Capital Press | Capital Press Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:58:52 -0400 en Capital Press | Oregon energy regulators to consider new solar rules Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:58:52 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council will be considering new rules to determine whether multiple solar power projects should be regulated as a single facility.

The seven-member council decides whether to approve or reject the location of large power-generating facilities, including solar projects bigger than 100 acres of farmland or 320 acres of other land.

On June 29, the council is expected to appoint a “rulemaking advisory committee” to consider whether several smaller solar projects can “functionally aggregate” to become a facility that would otherwise come under its regulatory jurisdiction.

For example, a developer site two separate projects, each encompassing 60 acres, on a 120-acre plot. Could that be considered in reality one project subject to regulation.

If so, the committee would recommend criteria to determine whether multiple solar projects have crossed this threshold and whether specific rules are necessary for such situations.

Projects under the EFSC’s jurisdiction are reviewed for their impact on fish and wildlife, potential for noise, and effects on soil, among other factors. They’re also subject to bonding and insurance requirements to ensure money is available for their eventual decommissioning.

The “rulemaking project” is getting underway at a time of increasing scrutiny of solar projects on farmland in Oregon, with new proposals encountering opposition and county governments enacting restrictions on siting.

Some of the controversy has centered on solar projects below the Energy Facility Siting Council’s jurisdiction, such as a 70-acre project that’s being appealed in Clackamas County and an 80-acre project that was blocked in Jackson County.

Two standalone solar projects currently under consideration by EFSC are substantially larger: one would top 5,000 acres while the other would be as large as 7,000 acres, both in Lake County in southcentral Oregon.

It’s currently an “open question” whether an additional regulatory structure is needed for multiple facilities that aggregate into a larger project, with members of the rules advisory committee likely having differing opinions on the issue, said Todd Cornett, Oregon Department of Energy’s assistant director for siting.

A similar question arose in the past regarding wind energy projects, but the issue never led to a formal rulemaking process, Cornett said.

Instead, wind projects are evaluated based on 15 questions that probe proximity, ownership and other factors, with ODE offering an opinion on whether they would come under EFSC jurisdiction, he said.

It’s not uncommon developers to adjust projects so they’re subject to regulatory processes that are seen as more advantageous, said Jim Johnson, land use specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture who’s involved in the solar issue.

“Some people would argue historically that’s happened with a lot of land uses, not just solar,” he said.

Dairy sees advantages in opening to public events Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:47:01 -0400 Brad Carlson MERIDIAN, Idaho — Jackson Family Farm is opening its farm gates to the public June 22 as part of National Dairy Month, part of a growing effort to tell production agriculture’s story.

In addition to the annual open house, Clint Jackson said he and his family aim to put on more such events at their farm in Meridian, Idaho, including paid tours catering to private groups.

“Milk is a worldwide commodity now, like most farm products. It’s a very large playing field, so smaller farms like ours are looking to develop into areas that can help us be more competitive,” he said. “Developing unique products and expanding into niches — that is helping keep small farms viable.”

Jackson Family Farm began operating 65 years ago in Idaho. The family previously ran a dairy in Utah. The current operation on Victory Road consists of about 450 cows including a 200-head milking herd, and 300 to 400 acres of alfalfa and corn grown for feed. Also on the property are some horses, goats and a llama. Clint runs the dairy. His father, Brent, grows the crops.

“Families with kids are consuming the most milk, and those seem to be the people who come out to the open houses,” Clint Jackson said. Many of these families “enjoy the farm, seeing the animals and where their food comes from.”

He said the farm in the last few years has been expanding into agri-tourism — a trend, particularly among smaller operations.

The farm has hosted the free Dairy Month open house four years, and has offered private visits and tours for about two years. Jackson Family Farm can accommodate school groups, private parties and some other events.

“On the private-tour side, it does generate revenue,” Jackson said. “We don’t know that it’s significant yet. We’re hoping that in the years to come, it will grow into a significant component of our operation and we will use those profits to reinvest in the farm experience visitors have when they come see us.”

Studies show that Americans think about food production often, but that most know little about how food gets to their dining table, Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow said in a release.

“Farm tours like our National Dairy Month celebration at Jackson Family Farm help demonstrate how farmers and ranchers share the same values as everyone else when it comes to environmental stewardship and animal care,” she said. Boise-based Dairy West is a USDA-qualified program that manages marketing and promotion work on behalf of dairy farm families.

“Being small and being so close to a large population in the Treasure Valley makes us very accessible to the public,” Jackson said.

Jackson Family Farm now produces about 10,000 pounds of milk per day. “Our goal is not large-scale expansion now,” he said. “Maybe just a little, slow, growth.”

The farm employs about six people and gets additional help from family members. It is part of Darigold, a farmer-owned cooperative that produces and markets dairy products.

“We are very proud of our family history on the dairy farm,” Jackson said. “It’s fun for us, and we enjoy sharing our story with other people. In turn, the visitors really seem to enjoy the hands-on learning experience that they get when they come to the farm.”

Record farm fine slashed in half by judge Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:23:43 -0400 Don Jenkins A record fine levied against a northwest Washington blueberry farm for missed rest breaks and late meals has been cut in half by a judge.

Whatcom County District Judge Pro Tem David Cottingham reduced Tuesday the amount Sarbanand Farms will pay in state and county fines to $74,825. The state Department of Labor and Industries originally imposed a penalty that totaled $149,650.

“We’re disappointed in the court’s decision,” L&I spokesman Tim Church said. “Late meals and missed breaks are serious violations that affected hundreds of workers over several days.”

The fine stemmed from investigations L&I began in August 2017 after a sick farmworker, Honesto Silva Ibarra, was taken by ambulance for medical treatment and died four days later at a Seattle hospital of what officials said were natural causes.

Activists accused the farm, owned by California brothers Kewel and Baldez Munger, of mistreating Ibarra, 28, of Mexico and callously firing about 70 farmworkers who staged a one-day protest.

L&I concluded Ibarra’s death was not work-related and that the farm was not at fault. The department also found no evidence to support claims that workers were exposed to pesticides.

L&I did find, based on company records, that workers either missed breaks or received meals late 13 times during a two-week period in July.

Sarbanand did not contest the violations, but did challenge the severity of the penalty, according to court records.

The late meals took place on days that workers were on the job for at least 11 1/2 hours, according to L&I records. Workers must be given a 30-minute meal period every five hours. The missed breaks occurred on 12- to 13-hour workdays. The law requires 10-minute breaks every four hours.

Sarbanand said in a written statement Wednesday that workers received two rest breaks, but should have received a third.

“The people at Sarbanand Farms take seriously their responsibilities with respect to worker safety and well-being, so in cooperation with L&I, we have updated our meal and rest break policies to ensure continued compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” a Sarbanand spokesman said.

The Lynden Tribune reported that Cottingham in court cited the farm’s record-keeping in reducing the fine, noting that the records allowed L&I to document the violations.

L&I’s options for penalizing Sarbanand ranged from $513 to $2.95 million, depending on how the fine was calculated, according to department records. L&I settled on a fine that a spokesman said was a middle course and that department records said was influenced by publicity over Ibarra’s death and the strike.

L&I announced that the fine was the largest ever imposed by the department for employment standard violations. It was unclear Wednesday whether the reduced fine is still a record.

Sarbanand cooperated with L&I investigators and immediately took steps to prevent future violations, according to L&I records.

The fired workers were Mexican nationals issued H-2A visas to work for Sarbanand. A class-action lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for Western Washington alleges the workers were wrongfully dismissed, as well as underfed and overworked. Sarbanand says the allegations are unfounded. The lawsuit was filed by Columbia Legal Services and a Seattle law firm.

Editorial: It’s time for Trump to prove himself on trade Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:01:53 -0400 The sight of President Donald Trump making nice with Kim Jong Un, a sworn enemy of the U.S. who has threatened to nuke our nation along with Japan and South Korea, provided a jolting contrast to the president’s bizarre performance at the recent G-7 economic summit, where he thumbed his nose at our strongest allies.

