Capital Press | Capital Press Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:18:08 -0500 en Capital Press | Washington FFA District VII winners announced Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:19:18 -0500 District VII of the Washington FFA Association stretches from the Cascade chapter in Leavenworth to the banks of Columbia River and north to Canadian border and encompasses 16 FFA chapters from this diverse region.

The advisers from those FFA chapters met on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to grade applications and select District winners to advance to the State level for consideration.

Proficiency Awards winners applications are based on their Supervised Agriculture Education projects. SAE projects are the extended learning opportunities for members outside the regular school day.

Placement proficiency awards are based on student hours either paid or unpaid in one of 49 award categories as determined by the National FFA Association.

District VII is proud to announce the following winners.

In the area of Placement in Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication the winner is Michael Tutino from the Chelan FFA.

Rachel Silverthorn of Tonasket FFA is the award winner for Placement in Agricultural Processing.

Janelle Catone is the award winner for Placement in Agricultural Services and she is from the Tonasket FFA.

In the area of Placement in Agricultural Sales the winner is Dane Schwartz from the Chelan FFA.

Kelsey Vejraska of the Omak FFA is the winner in Placement in Diversified Agricultural Production.

Dane Schwartz of the Chelan FFA is the winner in the area of Placement in Fruit Production.

Alexee Howell from the Tonasket FFA is the winner in the area of Equine Science-Entrepreneurship.

In the area of Placement in Landscape Management, Rade Pilkinton of the Tonasket FFA is the winner.

Cassidy Gates of the Omak FFA is the winner in Placement in Nursery Operations.

In the area of Poultry Production-Entrepreneurship, Chandra Shibley of the Omak FFA is the winner.

Josie Gallup from the Chelan FFA is the winner in Sheep Production-Entrepreneurship. In the area of Placement in Small Animal Care the winner is Sydnee Gueller of the Chelan FFA. Dane Schwartz of the Chelan FFA is the winner of the Swine Production-Entrepreneurship. In the area of Placement in Veterinary Science Jenna Valentine of the Tonasket FFA is the winner.

To achieve the State FFA Degree members of the Washington FFA Association a member must meet the following minimum criteria:

• Productively invest a minimum of $1,000 in their SAE project.

• Earn a minimum of $1,000 from their SAE Project.

• Have been a member in good standing for the past 24 months.

• Completed a minimum of 360 hours of systematic Agricultural Education instruction.

• Completed a minimum of 25 hours of community service in at least 3 different events.

• Participated in at least 5 activities above the Chapter level.

District VII recognized three members to be the District VII Star in their respective project areas. Rade Pilkinton of the Tonasket FFA is the District VII Star in Agribusiness. Dane Schwartz of the Chelan FFA is the District VII Star in Placement, and Jake Horlebein of the Chelan FFA is the District VII Star Farmer.

Dane Schwartz of Chelan was also selected as the District VII Outstanding Senior Member and will receive an academic scholarship of $500. These members will be recognized in the Stars Over Washington program at Saturday night at the 86th Washington State FFA Convention in May.

The chapters with members receiving the State FFA Degree are:

• Bridgeport: Jordi Hernandez.

• Cashmere: Olivia Abbott, Cassidy Boyd, Kandace Brunner, Hannah Lynch and Ellie York.

• Chelan: Thomas Armstrong, Jose Cabrales, Neil Carleton, Jose Luis Echeverria, Josie Gallup, Sarah Goyne. Jake Horlebein, Ty Miller, Amanda Reeves, Dane Schwartz, Ty Schwartz, Erick Straub, Henry Suarez and Michael Tutino.

Omak: Matthan Hale, Linda Harper,Cassandra Lange, Delaney Lester, James Newman, Cooper Routien and Dawson Sachse.

Tonasket: Leigh Anne Barnes, Janelle Catone, Nichol Fletcher, Shelbianne Gilreath, Alexee Howell, Corrina Karrer, Rade Pilkinton, Seth Smith, Rachel Silverthorn and Jenna Valentine.

Wenatchee: Eric Briley, Erica Erb, Jerissa Fisch and Alura Hottinger

Top bull goes for $12,500 at Klamath sale Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:44:03 -0500 Lee Juillerat KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Lee and Glenda Stilwell of Country Inn Cattle Co. were surprised and pleased after their success in last weekend’s 56th annual Klamath Bull & Select Ranch Horse Sale at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

The Stilwells, who have a small ranch in nearby Algoma, had the sale’s supreme bull that sold for $12,500, the champion halter Limousin bull that sold for $7,500, and the top judged pen of replacement heifers that sold for $10,250.

“We had an outstanding day,” said Glenda Stilwell, a fourth-generation rancher, who said the showing was unexpected because of the sale’s many outstanding bulls and heifers. “It’s always a surprise — and always a good surprise.”

Pleased, too, was Jolene Moxon, the sale’s cattle manager, who said 90 bulls were sold for a total price of $403,850, an average price of $4,487.22. Eight pens of replacement heifers, including the Stilwells’, were sold for $62,300, an average price of $7,787.50. Four horses were sold in the select horse sale for a total of $22,550, an average of $5,637.50.

In comparison, last year’s sale price for 56 bulls averaged $5,397, the select ranch horse sale averaged $6,090 for five horses while replacement heifers sale averaged $2,480 per head on six pens. She said this year’s sale will have nine pens of heifers.

Jason Chapman, a bull sale committee member, said he expected prices would be lower this year but noted the overall total sale prices, because of the volume of bulls, was up over 2015. “I expected it would be lower than it was,” he said of the decreased sale prices.

“We had a great turnout,” Moxon said, noting there were 114 registered buyers and strong participation in a variety of sale-related events, including a ranch rodeo she said drew thousands of spectators.

Other activities included stock dog trials, a Beef N Brews, brandings, Klamath County Cattlewomen’s dinner and dance, an “amazing” trade show and several kids functions, including goat roping and a stick horse boot race.

Erin Daughtery of Bly was named the contributor of the year for the four-day sale that began last Thursday and ended Sunday.

“People really seemed to enjoy the variety of activities,” Moxon said.

“The whole event ran really well,” Chapman agreed, who credited bull sale chairman Stan Gorden and other committee members. “We had great participation in all the events. It was really a well-run, smooth sale.”

Glenda Stilwell, who said her family has participated in sales for many years, shared Chapman’s and Moxon’s enthusiasm.

“We’ve participating in the bull sale as long as I can remember,” she said, giving credit to event organizers with the Klamath Cattlemen’s Association. “I think this year’s sale was an outstanding event with all the activities. I think the committee really stepped up. It’s a good event for the entire community.”

Winners in the ranch rodeo was Gorden Ranches of Bonanza with team members Clay and Steve Gorden and Flint Lee.

In the stock dog finals, Kathy Garner took first in the open and nursery divisions with Rango and Vaquero while Gayle Hybarger and her dog Zeva won the intermediate category.

The Stilwells’ supreme bull was bought by Don-Lo Ranch of Macdoel, Calif., which also bought their champion halter bull limousin. A third bull, another limousin, was bought by Jimmy Lyman of Tulelake, Calif. Drost Ranch of Klamath Falls bought the Stilwell’s pen of replacement heifers.

“We’re a small operation so we try to have good ones,” Stilwell said of Country Inn Cattle, which has about 60 cows.

Nicholas Sheridan, 15, of Yamhill, Ore., who was featured in a previous bull sale story and was the sale’s youngest ever consigner when entered and sold a reserve champion bull in 2014, again did well. One of Sheridan’s Angus bulls sold for $5,500 to Matt Merkley of Bly, Ore., while a second bull sold for $4,500 to Bryan Penterman of Santa Helena, Calif.

