Capital Press | Capital Press Mon, 16 Jan 2017 06:56:47 -0500 en Capital Press | Onion facilities collapse under weight of snow Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:39:40 -0500 Sean Ellis ONTARIO, Ore. — About 18 onion storage and packing facilities in southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon have collapsed over the past week from the weight of snow and ice, knocking out about 25 percent of the region’s total onion processing capacity, industry sources say.

“This is major. There are a lot of them down,” said Murakami Produce General Manager Grant Kitamura.

Prices for the Spanish bulb onions grown in this region have risen dramatically as a result.

Heavy snowstorms since December were followed by near-freezing rain last week and then more snow. That has caused many structures throughout the Treasure Valley area to collapse.

Kitamura, chairman of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee’s promotion committee, said several other onion packing or storage facilities are on the brink.

“Some are still standing but they’re not looking too straight,” he said.

Partners Produce’s main onion packing facility in Payette, Idaho, collapsed and will be out of commission for at least seven months, said co-owner Eddie Rodriguez.

“I have 25-30 million pounds of onions that were destined to run through that line,” he said.

The company’s empty inventory holding facility also collapsed.

The roofs of at least four onion packing facilities have collapsed because of the weight of snow and ice.

“At least three of them will be out of commission the rest of the season and several are wounded,” Kitamura said.

At least 14 onion storage facilities have collapsed as well.

The disruptions will affect growers as well, said Oregon farmer Paul Skeen, president of the Malheur County Onion Growers Association.

“When a shipper loses their packing line, it’s not just him but all his growers have to figure out what to do as well,” he said. “All those onions have to go somewhere.”

There are about 300 onion farmers and 30 onion shippers in the region, which produces about 25 percent of the nation’s storage onions.

About 25 percent of the region’s total onion processing capacity is currently off line, according to several sources, and demand is exceeding supply, which has pushed prices up dramatically.

The cost for a 50-pound bag of yellow jumbos has risen from about $3.50 before the damage occurred to close to $6.50 now, said Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, Ore.

“It’s directly related to the disruptions,” he said.

Rodriguez expects demand to continue to exceed supply for awhile because of the production disruptions.

“I think that will be the case throughout the rest of the season,” he said.

Demand for the region’s onions typically increases significantly following the new year, Kitamura said.

But the lost production capacity, coupled with trucking and railroad transportation issues related to the severe weather, has caused a significant reduction in the number of onions being shipped, Rodriguez said.

There are usually an average of about 180 total 40,000-pound shipments leaving the area each day this time of year but the actual number right now is around 110, he said.

“There have been massive disruptions in onion production this week,” Myers said.

He’s hopeful the production disruptions will be fixed and the region’s remaining onions will be shipped. “It’s just going to take a bit of time and some plan B’s and C’s.”

WDFW hoped shooting 5 wolves would stop attacks Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:31:52 -0500 Don Jenkins Washington wildlife managers hoped shooting five wolves in the Profanity Peak pack would end the attacks on livestock, but eventually killed seven when depredations continued, spending $134,999 in the process, according to a report by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The report presented Friday summarizes WDFW’s action’s last year in the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington, where wolves attacked at least 10 cattle and probably killed at least five more.

Most of the information already had been reported, though WDFW previously had declined to disclose how many wolves it originally intended to shoot.

WDFW initially announced it would remove part of the pack. The mission grew into total pack removal when depredations continued, though four wolves were still alive when WDFW called off the hunt in mid-October.

The report also updates how the much the department spent. WDFW had preliminarily tallied the cost at $119,500.

Most of the money, $73,440, was spent on helicopters, while $52,431 went for department salaries and equipment. WDFW also spent $9,128 to hire a trapper for 11 days. Although the trapper did not capture any wolves, the hiring showed ranchers that WDFW was willing to reach outside the department for help, according to the report.

The operation was the third time WDFW has shot wolves to protect livestock since 2012. WDFW hoped a lethal-control policy developed last spring by an advisory group that included ranchers and environmentalists would bolster public support for department actions.

Emotions, however, remained high. WDFW employees, ranchers and one member of the advisory group were threatened, according to the report.

Some environmental groups said they were outraged by the killing of wolves, especially on public lands. Ferry County officials and some ranchers said lethal control was overdue.

According to WDFW, the pack had a history of attacking livestock, and its territory overlapped 11 federal grazing allotments with 1,500 cow-calf pairs.

As the 2016 grazing season neared, however, WDFW was unable to track the pack. The pack’s only member fitted with a radio-collar, an adult female, had moved to the south with a male wolf to form a new pack.

“With the approach of the summer grazing season, addressing that situation became a priority for WDFW wildlife managers,” according to the report.

WDFW captured, collared and released an adult male June 9 and an adult female June 12. By then, cows were in the forest.

WDFW reported seeing cattle about 2 miles from where the female wolf was captured, but were not alarmed. The pack’s previously known den was more than 10 miles away.

By the end of June, WDFW concluded the current den was actually 4 to 5 miles from where cattle had been released.

Washington State University Large Carnivore Conservation Lab Director Rob Wielgus told The Seattle Times in August that the Diamond M Ranch had intentionally released cows “on top” of the den. WSU administrators repudiated the comment, saying it was inaccurate and had contributed substantially to growing anger and confusion.

The first depredation was confirmed July 8. The rancher added a range rider and “arranged for additional people to help monitor the cattle,” according to WDFW.

On Aug. 3, WDFW confirmed a fourth depredation by the pack, the threshold for considering lethal removal. The department confirmed a fifth attack the same day.

WDFW Director Jim Unsworth approved a recommendation by Eastern Washington Regional Director Steve Pozzanghera to shoot up to three adults and two pups, hoping that would be enough to stop the pack from feeding on cattle. At the time, WDFW believed the pack had 11 members, though the number was later revised to 12.

WDFW shot two adult female wolves Aug. 5 from a helicopter. WDFW also tried to trap and hunt for wolves on the ground, but were unable to find anymore in the rugged timberlands in the following two weeks.

Unsworth called off the hunt Aug. 18 — more than two weeks after the last wolf attack. The next day, however, WDFW documented four depredations. Unsworth directed the department to try to kill the entire pack.

From a helicopter, WDFW shot one wolf Aug. 21 and three more Aug. 22, including an adult female that was found injured Aug. 25 and dispatched, according to the report. The seventh wolf was killed Sept. 27. The final confirmed attack on livestock was Oct. 3.

WDFW ended the operation Oct. 19. The depredations had apparently stopped and most of the livestock were off the grazing allotments, according to the department.

“The department will continue to monitor the remaining wolves and, per the protocol, may renew efforts to remove wolves if wolf depredations on livestock continue in 2017,” according to the report.

Lawmakers warned: Water fight will lead to lawsuits Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:21:35 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — The Senate Agriculture and Water committee was cautioned Thursday that reclaiming control of water policy from the Washington Supreme Court will probably lead to a court fight.

The warning, made by a tribal attorney and a state Department of Ecology official, was rebuffed by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

“If we’re afraid of being in lawsuits, then we might as well close our doors, sine die and go home, because we’re not going to accomplish anything,” he said.

The committee held the first of what likely will be many hearings this session on how to respond to high court rulings that have blocked Ecology from taking water from rivers and streams for new uses, even in cases the department says won’t harm fish.

The so-called Hirst decision last year threatens to stop the drilling of new wells for rural homes. The Foster decision in 2015 bars Ecology from offsetting water withdrawals by improving fish habitat.

