Capital Press | Special Sections Capital Press Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:25:16 -0500 en Capital Press | Special Sections Dairy farmers tackle water quality challenges Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:13:30 -0500 Steve Werblow Using an innovative online tool to schedule late winter and early spring manure applications, Terry and Troy Lenssen of Lenssen Dairy in Lynden, Wash., can give soil microbes a chance to convert slurry nutrients into plant-available forms before spring growth starts in earnest, while also protecting local waterways from runoff of nutrients and bacteria.

The Application Risk Management tool — known by the acronym ARM — developed by the Whatcom Conservation District uses a complex formula to analyze local weather forecasts, soil type, crop density, water table depth and other variables to determine whether the risks of runoff or leaching are low enough to permit a manure application.

ARM protects more than the creek and the commercial shellfish beds downstream — it protects the Lenssens’ bottom line.

“We got better yields on grass by at least 1.5 tons per acre on fields we were going out on earlier,” said Terry Lenssen.

To qualify to use ARM, the Lenssens worked with district staff to conduct a risk analysis, update their state-mandated nutrient management plan, and establish a monitoring program with sampling wells at one-, two- and three-foot depths. The monitoring wells indicated that using the tool helped the brothers reduce nitrate leaching, says Lenssen.

The Lenssens’ 260 acres of forage crops utilize the nutrients from three to four applications of manure per year. Heavy growth and mild winter weather generally yield five cuttings per year, cycling nutrients back to their 710 cows.

The brothers also practice “relay cropping.” As they cultivate 270 acres of corn ground in early summer, they blow on 30 to 50 pounds of grass seed per acre. After the corn is harvested, a lush cover crop is already in place to protect soil from erosion, capture nutrients in the soil, and filter sediment from stormwater. The brothers apply manure, harvest the grass for forage in the spring, then plant corn again.

“It’s usually winter Italian ryegrass or cereal rye,” said Lenssen. “They grow well over the winter, take manure in the spring, and they’re good feed.”

The Lenssens are not alone in their concern about water quality issues, said Steve Paulsen of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Corvallis, Ore. Paulsen works on EPA’s National Aquatic Resource Survey — known as NARS — which assesses the quality of U.S. streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters.

Paulsen noted that the 2016 NARS report shows 45 percent of America’s rivers and streams contain excess nutrients; in the Pacific Northwest, 31 percent of the rivers and streams are high in phosphorous and just 12 percent have excess nitrogen. Meanwhile, approximately 23 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams — including 8 percent in the West — exceed thresholds for enteroccoci, bacteria that include E. coli.

“It’s exciting to see that farmers like the Lenssens are finding protection of water quality is a big plus for their operations,” Paulsen said. “As more and more farmers discover this and apply innovative strategies, we expect to see the pollution numbers found in the national surveys improve.”

For more information on cover crops, conservation systems and the Natural Aquatic Resources Survey (NARS), visit

Grower turns to tank technology for irrigation Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:15:41 -0500 Gail Oberst DALLAS, Ore. — Bogdan Caceu searched the world to solve an irrigation problem on his farm.

It makes sense that Caceu would look for solutions abroad. His father’s family had once owned large orchards in Transylvania, a region of Romania, that were confiscated by the communists in the 1940s, before Caceu was born.

“You hear that story as a kid, how we lost these beautiful orchards to this violent regime. Farming has been in the back of my mind for a long time,” Caceu said.

His father was an engineer, and Caceu was trained to be a lawyer. But with a dream to farm, in 2009 he purchased a plot of land southwest of Dallas, on the north fork of Ash Creek, which eventually flows into the Willamette River at Independence. Despite inexperience, he connected with experts in the area who have helped him turn 45 acres of scotch broom and blackberries into La Creole Orchards. The work in progress includes olives and truffle-inoculated oak trees, among other crops.

From the beginning, Caceu was faced with irrigation woes common to the Northwest. Even after drilling three wells, he was only able to draw 3 to 4 gallons per minute — far too little to keep thirsty young plants hydrated. Devoted to inexpensive and environmentally safe methods, he looked for tanks in which to save his well water during the rainy season, so he could apply it in the dry summer. Unfortunately, many storage tanks, geared for larger farms and industries, were unwieldy and expensive.

Caceu was undeterred. He searched the world’s water conservation companies and eventually put together a pilot project to build a simple, inexpensive water storage system that holds 35,000 gallons.

“It doesn’t get us through the entire season, but I wanted to see how inexpensive and easy to build it could be,” Caceu said.

The system includes Netherlands-based BuWaTec pre-fabricated tanks that can be built in place in a day. Concentric circles of corrugated steel are quickly bolted together and a liner is installed. A cover keeps water cool, algae-free, and reduces evaporation to a minimum — anywhere between 15 and 30 percent can be lost from an uncovered tank due to evaporation, so covers are important.

But the mesh-fabric cover the tank came with must be removed occasionally to avoid collapse due to snow and ice. Instead of that work-intensive option, Caceu settled on 7-inch-wide floating plastic hexagons that cover the surface, made by Denmark-based Hexa-Cover. Caceu estimated the entire system cost less than $16,000 and could be put together by a few people using simple tools.

To round out the water storage project, Caceu installed a solar-powered pumping system from the Danish company Grundfos. The solar panels run the pumps in the wells using less power than a light bulb and operate even on cloudy days.

“We get to start the first day of irrigation season with a full tank,” said Caceu.

Caceu’s other efforts to conserve water on his land include a drip and micro-spray system that delivers precise water and nutrients without any runoff. Also in the offing are projects related to the Conservation Reserve Program, a voluntary incentive program for farmers, managed by federal and state agencies.

A nod to his innovation, Caceu is the winner of Polk Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2015 Conservation Award. He serves as executive director of the Olive Growers of Oregon, the nonprofit that represents the pioneering olive growers in the state.

“It’s a wonderful pleasure to own this land,” he said. “And a responsibility.”

Beavers be dammed, district cares for Napa watershed Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:14:38 -0500 JULIA HOLLISTER California’s Napa Valley is home to about 400 premium wineries but Richard Thomasser, operations manager of the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, is more concerned with beavers.

