Capital Press | Special Sections Capital Press Sat, 20 Dec 2014 19:12:54 -0500 en Capital Press | Special Sections Farmers should insure their income, health Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:18:56 -0500 Sarah Kickler Kelber When it’s time to choose insurance policies, farmers can often find themselves considering some uncomfortable questions.

“The question would be, do they have anyone else who can come in and step in?” asks T.J. Sullivan, owner of Huggins Insurance in Salem, Oregon. “If they got cancer, and they couldn’t farm, what would that do to their family?”

That’s where disability policies come in.

“The ability to preserve that income while you get healthy is huge,” says Matthew Woodbridge, a producer at Valley Insurance Professionals in Salem. “All the operating costs that happen day-to-day, you either have to take care of it from home or pay someone else to do it. Disability funds can help maintain that income and keep the business going.”

Health insurance presents its own challenges — both choosing an individual policy and figuring out what benefits are required for employees.

Woodbridge helps his clients assess the options based on several questions, including how often they visit the doctor, what they tend to see them about, whether they have any chronic conditions and what clinic access is like in their area.

“Each insurance company has a network of providers,” he said. “In more rural communities, you don’t want someone to have to drive an hour just to see the doctor.”

In the case of chronic conditions, he points his clients toward carriers offering specific disease management programs.

“If someone is diabetic, that can affect their ability to work at their business,” he said, so getting them signed up for one of these programs can be beneficial to them and their farm.

For larger businesses, there is the issue of providing health coverage to employees.

“The Affordable Care Act sets the standard that if a business has the equivalent of 50 full-time employees, then you need to offer them health insurance,” Woodbridge said.

There is also a 100 full-time employee threshold — penalties for not offering insurance go into effect in 2015 for the 100 FTE level and in 2016 for the 50 FTE level.

Woodbridge suggests business owners work with an agent to help navigate through the marketplace and negotiate with carriers.

“Working with an agent also lets business owners look at all the carriers without having to research each one individually,” he said. “The agents essentially do all the legwork.”

Sullivan pointed out that business owners need to keep an eye on the status of any tax credits they might have in play with the ACA.

“Some farmers have applied for tax credits to afford the price of insurance,” he said. “But then they might end up having a bumper crop and making more than anticipated and seeing their income go way up.”

In this case, they would end up having to pay back the tax credit, so he recommended setting some funds aside.

Woodbridge added that one thing business owners and employees should keep in mind is their rights in regards to insurance.

“In the state of Oregon, you have the right to buy health insurance regardless of legal status,” he said.

In July 2014, the state approved a permanent administrative rule explicitly stating this.

“Undocumented access and the right to purchase insurance is a critical piece of the puzzle,” he said.

Interest rates likely to stay where they are, experts say Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:18:03 -0500 Sarah Kickler Kelber Are they headed up or down? That’s usually the question about interest rates.

But for now, said Tom Nakano, the answer is neither.

“The sentiment now is that the Federal Reserve will keep short-term rates where they are for most of 2014,” said Nakano, the executive vice president, chief administration officer and chief financial officer for Northwest Farm Credit Services. “What we are seeing is probably late 2015 or early 2016 before they start to raise interest rates.”

There are a couple of dynamics, he said. The domestic U.S. economy is looking better, unemployment rate is down, there’s a strong payroll number, so confidence is building here.

“The driving negative statement on rates is geopolitical,” he said. “The Federal Reserve is saying that even though the United States is doing OK, we have enough concerns about the international world that we want to wait before raising rates.”

What does all this mean for agricultural loans, such as operating loans?

“Agricultural producers typically don’t base decisions about borrowing for short-term needs based on the interest rate environment,” said Curt Hudnutt, chief risk officer for Rabo AgriFinance. “Since most producers have on-going short-term financing needs, they always carry operating debt. In addition, interest rates on operating loans are generally variable in nature and thus will increase as the short-term rate environment begins to strengthen.”

Nakano added that with the interest rate looking stable for the next couple of quarters, his company has been working with its customers to address some of their variable-rate debt.

