Capital Press | Capital Press Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:56:34 -0400 en Capital Press | Thai worker settlements with Hawaii farms at risk Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:53:03 -0400 JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER HONOLULU (AP) — A federal judge in Hawaii says she won’t consider approving $2.4 million in settlements for hundreds of Thai farm workers until the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds a news conference clarifying that the agreements are still subject to court approval.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi is ordering the agency to provide proof of the news conference by Friday. She said in her order issued last week that the EEOC didn’t follow rules when it filed the proposed agreements.

The EEOC is planning a news conference in Honolulu on Friday to comply with the order.

Kobayashi’s order warns that if the EEOC doesn’t comply, the judge may deny the requests to approve the settlements and reset all claims for trial.

The EEOC “ignored the possibility that this court could reject one or more of the consent decrees,” Kobayashi’s order said. “The EEOC’s disregard of the applicable rules and this court’s express instructions is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The agency apologized for its error in a court filing.

Anna Park, a regional attorney for the agency in Los Angeles, said Thursday that it was procedural oversight. “It was clearly a miscommunication on our end. We hope we can now move on for the judge to consider the decrees in the interest of the claimants in the case,” she said.

The agency announced in June that it had reached settlement agreements with four Hawaii farms over allegations that they exploited workers.

EEOC attorneys disregarded the judge’s instructions on filing the proposed agreements, “apparently so that EEOC officials could announce, during a previously scheduled press conference, that consent decrees had been ‘filed’ in this case,” Kobayashi’s order said.

The EEOC should have waited to do so until she approved the settlements, Kobayashi said. The EEOC gave the misleading impression the settlements were final, according to her order.

Park said reporters were told at the news conference that the agreements were still subject to court approval, but that point was ambiguous in the news release the agency issued.

Kobayashi said she will lodge disciplinary complaints with the State Bar of California against Park and Sue Noh, a Los Angeles EEOC supervisory trial attorney. Park said she and Noh won’t comment on the disciplinary action.

According to the settlement agreements made public in June, Mac Farms of Hawaii would pay $1.6 million, Kelena Farms would pay $275,000, Captain Cook Coffee Co. would pay $100,000 and Kauai Coffee Co. would pay $425,000. Attorneys for the farms couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc. settled for $1.2 million. Kobayashi has already approved that agreement.

All of the $3.6 million will go directly to the workers, Park said in June, in a distribution process that involves determining who worked on the various farms, for how long and the severity of the abuse workers suffered.

The EEOC filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 against California-based labor contractor Global Horizons and six Hawaii farms, with allegations including workers subjected to discrimination, uninhabitable housing, insufficient food, inadequate wages and deportation threats.

Global Horizons was found liable for the discrimination and abuse of the workers. Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Co., the last farm that hasn’t settled, are scheduled to go to trial.

USDA seizes more than 1,200 illegal giant snails Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:46:41 -0400 MARY CLARE JALONICK WASHINGTON (AP) — The giant African snail damages buildings, destroys crops and can cause meningitis in humans. But some people still want to collect, and even eat, the slimy invaders.

The Agriculture Department is trying to stop them. Since June, department authorities have seized more than 1,200 live specimens of the large snails, also known as giant African land snails, all of them traced back to one person in Georgia, who was selling them illegally.

The USDA discovered the snails through a tip from social media at the end of June. From that tip, the department seized more than 200 snails from a person on Long Island, New York, who identified the seller in Georgia. The department then interviewed the seller and seized almost 1,000 more snails in Georgia, plus one each in Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York.

Agriculture officials said the investigation was ongoing and they would not identify any of the individuals.

It’s important to capture the snails without delay, authorities say, because they multiply quickly, producing 1,200 or more offspring a year. And the snails, which can grow larger than the size of a fist, have no natural predators in the United States. People are their only threat.

Florida authorities know this all too well. Agriculture officials there are in their third year of trying to eradicate the snails. They were discovered in Miami in September 2011, and they’ve been found on houses, where they eat plaster and stucco to gain calcium for their shells, and in residential gardens, where they tear through plants.

Mark Fagan, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture, said the agency so far has found 141,000 snails in 26 areas of Miami-Dade County. Luckily, he said, they have not yet progressed into any of the state’s rich agricultural areas. The snails eat 500 types of plants, including most row crops and citrus, so keeping them away is an important investment for the state’s $100 billion-a-year farm industry.

Florida first saw the giant snails in the 1960s, when a boy from Miami was believed to have smuggled some of them in from Hawaii. His grandmother eventually released his snails into her garden — starting an infestation that took 10 years to eradicate.

Fagan said state officials don’t know how the latest infestation started. But people have different reasons for importing the snails. Sometimes they arrive accidentally in luggage or cargo. The USDA believes most of the snails it has seized this year were being collected by hobbyists who wanted them as pets. They are also used in some African religious practices and even in some cosmetic procedures. And some people consider the snails a food delicacy.

Consumption was the apparent reason for one person’s attempt to bring 67 live snails into California in July. U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted the snails, which were declared by a person from Nigeria, as for human consumption and destined for a location in Corona, California. Customs officers said the person appeared not to know that importation of the live snails into the United States was illegal.

Eating or handling them could be dangerous, government officials said. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the snails can carry a parasitic worm that can lead to meningitis.

The Agriculture Department said it wants to warn people about the threat. People may not know the live snails are prohibited in the United States, and if those people report that they have them, they won’t face any penalties. Those who knowingly import them illegally could face fines.

“The more people who know about giant African snails and know that they are illegal in the United States, the better we are in keeping them out,” said Wendolyn Beltz, a director in the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “If they didn’t know and they are reaching out to us to do the right thing, there will be absolutely no penalties for that.”

It is legal to import frozen giant African snails for consumption in the U.S., and live snails are legal and available in some parts of Europe, as well as other foreign countries, so people may not be aware of the U.S. ban. The snails seized by the USDA this summer came from Britain, the department said.

Dr. Jim Young, an entomologist at USDA who identifies snails and other species intercepted in international commerce, said the best bet is just to be careful when you are abroad.

“Don’t play with snails when you are on vacation,” he said.


USDA on giant African snails:

Vast Northern California wildfire keeps surging Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:28:05 -0400 HAPPY CAMP, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire near the small Northern California logging and gold mining town of Happy Camp in the Klamath National Forest has grown to 50 square miles, pushed by westerly winds that sent embers ahead of the main blaze.

The lightning-sparked fire near the Oregon border had forced the evacuation of people in as many as 250 scattered rural homes and other buildings by late Thursday.

It was 20 percent contained since starting two weeks ago.

Fire spokesman Ken Sandusky said fears that the fire could quickly cover the 10 miles separating it from Scott River Valley prompted the mandatory evacuations ordered Wednesday night by the Siskiyou County sheriff.

An evacuation center has been set up in Yreka, but no one was using it, Sandusky said.

Persistent air inversions trapping smoke in the valley have kept air tankers from dropping retardant in recent days. The fire has taken off at night when the inversion lifts, forcing firefighters to fall back.

Dry weather with steady winds from the west are expected to keep the fire growing through the week, Sandusky said.