Confusion may be part of Trump’s game plan, but he can’t seem to get beyond that. Part of his negotiating tactic is knocking the other parties back on their heels by emphasizing that he is willing to do anything, including walk away.

Fair enough. Anyone who has ever bought a used car knows that. The thing is, we’re not negotiating for an ’87 Buick. We’re talking about multi-billion-dollar trade deals with our allies that could make or break U.S. farmers, ranchers and others. Japan alone buys an average of $800 million worth of wheat a year from U.S. farmers. Upwards of 90 percent of the wheat grown in the Northwest goes to Japan and other overseas customers. Because Trump bailed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada and Australia, both major wheat producers, will have a $65 a ton tariff advantage on wheat they sell to Japan.

That’s just one example. Other commodities face similar scenarios, all of which spell trouble for farmers and ranchers, whose livelihoods are at stake because they depend on trade.

Trump says his showboating has worked for him in the past.

“My whole life has been deals,” he said at a press conference last week. “I’ve done great at it, and that’s what I do.”

That being the case, we have to wonder why he’s thus far failed to negotiate new trade deals with our most important allies. When he took office, one of the first things he did was tear up the TPP, which includes three of our best trade partners, Japan, Mexico and Canada. Then he went after China and South Korea, two other important trade partners.

Only in South Korea was his administration able to renegotiate the KORUS deal. Funny thing, because it’s a lot like the original deal.

Trump said he would procure bilateral agreements with our other major trade partners.

It’s been 18 months, and we’re still waiting. During that time, U.S. farmers have seen overseas markets they nurtured for decades put at risk, they’ve seen retaliatory tariffs put on their crops and products, and they’ve seen zero progress from Mr. Big Deal.

In fact, they’ve seen the opposite of progress. His tariffs on steel and aluminum from overseas have only resulted in retaliatory tariffs, many on U.S. agricultural exports.

Trump has had plenty of time to negotiate trade deals with Japan, Mexico and Canada. He’s had plenty of time to sit down with the Chinese and the Europeans.

And we’re all still waiting.

Trump has done some good things, mainly by reining in federal regulations such as those governing the Waters of the U.S. But trade is the arena that will make or break nearly every U.S. farmer and rancher.

Shaking hands with the North Korean dictator was easy. The little guy seemed thrilled by the photo opportunity. We hope the meeting leads to an actual disarmament agreement of some type, but with Trump’s growing track record of failing to follow through on his “deals,” we’re not holding our breath.

It’s been a year and a half since Trump said he would negotiate replacement deals for TPP and upgrade the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Time’s up, Mr. President. Quit messing around with the sideshows and get U.S. trade back on track.

Editorial: Congress should legalize industrial hemp Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:00:57 -0400 We support efforts underway in Congress to make industrial hemp a legal crop for U.S. farmers.

Hemp is a cousin of marijuana that lacks the chemical properties that produce pot’s high. Nonetheless, it is classified with marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law.

Hemp has been grown for fiber for centuries. Colonial Virginia required its cultivation in 1691 and it became an American staple until the 20th century. By the 1930s it had been lumped together with marijuana and made illegal by most states — some say at the bidding of cotton interests.

During World War II the federal government encouraged farmers to grow hemp to replace jute and other fibers from Japanese-held areas in the Pacific necessary for the manufacture of rope. The plant proved so prolific that farmers in the Midwest still struggle to stamp it out of ditches and fence rows more than 70 years later.

In the meantime, products — clothing, foodstuffs, cosmetics and essential oils — made from hemp outside the United States have become a staple in almost every store in the country. So while the federal government bans hemp production in the United States, it approves for importation products made from the same vile weed.

That’s the government for you.

As several states have legalized and regulated marijuana production and trafficking, there has been an effort to liberalize policies on hemp production. The mishmash of state legalization schemes and the lack of much processing capacity has left would-be growers in a lurch.

We’ve never embraced “legal” marijuana and have been only lukewarm about hemp because it remains illegal under federal law. For years we have advised farmers against growing hemp because of the considerable potential downsides should federal narcotics agents decide to swoop down on the farm.

But the law could soon change.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has inserted language into his chamber’s version of the farm bill to make hemp legal again.

“We’ve won the argument that this is not about marijuana,” McConnell said about hemp. “Now we just need to pass the law. And I’m in a uniquely well-situated position to make that happen.”

That he is.

Hemp is not marijuana. Concerns that hemp fields will be used to conceal illicit marijuana grows, one of the main reasons many have opposed its legalization, are probably overblown.

Hemp is clearly a crop that has commercial applications. Before growers can capitalize on that potential, processing infrastructure needs to be built and both raw materials and finished product must be able to move freely across state lines. First, it must be legal.

It’s not clear that hemp is the highest use of prime ground and precious water. And it remains to be seen if it can be wildly lucrative for growers once restrictions are lifted.

But farmers should have hemp in their portfolio and the chance to make something of it. Hemp should be made legal.

Congress considers new hope for hemp Thu, 21 Jun 2018 08:00:48 -0400 George Plaven Planting season for industrial hemp is well underway at a 3-acre farm near Boring, Ore., where Adam Kurtz is testing new seed varieties to ensure they meet regulatory guidelines.

Kurtz is entering his third season growing hemp to make products derived from cannabinoid, a chemical compound found in cannabis that reportedly offers health and nutrition benefits ranging from pain relief to reducing anxiety and depression. He began his company, Oregon Fusion, in 2016 with business partner Ed McCauley.

“Here we do a lot of different trials,” said Kurtz, kneeling to inspect one particular strain of hemp named Sour Space Candy. “We’re testing genetics a year in advance so we can offer them to our partner farms.”

Hemp growers such as Kurtz are optimistic about the future of the industry, especially after the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee last week included the Hemp Farming Act in its latest markup of the 2018 Farm Bill. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the provision defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of federally controlled substances.

A full Senate vote on the Farm Bill could come as early as July 4.

If the House goes along with the Senate, the Farm Bill would provide clarity on hemp’s legality at the federal level. Under the legislation, states would become the primary regulators of hemp production. Hemp farmers could also become eligible to apply for crop insurance, and researchers studying hemp could apply for competitive grants through the USDA.

“It’s going to be a real interesting year,” Kurtz said. “Over the next 12 months, we’ll start seeing more states adopt hemp programs.”

For 25 years, Kurtz lived and worked in upstate New York as a fresh-cut flower farmer. He relocated to Oregon and founded Oregon Fusion to get a foot in the door of the upstart hemp industry.

Hemp has the potential to be a “major disruptor” in several facets of the U.S. agricultural economy, Kurtz believes.

“We are at its infancy in potential,” he said.

Though hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, hemp contains no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component in pot that gets users high. Industrial hemp can be used in several food and health products, fiber, paper, plastic, cosmetics and building materials such as a mixture of hemp biomass and lime known as “hempcrete.”

Oregon Fusion grows hemp specifically for cannabinoid extract — known as CBD — that goes into mints and cigarettes, called cones. Kurtz said he believes consumer demand for the products is only going to increase, and Oregon is already blazing the trail for testing and quality standards.

“It’s like a rocket ship,” he said. “This thing is just exploding.”

McConnell, who also serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in April, garnering bipartisan support from more than 25 senators, including Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

On June 13, the committee passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes language from the Hemp Farming Act. In a statement, Wyden said hemp has proven itself as a “job-creating growth industry with far-reaching economic potential.”

“It’s just common sense that farmers in Oregon and across our country should be allowed to cultivate this cash crop,” Wyden said.

Courtney Moran, a Portland attorney and president of the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association, worked closely with the senators for more than a year crafting the bill’s language to clarify what she described as “gray areas” in federal law.

Moran said the bill more clearly defines hemp to include any part of the plant — including all seeds, derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers and salts.

“When we say any part of the plant, we truly mean any part of the plant,” Moran said.