“Wildlife management — monitoring beaver activity and protecting against excess tree harvesting by beavers for dams — is an important part of our work,” Thomasser said.

Beavers are just one of the things the district deals with. He wouldn’t say they are a “big” problem because many actually create beneficial habitat in riparian areas.

Thomasser said he doesn’t want them to chew down all the riparian trees, so the district protects some of them to prevent that from happening.

The district started in 1951 and now covers 426 square miles of watershed in the valley.

“We are principally a flood control agency,” said Thomasser.

The district doesn’t own any water supplies. It provides flood and storm water services within Napa County, including five cities: Napa, American Canyon, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga.

Most of the district’s work involves the Napa River and its tributaries, which is a 426-square-mile-watershed, he said.

The services the district provides to the vineyards relate principally to flood management and riparian area maintenance and restoration.

The work is done on an “as-needed” basis.

“We encourage protection of the river, streams and riparian areas and conduct projects such as invasive species removals, native vegetation planting, erosion control and debris removal,” Thomasser said.

The district also coordinates the cities and the county in complying with the state’s storm water management regulations, he said.

“We have varying issues and problems depending on areas along the river,” he said.

Besides beavers, these include homeless encampments in the city of Napa reach, invasive species and erosion in several areas.

Funding is one of the biggest challenges for the district. He said there are always more projects and activities to do than funds to do them.

The county recently launched a “Do It Yourself” groundwater monitoring program. The program allows Napa County residents to borrow a well water-level monitoring tool for free to measure their wells.

“The recent rains in Northern California have put a big dent in the drought, at least in that part of the state,” he said. “Napa County is actually in pretty good shape with its local water supplies. We get our domestic use water from the State Water Project, which is generally in good shape this year.”

Animal feeding operations get help keeping creeks clean Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:10:57 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas Assistance programs for farmers and ranchers can help get livestock away from streambanks by developing alternative sources of stock water.

Eileen Rowan, of the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Orofino field office, says one of the most successful efforts has been animal feeding operation projects in a 5-county area in north Idaho.

These involved cooperation between the 5 districts, Soil and Water Conservation, Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources Conservation Service, landowners and others.

“We started some projects in 2006. The last one was completed in 2014,” she said.

These projects were aimed at improving water quality by reducing sediment and bacteria and nitrate contamination. This was done by changing the facilities to keep runoff from feeding areas out of streams, she said.

Winter is usually when cattle are concentrated for feeding, and traditionally feed yards have been near streams so the cattle could drink.

“These projects involved fencing cattle away from the creeks,” Rowan said. “Then you have to provide another watering source. This required pipelines, troughs, spring developments, and in some cases we had to drill wells.”

Final cost-share figures approved by the AFO Committee came to slightly more than $1 million. Funds were from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The average cost-share for each of the 60 projects was roughly $17,604, or about $122 per animal in designated feeding areas.

The projects helped stockmen comply with water quality requirements for feed yard runoff.

Ray Stower’s ranch, 6 miles from Whitebird, Idaho, is an example.

“We live right along the creek, and this was my grandparents’ ranch. The old feedlot is a fenced-off area for winter feeding. The cattle went to the creek for water,” Stower said.“When we have 250 weaned calves in there and they are bawling, pacing the fence and all go to the creek, it creates a lot of impact, especially if it rains for several days.”

Trails going into the creek carry muddy water, he said.

“I decided to see if there would be any help for correcting this,” he said.

The first time he talked to Soil and Water Conservation there wasn’t any help available.

“The next year, Eileen called and said there was money available if I still wanted to do it,” said Stower. “They created a great plan and gave me a lot of help with it. This project accomplished what they wanted, and was really good for us, too.”

It became a win-win situation.

“I hated the idea of having more fence to maintain, and paying taxes on an acre I don’t get to use (next to the creek), but the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks,” Stower said.

The project included an alternative source of water for cattle.

“Up the draw there is a really good spring; I’ve never seen it go dry. So we put in a spring box and piped water gravity flow down to our feed yard with a 1.25-inch pipe,” he said.

He used a 12-foot diameter rubber tire for a water trough. It holds about 1,300 gallons and has room around it for many cattle to drink at once.

“A year ago, when we weaned in the fall and first used the new pen, I was worried that the spring wouldn’t keep up with 250 calves,” he said. “For about 10 days we opened up the gate to the creek, and fenced off a small water gap so calves could go to the creek if necessary.”

It was a spot where the banks were solid.

“This option was created in case I ever needed to have cattle water in the creek,” he said. “We put panels across it so they could only access the creek in that one spot.”

He is happy with the entire project.

“Eileen was really good to work with, and it turned out well. If anyone wants to look at it, to see what might be possible on their own place, they are welcome,” he said.

Excess electricity aids aquifer recharge Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:08:33 -0500 Dianna Troyer BURLEY, Idaho — Southwest Irrigation District near Burley, Idaho, is finishing a winterization project that will enable year-round recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.

A $600,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Water Resources is enabling the district in southeastern Idaho to double its pipeline system from the Snake River at the Milner Pool to injection wells south of the river, winterize pump stations and upgrade them to turn on and off as needed.

“We plan to have the project done by March 1,” says hydrologist Brian Higgs, District 140 watermaster and owner of Water Well Consultants.

The winterization project came about after the Bonneville Power Administration and United Electric Co-op, which provide electricity to the district, launched a successful pilot program in the spring of 2012.

BPA offered a reduced electrical rate to pump water to recharge the aquifer because it relieved the administration of an oversupply of electricity, especially at night, when power demand declines.

The administration must balance electrical generation with demand to keep its system from being overloaded.

At times, BPA faces an oversupply of electricity, especially in spring when high winds generate power at turbines and melting winter snowpack causes high river flows. Also during spring, electrical demand tends to decline before the air conditioning and irrigation seasons begin.

With the recent upgrades, the district’s system will have flexibility and be able to increase pumping during the hours of light electrical demand and decrease pumping during hours of heavier electrical usage on the grid.

The contract with BPA for the 1.8 megawatt project was renewed for four years.

