Capital Press | Capital Press Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:24:09 -0400 en Capital Press | Sonoma County sheep rancher develops wool niche Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:28:17 -0400 JULIA HOLLISTER VALLEY FORD, Calif. — Joe Pozzi knows sheep. Over the past 20 years he’s been processing, producing and selling his locally sourced wool to produce natural products for the home.

“I grew up in ranching and in the late ’80s I started to develop products to bring added value,” he said. “At that time the farm gate value was very low so being a small producer I realized that if I was to continue in business I needed to go directly to the consumer.”

He began talking with his lamb customers that also had a strong interest in the wool.

Pozzi Ranch is in the coastal region of Northern California, where the average rainfall is over 40 inches per year. The sheep he raises are traditional coarse-grade wool British breeds, including Dorset, North Country Cheviot, Romney, Suffolk, Hampshire and Border Lester. They thrive in the climate.

“Their coarse wool easily sheds the heavy rains of this region and keeps the sheep warm in the winter,” he said. “Wool from my sheep is not used for high-end clothing but for bedding or blankets. So, I started to develop markets.”

His wool is used by manufacturers of natural bedding products such as pillows, comforters, blankets and mattresses.

At Sonoma Wool Co., Pozzi wool, which is from Pozzi Ranch and other ranches in Northern California and Oregon, goes into a variety of products, such as dryer balls, dish drying mats and even dog toys.

Pozzi’s partner, Amy Chestnut, looked into ways to develop additional products. The dryer balls have been a success as a replacement for dryer sheets. They remove static electricity from clothes and reduce drying time. The products are sold online and in retail stores in Northern California.

“Wool is such an incredible fiber. ... We wanted to re-introduce people to the wonders of wool, and make it available to them in everyday, practical products,” he said.

“We love working on the land, educating those who are not involved in ranching and providing food and fiber for the public.”

Pozzi said the biggest challenge facing the sheep industry is the reduction in infrastructure. The number of slaughter houses is shrinking and the mill that washes the sheared wool is in Texas.

However, there are several carding mills — a process that untangles, cleans and inter-mixes the wool fibers — in California.

“Our standards define how the animals are cared for, how the natural resources on the land are protected, and how the wool is harvested from the sheep,” Pozzi said. “Keeping our operation local reduces our collective carbon footprint and helps our local economy to thrive.”

Tim Tesconi, executive director of Sonoma County Farm Bureau, recognized Pozzi’s contributions to agriculture.

“A man of the land, Joe Pozzi epitomizes the new breed of American rancher, a college-educated entrepreneur who balances economic viability with environmental stewardship,” he said. “Joe is a trail blazer in livestock marketing. His progressive attitude and innovative spirit in livestock production and marketing are helping to preserve a way of life on the coastal rangelands of Sonoma and Marin counties.”

Joe Pozzi

Occupation: Sheep and cattle rancher

Home Residence: Valley Ford, Calif.

Family: Daughter, Alexandra

Personal Quote:  “Those who make their living on the land show, time after time, that with proper land management practices, we protect and enhance the natural resources while producing food and fiber.  We need to continue to develop relationships with those who are unfamiliar with our practices and demonstrate the importance of what we provide to the community, country and world.”

Shellfish producers say Willapa Bay spraying effective Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:12:25 -0400 Don Jenkins LONG BEACH, Wash. — Shellfish farmers who sprayed clam beds last spring say the herbicide they used was effective and that they’re prepared to defend the practice against environmental opposition.

“You can’t describe the feeling you have when you walk out and see that the weed that’s been destroying your farm is gone,” Willapa Bay shellfish farmer Brian Sheldon said. “ ‘Uplifting’ would be one word. It’s worked tremendously. Beyond my expectations.”

The farmers received a permit from the Washington Department of Ecology to spray imazamox, marketed as Clearcast, to kill Japanese eelgrass, a non-native species classified by the state as a noxious weed.

An environmental group, the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, says Japanese eelgrass benefits fish and migratory wildfowl and that farmers shouldn’t be allowed to spray chemicals in the bay. The group hopes to convince the state Pollution Control Hearings Board to yank the permit at a hearing in March.

“We hope to provide good science and enlightenment to the Pollution Control Hearings Board,” said Lacey resident Robert Kavanaugh, one of the plaintiffs challenging the permit. “We don’t dispute the Willapa Bay shellfish industry is an important asset. We just think they can operate without putting chemicals on Japanese eelgrass.”

Washington State University research scientist Kim Patten, stationed at Long Beach, said Japanese eelgrass, also known as Zastera japonica, has been on the Long Beach Peninsula for decades. Over the last decade, it crept toward the bay and onto clam beds, he said.

“Once it reached critical mass, then it sort of went ‘boom,’ “ he said.

Patten worked with farmers to build a case for spraying. The Japanese eelgrass turns sandy tidelands into meadows, stunting the growth of clams by blocking food washed in by the tide. Also, the grass shields clam predators and slows down ocean currents, allowing smothering sediment to build.

Sheldon estimated Japanese eelgrass has cut production of Manila clams by half. Patten said the industry was heading toward becoming unprofitable.

Sheldon and Patten said it’s too early to say exactly how much gain farmers will see in production. But both expected large increases.

Patten said the herbicide produced results that were “next to extraordinary.”

“Growers were very please with the results,” he said. “It’s night and day in terms of production for them.”

Initially, the growers sought a statewide permit, which would have allowed spraying in Grays Harbor and Puget Sound. The proposal drew opposition, and the ecology department limited permission to Willapa Bay, where Japanese eelgrass was most prevalent.

The herbicide was applied between April 15 to June 30 on about 400 acres at low tide. Aerial spaying was prohibited, and no applications were allowed within 10 meters of property lines.

The work was hard, said Sheldon, who said he treated 136 acres in eight or days. Sheldon said spaying from a helicopter would have been easier, but that’s a battle the shellfish growers aren’t taking on now, he said.

The ecology department issued a five-year permit. It could be withdrawn after three years if farms can’t prove the spaying hasn’t harmed native eelgrass on neighboring properties, ecology department aquatics plant specialist Nathan Lubliner said.

The growers also will have to report this year how many acres were treated and the amount of herbicide used. Lubliner said imazamox is “considered practically non-toxic to animals” and that the department won’t do field research into how the spraying effects Willapa Bay.

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat made a last-ditch motion to stop last spring’s spaying. The pollution control board declined to intervene.

A representative of the coalition, Laura Hendricks, said the group plans to lay out its case at a full hearing in March.

She said the group was organized to prevent the application of chemicals in Puget Sound and expanded its attention to Willapa Bay.