Stilwell had praise for Sheridan and other young participants in the various events, noting, “There were lots of young kids, lots of young families. It made my heart happy.”

Nursery, packing company sue state labor board Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:22:18 -0500 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — Two California agricultural operations are suing the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board over the practice of allowing union representatives to visit farms to organize workers, which they argue is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dorris, Calif.-based Cedar Point Nursery and Fresno-based Fowler Packing Co., which claim their operations were disrupted by United Farm Workers efforts to organize their employees.

The UFW staged a demonstration on Cedar Point’s property during its six-week strawberry plant harvest last year and filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the ALRB against Fowler, which prohibited organizers from entering its property, according to the PLF. The union’s complaint has since been withdrawn.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Co., argues the regulation violates the owners’ Fifth Amendment right against government-imposed takings, which includes the freedom to exclude trespassers, and their Fourth Amendment right against government-sanctioned intrusions.

The complaint, filed Feb. 10 in U.S. District Court, alleges the ALRB regulation promotes trespassing by granting a “right of access by union organizers to the premises of an agricultural employer for the purpose of meeting and talking” with workers.

“This case is about basic protections for everyone who owns property,” PLF principal attorney Joshua P. Thompson said in prepared remarks. “Nothing is more fundamental for any property owner than being able to keep trespassers out. Bureaucrats can’t cancel that right — especially not as a favor to organized labor.”

Thompson and other PLF officials announced the filing at a news conference at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.

Officials from the union and the ALRB did not immediately respond to messages from the Capital Press seeking comment.

The decades-old access regulation survived a challenge at the state Supreme Court in 1976 but has never been challenged in federal court on the grounds that it violates the Constitution, PLF lawyers say.

The lawsuit is only the latest instance in which the ALRB has been accused of bias in favor of union efforts. The board has been locked in a three-year legal battle with Fresno-area grower Gerawan Farming over the UFW’s efforts to impose a contract on the company.

Vilsack: USDA budget down, but still ample Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:50:42 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas President Obama has proposed $130 billion in mandatory spending and almost $25 billion in discretionary funding of the Department of Agriculture in his FY 2017 budget, a cut of $9 billion from the current budget.

But during a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agency will do more with less.

Nonetheless, the budget expands funding for agricultural research and infrastructure, conservation and export opportunities and continues investments in rural communities, food safety, and supplemental nutrition, he said.

It cuts funding for crop insurance by $1.26 billion.

While the budget proposal might not result in fewer farmers with crop insurance, its going to cost them more. USDA has been criticized in reports by the Government Accountability Office for its management of crop insurance programs and has received requests to improve prevented planting coverage, he said.

Vilsack said USDA crop insurance should be a balanced partnership between taxpayers, farmers and insurance companies. Federal crop insurance costs the government an average of about $9 billion a year, $3 billion for private insurance companies to administer and underwrite the program and $6 billion in premium subsidies to farmers and other expenses.

The proposed budget includes two proposals to reform the program, according to USDA’s fact sheet on the budget.

The first would reduce subsidies for revenue insurance policies that insure the price at harvest. The second would reform prevented planting coverage, including removing optional buy-up coverage.

The reforms would still provide a strong safety net for farmers while saving an expected $18 billion over 10 years, according to USDA.

Nutrition assistance, always the biggest piece of the USDA budget pie, is expected to garner 71 percent of USDA’s outlays in FY 2017. The budget will put more focus on elderly participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and boost USDA’s summer feeding program for children.

The budget puts emphasis on export opportunities and invests in establishing trade relationships with Cuba, which imports 80 percent of its food. The budget will provide for USDA in-country staff to cultivate relations Cuba and work through issues, Vilsack said.

At home, the budget will better support agricultural research, with $700 million appropriated for competitive, peer-reviewed research targeted at such issues as climate change, pollinator health, anti-microbial resistant bacteria and bioenergy, he said.

The budget also provides $1.1 million for in-house research at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and another $95 million to address critically needed ARS infrastructure improvements, he said.

Conservation efforts will also expand under the proposed budget, which get a total of $6.7 billion for Farm Bill programs, which is expected to result in an additional 2.9 million acres of conservation.

It calls for $1.2 billion for rural job creation and expansion, $6 billion for rural electric infrastructure improvements,

Portland daily grain report Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:40:38 -0500 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016

USDA Market News

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

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

In early trading March wheat futures trended steady to 2.50 cents per bushel lower compared to Tuesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for February delivery for ordinary protein were not available. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 protein were not well tested in early trading but were indicated as lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

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

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

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

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during February were lower in early trading.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel US 1 Soft White Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Feb NA

Mar NA

Apr NA

May NA


Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb 6.0000-6.1475

Mar 6.0000-6.2400

Apr 6.0400-6.2400

May 6.1325-6.2400

Aug NC 5.3625-5.5000

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

Ordinary protein

Feb NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb 7.0975-7.4900

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


Ordinary protein 5.1500-5.4000

11 pct protein 5.3500-5.5000

11.5 pct protein

Feb 5.4000-5.5500

Mar 5.3000-5.4500

Apr 5.4425-5.4925

May 5.4425-5.4925

12 pct protein 5.4800-5.5900

13 pct protein 5.5400-5.6700

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 5.6800-5.8300

14 pct protein

Feb 6.0000-6.1500

Mar 5.9500-6.1500

Apr 6.1025-6.2025

May 6.1025-6.2025

15 pct protein 6.1600-6.3100

16 pct protein 6.2900-6.5000

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 4.4300-4.4500

Mar 4.4200-4.4300

Apr 4.4275-4.4675

May 4.4275-4.4675

Jun 4.4375-4.4575

Jul 4.4375-4.4575

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 9.5750-9.6750

Mar 9.4750-9.5750

Apr 9.3650

Oct/Nov 9.5175-9.5675

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jan 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 5.3100

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.4200

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.6100

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.1500

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Idaho House, Senate panels split on wheat commission name rule Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:34:26 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — A proposed rule that would help the Idaho Wheat Commission better educate and inform growers has been accepted by the Idaho Senate but rejected by the House.

The rule’s future is uncertain, and House and Senate lawmakers are trying to determine how to resolve their disparate decisions.

The pending rule would require purchasers of Idaho wheat to provide the commission with the names and addresses of wheat growers who deliver wheat to them each year. Only about half of the businesses that purchase wheat from Idaho farmers do that right now, said Idaho Wheat Commission Administrator Blaine Jacobson.

One of the commission’s main statutory duties is to educate Idaho wheat growers, but “it is difficult to fulfill that part of our charge without knowing who the growers are,” Jacobson told Capital Press in an email.

“If we are able to get this information down the road, we will be able to provide more information about markets and where premium prices are paid for certain classes or proteins of wheat,” he said. “We can also get information on fast-moving diseases out quicker.”

Estimates of the number of wheat farmers in Idaho vary widely, from 2,500 to well over 3,000.

“The commission is trying to figure out better ways to communicate with growers,” said Rich Garber, governmental affairs director for the Idaho Grain Producers Association.

The rule, which includes technical amendments to the state statute that governs the wheat commission, was approved by the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee, but the House Agricultural Affairs Committee rejected the part that would require wheat purchasers to report the names and addresses of wheat growers.

Several House ag committee members said they were uncomfortable with that requirement since the information would be subject to the state’s public records law.

“It seems like there should be another way for the commission to get grower names,” said Rep. Steven Miller, a Republican farmer from Fairfield. “I’m uncomfortable with this method of obtaining names.”