California counties ask to form separate state Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:16:20 -0400 JULIET WILLIAMS SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Representatives of two counties in far Northern California petitioned state officials Thursday for the right to form a 51st state called Jefferson, formally asking state lawmakers to vote on their proposal.

Modoc and Siskiyou counties, which share a border with Oregon and have a combined population of about 53,000, submitted petitions from their county governments to the secretaries of the state Assembly and Senate after filing a petition complaining about a lack of representation to the secretary of state.

Organizer Mark Baird told a crowd of about 70 supporters at a rally outside the state Capitol that residents of as many as 10 counties “would be free to create a small state with limited government.”

“We don’t need government from a state telling people in a county what to do with their resources and their children’s education. You are better equipped to educate your children than the state or federal government,” Baird said to applause.

Six counties have so far approved plans to pursue secession, either through elected officials or at the ballot box, and supporters plan to submit more petitions in the coming months. Voters in two counties considered the idea in the June primary, with Tehama voters approving secession and Del Norte voters rejecting it.

On Thursday, supporters waved flags and wore T-shirts bearing the movement’s logo: two X’s and a coiled snake that said “State of Jefferson. Don’t tread on me.”

Later, a group of about 10 of them pushed past the dozens of lobbyists lining the halls of the Capitol for the final week of legislative session to deliver their petitions to the clerks’ offices, where staff members were slightly confused.

“We fully expect to be ignored,” Baird said.

The filings were the first step in building a legal case that supporters believe will allow them to secede from California. They say the U.S. Constitution allows a region to petition the government for secession. If lawmakers ignore the petition, Jefferson proponents say it will give them standing to file a lawsuit.

Critics question how an area with a relatively low tax base and small population could afford to pay for basic services such as schools and roads.

“It would reawaken the rural economy if it were unleashed from urban control,” said Brandon Criss, a Siskiyou County supervisor who voted for secession. “California has over 500 government agencies micromanaging the people.”

Residents would choose how to set up their government, which services to provide and how to pay for them, he said.

Earlier this summer, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper submitted signatures for a ballot initiative seeking to split California into six separate states, including a northern one to be called Jefferson. If his petition has enough valid signatures, it could appear on the statewide ballot in 2016.

Baird said Draper’s heart is in the right place but that his proposal would not have the required legal standing.

Environmental groups seek wolf rules Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:03:13 -0400 NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Environmental groups on Thursday asked Gov. Jay Inslee to push for the creation of strict rules limiting when wolves can be killed in response to livestock depredations.

Their petition sought to limit when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can kill wolves. It would also require ranchers to use nonlethal measures to protect their livestock.

Rules similar to those requested by the petition are in place in Oregon.

The groups made the request as the state was in the process this week of trying to kill four wolves in the Huckleberry Pack in an effort to protect a herd of sheep. One wolf has been killed so far.

Wolves were hunted to extinction a century ago in Washington. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a comeback by entering Washington from Idaho and British Columbia. The state is estimated to have 52 wolves in 13 packs.

“All we’re asking for are some very reasonable standards on what ranchers need to do to protect their livestock and when the state can step in and kill an endangered species,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The governor’s office has 45 days to respond to the request. The office has received the petition and will review the request, Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said.

In 2012, the state killed seven wolves in the Wedge Pack despite the fact that the rancher had taken little action to protect his stock, the environmental groups said.

They contend the situation is similar with the Huckleberry Pack.

However, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has said the owner of the sheep herd has taken numerous nonlethal steps to protect his 1,800 animals. But wolves keep killing the sheep.

Conservation groups filed a similar petition in 2013, but they withdrew it based on promises from the Fish and Wildlife to negotiate new rules governing lethal methods of wolf management. No negotiations have taken place, the environmental groups said.

The groups appealing to Inslee also include Cascadia Wildlands, Western Environmental Law Center, Gifford Pinchot Task Force, The Lands Council, Wildlands Network, Kettle Range Conservation Group and the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Onion and Potatoes Market Report Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:00:25 -0400 Fruit and Vegetable Market News,

Federal - State Market News Service, USDA.

Prices represent open (spot) market sales by first handlers on product of generally good quality and condition unless otherwise stated and may include promotional allowances or other incentives. No consideration is given to after-sale adjustments unless otherwise stated. Brokerage fees paid by the shipper are included in the price reported. Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis excludes all charges for freight.

The Following Terms when used by Market News will be interpreted as meaning:

Occasional-1 to 5%, Few-6 to 10%, Some-11 to 25%, Many-26 to 50%,

Mostly-51 to 90%, Generally-91 to 100%

Moses Lake, WA Clear 67/89

Pasco, WA Clear 61/93

Twin Falls, ID Clear 61/89

Ontario, OR Clear 54/93

Stevens Point, WI Overcast 50/72

Antigo, WI Overcast 46/71

Saint Cloud, MN Mostly Cloudy 59/72


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season


MARKET ABOUT STEADY. Truck shortage limits movement.

Round Red U.S. One

baled 10 5-lb film bags sz A 8.50-10.00 mostly 9.00

50 lb cartons

sz A 8.75-10.00 mostly 9.00 occas lower

sz B 12.00-15.00 mostly 12.00-13.50 occas higher

Creamers 3/4-1 5/8” 20.00-30.00 mostly 20.00

50 lb sacks

sz A 7.50-8.50 mostly 8.00 occas lower

sz B 11.00-14.00 mostly 12.00 occas higher

tote bags approx 2000 lbs per cwt

sz A 13.00-15.00 mostly 14.00 occas lower

U.S. Two 50 lb sacks

sz A 2.75-4.50 mostly 3.00-4.00 occas higher

sz B 5.00-8.00 mostly 6.00-7.00 occas higher

Yellow Type U.S. One

baled 10 5-lb film bags sz A 11.50-12.50 mostly 12.00 occas lower

50 lb cartons

sz A 11.50-12.50 mostly 12.00 occas lower

sz B 8.50-11.00 mostly 10.00 occas lower

Creamers 3/4-1 5/8” 20.00-25.00 mostly 20.00

tote bags approx 2000 lbs per cwt

sz A 18.00-20.00


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season



Russet Norkotah U.S. One

baled 5 10-lb film bags sz A 6.50-8.00 mostly 7.00

baled 10 5-lb film bags sz A 7.50-9.00 mostly 8.00

50 lb cartons

40s 10.00-12.00 mostly 11.00-12.00

50s 10.00-12.00 mostly 11.00-12.00

60s 10.00-12.00 mostly 11.00-12.00

70s 10.00-12.00 mostly 11.00-12.00

80s 10.00-12.00 mostly 11.00-12.00

90s 9.00-10.00 mostly 10.00

100s 9.00-10.00 mostly 10.00

Round Red U.S. One

baled 5 10-lb film bags sz A 8.50-10.00 mostly 8.50-9.00 occas higher

baled 10 5-lb film bags sz A 9.50-11.00 mostly 9.50-10.00 occas higher

50 lb cartons

sz A 9.00-10.00 mostly 9.00-9.50

sz B 10.00-14.00 mostly 13.00-13.

