Capital Press | Capital Press Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:28:49 -0500 en Capital Press | Oregon blueberry growers set sights on S.E. Asia Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:27:48 -0500 MITCH LIES If all goes well, U.S. blueberry growers could be shipping fresh blueberries to Vietnam and the Philippines by 2016.

“You never know about these things,” said Bryan Ostlund, administrator of the Oregon Blueberry Commission, after returning from a trade mission to the two countries. “But we have a desire. They have a desire. At this point, it appears that we are headed down the same path, and it is in all of our countries’ interest that we move through this as quickly as possible.”

Participants in the 10-day mission, which concluded Nov. 5, included representatives of Oregon and Washington potato commissions, Oregon onions and officials from the Oregon and Washington state departments of agriculture, including Oregon Director Katy Coba and Washington Director Bud Hover.

Ostlund, the mission’s sole blueberry representative, asked if he could participate after learning about the mission last fall.

“It was perfect timing on several fronts,” he said. “I knew that there was interest in the blueberry industry to open those two markets for fresh and frozen and that the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council was working with USDA on an application for access.”

The council subsequently submitted the application in September, Ostlund said.

“I wanted to test the waters and see what the reaction was to allowing blueberries to come in to those countries,” he said.

Ostlund said the mission gave him access he couldn’t have obtained were he traveling strictly with industry members.

“For me to be with these two directors with dignitary status really helped open up access to Philippine and Vietnamese governments,” he said.

Government officials in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Manila expressed keen interest in importing U.S. fresh blueberries, Ostlund said. Consumer interest in Vietnam and the Philippines, meanwhile, rivals that of South Korea, he said, which has become Oregon’s largest export market for fresh blueberries in just three years since gaining access.

“Like in South Korea, they read about blueberries in publications and on the Internet,” he said. “They read about the health benefits, and they want blueberries.”

“The demand for Oregon blueberries continues to be one of our best success stories,” Coba said. “We have seen the same kind of enthusiasm and interest from other Asian markets for our fresh blueberries as we saw in Korea a few years ago.

“It’s exciting to see our industry lead the initiative to pursue other markets like Vietnam and the Philippines, and we hope to gain access in those locations, as well,” Coba said.

Oregon shipped approximately 500,000 pounds of fresh blueberries to Korea in 2012, the first year it gained access, doubled that in 2013 and this year shipped 1.5 million pounds into the market.

Japan, formerly Oregon’s largest export market for fresh blueberries, typically imports just under 1 million pounds of blueberries a year.

Oregon is the only U.S. state allowed to ship fresh blueberries into South Korea. It took 10 years and a combined effort of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the USDA and the Oregon Blueberry Commission to crack open the market.

Promotional work by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and the Oregon Department of Agriculture helped cultivate interest in the market so when it opened, consumer interest was high.

Ostlund is hoping for similar good timing in the Vietnamese and Philippine markets.

“The trick is to get the timing right, so that when you do gain access, you are not starting fresh with trying to build demand,” Ostlund said. “So that when you get the green light, you are already out of the starting blocks and you are ready to go.”

Ostlund doesn’t expect it to be as difficult to gain market access to the Philippines and Vietnam as it was for South Korea, which has domestic blueberry production. Farmers in the Philippines and Vietnam, which have tropical climates, cannot grow blueberries.

“We don’t have those kind of (phytosanitary and competitive) issues with these countries,” Ostlund said.

Ranchers averse to Boulder-White Clouds monument Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:41:46 -0500 John O’Connell CLAYTON, Idaho — Ranchers who would be affected by a national monument under consideration in Central Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains say the designation would constitute a top-down management approach that would introduce grazing restrictions without proper deference to their input.

The Idaho Cattle Association discussed concerns about a potential monument, which could be designated by the Obama Administration under the federal Antiquities Act, during a convention in Sun Valley from Nov. 17-19. “It’s not good is all I can say,” said Clayton rancher Gary Ingram.

Monument proponents are pushing for a 591,000-acre monument encompassing part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area — which allows grazing but already offers special environmental protection — and adjacent public lands. They insist all parties will be afforded ample opportunity to weigh in and are advising ranchers to start sharing their thoughts outside of their own interest groups, or risk being left out of the development process.

Alternative legislation creating a smaller Boulder-White Clouds wilderness area drafted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, called the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, is also expected to be revived in the next session.

“We’re waiting to really hear from the ranchers,” said monument supporter Dani Mazzotta, with the Idaho Conservation League. “We’re looking at a pretty high likelihood of it either being what Simpson has put forward with CEIDRA or it being a monument. If you don’t want to have a seat at the table, that’s fine, but then you’re not helping to shape that.”

In a survey on the Nov. 4 election ballot, 94 percent of residents in Custer and Fremont counties opposed a monument designation.

“We are all in agreement on this thing,” said rancher Junior Baker, who is concerned about new ranching restrictions under a monument.

Simpson’s office emphasized CEIDRA approves special funding to help the rural economy of Custer County and creates about 333,000 acres of wilderness — considerably smaller than the proposed monument. CEIDRA would remove special restrictions from another 131,000 acres that have been studied as potential wilderness. Though specific details of a monument have not been proposed, Simpson’s spokeswoman, Nikki Wallace, said cattle industry input was considered in the wilderness bill, and wilderness management would be less ambiguous than a monument, which could change “at the whim of an administration.”

“If we do not come up with our own solution one will be forced upon us,” Wallace said.

Sarah Baker, University of Idaho extension educator for Custer County, said the majority of the ranchers she serves oppose a monument.

“The locals like input other than having somebody who has never been here say how these lands are going to be managed,” Baker said.

Public Lands Council Executive Director Dustin Van Liew said monuments generally lead to reduced per-capita income in counties where they’re located and make grazing secondary to other priorities, resulting in lowered grazing densities.

From Mazzotta’s perspective, a monument — modeled after CEIDRA to benefit from the years of work that have already gone into the wilderness bill — would give ranchers certainty, replacing a patchwork of management documents throughout the East Fork Salmon River watershed with a single approach. She supports language allowing ranchers to voluntarily retire grazing permits for compensation from private conservation groups.

One conservation group that’s followed the issue closely, the Sawtooth Society, has fought a monument, backing the wilderness bill as a better option. Gary O’Mally, with the Sawtooth Society, emphasized CEIDRA would be created with broad input from Congress, rather than by presidential decree.

O’Mally disagrees that a monument would protect the environment better than the existing Sawtooth National Recreation Area, but he fears resulting court challenges would leave key management decisions in limbo.

Calif. navel oranges small but flavorful Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:00:31 -0500 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — As the holiday season ushers in one of the peak sales periods for navel oranges, the fruit is coming in smaller than usual but flavorful, industry insiders say.

“We’d like to see bigger fruit, but other than that it’s been a good season so far,” said Bob Blakely, vice president of the Exeter, Calif.-based California Citrus Mutual.

“It’s still being well received in the market,” he said. “The fruit’s eating really well. Sometimes smaller fruit as actually got more flavor. It’s more concentrated.”

Growers and shippers are anticipating an 81 million carton crop in 2014-2015, of which 78 million cartons is expected to come from the state’s prime citrus belt in the central San Joaquin Valley, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service office here.

Citrus Mutual has cautioned that the crop size may turn out to be lower because of acreage that has been bulldozed or will produce smaller fruit due to the drought.

The zero-allocation this year for growers served by the federal Central Valley Project left them scrambling for emergency water secured by local irrigation districts. The lack of water stressed the trees and led to smaller fruit, Blakely said.

While NASS’ survey found an average fruit set per tree of 333, up from the five-year average of 328, the average Sept. 1 diameter was 2.205 inches in circumference, below the five-year average of 2.256, according to the agency.

Growers were concerned at the beginning of the season that the fruit wouldn’t sweeten, but most of it recorded very high sugar content, Blakely said. County agricultural commissioners reported no rejections of fruit failing to meet maturity, he said.

With about 10 percent of the crop harvested, utilization rates — the percentage of fruit packed as fresh rather than being diverted to juice — have exceeded 90 percent in some areas, Blakely said.

“We’re still hopeful that we’ll get some rain and that fruit will grow and make up the size difference,” he said.

An 81 million carton crop would be slightly smaller than the nearly 84 million cartons produced last year, when a series of winter freezes caused considerable damage to groves.