“(The district) pumped an average of 1,900 acre-feet of recharge water annually on the old system,” says Higgs. “The district’s new pipeline will operate throughout the winter and pump more than 10,000 acre-feet to injection wells located more than 10 miles south of the river.”

The demonstration project provided numerous benefits and could be a model elsewhere, says Higgs.

“It helped us maintain our agreement with the Surface Water Coalition,” says Higgs. “Without it, we would have likely faced serious curtailments. In some locations, we’re in good shape, but other areas at a longer distance from the river are still suffering.”

The Idaho Department of Water Resources estimates the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer has been losing about 216,000 acre-feet annually from aquifer storage since the 1950s, resulting in declining ground water levels and spring flows. The department’s State Water Plan set a goal of having managed recharge averaging 250,000 acre-feet annually.

The SWID program, along with other major recharge projects at Lake Walcott and the Raft River Valley and to the north near Idaho Falls, will help the department eventually reach its goal.

“The average recharge for the past few years has been about 80,000 acre-feet,” says Higgs. “Eighty percent of that has occurred below American Falls Reservoir. However, the new Egin Bench recharge project to the north in Fremont County is operational. Recharge by the IWRB should top 150,000 for 2017.”

Higgs says SWID members look forward to continuing the recharge efforts near Burley.

“Next winter, we’ll be able to run without worrying about freeze-ups,” says Higgs.

Joint effort will bring riverbanks back to life Thu, 2 Feb 2017 10:07:29 -0500 Brett Tallman CARLTON, Ore. — Until last fall, both banks of the North Yamhill River west of Carlton were a thicket of blackberries and reed canary grass. But thanks to an agreement between three area landowners and the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District, a 2.3-mile-long riparian buffer will be planted there this spring.

“It took some convincing,” Josh Togstad, a Riparian Specialist with YSWCD, said. “The landowners are losing some production. The buffer will be at least 50 feet from the top of the riverbank and up to 225 feet, depending on the meander of the river.”

The project is funded by a $177,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. It’s part of a million-dollar set aside to help private landowners meet DEQ water-quality standards in what the ODA calls Strategic Implementation Areas.

All told, 33 acres belonging to the Sitton family, of Carlton, Kathy Magar, of Gaston, and a third landowner will be planted with 60,000 native plants and shrubs such as Oregon ash, red osier dogwood and big-leaf maple.

“We’ve done projects like this before,” Togstad said, “but the average is probably five acres. It’s the first project of this size in our area.”

Intact riparian buffers, Togstad said, are the last line of defense for clean water. They cool streams, stabilize banks, and filter runoff.

“A (100-foot buffer) filters something like 90 percent of phosphorus and 90 percent of nitrogen out of runoff,” Tog-stad said.

YSWCD will also plant perennial grasses on bare soil between shrubs and trees. Grasses not only prevent weeds from seeding in, but also filter sediment from surface runoff.

“After about five years, trees will be big enough that they won’t be killed by mice or smothered by weeds,” he said. “After 15 years, they’ll be tall enough to provide shade.”

Though shade is good for the river, it is often a source of concern for farmers.

“There was some worry it would throw shade on fields,” Togstad said, “so we’re tapering the buffer, with the tallest trees right along the stream.”

“The other concern was clogged tile lines,” he said. “Most of that land is tiled for drainage, so we’ll leave some open sections for tile lines, probably 10 to 15 feet wide.”

Once the buffer is planted this spring, YSWCD will maintain it for five years.

“After that,” Togstad said, “the established buffer won’t need much more than mowing and spot spraying.”

Though the maintenance agreement with YSWCD ends after five years, landowners also have a 10- to 15-year agreement with the FSA. Through their Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the FSA pays a one-time, $500-per-acre payment for enrolling, as well as an annual, per-acre payment for the duration of the contract.

“It’s pretty appealing,” landowner Lester Sitton said, “and it’s a good thing to be doing. I forget how many generations (of the Sitton family) have been farming here. Several, anyway. Thinking long term, we’d like to sustain several more. That’s what was done for us and that’s what we’d like to do here.”

Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum at a glance Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:37:01 -0500 The 2017 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum

Adults: $12 ticket price includes the Spokane Ag Expo trade show, Pacific Northwest Farm Forum main session, speakers, seminars and free parking at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena (main front lot — West 700 block of Boone Avenue).

Youth (12-18 years): $8 each, and children under 12 are free.

The Ag Expo/Farm Forum Ticket is good for all three days of the show.

Tickets can be purchased at the Convention Center Complex in the Exhibit Hall ticket offices at both entrances throughout the week of the show.

Discount tickets for $8 are available at all North 40 Outfitters locations in Washington and Idaho through show week.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum events are all under one roof at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Spokane Ag Expo: Convention Center Exhibit Halls

Farm Forum Tuesday main session: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300A&B.

Agricultural economic forecast: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300B.

Farm Forum seminars: Convention Center Upper Level Rooms 401A-C, and 402A&B. Lower Level Rooms 302A&B.

FFA program: Convention Center Lower Level Ballroom—300A-C.

Career Fair: Convention Center Lower Level Meeting Rooms 302 A & B.

Free parking with Shuttle Bus Service: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena Main Front Lot — West 700 block of Boone Avenue.

Tuesday, Feb. 7

Farm Forum Main Session featuring the presentation of the Excellence in Ag Award and weather expert Art Douglas: 9-11 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Exhibitor presentations: Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Farm Forum seminars: Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 8

Farm Forum main session featuring Washington State University economist Randy Fortenbery and Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires: 9-10:30 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Exhibitor Presentations: 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Farm Forum seminars: 10:30 a.m., Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 9

FFA program featuring motivational speaker Amberley Snyder: 9-11 a.m.

Ag Expo: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Career Fair: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Photo contest captures moments of farm life Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:02:12 -0500 Matw Weaver Photographs capturing the essence of rural life will again be displayed at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

They are part of the Expo’s annual photo contest.

“This contest celebrates rural life, and we love to see all the moments that make up that life,” said photo contest judge Rajah Bose, a Spokane photographer and co-founder of the photo and video design studio Factory Town. “Whether it’s brilliantly lit, harshly gritty or just simply sweet, there is no better person to find those moments than the ones living it.”