50 50 lb sacks

sz A 8.00-9.00 mostly 8.00-8.50

sz B 9.00-13.00 mostly 12.00-12.50

Round White U.S. One 50 lb sacks

sz A 6.50-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50

Yellow Type U.S. One 50 lb cartons

sz A 11.00-13.00 mostly 12.00


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season


Yellow Hybrid 50 lb sacks

jbo 7.50-8.50 mostly 8.00-8.50

med 5.00-7.00 mostly 6.00

White 50 lb sacks

jbo 12.00-13.00

med 10.00

Red Globe Type 25 lb sacks

jbo 7.00-8.00 mostly 8.00 occas higher

med 6.00-6.50 mostly 6.00 occas higher


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season


Russet Norkotah U.S. One 2” or 4-oz Min

baled 5 10-lb film bags

sz A 5.00-5.50

non sz A 3.50-4.50 mostly 4.00

baled 10 5-lb film bags

sz A 6.00-6.50

non sz A 4.50-5.50 mostly 5.00

50 lb cartons

40s 6.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas higher & lower

50s 6.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas higher & lower

60s 6.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas higher & lower

70s 6.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas higher & lower

80s 6.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas higher & lower

90s 6.00-7.00 occas higher & lower

100s 6.00-7.00 occas higher & lower

U.S. Two 50 lb sacks

10 oz min 4.00-6.00 mostly 4.00-5.00


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season


Yellow Spanish Hybrid U.S. One 50 lb sacks

Super Col 12.00-13.00 mostly 12.00 occas lower

col 9.00-10.00 mostly 10.00 occas higher

jbo 8.00-9.00 mostly 8.00

med 5.50-7.00 mostly 6.00

White 50 lb sacks

jbo 12.00-13.00 occas higher

med 10.00-12.00 mostly 10.00 occas higher

Red Globe Type U.S. One 25 lb sacks

jbo 8.00-9.00 mostly 9.00

med 7.00-8.00 mostly 7.00 occas lower


Sales F.O.B. Shipping Point and/or Delivered Sales, Shipping Point Basis

2014 Season


Russet Norkotah U.S. One 2” or 4-oz Min

baled 5 10-lb mesh sacks non sz A 40% 5-oz min 4.25-5.00 mostly 4.50 occas higher

baled 5 10-lb film bags non sz A 40% 5-oz min 3.50-4.50 mostly 4.00

baled 10 5-lb mesh sacks non sz A 40% 5-oz min 5.25-6.00 mostly 5.50 occas higher

baled 10 5-lb film bags non sz A 40% 5-oz min 4.50-5.50 mostly 5.00

50 lb cartons

40s 7.00-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50

50s 7.00-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50

60s 7.00-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50 occas lower

70s 7.00-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50

80s 6.50-8.00 mostly 7.00-7.50

90s 6.00-7.00

100s 6.00-7.00

U.S. Two 50 lb sacks

6 oz min 5.50-6.00 mostly 6.00

10 oz min 7.00

Intermountain Grain & Livestock Report Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:57:51 -0400 POCATELLO — Wednesday Prices: White wheat 5.80 (steady); hard red winter 6.22 (up 8); 14 percent spring 6.30 (down 2); hard white 6.22 (up 8);

BURLEY — White wheat no quote; 11.5 percent winter no quote; 14 percent spring no quote; hard white no quote; barley no quote;

OGDEN — White wheat 6.16 (up 9); 11.5 percent winter 6.30 (up 12); 14 percent spring 6.87 (up 12); barley 6.10 (steady); corn 8.20 (up 11);

PORTLAND—— Soft white 7.06 (up 6); hard red winter 7.40-7.45 (up 6 ? 17); 14 percent spring 8.16 (up 20); white club 9.06 (steady); oats 290.00 (steady);

NAMPA— Soft white 10.42 (up 12) cwt or 6.25 (up 7) bushel. ———

LIVESTOCK AUCTION —— Idaho Livestock in Idaho Falls on August 27. Breaker and boner cows 100.00-115.00; cutter and canner 82.00-102.00; heiferettes 140.00-160.00; feeding cows 94.00-104.00; slaughter bulls 118.00-130.00; feeding and cutting bulls 110.00-140.00; steers: heavy 183.00-210.00, light 225.00-240.00, stocker 240.00-310.00; heifers: heavy no test, light 190.00-208.00, stocker 210.00-270.00; holstein steers: no test. Remarks: cows and bulls lower, feeders steady.

Smoke lessens from wildfires in Oregon Cascades Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:52:01 -0400 PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Smoke from the Oregon Cascade Range wildfires blamed for making the air unhealthy over a wide area has lessened, a spokeswoman for fire crews said Thursday night.

The Deception Complex fires generated less smoke Thursday than the giant plume that drew air advisory warnings on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Rita Dyer. Calls from residents concerned about the smoke came from as far away as the central Oregon community of Bend.

“There was less of a smoke column Thursday,” Dyer said.

Another expected air inversion could make things smoky early Friday, she added. The forecast calls for lower temperatures and higher humidity that should help firefighters.

Residents of a mobile home park and along a road near the wildfires were on evacuation alert after being temporarily evacuated on Wednesday.

Any residents with mobility issues have left the area, Dyer said.

The wildfire complex has burned across nearly 3 square miles.

Oregon Transportation Department spokesman Rick Little urged people traveling over the holiday weekend to stay informed on the state of the Deception fire.

“If their travel plans include a trip over Highway 58, they should be prepared to take an alternate route, make alternate plans and be ready for the unexpected,” he told The Register-Guard newspaper.

Earlier, the state Department of Environmental Quality said the air quality in Klamath Falls deteriorated Wednesday to a level that’s unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as people with asthma.

The air was similarly dangerous in Bend, the agency said, while the air quality was judged as only “moderate” in the Eugene area on the west side. Between the two cities, the air was rated unhealthy at the center of the fire.

Lightning started the first fire two weeks ago, and it combined with two other fires.

The smoke wasn’t widely bothersome until the wind shifted Wednesday.

Jerry Shortt, 70, said he and his cousin spent hours watering down his 7-acre property near the mountain town of Oakridge, using sprinklers and hoses as burned leaves rained down.

It was the closest that a wildfire has gotten in the nearly 40 years he’s lived on the property, Shortt said. He said his and his cousin’s wives packed up their motorhomes in case an evacuation order came.

“We’ll have to do what we have to do,” Shortt said. “There’s nothing else we can do about it.”

Feds jail ginseng poacher as wild plants face risk Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:45:53 -0400 MITCH WEISS ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Broke and down on his luck, Billy Joe Hurley turned to the only way he knew how to make a living: poaching ginseng.

But after his latest in a long string of arrests, federal prosecutors had enough.

They told a U.S. magistrate Thursday that poaching by Hurley and others in the national forests in western North Carolina has dramatically reduced the numbers of wild ginseng — a humble looking plant whose roots can fetch more than $900 a pound.

Prosecutor David Thorne said they needed to send a message: Illegal ginseng harvesting won’t be tolerated.