Joy Beckerman, a lobbyist and consultant with Hemp Ace International and president of the Hemp Industries Association, said the bill provides much-needed clarity on hemp’s legal status, opening the door to investors and interstate commerce that will allow the industry to flourish.

Beckerman, who was a key figure in drafting rules for Washington state’s hemp program before she moved to New York, said CBD extract is driving the industry for now, though additional investment could help pay for infrastructure to tap into what she calls the “trillion-dollar industries,” namely paper, fiber and construction.

While there is no official estimate for U.S. hemp sales, the Hemp Industries Association reports that retail sales for hemp products totaled nearly $600 million in 2015.

“This bill is going to catapult the hemp industry in the U.S.,” Beckerman said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 35 states have already passed industrial hemp statutes.

House Bill 4060 established rules for Oregon’s Industrial Hemp Program in 2016. By the end of the year, the state had 70 registered hemp growers, 53 handlers and a little more than 1,200 total acres.

Since then, the program has seen a sharp increase in year-to-year registration. In 2017, the numbers swelled to 233 growers, 176 handlers and 3,400 acres. The same year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1015, allowing licensed processors to make CBD extracts.

So far in 2018, there are more than 420 growers, 122 handlers and 7,800 acres. As a comparison, that is more than the total acreage devoted to hops in Oregon in 2016, when 7,765 acres were grown.

“It’s pretty dramatic,” Gary McAninch, industrial hemp program manager for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said of the growth.

ODA not only handles registration of growers and handlers, but oversees testing of the product to ensure it does not exceed the 0.3 percent THC threshold. This year, McAninch said the program will also allow private accredited labs to conduct testing.

“We got very busy last year doing that, and we got stretched pretty thin because we had limited staff,” he said.

Meanwhile, the industrial hemp pilot program in Washington state has been slower to gain traction.

Hector Castro, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, said the pilot was created in 2016 with a one-time appropriation of $145,000. During the first year, 2017, it registered just four growers, one seed distributor, one processor and one combined grower-processor, raising $8,000 from those seven licenses.

The hemp pilot was suspended during the winter heading into its second year before lawmakers came up with $100,000 to save it. Castro said just one license holder, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, has applied for renewal on 120 acres.

“We would need to be in a position where the industry fees could support the program,” Castro said.

Other western states are farther behind the hemp bandwagon.

The state of Idaho does not currently allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act took effect on Jan. 1, 2017, though registration is not yet available, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

Bonny Jo Peterson, a lobbyist for the Industrial Hemp Association of Washington, is undeterred by the lackluster start to that state’s hemp pilot. She said there is “a lot of excitement, as well as interest from farmers.”

If new regulations come out of the Farm Bill, Peterson said she believes there may be as many as 100 licensed growers in Washington by next year.

“There’s a lot of large farmers that are just waiting for it to be viable at the federal level for crop insurance,” Peterson said.

Peterson also said she plans to start growing hemp next year at a farm outside Sequim, Wash., on the Olympic Peninsula.

“My interest is in building materials and paper,” Peterson said. “I see the viability in food, plastics, biofuel and getting rid of fossil fuels. Those are the things that get me excited, and getting farmers back in control of their crops.”

Kurtz, with Oregon Fusion, said farmers can make up to $50,000 per acre growing hemp for CBD oil extract. That assumes the crop yields of about 2,000 pounds per acre, at $30 per pound. Expenses for farmers typically range from $10,000 to $15,000 per acre, he said.

Profits will increase with the development of higher-value markets, Kurtz said.

Gail Greenman, director of national affairs for the Oregon Farm Bureau, said the organization supports the federal Hemp Farming Act, providing farmers with another specialty crop to potentially grow their bottom line.

“We look forward to a more expansive market of products that Oregon farmers grow well, and can see an economic benefit not only to farmers in Oregon, but the state as a whole.”

Rick Walsh, a farmer near Klamath Falls, Ore., is planting roughly seven acres of hemp for the first time this year.

Walsh, who had been growing medical marijuana for the last couple of years, said he decided to switch to industrial hemp based on the recent glut of pot in Oregon. An article by the Associated Press reported there are nearly 1 million pounds of usable flower in the system, and an additional 350,000 pounds of marijuana extracts, edibles and tinctures.

“Basically, there’s so much marijuana around that it’s almost physically impossible to get rid of it,” Walsh said.

Walsh said he is growing hemp for the CBD extract, a market he believes will remain profitable for at least the next year or two before more competition enters the marketplace.

“I’m hoping to get in early enough to get some plants and ... prosper,” he said. “Right now, there’s quite a bit of demand.”

Brandon Scales, of Northwest Hemp Commodities, registered his business with the state earlier this year. He and his business partners are growing hemp at several locations statewide and working to open a storefront selling CBD oil extract and products in Salem within the next few months.

Anthony Rushford, a seed geneticist who has bred more than 200 strains of hemp, joined Northwest Hemp Commodities to help create a vertically integrated company, from seed to final product.

“I really think this is going to be a huge thing,” Rushford said. “The possibilities are endless.”

Scales said they also hope to break into the fiber and hempcrete markets as the business develops.

“Every part of that plant has a purpose,” Scales said. “I just see how beneficial it is and how many people it’s going to be able to help, and help the planet at the same time.”

Letter: A false climate change dichotomy Wed, 20 Jun 2018 17:26:48 -0400 In his response to my comment regarding lessons from Antarctic ice cores, a letter writer repeats the false dichotomy that one must choose between the conclusions that carbon dioxide affects temperature and that temperature affects carbon dioxide. The evidence supports the conclusion that both affect each other. Carbon dioxide and temperature measurements from the 800,000 year ice core record are highly correlated, with a value of 0.84. The correlation is only slightly larger (0.88) when carbon dioxide lags temperature by 1000 years. If carbon dioxide did not affect temperature the difference in correlation would be far larger.

Correlation is not causation of course, so much more sophisticated analysis is required to identify causality. Such analysis by van Ness published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2015 concludes, “This analysis is sufficient to demonstrate that temperature influences greenhouse gases, and is consistent with the idea that greenhouse gases drive temperature on a faster timescale.”

Global climate modeling provides another line of evidence. He et al. (Nature, 2013) concludes that a climate model can successfully simulate the end of the last ice age, but only when the measured changes in greenhouse gases are used. Simulations with only changes in the earth’s orbit produce little climate change.

Email me at for the ice core data and both of these papers to see for yourself.

If I have convinced you that carbon dioxide affects climate, which means fossil fuel use must decrease 50 percent to prevent unprecedented warming and associated impacts on mountain snowpack, sea level, etc., would you prefer heavy-handed government regulations or a revenue-neutral market-based approach that lets the market respond to a steadily increasing price on carbon, and returns equal shares of the revenue to each person so they can afford adjustments to reduce their use of fossil fuel?

Steve Ghan

Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Richland, Wash.

Selected Western livestock prices Wed, 20 Jun 2018 17:16:32 -0400 Oregon


(Woodburn Livestock Exchange)

June 18-19

Total Receipts: 825, 273 Cattle

Top 10 Slaughter Cows A/P: 70.26 cwt

Top 50 Slaughter Cows A/P: 65.88 cwt

Top 100 Slaughter Cows A/P: 61.01 cwt

Back To The Country Cows: 70.00 cwt

Certified Cows 80.00-140.00 cwt

Top Certified Organic Cattle: 60.00-88.00 cwt

All Slaughter Bulls: 81.00-95.00 cwt

Top Beef Steers: 200-300 lbs NT; 300-400 lbs NT; 400-500 lbs 152.00-156.00 cwt; 500-600 lbs 134.00-153.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs NT; 700-800 lbs NT; 800-900 lbs NT 900-1000 lbs NT

Top Beef Heifers: 200-300 lbs NT; 300-400 lbs 100.00-140.00 cwt; 400-500 lbs 135.00-148.00 cwt; 500-600 lbs NT; 600-700 lbs 120.00-134.50 cwt; 700-800 lbs 116.00-122.50 cwt; 800-900 lbs NT; 900-1000 lbs NT

Cow/Calf Pairs: 1100.00-1175.00 HD

Bred Cows: 800.00-920.00 HD

Lambs: 40-70 lbs 120.00-155.00 cwt; 75-150 lbs 130.00-170.00 cwt

Thin Ewes: 32.00-65.00 cwt

Fleshy Ewes: 40.00-63.00 cwt

Ewe/Lamb Pairs: 67.50-70.00 HD

Goats: 10-39 Lbs 27.50-72.50 HD; 40-69 lbs 52.50-142.50 HD; 70-79 lbs 115.00-152.50 HD; 80-89 lbs 150.00-182.50 HD; 90-99 Lbs 130.00-165.00 HD; 100-199 lbs 100.00-190.00 HD; 200-300 lbs 150.00-195.00 HD

Fed chair signals gradual rate hikes in tame inflation era Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:40:12 -0400 CHRISTOPHER RUGABERAP Economics Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the Fed will likely keep raising short-term interest rates at a gradual pace, partly because there are few signs, so far, that the ultra-low U.S. unemployment rate is pushing up inflation.