The contest received 75 entries.

In the youth category, winners were:

• First place: Avery Hughes of Newman Lake, Wash., for “What Are You Looking At?”

“We were sure this was a painting at first as it seemed like a perfect composition,” Bose said. “We appreciated the photographer’s ability to get in tight on this image, which yielded a beauty that wouldn’t have been obvious in a wider image. Beautiful texture and color.”

• Second place: Anna Leitz of Spokane, for “Are You My Momma?”

• Third place: Hughes for “Grape Leaf Perspective.”

The Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Choice award went to Leitz’s “Are You My Momma?”

Honorable mention went to Hughes’ “Bovines at Sundown,” Emma Kate Bartels of Spangle, Wash., for “Snazzy Jazzy,” and Leitz for “Team Work.”

Judges were surprised to see fewer entries in the youth category this year, Bose said.

“Even so, there were some great images to choose from,” Bose said. “We love to see photos that show your life and the unique moments you see around you every day. Teachers and parents, this is a fun and educational way to capture and tell the stories happening around the ranch, home and surrounding farms.”

Adult winners were:

• First place: Alyx Hanson of Elk, Wash., for “Resistance and Resilience.”

“This image was a universal favorite among the judges,” Bose said. “The emotion was easy to read in the kid’s face, and there was enough context that made the picture quick to understand.”

• Second place: John Bartels of Spangle for “Early Morning Wash Rack Trip.”

• Third place: Steve Shining of Spokane for “Dusty Plowing.”

The Director’s Choice Award went to Ashley Hanson of Elk for “Cold Weather Women.”

The Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Choice award went to Sharon Lindsay of Spokane for “Vintage Harvest 2016.”

Honorable mention went to Ryan Esvelt of Rice, Wash., for “Morning Drive,” Jim Heywood of Chattaroy, Wash., for “Dance of the Harvesters” and Sue Tebow of Moses Lake, Wash. for “My Bulls.”

Bose offered advice for next year’s photographers: “Focus on capturing genuine moments, great light and beautiful composition.”

Free parking available for the Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:31:26 -0500 Visitors to this year’s Spokane Ag Expo can again take advantage of the free parking available at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena’s Main Lot.

By parking at the arena and riding the shuttle bus, visitors can avoid the expense of finding parking at the Convention Center.

Parking Lot Hours:

• Tuesday, Feb. 7: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 8: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Feb. 9, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Shuttle Buses Sponsored by:

Directions to the free parking at the Arena from I-90 Maple Street Exit:

• Go north and continue over the Maple Street Bridge to Boone Avenue (first light after crossing bridge). Take a right on Boone and head east through two street lights. The Arena will be on your right. Shuttle buses will be located on Howard Street, which runs along the east side of the Arena.

Directions to free parking at the Arena from I-90 Division Street Exit:

• Go north and drive past the Convention Center, which will be on your left, and continue across the bridge. You will now be on the Ruby Street Couplet. Continue north to Sharp Avenue and take a left. Head west past Division Street two blocks and take a left to Boone Avenue. Take a right and go three blocks; the Arena will be on your left. Park in the lot directly in front of the facility.

To get directly to the Convention Center Complex from I-90:

• Take the Division Street Exit. Go north to Spokane Falls Boulevard and take a left. The Complex will be on your right. Parking lots for a fee are in the Complex and the surrounding area.

Ag award adds category to honor lifetime achievements Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:29:52 -0500 Matw Weaver The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum are expanding their annual awards to honor excellence in agriculture.

In addition to adult and youth categories, this year the Excellence in Agriculture Award will include a legacy category.

For some previous nominations, the Expo board felt the people or businesses should be recognized for their impact and contributions over a longer period of time, said Dick Hatterman, chairman of the award committee.

“It’s for somebody who has contributed over a lifetime, 20 years, 30 years, to the ag industry,” Hatterman said.

“The importance of the award is to recognize people and organizations that have contributed to the success of the industry,” Hatterman said. “The industry has its ups and downs, but it’s the people and organizations that continually put out effort who make sure it keeps moving forward.”

This year’s winners will be announced at the opening session of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 in the Convention Center’s Lower Level Ballroom. This is the fourth year the awards are being presented.

Hatterman said the committee is always pleased and excited to see which nominations come in.

Last year, the Expo honored Shepherd’s Grain, a farmer-run business, and the LaCrosse, Wash., FFA marketing team, comprised of students Jason Wigen, Abigail McGregor and Britte Harder. Wigen is now a student at Washington State University majoring in crop science. McGregor and Harder will graduate this year.

“It was just a wonderful experience, having your peers acknowledge that you’ve accomplished something, in their view,” said Shepherd’s Grain co-founder Fred Fleming, who accepted the award. “For me, it really was a humbling experience to have that sort of recognition. It’s one of those things that someone said, ‘Thank you.’ It was a real gift.”

The students’ marketing plan for Dixon Land and Livestock in Pomeroy, Wash., won first place at the FFA national convention in 2015.

Lacrosse FFA adviser Lisa Baser liked that the award isn’t specific to FFA members.

“It’s a regional award that any kid could have been eligible for,” she said. “It’s great that the AgriBusiness Council does that, especially because a lot of these kids will pursue a future in agriculture.”

Hatterman asks industry members to be thinking about possible nominations in the future.

“It’s important to have people involved and help leading the charge, and consequently it’s important to recognize those people who are helping the ag industry,” he said.

Who’s who at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:26:29 -0500 • 195 Industries

• ABC Hydraulics

• Adams County Economic Development

• Adams Tractor of Spokane

• Ag Cab Solutions

• Ag Enterprise Supply

• Ag Spray Equipment

• Agco Corporation

• AgDirect

• AGPRO Marketing & Manufacturing Inc.

• AgraSyst

• Ag-West Distributing

• Air Filter Blaster

• Airguard Inc.

• A-L Compressed Gases Inc.

• All Seasons Tree Service

• Allsport Polaris Honda Yamaha

• Alpine: The Starter Fertilizer Company

• Anderson Products Co.

• Ariens Company

• ATI Solutions

• Augies Ag Sales

• Barber Engineering Company

• Barnes Welding Inc.