A pending rule in Idaho only has to be approved by one chamber to become final unless it includes a fee increase, in which case both chambers have to approve it. The House and Senate also disagree over whether the proposed rule actually includes a fee increase.

The rule includes language that clarifies that the commission has the authority to raise the state’s wheat checkoff assessment, which the legislature gave it in 2012.

However, the language in the bill that authorized the increase was not included in state rules and this proposed 2016 rule simply reflects that change, Jacobson said.

Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, chairman of the House ag committee, said lawmakers would try to resolve the dispute over whether the rule includes a fee increase before deciding how to proceed with the rule.

WSU apple gets new push with new name Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:27:06 -0500 Dan Wheat PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University has re-introduced an apple variety from its breeding program in Wenatchee that it first released six years ago.

Initially only known by its breeding name, WA 2, the apple didn’t catch on with growers or marketers because it had no name. The idea was to let each company grow and sell it under whatever name they chose. That didn’t go over well.

Some 24 licenses were granted but licensees wanted one common name to prevent marketplace confusion, nursery owners have said. WSU picked the name Crimson Delight but interest didn’t grow.

“We learned from our mistakes and are modeling our approach after WA 38,” said Albert Tsui, WSU business development specialist.

WA 38 is the breeding name of Cosmic Crisp, a new variety sparking high industry interest. Proprietary Variety Management, a variety management company in Yakima owned by nurseryman Lynnell Brandt, is assisting WSU in the commercial development of both varieties. WSU managed the initial release of WA 2 alone.

Consumer focus groups in Spokane and Seattle were used to select Sunrise Magic as the new brand name for WA 2. New growers obtaining WSU licenses to grow the variety will be required to use Sunrise Magic but prior licensees will be allowed to use whatever name they’d chosen or switch to the new name, Tsui said.

“I would be surprised if any of them switch because the old licenses are more favorable to them. They pay royalties on the tree but not the fruit,” he said.

Ray Keller, general manager of Apple King in Yakima, said WSU never trademarked the name Crimson Delight so his company did and will continue to pack the apple under that name. It markets through L&M Northwest Inc., Raleigh, N.C.

Apple King is the largest packer of Crimson Delight at 10,000 40-pound boxes and one of its orchard companies is the largest grower, Keller said.

“Our intent is to plant a lot more and we welcome others,” he said.

The apple was developed by the apple breeding program at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee by Bruce Barritt, who is now retired. The apple is a cross between Gala and Splendour. It has a pinkish-red blush with conspicuous lenticels, tiny pores in the skin. It is sweet with moderate acidity, stores well and is harvested about a week after Cosmic Crisp during the Red Delicious season.

Tom Riggan, general manager of Chelan Fresh Marketing, said WA 2 lacks the “wow factor” of Cosmic Crisp in taste.

“A lot of growers are getting behind Cosmic Crisp because it’s a tremendous eating apple and stores well,” Riggan said. “I have eaten both over the years and Cosmic Crisp really impresses me where the WA 2 didn’t impress me. It didn’t have the wow factor. There are a lot of new varieties and unless you have the wow factor it can be just another apple. It has to have some serious attributes for people to want to make it their apple.”

Keller believes WA 2 does have the “wow factor.”

“We think it has it more than Cosmic Crisp,” he said. “Part of the problem when it was introduced was that WSU didn’t get the word out that it develops its best flavor in storage after Christmas.

“It really does have great flavor and stores well. We think Crimson Delight is the right name,” Keller said. “Crimson. Cougars. Being a Cougar I have strong feelings on that.”

WA lawmaker warns about topping carbon cap with tax Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:40:56 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — A carbon cap as ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee and a carbon tax as proposed by an initiative would be a chilling combination for Washington’s business climate, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee said Tuesday.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, presided over a two-hour public hearing on Initiative 732, whose supporters collected enough signatures to push the tax proposal to the top of carbon-reduction ideas swirling in Washington. Lawmakers must either adopt the initiative or put it to a statewide vote in November.

By then, the state Department of Ecology may have finalized a carbon cap ordered up by Inslee. DOE has proposed capping and rolling back greenhouse gas emissions from 70 oil refineries, fuel importers and manufacturers, including a fertilizer maker in Kennewick and two food processors in Othello.

The Legislature last year rejected a plan by Inslee to combine a cap and tax in one regulatory scheme.

“I’ve spoken with many companies both large and small who have indicated that if you have a carbon cap rule out of the Governor’s Office and Initiative 732 passing in November, you could have major negative impacts in their ability to make capital investments,” Ericksen said.

I-732 has little visible support from Republicans, Democrats, business groups or environmental organizations.

Carbon Washington’s founder, University of Washington economist Yoram Bauman, said the group, which collected the signatures, will put together a campaign if lawmakers don’t approve I-732.

“I think it’s fair to say the political class didn’t think we would be able to collect the signatures. We’re going to continue to surprise them,” Bauman said.

I-732 would tax the carbon output generated by fuel and energy makers, while cutting sales and manufacturing taxes, and providing low-income workers with tax rebates.

Although some states have adopted cap-and-trade programs, no state has a carbon tax, according to the Carbon Tax Center, an advocacy group.

Ericksen cautioned against making Washington a leader in this way.

“I want to make sure leadership does not mean that we’re going to sacrifice good-paying manufacturing jobs and hurt those families in order to send a message or make a point,” Ericksen said.

Carbon Washington says its math shows the tax cuts would offset the carbon tax. But the Office of Financial Management disagrees and projects a $281 million reduction in state revenue the first two years. That has Democrats and groups that advocate more government spending concerned.

“I want to see climate action more than anybody, but it also has to be fiscally responsible, and I cannot pair an initiative on carbon against K-12 education funding,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.

Todd Myers, the environmental policy director for the conservative-leaning Washington Policy Center, chided groups for shunning I-732 because of its tax-cutting provisions.

“The question is, Are they more afraid of tax cuts or climate change?” he said.

Several business groups and utility companies testified against I-732, saying the initiative would harm businesses, particularly ones that use a lot of electricity, such as food processors.

Most people who testified supported the initiative, and many said they volunteered to collect signatures.

University of Washington atmospheric professor Cliff Mass said global warming will accelerate over the last half of this century.

“By the end of the century, we’re talking about radically less snowpack in the mountains if greenhouse gases continue to increase,” Mass said.

Judge throws out lawsuit against river dredging Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:37:19 -0500 LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge in Seattle has ruled in favor of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and barging advocates in a case that involved dredging on the Snake and Clearwater rivers.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said in his Tuesday ruling that the plaintiffs not only were wrong on the merits but lacked standing to bring a lawsuit. The judge also said their complaints were moot and not ripe for a decision.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the plaintiffs included Idaho Rivers United, the Nez Perce Tribe and Friends of the Clearwater.

They filed suit in 2014, contending the dredging harmed salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey and was not economically justified. They also said the corps failed to consider other options to clear sediment from the navigation channel.

Nation’s second-largest food-service firm files to go public Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:31:59 -0500 The nation’s second-largest food-service distributor has filed papers for an initial stock offering.

U.S. Foods Holding Corp., based in Rosemont, Illinois, said Tuesday it plans to raise $100 million in the IPO, although the amount was listed to calculate fees and will likely be revised.

In its filing, U.S. Foods said it has about 25,000 workers and annual sales of $23 billion. It reported a net loss of $73 million last year.

The filing comes several months after a judge blocked plans by larger rival Sysco Corp. to acquire U.S. Foods for $3.5 billion.