“People view these as public treasures,” Hendricks said. “We’re totally opposed to spraying.”

Sheldon said shellfish growers need to continue spraying or the industry will “tank.”

“We’re going to take it to the mat,” he said. “This is a huge thing for our industry.”

Patten said he will study the effects of applying imazamox, including whether birds and fish avoid clam beds sprayed with the herbicide.

Patten himself farms about 1 acre of clams and sprayed a half acre. “I was free of japonica,” he reported.

Wolves kill Oregon sheep, injure protection dogs Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:29:44 -0400 Eric Mortenson Wolves killed eight sheep and injured two flock protection dogs in consecutive night attacks in Northeast Oregon.

A news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said it was first time protection dogs have been injured by wolves. A third dog was missing.

The Sept. 15 and 16 attacks were blamed on the Mt. Emily pack, one of eight documented packs in Oregon. They were the first attributed to the Mt. Emily pack, which at the end of 2013 was known to have at least four members.

The attacks happened on public land in a grazing allotment. ODFW is working with the sheep producer to increase deterrent measures and will coordinate with other livestock owners and landowners in the area, according to the news release.

ODFW did not identify the producer or provide additional details.

FDA releases revised produce rule Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:42:19 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released revisions to its proposed produce safety rule that it says are less burdensome and more flexible for farmers than the original.

The revisions were announced on the Federal Register website:

During a conference call with reporters, FDA officials said the revisions include substantial changes to the agency’s proposed water quality standards for produce.

The produce rule is one of seven the FDA has proposed to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by Congress in December 2010. The FDA agreed to revise a previous draft regulation after producers complained it was not economically viable.

The produce rule proposed Friday would apply to more than 200 commodities that could be consumed raw and the water quality standards would apply to any produce likely to come into contact with agricultural water.

Under the previous proposal, produce farmers would have been required to test their irrigation water regularly and stop using it if exceeded minimum microbial levels.

Many farmers, particularly onion growers in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and Oregon, said that virtually none of the surface irrigation water they use could meet the previous standard.

Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, said the revised rule contains water quality standards that are more flexible and take into consideration the different sources and quality of irrigation water.

“It’s a lot more flexible,” he said.

The revised produce rule includes a provision that would allow farmers whose water initially doesn’t meet the microbial standards to meet them through different means.

That includes establishing an interval from the last day of irrigation until harvest that would allow for potentially dangerous microbes to die off. This provision could also apply to the time between harvest and when produce leaves storage.

The die-off rate is codified in the revised rule.

“We are allowing for a rate of die-off per day,” Taylor said.

In a fact sheet sent to reporters, FDA states that “any of these options would have to provide the same level of public health protection and not increase the likelihood that the covered produce will be adulterated.”

The agency will defer action on a provision of the produce rule that would have established a minimum nine-month time interval between the time an untreated biological soil amendment of animal origin, including raw manure, is applied and the crop is harvested.

Taylor said that provision is not feasible for organic and many other farmers around the nation who depend on raw manure and the FDA will delay taking action on that issue until it can conduct a research-based effort in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The FDA is accepting comments on the revisions for 75 days.

Wash. farmer, daughter on ‘Survivor’ Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:39:33 -0400 Dan Wheat EPHRATA, Wash. — An Ephrata farmer and his daughter have become the first father-daughter duo to compete on CBS’s “Survivor” in the 14 years of the reality television show.

“I like the show and my wife’s been telling me for years, ‘You outta try it, You outta try it, You outta try it,’” Dale Wentworth, 55, said on a CBS promotional video.

“Actually, my daughter and I kind of backed into it,” he told Capital Press. The third-generation farmer mainly raised hay until 2008 when he switched to field corn and now is retired and leases his land to another farmer.

His daughter, Kelley, 28, grew up on the farm and now is marketing manager in Seattle for a company selling energy drinks and dietary supplements for athletes.

Father and daughter applied for CBS’s “Amazing Race” reality show in 2009. They came close but didn’t make it.

On March 7 of this year, they got a call from a CBS casting agent asking them to be on “Survivor Blood v. Water.” It was Wentworth’s 55 birthday.

“It was a heck of a birthday present to say the least. We didn’t know Blood v. Water (a season involving contestants related to each other) would come up again. It literally fell into our laps,” he said.

It didn’t take them long to say yes. Two weeks later they were interviewing for the show in California.

The show was filmed in San Juan de Sur in Nicaragua from June 2 to July 10. It debuts at 8 p.m. Sept. 24 and runs several weeks until its final episode before Christmas.

Wentworth is the ninth farmer to appear on the show in 29 seasons over 14 years, a CBS spokeswoman said.

Being a farmer on the show is a Catch 22, Wentworth said.

“My dad taught us to forgo the luxury of servicemen,” he said. “We had to fix it ourselves. Every hour a piece of equipment sits you lose money so you get good at fixing stuff.”

That, having grown his own food and a strong work ethic were his attributes for the show, he said, while his biggest handicap was not being accustomed to relying on others.

“Survivor is a social game. How well you work with other people. They throw you curves,” Wentworth said. “My social circles for many years was a bunch of cows and my mom and dad. My biggest butterflies were how to react with people and relying on alliances.”

Wentworth was careful as he spoke not to reveal how he or others did since that’s all in the episodes for viewer to find out. He said his daughter can help him on the social side since in her job she’s use to making cold calls, meeting people and setting up promotions.

Each week two loved ones square off against each other in competition that sends the loser to Exile Island while the winner receives a reward for his or her tribe. The winner chooses a tribemate to accompany their loved one to Exile Island. Ultimately, the final survivor wins $1 million.

“No matter how it ends up, I couldn’t think of a better adventure to do with my daughter,” Wentworth said. “It’s something we will be able to talk about the rest of our lives.”

Harvest of big walnut crop under way in California Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:28:57 -0400 Tim Hearden LOS MOLINOS, Calif. — Growers of early walnut varieties are in the orchards with shakers and sweepers to collect what’s expected to be a record crop.

At Crain Ranch here, production of Ashley walnuts — the first of many varieties that will come off the trees — appears to be up about 20 percent from last year, owner Charles Crain said.

“I was surprised that they were up that much,” he said.

Nearby, Bianchi Orchards has been weeding, mowing and removing brush from orchard floors in preparation for harvest of its middle and later varieties, which is expected to get under way within the next couple of weeks, co-owner Becky Klinesteker said.

“I think the crop looks really strong,” said her mother, co-owner Anne Bianchi. “Last year we had a great crop. I would say it’s a little better this year, which is incredible.”