The rulings leave intact agriculture water rights, but alarm farm groups concerned about the futures of farm families and rural communities.

Both rulings placed a high priority on minimum stream flows that Ecology has set in 26 of the state’s 62 watersheds. The court has held the flows are protected water rights.

If Ecology can’t tap rivers to offset new water uses, attention will turn to agriculture, said Bill Clarke, representing a coalition of water users in Pierce County.

“In this state, anytime we have a, quote, ‘successful mitigation’ what that means is we’re taking irrigated farmland and losing it,” he said.

Tribes and environmental groups support the Supreme Court rulings.

Mukleshoot Indian Tribe attorney Ann Tweedy warned lawmakers not to weaken stream-flow protections.

“It would force tribes and others who are concerned about instream flow resources to utilize federal protections, like the (Endangered Species Act) and potentially adjudication of tribal rights as well,” she said.

One piece of legislation introduced by Honeyford, Senate Bill 5003, would effectively nullify Foster. The bill would allow Ecology to consider the economic benefits of withdrawing from rivers for development. Ecology would be required to have a habitat plan to keep the withdrawals from harming fish.

“This is an attempt to give the Department of Ecology some tools to better manage our water supply,” Honeyford said.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said he was so disturbed after reading the bill the evening before that he had trouble sleeping.

Lobbyist Bruce Wishart, representing the Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, complained the bill would allow rivers to be tapped for development. “Fish are dying, and there’s a serious problem here,” he said.

Ecology water resources manager Dave Christensen said the bill would restore authority that the department thought it had before the Foster decision. Nevertheless, Ecology’s response to the bill was tepid.

“We’re concerned that if signed into law this bill would be litigated, which would continue the cycle of uncertainty,” Christensen said.

The state needs “durable solutions” that “bring together many different interests and perspectives,” he said.

Honeyford said Ecology has not presented any solutions.

Utah ranchers forming LLC in innovative grazing plan Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:00:21 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas TWIN FALLS, Idaho — More than a decade ago ranchers in northern Utah saw the writing on the wall — the way they had operated on public land for years wasn’t going to be acceptable to some people, and their grazing permits would be appealed by anti-agriculture groups.

That’s just what happened in 2001.

Permittees were able to reverse the stay on grazing, but they needed to come up with a management plan that made sense for grazing while taking care of the natural resources.

They turned to the state for help.

Thus began the idea to consolidate the permittees’ public land allotments and livestock herds, Taylor Payne, grazing and rangeland coordinator in the Utah Grazing Improvement Program, said during the University of Idaho Range Livestock Symposium last week.

The director of Utah’s Division of Wildlife Services saw no reason livestock on public land couldn’t be managed to the benefit of wildlife and the environment. After all, it was being done on a large neighboring private ranch that had incorporated rest rotational grazing.

The initial response of permittees was that it couldn’t be done. The private ranch ran solely on private ground and had the money to make improvements and manage intensively. The public land ranchers were apprehensive about the cost, private property rights and additional work, Payne said.

But the conversation continued, and planning for the Three Creeks projects and consolidated management started in 2009.

There were a lot of issues to tackle, including water quality, range health, riparian conditions and habitat for sensitive species, he said.

The area included 10 allotments, several landowners and 29 permittees grazing cattle, sheep and horses. The allotments had poor grazing distribution with no way to incorporate rest, and permittees had minimal funds for improvements.

“We know rest rotation works in the Intermountain West. We wanted to initiate a process that would change management of federal lands,” he said.

Status-quo management decreases AUMs, and the permittees had all experienced suspended use. Yet decreasing livestock on rangeland hasn’t solved environmental issues, he said.

The project aimed to demonstrate good stewardship, switching to rest rotational grazing across 136,000 acres, consolidating 3,200 cows into two herds of 1,600 and facilitating three summer bands and four winter bands of sheep.

The allotments allow 17,218 AUMS, and the plan is to rest about 20 percent of range annually. An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.

The management principles incorporate duration of grazing, season of use and grazing intensity, focused on animal and plant health. Most of the fencing to facilitate a large-scale pasture system already existed, but improvements to the water system were needed.

“The rest rotational system sounds great on paper, but you have to be able to water (livestock) all at the same time,” Payne said.

Hired labor was also necessary to set up and maintain the system and take the headaches out of management on common allotments. Outside funding was also necessary, and the project has received grants and sponsorships, he said.

The cooperators also realized permittees had to “have skin in the game,” and the project is set up so permittees pay for 12.5 percent of the total cost for a projected $1.77 increase per AUM over 12 years, he said.

The plan is to form a limited liability corporation and consolidate the grazing permits. Each permittee will own part of the LLC and lease his base properties to the LLC.

Permittees are already operating together, and there’s been a lot of consolidation. A sub-section of the LLC already exists, and it’s been paying for hired labor for four years, providing a unified voice and a shared cost structure. The smaller LLC will be dissolved when the full LLC comes is formed, he said.

A lot of progress has been made, and the ranchers hope to graze two consolidated herds of cattle with the affiliated bands of sheep in the summer of 2019.

Incorporating rest in the Three Creeks management is a key ingredient in improving the area’s rangeland systems, and consolidation was the vehicle.

“We don’t know of anything else like this in the country. We hope after we get systems in place we can demonstrate what happens when you think outside the box,” he said.

Cold, snow challenge cattle producers Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:30:51 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas Frigid temperatures and heavy snow are making things difficult for cattle producers in south-central and eastern Idaho following the winter storm that blew in last week.

Near the Nevada border south of Twin Falls, neighbors were pulling together to plow roads and check cows, said Jared Brackett, a cow-calf producer near Rogerson.

“It’s a bugger. It hasn’t been this cold in a while for us with this much snow. It’s hard to keep fresh water and fresh feed,” he said.

Mid-day temperatures in the area on Friday were 6 below zero with a wind chill of 22 below. More cold weather is predicted, with a slight warm-up this week.

Snow was piled as high as 15 feet in some places. More than two feet of snow blew across the road to Brackett’s house, and a fellow rancher came and dug him out he said.

“It’s nice to have an industry that has that much community when things get bad,” he said.

He doesn’t expect there’ll be any livestock losses in the area — cows are tough and with access to water and feed they’ll hunker down. But the extreme cold is challenging those who are calving. Ranchers have to shelter the cows and keep calves warm. That means a lot of straw and a lot of sleepless nights, he said.

“I bet you there are lots of calves that have spent part of the night on the porch or on the kitchen floor. (But) they’re going to lose some, no doubt about that,” he said.

In Eastern Idaho, a slight breeze on Friday was significantly adding to the already bitterly cold temperatures, said Jerald Raymond, president of the Idaho Cattle Association and owner of Spring Creek Ranch near Idaho Falls.

Temperatures at mid-day were 7 below zero with a wind chill of 23 below.

“It is miserable, but we’ll get through,” he said.

And things aren’t as bad as they could be. Just over the Wyoming border the wind chill was 40 below in Jackson and 46 below in Big Piney, he said.

Most cattle producers are prepared for winter weather, taking precautions to make sure water in troughs doesn’t freeze. But they’ll need to check troughs often to make sure they’re being heated, and those using ponds will have to break ice, he said.

The cold weather is particularly challenging for seedstock growers whose animals are starting to calve. They’re spending extra time getting calves in, warmed up and dried off, he said.

