith Middleton, an asparagus and hay grower in Pasco.

He harrowed hay fields and transplanted asparagus nursery stock earlier than ever and said asparagus harvest may start early. Normally, it starts April 1. Once it was March 26.

Alfalfa and timothy are growing and could be earlier or heavier on first cutting, he said, adding he was watching a person wake boarding on the Columbia River near Blue Bridge in Pasco as he spoke. The air temperature was 50 degrees, he said.

Better Bean Co. gets boost from Whole Foods loan Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:47:20 -0500 Eric Mortenson Better Bean Company, a father-daughter startup that found a market with refrigerated bean products and buys from Pacific Northwest growers, has been granted a $75,000 expansion loan from Whole Foods Market.

Better Bean will use the loan to expand its production kitchen in Wilsonville, south of Portland.

The company, founded by Keith and Hannah Kullberg in 2010, makes chili, refried beans and dips using beans that are vegan, gluten-free and certified as non-GMO. Their products, sold in BPA-free plastic tubs that can be resealed, have found a niche in upscale grocery stores such as Whole Foods and New Seasons Markets.

Better Beans’ products spun from Keith Kullberg’s home recipes, and his daughter joined him in production.

The loan, with a fixed low interest rate, comes from Whole Foods’ Local Producer Loan Program, which is intended to back small, local and independent businesses with equipment purchases, convert to organic production or other needs. The program has provided $14 million in loans since it began in 2006, the company said in a news release.

The loan is another example of Portland-area markets directly investing in local producers. Whole Foods and New Seasons in particular have actively worked with small-scale suppliers that they believe will be supported by consumers.

The loan to Better Bean will allow it to increase production, attain greater control over quality standards and meet food safety standards.

Portland daily grain report Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:29:50 -0500 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, March 4, 2015

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 May wheat futures trended 7.25 to 10.25 cents per bushel lower than Tuesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for March delivery were not available for ordinary protein.

Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 protein were not well tested, but were indicated as steady to lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids for March delivery in a limited test.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for March delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as generally lower.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for March delivery were also not well tested in early trading, but bids were indicated as generally lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains trended mixed compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains 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

Mar NA

Apr NA

May NA

Jun NA


Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Mar mostly 7.2500, ranging 6.9575-7.5400

Apr 7.2500-7.5400

May 7.2500-7.5400

Jun 6.9200-7.5400

Aug NC 5.8675-6.2675

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

Ordinary protein

Mar NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Mar mostly 9.4525, ranging 8.9325-9.9400

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


Ordinary protein 6.1600-6.3100

10 pct protein 6.1600-6.3100

11 pct protein 6.2400-6.3900

11.5 pct protein

Mar 6.2800-6.4300

Apr 6.4300

May 6.3300-6.4300

Jun 6.3425-6.4925

Aug NC 6.2250-6.4250

12 pct protein 6.2800-6.4300

13 pct protein 6.2800-6.5300

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 7.6775-8.0775

14 pct protein

Mar 8.5475-8.8775

Apr 8.6275-8.8775

May 8.6275-8.8775

Jun 8.1825-8.9825

Aug NC 7.0600-7.2600

15 pct protein 9.2775-9.6775

16 pct protein 9.8775-10.4775

US 2 Yellow Corn

110 car shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Mar 4.8450-4.8650

Apr 4.8050-4.8150

May 4.8050-4.8150

Jun/Jul 4.8150-4.8350

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

110 car shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Mar 10.8800-11.0300

Apr NA

May NA

Oct 10.7250-10.8050

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.8475

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Feb 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 6.4900

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 6.3900

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 6.5200

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 8.6000

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

World Health Organization: World eating too much sugar Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:25:53 -0500 MARIA CHENGAP Medical Writer LONDON (AP) — Put down the doughnut. And while you’re at it, skip the breakfast cereal, fruit juice, beer and ketchup.

New guidelines from the World Health Organization say the world is eating too much sugar and people should slash their sugar intake to just 5 to 10 percent of their overall calories.

The guidelines finalize draft advice first released last year, which were published Wednesday after a year of consultations. They are focused on the added sugars in processed food and those in honey, syrups and fruit juices. The advice does not apply to naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and milk, since those come with essential nutrients.