Walnut producers anticipate a 545,000-ton crop — an 11 percent increase from last year’s production of 492,000 tons, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sacramento.

Despite the drought and a lack of chilling hours, growers have had enough surface and groundwater to produce the crop, which also benefited from mild conditions during the growing season, according to NASS.

In their survey of more than 1,400 walnut trees in August, NASS officials found an average nut set of 1,372 per tree, up 11 percent from 2013’s record low average of 1,239, according to the agency’s objective measurement report issued earlier this month. Sizing measurements came in above average, the agency reported.

The drought that’s affected yields of many other crops in California wasn’t expected to have an immediate impact on walnut production, even though some growers have taken out trees because of a lack of water. NASS reported in May that about 4,300 acres of tree removals had taken place in the last two years.

Drought could begin to affect walnut crops next year if water is still lacking when trees set the buds for next year’s crop immediately after this fall’s harvest, California Walnut Commission chief executive officer Dennis Balint has explained.

“With a big crop like this, it’s pretty well certain that we’ll have a smaller crop the following year,” Balint said. However, he added that growing acreage and new varieties have lessened the severity of natural dips in production for the alternate-bearing commodity.

Balint said recently he’s heard a variety of feedback from growers, but for the most part the quality of the crop has been good. Crain said he expects some later varieties to perform better than others, as some varieties are more susceptible to sunburn.

“With the recent warm weather, the middle-season variety of Howards — which is our next major variety — appear to be just about average, so we’ve lost a little bit due to the hot weather,” Crain said.

Oregon site selected for biofuel plant Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:22:18 -0400 Eric Mortenson A biomass plant to be built in Lakeview, Ore., will produce fuel for the U.S. Navy and Marines under contracts announced Friday by the federal government.

Red Rock Biofuels, a subsidiary of IR1 Group of Fort Collins, Colo., will use forest biomass — debris from logging or thinning operations — to produce fuel. It is one of three firms selected for the project, which is intended to produce a combined total of 100 million gallons annually at an average cost of less than $3.50 a gallon and producing 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel. Firms in Nevada and Louisiana also were selected for the project. Details of the contracts were not immediately available.

The plants will produce what is called “drop-in” biofuels, meaning they are chemically similar to existing petroleum-based fuel and can be used in ships and planes without extensive retrofitting.

In February, the Bend Bulletin newspaper reported that Red Rock Biofuels had received a $4.1 million Defense Department grant for a plant engineering and design study. The Lakeview facility reportedly would be capable of producing 1,100 gallons a day and would use 170,000 tons per year of forest biomass.

Red Rock officials did not respond to requests for more information about the project. Dan Shoun, chair of the Lake County Board of Commissioners, said the county is “cautiously excited” about the prospects for jobs and for improving forest health.

The county has been disappointed before, however. Iberdrola Renewables, based in Portland, began construction of a biomass cogeneration plant in 2010 but was unable to finish the project.

Hunting traditions pass from one generation to another Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:13:04 -0400 Ryan M. Taylor TOWNER, N.D. — Just a week or so ago, the sharptailed grouse hunting season opened in North Dakota. I didn’t get out for the opener to look for grouse on the ranch because I was in Fargo, N.D., looking for Bison at my old home, the campus of North Dakota State University.

I was there to see ESPN Sports broadcast their “Game Day” show, and there was a big herd of Bison (fans) roaming Broadway in downtown Fargo. Game Day was fun, but there was still a part of me that yearned to be pursuing the upland game of grouse back home in our pasture.

Growing up 16 miles from town, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time on the football field. If I was getting down a field in the fall, it was usually a hay field.

If we weren’t haying, I’d get off the school bus, grab my shotgun, and hit the hunting field with my English Setter companion, Maid, short for her American Kennel Club registered name, Taylor Maid.

I didn’t grow up thinking I’d ever have a registered Setter to hunt behind. But, I loved to hunt. I took our state’s hunter’s safety course as soon as I was old enough, I read hunting magazines, I cleaned and cared for a single-shot 20 gauge shotgun that my uncle borrowed to me, and I walked through sporting goods stores, wide-eyed and wanting, like other kids would walk through toy stores.

It was about that time of my youth when our banker brought a couple of his friends from the Twin Cities out to our ranch to hunt grouse. Dad told them they were sure welcome to hunt. But he didn’t send them out without saying, “You should take Ryan with you. He likes to hunt and he can show you where the birds are at.”

Off I went. The two fellas, Sam and Bud, were pretty well educated, one was a biochemistry professor at the University of Minnesota, the other worked for a big company as a research scientist. But they shared a love of the outdoors with a 12-year-old ranch kid who wasn’t exactly sure what biochemistry even was. They introduced me to the joy of hunting behind dogs, and Sam and Bud both had English Setters that they brought with them to help us cover the ground. I found them some birds and we had a grand time together — old men, a young kid and some happy dogs.

They took a liking to me, and I became pen pals with the biochemistry professor. He talked about having his female Setter bred to Bud’s dog, and how he’d like me to have one of the puppies from the litter. I couldn’t have imagined happier news coming from his neat, typewritten stationery.

So Sam made another trip out to the ranch to deliver a female English Setter puppy. We’d never spent any money to get a dog, but I knew this one was probably worth quite a bit if we had to buy her. Later on, Sam and Bud also sent me an official bird hunting dog whistle, with a little counter on it to tally the number of birds pointed, and a copy of the book “Gun Dog,” so I’d know how to train and hone her instinctive love for finding birds.

Maid and I put a lot of miles on together, hunting sharptails on our ranch, and I suppose that gifted dog and borrowed shotgun shaped me in some positive ways. I guess that’s why I bought a single-shot 20 gauge just like the one my uncle borrowed to me, and I had my sons shoot it this summer.

Their shoulders weren’t quite ready for it, but it won’t be long, and I’ll get them out in the pasture in the pursuit of grouse, and my daughter too when she gets a little older. Except now I’ll be in the role of the “old man” and they’ll be the eager kids. I should try to find another happy bird dog to complete the picture.

Researcher finds gatekeeper wheat gene Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:16:15 -0400 Matw Weaver A Washington State University wheat researcher says he’s found a gene that serves as a gatekeeper for the genetic make-up of wheat.

The discovery will allow breeders to include disease and pest resistant traits from other grass species in new varieties of wheat, said Kulvinder Gill, who published his findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to WSU, the gene controls the orderly pairings of wheat chromosomes during reproduction. But it also prevents wheat from breeding with wild grass relatives that have a vast array of traits preferred by breeders. 