In a speech in Portugal, Powell said Wednesday that with the unemployment rate at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent and inflation near the Fed’s 2 percent target, the case for continued gradual increases in rates “is strong.”

Low unemployment historically has pushed up inflation as companies raise prices so they can pay more to keep workers. But Powell noted that the sharp drop in unemployment since the recession has occurred “without much apparent reaction from inflation.”

That suggests the Fed is less likely to accelerate rate hikes preemptively to forestall inflation.

Heavy rain along Rocky Mountain Front leads to flooding Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:37:15 -0400

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Heavy rain falling along the Rocky Mountain Front over the last several days triggered flooding in the town of Augusta, closed all roads into the town and trapped a horseback party in the Scapegoat Wilderness.

The Montana Department of Transportation closed U.S. Highway 287 around Augusta on Tuesday because water from Elk Creek was running over the road both north and south of town.

“Main Street is a river,” said Gail Genger, who owns Mel’s Diner in Augusta with her husband, Matt. They opened the restaurant’s doors and let the water run through.

“Once it started getting over the curb there wasn’t much hope,” Matt Genger said.

The flooding in town was concentrated in about a three-block area, Matt Genger said, and people were helping with sandbagging, “trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

As he talked with a reporter, someone drove past a “road closed” sign. “Now he’s going to speed up and cause a wake,” Genger said. “Absolutely ignorant.”

Other local roads were closed, in one case because a bridge washed out, the Department of Transportation said.

By 1:30 p.m. all roads to Augusta had been closed, Lewis and Clark County officials said.

The Red Cross planned to open a shelter for people affected by the flooding in Choteau, which is 25 miles northeast of Augusta.

A dozen members of a horseback party were rescued by Two Bear Air helicopter Tuesday morning after the weekend rain washed out their camp. They were trapped on the wrong side of the swollen Dearborn River in the Scapegoat Wilderness southwest of Augusta.

They were brought to Augusta, three at a time.

The guides stayed back with the horses, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Capt. Brent Colbert said. “They’re going to ride it out and bring out the horses when they can,” Colbert told the Great Falls Tribune .

Meanwhile, residents of the Sun River Valley east of Augusta were warned to expect the Sun River to flood, threatening homes near Simms.

Officials closed a stretch of Montana Highway 200 over Rogers Pass after a culvert failed and flooded the roadway. The highway was closed east of Lincoln to the intersection with Montana Highway 287, according to state transportation officials.

Gibson Reservoir west of Augusta saw 7 inches of rain in the three days ending Tuesday morning. Lewis and Clark County officials said Gibson Dam was full and releasing water, which would cause a rise in the Sun River.

Nearly 8.5 inches of rain fell at Wood Creek in the mountains west of Augusta in the past three days, meteorologist Christian Cassell said. The Dearborn River near Craig was at moderate flood stage Tuesday, Cassell said. Local flooding also was reported in the Helena Valley.

The Gengers said they had no warning about the flooding.

FDA reconsiders added sugar label for maple syrup, honey Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:31:41 -0400 LISA RATHKE MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering its plan to label pure maple syrup and honey as containing added sugars.

Maple syrup producers had rallied against the plan, saying FDA’s upcoming requirement to update nutrition labels to tell consumers that pure maple syrup and honey contain added sugars was misleading, illogical and confusing and could hurt their industries.

After receiving feedback including more than 3,000 comments on its draft plan, the FDA said Monday that it would now come up with a revised approach.

“The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the FDA intended. It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. The agency looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution,” the FDA said.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb had said earlier this year that he has made nutrition one of his top priorities, and the Nutrition Facts label hasn’t been meaningfully updated in decades. He said the FDA’s goal was to increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods.

In maple country of Vermont — the country’s largest producer of the sweet stuff — the congressional delegation and state’s attorney general urged the FDA commissioner to reconsider the added sugars label for maple syrup, with Attorney General T.J. Donovan calling on Vermonters to comment on the FDA’s plan.

The American Honey Producers Association said the plan could lead to consumers wondering what’s being added to pure honey, when nothing is.

“I applaud the FDA’s decision to hear Vermonters on this issue,” Donovan said on Tuesday. “We all agree that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, especially when it comes to their health and safety,” he said. “And, we also agree that common sense is a virtue.”

Maple syrup producer Roger Brown of Slopeside Syrup in Richmond, Vermont, who has been a leading voice on the issue, said the FDA’s response to the feedback is a good step.

“I applaud the FDA for acknowledging the relevance of the issue and the need to re-examine it,” he said. “I am grateful that this question and this issue has been a part of a pretty broad conversation and has generated a lot of support from the maple community, from Vermonters and maple fans around the country.

Idaho family sues US after child sprayed by cyanide trap Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:26:05 -0400 KEITH RIDLER BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho couple has sued the U.S. government, saying their teenage son still suffers headaches after a predator-killing trap that federal workers mistakenly placed near their home doused him with cyanide.

Mark and Theresa Mansfield of Pocatello filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Idaho seeking more than $75,000 in economic damages and more than $75,000 for pain and suffering.

Their son, Canyon Mansfield, then 14, was playing with his dog last year when he triggered the trap that the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed to kill coyotes. The dog named Casey started convulsing and then died.

The devices, called M-44s, are embedded in the ground and look like lawn sprinklers but spray cyanide when they are set off. They are meant to protect livestock but sometimes kill pets and injure people. They killed about 12,500 coyotes in 2016, mostly in the U.S. West.

The traps drew increased scrutiny after The Associated Press reported that the teen was injured months after the government decided to stop using the devices on federal lands in Idaho. U.S. officials have said the cyanide trap was placed in error.

They said several months after the incident that they would expand a review of the traps, which are still used in other states. They also issued guidelines requiring federal workers to notify nearby residents of the devices’ placement.

Todd Grimm, Idaho director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, didn’t return a call Tuesday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

“While playing and throwing a toy for his dog,” the lawsuit said, the boy “noticed a pipe protruding from the ground that he thought looked like a sprinkler pipe. When he reached down and touched the pipe, it exploded with a loud bang.”

The lawsuit says an orange substance covered the boy’s clothing and got in his left eye and that he used snow to wipe off the substance. The boy then saw his dog convulsing and foaming at the mouth.

He ran home to get his mother, but when they returned the dog had died. Canyon Mansfield still has headaches from the poison, according to the lawsuit.

Reed Larsen, an attorney representing the Mansfields, declined to comment.

In a separate lawsuit by environmental and animal-welfare groups, U.S. officials in March agreed to complete a study on how two predator-killing poisons could be affecting federally protected species.

The settlement requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete consultations with the Environmental Protection Agency by the end of 2021 on the poisons that federal workers use to protect livestock on rural lands. One of the poisons is the cyanide used in M-44s.

EU to tax Harleys, bourbon and other US goods Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:22:08 -0400 RAF CASERT BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union will from Friday start taxing a range of imports from the U.S., including quintessentially American goods like Harley-Davidson bikes and cranberries, in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum.