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of (added) sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s nutrition department, said in a statement.

Experts have long railed about the dangers of sugar and studies suggest that people who eat large amounts of the sweet stuff are at higher risk of dying prematurely from heart problems, among other complications.

To meet the lower threshold set by the new guidelines, Americans, Europeans and others in the West would have to slash their average sugar intake by about two-thirds.

In the U.S., adults get about 11 to 15 percent of their calories from sugar; the figure for children is about 16 percent. In Europe, sugar intakes range from about 7 percent in Hungary and Norway to 17 percent in Britain to nearly 25 percent in Portugal.

Some experts said the 10 percent target was more realistic for Western countries than the lower target. They said the 5 percent of daily calories figure was aimed mostly at developing countries, where dental hygiene isn’t good enough to prevent cavities, which can lead to more serious health problems.

Last month, a U.S. government advisory committee advised that sugar be limited to 10 percent of daily calories, marking the first time the U.S. has recommended a limit on added sugars. The Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments will take those recommendations into account when writing the final guidelines, due by the end of this year.

WHO had previously suggested an upper limit for sugar consumption at around 10 percent, but issued the lower 5 percent guidance based on what it described as “very low quality evidence” suggesting further health benefits.

“To get down to 5 percent, you wouldn’t even be allowed to have orange juice,” said Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London who wasn’t part of the WHO guidelines.

He said it shouldn’t be that difficult for most Britons to get their sugar intake to 10 percent of their diet if they limit things like sugary drinks, cereals, beer, cookies and candy.

“I don’t want to say that you can’t even have jam on your toast, but it is possible to do this with some effort,” he said. “Cake is lovely, but it’s a treat.”

WHO said most people don’t realize how much sugar they’re eating because it’s often hidden in processed foods not considered sweet. The agency pointed out that one tablespoon of ketchup has about 4 grams (1 teaspoon) of sugar and a single can of soda has up to 40 grams (10 teaspoons).

“The trouble is, we really do like sugar in a lot of things,” said Kieran Clarke of the University of Oxford, who said the global taste for sugar bordered on an addiction. “Even if you are not just eating lollies and candy, you are probably eating a fair amount of sugar.”

Clarke noted that there’s added sugar even in pasta sauces and bran cereals. She said fruit juices and smoothies were common dietary offenders, because they have very concentrated amounts of sugar without the fiber benefits that come with eating the actual fruit.

Clarke welcomed the new WHO guidelines but said people should also consider getting more exercise to balance out their sweet tooths.

“If you do enough exercise, you can eat almost anything,” she said. “But it’s very hard to avoid large amounts of sugar unless all you’re eating is fruits and vegetables.”

Second ringtail captured and released with radio collar Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:23:18 -0500 OAKLEY, Idaho (AP) — A second elusive ringtail has been captured in south-central Idaho and released back into the wild with a radio collar attached.

The Times-News reports that biologists hope to use the information they obtain to find out if ringtails are migrating to Idaho from the south or if there’s a resident population that’s good at going undetected.

Ringtails are smaller than a house cat and are mostly brown but have distinctive black- and white-ringed tails. The nocturnal carnivores are members of the raccoon family.

The newspaper reports that a male ringtail was captured Feb. 17 near Oakley. A female named Eva was captured south of Twin Falls last spring.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist Ross Winton says Eva’s collar is still transmitting.

Spill covers 50 birds in used motor oil Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:21:49 -0500 SUNNYSIDE, Wash. (AP) — Oil-spill responders on Tuesday are evaluating the impact to wildlife from a used motor oil leak into a river in an agricultural area of south-central Washington, as at least 50 ducks, geese and other waterfowl were observed covered in oil.

As much as 1,500 gallons of used motor oil stored in an aboveground tank leaked into irrigation canals and the Yakima River, said Joye Redfield-Wilder, a spokesman for the Department of Ecology based in Yakima.

“We’re trying to recover as much oil as we can,” she said, added that officials are concerned about fish and wildlife in the area.

The leak was reported on Sunday at a former feedlot near Sunnyside, about 140 miles southeast of Seattle. But “no new oil appears to be entering the environment,” Redfield-Wilder said.

Crews with the environmental cleanup firm NRC and others have been using absorbent pads, protective booms and vacuum pumps to clean up the oil. The work could take weeks.