California is the source of 85 percent of the nation’s fresh citrus and navel oranges are among the state’s top commodities, valued at more than $721 million a year, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Farmland from Academy Award-Winning Director James Moll Now Available via On-Demand Digital Platforms Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:42:32 -0500 LOS ANGELES (November 24, 2014) – Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll’s feature length documentary, Farmland, is now available for rent and purchase via On Demand platforms – providing more people with the opportunity to view the film from their own homes and digital devices. The film’s move to digital platforms takes place this month, following a successful four-week run on and Hulu Plus.
Farmland is available for digital download via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster On Demand, Sony PlayStation,, Xbox and YouTube. The cost to download and own the film ranges from $14.99 to $19.99 for high definition and $12.99 to $14.99 for standard definition format. Online rental will cost approximately $4.99 to $7.99 for high definition and $3.99 to $6.99 for standard definition format.
Farmland will also be available to traditional satellite and cable television subscribers via their respective Video-on-Demand or Pay-per-View platforms in December 2014. DirecTV and DISH subscribers will have access to Farmland through their Video-on-Demand or Pay-per-View channels beginning on December 2. The film is also being made available to companies that deliver Video-on-Demand (VOD) or Pay-per-View (PPV) content to ATT U-Verse, Verizon Fios, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable. Viewers are encouraged to check their local VOD/PPV channels on their respective cable and satellite television providers for details.
During its theatrical debut this year, Farmland was shown in more than 170 theaters across the country including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres, and many key independent theaters.
About Farmland
Many Americans have never stepped foot on a farm or ranch or even talked to the people who grow and raise the food we eat, yet are increasingly passionate about understanding where their food comes from. Farmland takes the viewer inside the world of farming for a first-hand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers in their twenties. Through the personal stories of these farmers and ranchers, viewers learn about their high-risk/high reward jobs and passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.
Produced by Moll’s Allentown Productions, Farmland received notable attention during its theatrical run securing reviews in several national mediums and recognition in film festivals across the country, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Newport Beach, Calif. The film also earned a 92 percent audience rating on
Farmland was made with the generous support of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance®.
Check out the official trailer for the feature length documentary at
About Allentown Productions
Based at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Allentown Productions is a film and television production company specializing in non-fiction filmmaking. Allentown Productions was established by filmmaker James Moll, who was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania – hence, the name of the company. His work as a documentary director/producer has earned him numerous awards including an Academy Award®, two Emmy Awards®, a Grammy Award® and a Peabody Award, among others.
Joanna Schroeder, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), / 636-449-5046

Western hay market report Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:32:07 -0500 Hay prices are dollars per ton or dollars per bale when sold to retail outlets. Basis is current delivery FOB barn or stack, or delivered customer as indicated.

Grade guidelines used in this report have the following relationship to Relative Feed Value (RFV), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients), or Crude Protein (CP) test numbers:


Supreme 185+ <27 55.9+ 22+

Premium 170-185 27-29 54.5-55.9 20-22

Good 150-170 29-32 52.5-54.5 18-20

Fair 130-150 32-35 50.5-52.5 16-18

Utility <130 36+ <50.5 <16


(Columbia Basin)

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Nov. 21

This week FOB Last week Last year

3,080 1,560 2,630

Compared to Nov. 14: Alfalfa for domestic use steady in a light test, as dairies use other feed stuffs for rations. Export hay not tested this week as exporters face a continued work slowdown at the ports. Also some exporters turning back Alfalfa that has tested positive for GMOs. Trade slow this week with light demand for export and dairy hay. Export Timothy not tested this week. Retail/Feedstore hay steady.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square Supreme 125 $250

300 $230

Fair/Good 200 $175-190

Alfalfa Small Square Premium 160 $260-270

Good/Prem. 130 $230-260

Orchard Grass Small Square Premium 115 $250-275

Timothy Grass Large Square Utility/Fair 1250 $100

Timothy Grass Small Square Premium 75 $235

Wheat Straw Large Square Fair/Good 725 $60-70


(USDA Market News)

Portland, Ore.

Nov. 21

This week FOB Last week Last year

6,137 1,314 2,563

Compared to Nov. 14: Prices trended generally steady compared with the previous week’s offerings for the same quality. Many producers have sold all that they plan to sell for this season. Some producers are having difficulty finding overseas buyers due to China refusing all hay that tests positive to GMOs. Many producers had no sales this week due to the recent snow here in Oregon. Some areas had a few feet of snow, making moving hay very difficult.

Tons Price


Alfalfa Large Square Good/Prem. 150 $240

Mid Square Good 700 $210

Small Square Premium 14 $260

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square Premium 17 $270

Orchard Grass Small Square Premium 32 $260-270

Good/Prem. 53 $250


Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square Good/Prem. 10 $190

Orchard Grass Small Square Good/Prem. 10 $190


Alfalfa Large Square Prem./Sup. 200 $225


Meadow Grass Small Square Premium 200 $280


Alfalfa Large Square Supreme 2554 $250-260

Premium 897 $200-225

Good 12 $185

Small Square Premium 28 $250 Organic

Oat Large Square Good/Prem. 200 $150

Triticale Large Square Premium 1000 $170

Oat Straw Large Square Utility 60 $47


(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Nov. 21

This week FOB Last week Last year

8,200 9,000 3,925

Compared to Nov. 14: Premium and Supreme testing Alfalfa steady. Trade moderate this week as more Organic hay was reported with good demand for non-rained on high testing supplies. Demand light for heavy rained on supplies. Retail/feed store/horse not tested this week.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square Supreme 1000 $240

6000 $280

Prem./Sup. 500 $200

Good 400 $215

Utility 300 $120


(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Nov. 21

This week FOB Last week Last year

8,565 4,050 11,274

Compared to Nov. 14: All classes traded steady on light demand. Trade was moderate to inactive in Region 6, as the majority of the producers are wrapping up one of their final cuttings for the season.

REGION 1: North Inter-Mountain

Includes the counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen and Plumas.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Supreme 125 $310

Prem./Sup. 100 $320

125 $330

Good 150 $215

100 $230

Alfalfa/Grass Mix Good 100 $170-180

Orchard Grass Supreme 175 $330

REGION 2: Sacramento Valley

Includes the counties of Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Solano, Sacramento.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Premium 50 $300

Orchard Grass Premium 25 $320

Rice Straw Good 125 $40

REGION 3: Northern San Joaquin Valley

Includes the counties of San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced and Mariposa.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Prem./Sup. 150 $350

Premium 630 $270-280

Good/Prem. 75 $260

Good 110 $233

25 $200

Fair/Good 400 $190-200

Fair 400 $170-180

Forage Mix-Three Way Good 25 $180

500 $230

REGION 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

Tons Price

Alfalfa Fair 200 $140

Utility 100 $150

200 $140

Utility/Fair 100 $175

REGION 5: Southern California

Includes the counties of Kern, Northeast Los Angeles, and Western San Bernardino.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Supreme 150 $303

Prem./Sup. 200 $

25 $300 Retail/Stable

Premium 100 $275

25 $285

Good 100 $250

Fair 150 $185

REGION 6: Southeast California

Includes the counties of Eastern San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Prem./Sup. 100 $250

Good 250 $200-210

Fair/Good 400 $160-175

75 $180

Fair 2650 $135-145

350 $120

West Coast grain market report Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:24:09 -0500 Grains are stated in dollars per bushel or hundredweight (cwt.) except feed grains traded in dollars per ton. National grain report bids are for rail delivery unless truck indicated.


(USDA Market News)


Nov. 21


Cash wheat bids for November delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, Nov. 20, mixed compared to the previous week’s November bids.

December wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, Nov. 20, mixed as follows compared to Nov. 13 closes: Chicago 6.50 cents lower at $5.4725, Kansas City 3 cents lower at $6.0225 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 0.25 of a cent higher at $5.8450. Chicago December corn futures trended 13 cents lower at 3.7325 while January soybean futures closed 25.50 cents lower at $10.28.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during November were 3 to 26.50 cents per bushel lower, from $6.75-7.2725, mostly $6.9925. Bids for Nov. 13 for November delivery were $6.78-7.5375, mostly $7.11. White club wheat premiums for this week were $2 to $2.75, mostly $2.46 while last week’s premiums were also $2 to $2.75, mostly $2.46 over soft white wheat bids.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat for October delivered by unit trains and barges to Portland were $7.0525-7.0725, mostly $7.0625 and bids for White Club Wheat were $7.0525-7.5725, mostly $7.3125. Nearby bids for US 1 Soft White wheat began the reporting week on Nov. 14 at mostly $7.0975 then fell each day to mostly $7.0475 on Nov. 17, mostly $7.0150 on Nov. 18 and mostly $6.9250 on Nov. 19. Nov. 20, the bids moved slightly higher to mostly $6.9925. Forward month bids for soft white wheat were as follows: December $6.75-7.3725, January $6.80-7.4750, February and March were $6.80-7.5250. One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat were December $7.0525-7.1725, January $7.1550-7.2550, February $7.2050-7.32 and March $7.24-7.32.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for November delivery trended 3 to 8 cents per bushel lower compared to last week’s bids for November delivery. Lower Kansas City December wheat futures pressured cash bids during the week. On Thursday, bids were as follows: November $7.3725-7.5725, mostly $7.4525; December $7.3725-7.5725; January $7.3625-7.6125, February and March $7.4125-7.6125.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery for November delivery trended 0.25 of a cent to 20.25 cents per bushel higher compared to last week’s bids for the same time period. Bids were supported by the fractionally higher Minneapolis December wheat futures and a higher basis bid by some exporters during the week. On Thursday, bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: November $9.2450-9.6450, mostly $9.4850; December $9.2450-9.6450; January, February and March $9.2150-9.6650.


Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered to Portland in single rail cars were not available. Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn truck delivered to the inland feeding areas of Yakima, Wash., and Hermiston, Ore., were also not available. Bids for US 2 Heavy White Oats for November delivery held steady at $265.


There were 14 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, Nov. 20, with six docked compared to 18 Nov. 13 with six docked. There were no new confirmed export sales from the Commodity Credit Corporation this week.