Hurley, 46, of Bryson City, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5½ months in jail — the fifth time in a decade that Hurley has been sentenced for illegal possession or harvesting of ginseng. He could have received up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

But Magistrate Dennis Howell said he didn’t fine Hurley because he knew he couldn’t pay it.

Hurley’s legal troubles illustrate a larger problem: As prices continue to skyrocket, more people are traipsing through national forests, state parks and even private property to hunt ginseng, leaving the plant’s survival in doubt.

“We only catch a small fraction of what’s going on here,” said Wes Mullins, a National Park Service ranger who arrested Hurley on June 28. “Most of them are woodsmen and they know the mountains better than we do.”

He said poachers often camp out deep in the hardwood forest, digging up the slow-growing plant for its two- and three-prong roots. They can get up to $200 for fresh roots. Dried roots can go for more than $900 because of the strong demand, mostly from eastern Asian markets.

“We just have to keep trying. Otherwise, the plant will go extinct,” he said.

Digging ginseng — or ‘sang, as some still call it — has been an Appalachian tradition for generations. And it’s not illegal to harvest ginseng on your own property.

The Chinese have used ginseng for thousands of years as everything from an aphrodisiac to an elixir of longevity. But Asian ginseng has become virtually extinct due in part to overharvesting.

Some large-scale farms in China, the United States and other countries grow ginseng, said Jim Hamilton, the Watauga County extension director.

But wild American ginseng is the most desired and fetches the most money because of its potency. And it only grows in selected cool climates, such as the Appalachian Mountains. It flourishes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Each September, the U.S. Forest Service sets a legal harvesting period for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, issuing permits that limit how much can be gathered.

This year, the agency has issued just 136 permits through a lottery system. Each permit holder can gather up to 3 pounds.

But the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is off limits for ginseng harvesting.

And that’s where wildlife officials have been working to save ginseng, one plant at a time.

Jim Corbin, a plant protection specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, has developed a way to track ginseng. Each August, he and a group of volunteers spend a week trudging up steep hillsides in the park. When they find a ginseng plant, they push aside the dirt and sprinkle yellow powered dye to mark the roots.

Ginseng dealers are alerted not to buy plants with dyed roots.

Corbin said his team usually marks more than 2,000 plants during the week.

But with ginseng roots fetching so much money, he says it’s hard to stop poachers.

Just ask 42-year-old James Williamson, who faces ginseng poaching charges.

People in western North Carolina are struggling to get by, Williamson told the Associated Press.

“There aren’t many jobs around here. Logging is gone. Mills are gone. It’s easy to go out in the woods and walk,” he said. “I’m not a bad guy. I just need the money.”

“This was something fathers taught their sons,” he added. “People used to go digging just to get extra money for Christmas. Now they need the money to live.”

That’s one reason Hurley has been poaching ginseng for years, said his attorney, Corey Atkins. He said Hurley was “destitute,” living with his parents. He had no money, no job prospects.

“He is sorry,” Atkins said, adding, “It is something that he has developed a skill for — identifying the plants.”

West Nile Virus found in Michigan horse, turkeys Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:43:39 -0400 TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have confirmed the West Nile Virus has been found in a northern Michigan horse and a mid-Michigan turkey flock.

The state Agriculture and Community Health departments said Thursday an 8-year-old horse from Grand Traverse County tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus this month. It was euthanized after it didn’t respond to treatment.

The disease affects humans and animals. Symptoms in horses include stumbling, tremors, facial paralysis, impaired vision and seizures.

Officials say there hasn’t been a human case of the virus this season.

They say turkeys in a small flock in Ingham County were infected with the disease and were dying at a high rate.

A state veterinarian says people should be diligent about vaccinating horses, using bug repellent and keeping water troughs clean.

Wisconsin cranberry industry woos Chinese buyers Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:41:20 -0400 WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin officials are turning to Chinese buyers to take a bite out of the state’s overgrown cranberry crop.

Stevens Point Journal Media reports the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection hosted a group of potential buyers from China this past week to talk to local farmers and tour facilities. Industry leaders are hoping to expand the reach of Wisconsin’s harvest as overproduction of the fruit causes prices to drop.

A Wisconsin international trade representative says the department wants to increase awareness of cranberries among Chinese consumers. The Chinese professionals represented businesses in China’s e-commerce, wellness, retail and magazine industries.

The U.S. Agriculture Department projects Wisconsin will produce 5.4 million barrels of cranberries in 2014. That’s more than 60 percent of the nation’s total cranberry production.

Highest number of North Dakota bee colonies ever Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:39:07 -0400 BLAKE NICHOLSON BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The number of bee colonies in the nation’s leading honey-producing state is on the rise, as is landowner acceptance of the boxlike colonies.

State and industry officials in North Dakota credit more beekeepers, a more concerted attempt to register colonies and a unique effort to help beekeepers and landowners live in harmony.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said 221 beekeepers have registered 510,000 colonies this year, compared to 205 beekeepers registering 482,500 colonies last year. More than 12,200 hive locations have been registered, compared to 11,000 last year.

Goehring said there has been a spike in registration compliance because of education and outreach done by his department’s apiary staff. There also are more colonies because drought elsewhere has steered more beekeepers to North Dakota, said Will Nissen, a longtime Minot beekeeper and president of the North Dakota Beekeepers Association.

While other states, such as Montana and South Dakota, have strict limits on space between colonies, “North Dakota is kind of a ‘bring-’em-on-in’ state,” he said.

Goehring also said complaints about bee colonies are on the decline. One reason might be the state’s Pollinator Plan.

North Dakota last year became the first state to heed the call of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to develop a plan to help beekeepers and landowners resolve differences while protecting honeybees, in the hope of reversing the effects of colony collapse disorder. A federal report blames a combination of factors including a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides for the loss of as much as one-third of the nation’s bees each winter since 2006.

“The pollinator plan was developed in response to a growing need for a balanced public policy that mitigates risk to honey bees, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture to prevent unintended consequences,” Goehring said.

North Dakota’s eight-page plan was based on information gathered at meetings of beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, crop consultants and others.

“A lot of this is simple — getting to know what a beekeeper needs, and what a farmer needs,” Nissen said, adding that efforts to improve relations and improve the industry are “heading in the right direction.”

North Dakota has led the nation in honey production for the past decade, and last year produced more than 33 million pounds of honey, 22 percent of the national total.