Wheat grown for bread is of “fairly recent origin,” in the last 10,000 years, Gill said. Because modern wheat doesn’t have a lot of genetic variation built into it, researchers must go to more than 300 species of wild grass relatives to find valuable traits such as disease resistance.

Temporarily silencing the newly discovered gene will allow researchers to transfer the desired traits into wheat varieties through natural crossing, according to Gill.

Gill used transgenic in vitro nucleic acid techniques to understand the gene function, which is considered a GMO procedure under international standards. However, he will use the discovery in a non-GMO way to transfer grass genes into wheat. Gill said such crossing is routinely done in breeding and not considered GMO.

According to the university, Gill’s first effort involves transferring a gene from jointed goatgrass into wheat to provide resistance to stripe rust. The fungus is considered the most economically damaging wheat pathogen in the world. It cost U.S. farmers some $500 million in lost productivity in 2012.

The discovery reduces the amount of time needed to develop new wheat varieties to about five years, Gill said.

Gill will also focus on root disease resistance important for Pacific Northwest wheat varieties.

British researchers had previously believed the gatekeeper gene to be another one, but Gill spent a year double-checking to verify his discovery.

Portland daily grain report Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:37:53 -0400 Portland, Ore., Friday, Sept. 19

USDA Market News

Bids for grains delivered to Portland, Oregon during September by unit trains and barges, in dollars per bushel, except oats, corn and barley, in dollars per cwt. Bids for soft white wheat are for delivery periods as specified. Hard red winter wheat and dark northern spring wheat bids are for full September delivery. Bids for corn are for 30 day delivery.

In early trading December wheat futures trended 10.75 to 13.75 cents per bushel lower than Thursday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat for September delivery in unit trains or barges were not fully established in early trading but bids were indicated as steady to lower compared to Thursday’s noon bids for the same delivery period. The lower Chicago December wheat futures pressured cash bids.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for September delivery were not fully established in early trading, but were indicated as lower compared to Thursday’s noon bids for the same delivery period.

The lower Kansas City December futures pressured cash bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein non-guaranteed US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for September delivery were not fully established in early trading but were indicated as lower, compared to Thursday’s noon bids. The lower Minneapolis December wheat futures pressured cash bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered to Portland and the Yakima Valley were not available.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Sep mostly 6.6250, ranging 6.4650-6.9000

Oct 6.4650-6.9300

Nov 6.4650-6.9600

Dec 6.4650-6.9900

Jan 6.4350-7.0200

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

Sep mostly 7.7450, ranging 8.6650-9.2150

Not fully established and limited.

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


Ordinary protein 6.5700-6.8700

10 pct protein 6.5700-6.8700

11 pct protein 6.6500-6.9500

11.5 pct protein

Sep 6.6900-6.9900

12 pct protein 6.6900-6.9900

13 pct protein 6.6900-6.9900

Not fully established and limited.

US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat (with a minimum of 300 falling numbers, a maximum of 0.5 part per million vomitoxin, and a maximum of one percent total damage)

13 pct protein 5.8650-7.1650

14 pct protein

Sep 7.4650-8.6150

15 pct protein 8.6650-9.8150

16 pct protein 9.8650-11.0150

Not fully established and limited.

US 2 Yellow Corn in dollars per CWT

Domestic-single rail cars

Delivered full coast-BN NA

Delivered to Portland NA

Rail and Truck del to Willamette Vly NA

Rail del to Yakima Valley NA

Truck del to Yakima Valley NA

US 2 Heavy White Oats in dollars per CWT 14.0000

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Aug 2014

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 6.8800

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 7.1500

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 7.2700

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 7.9400

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Restoration project done on Sprague River Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:34:09 -0400 BLY, Ore. (AP) — A major restoration project on a river in the upper Klamath Basin has been completed

The Herald and News reports Friday that the work on a stretch of the Sprague River running through the Black Drake Ranch in Bly will provide deep pools of cool water for fish, and restore the river and nearby forest to a more natural condition.

The project was collaboration between ranch owner Greg Bulkley and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bulkley says the Klamath Country Fly Casters and others supported the work.

The Sprague is a spawning area for endangered sucker fish and a major tributary of Upper Klamath Lake.

Montana wolf stamp decision postponed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:21:05 -0400 The BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials have delayed a decision on a wolf management stamp after the proposal ran into resistance from hunters.

The $20 stamps would be considered donations by non-hunters to help fund management of the animals.

Montana Fish, Wildilfe and Parks announced Thursday that the stamps won’t be offered this year.

Hunters said during public hearings on the proposal that they worried the stamps would allow non-hunters to demand that wildlife officials manage game differently. Others said they supported the stamps.

A final determination had been due by the end of the month.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener plans to convene a group of interested parties this fall for a day-long discussion on the issue.

Japanese Burger Kings serve all-black burgers Fri, 19 Sep 2014 09:06:50 -0400 HARUKA NUGA TOKYO (AP) — The first Kuro, or black, burger had a black bun and sauce. Last year’s edition, the Kuro Ninja, added a slice of (non-black) bacon to the signature black components. Now Burger King Japan is going black on black.

The fast-food chain added black cheese and darkened the other ingredients in the special burger duo added to menus Friday. Marketing Manager Kana Ienega said Burger King Japan wants people to try the burger and find it tasty even though it may look unappetizing at first.



The Kuro Pearl is simple with a black pepper beef patty covered with Chaliapin (onion and soy) sauce infused with squid ink. Its black cheese and buns are colored with bamboo charcoal. The Kuro Diamond is the same burger, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and mayonnaise.



Peppery. If you can get past the shocking color, it’s not bad. The black pepper in the patty hits you at the first bite and complements the tangy sauce, with its hint of squid ink. The Kuro Diamond is juicier, with extra sauce and mayonnaise. But if you’re expecting a totally different taste just because of the color, it might fall below expectations.



Eating one in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku district, Kuah Kia Wei, a 14-year-old student from Malaysia, says, “I like it because it has a very interesting taste to it and it’s nothing that I’ve tasted before.”

Bernice Chua, a 25-year-old fashion designer and illustrator from Singapore, says, “the best part is actually the sauce, it’s not really about the buns because you don’t really taste the bamboo charcoal inside, but I think the sauce really makes up for it.”

Julien Tirode, a 37-year-old event planner from France, says, “I’m a little disappointed because to me, it has no special taste or anything. Yes, the burger is black, the cheese is black, there’s little black stuff in the meat, but (other than that) that, there’s nothing special to me.”



The burgers are available in Japan until November. The Kuro Pearl retails for 480 yen ($4.39) and the Kuro Diamond for 690 yen ($6.31). It’s not clear why black burgers are a hit in Japan, but quirky food and drink products such as square watermelons, green tea candy bars and ice cucumber Pepsi are commonly sold.