Protective booms have been placed along Sulphur Creek, where it enters the Yakima River and at a fish hatchery in Prosser to contain the oil. Crews are also using vacuum trucks to recover the oil.

State, local, federal and tribal officials are coordinating efforts.

Sulphur Creek drains into the Yakima River near the Sunnyside State Wildlife Recreation Area, where waterfowl are wintering, Ecology’s Joye Redfield-Wilder said.

She said the Yakima River provides habitat for hundreds of fish and wildlife, including birds, river otter, beavers and others.

A subcontractor was being hired Tuesday to try to save the birds, and citizens are being asked to report oiled birds but not attempt to handle them, she said.

It’s unclear what caused the above ground storage tank to fail. The oil was stored in a tank at former feedlot and could have been there for years, Redfield-Wilder said.

The leak flowed through about seven miles of irrigation ditches and canals and about 12 miles down the Yakima River to Prosser.

There’s no estimate yet of the cleanup costs.

Washington House votes to raise hourly minimum wage to $12 Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:19:22 -0500 DERRICK NUNNALLY OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state House voted along party lines Tuesday to raise the state’s minimum wage — already the nation’s highest — to $12 an hour over the next four years.

The 51-46 vote sends to the Senate the bill to add a series of 50-cent increases to the $9.47 state hourly minimum wage. With Gov. Jay Inslee watching from the wings of the House, the bill drew extended debate in the Democratic-controlled chamber, and Democrats rejected a series of Republican amendments before voting to approve the bill.

The bill moves next to the Senate for consideration, where a companion bill did not get a committee hearing this legislative session. A coalition of mostly Republicans controls the Senate, and several have spoken critically of the effects a minimum-wage increase would have on the state.

Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, sponsored the House bill and said most workers who earn minimum wage now are adults and have a difficult time trying to stretch their pay to cover the expenses of maintaining a household. “If you work a hard day’s work, day in and day out, week after week, you should be able to pay your own way,” Farrell said.

She and other Democrats said a minimum-wage increase would boost the state’s economy by giving low-income workers more money to spend in their communities.

“This really is about strengthening the middle class,” said Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, the House majority leader. “It’s about making our communities stronger.”

Republicans countered that House Bill 1355 would cut profits and lead to higher prices and fewer jobs. Some businesses could be forced out of state or into closure by the increased cost of hiring Washington workers, several Republican critics of the bill said.

Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg and the assistant minority floor leader, gave an impassioned criticism of the bill as failing to recognize basic economic principles. If it costs more to pay workers, he said, companies will hire less workers.

“How can we craft laws if some goods and services are subject to the law of demand and others are not?” he said. “Or is it, Mr. Speaker, that labor stands alone as the only good on the planet that is absolutely inelastic, because that’s what I’ve heard today?”

Under Washington’s current law, the minimum wage goes up every January with inflation. The Employment Security Department said this year’s minimum wage hike affected more than 67,000 workers.

By an identical 51-46 party-line vote, the House also approved a bill Tuesday to require Washington companies with more than four employees to offer at least one week a year of paid sick leave.

Overnight freeze threatens Washington orchards Wed, 4 Mar 2015 09:13:24 -0500 YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Overnight temperatures dropped well below freezing in parts of eastern Washington, threatening budding trees in apple, peach and cherry orchards.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports workers were out early Wednesday at the Rancho El Rosario orchard west of Prosser to protect cherry buds.

A manager says he used 63 bonfires, 280 diesel furnaces and eight wind machines to fight the freeze.

McDonald’s to use chicken without human antibiotics Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:46:31 -0500 NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s says it plans to start using chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine and milk from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone rBST.

The company says the chicken change will take place within the next two years. It says suppliers will still be able to use a type of antibiotic called ionophores that the company says keep chickens healthy and aren’t used on humans. The milk change will take place later this year.

“Our customers want food that they feel great about eating — all the way from the farm to the restaurant — and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations,” Mike Andres, head of McDonald’s U.S.A, said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the fast-food giant struggles to shake its junk-food image amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals positioning themselves as more wholesome alternatives.

McDonald’s has long battled negative perceptions about its food, but the issue has become a bigger vulnerability as more people shift toward options they feel are made with natural ingredients. The “clean label” movement has prompted companies across the industry including Chipotle, Panera and Subway to purge ingredients with unrecognizable chemical names from their recipes, even while standing by their safety.