(USDA Market News)


Nov. 20

Prices in dollars per cwt., bulk Inc.= including; Nom.= nominal; Ltd.= limited; Ind.= indicated; NYE=Not fully estimated.


Mode Destination Price per cwt.

BARLEY - U.S. No. 2 (46-lbs. per bushel)

Rail Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa $11.65

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock $11.75

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Kern County NA

Glenn County NA

Colusa County $11

CORN - U.S. No. 2 Yellow

FOB Turlock $9.08

Rail Single Car Units via BNSF

Chino Valley-Los Angeles $9.92-9.97

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock $9.38

Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

SORGHUM - U.S. No. 2 Yellow

Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley

via BNSF Single $10.45

Truck Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

OATS - U.S. No. 1 White

Truck Los Angeles-Chino Valley $15.75

OATS - U.S. No. 2 White

Truck Petaluma NA

Rail Petaluma NA

WHEAT - U.S. No. 2 or better - Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)

Los Angeles 12 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 13 percent Protein $14.20

Los Angeles 14 percent Protein $15.70

Truck/Rail Los Angeles 11-12 percent Protein

Los Angeles 12 percent Protein $13.70

Los Angeles 13 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 14 percent Protein NA

WHEAT - U.S. Durum Wheat

Truck Imperial County NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

WHEAT - Any Class for Feed

FOB Tulare NA

Truck/Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley $12.90-14.10

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

King-Tulare-Fresno Counties $11.50

Merced County NA

Colusa County NA

Kern County NA

Prices paid to California farmers, seven-day reporting period ending Nov. 20:

No confirmed sales.

California shell egg market Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:15:28 -0500 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade AA and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.


(USDA Market News)

Des Moines, Iowa

Nov. 21

Benchmark prices are steady. Asking prices for next week are 41 cents higher for Jumbo, 53 cents higher for Extra Large, 55 cents higher for Large and 33 cents higher for Medium and Small. Trade sentiment is steady to higher. Retail demand is good to very good with warehouse buying interest reported as very good. Offerings are very light to occasionally moderate. Supplies are light to moderate. Market activity is moderate to active. Small benchmark price $1.27.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 200 Extra large 203

Large 196 Medium 147


Prices to retailers, sales to volume buyers, USDA Grade AA and Grade AA, white eggs in cartons, delivered store door.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 192-204 Extra large 184-196

Large 181-192 Medium 127-136

National slaughter, stocker and feeder cattle report Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:12:10 -0500 Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.


(Federal-State Market News)

Oklahoma City-Des Moines

Nov. 21

Compared to last week: No slaughter cattle sales reported at time of report. Boxed beef prices early Nov. 21 averaged $249.49, which is $4.26 higher than Nov. 14. The Choice/Select spread is $12.32. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Nov. 21 totaled about 7,000 head. The previous week’s total head count was 91,349 head.

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows 1-3 higher. Slaughter bulls steady to firm.

USDA’s Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Nov. 21 was $233.75 down $.18 from Nov. 14.


(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Nov. 21

This week Last week Last year

310,500 320,700 339,100

Compared to Nov.14: Steer and heifer calves sold steady to $5 higher with instances $8-10 higher on calves throughout the Southern Plains and Northern Plains. A light test of yearling feeder cattle continued to sell fully steady to $3 higher. Demand remains very good on all weights of calves and true yearlings.

Harvest is winding down across the Corn Belt and the cheapest corn prices in four years is causing many Midwestern and Northern Plains farmer feeders to consider “walking off” a portion of their crop to town. This has farmer feeders anxious to get their cattle bought and placed in their yards with the record corn crop near harvested. The previous week’s cold front also boosted calf interest with widespread hard-freezes which will eliminate many airborne viruses plaguing new calf purchases this fall.

Optimism remains high at this time as buyers continue to be eager bidders to replace the fed cattle they have sold at historically high prices. The calf market has come through the heavy auction offerings and the deliveries in October and November of prior video and direct sales relatively unscathed as country deliveries are mostly complete. Lighter auction runs are upon the market with the onset of holiday schedules and there seems to be plenty of demand to push feeder and stocker cattle prices even higher.

At the St. Joseph, Mo., Stockyards Nov. 19 a part load of fancy yearling steers weighing 715 lbs. sold at $267. Also on Nov. 19 in Torrington, Wyo., 105 head of fancy steer calves averaging 503 lbs. sold with a average price of $322.54. Very high feeder cattle prices have left producers questioning the high risk that is being encountered, however the high fed cattle market has followed suit.

The impressive gains in the fed cattle market Nov. 14 by short bought packers reinforced bullish psychology as the market carved out territory north of $170 at $172. Historically small fed cattle numbers will remain quite bullish with strong support hopefully sparking additional follow through buying.

Last week packers were not allowed to set one week out and had to procure inventory to do business and it appeared to be a chase between packers to fill their needs.

Boxed beef prices have found some support, posting gains as business has seemed to pick up looking past Thanksgiving, and right after, Christmas is just around the corner with ham as its main entree. The beef market will have to battle these two holidays, as beef is still the preferred meat and also at its highest price level ever. The Cattle on Feed Report was mostly neutral as Nov. 1 inventory was at 100 percent of a year ago; placements at 99 percent of a year ago; marketings at 92 percent of a year ago.

October marketings are lowest since series began in 1996. This week’s auction volume included 44 percent over 600 lbs. and 39 percent heifers.


This week Last week Last year

264,600 266,300 298,100

WASHINGTON 5,000. 35 pct over 600 lbs. 41 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 350-400 lbs. $308.21; 400-450 lbs. $295; 450-500 lbs. $286.83; 500-550 lbs. $256.72; 550-600 lbs. $251.64; 600-650 lbs. $241.18; 650-700 lbs. $235.86; 700-750 lbs. $226.39; 750-800 lbs. $226.81. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 350-400 lbs. $272.31; 450-500 lbs. $257.92; 500-550 lbs. $240.36; 550-600 lbs. $233.68; 600-650 lbs. $231.63; 650-700 lbs. $225.81; 700-750 lbs. $218.43.


This week Last week Last year

45,300 26,900 35,000

SOUTHWEST (Arizona-California-Nevada) 6,900. 2 pct over 600 lbs. 2 pct heifers. Holsteins: Large 3 275 lbs. $361 April Del; 300 lbs. $335 April Del; 325 lbs. $310-329.50 April Del. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 725 lbs. $231.50 Current Del.

NORTHWEST (Washington-Oregon-Idaho) 3600. 89 pct over 600 lbs. 34 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1-2 Current FOB Delivery 450 lbs. $288 Idaho; 650-700 lbs. $250 calves Idaho; 850 lbs. $221-221.50 Idaho. Future Delivery FOB Price 700 lbs. $231-251.50 calves for December-January Washington-Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $231 for February-March Washington. Future Delivery Delivered Price 800-900 lbs. $224.50-226 for January-April Idaho. Holsteins: Large 2-3 Current FOB Delivery 350 lbs. $265 Washington. Heifers: Large 1-2 Current FOB Delivery 850 lbs. $213.50-214 Idaho. Future FOB Delivery 700-750 lbs. $222 for January Washington Delivery Delivered Price: 800 lbs. $221.50-222 for January-March Idaho.


(USDA Marchket News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Nov. 21

This week Last week Last year

3,600 1,600 700

Compared to Nov. 14: Feeder cattle firm in a light test as slaughter cattle again hit all-time highs at the end of last week selling 172 cwt. Trade slow as feedlots continue to focus on local sale barns for their needs. Demand remains good. The feeder supply included 66 percent steers and 34 percent heifers. Near 89 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 3-7 cent slide on yearlings. Delivered prices include freight, commissions and other expenses.

Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: Current FOB Delivery: 450 lbs. $288 Idaho; 650-700 lbs. $250 calves Idaho; 850 lbs. $221-221.50 Idaho. Future Delivery FOB Price: 700 lbs. $231-251.50 calves for December-January Washington-Idaho; 850-900 lbs. $231 for February-March Washington. Future Delivery Delivered Price: 800-900 lbs. $224.50-226 for January-April Idaho.

Holstein Steers: Large 2-3: Current FOB Delivery: 350 lbs. $265 Washington.

Heifers: Large 1-2: Current FOB Delivery: 850 lbs. $213.50-214 Idaho. Future FOB Delivery: 700-750 lbs. $222 for January Washington Delivery Delivered Price: 800 lbs. $221.50-222 for January-March Idaho.

Replacement Heifers (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: 700 lbs. $1600 Idaho.

National wool and sheep report Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:03:15 -0500 Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.


(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

Nov. 21

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was slow this week. There were no confirmed trades. A few clean up sales are being held this month. These sales are carryover from last spring and fall shorn clips. Demand good and trade activity moderate for this time of year.

Domestic wool trading on a greasy basis was slow this week. There were no confirmed trades.