U.S. Foods is owned by two private investment firms, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which say they plan to keep controlling a majority of the company’s voting stock. The company says it will use proceeds from the stock sale to pay off debt, among other purposes.

It plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “USFD.”

Wildlife officials to kill wolves in remote Idaho region Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:25:20 -0500 LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Federal wildlife services and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials have joined forces to kill wolves in the Clearwater Region for the third year in a row.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that elk herds have been struggling in the remote country for nearly two decades.

Wildlife officials did not provide details on the operation, which they had planned to keep secret until it was complete. But an environmental group called Defenders of Wildlife announced the action in a news release and asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop it.

Defenders of Wildlife at Boise member Suzanne Stone says the decision was based on “Idaho’s extreme anti-wolf politics.”

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Friends of the Clearwater also condemned the action.

California farmers reap record 2014 sales despite drought Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:23:55 -0500 ELLEN KNICKMEYERand SCOTT SMITH FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A new state report shows California farmers reaping record sales despite the drought.

California agriculture officials released their annual report for 2014 late last month. It shows California farmers recorded $53.5 billion in sales. That’s the same year Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state in a drought emergency.

Experts say California farmers overall are weathering the drought because of high customer demand for crops like almonds and because growers are able to dig deeper, bigger wells to irrigate their fields.

The figures are sure to stoke tensions between the cities and the countryside.

Critics say the water for farms comes at the expense of wildlife and household wells.

ODA schedules meetings on gypsy moth spraying plan Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:23:13 -0500 Eric Mortenson The Oregon Department of Agriculture proposes to spray 8,674 acres in North Portland this spring to head off a potential infestation of destructive gypsy moths.

Aerial sprayings tend to cause public scrutiny and worry, however, even when it involves a biological insecticide that’s been successfully used against gypsy moths for more than 30 years. For that reason, the department is hosting a pair of meetings to explain the project. The first is Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at James John Elementary School, 7439 N. Charleston Ave., Portland. The second is Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9 a.m. to noon at the same place.

Gypsy moths are voracious eaters and multiply rapidly. Unchecked, they could kill trees and or heavily damage Pacific Northwest forests and crops such as Christmas trees. Agencies monitor their presence with traps and spray from time to time to control them.

Two Asian gypsy moths were found in North Portland traps this past summer and another was found across the Columbia River in Washington. Asian gypsy moths are more mobile than the European variety sometimes trapped in the Northwest.

The area proposed for spraying includes Hayden Island, St. Johns, and Forest Park in Portland. ODA proposes three aerial applications in late April and early May, using Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, commonly known as Btk.

An environmental assessment of the project will be available Feb. 12 from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. It can be seen at A comment period ends March 14. Comments should be directed to or

Btk kills gypsy moths in their caterpillar stage. A publication from Purdue University said the product has several advantages over other means. First, caterpillars killed or sickened by Btk aren’t dangerous to birds or other animals that feed on them. The product breaks down within three to five days after application, so it doesn’t multiply or accumulate in the environment, according to the Purdue bulletin. Btk does not appear to pose a significant threat to humans or pets, according to Purdue.

Parents push Hawaii lawmakers for pesticide buffer zones Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:20:50 -0500 CATHY BUSSEWITZ HONOLULU (AP) — Concerned parents are calling on Hawaii lawmakers to establish buffer zones around schools to protect their children from chemicals found in pesticides.

But the large agriculture companies that spray pesticides say their practices are safe, and some smaller farmers worry that buffer zones could cut into their food production.

About 400 people submitted testimony on a bill heard by two House committees Tuesday. The bill, HB2564, would create a pilot program that would establish vegetative buffer zones around selected schools. Supporters are targeting restricted-use pesticides applied by large-scale, commercial agriculture companies.

“We do not have a choice whether or not to send our child to school next to a field that is allowed to spray restricted-use pesticides on a regular basis,” said Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. “Only the state has the capacity to regulate that kind of operation.”

Lukens’ group has roughly 10,000 Hawaii members who are concerned about chronic, low-level daily exposure to pesticides, she said.

Kauai resident Lorna Cummings Poe told lawmakers that her granddaughters, who live in Kekaha on Kauai’s West side, suffer from frequent headaches, bloody noses and respiratory infections that she attributes to restricted pesticides sprayed in nearby fields. Poe said hair samples taken from both granddaughters showed exposure to 36 different pesticides.

“The number of people who suffer from physical ailments on the west side of Kauai is astounding,” Poe said.

Representatives from major agricultural companies like Monsanto and DuPont testified against the bill, saying they take safety of employees and the community seriously.

“Seed is the number one sector in agriculture in Hawaii, and Monsanto is the largest seed company in the state, so I’m assuming we’re one of those large-scale outdoor commercial operations you’re talking about,” said John Purcell, vice president of Monsanto Hawaii. “We account for less than one percent ... of the RUPs (restricted use pesticides) that were sold ... so let’s provide some context of how much pesticides we’re actually using.”

The Hawaii Farm Bureau opposed the bill, saying it unfairly targets farmers and ranchers and could put some farmers out of business. “This is counter to our pursuit for food self-sufficiency and food security,” said Brian Miyamoto, executive director of the Hawaii Farm Bureau.

Similar proposals have been introduced in the state Senate.

The House Committees on Agriculture and Energy and Environmental Protection deferred the measure for a week and planned to make a decision on the bill next Tuesday.

Former Malheur occupier arrested on unrelated warrant Wed, 10 Feb 2016 08:12:51 -0500 PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man who had been with the armed occupiers at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has been arrested on an unrelated warrant.

The Oregonian reports that 31-year-old Brandon Dowd is being held in the Harney County Jail under a warrant from Kansas in connection to a theft case. He was not arrested for anything he might have done while on the refuge. He was arrested Monday.

Dowd was seen about three weeks ago guarding the main entrance to the refuge. He is not among the last four holdouts still occupying the space.

A Riley County, Kansas, Police Department spokesman says Dowd is accused of stealing a firearm worth about $600 from a 65-year-old man last May.

Affordable housing bills encounter farmer objections Tue, 9 Feb 2016 13:26:25 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski SALEM — With advocates for the poor lamenting Oregon’s “affordable housing crisis,” lawmakers are considering altering land use laws to allow more home-building.

The proposals have encountered resistance from agriculture and conservation groups, which claim cities should focus on building within existing “urban growth boundaries” rather than expanding onto farmland.

Young and beginning farmers face a problem similar to that of urban residents who can’t find affordable housing, as farmland ownership is often financially out of reach, said Peter Kenagy, a farmer from Benton County.

“We also have an affordable farmland issue,” Kenagy said during a Feb. 8 hearing on Senate Bill 1575.

Among other provisions, SB 1575 would “expedite” the process of expanding urban growth boundaries to create more affordable housing, which critics say would create communities without readily accessible services and transportation.

Meanwhile, people who live in areas surrounded by farmland are bothered by common farming practices, said Mary Anne Nash, public policy counsel for the Oregon Farm Bureau.

“We see a continued conflict between urban and rural issues,” said Nash.

Mary Kyle McCurdy, policy director of the 1,000 Friends of Oregon conservation group, said directing affordable housing development to grow onto farmland “does not work for either side of the UGB.”

The costs of bringing water, roads and other infrastructure onto such rural properties costs about $100,000 per housing unit, so housing development makes more sense on undeveloped land within cities, she said.

“We’re picking on agricultural land because there are fewer people there and it’s cheaper compared to urban land,” McCurdy said.

Proponents of easing the UGB expansion process argue that restrictive land use rules have contributed to the lack of affordable housing in Oregon and must be part of the solution.