Capital Press calendar of events Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:20:35 -0400 To submit items to the calendar, send an email with information to



Aug. 29 — Turf Grass Field Day, 8 a.m., Lewis-Brown Farm, 33329 Peoria Road, Corvallis, Alec Kowalewski, 541-737-5449


Aug. 30-Sept. 6 — Eastern Idaho State Fair, 97 Park St., Blackfoot, (208) 785-2480,



Sept. 1-3 — Agrifoodtec, Nairobi, Kenya,

Sept. 7-10 — Saudi Agriculture 2014, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,


Through Sept. 1 — Oregon State Fair, Salem,

Sept. 5-6 — 56th Annual Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association Tree Fair and Trade Show, Red Lion on the River, Jantzen Beach, Portland, (503) 364-2942

Sept. 6 — Third Annual Small Farm School, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Clackamas Community College,

Sept. 15 — Willamette Valley Oilseed Producers Association Annual Meeting, 7:30-10:30 a.m., Polk County Fairgrounds, Rickreall,

Sept. 26-27 — Geothermal Workshop: Lease, Units and Water Use Legal Issues and Hydrothermal Resources and Geothermal Exploration, Oregon Convention Center, Portland, or 530-758-2360

Sept. 28-Oct. 1 — Geothermal Resource Council Annual Meeting and Expo, Oregon Convention Center, Portland. Register by Aug. 30 for $100 discount, or 530-758-2360


Sept. 5-21 — Washington State Fair, Puyallup,

Sept. 13 — Farmer Consumer Awareness Day festival, Quincy,


Sept. 18-19 — California Poultry Federation annual conference, Monterey Plaza Hotel, 400 Cannery Road, Monterey,

Sept. 23-25 — Fresh-Cut Products: Maintaining Quality and Safety Workshop, University of California-Davis,


Through Sept. 6 — Eastern Idaho State Fair, 97 Park St., Blackfoot, (208) 785-2480,

Sept.3 — Increasing habitat for pollinators workshop, sponsored by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Peaceful Belly Farm, Dry Creek Valley north of Boise, or or (208) 850-6504



Oct. 1-3 — North American Blueberry Council and U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council fall meeting, Hyatt Rosemont Hotel, Rosemont, Ill., (847) 518-1234 or (916) 983-0111.

Oct. 20-22 — National Farmland, Food And Livable Communities Conference, American Farmland Trust, Lexington, Ky.,


Oct. 18 — Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation Fall Harvest Dinner and Auction, Oregon State University, Corvallis, (541)737-8629 or


Oct. 2 — Introduction to Food Safety and HAACP Workshop, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn Idaho Falls,


Oct. 24-25 — Washington State Sheep Producers annual convention, Leavenworth,



Nov. 7 — Denim and Diamonds annual dinner auction, Agri-Business Council of Oregon, 5 p.m., Portland Marriott Hotel,


Nov. 3-5 — Produce Safety: A Science-based Framework Workshop, University of California-Davis,


Nov. 10-11 — Dairy Industry Annual Meeting, Heathman Lodge, Vancouver,

Nov. 7-9 — Tilth Producers of Washington 40th anniversary conference, Vancouver Hilton,


Nov. 4-6 — Practical Food Safety and HACCP Workshop, Riverside Hotel, Boise,

Lawmaker criticizes how Carlton Complex fire was fought Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:33:08 -0400 Matw Weaver A Washington state legislator is calling for hearings to address what he says were shortcomings in the way firefighters handled the Carlton Complex fire.

Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, said he observed firefighting efforts on Gebbers Farms in Brewster, Wash.

Kretz stressed that the failings were not in the firefighters but the system.

“On the management end of this thing, we’ve gone from firefighting to fire-managing,” he said. “I think it’s going to have to be a complete overhaul.”

Local fire departments and Gebbers Farms’ efforts were successful and effective, but he said he couldn’t get answers from incident commanders.

Kretz said he saw success by local firefighters and private entities, while frustrated crews sat in Brewster waiting for orders.

“The only reason Brewster’s here is Gebbers Farms,” Kretz said.

Gebbers Farms used its equipment to build a fire line to save houses and towns, he said, and requested two-wheel drive fire trucks to follow along and spray down hot spots, and were told by managers they’d get back to them.

“When you wait four days for them to get back to you, something’s screwed up,” Kretz said. “You fight fire in real time, you don’t fight it in four- or five-day delays.”

Kretz also said calls for permission to take a fire line across state-owned ground took too long for a reply.

“When it takes five-and-a-half hours to get an answer, you’ve lost your window,” he said. “It could have been contained several times in situations like that.”

Washington Department of Natural Resources communications and outreach director Sandra Kaiser said it will be a while before details are available on precisely what happened in all the locations that made up the Carlton Complex fire.

“The top priority for the incident commanders was to keep people safe,” Kaiser said. “It’s terrible when people lose their homes, but it’s worse when they lose their lives.”

There was one fatality, a landowner who reportedly had a heart attack while trying to protect his home, Kaiser said.

Fire crews and equipment were in high demand because there had been many massive, fast and dangerous fires throughout the region, in addition to the Carlton Complex, Kaiser said.

At one point, more than 3,000 firefighters were battling the Carlton Complex fire, Kaiser said.

There were 27 firefighter injuries or illnesses, she said.

The Carlton Complex fire burned 250,000 acres and 300 homes and cost $36 million to fight so far, Kaiser said.

“The fire set a new standard of unpredictability, destruction and danger for all who fight fires in the West,” Kaiser said.

Kretz has discussed holding hearings with the chair of the state House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The people who suffered the most need the chance to address what happened, he said. If the management isn’t working, it’s the Legislature’s job to examine the situation to avoid similar scenarios, Kretz said, saying most of what he saw was avoidable.

“If we’re going to ask citizens to pay a fire assessment, what are we paying for and what are we getting?” he said. “I don’t see why we’re sending that money to Olympia if they’re going to bungle like they did.”

Concerns also arose in the agriculture community over instances where volunteers reportedly offered to help extinguish fires caused by lightning in the Carlton Complex fire and were turned away.

DNR does not typically turn qualified firefighters away, Kaiser said.

“However, there are many risks involved in wild land firefighting, and it is the responsibility of the incident management team — made up of local, state and federal firefighters — to manage those risks,” Kaiser said, noting safety is top priority. “If volunteers try to step in without being a part of the incident management team, their safety and the safety of all firefighters can be compromised.”

GMO initiative recruits farmers to dispel myths Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:27:49 -0400 John O’Connell SUN VALLEY, Idaho — An organization that operates a website intended to dispel myths about genetically engineered crops is recruiting farmers and other agricultural industry experts to field the publics’ questions about the controversial technology.

The GMO Answers Initiative — — was launched about a year ago under the umbrella of the nonprofit Biotechnology Industry Organization, with funding from Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Sciences, BASF, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer.

Speaking Aug. 27 to spud farmers attending the annual Idaho Grower Shippers Association meeting in Sun Valley, Kate Hall, manager for partnerships and programs with the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said potato farmers are needed as experts, with USDA approval of J.R. Simplot’s Innate line of transgenic potatoes expected soon. About 100 experts now assists in fielding questions pertaining to their expertise.

“(Farmers) are the most valued and respected voice in agriculture,” Hall said. “People want to connect with and hear from the farmers who are growing their food.”

While the initiative emphasized those within the agriculture industry in its inaugural year, it will prioritize engaging the public, planning to have a presence at large events in 2015.

Hall believes GMO opponents have effectively spread misinformation on social media, using emotional rather than scientific arguments, which is rapidly shared by consumers with little agricultural background. In response, initiative staff respond to misinformation about GMOs when they encounter it on social media.

They’ve also created “visual myth busters,” which offer the facts coupled with humorous images, such as a syringe injecting a tomato.

Hall emphasized GMO traits have only been commercialized thus far in corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets, alfalfa, squash and papaya, though the brevity of the list comes as a surprise to visitors of the website, who often falsely believe other GMO crops are in widespread production and cause allergies and other health problems.