The move by the 28-nation EU was expected to only next month, but EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Wednesday that they would introduce the tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros’ ($3.4 billion) worth of U.S. products this week.

The goods targeted include typical American exports, including bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice, in a way that seems designed to create the most political pressure on Trump and U.S. politicians.

“We are left with no other choice,” Malmstrom said in a statement. Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum from the EU on June 1. Europeans claim that is simply protectionism and breaks global trade rules.

“The rules of international trade, which we have developed over the years hand in hand with our American partners, cannot be violated without a reaction from our side,” she said. “Needless to say, if the U.S. removes its tariffs, our measures will also be removed.”

Trump said the measures against the EU are meant to protect U.S. national security interests, but the Europeans claim it cannot be that close allies, many of them NATO partners, would endanger U.S. security.

The EU exported some 5.5 million tons of steel to the U.S. last year. European steel producers are concerned about a loss of market access but also that steel from elsewhere will flood in.

Economists note that on the whole, the U.S. and EU tariffs will not immediately cause great damage to either side’s economy. The EU does not rely on the U.S. as a market for its steel exports as much as Canada or Mexico, which are also being hit by the U.S. tariffs and stand to lose more.

However, experts say the risk that the sides could keep adding tariffs could hurt business confidence, weighing indirectly on the economy.

The EU, which is the world’s biggest trading bloc, has taken its case to the World Trade Organization. If the WTO rules in its favor, or after three years if the case is still going on, the EU plans to impose further tariffs of 3.6 billion euros on U.S. products.

The spat comes amid a wider push by the Trump administration to hit other countries with tariffs that would reduce the U.S. trade deficit. Its biggest target has been China, against which Trump this week ordered new tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods. That comes after the U.S. put a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion of Chinese goods, to which Beijing responded by imposing an identical charge on the same amount of American goods.

Washington spreads money for clean manure projects Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:11:28 -0400 Don Jenkins Five projects to purify manure at Washington dairies have received public funding, including one that involves engineer Peter Janicki, who told state lawmakers last year that removing all contaminants from livestock waste was possible and could even be profitable.

Janicki’s company, Janicki Bioenergy in Sedro-Woolley, and its tribal and public-sector partners will receive $1.75 million of the $3.88 million awarded by the Washington State Conservation Commission. Janicki, according to the proposal, will install a plant to turn manure from a 2,000-cow dairy in Snohomish County into organic fertilizer, liquid ammonia and water clean enough for cattle to drink.

Stanley Janicki, vice for president for business development and the founder’s son, said Tuesday he expected the manure-treatment equipment to be operating by next summer at Natural Milk dairy, owned by Jeremy Visser.

“He’s going to become a zero-discharge dairy,” Stanley Janicki said. “If he can be a zero-discharge dairy, environmental concerns disappear.”

Peter Janicki’s presentation to legislative committees in Olympia in 2017 raised interest in funding projects to decontaminate manure. Lawmakers put money in the capital budget this year.

Janicki is collaborating with the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, the Snohomish Conservation District and Washington State University, as well as Visser. The $4.67 million project last year received a $1 million grant the USDA, $283,000 from the state Commerce Department and $250,000 from the Dairy Farmers of Washington.

Visser, who owns four dairies in Snohmish County, will contribute more than $1.3 million in cash, materials and fuel, according to the proposal.

Visser said Monday that he’s optimistic the project will succeed. “The sooner we get going the better, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “If we don’t slice bread, people will be disappointed. I know I will be.”

Snohomish Conservation District natural resources planner Brett de Vries said that organizers still need a building permit from Snohomish County.

“I have great hope and confidence it’s going to be a complete game-changer for ag in Snohomish County,” de Vries said.

WSU will evaluate the results.

Peter Janicki grabbed lawmakers’ attention with his work supported by Bill Gates to convert human waste into drinkable water and electricity in poor countries. According to the proposal submitted to the conservation commission, Janicki’s goal is to get the cost of building a livestock manure processor down to $750,000 for a 1,000-cow dairy.

Four other projects received smaller amounts of money.

• $930,305 to convert manure into fertilizer and clean water at Coldstream Farms in Deming in Whatcom County. Regenis, a Whatcom County anaerobic digester construction company, will install the equipment to treat one-third of the dairy’s manure. The Nooksack Indian Tribe endorsed the project for its potential to put more water in the Nooksack River for fish.

• $762,900 to treat manure wastewater at Castle Grove Dairy in Wapato on the Yakama Indian Reservation. Organix Inc. of Walla Walla will install filtering equipment developed by a Chilean company, BioFiltro. WSU will monitor water quality and odors. Organix installed the system at Royal Dairy in Royal City, Wash., last year.

• $250,000 to remove nitrogen from manure at George DeRuyer & Son Dairy in Yakima County. DVO Inc., an engineering company in Chilton, Wisc., is the co-applicant. The dairy will contribute $385,000 to the project.

• $186,795 for a mobile-struvite maker developed by Washington State University-Puyallup scientist Joe Harrison. The machinery was manufactured last year with a USDA grant. It extracts phosphorous from manure to make struvite, a phosphate fertilizer for forage crops.

Idaho Milk Products to expand Jerome facility Wed, 20 Jun 2018 09:24:12 -0400 Idaho Milk Products has announced plans to grow its specialized milk protein concentrate and dairy ingredients business through a $26 million expansion to its Jerome, Idaho, facility.

Processing capacity will expand by one-third to accommodate an additional 1 million pounds per day of locally sourced milk, according to a press release from the company.

The project will also include investments in new research and development capabilities, enhanced employee facilities and an expanded warehouse.

“The project is a logical next step for us,” Daragh Maccabee, the company CEO, said in the press release.

It will maximize the current potential of IMP’s facility while increasing the company’s ability to continue to add long-term value to production, he said.

“We are committed to both meeting our customers’ needs for the highest quality, most consistent dairy ingredients and offering them new ingredient solutions,” Tara Russell, the company’s vice president of marketing, said in the press release.

The investment in enhanced research and development will allow the company to participate in higher levels of collaboration with its customer partners, she said.

The project is expected to be completed by August 2019 and add about 25 employees at the facility.

Research identifies mastitis-prone cows Wed, 20 Jun 2018 09:06:19 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski Cows that produce milk early are more prone to develop mastitis, but this susceptibility can be detected with a blood test and countered with nutritional supplements, according to an animal scientist.

Gerd Bobe, an associate professor at Oregon State University, studied about 160 pregnant cows several weeks before they gave birth to calves, comparing those that eventually developed mastitis with those that didn’t.

Carbohydrates associated with milk production, such as lactose, usually did not appear in a cow’s blood until a few days before calving, he said.

Cattle that developed mastitis, however, had these metabolites in their blood three weeks before calving, indicating they’d begun producing milk early.

Also, cows don’t usually lose weight from muscle and calf loss before calving, but those susceptible to mastitis started breaking down those tissues earlier, as evidenced by amino acids in their blood.

This “catabolic process” makes less energy available for the bovine immune system to fight off infection.

Aside from supplements to help these cows’ immune systems, milking them before they calf could reduce the risk of infection by taking away the food source from pathogens, Bobe said.

“Also, there is less pressure in the mammary gland, which can cause damage to the tissue,” he said.

By taking preventive steps before the cow becomes infected with mastitis, the dairy producer can avoid treating the udder infection with antibiotics and generating unusable milk, he said.

Preventing unnecessary antibiotic use would have the added benefit of reducing the pressure on pathogens to build up a resistance to the drugs, Bobe said.

The ability to produce milk for a longer period of time also leaves the cow more vulnerable to pathogens, which is particularly true with older animals that are more prone to inflammation, he said.

Bobe hopes the dairy industry can use his findings to develop a simple test that would enable dairy farmers to quickly identify cows that would benefit from preventive treatments.

Reducing mastitis would also decrease the need to cull cows that suffer from chronic infections, he said.