Oregon’s land use statutes have improved livability and preserved agriculture but “they have not come without costs,” said Jon Chandler, CEO of the Oregon Home Builders Association.

The impact of SB 1575 would be complicated for home builders. While the bill would speed up the process of expanding UGBs, it would also allow cities to adopt a form of “inclusionary zoning,” under which a portion of housing units must be priced to fit the median income of local families.

Home builders have traditionally opposed such zoning as posing a threat to real estate markets, and the practice is currently prohibited in Oregon.

Chandler said he’s willing to have a “thoughtful conversation” about inclusionary zoning in SB 1575. If the legislature sets the right parameters for such zoning, his group may not object to the proposal and even support it, he said.

In testimony supporting another proposal, House Bill 4079, Chandler said that Oregon should be generating about 25,000 housing units a year to keep up with population growth.

In 2015, though, only about 15,000 units were built, and the state has developed a backlog of about 100,000 units in recent years, he said.

Under HB 4079, the legislature would allow two 50-acre pilot projects in which the UGB expansion process would be expedited to accommodate affordable housing — one located in a community with fewer than 30,000 residents, and the other with more.

The bill would allow developers to demonstrate that their ideas can alleviate the housing shortage, but if the pilot projects harm the agricultural economy, “you’re out 100 acres,” Chandler said.

Farm and conservation groups oppose HB 4079, arguing that it will “short-circuit” the UGB process rather than focus on land where suitable infrastructure already exists.

On Feb. 10, the House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water unanimously approved the bill, which has now been referred to the House Rules Committee.

Oregon lawmakers rethink biotech pre-emption Tue, 9 Feb 2016 16:58:07 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski SALEM — Local government authority over genetically engineered crops is being reconsidered by Oregon lawmakers roughly three years after they prohibited most city and county seed restrictions.

Critics of biotechnology claim that lawmakers haven’t enacted meaningful policies for genetic engineering since adopting a 2013 law pre-empting local governments from setting their own seed rules.

The pre-emption bill was included in a broader legislative package that included public employee retirement system reforms that the Oregon Supreme Court later invalidated.

Proponents of House Bill 4122, which would repeal statewide pre-emption specifically for genetically engineered crops, claim local governments should be permitted to prevent cross-pollination between organic, conventional and biotech cultivars.

“In an ideal world, farmers will work together, but in reality, people are stubborn and do as they please,” said Jared Watters, a Jackson County farmer, during a Feb. 9 hearing before the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness.

“Transgenic contamination” is recognized as an economic threat to organic and conventional producers who sell into markets that don’t accept biotech traits, according to supporters of H.B. 4122.

While opponents of the bill claim that genetic engineering is best regulated at the state level, supports of H.B. 4122 claim that local governments are in the best position to understand how farmers in their area are affected by biotech crops and restrictions on them.

“You don’t have to deal with any of that. This bill puts that decision with the local government,” said Elise Higley, director of Our Family Farms Coalition, which supports stronger regulation of biotech crops.

Physical barriers, geographic distances and staggered plantings can prevent cross-pollination among conventional crop varieties and work just as well with biotech cultivars, according to opponents of H.B. 4122.

“Farmers need to work that out among themselves, not by voters at the ballot box deciding what can grow on their own property,” said Scott Dahlman, policy director of Oregonians for Food and Shelter, an industry group that opposes the bill.

Lawmakers passed a bill last year that allows farmers of potentially conflicting crops to seek mediation, which the Oregon Department of Agriculture is now in the process of “fleshing out,” said Greg Loberg, manager of the West Coast Beet Seed Co. and president of the Oregon Seed Association.

H.B. 4122, by contrast, is meant to give preferential treatment to non-biotech crops, he said. “It’s not about co-existence. It’s about exclusion.”

Supporters of the bill say they’re not opposed to mediation, but claim it’s not enough to guard against cross-pollination or compensate for the lack of regulation by the state and federal governments.

However, the idea that rules for biotech crops would vary across county lines is one of the main arguments against H.B. 4122.

“Cities and counties are not equipped to micromanage which crops can and cannot be grown in the State of Oregon,” said Anna Scharf, whose family farms in the Willamette Valley.

Another proposal recently considered by the committee, House Bill 4041, would effectively have reversed statewide pre-emption entirely, not just for biotech crops but for all seeds.

However, that bill will not receive further hearings and would have to be resurrected in a future legislative session, said Shemia Fagan, D-Clackamas, who chairs the committee.

H.B. 4041 was written so broadly that it could have applied to non-biotech crops, including grass seed, said Marie Bowers Stagg, whose family farms in Lane and Linn counties

Crop decisions are based on soil conditions, market demand and available equipment but should not be complicated by government interference, she said during a recent hearing on the bill.

“We already have enough risks in our day-to-day life,” Bowers Stagg said.

Idaho Wheat Commission to host no-till workshop Tue, 9 Feb 2016 14:26:30 -0500 IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The Idaho Wheat Commission has scheduled a workshop to focus on direct seeding for 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Shiloh Inn Conference Center, 780 Lindsay Blvd.

Advocates for direct seeding, also known as no-till farming, say the lack of tillage prevents erosion, improves moisture penetration, builds organic matter and maintains the natural processes that occur within healthy soil.

Swan Valley farmer Gordon Gallup, who organized the workshop, said in a press release no-till cropping systems are catching on in Eastern Idaho as growers seek to limit their input costs and reduce the number of trips their equipment must make through fields.

According to the commission, the workshop will offer the latest information on varieties, fertility management and equipment, as well as the experiences of growers who have utilized direct seeding.

Presentations will include a grower panel, cropping systems strategy by Aaron Esser of Washington State University Extension, resistant weeds in no-till farming by University of Idaho Extension weed specialist Don Morishita, disease control in no-till farming by UI Extension cereals pathologist Juliet Marshall, water in no-till farming by UI Extension irrigation specialist Howard Neibling and crop rotation in no-till systems by Marlon Winger, with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

A $10 fee will be charged to cover the cost of lunch. RSVP at or by calling 208-334-2353.

The commission expects to draw growers from as far away as Montana and Northern Utah.

Spokane chamber honors Shepherd’s Grain, LaCrosse FFA Tue, 9 Feb 2016 13:58:31 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Greater Spokane Incorporated gave its annual Excellence in Agriculture award to the Shepherd’s Grain company and LaCrosse High School’s FFA marketing team during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The award recognizes individuals, businesses or organizations that have had a significant, positive influence on agriculture in the Inland Northwest.

Jay Allert, chairman of the chamber’s AgriBusiness Council, said Shepherd’s Grain dared to do things differently.

“Probably the biggest vulnerability in agriculture is we’ve always been price-takers,” Allert said. “They wanted to be a price-setter.”

Shepherd’s Grain founders Fred Fleming and Karl Kupers changed their farming practices to no-till and started raising hard white and hard red wheat in addition to soft white wheat.

Fleming said he and Kupers relied on Washington State University and industry representatives to find the quality of wheat the company needed, develop a business plan and determine milling and baking qualities.

“It was sort of like two kids going after a treasure hunt,” Fleming said. “Different people out in the industry gave us clues.”

The LaCrosse team — students Jason Wigen, Britte Harder, Abigail McGregor and advisor Lisa Baser — developed a marketing plan for Dixon Land and Livestock in Pomeroy, Wash., creating a 15-minute presentation. They won in their district competition in January 2015, state competition in May and placed first in nationals in Louisville, Ky., in October.

Allert said the chamber recognized the significance of the award and the amount of work the students put into developing the plan.