“But they’re doing their best, and they’ll be OK. They’re just spending an awful lot of time” tending to calves, he said.

The storm also hit hard in the Boise area. The cold and snow there are unprecedented, the likes of which even the old-timers have never seen, he said.

Temperatures in Boise early afternoon on Friday were 0 degrees with wind chill of 12 below zero.

U.S. House moves to rein in regulation Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:19:08 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas Efforts in the U.S. House to get a handle on federal regulation bodes well for reining in costly and prohibitive mandates that adversely impact cattle producers, an industry representative says.

Two such pieces of legislation passed the House earlier this month, and another has been introduced.

HR 26, Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, introduce by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., would require congressional approval for any regulation with an economic impact of $100 million or more before it could go into effect. The bill passed 287-187 on Jan. 5.

The House also passed HR 21, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, which would allow Congress to bundle multiple last-minute rules from an outgoing administration and overturn them in a single vote under the Congressional Review Act, known as the CRA. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and passed 238-184 on Jan. 4.

The CRA allows the Senate to disapprove a rule with a simple majority instead of needing 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, said Scott Yager, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s environmental counsel during a podcast last week.

When the Senate couldn’t get 60 votes for a stand-alone bill to disapprove the Waters of the U.S. rule, it moved to the CRA to pass a disapproval resolution. However, President Barack Obama didn’t sign it, so the effort fizzled, he said.

“With the Trump administration coming in, which has stated that it wants to get rid of some of these over-burdensome regulations, we have an opportunity here to get more of these disapprovals done,” he said.

“One of the biggest things we hear from our members is that government over-regulation is hurting the way that cattle producers do business,” he said.

The bills would provide more accountability and transparency in how agencies conduct rulemakings and restore power to Congress, he said.

Another bill aimed at regulatory reform is on tap in the House. HR 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act, was offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It would require agencies to choose the lowest-cost rulemaking alternative and offer more opportunity for public review. It would also repeal the doctrines that require judges to defer regulatory interpretations.

“A really important piece of this is that Collin Peterson, ranking member of House Ag, is bringing forward an amendment that would prohibit agencies from lobbying on their own rules,” Yager said. Peterson is a Minnesota Democrat.

That was an issue with WOTUS and the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of social media and other forms of outreach to get people to comment in favor of the rule. Peterson’s amendment make sure that type of thing doesn’t happen, he said.

The question is how the bills will fare in the Senate. Republicans hold the majority there but by a smaller margin than in the House, so bills will need bipartisan support to get 60 votes, he said.

“So this will be the first test of the Senate in the 115th Congress,” he said.

Widow of slain Oregon standoff leader carries on his mission Sun, 15 Jan 2017 13:57:02 -0500 ANDREW SELSKY SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Leaders of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon were driving to a public meeting a year ago when police shot and killed one of them at a roadblock.

Now, LaVoy Finicum’s widow and their children are planning to hold that meeting later this month in the same town, John Day. Speakers are slated to talk about the Constitution, property rights and other issues.

“It is the anniversary of my husband’s death. We want to continue with his mission,” Jeanette Finicum told The Associated Press. “The people within counties and states should decide how to use those properties, not the federal government.”

LaVoy Finicum was the spokesman for several dozen occupiers during the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and has become a martyr for the movement to transfer ownership of federal lands to local entities. The U.S. government owns nearly half of all land in the West, compared with 4 percent in other states, according to the Congressional Overview of Federal Land Ownership.

Finicum’s cattle brand, an L connected to a V with a floating bar, adorns bumper stickers, black flags and T-shirts seen at conservative gatherings.

Jeanette Finicum has become something of a cause celebre in the year since her husband’s death. She spoke at a rally on the steps of Utah’s capitol. The Tri-State Livestock News, based in South Dakota, recently ran a story describing her dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees. The agency administers 245 million acres of public lands and manages livestock grazing on 155 million acres of those lands.

“It’s been a horrific year,” Jeanette Finicum said in a phone interview from her Cane Beds, Arizona, home. “There’s been so much going on that most people don’t have to deal with when they lose a loved one, like we did.”

She met LaVoy at a barn dance. He told her he was a bad dancer.

“He was right. He had no rhythm,” Jeanette Finicum said with a laugh. They got married 14 days later.

“There isn’t anyone like him that I met in my lifetime, and I don’t expect there will be anyone else who will measure up,” she said, choking up with emotion.

She was a stay-at-home mom all 23 years they were married.

“With him gone, all of the responsibilities have fallen to me,” she said. “I spent the year rounding up, branding and calving.”

Oregon State Police shot LaVoy Finicum three times on Jan. 26, 2016, after he exited a vehicle at a police roadblock in the snowy Malheur National Forest, held up his hands and then reached toward his jacket.

Authorities concluded the officers were justified because they thought Finicum was going for his pistol. But at least one FBI Hostage Rescue Team operator fired two shots at Finicum’s vehicle — shots that were not disclosed during the investigation.

In March, the inspector general of the U.S. Justice Department began investigating possible FBI misconduct and whether there was a cover-up. The inspector general’s office declined to discuss the investigation last week. The U.S. attorney’s office in Portland said it was ongoing.

Jeanette Finicum insists her husband was not a threat and that he was murdered. Her lawyer has said the family plans a wrongful-death lawsuit, and Finicum said she will release more details during the Jan. 28 meeting.

It’s being held at the fairgrounds in Grant County, which neighbors the county containing the refuge.

Public lands make up 66 percent of Grant County’s 4,529 square miles. Jeanette Finicum bristled when asked if those attending the meeting might be inspired to take over federal sites.

“That’s a ridiculous question,” she said. “We will peacefully demonstrate, peacefully teach and stand for liberty.”

Fairgrounds manager Mindy Winegar said local logger Tad Haupt rented a pavilion for the meeting that seats up to 500 people. Haupt, a vocal opponent of U.S. Forest Service management practices, is the one who invited the occupation leaders to speak in John Day, a town of about 1,700, on Jan. 26, 2016.

The FBI expressed no concern about the upcoming meeting.

“Everyone has a constitutional right to assemble, and to free speech,” spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said.

Grant County Judge Scott Myers granted permission for the fairgrounds, a county facility, to be used for the event, saying rejecting the request could have had more repercussions than allowing it to happen.

Myers said he doubts it will pose a threat but then added, “I have steadfastly tried to convince myself that over the past few months.”

Timber industry may challenge Cascade-Siskiyou monument expansion Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:21:30 -0500 Jeff MapesOregon Public Broadcasting The timber industry thinks it may able to reverse President Barack Obama’s expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon.

The president’s decision to add 48,000 acres to the 65,000-acre national monument was praised by environmentalists and Oregon’s two senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

But a timber industry trade group argued that Obama misused his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, said Friday the expansion improperly included several thousand acres of federal land that Congress has prioritized for logging.

“Can an administration come and change the meaning of a statute through the Antiquities Act?” he asked. “That’s the legal question, and our answer is no.”

The expansion includes at least 7,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management acreage — known as the O&C lands — that the agency sees as “harvestable,” Joseph said. 

Supporters of the expansion noted the original Cascade-Siskiyou monument designation also included O&C lands, and that it was never challenged legally. 

Michael Campbell, a BLM spokesman in Portland, said he couldn’t comment on the timber industry’s contention. But he said the agency’s initial belief was that harvest contracts already signed in lands covered by the expansion would be honored.