Cattle analyst expects decent market conditions despite volatility Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:55:54 -0400 Brad Carlson Capital Press

BOISE — Cattle industry players can expect a continuation of decent market conditions through this year despite volatility, market analyst John Nalivka told an Idaho Cattle Association audience June 19.

Nalivka, with Sterling Marketing Inc. in Vale, Ore., said continued strong demand is cutting into recently higher beef supplies. That demand is helped by a growing economy and the industry’s ability to introduce products that keep consumers coming back for more, he said.

The amount of beef coming out of packing houses and ready for consumption will be up by about 4 percent this year, he said. Competing proteins also will be up on continued strong demand — pork by about 4 percent and chicken by 2 to 3 percent.

The total number of cattle on feed was up by about 7 percent in the U.S. year-to-year as of April 1, but that pace won’t hold up through year’s end, Nalivka said in an interview.

Drought in Texas and Oklahoma prompted many producers in those states to move animals from grazing sites to feedlots earlier than they would have under normal conditions, boosting total on-feed populations, he said. As these cattle head to slaughter and are replaced in feedlots by a current population of grazing animals that’s fewer in number, processors should see a reduced incoming headcount late in the year, which would support prices.

A steer fetched about $111 per hundredweight during the week of June 11-15, down 14.6 percent from $130 a year earlier. Nalivka said feedlot margins have been strong most of the year but have been narrowing in recent weeks. Demand is good, and processors are earning high profits.

“We saw all these cattle coming at us, because of the number in the feedlots,” he said. “But generally speaking, it’s not that bad and it’s because of demand. It has held up pretty well.”

Cow-calf producers have some opportunities to do well this year depending on their individual operations, Nalivka said. Increased input costs over the past two-plus years challenge producers.

A portion of recently strong demand comes from exports. U.S. beef exports are up about 13 percent year-to-date including a 16 percent rise from April 2017 to April 2018, he said.

Recent conflicts over trade policy “are there and should be a concern, but are not going to affect the bottom line,” at least in the near term, Nalivka said.

“Just manage the things that are manageable,” he said.

Nalivka spoke as part of ICA’s annual summer meetings June 18-20.

Scenic designation for Nehalem River raises concerns Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:42:52 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski Oregon parks officials believe a portion of the Nehalem river qualifies as “scenic,” but potential restrictions have met with consternation from agriculture and local government representatives.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has completed a study concluding that 17.5 miles of the Nehalem river meets the criteria for scenic designation, such as free-flowing water, outstanding views and recreational opportunities.

The report was submitted on June 13 to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission, which oversees the agency and plans to vote on a “scenic” recommendation as early as November.

Restrictions meant to protect the natural features of scenic waterways can be problematic for landowners, particularly the requirement they notify OPRD at least one year before making certain changes to their property within a quarter-mile of the river.

During that time, the landowner can negotiate with the agency over possible alternative plans or a sale of the property.

In the forested areas surrounding the Nehalem River, the primary concern would be delayed timber harvesting, which is already regulated under the Oregon Forest Practices Act, said Mary Anne Cooper, public policy counsel for the Oregon Farm Bureau.

“It’s a complicated structure that’s on top of anything else,” she said.

Changes to roads or farm buildings may also be hindered by the requirement, Cooper said.

Though the rules for scenic rivers do make allowances for agriculture, the construction or modification of a structure — such as a pumphouse — must be compatible with the surrounding aesthetics, she said.

Whether or not a design is visually obtrusive is a highly subjective question that could prove problematic for landowners, she said.

The scenic designation is also meant to protect river flows, potentially interfering with the development or transfer of new water rights, Cooper said. The protections may have implications for water quality, which is already regulated under other laws for agriculture and forestry.

The Farm Bureau is also skeptical whether the 17.5 mile stretch actually meets the criteria for a scenic designation, since the landscape has long been managed, she said.

“There are homes and roads throughout the area, so it’s not really undisturbed,” she said.

Tilamook County’s Board of Commissioners has also come out against the scenic designation, arguing that restrictions on logging will violate the state government’s duty to generate revenues from property donated by the county.

“Although we support public uses on the Nehalem River ... we cannot support the proposed designation as it fails to take into account the primacy of timber production on properties which the County deeded to the State decades ago,” according to a letter sent by the board.

Contempt sought for ex-employee in trade secrets dispute Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:34:05 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski An Oregon livestock nutrition company wants a former employee cited for contempt for violating an injunction in a lawsuit over the alleged theft of trade secrets.

Omnigen Research, which manufacturers a treatment for hemorrhagic bowel syndrome in cattle, has already won a lawsuit against the ex-employee, Wongqiang Wang, and been awarded $3.85 million in damages.

However, the company is asking a federal judge to sanction Wang for allegedly continuing his involvement with a Chinese company that’s reproduced Omnigen’s product in that country.

Wang is also accused of failing to turn over all his computers and other electronic media for Omnigen to review for confidential information and disregarding an order to re-assign a Chinese patent to his former employer.

“They’ve lied so many times they just can’t keep their story straight,” said Scott Davis, an attorney for Omnigen, during a June 19 hearing on the matter in Portland.

Omnigen was originally founded in Corvallis, Ore., by an Oregon State University professor, but was later sold to the Phibro animal health company.

In its motion for a finding of contempt, Omnigen asked U.S. District Judge Michael McShane to order the defendant incarcerated for civil contempt if he doesn’t comply with the earlier injunction and fines don’t work.

However, Wang did not appear at the June 19 hearing and his attorney, Roger Hennagin, said his client’s Chinese passport is revoked and he cannot leave that country.

Hennagin also asked to withdraw as Wang’s attorney, saying he hasn’t seen his client face-to-face since last year and is having trouble communicating about the case through email.

Davis, Omnigen’s attorney, said he was under the impression Wang was a legal permanent resident and could return to the U.S., so the situation is “all news to us and a surprise.”

Despite the injunction, Wang is deeply involved with Mirigen, a Chinese company that cloned Omnigen’s secret formula, he said. It’s implausible that he’s turned over all his electronic devices, as evidences by email communications.

Hennigan countered that Wang is using a computer at a university library in China.

“Much of their position is based on supposition, hypothesis and inferences,” he said.

Omnigen also asked for sanctions against Wang and his attorney for violating a protective order by viewing “attorneys eyes only” documents during the litigation, which began in 2016.

Hennagin acknowledged providing his client with access to these protected documents, citing his lack of technological expertise and his desire to save money for his client by not spending time separating them out from other documents.

“It was not a bad faith mistake,” he said, noting that he instructed Wang not to look at the protected files.

McShane took Omnigen’s requests under advisement but warned the company that potential relief was limited under the circumstances.

“I hope your client understands I can’t grant you police powers to seize things,” he said.

Washington cherry harvest off to good start Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:25:04 -0400 Dan Wheat ORONDO, Wash. — Cherry harvest is off to a decent start in Central Washington with good quality, strong early prices and apparently not too big a labor shortage.

“Fruit quality is outstanding. We really have some outstanding sugar in our fruit this year,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers in Yakima, the industry’s promotional arm.

Demand was out-pacing supply with 3 million, 20-pound boxes shipped as of June 19 and South Korea as the single biggest market averaging almost 40,000 boxes per day, Thurlby said.

That same morning in Orondo, 16 miles north of Wenatchee, a small army of 105 young H-2A-visa guestworkers, just a week on the job from Mexico, picked Orondo Ruby cherries at Griggs Orchards.

“We’ve increased our H-2A by 50 percent from last year, but we’ve had a lot of domestics stopping by, which is nice, and we’ve been hiring them,” said John Griggs, co-owner.

Labor has been tight for years industry-wide, but Griggs said California’s cherry crop, always earlier than Washington’s and Oregon’s, was light this year, which freed up pickers to move north sooner this year. He said he had 87 domestic pickers and could use 30 more. He was a week into full harvest with three to four to go.