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50


(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Nov. 21

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were mostly firm to $10 higher, instances $20 higher at New Holland, Pa. Slaughter ewes were steady to $10 higher. Feeder lambs were not well tested. At San Angelo, Texas, 3,198 head sold in a one-day sale. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes were not tested; feeder lambs weak. 8,600 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady and 10,400 head of formula sales of carcasses under 65 lbs. were not well tested; 65-75 lbs. were $1 lower; 75-85 lbs. were $1 higher and over 85 lbs. were not well tested. 5,884 lamb carcasses sold with 45 lbs. and down $33.16 higher; 45-55 lbs. $8.62 higher; 55-85 lbs. $.27-1.01 higher and 85 lbs. and up $.27 lower.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 100-145 lbs. $150-172.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $232-248, few 257; 60-70 lbs. $220-232, few 240; 70-80 lbs. $204-224; 80-90 lbs. $200-210; 90-100 lbs. $182-198.

DIRECT TRADING (Lambs with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent):

8,600 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 133-164 lbs. $157-175 (wtd avg $164.60).


San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $70; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $76-85; Utility 1-2 (thin) $66-76; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $50-60; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $30-40.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 60-70 lbs. $212-228; 75-90 lbs. $200-210; 100 lbs. $193.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: wooled baby tooth to solid mouth 150 per head; hair ewe lambs 65-70 lbs. $232-238 cwt, 80-85 lbs. $219-228 cwt.


Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. down $463.96

45-55 lbs. $392.74

55-65 lbs. $353.04

65-75 lbs. $343.92

75-85 lbs. $333.38

85 lbs. and up $322.96

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 40,000 compared with 40,000 last week and 42,000 last year. Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.


(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

Nov. 21

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was slow this week. There were no confirmed trades. A few clean up sales are being held this month. These sales are carryover from last spring and fall shorn clips. Demand good and trade activity moderate for this time of year.

Domestic wool trading on a greasy basis was slow this week. There were no confirmed trades.

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50


(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Nov. 21

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were mostly firm to $10 higher, instances $20 higher at New Holland, Pa. Slaughter ewes were steady to $10 higher. Feeder lambs were not well tested. At San Angelo, Texas, 3,198 head sold in a one-day sale. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes were not tested; feeder lambs weak. 8,600 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady and 10,400 head of formula sales of carcasses under 65 lbs. were not well tested; 65-75 lbs. were $1 lower; 75-85 lbs. were $1 higher and over 85 lbs. were not well tested. 5,884 lamb carcasses sold with 45 lbs. and down $33.16 higher; 45-55 lbs. $8.62 higher; 55-85 lbs. $.27-1.01 higher and 85 lbs. and up $.27 lower.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 100-145 lbs. $150-172.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $232-248, few 257; 60-70 lbs. $220-232, few 240; 70-80 lbs. $204-224; 80-90 lbs. $200-210; 90-100 lbs. $182-198.

DIRECT TRADING (Lambs with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent):

8,600 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 133-164 lbs. $157-175 (wtd avg $164.60).


San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $70; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $76-85; Utility 1-2 (thin) $66-76; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $50-60; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $30-40.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 60-70 lbs. $212-228; 75-90 lbs. $200-210; 100 lbs. $193.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: wooled baby tooth to solid mouth 150 per head; hair ewe lambs 65-70 lbs. $232-238 cwt, 80-85 lbs. $219-228 cwt.


Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. down $463.96

45-55 lbs. $392.74

55-65 lbs. $353.04

65-75 lbs. $343.92

75-85 lbs. $333.38

85 lbs. and up $322.96

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 40,000 compared with 40,000 last week and 42,000 last year.

Opinions differ on impacts of sage grouse deals Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:56:18 -0500 Eric Mortenson With a decision due next year on whether to add greater sage grouse to the endangered species list, rural landowners are rushing to sign conservation agreements they believe will shield them from regulations and restrictions.

Whether such agreements will help sage grouse recover, or keep the birds off the Endangered Species List, are open questions.

Portland attorney Kate Moore, with the natural resources practice group at Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue LLP, said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recent action on Gunnison sage grouse, a related species, may be a preview.

On Nov. 12, USFWS listed Gunnison sage grouse as “threatened” rather than the more restrictive “endangered.” An estimated 5,000 Gunnison sage grouse exist only in Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah. Greater sage grouse, considered a “candidate” species for listing, inhabit 11 Western states and a listing could potentially restrict grazing, farming, mining and energy development on millions of acres. The wildlife service has until September 2015 to decide whether to list the bird.

In the meantime, dozens of ranchers, particularly in Eastern Oregon, are signing Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, or CCAAs. In return for making rangeland management changes that will benefit Greater sage-grouse, landowners receive 30 years protection from additional restrictions and regulations.

Similar agreements were done involving Gunnison sage-grouse.

“There were suggestions it was listed as threatened rather than endangered because of the (CCAA) agreements in place,” said Moore, of Dunn Carney.

There isn’t enough time before the September 2015 greater sage grouse decision for such agreements to prevent a listing altogether, but landowners who enter into CCAAs most likely will be protected from the regulatory impact, Moore said.

For its part, the federal wildlife service said in a news release that its decision on Gunnison sage-grouse “in no way predetermines a decision on the Greater sage-grouse, which the Service is independently evaluating.”

Meanwhile, conservation groups have already expressed their displeasure. The Portland-based Center for Biological Diversity last week announced it will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened rather than endangered. The group said USFWS improperly based its decision on the potential benefit of “minimal” voluntary conservation measures.

That’s sobering news for cattle ranchers and others.

In signing CCAAs, landowners have voluntarily agreed to improve conditions for sage grouse by marking fences, putting escape ramps in water troughs and keeping livestock out of breeding areas, called leks. Many ranchers and government agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management are hastily cutting western juniper trees, which provide perches for grouse predators and crowd out sage and native grasses.

Ranchers have said the requirements are not onerous, and improve grazing for livestock as well. One Oregon rancher, Tom Sharp, described it as “What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.”

The work is most notable in Oregon’s southeast corner. In Harney County, the Soil and Water Conservation District led a three-year effort to hammer out a CCAA with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nearly 40 ranchers, representing 250,000 acres of private rangeland, have indicated they want to take part.

A half dozen other Oregon counties are following suit, and a Baker County cattle rancher, Bill Moore, signed an individual CCAA with the wildlife service covering nearly 7,300 acres of his grazing land in Baker and Malheur counties.

Moore said he was motivated by the prospect of being left alone for 30 years, the length of the CCAA. After 30 years, he said, sage grouse will either be “recovered or gone.”

Selected Western livestock auctions Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:54:46 -0500 Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.



(Shasta Livestock Auction)

Cottonwood, Calif.

Nov. 14

Current week Last week

2,425 1,470

Compared to Nov. 7: Slaughter cows and bulls $3-5 higher with no sale next week. Cattle under 450 lbs., $20-50 lower than last weeks incredible market. Balance of weight classes steady to $10 higher, esp. steers. Off lots and singles $30-50 lower than top offerings.

Slaughter cows: Breakers $104-114, $115-129 high dress; Boning $95-103; Cutters $82-94.

Bulls 1 and 2: $105-122; $123-139 high dress.

Feeder steers: 300-400 lbs. $300-355; 400-450 lbs. $300-353; 450-500 lbs. $275-311; 500-550 lbs. $250-288; 550-600 lbs. $240-279; 600-650 lbs. $230-263; 650-700 lbs. $225-251; 700-750 lbs. $223-242; 750-800 lbs. $218-242; 800-900 lbs. $214-227.

Feeder heifers: 300-400 lbs. $270-315; 400-450 lbs. $270-300; 450-500 lbs. $255-286; 500-550 lbs. $235-270; 550-600 lbs. $220-250; 600-650 lbs. $210-232; 650-700 lbs. $210-231; 700-750 lbs. $210-231; 750-800 lbs. $224.

Calvy cows: Few full mouth $2100-2975; Broken mouth $1500-1850.

Pairs: Full mouth running age $2550-2900; Broken Mouth $1800-2150.



(Treasure Valley Livestock)

Nov. 21

Steers: 200-300 lbs. $234.25; 300-400 lbs. $215.25; 400-500 lbs. $227.50; 500-600 lbs. $207.50; 600-700 lbs. $205.25; 700-800 lbs. $184.25; 800-900 lbs. $179.50; 900-1000 lbs. $167.75; 1000 lbs. and up $110.50.

Heifers: 200-300 lbs. $225.75; 300-400 lbs. $215.50; 400-500 lbs. $216; 500-600 lbs. $204.25; 600-700 lbs. $175.25; 700-800 lbs. $165.75; 800-900 lbs. $172; 900-1000 lbs. $158.25; 1000 lbs. and up $104.25.

Cows (wt.): 700-800 lbs. $92.50; 800-900 lbs. $54.25; 900-1000 lbs. $95.25; 1000-1100 lbs. $95.50; 1100-1200 lbs. $101; 1200-1300 lbs. $95.75; 1300-1400 lbs. $98.75; 1400-1500 lbs. $91.75; 1500-1600 lbs. $88.25; 1600-1700 lbs. $98.25; 1700-1800 lbs. $92; 1800-1900 obs. $105.

Bull calves (wt.): 200-300 lbs. $172.50; 300-400 lbs. $203.25; 400-500 lbs. $181.25; 500-600 lbs. $192.50; 600-700 lbs. $173.50; 700-800 lbs. $155.75; 800-900 lbs. $149.50; 900-1000 lbs. $117; 1000-1100 lbs. $117.50; 1100-1200 lbs. $90; 1200-1300 lbs. $88; 1300-1400 lbs. $117.75; 1400-1500 lbs. $116.50.