She’s seen progress in public understanding. When the site first launched, Hall said questions were far more vitriolic, and less concerned about science.

“We’re definitely seeing a trend of people looking for information and not just yelling at us,” Hall said.

Though consumers once had to scroll through several pages before finding a positive site about GMOs in online searches, Hall said the initiative’s site now typically surfaces on the first page, and had fielded 776 questions through July.

Hall said information from the website has also been translated for a Japanese audience.

U.S. Potato Board member Karleen Hardy, of Oakley, said she’s been frustrated for years that the industry hasn’t done a better job of educating consumers and is encouraged by the initiative’s direction.

“If they’re not getting that education at the consumer level, we’re not getting anywhere,” Hardy said.

For more information, contact Hall at

Vancouver port taps North Dakota for new customer Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:00:15 -0400 Don Jenkins VANCOUVER, Wash. — Railcars dispatched from the Port of Vancouver with supplies for North Dakota’s energy fields will return with farm commodities, according to an agreement between the port and North Dakota agriculture officials.

Right now, some of those railcars rumble back to the West empty. Meanwhile, North Dakota farmers and shippers are struggling to move food to Asia and Latin America, the state’s agriculture commissioner, Doug Goerhring, said Thursday.

“Everybody is experiencing problems with rail service,” he said. “It’s crucial we find modes of transportation.”

Goerhring and Port CEO Todd Coleman signed the agreement Wednesday in Fargo, N.D.

The port will supply the railcars, put the commodities on ships and coordinate rail service with Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

North Dakota officials will publicize the service among the state’s farmers and shippers.

Goehring said he hoped the shipments of soybeans, peas, lentils, dry beans and other commodities will start arriving as early as mid-September.

The idea originated with the Columbia River port, a daily launching point for railcars carrying supplies such as steel pipes and bauxite for North Dakota’s coal, oil and gas fields.

The port approached North Dakota officials about filling those railcars for the return journey more than a year ago.

The port is already a leading West Coast handler of bulk commodities. Some 16 percent of the wheat grown in the U.S. flows through Vancouver, according to port officials.

The port will obtain and control a supply of railcars by leasing them for $625 each per month. Initially, the port will lease 50 railcars. Port commissioners have authorized leasing up to 180 railcars.

The port’s return on its investment will depend on interest shown by North Dakota farmers and shippers.

Port spokeswoman Abbi Russell said the port expects to at least break even, but does not have revenue projections.

The agreement calls on the port to make upgrades to its handling facilities if necessary. No improvements are planned for now, Russell said.

The port began a $275 million project in 2007 to improve rail access to the port. The port expects to complete the project in 2017.

WSU to discontinue annual Seattle football game Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:52:19 -0400 Matw Weaver The Washington State Beef Commission is re-evaluating its marketing relationship with Washington State University football after school officials decided to discontinue its annual game in Seattle, the organization’s executive director says.

The commission has based a marketing push on the annual Seattle game. WSU’s football game against Rutgers University Aug. 28 is its last in Seattle for the foreseeable future, WSU athletic director Bill Moos told the Capital Press.

WSU, which normally plays at its Pullman, Wash., campus across the state, held its first football game in Seattle in 2002.

Moos cited the university’s television deals and investments in facilities on the WSU campus as reasons for ending the Seattle game.

“We have all of that investment into Martin Stadium, and just feel that’s where we should be playing our games now,” Moos said.

Washington’s beef industry has used the game to promote itself in Western Washington.

Washington State Beef Commission Executive Director Patti Brumbach said sponsorship of the Seattle game was one element of the commission’s Beef for Tailgating campaign, typically capping off four weeks of promotions with Certified Angus Beef and QFC grocery stores.

“It’s been important, it’s given us a lot of great exposure and pre-game advertising as well as game day advertising,” she said.

Last year, Brumbach estimated the four-week, $180,000 promotion made about 20 million consumer impressions.

This year, the “Beef for Tailgating” promotion will continue through September at QFC stores. The buildup to the game coincides with summer grilling campaigns.

The commission is advertising on food websites, social media and Pandora Internet Radio, Brumbach said.

Brumbach said the commission was aware that WSU was considering ending the Seattle game.

Brumbach said the commission board will have to evaluate its next steps and consider future alternatives with WSU football. The board will look at all its options and keep them wide open, she said.

“As a cattleman myself, I’m hoping that partnership continues,” Moos said. “We certainly hope we still have something that’s appealing to them and we will be in discussions here shortly.”

Moos and his wife have a certified Angus cattle ranch in Valleyford, Wash., typically raising 15 head.

Federal government lists Oregon spotted frog as threatened Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:21:59 -0400 Eric Mortenson Online

A fact sheet on Oregon spotted frogs is available at

Judge rules against county GMO regulations Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:17:29 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski A federal judge has invalidated a Hawaiian county’s regulations for genetically modified organisms, but has affirmed that states can require growers to disclose information about GMO crops without running afoul of federal laws.

That finding provides some consolation for critics of biotech crops in what’s otherwise a defeat.

While the decision is certainly a victory for proponents of biotechnology, it also rejects some of their key legal arguments against Kauai County’s regulation of genetically engineered crops.

Significantly, the ruling held that requiring farmers to disclose the type and location of transgenic crops is not preempted by federal law.

“It seems to be not all bad news for the losers and not all good news for the winners,” said Daniel Cole, an environmental law and economics professor at Indiana University.

Last year, the Kauai County Council approved an ordinance that requires biotech farmers to submit an annual report to government agencies about the GMO crops they’re growing.

The ordinance also includes no-spray buffer zones and notification requirements for pesticides, among other measures.

Syngenta Seeds and other biotech proponents filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ordinance, which they claimed was barred by several state and federal laws and violated their due process rights.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren has agreed with the plaintiffs on a crucial point: the local ordinance is preempted by Hawaii state rules for pesticides, plant quarantines, seed quality and noxious weeds.

However, he ruled that the county’s regulations are not preempted by federal laws and regulations governing pesticides, biotechnology and plant protection.

Biotech proponents would have prevailed more resoundingly in the lawsuit if the ordinance was struck down on grounds of federal preemption, said Cole.

“If they won on federal preemption, that’s the best, because it’s so hard to change,” he said.

From the legal perspective, other federal courts could potentially be influenced by the ruling, Cole said.

The opinion indicates that a state can preempt its counties from requiring GMO disclosure, but the state itself can implement such a requirement without running afoul of federal law, he said.

The ruling could be relevant in other states if they pass similar GMO disclosure requirements, said Drew Kershen, an agricultural biotechnology law professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Many farmers are leery of such a possibility, he said. “The reason they’re worried about being pin-pointed is vandalism, because it’s happened.”

However, the opinion won’t directly bear on the legality of labeling foods containing GMOs, since questions of federal preemption are very fact-specific, said Kershen. “I think they’re going to be quite distinctive issues.”

In practical terms, the ruling also means that counties could still enact GMO and pesticide rules if Hawaii’s legislature makes clear that they’re not preempted by state law, said Cole.