“In the semi-final round, they were up against a school from Texas of 3,500 kids,” Allert said. “(LaCrosse High School) has 25.”

“It definitely took a lot of work, but it was worth it in the end, for sure,” Wigen said, speaking for the group when accepting the award. Wigen is state reporter for the Washington FFA.

Apple prices do well as sales season progresses Tue, 9 Feb 2016 13:42:37 -0500 Dan Wheat WENATCHEE, Wash. — With Washington’s 2015 apple crop approaching the halfway point in the sales season, prices continue to improve and grower returns should be good.

“All in all, it looks like the 2015 season will have about the same returns as 2013 and 2011, net returns of $500 million to $600 million for growers,” said Desmond O’Rourke, a retired Washington State University agricultural economist and longtime observer of the apple industry.

That’s after production, packing-shipping and marketing costs have been deducted, he said, adding that his estimate is based on incomplete data.

He estimates growers netted less than $100 million on the 2014 crop, which was the largest on record and therefore brought the lowest prices in eight years.

2012 was a large crop with good prices because of light production in the Midwest, East Coast, Europe, Canada and Mexico. Washington growers probably netted close to $1 billion off the 2012 crop, O’Rourke estimates.

Prices have improved in the 2015-2016 sales season and will continue to slowly strengthen, he said.

Prices of extra-fancy grade across all varieties averaged $23 to $24 per 40-pound box in October, $24 to $25 in November and December and in January are topping $25.50, he said.

“Demand is fairly sluggish so prices probably will rise slowly the next few months. In July and August, they can go up quite a bit as inventories fall,” O’Rourke said.

An unknown, he said, is how well quality holds up given heat damage last summer.

Tom Riggan, general manager of Chelan Fresh Marketing, said February typically is sluggish but that exports to Mexico and India should increase soon. He said he’s pretty confident in quality, that some Gala has been culled out for splits but that he hasn’t heard of any large scale failure of apples to hold their firmness in storage.

“As demand picks up, it should be a good rest of the season,” Riggan said.

Average asking prices of size 88, extra-fancy grade were up on Feb. 8 from a month ago on most varieties, according to USDA Market News.

Gala was $34 to $36.90 versus $30 to $34.90 a month ago; Red Delicious was $18 to $20.90 versus $16 to $20.90; Fuji was $30 to $34.90 versus $28 to $30.90; Granny Smith was $24 to $26.90 versus $20 to $24.90; Golden Delicious was unchanged at $26 to $28.90; Honeycrisp was unchanged at $80 to $85.90; and Cripps Pink was unchanged at $32 to $36.90.

The industry’s Feb. 1 storage report shows the 2015 crop now estimated at 116.93 million boxes, down slightly from the Jan. 1 estimate of 117.1 million. The 2014 record crop finished at 141.8 million.

As of Feb. 1, 52.1 million boxes have been shipped, which is 44.6 percent of the crop versus 61.5 million at 43.4 percent a year ago and 44.7 percent two years ago.

Weekly shipments are 2.5 million boxes, down about 10 percent from a year ago.

Domestic shipments are down about 7 percent and exports are down 31.4 percent, O’Rourke said.

Washington’s higher apple prices combined with the strength of the dollar over foreign currency continue to reduce importers’ buying power, he said.

Mexico, the top export market, is at 2.4 million boxes so far this season compared with 4 million at this time last year.

“The Mexican peso is at 18.5 per dollar compared with 14.8 per dollar a year ago, according to The Economist,” O’Rourke said. “That’s a 20 percent drop in purchasing power.”

A month ago, Mexico imposed temporary tariffs ranging from zero to 20.8 percent on Washington apple shippers for alleged apple dumping in 2013.

Exports to Mexico could shrink to 7 million boxes this year, down from the 9 million to 10 million box range, Riggan said.

“It’s contingent on final duties in June and if there’s any change before then,” he said. “Our apples are in the high $30s to low $40s per box going in there because of the duty and exchange rate. It’s hard to sell big volume at those prices.”

Oregon, Idaho onion farmers inducted into hall of fame Tue, 9 Feb 2016 13:37:44 -0500 Sean Ellis ONTARIO, Ore. — Two long-time leaders of the Idaho and Oregon onion industries who worked side by side on many issues important to onion growers in both states have been inducted into the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Hall of Fame together.

Reid Saito, past president of the Malheur County Onion Growers Association, and Ron Mio, past president of the Idaho Onion Growers Association, were inducted into the group’s joint hall of fame on Feb. 2.

Both farmers said it was appropriate they entered the hall together since they worked together on issues important to the onion industry for almost 14 years while they served as presidents of the states’ respective onion growers associations.

“It was an honor to go into the hall of fame with Reid,” said Mio, who farms in the Fruitland, Idaho, area. “We worked side by side for so many years and I really appreciated going into the hall of fame with him.”

“I was really honored to be considered for the hall and going in with Ron made it even more special,” said Saito, who farms in Nyssa, Ore.

Saito, who grew up on his family’s farm, plans to retire from farming this year.

Mio stopped growing onions in 2013 because pressure from the iris yellow spot virus, an onion disease, has greatly reduced onion acreage in that area, but he still grows mint, seed beans and wheat.

Saito said the two worked closely on several issues that were critical to the industry, including a successful effort to bridge the once wide communication gap between onion growers and shippers.

That paid off in a major way nine years ago, he said, after several growers in the area were investigated and fined for using carbofuran, a pesticide that controlled onion thrips but wasn’t approved for onion use.

“Growers worked with shippers, the state and EPA and got that worked out,” Saito said. “The way we worked that out, it was the best outcome for consumers, for growers and for shippers.”

More recently, onion growers and shippers worked together to provide input to the Food and Drug Administration on the agency’s proposed produce safety rule. Onion industry leaders said the rule’s strict agricultural water standards would put many onion farmers in the region out of business.

But the FDA altered those rules after hearing the outcry from onion farmers and shippers in the region and visiting the area in 2013 and the rules are now something the industry says it can live with.

Paul Skeen, current president of the Malheur County Onion Growers Association, said Saito’s and Mio’s practical and forthright leadership skills were most evident during the carbofuran crisis.

“They are real leaders who stood up and called a spade a spade and did what we had to do,” Skeen said. “On top of that, they are both really good farmers.”

Key committee approves Oregon wolf delisting Tue, 9 Feb 2016 12:22:41 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski SALEM — The removal of wolves from Oregon’s list of endangered species has been approved by a key legislative committee, potentially jeopardizing a lawsuit that challenges the delisting.

Last year, Oregon wildlife regulators found that wolves had sufficiently recovered to delist them under the state’s version of the Endangered Species Act.

Because wolves remain protected by the federal Endangered Species Act across much of Western Oregon, the state delisting only has effect in the eastern portion of the state.

Several environmental groups, which worry that delisting will eventually lead to wolf hunting, filed a legal complaint accusing the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission of ignoring the best available science.

That lawsuit prompted two lawmakers from Eastern Oregon to propose House Bill 4040, which would ratify the commission’s delisting decision as having properly followed the state’s endangered species law.

On Feb. 9, that bill passed the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources 8-1 and is now heading for a vote on the House floor with a “do pass” recommendation.

Chair Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, noted that H.B. 4040 was amended from its original version to eliminate language that would require wolf populations to decline substantially before the species could be re-listed as endangered.

Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, said that worries the delisting will lead to “automatic slaughter” of wolves are unfounded.

“This does not mean we’re going to hunt wolves to extinction again,” he said.

Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, was the committee’s only member to vote against the bill.

While he doesn’t have a problem with the delisting, Gorsek said he was concerned about the precedent set by the legislature inserting itself into the process.