“On our operating loans, unless it’s a new customer, they’ve been with us for a while, and we’ve told them that if they are on a variable rate, we can fix that rate,” Nakano said. “If they have a variable rate on their farm mortgage, we can tell them it looks like rates are (eventually) going to go up, so you ought to start looking at fixing those variable rates.”

Overall, Nakano said, short- and long-term rates are looking relatively stable for the next 12 months or so.

“Longer-term rates, like those tied to mortgage loans, those will stay where they are at for now, they might go down a little,” he said. “Now is a pretty good time for an expansion, or buying the neighbor’s place, if it’s an option.”

Good financial plans put your money to work Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:17:39 -0500 Sarah Kickler Kelber After an unexpectedly good season, a farmer might be faced with a conundrum: Where to put those profits — back into the farm or into some other investment?

It’s a good problem to have, to be sure, but it’s not without its challenges.

“Farmers are really good about putting their funds into the farm side, not as much into retirement and non-retirement issues,” said Paul Neiffer, a principal certified public accountant in agribusiness at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP in Yakima, Washington.

He compares the three investment options to the three legs of a stool that must be kept in balance.

“I definitely think having some additional assets outside of the farm makes sense because our farm clients often have all their net worth tied up in the farm,” Neiffer said. “If you siphon some of that off (to other investments), it can help smooth things out when the cycle turns if farming goes down, giving them the liquidity they might need for the farm.”

It starts with looking at a farm’s balance sheet and making sure there is enough on the “current assets” side.

“For a farmer who has bought a lot of equipment with cash and land with cash, that liquidity might not be where it should,” he added. “It might make sense to refinance some equipment and land with lower interest rates.”

He stressed the importance of having a strategic plan covering the next three to five years so you know what your goals are and how to adapt to changes in the industry.

David Buck, the partner in charge of agribusiness services at AKT in Salem, agrees.

“(Making decisions) is best done in the context of a plan and goals that a farmer sits down and thinks about,” he said. “It’s a lot easier if it’s in the context of these goals.”

He recommends a farmer with some unexpected profits first look at debt structures and to pay some of that down if it’s an issue.

“When retirement is looming you want to have the debt under control,” he said. “If debt is under control, a lot of farmers see land as their primary source of retirement since land has always been a great long-term investment and an inflation hedge.”

Then, for farmers with excess cash flow who don’t have land they want to purchase, he suggests some sort of a qualified retirement fund such as an IRA.

The land issue changes if a farmer is planning to pass the farm along to the next generation.

“If you aren’t planning on selling your land or if you are leasing, you have to look at a long-term plan to set money aside,” Buck said. “There are some good tax-favored vehicles for this purpose.

“The tax law encourages individual retirement savings, and farmers can tap into that just like any business entity.”

Neiffer agreed, pointing out that “with retirement, the younger you start, the power of compounding becomes very powerful.”

Buck reiterated that it all goes back to a plan that should be created long before retirement is looming.

“It’s not that difficult to sit down with someone who is more of a numbers person who can look at a 10-, 15-, 20-year approach,” Buck said. “A good planner is going to be able to factor in things like health needs, Social Security components, and so on.”

Neiffer added that investment diversification is not the only thing to keep in mind, that risk diversification and making sure a farm’s structure is properly set up are also key.

Beyond that, he said, farmers can be pretty conservative on the investment side, with, say, a mix of bonds or fixed income equities.

“I’m fine with farmers being fairly conservative with non-farm investments and fairly aggressive on the farm side because being a little more aggressive over a 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-year period, it always pays off,” Neiffer said. “Equities have always outperformed bonds in that time period, and a farm operation is already an equity component.”

If a farmer is faced with excess cash flow, Buck said, “the main thing is to do something productive with that influx. If you have an influx of funds, take them off the table and put them to work for you.”

Crop insurance is one tool most farmers should have Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:16:50 -0500 Sarah Kickler Kelber In farming, it’s important to expect the unexpected.

Wind, hail, fire, too much or too little moisture, pests, disease. Any one of these factors can impact the quantity and quality of a crop.