Bulls (wt.): 1500-1600 lbs. $114; 1600-1700 lbs. $120.25; 1800-1600 lbs. $118; 1900-2000 lbs. $118; 2000-2100 lbs. $124.50; 2100-2200 lbs. $121; 2200-2400 lbs. $120.

Pairs (hd.): 1000 lbs. and up $1375.

Bred heifers (hd.): 800 lbs. and up $1700.

Stock cows (hd.): 800 lbs. and up $1075.

Bull calves (hd.): 100-200 lbs. $445; 200-300 lbs. $500; 300-400 lbs. $385.

Heifer calves (hd.): 100-200 lbs. $325; 200-300 lbs. $515 300-400 lbs. $440.

Steer calves (hd.): 100-200 lbs. $395; 200-300 lbs. $535; 300-400 lbs. $225.



(Toppenish Livestock Auction)

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Nov. 21

This week Last week Last year

2,150 1,800 1,990

Compared to Nov. 14 at the same sale: Stocker and feeder steers and heifers firm to $6 higher, except 550-600 lbs. heifers which were weaker. Trade active with good demand. Slaughter cows $5-6 higher, due in part to next weekís holiday shortened week. Slaughter bulls steady to weak. Trade moderate to active with good demand. Slaughter cows 37 percent, Slaughter bulls 5 percent, 30 percent replacement cows, and feeders 28 percent of the supply. The feeder supply included 60 percent steers and 40 percent heifers. Near 56 percent of the run weighed over 600 lbs.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: 300-400 lbs. $305; 400-500 lbs. $295-305; 500-600 lbs. $260; 600-700 lbs. $239-248, Calves; 600-700 lbs. $232, Full; 600-700 lbs. $251, Thin Fleshed; 700-800 lbs. $231; 700-800 lbs. $212.50, Full; 800-900 lbs. $229; 800-900 lbs. $197.50-218, Full. Large 2-3: 300-400 lbs. $265. Small and Medium 1-2: 400-500 lbs. $270; 600-700 lbs. $231, Full.

Feeder Holstein Steers: Large 2-3: 200-300 lbs. $245-260; 300-400 lbs. $230; 300-400 lbs. $220, Full; 700-800 lbs. $172.50-177; 700-800 lbs. $151, Full; 800-900 lbs. $174.

Feeder Bulls: Medium and Large 1-2: 900-1000 lbs. $130.

Feeder Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: 200-300 lbs. $700, Per Head; 300-400 lbs. $270; 400-500 lbs. $250-260; 500-600 lbs. $235-244; 600-700 lbs. $229; 600-700 lbs. $220.50-230, Calves; 700-800 lbs. $215-216. Large 2-3: 300-400 lbs. $251; 400-500 lbs. $245; 800-900 lbs. $166.50-170; 1000-1100 lbs. $150; 1100-1200 lbs. $133-148.50. Small and Medium 1-2: 600-700 lbs. $205, Full.

Slaughter Cows: Boning 80-85 percent lean 1400-2000 lbs. $112-118; Lean 85-90 percent lean 1200-1700 lbs. $111-117; Lean 90 percent lean 1000-1400 lbs. $96-102; Light Lean 90 percent lean 900-1250 lbs. $76-88.

Slaughter Bulls: Yield Grade 1-2 1500-2500 lbs. $118-128.50.

Bred Heifers (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: Few 950-1000 lbs. $1900 1-3 mos. bred.

Bred Cows (Per Head): Small and Medium 2-3: Mid-Aged to Aged (5-8 yrs. old) 1350-1450 lbs. $1700-1850 3-6 mos. Bred; Broken Mouth 1100-1300 lbs. 3-6 mos. bred $1200-1550 3-6 mos. bred.

Cow/Calf Pairs (Per Pair): Medium and Large 1-2: Young (3-4 yrs. old) 1100-1150 lbs. $2300-2400 with 150-250 lbs. calves; Mid-Aged to Aged (5-8 yrs. old) 1100-1200 lbs. $2350-2450 with 150-250 lbs. calves, few 1000 lbs. $1750; Aged (9-11 yrs. old) 1150-1250 lbs. $1725-1925 with 150-250 lbs. calves; Broken Mouth 1150 lbs. $1650 with 150-300 lbs. calves.



(Producers Livestock Market)

Nov. 19

Total receipts: 2,638 head.

Market comment: Good demand for the lighter weaned grass calves under 575 lbs. Good demand still this week with good buyer participation. Heavier 600-800 weight calves under small amount of pressure. Nice quality offered today.

Steer calves: 300-400 lbs. $338-378; 400-500 lbs. $289-337; 500-600 lbs. $267-293.

Heifer calves: 300-400 lbs. $294-331; 400-500 lbs. $264-293; 500-600 lbs. $228-261.

Yearling steers : 600-700 lbs. $228-250; 700-800 lbs. $208-227; 800-900 lbs. $196-213.

Yearling heifers: 600-700 lbs. $113-224; 700-800 lbs. $196-221; 800-900 lbs. $170-187.

Stock cows (young): NA; Stock cows (B.M.): $1900-2300.

Butcher cows: $93-109.

Thin shelly cows: $81-92.

Younger heiferettes: $117-151.

Butcher bulls: $102-119.



(Central Oregon Livestock Auction)

Nov. 17

Total head: 801.


300-400 lbs. $285-320; 400-500 lbs. $285-320; 500-600 lbs. $260-285; 600-700 lbs. $238-246; 700-800 lbs. $220-237; 800-900 lbs. $190-220.

Bulls: High yield. $125; mostly $120; thinner $115.

Heifers: 300-400 lbs. $270-290; 400-500 lbs. $270-285; 500-600 lbs. $255-270; 600-700 lbs. $225-254; 700-800 lbs. $205-220.

Heiferettes: 850-1000 lbs. $185-205.

Cows: Heiferettes $165; Feeder cows $112; high-yield $112; medium-yield $105; low yield $95.

Wisconsin dairy farmers to rake in big profits Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:21:53 -0500 MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The combination of record-high milk prices and record-low feed costs are creating profits for some Wisconsin dairy farmers that are six times higher than previous good years, according to dairy experts.

Randy Greenfield, a dairy specialist for Vita Plus, a Madison-based livestock feed company, has calculated annual profits for the state’s dairy farmers based on their financial records and conversations with agribusiness consultants. Some farms that milk the state average of 117 cows will see profits totaling more than $200,000, Greenfield said. Those that milk 500 cows will make $1 million, while 2,500-cow dairy farms will clear $5 million, he said.

“Financially, for a lot of farmers, this will be the best year they will ever have,” Greenfield said.

Dairy farmers hope this year will allow them to bounce back from 2009, when milk prices collapsed and they were forced to accumulate debt, and prepare for a potentially similar scenario in 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“There’s going to be a big drop, nobody is trying to whitewash that,” said Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Although many dairy farmers can expect record profits, most are preparing for the worst because of the projections for next year, farmer John Judd said.

“There are no frivolous spenders among dairy farmers anymore because they all lost their farms,” said Judd, who owns a 75-cow dairy farm in Primrose, located in southwest Dane County.

Class III milk prices, which reached an average high of $22.50 to $22.60 per hundredweight this month, are expected to drop to $17.15 to $18.05 by next November due to high milk production and slowed demand because of shrinking export sales, according to a World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

But dairy farmers should be able to survive the estimated price drop of 22 percent, according to Greenfield, since feed, fertilizer and fuel costs are expected to decline or at least stay the same.

Obama defends moves on immigration Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:18:52 -0500 DARLENE SUPERVILLE HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — President Barack Obama is shrugging off Republican criticism of his actions to lift the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama said it was important that he act unilaterally to prioritize the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals and spare those who have lived here illegally for at least five years and have roots, including children who are American citizens.

“Why we would prefer a system in which they’re in the shadows, potentially taking advantage of living here but not contributing?” Obama said in the interview, which was taped Friday in Las Vegas after Obama delivered an immigration speech there.

The president pointed to executive orders issued by Democratic and Republican predecessors and said presidents exercise “prosecutorial discretion all the time.”

Obama’s executive actions, which he announced Thursday, have drawn a withering response from Republicans, but also has laid bare divisions within the GOP over how to deal with immigration.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rejected Obama’s claim of prosecutorial discretion. “Essentially he’s gotten in the job of counterfeiting immigration papers, because there’s no legal authority to do what he’s doing,” Cruz said on “Fox News Sunday.”

A second Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said his party shares the blame for failing to get an immigration bill through the House of Representatives.

“Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that is national security, it’s cultural and it’s economic. The Senate has done this three times,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Indeed, Obama cast his decision as the result of the Republican-led House’s failure to act on a comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed with bipartisan support in June 2013, or advance legislation of its own.

He said Republicans still could pass an immigration bill.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he had pressed the Republican leadership to start passing legislation two weeks ago on the immigration issue.

“We are going to pass legislation, but it is not going to be the legislation the president is asking for,” Labrador said. “We as Republicans don’t believe you should give amnesty first and talk about security later, which is what the Senate bill did.” Labrador spoke on “Face the Nation” on CBS.