• Barr-Tech LLC

• BatchBoy by Pump Systems, LLC

• Bath Fitter

• Battery Systems

• Bayer Crop Science

• Best Western Wheatland Inn

• BestSel Marketing

• Booker Auction Company

• Bourgault Tillage Tools

• Bratney Companies

• Brown Bearing Company Inc.

• Buck & Affiliates Insurance West

• Burlingame Machinery Consignments

• Busch Distributors Inc.

• Cannonball Engineering

• Capital Press


• Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, P.S.

• CCTV CameraScan

• Central Lube Northwest


• CHS – Energy

• Class 8 Trucks

• Cleary Building Co.

• CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

• Cobalt Truck Equipment

• Coleman Oil Company

• Columbia Bank

• Columbia Hearing Centers

• Columbia River Carbonates

• Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

• Connell Oil Inc.

• Cooperative Agricultural Producers Inc.

• Cordex North America

• Crop Insurance Solutions

• Crop Production Services

• CropX

• Cross Slot USA

• CSC Exteriors Inc.

• Cummins Northwest

• Cutco Cutlery

• D & J Farm Supply

• Day Wireless Systems

• Ditch Witch Northwest-A Pape’ Co.

• Diversified Crop Insurance Services

• Doughboys Tools & Equipment

• DSI Recycling Systems Inc.

• Dutch Industries

• Easter WA Noxious Weed Boards

• Eastern Washington PTAC

• EconoHeat Inc.

• Edward Jones Investments

• Eljay Oil Inc.

• Ellis Equipment

• Embroidery Wholesale

• Evergreen Implement

• Farm Bureau Insurance/Western Community Insurance

• Farmland Tractor Supply

• Fasteners Inc.

• Fastline


• Flexxifinger QD Industries Inc.

• Fluid Applied Roofing LLC

• Fluid Design Products Inc.

• FMI Sales

• G & R Ag Products

• General Implement Distributors

• Giant Rubber Water Tank

• Gibby Media Group

• Global Harvest Foods/Mills Intl.

• Grange Insurance Group

• Great Plains Mfg. Inc.

• Greenacres Gypsum & Lime Company

• Greenway Seeds

• G-Tech Flitz/Flitz Intl.

• Hahn Diesel Performance & Tuning LLC

• Harold Ag & Mobile Products

• Harvest Solutions

• Haybuster/Duratech Industries

• Hefty Seed Company

• Hi-Hog/Shelton Corrals

• Hillco Technologies Inc.

• Hinrichs Trading Company

• Hortau

• Hosty of Spokane

• Hotsy of Spokane

• HUB International Insurance

• Hydrotex Lubrications

• I Q Technologies


• Industrial Communications

• Inland Power & Light

• Intelligent Agricultural Solutions

• J. E. Love Company

• JD Skiles

• Jim Wilhite’s Bale Wagon, LLC

• JK Boots

• Jones Truck & Implement

• Junior Livestock Show of Spokane

• K 3 Herzog Distributors LLC

• K102 Country

• Kaman Fluid Power

• Kaput Products

• Kenworth Sales Company

• Kile Machine & Mfg. Inc.

• L & H Seeds

• LaFarge Canada Inc.

• Landoll Corporation

• LDJ Mfg. Inc. DBA: Thunder Creek Equipment

• Les Schwab Tire Centers

• Lexar Homes

• Life Flight Network

• LiquiTube Marketing International

• Long Construction Inc.

• Longhorn Barbecue

• Magnation Water Technologies

• McKay Seed Company

• MK Commodities, White Wheat Report

• Morgan Enterprises

• Morse Steel Service

• Moss Adams LLC

• Mountain High Truck and Equipment

• Mountain High Truck and Equipment

• Mountain View Metal Works

• MPP Tools

• Multi-Trail Enterprises


• National Weather Service

• Nick’s Custom Boots

• North 40 Outfitters

• North Pine Ag Equipment Inc.

• Northstar Clean Concepts

• Northwest Farm Credit Services

• Northwest Farmland Management

• Northwest Fuel Systems

• Nu Skin Pharmanex

• O’Reilly Auto Parts

• Odessa Trading Company

• Oxarc Inc.

• Pacific Northwest Direct Seed association

• Pacific Petroleum & Supply

• Palouse Pulse LLC

• Palouse Welding & Machine Inc.

• Pape Machinery

• Pape Material Handling

• Pape Rents

• Pioneer West

• Pohl Spring Works Inc.

• Prime Attachments & Custom Fab.

• Quality Steel Buildings Inc.

• Quality Water Northwest

• R & H Machine Inc.

• R & M Steel Company

• Rainbow Springs Ranch LLC

• Rainier Seeds Inc.

• RCO International – All American Ag

• Reman Sales

• Renewal by Andersen

• Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

• Rowand Machinery Company

• Ruseler’s Custom Creations

• S & W Seed Company

• Scales N.W.

• Scales Unlimited

• Scentsy Wickless Candles

• Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants

• Schlagel Mfg.

• Schulte Industries LTD

• Seeds Inc./Plants Of The Wild

• Skinner Tank Company (STC)

• Skone Irrigation & Supply LLC

• Smith Packaging

• Solid Structures LLC

• Soucy International

• Spectrum Crop Devl. Corp./Progene LLC

• Spokane Community Coll., Environmental Sci. Dept.

• Spokane Conservation District

• Spokane House of Hose

• Spokane Seed Company

• Spray Center Electronics Inc.

• Spray Center Electronics Inc.

• Sprayflex/Ag Trucks

• St. John Hardware & Implement

• Star Rentals Inc.

• Steel Structures America Inc.

• Stintzi Insurance Inc.

• Stor-Loc

• Summers Mfg. Co.

• Superior Steel Products Inc.

• Syngenta

• Systems West LLC

• T&S Sales

• The Concrete Doctor

• The Exchange Newspaper

• The McGregor Company

• Tire Rama

• TNT Truck Parts

• Touchmark on South Hill

• Tractor House/

• Trans Canada-GTN

• Triangle Ag-Services

• Uncle Sam’s Flag & Gift

• University of Idaho Biodiesel Education

• University of Idaho College of Ag & Life Sciences

• US Transmissions Inc.