California was still shipping a few boxes on June 19 and will finish just shy of 4 million, 18-pound boxes, Thurlby said. The Pacific Northwest, with Washington the bulk of it, expects to pick 20.4 million, 20-pound boxes into August, down 22.7 percent from last year’s record 26.4-million-box crop.

Tom Riggan, general manager of Chelan Fresh Marketing, said wholesale prices started in the $80- to $90-per-box range with limited volume in the first two weeks of June. As of June 19, prices were around $55 to $70 per box, depending on fruit size. Cherries were selling at $4.99 and $7.99 per pound in Wenatchee grocery stores.

Marketers will quickly adjust prices downward to help retailers make Fourth of July sales prices as volume substantially increases, Riggan said.

“Demand is there and quality is phenomenal. Size profile is better than last year and sugars are very high, so it’s setting up so far so good. When quality is there, it flies off the shelves,” Riggan said.

Helicopters were busy in the greater Wenatchee area June 15 and 16 blowing off cherries from rain. Griggs said he had two helicopters fly once over his orchards in Orondo and three to four times over his orchards farther north near Beebe Bridge, east of Chelan.

“We’ve come through really well. I haven’t seen any splits so far. I think it’s because it stayed cool and the rain was not very long in duration,” Griggs said.

Longer rain followed by hot weather swells and splits cherries, ruining them for market.

Thurlby said he was hearing more concern about wind than rain from growers throughout Central Washington.

Norm Gutzwiler, a Malaga grower south of Wenatchee, was preparing to start picking June 21 and he was having no trouble finding pickers because of those coming up from California.

Charles Lyall, a Mattawa grower, called labor “pretty decent with a few shortages.” He said he was able to pick most of his early varieties and Bing on time, struggled to get and keep pickers and had 130 domestics at his peak. He said he paid them 23 to 28 cents per pound. Griggs said he’s paying his H-2A and domestic pickers 33 cents per pound.

Lyall said while his early Chelans and Tietons were light at just 2.75 tons per acre, size was good 9- and 8-row and sold to Malaysia and China at $85 per box.

“It was good, but not a home run. It will pay the bills. It was gorgeous fruit. I wished I’d had a bit more tonnage,” Lyall said.

He was finishing Bing harvest at a “sweet spot” of 6 tons per acre and in the $22 to $24 per box range on 11-row, a smaller size.

Lyall started harvest on June 3, just a day or two behind his neighbor, John Doebler, who was first in the Northwest.

China tariffs worry cherry marketers, growers Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:32:12 -0400 Dan Wheat YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington cherry marketers and growers are concerned about the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

In retaliation to Trump administration tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, China imposed tariffs on many U.S. goods including 15 percent on cherries, which was on top an existing 10 percent entry tax and 13 percent value added tax.

“Cherries are on the list to receive another 25 percent tariff to retaliate against the latest U.S. tariffs,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission in Yakima.

“It’s a tragic shame that our growers are being thrown under the bus four times over. Obviously we are taking a huge hit in this trade war,” Thurlby said.

However, one marketer said short-term pain will be worth it if it results in fairer trade in the long-term.

The industry expects South Korea and the U.S. to absorb more cherries, Thurlby said.

“Unfortunately, we have our promotional funding on the table in China and trying to guess what will happen tomorrow makes it tough to move our funding out of China and into other markets,” Thurlby said. “It’s safe to say we expect volume to be down in China this year.”

The Pacific Northwest shipped 3.2 million, 20-pound boxes of cherries to China in 2017, valued at approximately $127 million. It was 13 percent of the crop.

Tom Riggan, general manager of Chelan Fresh Marketing in Chelan, said China is a good market but that he’s being very conservative about how much fruit he ships there now.

“Fruit has been detained. If they find any decay, they’re holding cherries for up to seven days to test it. If that continues there will be a serious reduction. We’re being very conservative. It’s a day-by-day deal,” Riggan said.

He said he hopes that, like before, a resolution is negotiated soon so the entire season to China is not damaged.

Washington barn fire kills more than 25,000 chickens Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:05:55 -0400 Don Jenkins More than 25,000 chickens died as a barn burned down Monday at Draper Valley Farms in Tenino, Wash., company spokesman Joe Forsthoffer said.

The 35-day-old chickens were being reared at the poultry farm 15 miles south of Olympia, he said. Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from spreading to five other barns with the same number of chickens in each one, he said.

“Thanks to the firefighters, there was no damage to the other barns,” Forsthoffer said.

The company and fire officials did not have a cause or total dollar loss for the fire Tuesday.

Draper Valley, a subsidiary of Perdue Farms, raises chickens at farms in Washington for processing in Mount Vernon.

The loss will not disrupt the company’s supply chain, Forsthoffer said. The company likely will rebuild the barn, he said.

The fire was reported shortly after 5 p.m., according to Thurston County Fire District 12. The blaze spread to grass in the surrounding area, but that fire was stopped by Department of Natural Resources firefighters.

Landscape shifting for export hay, analyst says Tue, 19 Jun 2018 13:37:03 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas Lower hay supplies in California and growing global demand are changing the landscape in hay production and export movement in the West.

Across the U.S., hay inventories on May 1 were down 36 percent year over year with drought and a long winter in some regions pulling down supplies.

But in California hay stocks are down 58 percent, largely because of reduced hay production, Jon Driver, industry analyst with Northwest Farm Credit Service, said in his hay outlook webinar.

California’s hay production is definitely on a downward trend, he said. Its alfalfa acres are at their lowest level since USDA began tracking hay acres in 1919. The state’s hay production is coming down and meeting up with Idaho’s growing production, despite California’s longer season and more cuttings, he said.

“That’s a really key component to the whole West Coast export industry and to hay movements,” he said.

California is a big dairy state, and dairy is competing with exports for hay in an atmosphere of declining production. That’s causing a shift in where export hay is coming from, he said.

Northwest ports are exporting more hay than California ports right now, and the Northwest industry is responding to declining hay production in California, he said.

Washington has added at least five new hay presses in the last couple of years. Two new presses are being added in Idaho, and Timothy hay is being introduced into the traditional wheat and bluegrass rotation in northern Idaho, he said.

“Hay supplies are getting tighter in California; exporters are having to source hay in other places,” he said.

Looking at trade tables, it’s easy to see where export demand is coming from, he said.

For U.S. alfalfa “we can see some pretty amazing growth, particularly in Saudi Arabia, (and) China is still growing year over year,” he said.

“If we look at the grass side, South Korea is certainly a growth market right now. Japan is still solid, and China is taking up the rear,” he said.

But new competition is coming in world markets. A new press went in this spring in Ontario, Canada, two are being installed in Sudan, and Australia has added six in the past few years, he said.

Together with the new presses in Washington and Idaho, there’s a considerable increase in global hay-pressing capacity.

But global demand for export hay remains strong, he said.

Saudi Arabia has dedicated its scarce water resources to food production and is increasing its hay imports. China is already the largest buyer of U.S. hay and has growing demand for dairy products. With its industry consolidating and producing more milk on larger farms, there’s probably more opportunity there for U.S. hay, he said.

With a stronger U.S. dollar, however, buyers might not be able to buy as much U.S. product. Asian currency, for example, is losing value in relationship to the U.S. dollar and gaining value in relationship to the Australian dollar.

“That means those Asian buyers have more buying power in Australia than they do in the U.S. That could be a headwind,” he said.

Say ‘Cheese:’ Tillamook opens its new visitor center Tue, 19 Jun 2018 17:56:45 -0400 Gail Oberst TILLAMOOK, Ore. — Members of one of the Northwest’s largest dairy cooperatives, the Tillamook County Creamery Association, cut the ribbon to their new visitor center June 19 with fanfare that included politicians, employees and dairy farmers.

Eight-year-old Juliana McCoy traded in a day at camp for a visit to the grand opening with her mom that included a picture with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. Her visit was sweetened with one of Tillamook’s famous ice cream cones, and in the visitor center’s Farm Room, Juliana tried to beat the average 21 seconds it takes a professional to prep a cow for milking.