In addition, Republican Congressman Greg Walden said Thursday he will talk with the incoming Trump administration about reversing Obama’s action. But there’s slim precedent for that. 

“With this designation, the outgoing administration is locking up more of our public lands through a process that cut out many in the surrounding communities,” Walden said in a statement Thursday. “It appears like it was rigged from the beginning.”

Dave Willis of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council said there is strong public support for protecting an area of key biodiversity, like the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument.

Merkley said Friday he backed the monument expansion because it helped preserve an important outdoor area while being compatible with many existing uses. He said there is still grazing and timber cutting for fire management — as well as hunting, fishing and hiking.

Eagles’ resurgence comes at a price for farmers Sun, 15 Jan 2017 13:42:49 -0500 PATRICK WHITTLE PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The eagle has landed — on chickens and rare birds, with talons at the ready.

The resurgence of the bald eagle is one of America’s greatest conservation success stories. They have come back so strong that in some areas, they are interfering with efforts to preserve more jeopardized species, such as loons and cormorants, wildlife biologists say. And their proliferation is leading to encounters at livestock farms that sometimes end badly — and illegally — for the eagles.

Federal protections mean farmers can do little to keep them away, said Ken Klippen, a poultry scientist and former farmer who heads the National Association of Egg Farmers.

“It’s a fully protected bird. If you have foxes, coyotes, raccoons, a farmer can do something about that,” he said. “But if it’s a bald eagle? His hands are tied.”

The Pennsylvania Game Commission investigated a case in which an eagle was shot dead in the East Penn Township area in 2015. In Steuben County, New York, a sheep farmer and two other people were accused of poisoning sheep carcasses to kill eagles that threatened lambs. And authorities investigated suspicious deaths of 18 bald eagles in Maryland and Delaware last year.

Bald eagles were chosen as an American symbol in 1782 and underwent a steep decline in the early and middle 20th century, pushed to the brink of extinction by pesticides, habitat loss and indiscriminate hunting.

A 1930 issue of Popular Science stated that the birds had died off so much that it was possible they would soon “be seen only on coins and the coat of arms of the United States unless drastic action” saved them.

Such action came in the form of federal protections, including the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prevents almost everyone from so much as disturbing the birds and still stands today. The eagles recovered so much that they were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Today, Audubon Society bird counts show their numbers are climbing, and scientists with the society say they will probably continue to do so. Counters found about 30,000 of them in 2015, more than double the 1995 count. They live in every state but Hawaii.

In Maine, where the breeding population of great cormorants is small and efforts to save them are underway, the bald eagles are a problem, said Chris DeSorbo, director of the raptor program at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland.

Cormorants are seabirds that are widely distributed around the globe, but North America has only a few breeding colonies from Maine to Greenland, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Common loons, decimated by hunting, also sometimes fall victim to eagles and are the subject of repopulation efforts in New England and elsewhere.

“Eagles are very opportunistic predators. They are going to try to take advantage of an easy meal wherever they can,” DeSorbo said. “In this case, I think seabird colonies can represent a low risk food resource for them.”

In other areas, the eagles are assuming a role they played centuries ago — agricultural pest. And it’s not just chickens they’re getting.

Lee Straw, a Maine farmer who raises sheep on an island, said his weaker lambs sometimes fall prey to eagles.

“There’s nothing you can do,” Straw said. “It’s survival of the fittest anyway.”

Such predation is to be expected because bald eagles are apex predators, said Mark McCollough, an endangered species biologist with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. The service doesn’t consider it a problem, but rather indicative of the species’ success at rebuilding.

“Yes, eagles are having an effect on other species of wildlife,” he said. “But that’s natural. Predation like that probably occurred here hundreds of years ago.”

The birds are continuing to come back because of protection of wetlands, the increase in water quality and reforestation of farmland, said Geoff LeBaron, a Massachusetts ornithologist and the director of the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count event. They haven’t yet reached the point where overpopulation is a legitimate concern, he said.

“At some point it will reach carrying capacity,” he said. “But I think there’s plenty of room for more eagles.”

Wolverine caught on remote camera in west-central Idaho Sun, 15 Jan 2017 13:32:02 -0500 MCCALL, Idaho (AP) — A wolverine has been recorded on an Idaho Fish and Game camera near McCall in west-central Idaho as part of a four-state study to determine where the elusive mammals live.

A remote camera recorded at least one wolverine earlier this winter feeding on a deer leg attached to a tree about 12 miles northeast of McCall, the agency reported Friday.

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington state are taking part in the study to find out if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers.

Wolverines, a member of the weasel family, once were found throughout the Rocky Mountains and in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. They were wiped out across most of the U.S. by the 1930s because of unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns.

They have since recovered in parts of the West, but not in other areas of their historical range. In the Lower 48 states, an estimated 250 to 300 wolverines survive in remote areas of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, according to wildlife officials.

The study that started this winter is using remote cameras and copper brushes to collect DNA. The work is being done in the winter when bears are hibernating so researchers can focus on the wolverines.

Under the plan, the states will come up with a map of wolverine habitat that will be useful for land trust organizations working with private landowners on conservation easements to prevent development.

In Idaho, cameras have been set up in 61 sites.

Fish and Game workers use road-killed deer and elk to attract animals, replacing the bait and checking the cameras’ memory cards. Besides the wolverine, the sites have also attracted fishers, martins, foxes, coyotes, wolves and birds.

“So far, we’ve had an animal of some variety on every camera,” said Fish and Game wildlife technician Luke Ferguson in a news release from the agency.

He and fellow technician, Peter Ott, ride snowmobiles and ski into the remotes sites that are typically between 7,000 and 9,000 feet.

Some sites are so remote they can’t be reached in winter. At those, a cow’s femur is used for bait and a special container drips scent onto it. Those cameras will be checked in the spring.

Feds change regulations aimed at stopping horse soring Sun, 15 Jan 2017 13:23:16 -0500 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Federal officials have made regulation changes aimed at stopping the practice of soring among Tennessee Walking Horses and similar breeds.

The Tennessean reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes Friday to the Horse Protection Act.

Soring occurs when a horse’s legs are intentionally injured to make the animal have a higher gait. It often includes the use of caustic chemicals and chains, or objects shoved between the hoof and stacked shoes.

The department says the final rule will be published soon in the Federal Register and become effective by next January. It will ban many of the devices used for soring and force horse industry inspectors to become trained and licensed through the USDA. The horse industry is currently responsible for training its own inspectors.

The Humane Society of the United States called soring a “barbaric and gratuitous” practice.

“Horse soring is a stain on Tennessee’s reputation, and (Friday’s) move by the USDA begins to wipe that stain away,” Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a statement. “Hurting horses so severely for mere entertainment is disgraceful, and I put this abuse in the same category as dogfighting or cockfighting — practices that betray our humanity and that cannot stand the light of day.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Saturday that while he’s in favor of ending horse soring, he’s leery that the rule could end the century-old tradition of showing Tennessee Walking Horses. He called the new rule “overreaching.”

He called on the new secretary of agriculture to work with Congress to enact legislation “that punishes trainers, owners and riders who abuse horses while preserving the opportunity for law abiding horse enthusiasts to participate in competitions that are the basis of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.”

Agriculture secretary is the only Cabinet position that President-elect Donald Trump has not moved to fill.

A statement issued by Alexander said the Tennessee Walking Horse industry supports more than 20,000 jobs nationwide.