Obama spent the weekend in Nevada, mostly playing golf, after the speech and returned to the White House on Sunday evening.

He can&#x2019;t believe he ate the whole turkey Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:15:42 -0500 MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) — Competitive eater Joey Chestnut has won a turkey-eating contest in Connecticut, setting a record by devouring an entire bird.

Ten contestants vied to see who could eat the most of a 20-pound turkey in a competition Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Chestnut ate 9.35 pounds of meat off the bone in 10 minutes. According to Major League Eating, the food equivalent of the NFL, he bested the previous record, which was held by Sonya Thomas, who ate 5.25 pounds of turkey in November 2011.

Chestnut, a San Jose, California, resident who turns 31 on Tuesday, is ranked the top competitive eater in the world.

He took home a $5,000 check after stuffing his face with turkey. The remainder of the $10,000 purse was divided among other contestants.

Obama immigration plan good, not great for economy Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:30:39 -0500 JOSH BOAKAP Economics Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s expansive executive action on immigration is good for the U.S. economy — just not as good as partnering with Congress on broader reforms.

The executive order signed Friday would prevent the deportation of about 4 million parents and guardians who lack the same legal status as their children. By gaining work permits, they will likely command higher wages, move more easily between jobs and boost government tax revenues, according to multiple economic analyses.

“This is focused on people who are already in the economy today, who are contributing mightily but are basically operating in the shadows,” said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles. “Their economic potential is being held back.”

The new order could boost labor income by $6.8 billion, helping to generate 160,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in additional tax revenues, according to estimates by Hinojosa-Ojeda. The findings dovetail with separate research showing that a 1986 amnesty measure raised incomes for illegal workers in the years that followed.

Still, any gains from the executive action would be modest in the $17 trillion U.S. economy.

White House officials estimate that the executive order would expand gross domestic product less than 0.1 percent a year over the next decades.

Along with the Congressional Budget Office, independent economists say growth would be much stronger with a broader overhaul that would more than double the number of illegal workers eligible for legalized status, in addition to reforms that would attract high-skilled immigrant workers who are more likely to lead and found new companies.

The Senate passed a measure last year to fix the immigration system, but it stalled in the Republican-majority House that favored a step-by-step approach. The CBO estimated the Senate-backed reform would have added another 0.33 percent annually to GDP growth.

The president’s order “falls short of a comprehensive reform that would have a more sweeping effect on the economic landscape,” said Joel Prakken of the forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers.

More substantial reforms could lift economic growth by an additional 0.24 percent a year — or about $41 billion — for the next two decades, according to an analysis that Prakken contributed to last year for the Bipartisan Policy Center. The reforms could also cut the federal debt by $1.2 trillion over the same period, increase home construction, lift wages and add 8.3 million workers to the economy.

A broader overhaul would also create a framework for attracting more immigrants, which would mute the negative economic impacts of an aging population. As more Americans retire, the percentage of the population with jobs has slipped, limiting the ability of the economy to expand.

But the executive order would do little to promote additional immigration, nor would it fully address the concerns of technology companies looking for high-skilled foreigners.

Obama’s plan does not raise the current annual limit of 65,000 so-called “H-1B” visas for skilled workers, although he promised to streamline some of the rules governing them. Scientists, engineers and computer programmers all earn higher wages than the comparatively low-paid workers who would be helped by Obama.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mike Galarza knows the issue first hand. A native of Mexico, he described a daunting bureaucratic obstacle course to obtain a visa that allowed him to launch Entryless, an online business accounting startup, last year in Menlo Park, California. Now he’s struggling to find talent. Galarza said he recently lost a job candidate with a Ph.D. in computer science because there were no more H-1B visas available.

“The U.S. is not welcoming enough to entrepreneurs who want to create value for the American economy,” Galarza said. “I’m glad if (Obama) is able to help those 5 million people, but he needs to focus on the issue of tech workers and foreign entrepreneurs as well.”

Groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies have critiqued the benefits of adding immigrants, noting that many U.S. citizens are still searching for work more than five years after the Great Recession ended. By giving these workers legal status, it will inevitably help their earnings prospects but do little for the rest of the economy, said Steven Camarota, the organization’s research director.

But the business community disagrees, saying they need immigrants in order to expand their operations.

In response to Obama’s executive action, Buffalo Wings & Rings estimates it would be able to add five restaurants to its more than 45 franchised outlets.

“For us, it’s an opportunity,” said Philip Schram, executive vice president of development at the Cincinnati-based chain.

A 2013 survey by the advocacy group Small Business Majority showed 84 percent of small business owners are in favor of immigration reform. Owners believe it will help them have a more stable workforce, especially in industries like agriculture, hotels and restaurants, said the group’s CEO, John Arensmeyer.

The obstacle has been that jobs in agriculture don’t appeal to people born in the United States, so Jim Gilbert, owner of Northwoods Nursery in Molalla, Oregon, hires immigrants to tend to the plants he grows and sells.

“There are not enough people to do the jobs we need to do,” Gilbert said.

Pine beetles may be heading east Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:37:25 -0500 STEVE KARNOWSKI MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mountain pine beetle has devastated huge swaths of forest in the Rockies, and scientists fear the insects could threaten the majestic pines of Minnesota and states farther east someday.

Initial results from a three-year, $250,000 research project by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture back up some fears about the risk. There’s no evidence that the insects have gained a beachhead in the state yet, but the researchers caution that they can’t be sure that some pests aren’t already hiding someplace, waiting until conditions are ripe to launch an attack. They’re already established in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

“This is one problem that we have to take very, very seriously,” said Brian Aukema, a forest entomologist at the university.

The scientists wanted to confirm in the first phase of the study whether the beetles would find the most common species of pines in Minnesota delicious and nutritious. Experiments this summer in the Black Hills show that they do, Aukema said.

Some dead mountain pine beetles were found in a shipment of logs to Minnesota two years ago. The initial screening of pheromone-baited traps placed across the state this year didn’t turn up any living specimens, but a more detailed analysis hasn’t been completed, said Mark Abrahamson, an entomologist with the state agriculture department.

Mountain pine beetles are the most devastating forest insect in North America. They’ve damaged almost 125 million acres of mature pine forests in the West, including 45 million acres in a current outbreak in Canada. Minnesota has around 191 million red, white and jack pines that are large enough for the insects to attack.

Cold winters historically have kept the beetles in check, but the trend toward warmer winters has fueled devastating outbreaks in the Rocky Mountains. So it’s feared they could eventually reach the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region, with serious damage to the Northwoods ecosystem, outdoor recreation and the forest products industry.

The researchers said there are two likely ways the beetles could reach Minnesota: via logs shipped from areas where the pest is established or by migrating along jack pines that stretch across Canada into northern Minnesota. There’s little pine forest between Minnesota and the Black Hills, so the main threat from South Dakota would be imports of infested timber.

The insects kill by breeding in and tunneling through a tree’s water-conducting tissues just under the bark. They can only breed in trees larger than 5 inches in diameter, and they’re also unusual in that they actually need to kill a tree to reproduce. When the bugs are on the move in an outbreak they can travel 500 miles in a year if there’s enough pine along the way. Their swarms can even turn up on Doppler radar.

Aukema and graduate student Derek Rosenberger did their research in the Black Hills this summer because they didn’t want to risk bringing mountain pine beetles to Minnesota. So they sent freshly cut green logs from red, white, jack pine and Scotch pines from Minnesota to the Wheaton College Science Station near Rapid City, South Dakota, and exposed them to trap-caught live beetles. They found that the insects readily colonized the logs. They also confirmed that the male beetles were attracted to females that had tunneled into the logs.

The researchers will monitor the logs to see if the insects survive cold winters in Minnesota’s pine species and how well they reproduce in them. Some logs will be returned to Minnesota over the winter for more study under secure conditions. They will also set out more traps in Minnesota to look for evidence beetles have arrived.

The beetles have some similarities with emerald ash borers in the way they kill trees. The borers have already devastated ash populations in the East and are becoming established in Minnesota. The researchers hope their work can help devise rapid response strategies for stopping its advance.

“Unlike emerald ash borer, there is an effective trap and lure. Management of isolated, endemic populations may not be impossible — if we know they are there first,” the researchers wrote in their funding request.

Only Congress can fix broken immigration system Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:49:53 -0500 President Obama has issued executive orders that temporarily lifts the threat of deportation for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants who have been in the country for five years and who have children born in the United States, and to children brought by their parents prior to Jan. 1, 2010.

His orders grant these immigrants temporary legal status and work permits. In that, the president has exceeded his constitutional authority.

We concede that the president has wide discretion in prosecuting deportation cases, even if applying such discretion so broadly stretches the common exercise of the authority.

The president does not have the authority to grant work permits and temporary legal status to illegal immigrants. The Constitution (Article 1, section 8) gives Congress sole power to “establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” Only Congress can change the law.

The law must be changed.

Parties on all sides of the debate like to say the immigration system is broken. The current law does not provide realistic options for legal immigration for the type of workers our economy requires.

In reality, the system has been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of illegal immigration that has resulted from the law not being aggressively enforced.

While we fault Obama for exceeding his authority, we must fault his predecessors for selectively exercising theirs. They have looked the other way to further the political goals of their parties, or the economic interests of their constituents. Congress has been equally culpable.