Didier files complaint in U.S. House race Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:39:36 -0400 YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Republican U.S. House candidate Clint Didier has filed a complaint in federal court seeking to stop a volunteer for his opponent from “using state resources” in the campaign.

A spokesman for Dan Newhouse, who Didier faces in the Republican-versus-Republican election in November, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and politically motivated.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Friday that the volunteer, Washington State Potato Commission chairman Chris Voigt, faces allegations from the state Executive Ethics Board that he used his potato commission email and car to arrange for the delivery of Newhouse campaign signs.

Newhouse, a mainstream Republican, and Didier, from the tea party wing of the GOP, are seeking to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings in the U.S. House seat representing central Washington.

Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:29:35 -0400 FENIT NIRAPPILand SUDHIN THANAWALA PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Thousands of firefighters kept a huge and still-growing wildfire from burning homes in Northern California while a man with a long criminal history faced charges of deliberately starting the blaze that drove some 2,800 people from their homes, authorities said.

The wind-whipped wildfire burned through 114 square miles of timber and vegetation east of Sacramento and was just 10 percent contained but had yet to damage or destroy any homes or buildings, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

But those near the fire say it is powerful and dangerous.

“There are a lot of firefighters saying that this fire is producing fire conditions unlike anything that they have ever seen,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Joe Tyler said at a community meeting Thursday night. “It’s creating its own weather overhead. Just the tinder-dry fuel conditions are igniting fuels every time — brush or timber — every time an ember drops on the ground.”

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was being held Thursday night on $10 million bail in El Dorado County Jail and was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

Huntsman faces a forest-land arson charge, along with a special allegation of arson with aggravating factors because the blaze east of Sacramento put a dozen firefighters in serious danger, forcing them to deploy their fire shields. They all escaped unharmed.

District Attorney Vern Pierson declined to say what led investigators to Huntsman. Investigators were in contact with Hunstman before his arrest Wednesday night in Placerville.

“It’s something that’s evolving at this point,” Pierson said of the investigation. He did not know whether Huntsman had an attorney.

Huntsman’s sister, Tami Criswell, said she doubts her brother started the fire, but if he did, it wasn’t on purpose. Criswell said she and her brother were raised in Santa Cruz and often camped. She said her brother, who has worked in construction and private security, loves being in the forest and always was cautious with campfires.

“He’s a really good guy,” Criswell said. “He would never do anything intentionally to hurt anybody.”

Yet, Santa Cruz authorities have a $5,000 warrant out for Huntsman stemming from a Feb. 27, 2013, arrest for resisting or obstructing a public officer. Officials said he has failed to show up for several court dates.

His arrest record in Santa Cruz dates back to 1996, according to court records. That year he was convicted of tampering with a vehicle, auto theft, driving under the influence, grand theft and assault with a deadly weapon, which resulted in a three-year sentence. He was sent to San Quentin State Prison.

In 2003, he was convicted in Plumas County of receiving stolen property, the new complaint says.

The blaze, which started Saturday, has been fueled by heavy timber and grass that is extremely dry because of California’s third straight year of drought. It is costing $5 million a day to fight, Cal Fire officials said.

Many of the 12,000 threatened homes were in Pollock Pines, 60 miles east of Sacramento.

Residents at an evacuation center said they were worried despite no home damages reported yet.

“We’ve been doing a lot of praying,” said Sally Dykstra, who lives in a home in the middle of the fire area with her husband, Garry, 74, and her daughter, Stacie, 46.

Meanwhile, farther north in the town of Weed, 143 homes and nine other buildings, including churches, were destroyed according to final damage assessments released by the city Thursday.

Residents were expected to be allowed to return to the burned areas once utility crews finished restoring power, water and telephone service.

Salmon numbers jump at central Idaho mountain lake Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:25:46 -0400 KEITH RIDLER BOISE, Idaho (AP) — More endangered sockeye salmon have made the 900-mile journey from the Pacific Ocean to central Idaho’s high-elevation Redfish Lake this fall than in any previous year going back nearly six decades.

Some 1,400 fish have returned so far from a population that in the 1990s bumped along with one and sometimes no fish returning, ultimately becoming the focus of an intense state and federal effort to prevent the unique population from extinction.

Now, fishery managers even envision a potential sport and tribal fishery being discussed within a decade due to extra fish.

“For about 20 years it has operated as a brood-stock program, a safety net program to prevent the extinction of this fish,” said Jeff Heindel of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “I don’t think anybody ever dreamed of where we’re at now.”

A dam on the Salmon River built in the early 1900s blocked salmon for several decades from reaching Redfish Lake, itself named after the red-colored sockeye that once arrived there in abundance. Additional dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers added to the fish’s challenges in succeeding years.

The last time sockeye numbers exceeded the current run was 1955 when 4,361 fish returned to Redfish Lake, Fish and Game records say.

Through recent discoveries made possible by genetic testing, Heindel said, biologists have come to believe that one of the reasons the population didn’t blink out in the following decades is due to non-migratory sockeye that never left Redfish Lake. There they survived through brutal winters with limited food resources and grew into adults — smaller than their ocean-going relatives — and produced offspring.

Some adventurous percentage of those offspring, however, made the risky journey to the food-rich ocean. The result, biologists say, is that the current fish are genetic descendants of the sockeye that first reached the 6,800-foot elevation lake in the Stanley Basin after the last ice age. The population represents the longest distance traveled to the highest elevation of any sockeye salmon run.

The run was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1991. That kicked off a hatchery program that at first had only a handful of returning fish to propagate the species. The program received a big boost last fall with the opening of the Springfield Fish Hatchery in eastern Idaho.

The 200,000 juvenile salmon, called smolts, produced at the hatchery will double the number of sockeye released into the system this spring. By this time next year the hatchery aims to be at full production with about a million eggs, Heindel said.

Wild fish are also increasing. Ultimately, Heindel said, the recovery plan is to have 1,000 or more fish spawning in Redfish Lake for multiple generations, and at least 500 spawning in one of four other lakes in the basin. About 2,000 adult sockeye, a combination of wild and hatchery fish, are in Redfish Lake this year. They typically start spawning in early October.

The ramifications of a recovering Stanley Basin sockeye run extend far downstream, Heindel noted. Currently, some sport fishing seasons for non-listed sockeye from other river systems close as a result of mathematical models that predict how many protected Stanley Basin sockeye are being inadvertently killed.

A healthy Stanley Basin run would mean those fishing seasons could remain open longer.