• USDA National Appeals Division


• USDA, NASS (Natl. Ag Statistics Service)

• Valley Synthetics

• Vermeer Manufacturing

• Visit Spokane

• Vitazyme

• Viterra

• Voortex Productions

• WA ST Dept. of Labor & Industries

• WA ST Patrol-Commercial Vehicle Division

• WA State Department of Natural Resources

• Walker Mowers

• Walla Walla Community College

• Washington Ag Forestry Leadership Foundation

• Washington Assistive Technology Act Program

• Washington Association of Wheat Growers

• Washington Cattleman’s Assoc.

• Washington Policy Center

• Washington Trust Bank

• WaterFurnace

• West Coast Seed Mill Supply Co.

• Western Farm Ranch & Dairy

• Western Reclamation Inc.

• Western Trailer Sales Co.

• Wheatland Bank

• Wheeler Industries

• Whitley Fuel LLC

• Wilbur-Ellis Co.

• Wilco Disturbers Inc.


• WSU College of Ag, Human & Natural Resources

• WSU Spokane County Extension

• Xpain Solutions

• Ziegler Lumber (Ziggy’s)

• Zions Bank

Popular weatherman to offer his annual forecast Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:22:01 -0500 Matw Weaver Art Douglas admits he’s a “weatherbug.”

“I can’t put the computer down, I’ve always got to know what the weather’s doing,” he says. “I’m just fascinated with it.”

And, he says, “If you get fascinated with weather, the next step is, you obviously are interested in forecasting.”

That fascination with the weather has turned into Douglas’ life’s work. He is a professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., having started there in 1982 and retiring in 2007.

Other agricultural audiences Douglas speaks to include the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Gavilon, an Omaha commodity management firm.

But Douglas draws a particularly loyal audience at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, where he will offer his forecast following the presentation of the Excellence in Ag Awards, which starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the main ballroom of the convention center.

Douglas began speaking at the show in 1989.

“The farmers like him and they trust what he says,” said show manager Myrna O’Leary. “The one year, we couldn’t get him and (we) wanted to hide. They were angry Art wasn’t there.”

Douglas knows what his farmer and rancher audiences want to hear.

“They’re not just interested in the weather,” Douglas said. “They want to get a hedge in the future and listen to what might possibly occur.”

Douglas said he is not particularly interested in the day-to-day forecasts found on television or from the weather services.

“Models are doing a pretty darn good job now of forecasting six to eight days, and they even get it right sometimes out to two weeks,” he said. “But the real challenge continues to be the next month to three months.”

At that point, numerical models still have a tough time predicting the weather, Douglas said.

“The reality is, it’s a very complex science,” he said. “But to me it’s challenging.”

In December, Douglas said he expected colder weather than the last three or four years, with below-normal precipitation and lower snow levels.

“The question is, is there enough soil moisture in the ground to hold it through a cold, dry winter?” he said. “Are you going to be able to keep snow on the ground? It’ll be cold, but are we going to get enough snow storms to keep protection on the ground?”

AgriBusiness Council continues to evolve Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:04:06 -0500 Matw Weaver Greater Spokane Incorporated is coming off a “transformational” year and will continue to evolve as it speaks for regional agriculture, the leader of the organization’s AgriBusiness Council says.

Council chairman Jay Allert welcomed the arrival of Todd Mielke, GSI’s chief executive officer, who will help advocate for agriculture in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

“That’s very encouraging, rewarding and good for the industry,” Allert said.

The AgriBusiness Council falls under the GSI umbrella. Mielke joined GSI in February 2016.

Mielke told the Capital Press that GSI’s priorities included helping local businesses find applicants for jobs; keeping the public aware of agriculture’s innovations, challenges and opportunities; and addressing increased local regulations.

“We’re dealing with commodities that have worldwide competition, and the slightest amount of regulation that puts them at a competitive disadvantage has extreme ramifications with their ability to compete and be profitable,” Mielke said.

Allert pointed to What’s Upstream billboards funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which incorrectly condemned agriculture as polluters, as a reason agriculture has to be involved in the process.

“We can’t ever let up, obviously,” he said.

Far West Agribusiness Association executive director Jim Fitzgerald is taking on some of the duties of longtime agriculture advocate Jack Silzel, who represents the agribusiness council on the chamber’s public policy committee.

They are “two great, great resources for agriculture to be representing us,” Allert said.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum remains the organization’s “Cadillac” for showcasing the industry, Allert said.

Allert hopes even more people become involved, building on existing efforts.

“AgriBusiness Council has evolved, and has been evolving for several years,” Allert said. “We have a great position of representing the industry with Washington’s second-largest business organization, so we’re thrilled about that.”

Fortenbery, Squires to discuss markets during economic forecast Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:09:25 -0500 Matw Weaver The outlook for wheat prices and the domestic and overseas market factors that impact them will be the topics during this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum economic forecast.

Washington State University economics professor Randy Fortenbery and Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires will offer their analysis of the ever-changing outlook for the domestic economy and for trade.

Their presentation will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the convention center’s lower level ballroom.

Important factors to watch in 2017 will be global supply, production in competing wheat-growing countries, weather, export competition and currency fluctuations, Squires said.

Squires recommends farmers also watch global economic conditions and U.S. trade policy.

“There were many statements made through the election process,” he said. “We certainly are interested in ensuring we have good trading relations with Asia and Central and South America.”

President-elect Donald Trump has said he will scuttle the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Japan, one of the largest customers for Pacific Northwest wheat. The trade treaty also includes Mexico, Canada and other Pacific Rim nations.

Squires also plans to give a world market update.

“The local price is affected by a lot of factors,” he said.

Rodeo rider to share inspirational story with FFA members Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:11:40 -0500 Matw Weaver FFA students at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum will hear from an inspiring keynote speaker who will tell them about her journey back from a devastating truck accident to become a competitive rodeo rider and state FFA president.

Her name is Amberley Snyder. She is a barrel racer, breakaway roper and motivational speaker from Utah.