That’s where crop insurance comes in.

“Crop insurance allows a producer to insure a crop based on his own history,” said George Harris, a senior insurance agent with Northwest Farm Credit Services. “The program is subsidized by the federal government, which makes it cost-effective for the producers and allows a guarantee for the farmer to protect his crops against natural-related causes of loss.”

As an example, Harris mentions a case in which rain at harvest time caused cherries to split.

“The grower would be paid indemnity for the loss on the cherries,” he said. “If a producer did not have crop insurance there is nothing there for him. The farm has to absorb the loss.”

Crop insurance is typically not mandatory — growers have to decide what level of risk they’re willing to take on. It can be cyclical, though.

“A lot of times, you’ll see a participation rate go up when a new policy is introduced because of the publicity,” Harris said. “But if they go a few years without claims, that drops off. Then we have a catastrophic event and some growers are paid out, you’ll see the participation rate go back up.”

Crop insurance for wheat is its own special case due to market protection.

“When wheat is up high, you’ll see the participation rate go up because what goes up must come down,” Harris said.

This year has seen some changes for crop insurance options. The 2014 Farm Bill introduced a new program called Whole Farm Revenue Protection, which will replace adjusted gross revenue coverage.

This type of insurance covers all the crops that a grower is producing and looks at the total gross revenue of that producer using a historical average based on five years of tax history.

“This allows producers to insure an anticipated income,” Harris said. “They can insure as much as 85 percent of that revenue. As a person goes through a harvest, if their crops fall below the guarantee, then they’re paid a loss.

“This gives them not only a market protection but also protection against market fluctuation and yield loss.”

Sales closing dates for Whole Farm Revenue Protection plans is March 15.

“In the Willamette Valley with all of its specialty crops, that will be a very popular policy,” Harris said. “Many of them don’t have a federally subsidized crop insurance plan.”

These plans, which are available in all counties in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, can insure a farm for up to an $8.5 million liability.

Some other crop insurance changes in the Farm Bill include a supplemental coverage option available for wheat, an increase in coverage level by practice and an expansion in the organic options for many crops.

“Now, irrigated and non-irrigated crops can have separate coverage levels, which is very powerful,” Harris said.

Branding days busy — and important — for ranches Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:57:01 -0500 Lynda Layne Roaring Springs Ranch manager Stacy Davies says that unbranded calves are very tempting targets for cattle rustlers in the vast open spaces of southeast Oregon and northern Nevada.

These outfits often graze their cattle on more than 1 million acres of Bureau of Land Management land under a grazing permit, along with their private land holdings. Roaring Springs Ranch occupies 425,000 acres in the high desert.

“Cattle theft is very common still today,” Davies says, adding that branding is the best deterrent to theft.

That makes branding months “a very important time of year for ranches,” he says. He takes great care in organizing the ranch’s branding time to efficiently handle about 6,000 calves. Starting in mid-March, a crew of six full-time buckaroos and volunteers and kids brand about 300 calves per day, though the number sometimes reaches more than 500.

By May, the ranch crew is joined by high school and college students who help. Davies says that by then, “The calves are getting bigger, so we are glad to see the young and energetic kids.”

More than branding takes place.

“We get to touch each calf individually,” Davies says, adding that they can be doctored if necessary. It’s also a time to remove horns, treat parasites, castrate and vaccinate for sudden death diseases, pneumonia and other respiratory and digestive ailments. In addition, electronic identification tags — called EIDs — are put in place.

Each ranch uses a slightly different technique to accomplish all the chores, he says.

“We have ropers on horseback that heel the calves and pull them to the fire. One person (on the ground) will grab the calf and hold its head, while the roper keeps the heels tight with his horse. One person carries the syringes with vaccine and gives the shots. Another person carries the branding iron and a third person will bring the EID and also castrate.”

It’s a slick method that allows a six-man crew to brand 60 calves per hour.

Roping the calves is key. Davies says that if the ropers and their horses are under control, the day goes by without incident. Basically, ropers control the safety of the whole operation.