It would be tough for GMO critics to convince state lawmakers to pass such a bill, but not nearly as difficult as getting the U.S. Congress to sign off on it, he said.

The Center for Food Safety, a non-profit that supported the ordinance, believes the judge made the right decision about the lack of federal preemption but is “extremely disappointed” that the Kauai regulations were overturned.

The group and other ordinance supporters are considering an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and other options, said George Kimbrell, its attorney. “The battle is far from over.”

Stan Abramson, an attorney who advises the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said he’s encouraged by the judge’s reasoning regarding state preemption.

Farmers in the Hawaiian Islands are dealing with the aftermath of a tropical hurricane and shouldn’t be expected to shoulder additional regulatory burdens, he said.

The ruling about Kauai’s regulations may also have implications for litigation over an even more controversial ordinance in Hawaii County that actually prohibits GMOs — particularly since the same judge is presiding over both lawsuits.

“If the judge has ruled that an annual (GMO disclosure) report is preempted, that seems to hint that the judge would rule that a ban, which is a more serious impediment, is preempted,” said Kershen.

Visit offers Alabama livestock at its best Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:32:04 -0400 DOUG WARNOCK Certified organic production, direct marketing of locker beef, online marketing and top performance records were just some of the highlights of my tour in Alabama this summer. Participating in the 2014 Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in Mobile, Alabama, allowed me to visit some of Alabama’s unique and interesting livestock operations.

Hastings Farm is a certified organic farm producing corn, soybeans, lamb, pastured pork and grass-fed beef. The farm is managed by Randall Hastings and his sons. Their cattle are Devon, Angus and South Poll crosses, which are finished on grass at 27 months of age. Animals are sold through health food stores and retail outlets such as Whole Foods. One of the important tools in Hastings’ grazing management is use of a refractometer, or Brix meter, to test the sugar level of forage to help them determine when to move animals to fresh pasture. Their cattle gain from 1.75 to 3.0 pounds per day on pasture depending on the feed quality and air temperature.

Important to Hastings’ organic production is the use of plant nutrients and pest deterrents from natural sources. The Hastings use chicken litter for fertilizer and rely on nitrogen fixation in the soil by crimson clover. They use apple cider vinegar in parasite control and have healthy populations of dung beetles and earthworms, which break down the parasites’ life cycles.

Perdido River Farms is an enterprise owned by the Poarch Creek Indians. This is a beef cow-calf operation including a herd of 800 Angus and Angus cross cows run on about 3,000 acres. The cattle are pastured on Bahia grass and Bermuda grass. They also plant pearlleaf millet, oats, ryegrass and crimson clover for grazing. In this location, cattle have about 300 days of grazing a year. As with the Hastings farm, the main source of fertilizer for the pasture is chicken litter from nearby broiler operations. They put up hay for the two-month wintering period. Having their own weight scales allows Perdido to sell calves directly off the farm.

Although it’s located in Florida’s panhandle about 25 miles north of Pensacola, Gizmo Angus Farm is considered part of the Alabama beef industry. Ronnie and Debbie Gilmore and family have a registered herd of 140 Angus cattle producing top quality Angus bulls and replacement females that are selected to perform well in the hot, humid environment of the Southeast. The Gilmores select animals for improved carcass characteristics, while paying attention to economically important traits like calving ease, fleshing ability and good growth.

These Alabama and Florida producers deal with a different climate and somewhat different forage plants, but their aspirations and motivations are much the same as ranchers in the Western U.S. No matter where it occurs, hard work and good management is recognized across the country.

Doug Warnock, retired from Washington State University Extension, lives on a ranch in the Touchet River Valley where he writes about and teaches grazing management. He can be contacted at

Utah State team wins new dairy product contest Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:34:14 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The student product development team at Utah State University’s School of Food Science took top honors and $10,000 for its new dairy product in the annual student contest organized by Idaho Milk Processors Association.

The product, Quick Sour, is a starter product for sourdough bread made from acid whey, a by-product of acid-made dairy products such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.

The team formulated the product using acid whey from Greek yogurt, a growing sector of the dairy industry.

Due to environmental concerns, the acid whey cannot just be dumped, and the industry must find another way to use it, the team reported in its presentation at the milk processors annual conference in Sun Valley last week.

Sourdough bread is traditionally made by adding lactic acid-producing bacteria starter culture to the dough. Those starters are often difficult to find and take a long time to produce acid in the dough, team members reported.

Using acid whey as an ingredient in the bread, however, could make sourdough baking more accessible to the average consumer. And it could give the Greek yogurt industry another option for the acid whey, according to the team.

Basically, the acid whey is pasteurized, concentrated, evaporated and dried to produce a powder that can be packaged and marketed to consumers.

“Utah State’s Quick Sour is a really good product and made bread with a nice, clear sourdough flavor. It’s a very exciting product,” said head judge Rex C. Infanger, account manager with DuPont Nutrition and Health.

Keeping sourdough starter alive isn’t easy, he said.

“I have requested a sample of the Quick Sour for our bakery group so they can look at the product. I do not know where it will go from there,” he said.

The competition is designed to help food science students in the Intermountain region become acquainted with the industry, Infanger said.

The contest has a core group of food-science program affiliates at Washington State University/University of Idaho, Brigham Young University and Utah State University and has invited Oregon State University to join that core, he said.

Cornell, Purdue, South Dakota State University and California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo have also been invited to compete in the past, he said.

The contest is not only to introduce students to the regional industry but also to promote new ways to sell dairy, he said.

Coming in second in the competition was a sweetened, carbonated, orange-cream-flavored beverage formulated predominantly from low pH whey derived from the manufacture of Greek-style yogurt.

That product was developed by students at the University of Idaho and Washington State University and garnered a prize of $5,000.

A single-serve, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat, cold breakfast cereal complete with dried milk, developed by students at Brigham Young University, took third prize and $3,000.

Half of the prize money goes to the students’ schools, with the students sharing the other half.

Grant allows Nyssa ag program to build greenhouse Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:28:44 -0400 Sean Ellis NYSSA, Ore. — Nyssa High School will use a $25,000 grant from Monsanto Corp. to build a modern greenhouse that will allow ag education students to perform advanced science-based experiments.

The grant was awarded by Monsanto through the company’s regional Seminis vegetable seeds division. A ceremonial check was presented to school district officials Aug. 25 at the farm of Paul Skeen.

The money will cover the cost of purchasing advanced testing equipment, such as probes and sensors, as well as specialized data collection and analysis software.

Nyssa ag education students currently grow tomatoes and hanging baskets and raise tilapia in two old greenhouses and a fish lab.

The much larger, modern greenhouse will allow the school’s ag education program to move to the next level and do science-based research, including experimenting with different rates of fertilizer and conducting water, temperature, oxygen and soil pH testing.

“It will be a lot of hands-on, science-based experiments,” said Nyssa ag education teacher Chad Cruickshank. “This grant is going to give us the technology that will allow these kids to go out and actually apply what we’re teaching them in a real-life situation.”

The new greenhouse will also allow students to use fish bio-waste to grow produce and learn about pest management and other skills they will need if they move on to a career in agriculture, Cruickshank said.