In 2010 she was involved in an accident while on her way to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo. Driving from her home in Utah through Sinclair, Wyo., she looked down at a map. A few seconds later, she looked up and realized her truck had drifted and was heading toward a metal beam.

In an effort to get back to her lane, Snyder overcorrected. Her truck slid off the road and rolled, ejecting her. She slammed into a fence post that broke her back. She immediately lost all feeling in her legs.

Snyder’s doctor told her she would never regain use of her legs, according to Snyder’s website.

“The top priority for Amberley was not even to walk, but to ride her horses again,” her website states.

Eighteen months later, she was riding again.

Snyder figured out how to barrel race using a seatbelt and straps to hold her in place. She competes in both barrel racing and breakaway roping.

She says her favorite part of barrel racing is the combination of competition, speed and horses.

“How can you not love it?” she said in an email to the Capital Press.

She doesn’t find it hard to talk about the accident.

“I feel that I have a purpose to serve,” she said. She hopes to tell FFA members “that they can overcome the obstacles in their lives.”

Snyder was Utah FFA’s state president in 2009-2010.

“I am a speaker because of FFA,” she said.

Pacific Northwest Farm Forum board member Mike Poulson recommended Snyder for the event.

“I thought she was a very good inspirational speaker for those kids,” he said. “She’s a young person who’s gone through some tremendous adversity and still has a positive attitude.”

Snyder graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education in 2015. She is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and competes on the Utah State University rodeo team.

She plans to continue to pro rodeo and hopes to make the Wilderness Circuit finals, and one day the National Finals Rodeo.

“I am so thankful for the support I have been given to be where I am today,” she said.


Longtime Expo director prepares to step back Fri, 27 Jan 2017 09:06:42 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — When she first started with the Spokane Ag Expo, somebody told Myrna O’Leary that he didn’t expect the show to last another five years.

That was in August 1988.

“Not on my watch,” she said.

Now, after nearly three decades, O’Leary has decided this is her last year as the show’s director.

“I just feel it’s time for somebody else to take over,” she said.

O’Leary plans to serve in a consulting or co-director capacity during the 2018 show, which will be her 30th, and help with the transition to a new director.

“It’s going to be tough, because I love this job and love working with all of the agriculture people, farmers, exhibitors,” she said. “When you work this job as long as I have, you develop friendships. Show week is not only kind of a reunion for the attendees, it is for me, too.”

“It’s sad, but we knew it was coming,” said longtime Expo board member Bill Nelson, of Spokane Valley. “She puts her whole heart and soul into it. It’s because of Myrna this show has been so successful.”

O’Leary spent 14 years as assistant director of the Expo and 15 as director.

She takes pride in keeping the show running, profitable and all of the exhibitor booths sold out for many years.

“The show’s always a challenge to keep something fresh,” she said. “You have to have the machinery, the tires to kick, but it’s a challenge to get something new there every year. That marriage of the two makes the show successful.”

In recent years, finding volunteers has become a challenge, as many longtime helpers have retired.

Volunteer numbers average roughly 100 the week of the Expo. O’Leary also depends on volunteers to help determine the year’s hottest topics.

“They’re the ones that come up with all of this, and then I sew it or glue it all together to be the show,” she said.

For the next director, O’Leary recommends having a good team of board and committee members.

“Work with them where you listen to them and they listen to you, where you’re a partnership,” she said. “I’m so successful behind the scenes (because) I check, double-check and triple-check everything.”

O’Leary grew up at Spokane’s city limits, across the street from a large chicken farm. Her family then lived in Colfax, Wash., for a few years before returning.

She married into a cattle ranching family. Her jobs have included working at Spokane Produce and running a seed-packaging machine for Lilly Miller.

“I’ve always kind of had my hands in agriculture without even realizing it, one way or another,” she said. “Ag was all around us. We knew agriculture was important. Sunday drives were into the country. Back then, Spokane was the ag hub. And still is, but people don’t realize it.”

Cheney, Wash., farmer and Expo board member David Dobbins thanked O’Leary for all of her work behind the scenes, and spoke of the need for more volunteers.

“I think a lot of younger-generation farmers take it for granted that shows like Ag Expo are around,” he said.

Board member Nelson is hopeful for the future.

“There’s a lot of work to do and there’s changes to be made,” he said, noting O’Leary and the board work each year to keep the show fresh. “As long as we continue on that path and keep it a farm show, I think it’s going to be successful for who knows how long.”

O’Leary has a little parting advice for farmers that she learned over the last three decades.

“Speak for yourself, and help those who are speaking for you,” she said. “If you don’t step up and say, ‘What about us? You need to know about us,’ people think food just comes from the grocery store. People don’t realize what it takes to be a farmer.”

Event plants seeds for future ag careers Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:58:57 -0500 Matw Weaver The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum wants to inspire the next generation of agricultural career seekers.

The annual “Connecting Students with AgriBusiness 2017” career fair will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Expo.

According to Expo organizers, the event is designed to inform high school students about business careers in agriculture.

Business people that participate at the career fair include accountants, lawyers, marketers, bankers, real estate brokers, high-technology experts, sales representatives and managers.

Tim Cobb, broker with Hatley/Cobb Farmland Management and Real Estate in Spokane, has participated in the career fair since it began at the Expo in 2015.

“It is important to look to the future in our industry and the career fair helps students — the actual future of the industry — to consider the many options available in agriculture,” Cobb told the Capital Press.

Cobb recommends high school students prepare for the career fair by bringing three questions specific to their field of choice.

They could be prepared by having done some research on agricultural careers or the companies at the event, he said.

“I am looking for forward-thinking, goal-setting, planning-type people who have some interest in how to continue to bring technology into agriculture,” Cobb said. “Beyond that, I am looking for hard workers who will be honest and upfront about their expectations.”

Cobb’s business offers internships to college students. He also invites students in college or trade school to meet with the businesses at the career fair.

Cobb sees value in providing the career fair a place to grow and for people to make connections.

“These are early seeds and many things may change before an eventual hire or partnership,” he said. “The value comes in helping the students think about the future and what that future may look like for them inside your business organization.”