Branding days require hard work, but it can also be fun.

“Some of the most enjoyable days are when he can get a whole family and a few community members to join in for a day of branding calves,” Davies says. “A few times a year, we make it a social event and include families and neighbors.”

That philosophy is echoed by 79-year-old buckaroo Ron Shelley, who works for Rattlesnake Creek Ranch, an outfit that has about 1,200 cows.

“We don’t actually hire help for this. We just trade brandings with neighbors,” Shelley says. “They help us and we help them.”

Most area residents, he says, have been ranching since they were kids and grew up helping other ranch folks.

“It’s just a family tradition,” he says.

Rattlesnake Creek Ranch’s first branding of the year is usually for 350 calves. The sprawling spread is owned by Andy Root. Ron Shelley’s son, Glen, has managed the place for over 25 years. Ron came there more than 10 years ago with the idea of retiring, but says, “I haven’t slowed down a lot.”

Santa Clara rancher turns back the clock Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:57:13 -0500 JULIA HOLLISTER MORGAN HILL, Calif. — Fourth generation rancher Janet Burback compares ranching today to a century ago when family and neighbors pitched in to help one another.

“I guess it is a throwback to the first settlers in our country helping at branding and other times,” she said.

Her roots run deep. In 1917, her great grandparents ran cattle on land in nearby Gilroy, but sold the property because of drought conditions and returned to ranching later. It has been in the family since then.

Burback took over running the Tilton Ranch in 2006 after her father passed away. It’s a commercial cow-calf operation.

“I do the cattle and my husband, Greg, runs the hay operation,” she said. “We have 2,900 acres in here in Coyote Valley and produce enough hay for our cattle so we are not dependent on anyone else. We are sustainable, stewards of the land and can support ourselves.”

There are a couple of mountain lions that share the space, but they are not a problem if there is enough deer to keep them fed.

The Burbacks’ two children are in college. Their son is in South Dakota studying agricultural mechanics, and the daughter is studying community health in Montana.

“I’ve always told them to go college and work for someone else before coming back to the ranch,” she said. “When they return home now their approach is more open. When I left home to work on a cattle ranch in Canada my dad gave me some advice, ‘Keep your mouth shut and listen to everything they say.’”

Burback believes California has its own way of doing things that are different from the Midwest and other areas of the nation.

“The whole West Coast is different,” she said. “We run cattle on large areas and don’t see them every day, whereas other areas have their herds close by. Also, there are more women in ranching.”

“Janet has been a member of the Farm Bureau for about six years and a member of the Santa Clara County Cattlemen’s Association, Santa Clara County Cattlewomen’s Association for about 10 years,” Liz Gabrio, Santa Clara Farm Bureau executive director, said. “She became a member on the South Santa Clara County Fire District in 2005 and three generations of her family have been a part of the local fire district since its beginning. She has been a 4-H volunteer leader for the past 15 years and continues to be an FFA supporter.”

Regulations, especially water districts, are the biggest challenge to California ranchers, Burback said.

“They put restrictions on our own property where we run cattle and maintain the springs, not wells,” Burback said. “The biggest concern I have is the State Water Board and its interpretation of the law.

“At times it’s not a fun state to live in,” she said. “But you can’t beat the weather.”

Fourth-generation ranch raises seed stock Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:56:21 -0500 CRAIG REED DAYS CREEK, Ore. — Diane Swingley was raised on her family’s ranch near this Southern Oregon community, but when she returned to it in 1980 after being gone for 15 years, she admitted she had a lot to learn about the cattle industry.

She and her husband, Stan Huebner, joined the Umpqua Valley Forage Study Group and learned about pasture management and forages. The group was mentored by Woody Lane of Roseburg, Ore., a livestock and forage specialist.

Huebner also faced a steep learning curve since his previous career had been in the telephone and electronics industry in Southern California.

The couple ran a 30-cow registered Black Angus operation for many years on their 96-acre ranch that is split by Days Creek, but recently downsized to 20 cows. Their animals are privately marketed as seed stock to other Angus producers. The few bulls that don’t grade out as quality are sold as market steers and beef to local customers.