After seeing customer visits to U.S. stores decline two years in a row, McDonald’s had also recently hinted ingredient changes could be in store. Andres had said in a presentation to analysts in December it was something the company was looking it.

As McDonald’s fights to hold onto customers, the company has made a number of leadership changes, admissions of shortcomings and declarations that changes are in the works. The pressures reached the C-suite in late January, when the company said CEO Don Thompson would be replaced by Steve Easterbrook, its chief brand officer who also previously led its European division.

The CEO change officially took effect this week, just before U.S. franchisees gathered in Las Vegas for a “Turnaround Summit” — an event intended to rally the people who run the majority of the company’s more than 14,000 U.S. stores. Franchises were told of the recipe change Tuesday night.

Already, the company has been pushing back at critics Last year, it launched a campaign inviting people to ask frank, sometimes squeamish questions about its food, such as whether its beef contained worms (the answer was no). McDonald’s has also been hammering home the fact that it cracks fresh eggs in stores to make its McMuffins in ads and signs in stores.

California shuts down oil wells to protect ground water Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:43:25 -0500 SCOTT SMITH FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A dozen wells used to pump oil-and-gas in California’s Central Valley have been ordered to stop production to protect underground drinking-water from contamination, officials said Tuesday.

The operators of 10 oil wells in Kern County voluntarily stopped production, while two were issued cease-and-desist orders, said Steven Bohlen, head of oil, gas and geothermal resources for the California Department of Conservation.

Groundwater surrounding the wells will be tested for traces of contamination.

The action came after a review found more than 2,500 instances when the state authorized the injection of oilfield waste into protected water aquifers that could be used for drinking or irrigating crops.

In addition, California — the nation’s leading agricultural state — enters a fourth drought year with farmers relying heavily on scarce underground water supplies.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that the aquifers have been spoiled,” Bohlen said in a telephone call with reporters.

He said another 11 wells were shut down last year, and so far testing has found no evidence of contamination.

Years of confusion, lax oversight and miscommunication among state and federal regulators are to blame for injecting protected groundwater with the waste, says a separate report made public Tuesday by California’s Environmental Protection Agency.

It says the problem first came to light in 2011, when a state official from Sacramento temporarily working in a field office found discrepancies in records. One set said that 11 aquifers could be used for injections, while another set said they were protected.

State officials continue to review oil-drilling permits to correct such errors.

Kassie Siegel, an attorney at Center for Biological Diversity, called on Gov. Jerry Brown immediately to halt the operation at the remaining oil wells in question.

“This damning report shows that state oil officials utterly failed to protect clean California aquifers from dangerous oil industry waste,” Siegel said. “Shutting down 12 illegal injection wells barely scrapes the surface of this threat to our drinking water.”

Test aims to boost irrigation efficiency Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:40:35 -0500 DAN ELLIOTT DENVER (AP) — A Colorado ranch owner and a university researcher are testing underground crop irrigation, hoping it can make farms more efficient and reduce competition between cities and agriculture for the state’s scarce water.

The first crops will be planted this summer on a 165-acre test plot on the 70 Ranch in Weld County. Research will be overseen by Colorado State University professor Ramchand Oad.

Copying a technique used in Israel, tubes buried 10 to 16 inches underground will deliver water to plant roots, avoiding evaporation and other problems associated with surface irrigation.

The project budget is $3.5 million for five years but ranch owner Bob Lembke expects the research will continue longer. The ranch, two water districts and a company called Legacy Waters Inc. will provide initial funding.

Bill would require giant cane growers post $1 million bond Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:38:08 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski SALEM — Farmers who grow giant cane, a plant used for bioenergy production, would be subject to bond requirements and potential penalties under legislation proposed in Oregon.

Under House Bill 2183, producing up to 400 acres of giant cane would require filing a $1 million surety bond with the Oregon Invasive Species Council, an entity within the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Planting a larger parcel of the species Arundo donax would require filing a surety bond of $25,000 per acre.

The money would pay for removing the plants that spread beyond the plot and ODA could also impose civil penalties of up to $25,000 for violations of bond conditions.