Driven by crushing poverty, and often encouraged by their own governments, illegal immigrants seeking opportunities impossible at home have flooded across the border — 12 million by most counts. They have placed strains on public education, healthcare and law enforcement.

Once here and armed with forged papers they have found ready employment on farms and construction sites, and in hotels, restaurants, processing plants and other places eager for cheap, reliable labor.

While they work hard at jobs “Americans” often don’t want, by their numbers the undocumented workers have changed the dynamics of the entire U.S. workforce. Their repatriation would have a sizable impact on our economy, leaving many industries without viable replacements.

Removing them by force isn’t realistic. Past attempts to mandate employers verify employee work status, essentially forcing immigrants to self deport, have not passed.

We continue to believe the answer is to offer illegal immigrants temporary legal status and a path to permanent residency after 10 years if they meet strict requirements — no prior felony convictions, no violations while awaiting residency, learning to speak English and pay a fine and back taxes. We think the border should be secured. A viable guestworker program must be established, and employers must verify the work status of their employees.

Only Congress can do these things.

The GOP has vowed to block the president’s action. It should, with as little political theatrics as possible. But it also should pass something better that solves the problem.

Let them stay, or make them go. Hard, or easy. The status quo must not stand.

WSDA working on manure application bill Sun, 23 Nov 2014 15:01:04 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Agriculture is quietly working on a bill to regulate the application of livestock manure on farm fields.

The bill’s development has been so low profile that two Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, both farmers, denounced the WSDA for not getting farm groups involved.

“It looks like the department stepped in deep doo-doo,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside. “I expect better in the future.”

The committee asked for a briefing Nov. 21 from WSDA’s policy director, Larry Sheahan.

Sheahan didn’t divulge many details, saying the department’s proposal was still evolving.

“We’re literally working on it as we speak,” he said.

The bill could propose anyone who applies manure on a farm to have a license.

Sheahan said the department was working on the bill at the request of the governor’s office. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was pressuring the state to be more aggressive in protecting water quality, he said.

Sheahan defended the department, saying it has talked with farm groups about the bill.

Honeyford and Sen. Mark Schoesler, however, bluntly criticized WSDA for not holding wider discussions.

Both said they had heard little about the proposal and had not been kept informed.

“It’s sort of been behind the scenes and not the conduct I would expect from the Department of Agriculture,” said Schoesler, a Ritzville wheat farmer.

The Washington Farm Bureau’s director of governmental relations, Tom Davis, said the bureau had one meeting in late October with WSDA about the bill. “They’ve gone dark since then,” he said.

Davis said bill is unnecessary.

Growers who don’t carefully apply manure rack up unnecessary costs and risk violating the federal Clean Water Act, he said.

Targeting manure on agriculture lands ignores other sources of fecal matter, including pets, Davis said.

“It’s easy to finger ag, but we think they ought to identify problems before they apply additional regulations on us,” he said.

Council pushes prime rib for Thanksgiving Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:57:30 -0500 SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The Idaho Beef Council recently concluded a holiday promotion aimed at replacing turkeys with beef on Idaho Thanksgiving dinner tables.

Toss the Turkey, Eat Beef was an online campaign targeting the millennial generation, explained Traci Bracco, the council’s executive director.

Participants were asked to post comments about who they planned to invite to their Thanksgiving dinners on the council’s Facebook page. The prize for the winning entry was a prime rib roast from Double R Ranch.

The council posed the question to Facebook followers, “Do you think the pilgrims would have preferred prime rib? We do!”

Several responses indicated participants’ strong preference for beef over turkey.

“I asked my kids if they wanted turkey or steak. Not much thought needed. Beef! It’s what’s for Thanksgiving dinner!” Brad Walker posted.

Bracco said the council has increased its Facebook presence by 250 percent during the past year and now has 10,000 Facebook fans.

The council conducts at least 50 different programs each year. Bracco said another new program, called Race for the Steaks, debuted in October. The footrace along the Boise Greenbelt ended with a tri-tip dinner.

Bracco explained the council has been “looking for ways to strengthen the image of beef and link beef with a healthy, active lifestyle.”

The council is supported by a $1.50-per-head checkoff fee on Idaho cattle. They’re required to send 50 cents of the fee to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Board. They also voluntarily provide financial support to the Federation of State Beef Councils and the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Forester eases seedling transactions Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:45:54 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski Over the course of his career, forester Bob McNitt has witnessed a complete transformation in reforestation methods.

Now, he’s trying to head off disruptions for rural landowners as the forest seedling industry continues to change.

“I think we really have a looming problem for small woodlands,” McNitt said.

Owners of smaller tracts of forest often aren’t as actively engaged in the timber industry as large companies that derive their main income from logs, he said.

As a result, many don’t understand which trees are genetically best suited for their location or the need for long-term planning in seedling purchases.

Meanwhile, tree breeding, seed collection and seedling production is increasingly controlled by larger timber producers who don’t always have surpluses to sell to smaller landowners, McNitt said.

The seedling industry is also prone to volatility, with nursery owners hesitant to produce seedlings “on spec” due to fear of demand downturns, he said.

Not content to simply watch the problem fester, in 2006 McNitt launched the Forest Seedling Network, a company that seeks to connect buyers and sellers of seedlings and help landowners understand what trees are the right fit for their geography.

“It turned into a bigger job than I thought,” he said.

The company has a website — — that’s funded with sponsorships from nurseries, timber companies and woodland groups, with the money paying for programming upkeep and upgrades.

McNitt said he doesn’t derive any income from the Forest Seedling Network, but he sticks with it because it provides him with the opportunity to travel and stay connected with the forestry industry in his retirement years.

“I just look at it as a give-back,” he said.

Landowners can select their planting sites on an online map and the website will generate recommended seedling types and their availability.

They can also search by planting season to see how many trees of what type nurseries plan to make available.

The site features a service directory where landowners can find labor contractors, aerial pesticide applicators and equipment suppliers, among others, as well as tips on choosing the right seedlings and ensuring they get established.

“That information is out there, but it’s not in one place,” McNitt said. “I’m working on getting it in one place.”

McNitt’s fascination with the woods began when he followed his forester father around on the job in upstate New York.

He ended up in Oregon during a meandering road trip as a young man, when McNitt and a buddy planned to go to Alaska by way of Mexico. A family emergency forced his friend to return home after receiving a message in Springfield, Ore., but McNitt decided to stick around.

“I said, ‘I’ll take the tent, you take the car,’” McNitt remembers.

McNitt worked as a logger and performed other forest jobs while attending Oregon State University for forest engineering.

Eventually, he took a full-time job with Willamette Industries, a major timber company since bought by Weyerhaeuser, where he stayed until his retirement in 1995.

Reforestation was among the constant duties of his career, but that doesn’t mean the job was boring.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, timber companies allowed forests to regenerate from seed trees or they broadcast seeds from helicopters.

These methods weren’t dependable, though. Sometimes the seeds simply wouldn’t germinate or establish, and other times they were swept by the wind and grew in patches that were too thick or too thin.

The solution was to plant viable seedlings in the ground, but they weren’t widely available, McNitt said.

“There weren’t many people who grew trees from seed,” he said.

McNitt was put in charge of recruiting nurseries to grow seedlings and to ensure enough were produced.

He jokes that some nursery owners still curse him for getting them involved in the industry.

Conflicts between the timber industry and environmentalists — as well as caring for his aging parents — convinced McNitt to retire. Even so, he continued to stay on top of events in forestry, which convinced McNitt to start the Forest Seedling Network.

“It was just something that had to be done,” he said.

Bob McNitt

Occupation: Forester and owner of the Forest Seedling Network

Family: Wife, Elaine, and three grown children

Hometown: Stayton, Ore.

Age: 75

Education: A one-year technical degree in forestry from the State University of New York’s Ranger School in 1959 and a bachelor of science degree in forest engineering from Oregon State University in 1963.


H-2A continues rapid growth in Washington Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:49:30 -0500 Dan Wheat OLYMPIA, Wash. — After North Carolina, Washington state has become the second largest user of the H-2A visa foreign guestworker program despite its expense and red tape.

Washington’s tree fruit industry needs the workers and the Washington Farm Labor Association has made it happen handling the paperwork and transporting workers from Mexico to Washington.

The U.S. Department of Labor approved 9,025 H-2A workers in 2014 for Washington, up from 6,221 in 2013 and 4,546 in 2012.

Of the 9,025, 8,459 were in tree fruit, 546 were in other crops like herbs and bulbs and 20 were in sheepherding and bees, according to the state Department of Employment Security.

“More and more people are migrating away from agriculture and there just aren’t any workers. In general, it’s bad and getting worse and will get worse next year. The only proven solution is the legal worker program (H-2A),” said Dan Fazio, WAFLA director.

Since Employment Security has quit taking a monthly survey of farmers on worker shortage, there is no statistical evidence of shortage other than the fact the department referred 559 domestic workers for seasonal farm jobs in 2014 and 101 were hired, Fazio said. That those numbers are so low and the fact that traditionally only 10 to 20 percent of those hired stay on the job after the first week, tells the story of the shortage, he said.

Most companies using H-2A workers said they could have used more and WAFLA couldn’t help everyone who asked for help, he said.