“Kids like hands-on learning so it’s going to add more opportunities for student learning,” he said. “By adding more opportunities, we’ll spark more interest and may be able to hold more kids within the agricultural industry.”

The project will include adding raised garden beds in the greenhouse, which will allow the program to grow more crops and possibly do some research on onions and other major crops grown in the area, Cruickshank said.

The new equipment will allow students to apply the scientific process to what they’re learning in the classroom, said Tiffany Cruickshank, who wrote the grant application and is Chad Cruickshank’s wife.

“Science is so integrated with agriculture now and it’s very important for these kids to have access to this type of technology to prepare them for the future,” she said. “There are so many jobs available in agriculture and these FFA kids will be the ones to fill them. Any advantage we can give them to prepare them for that will be really beneficial.”

About 120 students a year go through the ag education program in Nyssa, a small community in Eastern Oregon that is heavily dependent on farming activities.

Skeen, a member of the Nyssa ag education program’s advisory board, said one of the main goals of the project is to keep local kids interested in and involved with agriculture.

“It’s important to get these local kids familiar with this type of research and technology and get them excited about a possible career in agriculture,” he said. “It’s a big deal and I think it’s going to go a long way.”

National labs a boon to agriculture Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:45:13 -0400 Our View

They could not be lower-profile, yet the scientists at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories have had a profound impact on agriculture.

We’re talking about an on-the-ground, game-changing impact that allows farmers and ranchers to grow more food with fewer inputs.

From self-steering tractors to mapping the genomes of plants and animals to developing the biofuels that will power everything from tractors to jet airliners, these scientists are replacing the phrase “What if” with “What works.”

These are not scientists sitting in an ivory tower noodling around with hypothetical questions. Ask John Hess, an Ashton, Idaho, farmer. Working with Hess, scientists from the Idaho National Laboratory developed the first self-steering tractor in the 1990s. At a time when most farmers had not even heard the initials GPS, Hess was tooling around his potato fields hands-free. What happened after that was a breakthrough for precision agriculture. By incorporating GPS technology, farmers could save time, fuel, fertilizer, seed and pesticides in a way that was not previously possible.

Other work at the Idaho National Laboratory in Arco, Idaho, has had just as much impact. Unmanned aerial vehicles — popularly called drones — represent another breakthrough. They too use GPS to monitor fields, but they are particularly useful for the way they can scan crops, helping farmers detect diseases and pests before they are even visible to the human eye.

Yet, without the work of the national laboratories, drones could not carry the sensors they now do. Scientists at the laboratory slimmed down the sensors’ weight from 300 pounds to 8.

In Berkeley, Calif., scientists have looked at the structure and function of plants and animals. They map their genes, helping scientists worldwide understand what makes a plant cold-hardy or resistant to drought or disease. Such technology has helped plant breeders shift hybridization into fast-forward.

Working with their counterparts in Idaho, scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., are developing the biofuels of the future that will power heavy equipment such as tractors and combines once automobiles are weaned off petroleum. Together, they are also developing feedstock that can be stored and shipped using existing facilities. By converting feedstocks into commodities, a true market can be developed, thus solving a key problem faced by the nascent biofuels industry.

This is profoundly important work. It is work that will help farmers, ranchers — and society at large — feed a growing world population, provide energy and minimize the impact on the environment.

You may never get to Arco, Idaho, or Richland, Wash., or even Berkeley, Calif., but you can be assured that the work underway there will benefit all of us.

And it already has.

Hetch Hetchy lawsuit tests environmental tactics Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:44:06 -0400 Our View

The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability, a Fresno-based nonprofit friendly to ag interests, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking an injunction against further diversions from California’s Tuolumne River to the Hetch Hetchy Project until the National Park Service complies with provisions of environmental law.

In 1901, the mayor of San Francisco claimed senior rights for the waters of the Tuolumne River in the Hetch Hetchy Valley, entirely within Yosemite National Park.

After a decade-long fight with environmentalists, the city got approval to dam the river, flood the valley and create the reservoir that today serves as the primary water source for the San Francisco Bay area.

The project is operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, but is regulated by the National Park Service.

Some 265,000 acre-feet of water a year, about 15 percent of its natural flow, bypasses the Tuolumne River below the dam and is delivered to the city via a 167-mile pipeline. The remaining water flows down the river, eventually making its way to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The Delta is ground zero for all things water in drought-plagued California. As the plaintiffs contend, officials have cut irrigation water deliveries to the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project to maintain flows to the Delta to protect the endangered Delta smelt and other species.

But flows to the Hetch Hetchy Project have never been curtailed to maintain the volume in the Delta.

Plaintiffs contend the National Park Service each year approves instream flows and other Hetch Hetchy Project operations without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as to their impact on Tuolumne River habitat and endangered species. Such consultations are required, according to the lawsuit, by the Endangered Species Act.

Critics are quick to call the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability a “shadowy” front group for anti-environmental interests.

We concede that the plaintiff’s brand of environmentalism is not of the same flavor as the “mainstream” environmental groups that normally bring these actions.

The more relevant point is whether the lawsuit has merit.

We’ve covered enough lawsuits over the Endangered Species Act to see that the plaintiffs in this case have followed the environmentalists’ playbook to the letter. They have found an instance where the federal government has failed to fulfill the requirements of the act, and are suing to enforce upon the Hetch Hetchy Project the same law that has led to severe cuts in irrigation water in the valley.

The difference in this case is that the end users of the water in question are the politically connected and ever-so environmentally conscious residents of San Francisco, not farmers and ranchers.

Sauce of the goose.

Whether this will result in water being diverted from the Hetch Hetchy Project is beside the point. It is only important that the law be applied equally.

The plaintiffs, along with farmers and ranchers who have been on the receiving end of these things in the past, demand nothing less.

Trade treaties threaten farmers Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:37:49 -0400 In the early part of the year I attended a town hall meeting and alerted our representative and gave her some information on the (Trans Pacific Partnership) treaty and have called all three legislators to not vote for this treaty.

It is conducted behind closed doors by the Ways and Means Committee, not only wanting to pass the treaty but also to give the president fast track authority to pass it by over-passing Congress as they have the only constitutional authority to pass treaties.

The national work force, farmers and others were seriously affected by CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), because our people could not compete with the lower priced products the CAFTA nations exported.

The TPP will probably be the nail in the coffin to plunge us into economic problems and loss of sovereignty. This treaty is a grave threat to our nation.

Everyone should research the agenda of the TPP and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which is being negotiated behind closed doors in an abominable act of uncaring, unpatriotic supposed Americans who should be voted out of office.

Also, we should call for cutting off all funds to the United Nations and get out of their dangerous tentacles (NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, WTO, IMF).

There should be some way to wake up our citizens to research and do their duty to the nation to see we have accountable, Constitution-binding stewards to care for our nation before we are destroyed.

It would be an appropriate time to call on and revere God as our forefathers did and were blessed with peace, prosperity and safety. As we can all see, we have none of that now.

Mrs. M.A. Novak

Yamhill, Ore.