Supporters of the legislation fear that giant cane will become an invasive weed to the detriment of Oregon’s environment by crowding out other plants.

“It will inevitably escape control if planted on an industrial scale,” said Billy Don Robinson, vice president of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, who testified during a March 3 hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Spraying the plant with an herbicide like glyphosate won’t necessarily prevent its resurgence, as the chemical may not kill inactive tubers that can remain viable for several years, Robinson said.

“It’s a real ticking time bomb down in the ground,” he said.

The concern over Arundo donax stems from trials conducted by Portland General Electric, which is examining the use of the plant as a feedstock for power generation.

PGE will stop using coal at its power plant in Boardman, Ore., in 2020 and is considering giant cane as a replacement, said Brendan McCarthy, government affairs analyst for the company.

Rather than shutter the facility, modifying it to use biomass would preserve jobs in area and allow PGE to keep it as an asset, he said.

The aggressive, fast-growing qualities that make giant cane attractive as a feedstock also make it a potential invasive species, McCarthy said.

Ironically, PGE has reduced its trials of Arundo donax because the plant hasn’t performed as well as expected due to frost kill and other issues, he said.

PGE doesn’t believe that HB 2183 is necessary, as the company is taking precautions to prevent the plant’s escape, he said.

Growers and harvesters must comply with “sanitation check lists” such as baling the crop and cleaning trucks after hauling it, McCarthy said.

“We’ve been extraordinarily careful about how we’ve started growing this plant,” he said. “Due to our project, I think we’ve improved our state’s knowledge of this species.”

ODA is not taking a position on the bill but Katy Coba, the agency’s director, noted that Arundo donax is already subject to restrictions under its “control area” authority for potential pests and diseases.

For example, anyone who wants to grow the crop must provide ODA with a map of where it will be planted and keep the plant away from waterways, she said. Parcels must also be monitored for three years to ensure eradicatoin.

PGE has also filed a $1 million bond with ODA for its existing trials, she said.

Committee chair Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, said the testimony of HB 2183’s supporters “has succeeded in alarming me.”

Further hearings will be held on the bill to get input from scientists at Oregon State University and ODA, Witt said.

States ask judge not to lift stay in immigration lawsuit Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:34:35 -0500 JUAN A. LOZANO HOUSTON (AP) — A coalition of states suing to stop President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration asked a federal judge Tuesday not to lift a temporary hold on the directives.

The 26-state coalition, led by Texas, said in a 22-page court filing to U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, that “there is no emergency need to institute this sweeping new program.”

“It is not in the public interest to allow (the U.S. government) to effect a breathtaking expansion of executive power, all before the courts have had a full opportunity to consider its legality,” the states said in their motion.

Hanen issued a preliminary injunction on Feb. 16 that halted Obama’s action, which could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. The states sought the injunction, arguing that Obama’s executive action was unconstitutional.

The U.S. government on Feb. 23 asked Hanen to lift his injunction while it appeals his ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Justice Department attorneys have said a stay of Hanen’s ruling is needed “to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security is able to most effectively protect national security, public safety, and the integrity of the border.”

The states argued the preliminary injunction does not impair Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s “ability to marshal his assets or deploy the resources of” his agency.

The states also said lifting the stay would irreversibly harm them as they would spend millions of dollars in government benefits for individuals that they would not recover if they win their lawsuit.

The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — had been set to take effect Feb. 18. The other major part, extending deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.

Obama announced the executive action in November, saying a lack of action by Congress forced him to make sweeping changes to immigration rules on his own.

There was no deadline for a decision by Hanen.

Cuba looks north to U.S. farmers for help with food crisis Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:10:04 -0500 MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN GUIRA DE MELENA, Cuba (AP) — The rust-red fields stretched for miles in the Cuban sun, garlic shoots and beetroot leaves waving gently in the spring breeze.

Pink piglets nosed for scraps under the admiring gaze of former President Ronald Reagan’s first secretary of agriculture and about a dozen other U.S. farmers and trade officials who may represent Cuba’s best hope for ending the half-century-old trade embargo it blames for most of its economic troubles.

On Wednesday, their delegation of about 90 representatives of U.S. agriculture will wrap up three days of meetings with Cuban officials and farmers as part of a lobbying campaign for the elimination of the embargo.