Environmental groups that are fighting the delisting in court — Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity — fear that a ratification by the legislature will hamstring their lawsuit.

Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild, recently argued that if the commission’s decision was scientifically sound, there is no reason to pass H.B. 4040.

While the plaintiffs groups seek judicial review to determine if the commission acted correctly, they have not asked for an injunction and so the delisting will remain effective while the litigation is pending, he said.

Laurel Hines, a member of Oregon Wild, said that wolf management in Oregon has emphasized the protection of the livestock industry, so conservationists should be allowed to proceed with the lawsuit to protect their interests.

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association disagrees with the claim that H.B. 4040 will preclude environmental groups from obtaining judicial review, said Rocky Dallum, the group’s political advocate.

H.B. 4040 would not prevent the plaintiff from filing a lawsuit, and since their complaint has already been filed, its merits will still be decided in state court, Dallum said.

A judge may find the commission acted properly regardless of the legislature’s action, or may decide that the question about the delisting’s legality was answered by H.B. 4040, if it passes, he said.

“It’s up to a judge to decide whether the case is moot,” Dallum said.

Cheese holding, butter slipping Tue, 9 Feb 2016 12:09:58 -0500 Lee Mielke Cash dairy prices showed some strength the first week of February despite the week’s GDT auction plunge, but expectations aren’t so strong.

CME cash Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $1.47 per pound, up a penny on the week but 6 1/2-cents below a year ago. The barrels finished at $1.4650, up 3 1/2-cents on the week and 1 3/4-cents below a year ago. Two cars of block traded hands on the week and none of barrel.

The blocks and barrels were unchanged both Monday and Tuesday.

Midwestern cheese production remains active with a more than adequate milk supply, according to Dairy Market News.

The ever-resilient butter, after dropping 12 1/4-cents Monday, regained 10 1/4 cents, then lost 3 cents on Friday, to close at $2.17, 5 cents lower on the week but 37 1/2-cents above a year ago. Twenty-three cars traded hands on the week.

The spot gave up another penny and a half Monday and 2 cents Tuesday, slipping to $2.1350 per pound.

Eyes were particularly on last week’s sales, in view of the CME’s change of policy requiring the Double A Grade on product offered there but Jerry Dryer, editor of the Dairy and Food Market Analyst, said in Friday’s DairyLine that he didn’t believe the policy change caused Monday’s dip or the following rebound. He doesn’t see a huge falloff after Super Bowl, at least not on butter, because Easter is early this year.

CME Grade A nonfat dry milk dropped 2 1/4-cents by Tuesday but gained it back and then some, closing Friday at 75 cents per pound, up 3 1/4-cents from the previous week but 31 cents below a year ago, with 16 cars sold last week.

The powder was unchanged Monday but lost 2 cents Tuesday and slipped to 73 cents per pound.

The federal order benchmark milk price saw its seventh consecutive decline but will begin to climb back. The January Class III milk price is $13.72 per hundredweight, down 72 cents from December, $2.46 below January 2015 and the lowest Class III price since January 2011. It equates to about $1.18 per gallon, down 6 cents from December and 21 cents below a year ago. It is also 64 cents above California’s comparable Class 4b price, the smallest gap since August 2015.

Class III futures still portend tough times ahead. The February contract settled Monday at $13.78; March, $13.87; April, $13.93; May, $14.12; and June at $14.54. The peak was only $15.84 in November.

The January Class IV price is $13.31, down $2.21 from December and the lowest Class IV price since August 2015, but is 8 cents above a year ago.

The Agriculture Department raised its 2016 milk production estimate from last month in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, as the cow herd was adjusted slightly to reflect the Jan. 1 dairy cow inventory reported in USDA’s Cattle report and milk per cow was raised for the first quarter.

2016 production and marketings are projected at 211.9 and 210.9 billion pounds, respectively, up 100 million pounds from last month. If realized, 2016 production and marketings would be up 3.4 billion pounds or 1.6 percent from 2015.

Product price forecasts for nonfat dry milk and whey were forecast lower as U.S. prices continue to reflect weakness in international markets. The butter price forecast was raised as domestic demand remains strong. The cheese price forecast was unchanged from last month, although the range was narrowed.

The Class III price forecast was lowered due to lower whey prices, and is now expected to average $14.05-$14.75 per hundredweight, down a dime on the high end from last month’s report, down from $15.80 in 2015, and $22.34 in 2014.

The Class IV price projection was lowered due to a lower nonfat dry milk price more than offsetting a higher butter price. Look for a 2016 Class IV average of $13.00-$13.80, down from the $13.35-$14.25 expected a month ago.

Preliminary USDA data showed December milk production totaled 16.4 billion pounds, up 0.7 percent from December 2014. USDA’s latest Dairy Products report shows where that milk ended up.

Total cheese output hit a record monthly high of 1.02 billion pounds, up 2.8 percent from November, 1.2 percent above a year ago, and put year-to-date production, at 11.7 billion pounds, up 2.4 percent from a year ago.

Butter churns spun 177.1 million pounds, up 17 percent from November, up 4.3 percent from a year ago, with YTD at 1.85 billion pounds, down 0.4 percent.

HighGround Dairy points out that, even though 21 million pounds less butter was manufactured in 2015, end-of-year butter inventories were up 48 million pounds.

Nonfat dry milk totaled 147 million pounds, up 17.2 percent from November, 10.2 percent below a year ago, with YTD output at 1.8 billion pounds, up 2.8 percent. Skim milk powder totaled 45.4 million pounds, up 5.1 percent from a year ago, with YTD output at 450.6 million pounds, down 17.1 percent from 2014. The report also showed December nonfat dry milk stocks at 199.4 million pounds, up just 0.4 percent from November but 16.6 percent below a year ago.

Obama reduces USDA budget in his proposal Tue, 9 Feb 2016 08:43:13 -0500 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama proposed a record $4.1 trillion budget on Tuesday. Here’s a look at each agency and department:


Up or down? Down 5.3 percent


—Obama’s budget for the Agriculture Department includes a proposed $12 billion over 10 years to help feed schoolchildren from low-income families during the summer. Nearly 22 million low-income children receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but just a fraction of those kids receive meals when school is out. Benefits under the proposed program would be loaded onto a debit card that can only be used for food at grocery stores.

The numbers:

Total spending: $155.4 billion, including spending already required by law for food stamps, other government nutrition programs and farm subsidies.

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $24.2 billion.



Up or down? Up 13.6 percent


—The budget would double — to $900 million — spending for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that allows governments at all levels to buy land for parks and recreation and protect public lands, historic sites and battlefields. The budget calls for spending on the conservation fund to be mandatory starting in the budget year that begins in October 2017. The president’s plan is likely to face opposition from congressional Republicans who have long argued that the federal government struggles to adequately maintain land it already owns.

The numbers:

Total spending: $15.9 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $13.2 billion



Up or down? Up 5.5 percent


—In the aftermath of the water-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, Obama’s proposed budget shifts money intended for water infrastructure projects. Overall, the budget cuts $257 million from the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds, reducing total funding to $2 billion for 2017. However, within that larger pool of money, the funds available to provide financial assistance to public water systems is going up $158 million, or about 20 percent. The White House also said it would support earmarking money specifically to help Flint fix its poisoned water in the upcoming energy bill.

The numbers:

Total spending: $8.6 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $8.3 billion.



Up or down? Up 19.7 percent


—The budget proposes $521 million for the International Trade Administration, which tries to attract exports to the U.S. and foreign investments in this country. That includes money to lure companies to the U.S. that would create jobs here, plus money to help American companies find customers overseas and to enforce trade laws.