“I love the science of the Angus association, the business of lineage and genetics to produce the best quality animal,” said the 66-year-old Swingley. She represents the ranch’s fourth generation of owners.

While Swingley likes to study the Angus bloodlines and making breeding decisions, Huebner, 69, enjoys the construction projects that come with ranching.

With the small herd, the animals are easily rotated on and off green pasture during the summer. Water from nearby Days Creek and the South Umpqua River is used to irrigate the pasture.

The acreage also produces about 2,700 two-tie bales that are used to feed the animals.

“They have a very well-managed, well-thought-out operation,” Lane said. “They raise their animals according to very solid principles.

“When they started in the business, they were very enthusiastic about learning the business,” he added.

While the ranch has transitioned to the more specialized Angus operation over the years, its original purpose was to sustain the family of Ephraim and Caroline Raymond, who purchased the property in 1883. The ranch was later passed on to the Raymonds’ sons, Morris and Wallace. In 1952, Wallace’s daughter Evelyn and her husband, Durnin Swingley, moved to the ranch with their two young daughters, one of them being the 5-year-old Diane, and eventually purchased it.

Durnin Swingley milked 16 dairy cows a day and sold the cream. He also built up a flock of about 100 sheep. With more livestock to feed, the prune orchard was removed and replaced by a field of subterranean clover and domestic grasses.

In 1966, Durnin and Evelyn Swingley got out of the sheep business and purchased a herd of registered Black Angus cattle.

“Dad was convinced Angus were the best for mothering and marbling (of the meat),” Diane Swingley said. “We have high-quality animals.”

Swingley graduated from Days Creek High School in 1965 and then from Oregon State University in 1970. She worked for 10 years as an executive and buyer for department stores Emporium-Capwell in San Francisco and Meier & Frank in Portland before returning home to the ranch to help her parents.

“I was a working partner making payments on the ranch,” she said.

Durnin Swingley died in 1992 and his wife Evelyn died in 2001, leaving the ranch to Diane. Huebner, who had been an employee of the ranch for a few years after moving north from California, married Diane Swingley in 2001 and became a partner in the operation.

Ranching is “a wonderful lifestyle,” Swingley said. “I had to leave to really appreciate what my parents had here.”

The burden that Swingley and Huebner face with the ranch now is its future. They have no children, and no extended family members appear interested in carrying on the Raymond/Swingley ranch tradition.

“There’s sadness when I think about it,” Swingley said. “The American family farm tradition is very important. I don’t know how we’re going to keep it going.”

Swingley Ranch

Operation: 20-cow black Angus breeding business.

Owners: Diane Swingley, the fourth generation to live and work the ranch, and Stan Huebner.

Location: Days Creek, Ore.

Acreage: 96.

Business: Privately marketing heifers and bulls as seed stock to other Angus producers.

Brothers run successful cattle, sheep ranch Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:37 -0500 CRAIG REED GLIDE, Ore. — Brothers Paul and Don Santos have lived and worked their lifetimes in the ranching business.

Paul, 69, and Don, 67, are partners in the Santos Ranch that is bordered by the North Umpqua River near this small eastern Douglas County community.

Paul Santos has worked on the ranch since his early 20s when his parents, Gilbert and Mary, moved from a Hollister, Calif., ranch in 1968 and partnered with Ray and Ethel Rose in purchasing 3,500 acres. Gilbert and Ethel were brother and sister.

Don Santos came to the ranch on a full-time basis after earning an agricultural business degree from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and spending two years in the U.S. Army.

As young kids and teenagers, the brothers had helped and worked on the Hollister ranch so they were exposed to the ranching lifestyle.

During the 1970s, the river ranch peaked in its livestock production with 500 mother cows and 3,000 ewes.

In 1980, however, the two families mutually agreed to split the ranch. The Santoses took sole ownership of 2,200 acres upriver and the Roses 1,600 acres downriver.