Mike Inman, president of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration, said he plans to challenge the USDA’s action. The Shelbyville-based annual show is the largest Tennessee walking horse show in the nation.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said the treatment of animals “is a direct reflection of our character, both as individuals and a nation.” He called horse soring “truly one of the worst practices.”

USDA estimates fewer winter wheat acres than expected Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:34:03 -0500 Matw Weaver The USDA’s winter wheat seedings report estimates fewer acres than the industry expected, but the large global supply will continue to depress prices, market analysts say.

The industry expected the USDA to report 34.2 million acres in its winter wheat seedings report, released Jan. 12, but the agency instead found 32.4 million acres.

“Either someone’s dyslexic when they wrote the numbers out or we actually did see a larger decrease than what had been expected,” said Darin Newsom, DTN senior analyst during a presentation.

According to the report, the hard red winter wheat seeded area is roughly 23.3 million acres, down 12 percent from 2016. White winter wheat grown primarily in the Pacific Northwest totals roughly 3.37 million acres, down 4 percent from 2016. Soft red winter wheat totals 5.68 million acres, down 6 percent.

The 2017 total is down 10.4 percent from 2016, when U.S. farmers planted 36.4 million acres of winter wheat, and down 18.3 percent from 2015, when growers planted 39.7 million acres.

The shrinkage in acres is in response to low wheat prices, Newsom said.

“I would not anticipate those low prices changing any time soon,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time to chew through the stocks we already have on hand.”

Following the report, hard red winter wheat futures were trading roughly 9 cents per bushel higher on markets in Kansas City, Mo., said Byrone Behne, marketing manager for Northwest Grain Growers in Walla Walla, Wash.

“I don’t think we’re necessarily going to rocket higher from here,” he said. “U.S. and world stocks are still pretty high.”

The USDA projects a total global wheat supply of 993.2 million metric tons. The U.S. has a projected wheat supply of 92.8 million metric tons.

The reduction in acres doesn’t include dark northern spring wheat acres, noted Dan Steiner, grain merchandiser for Morrow County Grain Growers in Boardman, Ore. That wheat class is trading at a premium of roughly $1.30 per bushel new crop and $1.80 old crop compared to other classes.

Growers in the Midwest may move to soybean or corn production, Newsom said.

Steiner said the market needs a shock on the supply or demand side to boost prices.

“There aren’t any dollars out there, there’s no silver bullets or big home runs to be hit,” he said. “But if you’re patient, there are plenty of dimes to be picked up.”

Grower forum will tackle falling number problems Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:08:51 -0500 Matw Weaver Storing wheat as a way to improve its falling number test score is one tactic that will be discussed during a Jan. 31 forum in Colfax, Wash.

Two studies say the enzyme alpha amylase, which damages starch, degrades over time in storage, said Camille Steber, molecular geneticist with USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Storage seems to work better when temperatures are higher, and doesn’t work in the cold, Steber said.

“Storing it over the winter isn’t as useful as storing it over the fall,” she said.

The falling number won’t get worse in storage unless the wheat gets wet and sprouts, Steber said.

Steber is one of several speakers on the agenda for the forum, which will be hosted by the Washington Association of Wheat Growers at noon Jan. 31 at the McGregor Co. training facility in Colfax.

“Falling number has been on the forefront of everybody’s mind,” said Lori Williams, WAWG outreach coordinator.

About 42 percent of the samples tested by the Washington Department of Agriculture last fall had low falling numbers. Low test numbers were also found in about 25 percent of the Northern Idaho wheat crop and a small percentage of the Oregon crop. Elevators dock the price for scores below 300.

The forum will cover causes and industry efforts to help farmers who have been docked, Williams said.

Steber wants growers to understand that the falling number test is a way to measure the enzyme.

The biggest need is for varieties bred with genetic resistance to late-maturity alpha amylase and pre-harvest sprouting. The falling number test used by grain elevators and customers overseas doesn’t distinguish which is the cause, she said.

Other issues Steber’s heard from farmers:

• Club wheat variety Bruehl is susceptible to falling number problems. Though Pritchett is an improvement, it is also susceptible. Both varieties resist snow mold, Steber said. Crescent is better than Bruehl and Pritchett for falling number, but doesn’t have snow mold resistance.

• It appears spraying fungicide on wheat susceptible to stripe rust tends to lower the falling number in those varieties because the plants live longer. Steber’s also heard from farmers who believe spraying fungicide caused their low falling number.

“I think that not applying fungicide for stripe rust may cost you more in terms of yield than it’s going to cost in terms of falling number,” she said.

It’s too early to tell whether conditions will be favorable for falling number this year. The enzyme only causes low falling numbers due to temperature fluctuations 26 to 30 days past pollen shedding, while pre-harvest sprouting causes problems if it rains after the wheat has turned from green to gold.

Falling number is dependent upon weather, Steber said.

“Even if we go through another period of time where it’s not a problem, we need to keep it on the radar, so that future farmers won’t get bit by this again,” she said. “To make progress on something like this takes a long-term commitment to the breeding and research.”

The forum is free for WAWG members and $25 for non-members.


Malting Barley Association updates list of varieties Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:45:59 -0500 Matw Weaver The American Malting Barley Association has updated its list of approved varieties for 2017, dropping one and adding another.

New to the list is Limagrain Cereal Seeds two-row variety LCS Genie.

“It’s done pretty well in trials in different areas of the Pacific Northwest,” said vice president Scott Heisel. “It looks like it will do well for the farmer. Some of our members say it makes good malt and good beer.”

The organization asks members each year if they would like to add varieties to the list and Genie was requested, Heisel said.

The association is a nonprofit trade association of 80 brewing, distilling and malting companies that use U.S. malting barley.

Gone from the list is the two-row variety Merit, an older variety. It is being phased out in favor of newer varieties, Heisel said.

Sister variety Merit 57 remains on the approved list.

“It’s just a little bit better variety, a little bit more disease resistance,” Heisel said.

The association updates its list to help barley remain competitive with farmers. The crop competes with corn, soybeans, wheat and canola, depending on the region of the U.S., Heisel said.

The industry continually tests new lines from breeders, Heisel said. Large brewers, smaller brewers and distillers have different needs. Some varieties serve niche markets.

Malting barley is primarily grown under contract. Malting barley acres are roughly 75 percent of all barley acres, totaling about 3.5 million each year.

Heisel advises farmers to speak with their purchaser, either a grain elevator or local brewing company, to see which varieties the buyer intends to purchase.

“Definitely have a home for the barley you’re going to produce,” he said. “Don’t just look at our list and say, Somebody’s going to buy it when I grow it.’ Make sure you have a market for it before you plant.”

The 2017 approved varieties are:

Two-row barley varieties: AAC Synergy, ABI Voyager, AC Metcalfe, CDC Copeland, CDC Meredith, winter variety Charles, Conlon, Conrad, winter variety Endeavor, Expedition, Harrington, Hockett, LCS Genie, Merit 57, Moravian 37, Moravian 69, ND Genesis, Pinnacle, Scarlett and winter variety Wintmalt.

Six-row barley varieties: Celebration, Innovation, Lacey, Legacy, Quest, Stellar-ND, winter variety Thoroughbred and Tradition.


Strawberry production stabilizes; China begins imports Fri, 13 Jan 2017 17:09:28 -0500 Tim Hearden WATSONVILLE, Calif. — After several years of modest declines in acreage and production, California’s strawberry industry appears to be stabilizing, just as China opened its doors to the berries.