“It was worth it,” Juliana declared.

Those activities, and more, are now open to the estimated 1.3 million visitors expected to walk through the doors of the new facility, better known as the Tillamook Cheese factory.

With $778 million in gross revenues last year, the Tillamook County Creamery Association is the largest co-op in Oregon, employing nearly 900 people. Its approximately 90 farm families — mostly from the Tillamook area — own the cooperative and provide the milk for the cheese, ice cream, yogurt and other products.

At the ribbon-cutting, Brown tossed out a question to the audience: “What’s the state drink?”

The front row of dairy farmers had the answer: “Milk!”

State Sen. Arnie Roblan praised dairy farmers for their commitment to the cooperative that has endured for more than 100 years. He jokingly suggested that the name of the new 38,500-square-foot center should be called “Are we there yet?” for the backseat questions excited children have asked on their way to Tillamook since the original center opened in 1949.

As demand grew, the creamery’s board has expanded, remodeled and rebuilt the visitor center. It is one of the Northwest’s biggest attractions, rivaling Seattle’s Space Needle in the number of visitors it draws, according to association CEO Patrick Criteser.

The new building opens to the public June 20, and is open each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day, then 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through mid-June.

Inside the new building, visitors are greeted by pictures and displays of the Tillamook dairy’s history, which began when local farmers shipped their dairy products on the Morningstar, a two-masted ship built by residents to transport goods to Portland. The ship’s image adorns packages of Tillamook cheese and other products.

A staircase at the entryway leads to a long hallway divided into farm education rooms, a viewing gallery overlooking the cheese production facility and the popular cheese-tasting room.

Downstairs are roomy food halls and a marketplace. Visitors can order from three stations that feature yogurts, pastries, ice cream or cheesy meals and snack selections that can be eaten in the cafeteria or on an outside patio.

In the marketplace, visitors can take home cheese and other Tillamook products along with a wide variety of memorabilia.

Tariffs take toll on dairy prices Tue, 19 Jun 2018 14:41:25 -0400 Lee Mielke The cash dairy markets are weakening as fallout from last week’s announced retaliatory tariffs from Mexico, Canada and China begins to hit. The CME Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $1.5950 per pound, down 4 cents on the week and 2 cents below a year ago. The barrels finished at $1.45, down 11 1/2-cents on the week but 7 cents above a year ago.

The blocks were unchanged Monday, as traders sorted out the latest retaliatory tariffs, this time from China, which includes most dairy products from the U.S. Tuesday’s Global Dairy Trade auction added to the angst. Traders took the blocks down 2 3/4-cents, to $1.5675, the lowest CME price since April 5, 2017. The barrels lost a nickel and a half Monday and plunged 7 cents Tuesday, to $1.3250, the lowest price since Feb. 1, 2018, and an unsustainable 24 1/4-cents below the blocks.

Midwestern process cheesemakers report that demand is up one week and down the next, according to Dairy Market News, and the grilling season has done little to quell irregular buying.

Western cheese output remains steady but some plants are planning to slow output in the coming weeks. Inventories are in balance with current needs but a few sellers are starting to feel the impact of the new tariff regulation on sales.

Cash butter closed Friday at $2.3525 per pound, down 3 3/4-cents, and 20 3/4-cents below a year ago.

The butter was down 3 cents Monday and gave up 1 1/4-cents Tuesday, slipping to $2.31, the lowest since April 19, 2018.

DMN says some butter producers who recently relayed tightness in cream in their area are suggesting that supplies have loosened. Butter demand is steady and sales of both salted and unsalted butter are “meeting or above expectations” but “the market tone is a little cloudy.”

Western butter inventories are a little higher than typical for this time of year.

Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Friday at 78 3/4-cents per pound, down 1 3/4-cents on the week and 12 1/4-cents below a year ago.

The spot powder dropped 2 3/4-cents Monday and was down three-quarter-cents Tuesday, to 75 1/4-cents per pound.

Dry whey hit a record high 41 3/4-cents per pound last Monday but saw a Friday close at 41 cents, a quarter-cent lower on the week and ended six consecutive weeks of gain.

It lost a penny Monday and inched a half-cent lower Tuesday, to 35 1/2-cents per pound.

Trade war uncertainty likely contributed to the Global Dairy Trade auction’s additional slippage Tuesday. The weighted average of products offered was down 1.2 percent, following the 1.3 percent loss on June 5.

Cheddar cheese again led the declines, down 3.6 percent, duplicating the drop on June 5. Anhydrous milkfat was down 2.5 percent, after falling 1.7 percent. Skim milk powder was down 1.1 percent, following an uptick of 0.3 percent last time, and whole milk powder was down 1 percent, after slipping 1.1 percent.

Lactose was up 8.2 percent, following a 3.9 percent gain last time, and butter inched 0.8 percent higher, following a 3.5 percent descent last time.

HighGround Dairy equates the GDT butter price to $2.55 per pound U.S. CME butter closed Tuesday at $2.31. GDT Cheddar cheese equated to $1.74 per pound U.S. and compares to Tuesday’s CME block Cheddar at $1.5675. GDT skim milk powder averaged 91 cents per pound and whole milk powder averaged $1.45. CME Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Tuesday at 75 1/4-cents per pound.

The slowing in U.S. milk output was again evident in May but still ahead of the previous year for the 53rd month. Preliminary USDA data shows output at 17.9 billion pounds in the top 23 states, up 0.9 percent from May 2017. The 50-state total, at 19.1 billion pounds, was up 0.8 percent. Revisions lowered the April estimate 18 million pounds to 17.3 billion, up just 0.5 percent from 2017.

May cow numbers totaled 8.74 million head in the 23 states, up 2,000 from April and 10,000 more than a year ago. The 50-state total, at 9.4 million head, was virtually unchanged from March and a year ago. Output per cow averaged 2,052 pounds in the 23 states, up 15 pounds from a year ago.

California milk output was up 0.5 percent despite a drop of 18,000 cows from a year ago but output per cow was up 30 pounds. Wisconsin was up 1.1 percent on a 30-pound gain per cow but 5,000 fewer cows were milked.

Looking at the other top producers; New York was down 1.2 percent, thanks to a 25-pound drop per cow. Cow numbers were unchanged. Idaho was up just 0.6 percent on 5,000 more cows but got 5 pounds less per cow. Pennsylvania was down 2.1 percent on a 30-pound loss per cow and 2,000 fewer cows. Minnesota was unchanged despite a 20-pound gain per cow. Cow numbers were down 5,000 head.

Michigan was off 0.3 percent on 4,000 fewer cows but output per cow was up 15 pounds. New Mexico was unchanged even though output per cow was up 80 pounds and 3,000 more cows were milked. Texas bulk tanks were bulging again, up 6.6 percent, thanks to 12,000 more cows and 85 pounds more per cow. Vermont was down 2.1 percent on a 10-pound loss per cow and 2,000 fewer cows. Washington state was up 2.3 percent on a 25-pound gain per cow and 3,000 additional cows milked.

Fluid milk consumption inched up 0.4 percent in April, according to the USDA’s latest data, and paused 10 months of decline. Fluid sales totaled 3.86 billion pounds, up 0.4 percent from April 2017.

Conventional product sales totaled 3.6 billion pounds, up 0.2 percent from a year ago. Organic products, at 211 million pounds, were up 4.9 percent and represented about 5.5 percent of total sales for the month.

Whole milk sales totaled 1.19 billion pounds, up 2.7 percent from a year ago, up 3.0 percent year to date, and made up 30.8 percent of total fluid sales in the month. Skim milk sales, at 311 million pounds, were down 7.6 percent from April 2017 and down 9.5 percent year to date.

Total packaged fluid milk sales in four-month period climbed to 15.9 million pounds, down 1.3 percent from the same period a year ago.

Conventional products year-to-date totaled 15.0 billion pounds, down 1.4 percent. Organic products, at 871 million pounds, were down 0.1 percent. Organic represented about 5.5 percent of total fluid milk sales January through April.