Sons Paul and Don continued to work alongside their father and were partners with him in the cattle, sheep and hay business. Gilbert Santos was active in the ranch work until his early 80s. He remained a partner in the ranch for another dozen years until his death Oct. 14. His sons inherited his share of the business.

“It worked,” Don Santos said of the father-and-sons partnership. “We each had responsibilities and it went from there. We worked well together. Dad was always easy to work with.”

Today the operation isn’t quite as large as it had been and the brothers run the ranch business pretty much by themselves with some help from five border collie dogs and neighbors when needed. On several hundred acres of bottom land and hillside oak savannah, the brothers run 100 mother cows and 400 ewes. The ranch’s hay fields produce 70 to 100 tons of grass hay each summer to help feed the livestock during the dry summer months and the cold winter months.

“The prices are good right now, the best they’ve been,” Paul Santos said of the beef and lamb prices. “They’ve never been this good. I don’t know if the consumers will pay the price in the market.

“They should always want to buy it,” he added of red meat. “They’re used to eating it. Hopefully they’ll continue to eat it and hopefully the prices stay good for a while. Expenses for the rancher are going up so it usually all balances out.”

The Santoses sell their lambs at 100 to 110 pounds either direct to the Dixon, Calif., packing house or to buyer Eldon Townsend of Coburg. The brothers sell their calves at 700 pounds on the average at the Lebanon, Ore., Auction or direct to feedlots.

In addition to their home livestock and hay operation, the brothers also buy hay from the Willamette Valley, the Klamath Basin, Christmas Valley and the Silver Lake areas, haul it back home with their semi-trucks and trailers and sell it to livestock owners in Douglas County. Most of what they broker is alfalfa, selling it to ranchers with pregnant and nursing livestock.

“I’ve always liked ranching,” Paul Santos said. “It must be in my blood. I’ve always enjoyed being outside, working outside rather than being locked up in an office.

“I don’t necessarily like all the rain,” he added with a laugh, “but you’ve got to have the rain to grow the grass for the animals.”

Both brothers said despite the hard work, they plan to continue being active ranchers.

Santos Ranch

Location: Glide, Ore.

Owners: Brothers Paul and Don Santos.

Acreage: 700 and some leased land.

Livestock: 100 mother cows and 500 ewes.

Hay: 70 to 100 tons of grass hay a year, depending on conditions. They also buy and haul alfalfa and grain hay from Central Oregon and sell to livestock owners in Douglas County.

Ranchers go against the grain Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:31 -0500 Debby Schoeningh BAKER CITY, Ore. — In an industry where the latest trend has been to breed larger framed cattle to increase the carcass size of offspring for dinner plate-sized ribeyes, Scott and Rebecca Jager are going against the grain.

The Jagers own and operate a grass-fed/grass-finished cattle ranch near Baker City, Ore.

Rather than follow the standards established in the mainstream grain-fed beef industry, their breeding program at Four Pines Ranch focuses on traits that produce animals easily adaptable to their environment while remaining competitive in the beef industry in terms of taste and tenderness.

They are raising smaller framed cows and calves — Red and Black Angus — that thrive without chemicals, antibiotics and growth hormones, taking the animals from birth to slaughter, completely on grass.

“For production reasons, we select for smaller-sized cattle, which means we can run more animals per acre,” Scott said. “This changes our focus from production per cow to profit per acre.”

It takes longer to finish cattle on grass — about 18-24 months compared to 12-13 months for grain-fattened animals — but the Jagers say the added time and expense is worth the investment considering their finished product is “healthy for consumers, our resources are sustainable, and the cattle are allowed to grow and mature on a native diet without undue stress.”

They choose sires that are rated high for calving ease, a rating usually considered for heifer breeding, but the Jagers use these bulls on their mature cows as well, which Scott said, “makes our breeding season nearly effortless.”

Calving takes place in May.

“This is a natural time for ungulates to calve because the weather is warmer and the grass is growing, giving the cows the best nutritional support for milk production,” Rebecca said.