Volunteer remembers early days of Spokane Ag Expo Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:54:34 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Ernie Becker was involved in the early days of the Spokane Ag Expo, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“As I remember, the first two Expos, we hired outside management,” he said. “(When) we decided we had learned enough, we decided we could put on the show ourselves.”

Becker was a member of the Agricultural Bureau and chamber of commerce — now called the Greater Spokane Incorporated AgriBusiness Council — when they decided to start the Expo.

“We had a lot of interest in it,” he said. “It seemed like it would be a go from the beginning, and I think it’s proved out to be so.”

The Expo gives farmers a chance to see things they wouldn’t otherwise see, he said.

Exhibitors and equipment dealers appreciate the show because it provides an enthusiastic audience.

The retired certified public accountant can still be seen volunteering at the Expo each year.

“It’s the type of show that you have to have some interest in farming to enjoy,” he said.

Becker’s father was a farmer in Colton, Wash., raising “a little bit of everything,” including grain and livestock — cattle, dairy cows and chickens.

“Anything we could make a dollar on,” he said.

Becker was managing partner at McFarland and Alton for about 40 years before he retired in 1993. During that time he did a “fair amount” of work with farmers, he said.

Becker, 88, still volunteers at the Expo, although he missed the 2016 Expo due to a “bad cold.”

How has the Expo changed since the early days?

Becker said one big change was moving into the Convention Center, allowing the event to take place at a single location.

The technology has also changed, he said, and the industry along with it.

“I think it’s going to follow the technology,” he said of the Expo’s future.

Involvement in the Expo runs in the Becker family. His son Matt has been involved with the Expo for more than 20 years, with his father’s encouragement. He is also a past chairman of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum committee, and is now with Northwest Farm Credit Services.

“His influence has been very deep and involved,” Matt Becker said of his father.

Matt Becker enjoys seeing his father volunteering at the Expo.

“I feel great when I see him and proud that he’s still involved,” he said.

Ernie Becker plans to continue his volunteer work at the Expo.

“As long as I’m able,” he said.

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.

Oregon Valley Greenhouses provides advice on structures Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:53:23 -0500 Brenna Wiegand Ivan Schuening and his son Kip of Oregon Valley Greenhouses go to the Northwest Ag Show each year to meet potential customers and offer them money-saving advice.

Almost since its inception 30 years ago, the Aurora, Ore., manufacturer of outdoor structures has led the industry in Oregon, Washington and Idaho and is now in 27 states and five countries.

“We’ve never hired a salesman,” Ivan Schuening said. “We’ve built our business solely on reputation and word-of-mouth.”

Among the types of structures the company produces are dairy barns, livestock shelters, hay sheds, winter equipment storage, row covers and greenhouses. One important tip when buying such structures is checking the county building codes, he said.

“Unnecessarily building to code can double the cost of a greenhouse frame,” Schuening said. “Most don’t have to be code.”

Oregon passed a law 15 years ago for nurseries and farmers with agricultural zoning that says cold frame tunnels need not be code structures, something still not widely known.

Equally important, Schuening said, is clarifying a proposed greenhouse’s pipe size and wall thickness before you buy.

“We try to build for the area the greenhouse is going to,” Schuening said. “For example, if they’re in a high snow area such as Eastern Oregon, Colorado or Montana, we try to put them into a 30 wide with 2 3/8 bows. A lot of manufacturers will sell them at a 1 7/8.”

“Make sure the pipe is either 10- or 13-gauge,” he added. “If they just say it’s a 2 3/8 house you don’t know if you’re getting a 16-, 13- or 10-gauge pipe. Under a snow load the side walls and the center will drop.

“They look the same from the outside,” he said. “You only want to put the house up once.”

He and Kip have advised many people of such matters over Oregon Valley Greenhouse’s 27 years at the Northwest Ag Show.

“It’s more informative — and we get to see our customers that we never see otherwise,” he said.

Exhibitor helps farmers ‘harvest’ water Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:28:48 -0500 Brenna Wiegand The No. 1 question Michael Martins of Oregon Rain Harvesting gets is “Is it legal?”

“A lot of people think collecting rainwater in Oregon is against the law — not true,” said Martins, owner of the West Linn, Ore., business. “So long as you capture the water from a manmade structure it’s very legal and is a safe and cost-effective way to reduce the environmental impact of our need for water.”

Martins started the company coming from Hawaii, where rainwater harvesting has been a common practice for the past 100 years.

While Oregonians have made great strides toward sustainability, he said, the way they use water has mostly been left out of the equation. Such “overindulgence” compounds the demand on public water systems and places unnecessary stress on waterways, aquifers and rivers.

“We extract water from wells and rivers, purify it with chemicals, only to flush it down the toilet,” Martins said.

“After water is used once, we chemically treat it to be within safe guidelines, then put it back into the rivers. It’s a broken system,” he said. “Rainwater is abundant in the Northwest and harvesting it is a viable and cost-effective option for pure, chemical-free, unadulterated water.”

Oregon Rain Harvesting’s nationally accredited installers have designed and installed thousands of rain-harvesting systems, from the simple rain barrel for watering a vegetable garden to 100,000-gallon farm irrigation systems. Each system is custom-designed based on the client’s needs and the intended use of the collected water. The complete cost of a rain harvesting system is typically half the cost of an average well, he said.

Martins appreciates the opportunity to educate customers as an exhibitor at the Northwest Ag Show about the benefits of rainwater harvesting.

“Many customers are on wells that are not able to meet the demands of a ranch or farm,” Martins said. “Wells are not sustainable; they may be running dry, have low flow or produce hard water,” Martins said. “The nice thing about ag is most (farms and ranches) have large barns or arenas so over the winter, we can collect all the water they could possibly need for an extended dry summer.”

Harvested rainwater may be used for non-potable applications such as lawn irrigation, washing cars, flushing toilets or as a chemical-free potable replacement for municipal or well water.

Self-sustaining systems employ cisterns placed above or below ground. Whole home potable water is achieved with multi-stage filtration and a purification system specifically designed for rainwater harvesting.

Local building officials may not be familiar with rainwater for consumption, he said. If necessary, the company will work with municipalities for a variance.