Growers expect to plant 36,141 acres of strawberries this year 2017, up slightly from the 36,038 acres planted statewide last year, according to a California Strawberry Commission survey.

The survey comes as the state’s production returned to its record-setting ways in 2016, as growers filled more than 196.4 million flats, the commission reported. Production vaulted over the nearly 194.8 million flats produced in 2013, when growers enjoyed their seventh record-breaking season in the previous eight years.

Industry representatives see the rebound as good news for growers, as global demand for strawberries is already increasing and new market access to China portends even more exports, said Chris Christian, the strawberry panel’s senior vice president.

“It’s kind of nice to see it leveling off after a couple of years of declining acreage,” Christian said. “The varieties we’re seeing now are much higher yielding, and everyone sees this as a good opportunity to take advantage of the good demand.”

Per-person consumption of strawberries in the U.S. has been increasing over the last two decades, reaching a record at 7.9 pounds in 2013, according to the USDA-funded Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

California’s exports have been decreasing with production, as shipments totaled 279.2 million pounds in 2015 compared to nearly 331 million pounds in 2013, according to the commission’s latest annual exports report.

But exports could ramp up again with access to China, as that nation’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has set up a pest-detection protocol to begin accepting California berries after 11 years of negotiations with the USDA.

“Only a couple of very small shipments have gone over so far, but we expect within a couple of years the China market in the summer months to be a significant opportunity,” Christian said. “In China, there aren’t any domestically produced strawberries in the summer months.”

Strawberry acreage in California had been on a downward trend from 40,816 in 2013, and production suffered a couple of years of declines, to 192 million 8-pound flats in 2014 and 190 million in 2015, the commission reported.

But growers have been switching to new higher-yielding varieties and doing more summer planting for fall production, which enabled last year’s yields to zoom to another record after a slow start caused by last winter’s rains.

Summer plantings for fall and winter harvest have increased from 3,719 acres in 2012 to 6,721 acres in 2016. Farms expect to plant 6,067 acres this summer, according to the survey.

“That’s good news for consumers, because there’ll be a lot more California strawberries available in the latter half of the year,” Christian said.

For 2017, California will continue as the leading production region in the world, supplying more than 79 percent of the strawberries consumed in the U.S., the commission predicts. Strawberries remain the volume and value leader in the berry category, which is the top-selling category in the produce department, the panel asserts.

The one concern for growers is rising labor and regulatory costs in California, as laws will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 and institute the 8-hour work day and 40-hour week in agriculture.

To meet the challenges, farmers are using the H2A program for workers while the industry continues research into mechanizing at least some of the tasks in the harvest.

Severe winter weather will delay delivery of some papers Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:16:50 -0500 Due to severe winter weather, not all subscriber copies of the Jan. 13 edition of the Capital Press could be trucked from our printing plant in Pendleton, Ore., to the Postal Service in Portland in time to make the normal delivery schedule.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Subscribers have access to all Capital Press content, which is available on this website. Or, they can read the e-edition of this week’s paper, also available on this site.

If you are unsure how to access the e-edition, call us at 1-800-882-6789 for assistance.

Weather Service warns of flooding as heavy rain and warm weather approaches Fri, 13 Jan 2017 16:56:23 -0500 Eric Mortenson Heavy rain and warm temperatures Jan. 16-19 will melt the snow that paralyzed Portland but could cause widespread flooding across the Pacific Northwest, the National Weather Service said.

Meteorologist Laurel McCoy said a “very wet system” will barge into the region Monday night, bringing heavy rain Tuesday and Wednesday before tapering off into showers through the end of the week. She said 2 to 5 inches of rain is anticipated Monday night through Thursday, with highs reaching 50 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday and 45 degrees on Thursday.

The combination will melt snow in the Coast Range and the foothills of the Cascade Range, sending water pouring into the region’s rivers.

McCoy, who is based in Portland, said it’s too soon to know how bad the flooding will be. The snowpack above 3,500 elevation feet should be able to absorb a lot of rain, she said, but there’s a good deal of snow below that level that could melt and swell the Willamette River system.

Farmers and ranchers have cheered this winter’s snowpack, which eased drought worries and began to fill reservoirs to normal levels. The rain could erase some of the water gains achieved in the past couple months.

The storm is tracking toward Northwest Oregon, meaning Portland could bear the brunt of it, but it could shift farther north or south, McCoy said

“All of us are in the same boat,” she said. “There’s a good chance of flooding across a good portion of the Northwest.”

As usual, the west sides of Oregon and Washington will receive more rain than the sections on the east side of the Cascades.

Portland saw 9 to 12 inches of snow fall the past week, an unusually heavy amount for the city. The snow, layered on top of an inch or more of ice, snarled traffic throughout the metro region and closed schools for four days.

Cattlemen meet new legislators, plan bills for 2017 session Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:27:21 -0500 Tim Hearden SACRAMENTO — As a new legislative session gets underway, California’s leading ranchers’ group is meeting new lawmakers and discussing bills to sponsor in 2017.

A big part of the California Cattlemen’s Association’s agenda will be trying to “make some necessary changes” to laws that were passed last year, said Justin Oldfield, the organization’s vice president of government relations.

“Last year was a pretty tough year,” Oldfield said, referring to new agricultural overtime and minimum wage laws that were opposed by farm groups. “We’re going into a new legislative session with some new members. We need to be getting off on the right foot in terms of building relationships and working to ensure that these new members understand who we are and what our priorities are.”

Oldfield said the CCA is working on “at least one” bill to sponsor and will likely begin rolling out proposals later this month. He would not elaborate on what the proposals might be.

But one likely target for farm groups is certain language in the bill last year by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, that will phase in overtime for farmworkers after eight hours in a day and 40 hours in a week rather than the 10-hour day and 60-hour week that previously applied to agriculture.

However, the law eliminated an exemption on overtime after eight hours in a day for managers and family members, which exists in every other industry. Exemptions also applied to specific jobs in agriculture, such as an irrigator, which is “a big one” for producers, Oldfield said.

“When you have an irrigator out there watching water for a 14-hour period, maybe only half of that (time) they may actually be working,” he said.

While considering its options with the Legislature, the CCA is also battling potential administrative regulations, including a State Water Resources Control Board proposal to maintain at least 40 percent of normal unimpeded flows on salmon-bearing tributaries to the San Joaquin River from February to June.

CCA officials appeared before the water board on Jan. 3 to oppose the plan, arguing the proposal would significantly impact water availability during dry and critically dry years, according to an organization newsletter.

In all, 27 members of the Senate and Assembly did not seek re-election in November, mostly because of term limits. Democrats now hold a 55-25 advantage in the upper chamber and a 27-13 advantage in the lower.

While new members were sworn in Dec. 5, the Legislature’s business started in earnest last week, and nearly 200 bills had been introduced by the week’s end.

“That number will continue to climb,” Oldfield said. “We haven’t had a chance to look through all of them yet ... (but) there’s some in there that are probably problematic.”

Groups will have a better idea of what the priority legislation will be as the mid-February deadline for filing bills draws near, California Farm Bureau Federation spokesman Dave Kranz has said.

The CCA has scored some victories in the Legislature in recent years, including with last year’s bill by Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, that exempts pickups and trailers used in agriculture from California Highway Patrol commercial-vehicle inspections.