It could also mean a tribal fishery for subsistence and ceremonial purposes for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, a key player in helping bring the run back from the brink.

“It would be a great thing to be able to harvest these fish and make it meaningful to our people,” said Chad Colter, the tribe’s director of Fish and Wildlife. “We’d like to be able to get folks up there so they can catch fish.”

Crash leaves truck dangling over bridge rail Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:25:39 -0400 SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A driver has been cited after a truck hauling lumber products crashed at an Umpqua River bridge in southern Oregon Thursday, leaving the truck’s trailer hanging over the bridge railing.

An estimated 100 gallons of diesel leaked into the river. A hazmat team responded, Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said.

The spokesman said 54-year-old Brian J. Neeley of Sheridan was cited for careless driving and failing to drive within a lane. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

State police say the truck pulling a flatbed trailer was negotiating a left curve Thursday morning when it hit the guardrail and went onto the bridge railing. The lumber products spilled off the trailer as it went over the railing.

Oregon Transportation Department spokesman Jared Castle said a tow truck operator disconnected the truck cab from the trailer, allowing the trailer to fall to the ground near the river bank. The truck cab and trailer were then hauled away.

After temporary repairs to the damaged guardrail and a check by bridge engineers, the two-lane Scottsburg Bridge was fully reopened by Thursday night.

DOL says it can’t return all the ‘hot goods’ money Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:53:03 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski The U.S. Department of Labor claims it can’t return all the money that was coerced from Oregon farmers in a dispute over alleged “hot goods” labor violations.

In 2012, the agency accused several Oregon growers of violating minimum wage laws and threatened to block shipment of their blueberries as unlawfully produced “hot goods.”

To prevent their fruit from spoiling, the farms agreed to financial settlements with the DOL. Earlier this year, a federal judge invalidated those deals as unlawful because they were signed under economic duress.

Tim Bernasek, attorney for two farms that challenged the settlements, has since repeatedly asked DOL officials to return the $220,000 in alleged back wages and civil penalties.

The DOL recently responded that it’s prepared to immediately return $146,500, but not the remainder of the money because it has already been disbursed to blueberry pickers.

The agency distributed that cash “in good faith to workers pursuant to the terms of the consent judgments” and it has determined that “no monies currently appropriated to the Department are available for repayment” of the disbursed funds.

The two farms — Pan-American Berry Growers and B&G Ditchen — claim that DOL has no right to keep any of their money now that the settlement deals have been vacated.

The growers have asked a federal judge to order DOL to repay the full amounts, alleging that the agency unlawfully “converted” their money by “intentionally and wrongfully exercising dominion and control” over the funds.

The DOL’s claim that it doesn’t have any appropriated money to return the disbursed funds is legally invalid, according to a court document filed by the farms.

“To prevail on the conversion claims, Pan-American need not prove that DOL is able to pay the converted funds; rather, Pan-American need only prove that DOL is unlawfully retaining the funds,” the document said. “Pan-American has done exactly that.”

Apart from the return of the settlement amounts, the farms also want the agency to compensate them for $150,000 in diminished fruit quality. When the DOL threatened to stop shipment of their blueberries as “hot goods,” buyers refused to accept them and the fruit declined in value.

The agency has asked a federal judge to dismiss the farmers’ counterclaims and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 28 in Eugene, Ore.

Researchers find Septoria resistance to some fungicides Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:36:41 -0400 MITCH LIES SALEM — A survey of Willamette Valley wheat fields this past summer found that the fungal disease Septoria has a high rate of resistance to the widely used azoxystrobin fungicides and that tolerance to propiconazole fungicides is on the rise.

The survey, conducted by Oregon State University doctoral student Christina Hagerty, also found no difference in resistance between areas of the valley.

“Right now, resistance to azoxystrobin is pretty evenly spread throughout the valley,” said Hagerty, who works in the laboratory of Chris Mundt, a professor in OSU’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

Hagerty unveiled her survey results as part of the OSU Extension grass seed and cereal production meeting, Sept. 16 in Salem.

Hagerty said she decided to survey fields after finding that Septoria resistance to azoxystrobin fungicides, such as Quadris, had increased at the OSU Hyslop Farms research site from just 9 percent of isolates tested in 2012 to 72 percent this past spring.

“That’s pretty high,” she said of the resistance level, “and that (rate of resistance increase) is pretty rapid. But given what we know about the life cycle of Septoria, and also the mode of action of azoxystrobin, this isn’t too surprising. It is within the realm of reason.”

Septoria can develop resistance to fungicides rapidly, Hagerty said, in part because the fungal disease has a sexual reproduction phase in the winter, which adds to its genetic diversity.

“Those spores create a lot of initial infections in wheat fields,” she said.

Resistance can survive in fields and be passed from generation to generation, she said.

“In extreme situations,” she said, “fungicide resistance can lead to crop loss.”

Continued use of a fungicide after a disease is showing resistance compounds the problem, Hagerty said, as treatments kill spores susceptible to the fungicide, leaving resistant spores to multiply unchecked.

Researchers in Europe, where azoxystrobins have been used for a longer duration than in the U.S., have documented widespread Septoria resistance to strobilurin fungicides, she said.

European researchers also have shown that Septoria has developed a tolerance to triazole products, which are similar to propiconazole products, such as Tilt, Hagerty said.

In Lithuania, for example, Septoria tolerance to cyproconazole, a triazole with cross resistance to propiconazole, doubled between 2009 and 2010, she said.

In the Willamette Valley, 20 percent of isolates Hagerty sampled exhibited tolerance to propiconazole.

“Propiconazole tolerance is not as severe (as azoxystrobin),” Hagerty said, “but it is trending upwards.”

A chemistry new to the U.S., called SDHI, for succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors, is expected to be available in large quantities next season, researchers said, and should help growers regain the upper hand on Septoria, which was prominent in the valley this past summer.

The SDHIs are expected to be released as mixes with azoxystrobin, propiconazole, or both, according to researchers, which should give growers good control of Septoria and rust diseases, which are the other prominent diseases attacking wheat in the valley.

“Strobilurins are still good on rust diseases,” OSU Extension Cereals Specialist Mike Flowers said. The resistance issue, however, “knocks that whole class of chemistry out for Septoria,” he said.

Russian cattle producers tour Idaho Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:51:08 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas BLISS, Idaho — Idaho State Department of Agriculture and Idaho cattle ranchers this week hosted Russian entrepreneurs eager to learn about western cattle production.

The Russian government has made expansion of the country’s cattle herd a priority over the past several years, and ISDA brought the Russian producers to Idaho as one of its targeted trade activities, said Laura Johnson, bureau chief of ISDA’s market development division.