The numbers:

Total spending: $12.1 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ approval: $9.7 billion.



Up or down? Up .6 percent


—The Pentagon’s proposed 2017 budget, while largely flat, includes increased spending to support European and Eastern European nations against Russian aggression and beefs up spending to counter Islamic State and affiliated militants across Iraq, Syria and Africa.

The proposal would quadruple the amount spent to reassure European nations, with $3.4 billion earmarked for increased military exercises, troop rotations and pre-positioning of equipment. The department also is asking for $200 million to fund counterterror operations in North and West Africa, including Libya.

The budget would slow plans to buy fighter jets, Army helicopters and Marine vehicles, but would increase money for cybersecurity and cutting edge technologies. It would fund a 1.6 percent pay raise for troops and civilians.

The numbers:

Total spending: $649.9 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $582 billion, including $58.8 billion for military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Africa.



Up or down? Up 1.9 percent


—The budget calls for $4 billion in mandatory funding over three years to expand computer science from kindergarten through high school and to boost access, help train teachers and build regional partnerships. The proposed budget also would give the Education Department $24.4 billion to help put into place the new education law Obama signed late last year, replacing No Child Left Behind.

The numbers:

Total spending: $79.4 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $69.4 billion



Up or down? Up 6.8 percent


— As part of a pledge following the 2015 Paris climate summit to double spending on clean energy research and development by 2021, the budget would spend $7.7 billion government-wide for a range of clean energy investments, including $5.8 billion in the Energy Department. The figure is a 20 percent increase over current spending money and includes more than $2 billion to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power.

The numbers:

Total spending: $30.8 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $30.2 billion



Up or down? Up 3 percent


—Responding to an epidemic of heroin addiction and abuse of prescription painkillers, Obama’s budget would provide $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for states to help more people get and complete treatment. The money would be allocated to states based on the severity of the epidemic and the strength of their strategy. The budget also includes $500 million in new funding to increase access to treatment for people with serious mental health problems.

The numbers:

Total spending: $1.15 trillion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $78 billion.



Up or down? Up 0.2 percent


—The budget would provide as much as an extra $23 million for Customs and Border Protection if the number of unaccompanied immigrant children caught crossing the border illegally exceeds the total number of children apprehended during the 2016 budget year. The exact amount of additional funding would depend on how many child immigrants are arrested.

The numbers:

Total spending: $47 billion.

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $47.3



Up or down? Up 0.7 percent


—Obama is seeking nearly $21 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides vouchers to 2.2 million low-income families to help them afford paying rent. That would be a $1.2 billion increase for the program over this year. The program is aimed at helping lower-earning families afford rental housing, and move to safer neighborhoods with better schools and more job opportunities.

The numbers:

Total spending: $48.2 billion.

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $38 billion.



Up or down? Up 38.5 percent


The budget proposes a range of programs aimed at improving job training. These include $2 billion to help people find apprenticeships that pay salaries; $3 billion for partnerships between employers, local development organizations and community colleges to train half a million workers; and $1.5 billion to help states find people out of work for over six months or who’ve given up job hunting and steer them toward employment.

The numbers:

Total spending: $64.9 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $12.8 billion



Up or down? Down 1.3 percent


—Obama’s proposed NASA budget includes a 17 percent cut in spending on human exploration from $4 billion to $3.3 billion. It includes $100 million in a proposed new program to reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes.

The numbers:

Total spending: $19 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $18.3 billion



Up or down? Down 3.7 percent


—Much of the money is reserved for major State Department efforts such as fighting the Islamic State and meeting the security and humanitarian needs stemming from Syria’s civil war. This includes more than $4 billion to stabilize communities liberated from the extremists and to counter IS terrorist plots, financing and recruiting. Other priorities include stemming illegal immigration from Central America, and various global health and climate change initiatives. Embassy security gets $6.1 billion. Almost $1 billion is devoted to countering “Russian aggression.”

The numbers:

Total spending: $57.4 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $52.2 billion.



Up or down? Up 11 percent


—Obama’s trying one last time to boost the budget of a primary Wall Street regulator, allowing it to inspect investment advisers more frequently and pursue more enforcement actions. Though the SEC’s budgets come out of Wall Street user fees and end up earning the government money in the form of fines, Congress has regularly stymied budget increases for both the SEC and its fellow regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The numbers:

Total spending: $1.8 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $1.8 billion



Up or down? Up 25.8 percent


—Obama’s 21st Century Clean Transportation Plan includes $200 million in fiscal year 2017 to help speed the deployment of self-driving vehicles and calls for spending an average of $400 million annually over 10 years on the program. The plan also includes $10 billion a year to boost construction of new transit projects and $7 billion a year for rail improvement and high-speed rail projects. Congress has previously rejected new money for high-speed rail.

The numbers:

Total spending: $95.4 billion, including spending already required by law on highway and transit aid to states

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $12 billion



Up or down? Up 9.1 percent


—The budget proposes $65 billion for medical care at nearly 1,300 VA facilities nationwide serving about 9.1 million enrolled veterans. The figure represents a 6.3 percent increase over current spending. The plan also would authorize $7.2 billion for medical care for veterans treated by local doctors, as directed by the 2014 Veterans Choice Act. Non-VA providers are expected to perform about 15.6 million medical procedures for veterans in the budget year that begins in October.

The numbers:

Total spending: $178.7 billion

Spending that needs Congress’ annual approval: $75.1 billion

Governor seeks additional $1.8 million for ag research, extension Tue, 9 Feb 2016 11:40:38 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed fiscal year 2017 budget seeks an additional $1.78 million in agricultural research and extension funding for University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Virtually all of that money, which represents a 6.2 percent increase over CALS’ fiscal 2016 budget, would go to cover costs associated with payroll.

The governor’s request doesn’t include any new operating dollars for the college, Rich Garber, CALS’ director of industry and government relations, told Food Producers of Idaho members Jan. 27.

“We aren’t asking for any additional enhancements this year,” he said.

Otter’s proposed budget seeks a total of $30.5 million in general fund money for ag research and extension, which would be an increase of $1.78 million over CALS’ current $28.7 million budget.

The governor’s request does seek $27,000 to cover occupancy costs for a new onion storage facility at UI’s Parma research station.

But “the majority of that is for people,” CALS Dean John Foltz said about the additional $1.78 million.

Foltz told members of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which sets funding levels, that the college does good things for Idaho agriculture and the state with the general fund revenue it receives.

He pointed out that UI studies have shown agriculture directly and indirectly accounts for about 20 percent of the state’s economy.

He said CALS researchers are assisting Idaho’s farming industry in a wide variety of ways, including helping develop new irrigation methods that save water and energy and continuing to look at new ways to help them adapt new technology.

CALS employees are also helping the industry understand and meet the new Food Safety Modernization Act requirements and assisting with efforts to eradicate pale cyst nematode in a small federal quarantine area in East Idaho.

“We’re proud to be part of the $8 billion ag industry in the state (and) we’re proud to be part of the research and development (process) that helps move that part of the economy forward,” Foltz said. “I think we do great things with (the money you give us).”

Otter’s budget seeks $8.48 million in general fund revenue for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, which would be a 5.5 percent increase over the department’s current budget.

That additional money would help fund two new positions for the ISDA’s fast-growing organic program, ISDA Director Celia Gould told FPI members.

“We have had so much growth in that arena,” she said.

The ag department is also seeking some additional funds to ramp up the number of tests it conducts in its brucellosis testing laboratory, Gould said.