Previous law “required some pretty onerous on-site, on-farm review,” Oldfield said. “We were successful in passing a bill that would exempt ... most pickups and trailers used in ag. Some parameters have to be met.”

KUHN Celebrates Product Anniversary with Disc Mower Giveaway Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:46:51 -0500 BRODHEAD, Wis. – KUHN, celebrating the 50th anniversary of pioneering the disc mower, is announcing the start of its promotional KUHN Model GMD 280 Golden Giveaway, or just “Golden Giveaway”! The company will be awarding two contest winners each a new KUHN GMD 280, its most popular disc mower model, or $10,000 toward a higher-priced GMD disc mower or FC mower conditioner.

One winner will be selected on or around April 7, 2017, from entries received between January 2, 2017, and March 31, 2017, and one winner will be selected on or around November 6, 2017, from entries received between April 1, 2017, and October 31, 2017.

To enter into the contest, individuals will need to fill out a contest entry form at any select trade show or event. To be eligible to win, participants need to be residents of the United States, excluding those residing in the states of New York or Florida, be 21 years of age at the time of entry, and not be an employee of Kuhn North America, Inc., an immediate family member of an employee, or living in the same household as such individual. The full contest rules, as well as a list of selected shows can be found at:

Colin Skoronski, Director of Marketing for Kuhn North America said, “We are thrilled to offer this Golden Giveaway promotion in 2017 as a way to honor 50 years of KUHN’s innovation and perfection of the disc mower and rotary disc technology!” Hay tools in general are a large part of the company’s rich history in agricultural equipment, but a real revolution was made in 1967, when KUHN’s rotary blades made it possible to move forward in the fields much faster than with a sickle bar mower.

Kuhn North America, Inc., headquartered in Brodhead, Wisconsin, is a leading innovator in agricultural and industrial equipment, specializing in spreaders, mixers, hay tools and tillage tools. KUHN, KUHN Knight and KUHN Krause products are sold by farm equipment dealers throughout the United States, Canada and many other countries.


Idaho ag college asks state for $1.85 million infusion Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:14:54 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — The fiscal year 2018 budget request for University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences seeks a one-time infusion of $1.85 million in state funding for major lab renovations and new graduate student housing at some of the college’s ag research stations.

Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed budget recommends funding the request but opts to spread the money out over three years.

CALS is seeking $1 million for new graduate student housing at four of its nine agricultural research and extension centers, including the Kimberly, Parma, Aberdeen and Nancy M. Cummings research centers.

The college has also asked for $500,000 for lab renovations at the Kimberly and Parma research centers, and $351,000 to purchase new farm equipment that will be used to conduct agricultural research.

The budget recommended by Otter, a Republican rancher, includes the $351,000 for new equipment as well as $500,000 of the remaining $1.5 million that CALS is seeking in fiscal 2018.

Otter recommends spreading the remaining $1 million over the following two fiscal years.

CALS’ officials said they were happy with the governor’s recommendation.

“We are very pleased with the governor’s support of what we asked for,” said CALS Chief Financial Officer Christian Elsberry.

Mark McGuire, director of UI’s Agricultural Experiment Station, which oversees the college’s nine ag research centers, said the existing graduate student housing at the centers is modest and 55-60 years old.

The new housing will save on expenses because grad students won’t have to rent off-station housing and the modern accommodations will also help CALS recruit additional grad students, he said.

“Our facilities at field stations to accommodate grad students is minimal and In some places it’s non-existent,” said CALS’ Dean Michael Parrella. “We have to do a better job accommodating them at the field stations.”

The Aberdeen center conducts research on potatoes, wheat and barley, the Kimberly center focuses on projects related to dry beans, potatoes, irrigation and water resources, and the Parma center focuses on cereals, forages, vegetables, fruit, seed and other specialty crops produced in southwestern Idaho.

The Nancy M. Cummings center near Salmon is UI’s primary cow-calf and forage research station.

The $500,000 CALS requested would be used to renovate a lab in Kimberly tied to potato storage research as well as Parma’s plant diagnostics and nematology lab.

The $351,000 request for equipment includes a backhoe for the Tetonia station in East Idaho, which conducts research related to small grains and potatoes, a planter for the Aberdeen center and a new tractor to replace the Moscow campus’ 35-year-old tractor.

Otter press secretary Jon Hanian said the governor sets a spending cap and budgets under that cap because he believes growth in government should be limited.

There was not sufficient funding within the spending cap to fully fund CALS’ one-time request so Otter instead recommended funding the request on an ongoing basis “so that the current capital need would be fully funded in three years,” Hanian told Capital Press in an email. “This recommendation also assumes that new needs will arise and there will be an ongoing source of funding to address them.”

Northwest Ag Show offers everything today’s farmer needs Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:19:14 -0500 Brenna Wiegand Welcome to the Northwest Agricultural Show.

Here you’ll find hundreds of exhibitors that offer labor- and money-saving ways to help you with your farm, ranch or nursery.

Show managers Amy and Mike Patrick are selective about the vendors they choose to ensure they meet the “straight ag” model envisioned by Amy’s father, Jim Heater, when he co-founded the show nearly 50 years ago.

This year’s show is Jan. 24-26 at the Portland Expo Center.

Whether you’re considering a new greenhouse, tractor or irrigation system or are interested in installing a solar power system, the Northwest Ag Show offers everything for every farmer under one roof. More than $40 million in equipment will be on display.

An array of seminars and meetings is another exciting feature of this year’s show.

Seminars providing pesticide information and a fuller understanding of the new worker protection standards are among the three days of offerings at the show.

Ag education is also alive and well at the show.

Find out more about today’s FFA from state officers at their booth and other FFA activities. Among the topics of discussion will be the impact of a recent Oregon ballot measure that will help fund vocational high school programs such as FFA.

The Northwest Ag Show also supports Ag in the Classroom, a private nonprofit organization that tells ag’s story through the classroom. AITC provides teachers with an ag-related curriculum and textbooks to use in the classroom and provides volunteer visitors who tell the story of agriculture.

A key part of AITC’s mission is to connect those in the industry with students who may not know the source of the food they buy.

Wednesday, Jan. 25, is Family Day, when an entire family can get into the show for $20.

Parking is free all three days.

Antique Powerland, a massive collection of museums in Brooks, Ore., also brings old-time tractors, trucks and military and other vehicles. They provide a fascinating walk through the last 100 years of innovation.

The show’s valuable educational slant, its exclusive selection of vendors and niceties such as the Tasting Room, the spacious Portland Expo Center and free parking make the Northwest Agricultural Show second to none in attractiveness and value to visitors.

Whether you can relate to 100-year-old tractors or are into state-of-the-art agriculture, you’re sure to come away from the Northwest Ag Show educated and inspired by everything you see on display.

Parking free for all at this year’s Northwest Ag Show Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:29:26 -0500 Brenna Wiegand Back by popular demand, parking is free for all three days at this year’s Northwest Ag Show.

The parking is sponsored by Kubota Tractor Corp.

“This is a big deal for the show as we had gone away from it for the last two years, only offering free parking on one day of the show,” Amy Patrick, show organizer, said. “It’s just another way we work to make it easier for our attendees to come to the show.”

It’s also part of the build-up to the show’s 50th anniversary in 2019.

“We were able to buy up the parking lot at the Expo Center for many years, then it was taken over by Metro in the early 2000s and we went through several years of not being able to do that,” Patrick said. “It’s always something that comes up with people at the show, so as part of our celebration it’s a no-brainer.”