Private-sector cattle production is a fledgling industry in Russia that has evolved since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country’s cattle herd has been shrinking for 25 years.

Prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union, cattle production was centralized on government-owned, collective farms.

The emphasis on building Russia’s cattle herd provides plenty of opportunity for Idaho cattle exports to Russia. In 2013, Idaho sold $15 million worth of live cattle to Russia, and that doesn’t even include beef cattle as those are sent to quarantine feedlots in other states and are exported in consolidated loads from those states, Johnson said.

The potential customers came to look at Idaho cattle, get information and prices and develop relationships that could bring sales of cattle and semen in the future, she said.

But they were also interested in facilities and management practices. Part of the issue Russia faces in expanding its beef herd is a lack of expertise in raising cattle, Johnson said.

“Overall, there’s a real need for additional training and development. There are some more advanced operations … but in general, there is a tremendous need for training and technical education,” she said.

At the Spring Cove Angus ranch, owned by Art and Stacy Butler, in Bliss, the Russian producers barely looked at the cattle but peppered Art Butler with questions regarding feed rations, silage, pasture, corrals, barns, and calving.

Almost all the cattle producers in Russia are first-generation ranchers, said Matt Lott, trade specialist with ISDA.

Cattle production, he said, is a learning experience for most of the Russians. They want to bring in breeding stock to increase the national herd and the quality of their cows, but they also want to learn about efficient management practices and cattle nutrition, he said.

The Russian visitors were more interested in the mechanical aspects, facilities and production details of the Butler operation than they were in the cattle, Butler said.

Most producers have their minds made up on cattle and genetics, but they have a lot to learn in regard to ag management practices. There is a huge disconnect between cattle production and practical ag education in the U.S. and some other countries, such as Russia.

Butler, a third-generation cattle rancher, has been on a trade mission to Russia and has sold registered Angus bulls to Russian buyers.

“They’re just learning in Russia,” he said.

They need cattle, cow horses and cowboys, he said

Another challenge for cattle production is Russia is the market system. It’s not set up for selling a commodity down the line. Producers have to take it from inception to consumption instead of selling their product into a pipeline, he said.

The Russian visitors represented three ag enterprises that are branching out into cattle production. One has been mainly focused on potato production and processing but this year purchased 50 head of U.S. Hereford with plans to expand to 3,000. Another is an ag cooperative that organized a breeding operation with 500 head of Hereford in 2007. The other is a group of companies that started a breeding and beef operation in 2009 and has 2,000 head of Angus and Hereford.

Russian federal and divisional governments have committed nearly $10 billion in support programs to grow the country’s cattle industry. In 2012, Russian imports of live cattle nearly doubled to 137,000 head worth nearly $500 million, with 54 percent imported from the U.S., according to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Last year, the U.S. exported 56,414 head of beef and dairy cattle to Russia at a value of $145.2 million, according to USDA Economic Research Service.

U.S. cattle* exports to Russia


Jan.-July 2014 – 9,637

2013 – 56,414

2012 – 89.044

2011 -- 37,542

2010 – 4,053

2009 -- 8,771

2008 – 7,667

2007 – 0

*beef and dairy cattle

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Intermountain grain & livestock report Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:54:19 -0400 POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — Milling Quality White wheat 6.00 (steady); hard red winter 6.02 (up 2); 14 percent spring 6.72 (down 5); hard white 6.02 (up 2); BURLEY — Milling quality white wheat 5.75 (down 5); hard red winter 5.35 (down 15); 14 percent spring 6.25 (down 33); barley 5.20 (steady); hard white 5.65 (down 10); OGDEN — Mill quality White wheat 6.11 (down 6); 11.5 percent winter 5.79 (down 13); 14 percent spring 6.95 (down 13); barley 5.00 (down 35); corn 7.48 (down 2); PORTLAND—— Soft white 6.71 (up 2); hard red winter 6.75-7.05 (down 13-2); 14 percent spring 8.28 (down 13); white club 9.02 (down 3); oats 280.00 (steady); NAMPA— Soft white 9.78 (down 5) cwt or 5.87 (down 3) bushel.

LIVESTOCK AUCTION —— Producers Livestock Auction in Jerome on September 9. Utility commercial cows 100-130; cutter & boner 85-99; shelly and lite 65-80; slaughter bulls 132-146; started calves 220-700/hd; holstein: steers heavy 152-179t, light 172-217; heifers heavy 139-159, light 130-175; steers: stocker 280-323.50, light 188-296.50, heavy 211-221.50; heifers: stocker 271-310, light 196-268.50, heavy 188-220; Dairy 9/3: top springer 2,585; top 50 average 2,170; open heifers 156-190. No remarks.

Jury won’t consider deaths in salmonella trial Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:52:17 -0400 RUSS BYNUM ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Shirley Mae Almer died a few days before Christmas in 2008 at a Minnesota hospital where the 72-year-old woman was already weak with illness when she was fed peanut butter contaminated with salmonella.

Nearly six years later, a federal jury is weighing criminal charges against the man who owned the peanut plant blamed for producing tainted food that sickened hundreds across the U.S. But after six weeks of trial testimony that included nearly 50 witnesses and an estimated 1,000 documents, jurors never heard that Almer or anybody else died after eating the company’s peanut butter.

The jury ended its first full day of deliberations Thursday without a verdict in the trial of former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two others. Jurors were scheduled to continue Friday morning.

Prosecutors say they made a calculated legal decision in keeping evidence of deaths off the table. Jeff Almer, whose mother was among nine people whose deaths were linked to the outbreak in 2008 and 2009, said he understands that. But he still worries jurors who sat through the long trial still don’t grasp its full impact.

“The details and the technicalities get to be a bit much,” Almer said. “I thought the deaths were a shock to the system and justified and validated everything.”

Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, are charged with knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter to customers and faking lab tests intended to screen for salmonella. Tainted peanut butter from the company’s plant in rural Blakely, Georgia, ended up in jars, packaged crackers and other snacks. The outbreak led to one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

The peanut plant’s quality control manager, Mary Wilkerson, is charged along with Stewart Parnell with obstructing justice. Experts say it is the first time food processors have been tried in a federal food-poisoning case.

There was testimony at the trial that people got sick. But attorneys and witnesses never mentioned that some died because the Parnell brothers aren’t charged with killing or sickening anybody.

Instead, prosecutors decided they could build a stronger case charging them with defrauding their customers — food producers including Kellogg’s — and selling them tainted goods, said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Georgia’s Middle District, whose office tried the case.