“It’s a matter of time,” former Agriculture Secretary John Block, who is an Illinois hog farmer and Washington lawyer, said as he toured the 247-member cooperative farm outside Havana. “It’ll be lifted and we’ll have normal relations. We should have done it a long time ago.”

President Barack Obama’s loosening of the embargo unleashed a flurry of moves from U.S. companies trying to stake out positions in an untapped market. Significant trade growth appears likely to come fastest in agriculture, the sector of the Cuban economy that has the deepest ties to the United States and has been undergoing market-oriented reforms longer than any other on the island.

A bipartisan group of senators who introduced a bill last month to drop the embargo says farm and business backing is essential.

Cuba spends roughly $2 billion a year to import about 80 percent of its food and a long-standing humanitarian exception to the trade embargo allows U.S. farmers to fill some of that demand. After years of declining sales, mostly Republican states sold nearly $300 million of food to the island last year, primarily frozen chicken and soybean products. American trade officials and farmers are dreaming of dominating a food import market that could grow to $3 billion in coming years if Cuba’s economy improves.

“We’ve been here and we want to stay here,” said Stephanie Robinson, marketing and development director for the Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Obama’s changes appear to allow exports of U.S. farm equipment to hundreds of thousands of Cuban farmers who belong to member-run businesses like the May First Credit and Service Cooperative farm outside Havana.

Imports and advice from the U.S. could help Cuba ramp up production levels that have been slumping for years. The island once exported sugar, tobacco and citrus to the United States and imported lots of U.S. rice and other goods. After more than 50 years of central planning and embargo, the island’s agricultural production has drastically fallen and the resulting high price of food is the primary source of dissatisfaction for many Cubans.

A year after assuming power from his brother Fidel in 2006, President Raul Castro launched a series of reforms to loosen near-total state control of agriculture, giving long-term loans of fallow land to private farmers and allowing them to sell surplus crops on the private market.

Agriculture today is in a state of halfway transformation. Cooperatives like May First sell roughly 30 percent of their crops at urban farm stands at market prices. They must sell the rest to the state for 30 percent to 50 percent below the market price.

Payments from the government are often late and the Ministry of Agriculture controls the sale of supplies like seeds and machinery, which are often in short supply or show up too late. Productivity is low. A cow living at May First produces about one-eighth the milk that a cow in the U.S. turns out a day.

Food prices, particularly for meat, are stunningly high for a country where the average salary is about $20 a month. U.S. and Cuban farmers comparing prices during Tuesday’s stop at the cooperative found that pork and chicken are two to three times pricier in Cuba than in the U.S.

Retired hotel chef Eudelia Gonzalez bought four beets and a pork bone stripped of its meat at the farm stand run by the May First coop in Havana’s Kohly neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon. The stew ingredients cost a dollar, or about a tenth of her monthly pension. Still, she said, “at least there are things to eat.”

“Sometimes there are no onions, but now there are a lot of them around,” she said. “You can also find potatoes for sale.”

Potatoes are state-controlled goods and almost never in stock, with touts selling them outside farmers markets as if they were drugs, beckoning customers with a hissed whisper of “Potatoes!”

Detente has Cuban farmers dreaming of exporting pricey goods like seafood, tobacco and honey to the U.S. and raising productivity with modern seeds, fertilizer and equipment bought on credit. That’s all currently impossible under the embargo.

“If the two countries succeed in drawing closer, it could be really good for both sides,” said Jose Miguel Gonzalez Garcia, president of the May First cooperative. “There’s a lot of optimism that things are really going to change.”

Two large agriculture co-ops in the Dakotas planning to merge Wed, 4 Mar 2015 08:00:09 -0500 ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — Two century-old agriculture cooperatives in the Dakotas with a combined membership of nearly 8,000 plan to merge this summer.

The South Dakota Wheat Growers and North Central Farmers Elevator plan to join and create a newly named co-op. Officials will work to finalize details of the deal in the coming weeks before a vote of each co-op’s members, likely in June. If approved, the merger could take effect as early as August.

“Our employees and members have built such a strong foundation. Both cooperatives are healthy, profitable and progressive,” North Central Farmers Elevator General Manager Mike Nickolas said in a statement. “We now have an opportunity to leverage their hard work to create an even stronger, more sustainable business and marketplace footprint.”