Of course, the free parking is a great benefit and convenience for the exhibitors, too.

“We strive to be exhibitor-friendly and that resonates with them,” Patrick said. “They’re choosing to spend their advertising money at the show so we want to make it a pleasant experience for them, including offering wi-fi and doing our best to help them make good contacts. That goes a long way with them.”

FFA an integral part of each year’s NW Ag Show Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:41:41 -0500 Brenna Wiegand The Super Bowl is around the corner, and a great way to enjoy it is on a big-screen TV that you won from the Oregon FFA Foundation at the Northwest Ag Show.

To have a chance at winning the TV, ag show visitors must visit the FFA-supporting vendors, each of which will have “FFA Supporter” banners at their booths. The exhibitors will stamp the visitors’ special card.

Once visitors have gotten all of the stamps on the card all they have to do is take it to the FFA booth, where it will be entered in the TV drawing.

“There is a lot to talk about in ag education; a lot is going on,” FFA Foundation Director Kevin White said. “Basically we’ll give an update and overview of the state of ag education in Oregon and where we’re headed.”

The foundation is making a concerted effort to build its support base. Since 2011 its membership has grown from 4,800 to nearly 6,000. White believes the Oregon foundation is the only FFA association funded entirely by private donations.

“We are thankful to have such strong advocates in the industry,” White said.

Ongoing support has enabled Oregon FFA to evolve with the industry. In return, the program provides a steady stream of enthusiastic, well-rounded, trained employees, new business owners and specialists in emerging ag fields.

Oregon Farm Bureau reports that nearly 14 percent of all Oregon jobs are in some way related to agriculture. This not only includes the traditional on-the-farm jobs but those linked to technology, science, finance, marketing and research.

“We’ve always had a leadership and career focus but it’s greater now than ever,” White said. “With less than 2 percent of the U.S. population directly employed in production agriculture, we have a greater focus on all aspects of agriculture.”

Nationwide, FFA is one of the largest youth leadership organizations and focuses on developing leaders in the ag industry.

It requires students to be enrolled in an ag class throughout their membership and offers extensive career development events, some oriented toward specific careers and others in wider arenas.

The backbone of the organization is its several tiers of leadership training and opportunities.

Part of being a state FFA officer is devoting the year between high school graduation and college to FFA service. In September Oregon’s six peer-elected state FFA officers embarked on a road trip to visit every FFA chapter in Oregon — 103 schools and 20,000 miles.

Earlier this month five state officers traveled to South Africa to participate in the 2017 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers.

This month they’ll undertake an industry tour, visiting businesses and farms across the state.

The pinnacle of the year is the state FFA convention in Redmond, Ore., which will be attended by some 2,500 FFA students.

Worker protection standards highlight seminars Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:08:58 -0500 Brenna Wiegand New federal Worker Protection Standards for pesticide application training are in effect and will be a major topic for this year’s seminars at the Northwest Ag Show.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulations require those who train farmworkers and pesticide handlers to hold a certified applicator license or complete an EPA-approved Train the Trainer course.

“We need to get the word out about these new regulations,” said Kaci Buhl, senior faculty educator at Oregon State University. “There used to be no requirement on trainers; a handler could train a worker without holding an applicator license or attending any training.”

Buhl’s presentation will kick off this year’s selection of seminars at the Northwest Ag Show at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Her seminar, which will run two hours, will help farmers, nursery operators and foresters determine which of the new standards apply and how to comply with them.

The EPA is updating a standard it put into place over 20 years ago, Buhl said.

In addition, as of Jan. 2, workers and handlers must be trained every year before work commences as opposed to the previous 5-year training mandate.

“That’s why we need so many new WPS trainers in the state,” Buhl said.

The federal mandates will be administered and enforced by Oregon OSHA.

In addition to the training requirements, agricultural employers need to display application and hazard information, provide records to workers upon request and provide more wash-water at pesticide mixing and loading sites for decontamination.

Handlers and early entry workers must be at least 18 years old unless they are members of the immediate family.

“There’s a lot more than training in the Worker Protection Standard,” Buhl said.

A “Quick Reference Guide” and a “How to Comply” manual about the new WPS are available at

Garnet Cooke and Laurie Cohen of Oregon OSHA will also present one-hour seminar segments on the Workers Protection Standards during their Pesticide Courses, which run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Jan. 26.

In addition to the Worker Protection Standards, Cooke and Cohen will speak on how to “decode” the outdated respirator requirement language on pesticide labels, mistakes others have made in the use of pesticides, other topics related to the safe use of pesticides and the best practices for avoiding heat stress on the job.

They will also present discussions on pesticide application exclusion zones and other pesticide-related topics, including a segment on the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative.

For all of Cooke and Cohen’s presentations, see Pages 6-9 of the Northwest Ag Show guide.

In addition to the wide range of seminars related to the new Worker Protection Standards and other safety-related presentations, the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia will offer a grower seminar at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Oregon State University Professor Clark F. Seavert will discuss the economics of establishing a hazelnut orchard in the Willamette Valley.

Ag in the Classroom spreads the word Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:02:57 -0500 Brenna Wiegand Jessica Jansen fell in love with agriculture during her high school FFA years. Its broad range of disciplines led her to earn degrees in agricultural sciences and communications at Oregon State University.

Now Jansen is executive director of Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, providing free curriculum, a lending library and training to teachers from kindergarten through high school. The program uses agriculture to teach science, math, history and nutrition across existing curriculum in an especially relevant way.

“Ag is very relatable,” Jansen said. “It’s easy to understand diameter and circumference when you’re looking at a pumpkin or understand why math is important when you’re doing a lesson about variable rate fertilizer application.”

In addition to educating kids and families on the subject, at the show Jansen hopes to enlist more members of the ag community to share their knowledge with school-age kids.

“We provide them an area for their exhibit so they can have a presence at the show, like what we do with the FFA,” Northwest Ag Show Manager Amy Patrick said. “We include them in advertising and other promotions and help sponsor several of their events.”

A good way to start is to volunteer for AITC’s spring literacy project. Volunteers read to students, share their connection to agriculture and lead an activity. This year’s program has a dairy slant, inspired by this year’s selected book, “Allison Investigates: Does Chocolate Milk Come from Brown Cows?” by Colette Nicoletta.

With about 800 volunteers, Ag in the Classroom works with 2,000 teachers in all 36 Oregon counties and last year reached over 166,000 students.

“We’re trying to bridge that divide of people that aren’t growing up around ag anymore,” Jansen said. “The average student today is at least three generations removed from production agriculture.”

The private nonprofit is funded entirely by donations and grants.

It is housed in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, which comes with the benefit of dedicated volunteers from the college’s professional agriculture sorority, Sigma Alpha. Jansen said they worked more than 400 hours in the AITC office last year.

Ag in the Classroom also works closely with the FFA; Jansen said kids especially connect with the young people — something that may lead to an ag career down the line.

“We want to get people excited about the sciences, agriculture and its diversity and how many different jobs there are — it’s not just farmers and ranchers,” she said. “…Ag lending, the sciences, food development and processing.…

“In Oregon, 1 in 8 jobs is related to agriculture,” Jansen said. “After technology, agriculture is Oregon’s second-largest economic driver.”

Oregon Ag in the Classroom will have a booth at this year’s Northwest Ag Show offering information about the foundation and the many things it does.