A lot of the growth has been increasing sharing of workers by smaller employers and greater use of sequential contracts where workers work a period to time for one company, large or small, and then go to another, Fazio said.

Two major tree fruit companies in Central Washington employed more than 3,500 H-2A workers in 2014. Zirkle Fruit Co., Selah, had 1,964, according to the Department of Labor. Gebbers Farms, Brewster, is believed to have had 1,600, although Department of Labor records for it are not clear. A Gebbers Farms official said the company had 1,347 in 2012.

It costs more than $1,200 per worker to hire WAFLA to arrange for and transport workers from and back to Mexico. Employers had to pay them a minimum of $11.87 per hour in 2014 and provide housing. The minimum goes to $12.42 per hour in 2015.

“Without the H-2A program the tree fruit industry in Washington would be suffering massive losses,” Fazio said.

California had 5,988 H-2A workers in 2014 and Oregon 238.

Plaintiffs ask for summary judgment in &#x2018;ag gag&#x2019; lawsuit Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:04:53 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — A coalition of animal, food safety and civil rights groups that filed a federal lawsuit against Idaho’s Agricultural Security Act have asked for summary judgment in the high-profile case.

The plaintiffs argue in their Nov. 18 motion that the material facts in the case are not in dispute and therefore a trial isn’t necessary.

“We believe the law as it’s written is clearly unconstitutional and we don’t believe that it will require a full trial to settle this,” Leo Morales, an attorney representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, told the Capital Press.

The law makes it a crime to gain employment with an agricultural operation through deception with the intent to cause harm to that operation. It also prohibits people from making an audio or video recording of the production facility’s operations without the owner’s consent.

Anyone found guilty of violating the law could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and be required to pay triple restitution to the victim.

The plaintiffs’ motion says similar laws have been proposed in more than a dozen states and “Idaho’s is the most sweeping legislation that the industry has been able to enact.”

The plaintiffs argue the law violates their First Amendment free speech rights as well as the 14th Amendment equal protection clause.

In his September ruling denying the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill found the plaintiffs made plausible claims that the law violates their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection.

“It’s clearly unconstitutional. We just don’t see how the other side can win the way the law is written,” Morales said.

The law was crafted by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and IDA attorney Dan Steenson said it was drafted with input from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office “in a concerted effort to make sure it is constitutional.”

In a Feb. 5 attorney general’s opinion to drafters of the law, Idaho Assistant Chief Deputy Brian Kane wrote, “Because the (law) regulates conduct and does so without burdening an established speech-related right, it is likely that any First Amendment challenge would fail.”

He also stated that “no authority exists for the proposition that a law — like the one proposed here — that simply protects individuals or enterprises from certain forms of conduct and, in so doing, may make gathering information about those persons or enterprises more difficult, impermissibly interferes with First Amendment ‘news gathering rights.’”

Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs, said the law does regulate content because it only applies to one industry and prohibits speech that is primarily critical of animal agriculture.

Liebman said it’s possible a ruling on the motion for summary judgment could come during the first half of the year but he doesn’t expect a quick decision.

“Given that this is for all the marbles, I would anticipate (Winmill) will take a decent amount of time to write an opinion,” he said.

H-2A wage jumps throughout the West Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:45:48 -0500 Dan Wheat OLYMPIA, Wash. — The minimum wage for H-2A visa foreign guestworkers has jumped 55 cents an hour in Washington and Oregon to $12.42 for 2015, the Washington Farm Labor Association says.

That’s a substantial increase. A year ago the wage dropped 13 cents an hour for Washington and Oregon.

It is a minimum. Employers are required to pay H-2A workers the higher of the minimum or the applicable piece rate, the association has said.

The rate in California will increase from $11.01 to $11.33 per hour and in Idaho it will go from $10.69 to $11.14, the association announced in a news release.

The minimum wage for H-2A workers is set annually by the U.S. Department of Labor and based on surveys of agricultural wages in a given region. The rate is known as the adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) and is intended to prevent wages of similarly employed U.S. workers in a region from being adversely affected by the importation of foreign workers.

Washington state’s minimum wage is $9.32 per hour will go to $9.47 on Jan. 1. Oregon’s is $9.10 and will go to $9.25 on Jan. 1.

California’s is $9 and will go to $12.25 in San Francisco in May. Idaho’s is $7.25 and so far is remaining at that for 2015.

Farm labor keeps tightening, industry says Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:16:13 -0500 Dan Wheat It’s usually hard to quantify the shortage of seasonal agricultural workers, but it’s a problem on the West Coast and nationally that isn’t getting any better, ag industry labor observers say.

Improving economic conditions in Mexico, a tighter border and immigrants here, legally or illegally, being attracted to better jobs, all keep restricting seasonal farmworker supply, said Lee Wicker, deputy director of the North Carolina Growers Association, Vass, N.C.

North Carolina leads the nation in use of H-2A visa foreign guestworkers for agriculture at 14,500 and without it would be in a world of hurt as the farm labor market is “bad and deteriorating rapidly,” Wicker said.

Even with fewer acres planted because of the drought in California, commodity groups there are 15 to 20 percent short of the workers they need, said Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers Association in Irvine. It’s higher in strawberries, he said.

“Labor is extremely tight in California and getting tighter every year because it’s harder for people to cross the border,” said April Mackie, director of food safety and regulatory compliance at Ramco Enterprises in Salinas.

The company produces strawberries, lettuce and vegetables and is a labor contractor of 12,000 farmworkers.

Growers who produce only a few months a year are having the hardest time keeping workers and growers in some areas are losing workers to the oil industry that pays well, she said.

In Washington state, where apple harvest alone depends on 45,000 to 55,000 seasonal workers annually, labor was “very tight” with the harvest of a huge 155-million-box crop, said Mike Gempler, executive director of Washington Growers League in Yakima.

“Not everyone had all the people they needed when they needed them. It was the classic situation of a labor market that’s too tight,” Gempler said.

Labor was good for Washington cherries in June and July because more workers came from California after a light crop there, industry officials said at that time.

But Quincy Foods scrambled to find workers in August to keep its vegetable processing line running in August. It made it using temporary workers, Chris Scott, general manager, said.

During pear and apple harvest, some Washington grower-shippers said they were okay on labor while others said they were tight.

Washington Fruit & Produce Co., Yakima, did well and was doing real well by Oct. 21 when Dan Plath, orchard manager, said the company had a lot of pickers and was able to harvest when it wanted to instead of when it had to. The company was never behind but would have been without 400 H-2A workers, he said.

“It has not been a great year on labor but we’ve been getting it done,” Roger Pepperl, marketing director of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, said Oct. 22. He said labor is costing more and that some people were managing the situation better than others.

Short supply controlled more decisions of significant numbers of growers on what was harvested when, Gempler said.

“As the season wore on, we were able to get pretty much everything in but there are economic impacts of leaving fruit on trees to get fruit of higher value,” he said.

There was more sharing and moving of pickers and without those efficiencies and more H-2A workers, the situation would have been worse, he said.

Shortage of pickers has been pretty much the same since McDougall & Sons Inc., Wenatchee, used prison labor in 2011 to get all its apples picked, Gempler said.

The shortage of labor at landscape nurseries in Oregon has been getting worse for a number of years, said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries in Wilsonville.

“We took a pretty good hit in the last (economic) downturn. One third of the nurseries in Oregon went away,” he said. “For us the lack of labor puts an economic cap on regrowth of the industry.”

Oregon nurseries ship about $800 million worth of product annually and if the state lost its estimated 97,500 undocumented workers another 76,000 legal workers would lose their jobs and the state’s total economic output would be reduced 6 percent or by $17.7 billion, according to a study by Coalition for a Working Oregon.

Irrigation-clogging weed cleared for removal Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:28:03 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski Federal authorities have approved the removal of an irrigation canal-clogging weed from the Columbia River, but the aquatic plants won’t be yanked until next year.

Flowering rush, which was found growing in August at several new sites near Umatilla, Ore., grows so thickly that it can hinder the flow of water in canals and block irrigation intakes. The invasive species also provides habitat for introduced fish that eat threatened salmon.

However, the weed could not be immediately removed because it grows within the Columbia River, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and three federal statutes.

Most recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cleared the weed for removal after reviewing the proposal under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously approved the weed’s removal under the National Environmental Policy Act, but the proposal hasn’t entirely passed muster under the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.

One patch of flowering rush was determined to be growing at a sensitive area for cultural resources and thus cannot be pulled at this point, but no regulations stand in the way of removing the weed from the other sites.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers soon plans to cover the flowering rush patches on the Oregon side of the river with mats and sandbags, then contract with divers for “suction-assisted aquatic plant removal” next year, said Bruce Henrickson, public affairs specialist for the agency.

However, the agency cannot cover the patches on the Washington side of the river because it doesn’t have precise global positioning system information and the weed has gone into dormancy and sunk beneath the water’s surface, Henrickson said. Those sites will be treated once they resuming growing and become visible in spring.

Flowering rush is already problematic for irrigators in other parts of the Northwest, but it was never found growing in Oregon until this summer.

The weed spreads when buds break off from its roots and travel downstream, and the Oregon patches likely grew from buds that originated along the Yakima River in Washington.