The Aberdeen-based Wheat Growers has more than 5,400 members in the eastern Dakotas. Ipswich-based North Central Farmers Elevator serves 2,500 members in north central South Dakota and south central North Dakota. Both have a history dating about 100 years.

Consultants seek feedback on triticale crop insurance Tue, 3 Mar 2015 17:42:02 -0500 An agricultural consulting group holds listening sessions about a crop insurance program for triticale this week in the Pacific Northwest.

AgriLogic Consulting, based in College Station, Texas, is working with Central Washington Grain Growers, Washington State University and ProGene Plant Research to develop an Actual Production History crop insurance program for triticale producers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

AgriLogic will have listening sessions to get feedback from industry members at noon March 5 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pendleton, Ore., and 9 a.m. March 6 at Almira Community Center in Almira, Wash.

RSVP by March 4 to Nicole Gueck at 913-982-2488 or

Cash dairy markets end February mixed Tue, 3 Mar 2015 12:33:33 -0500 Lee Mielke The block Cheddar cheese price closed the last week of February at $1.5450 per pound, unchanged on the week but 67 3/4-cents below a year ago and 1 1/4 cents higher on the month. They were unchanged Monday and Tuesday.

The Cheddar barrels finished at $1.4925, up three-quarter-cents on the week, 70 3/4-cents below a year ago and down 1 1/4-cents on the month. The barrels were also unchanged Monday and Tuesday. Seven cars of block traded hands last week and 10 of barrel.

Cash butter started last week heading south but rallied Thursday and Friday and closed Friday at $1.6950 per pound, still down 2 3/4-cents on the week, 18 1/2-cents below a year ago, and 5 1/2-cents lower on the month. The spot butter jumped a hefty 8 1/2-cents Monday but gave back 3 cents Tuesday and closed at $1.75. Twenty-three cars were sold last week, up from 12 the previous week. As of Tuesday, 32 cars had sold already this week.

Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk continued the slide that began the week before last but rallied some on Wednesday, slipped Thursday, and then rebounded Friday, closing at $1.1550 per pound, up 7 cents on the day, 4 1/2-cents on the week, 8 1/2-cents higher on the month, and the highest it has been since Nov. 19, 2014. The powder was unchanged Monday but gave back 3 cents Tuesday, closing at $1.1250. Thirty-five cars were sold last week, 19 on Friday alone, up from 24 the previous week and 44 the week before that.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced the state’s February 4b cheese milk price Monday at $13.78 per hundredweight, up 3 cents from January but an eye-popping $7.36 below February 2014. The small rebound reverses four weeks of decline but is $8.61 below the record high $22.39 in September 2014. It put the two-month average at $13.77, down from $20.73 a year ago and compares to $15.63 in 2013.

The February 4a butter-powder milk price is $13.46, up 37 cents from January but $9.62 below a year ago. Its two-month average now stands at $13.28, down from $22.61 a year ago and compares to $17.55 in 2013. Comparable Federal order prices are announced by USDA on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s Global Dairy Trade auction saw the weighted average for all products jump 1.1 percent, following a 10.1 percent jump on February 17. It is the sixth consecutive event of gain though the smallest since the January 20 event.

The gains were again led by Cheddar cheese, up 10.8 percent, following a 16.8 percent increase in the Feb. 17 event. Butter milk powder was next, up 6.8 percent, following a 1.9 percent increase last time. Next was skim milk powder, up 5.9 percent, which follows a 5.7 percent jump last time. Butter was up 2.5 percent, following a 1.1 percent increase last time.

Declines were led by anhydrous milkfat, down 2.2 percent. It was up 6.4 percent last time. Whole milk powder followed, down 1.0 percent, after a 13.7 percent jump in the last event, and rennet casein rounded out the losses, down 0.7 percent, following a 1.2 percent increase last time.

FC Stone reports the average GDT butter price equated to about $1.7744 per pound U.S., up from $1.7340 in the Feb. 17 event. Contrast that to CME butter, which closed Tuesday at $1.75. The GDT Cheddar cheese average was $1.5318 per pound U.S., up from $1.3854. The U.S. block Cheddar CME price closed Tuesday at $1.5450/lb. GDT skim milk powder, at $1.3314 per pound U.S., is up from $1.2445, and the whole milk powder average at $1.4702 U.S. is down from $1.4844 in the last event. The CME Grade A nonfat dry milk price closed Tuesday at $1.1250.