“We wanted to make sure we kept the jury focused on the conduct that led to these people’s sickness, but not let the case get into the medical history of every victim out there” with testimony on individual deaths, Moore said.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged the Georgia plant shipped tainted peanut butter and covered up positive salmonella tests, but they say the scheme was carried out behind the backs of the Parnell brothers by two plant managers who pleaded guilty. Before the trial began, defense lawyers asked the judge to rule any evidence of sickness or death out-of-bounds. They argued it was irrelevant to the prosecutors’ fraud case and would unfairly “sway the passions of the jury” toward convictions.

Moore said his prosecutors also had doubts about whether death evidence would be admissible, or whether convictions in the case would be vulnerable to appeals if the trial judge allowed the jury to hear that people died. Prosecutors backed off before Judge W. Louis Sands ruled he would allow evidence that people got sick.

Bill Marler, an attorney who has represented victims of food-borne illnesses for two decades, said prosecutors made a wise legal decision. His clients include families of five people who died in the salmonella case.

“It really is a balance between the prejudicial impact on the jury and whether or not you really needed to have that evidence in that trial,” Marler said.

The three defendants, charged with 71 total counts, still face severe punishment if convicted. Prosecutors have said Stewart Parnell faces a maximum of 754 years in prison and $17 million in fines. And Moore said he intends to present evidence of the deaths during sentencing if there are convictions.

Both Moore and Marler said delving into the death toll would have made the Peanut Corporation trial far more complicated. Medical tests confirmed people who ate peanut butter from the Georgia plant were sickened by salmonella. It’s harder to be sure salmonella killed some of them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracked the outbreak from victims back to the plant, determined 714 people got sick in 43 U.S. states. Three deaths were reported in Minnesota, two in Ohio, two in Virginia, one in Idaho and one in North Carolina. But the CDC hedged when tying fatalities to salmonella.

“The nine deaths reported are linked to the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak, but were not definitively caused by Salmonella,” the CDC said in a May 2009 report.

Marler said all nine who died tended to be older people with other problems that made them vulnerable to severe effects from food poisoning. Almer’s mother, for example, had also battled lung cancer and a brain tumor.

“They have cancer, they have diabetes, they have heart disease and their immune systems are compromised,” Marler said. “There’s no question they were infected. It’s really about what prompted their deaths.”

Steam being used to kill deadly citrus bacteria Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:40:52 -0400 TAMARA LUSH ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A group of University of Florida researchers are using steam in an attempt to kill a deadly citrus disease that’s ravaging the state’s groves.

Researchers at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences said Thursday they’ve tented and then enveloped trees in 136-degree steam for about 30 seconds in an attempt to kill citrus greening bacteria.

Citrus greening is a bacteria spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. The disease begins in the root and starves the tree of nutrients, eventually killing the tree.

Florida’s citrus growers have been the hardest-hit in the U.S. and researchers are working furiously to come up with a vaccine or cure.

Researcher Reza Ehsani said the steam treatment is not a cure for greening because it cannot reach the trees’ root system.

The steam heat kills the bacteria, and while it doesn’t cure the tree entirely from the disease, it does extend the tree’s lifespan, allowing a grower to harvest more fruit.

The treatment also might ultimately attract more bacteria-carrying psyllids. Ehsani said trees treated with steam usually drop their old leaves and “a significant number of new shoots develop on the tree.”

Those new shoots then attract the psyllid, the bug that carries the bacteria - and then the chances of reinfection are high.

Ehsani will present his findings Friday at the International Citrus Beverage Conference in Clearwater.

On Wednesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that a federal Tree Assistance Program is now being extended to Florida growers affected by citrus greening.

The citrus industry contributes $9 billion per year to the state’s economy and supports about 76,000 jobs.

Most of Florida’s oranges are used for juice, unlike California oranges which are destined for the fresh fruit market.

According to the USDA, the U.S. citrus crop was worth $3.15 billion in the 2012-2013 growing season, down 15 percent from the previous season. The value of the Florida citrus crop was $1.53 billion in the 2012-2013 growing season, and the state comprised 63 percent of all U.S. citrus production.

U.S. to train veterans to install solar panels Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:38:00 -0400 JOSH LEDERMAN WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is planning to train veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years, the White House said Thursday.

The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases and train a total of at least 50,000, including veterans.

The Agriculture Department will also spend nearly $70 million to fund 540 solar and renewable energy projects, focused on rural and farming areas. And the Energy Department will propose stricter efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners, a move the department said could cut emissions more than any other efficiency standard it has issued to date.

The proposals are modest compared with what President Barack Obama has asked Congress to do through legislation to promote clean energy, invest in infrastructure projects and force reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. But with lawmakers unwilling to consider any major climate legislation, Obama has sought to maximize what presidential authority he does hold.

Next week, Obama will attend a one-day United Nations summit on climate change in which heads of state are expected to show up with commitments to curbing emissions at home.

Native Americans getting final settlement payments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:27:43 -0400 MATT VOLZ HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Native Americans have started receiving the final cash payments this week from one of the largest government settlements in U.S. history, about three years after the deal was approved.

Checks ranging from $869 to $10 million were sent beginning Monday to more than 493,000 people by the administrators of the $3.4 billion settlement from a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell of Browning, Montana.

Some $941 million is being distributed in this second round of payments, plaintiffs’ attorney David Smith said Thursday.

Cobell sued after finding the government squandered billions of dollars in royalties for land it held in trust for individual Indians that was leased for development, exploration or agriculture. The mismanagement stretched back to the 1880s, the lawsuit found.

She died of cancer in 2011, after more than 15 years of doggedly pursuing the lawsuit, rallying Native Americans around the cause and lobbying members of Congress for its approval.

Cobell’s successor at the nonprofit she created, the Native American Community Development Corp., said she regrets that Cobell is not around to see the checks arrive.

“That’s the sad part. You work all those years and to not to see it to fruition is bittersweet,” NACDC executive director Angie Main said Thursday.

Cobell was present when a federal judge approved the settlement just months before her death. But it took years to work through the appeals and then sort through incomplete and erroneous information provided by the government to identify all the beneficiaries.

Some 22,000 people listed in the data provided had died, while 1,000 more listed as dead were still alive, Smith said.

The government data also listed the wrong or no address for three out of four people, he said.

The payments are the second of two distributions in the settlement. The first distributions of $1,000 apiece went to more than 339,000 people. This second, final round of distributions is based on a formula looking at 10 years of the highest earnings on those individual landowners’ accounts.

The settlement also includes a $1.9 billion land buy-back program now underway in which willing landowners sell the government their land allotments to be consolidated and turned over to the tribes.