A federal judge in Washington state, Thomas Rice, has handed down a ruling that will have ramifications for agriculture across the country. The case involves several Yakima Valley Washington dairy operations sued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act alleging that any potential over application of manure is illegal dumping.

Dan Wood, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation, talked about it in the Feb. 27 DairyLine broadcast and stated that, this decision is the first ever applying the RCRA to agriculture, despite explicit language in the law exempting agriculture.

The judge ruled that, if you apply manure that is not taken up by the plants, the excess constitutes a dumping, Wood reported, and the judge held that “theoretic leakage of lagoons is actual leakage and also constitutes as dumping.”

He has yet to rule whether composting or having livestock on dirt pens constitutes dumping, according to Wood. But he emphasized that the judge has ruled that the RCRA does apply to agriculture despite its language to the contrary, and “applies to manure and its constituent nitrate when it is stored in NRCS-compliant lagoons, “over-applied” to growing crops as fertilizer and composted on native, unlined soil.”

The remaining issues go to trial in May and Wood reported that discussions are ongoing with the families involved to “potentially settle those out of court but right now it is an active lawsuit.”

The outcome of this case will affect every dairy and livestock operation in the country, Wood warned, as well as non-livestock farms “because it’s not just about dairy nutrients, it’s about any kind of nutrients so even if you’re using conventional fertilizer, if you put on more than the plant uses, this judge would say that you have illegally dumped.”

Some of Idaho fruit crop was damaged by November cold snap Tue, 3 Mar 2015 12:11:22 -0500 Sean Ellis PARMA, Idaho — Researchers are seeing signs that a four-day stretch of record low temperatures in November caused damage to the state’s fruit crop.

Researchers at the University of Idaho’s Parma experiment station have seen extensive damage in some buds forced to break early in the laboratory.

“There is a definite injury to the bud structure itself,” said Mike Kiester, a research assistant with the station’s pomology program. “You’re going to see some damage this year.”

“Normally, you’re going to have a nice, beautiful green bud structure all the way through when you dice it,” Kiester said. “This year, there’s just a brown tint in there that’s off.”

Some fruit likely sustained severe damage, though the damage varies by location and fruit type, said Parma researcher Essie Fallahi, who heads the university’s pomology program.

“What the percentage of the damage is is really hard to say at this point,” Fallahi said. “We are definitely going to have a crop but how much of a crop, we don’t know yet.”

He said the extent of the damage won’t be known until May or June.

Apples look OK, but peaches and cherries are a different story, Kiester said.

“We’re not worried as much about them,” he said of apples, “but peaches and cherries definitely have some problems.”

Some table and wine grapes in the Parma station’s fruit orchard also sustained significant damage, said research assistant Tom Elias, president of the Snake River Table Grape Association.

Chad Henggeler, field manager for Henggeler Packing Co. in Fruitland, said the company is highly concerned about its cherries but its apples, peaches and plums look OK.

Henggeler is also concerned about the impact the November cold had on the company’s 30,000 1-year-old apple rootstock.

“Some varieties look better than others but we may have to prune them back significantly and regrow last year’s growth,” he said

Several daily low temperature records were set in mid-November across the Treasure Valley in Southwestern Idaho, where the majority of the state’s fruit crop is grown.

The mercury dropped to minus 5 at Parma and the low hovered near zero for four days.

The problem for fruit in the region was caused by the suddenness of the temperature drop, before fruit trees had a chance to build cold hardiness and go into dormancy, Fallahi said.

The temperatures were “way too cold because the trees were not acclimated; they were not in dormancy,” he said.

Most fruit trees require a certain number of hours between 32 and 45 degrees to go into proper dormancy, Fallahi said, but the region didn’t come close to meeting those needs last November.

“We were working out in shirt sleeves and then ... whoosh, the temperature just went down,” Elias said.

Henggeler said fruit growers in the area can’t remember a similar year when temperatures dropped so quickly so early.

“It’s something that long-time fruit growers around here can’t ever remember seeing,” he said. “We’re kind of in unchartered territory.”