Some of the hay they raise is sold and the rest is used as winter feed for their cattle. Cattle are fed on the hay pastures, covering the fields with manure as a natural fertilizer.

Since there is no money going out for grain, hormones, worm and lice preventive treatments or fertilizer, with the smaller bodied grass-fed genetics, they can raise more cows and realize a greater profit overall.

Although they do harvest beef in June and November, the Jagers said, the best time for finishing and harvesting is in the spring because the grass is new and growing, which leads to the best flavor, quality and tenderness.

“Heifers are ready to finish when they weigh 10 percent less than moms, and steers 10 percent more,” Rebecca said. “For us that is roughly 1,200 pounds.”

Following a dry-aging process at a USDA-inspected facility to increase the meat’s tenderness, they sell their beef by the cut because, Rebecca said, it relates more to the general purchasers who usually aren’t familiar with hanging weights and what that translates to in yield.

“We bypass the randomness of individual yield by describing a whole beef as 400 pounds, half 200, quarter 100 and so on. This is a typical yield for 1,200-pound live weight,” she said.

The retail price of their grass-fed beef, Rebecca said, is in line with the national average for all choice beef. “When people choose our beef it is more a matter of knowing where and how it is raised.”


Diversified farm can’t meet high beef demand Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:26 -0500 Erick Peterson Business is good — almost too good — for Baron Farms, which Ron Baron owns with his wife, Natalie.

They raise cattle, pigs and eggs on their farm in Wapato, Wash., along with raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. They also have a retail store, called the Local Yokel, in nearby Yakima.

Baron said that he is sometimes his biggest enemy. They raise so many types of crops that it creates a lot of stress.

“In some ways, all of what we have going is sometimes challenging, but it is also rewarding,” he said.

Though he is challenged by the need to keep up with the many parts of the business, he benefits by avoiding the highs and lows that come with a lot of other farming operations. Diversification keeps him from being as harmed as his neighbors might be in a downturn in a specific industry segment. His eggs might compensate for a bad beef market, or vice versa.

In addition, diversification and direct sales create a steady cash flow throughout the year. He relies on regular customers at his store rather than waiting on a big check for an entire harvest.

“If you only get a paycheck a year because you deal in only one crop, that could be challenging,” he said. “We’re able to spread that out because we have more income streams.”

Right now, his egg business is really hot, and he can market more than he can produce, but demand for his beef is also strong, he said.

He sells about 60 to 70 head of cattle a year and is encouraged to expand. As things stand, customers are on a waiting list for his beef. However, he said he “can only go so fast.” If he added many more cattle, he could not attend to them the way he currently does.

Marty Davis, also of Baron Farms, said the farm does not use antibiotics or hormones, and all animals are allowed to roam on about 20 acres of pasture at a time. Cows are kept on one paddock and then moved to another after three or four days. They may be kept on a single field for up to a week, if grass remains tall enough.

He claims that having an abundance of space, rotated often, leads to healthier animals.

People frequently visit the farm, and see the cattle, he said. More and more frequently, people are showing interest in the origins of their food, and they ask to see Baron Farms.

“People can come anytime they want,” he said. They can call the farm, and he’ll give them a tour.

“Transparency is the best selling tool,” he said. If we have anything to hide, that means we’re doing something wrong. We want people to come out here.”

Baron Farms

Owners: Ron and Natalie Baron

Started: 2005

Location: Wapato, Wash.

Number of cattle: 25 to 50

Number of acres: 90

Erick Peterson/For the Capital Press

Ron Baron, Baron Farms owner, stands at his Yakima, Wash., store, Local Yokel. He has a farm in nearby Wapato where he raises cattle, chickens and berries, among other crops.

Morgan horses prove good all-around animals Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:20 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas Wendy Hanger and her daughter Jessica Harvey have been raising Morgan horses for 30 years on their 70-acre farm near Preston, Idaho.

“When I discovered Morgans, I thought they were just as pretty as Arabs and more versatile,” Wendy says.

“I could show the Morgans in English, Western and jumping, and pack a deer on them. I have never found another breed quite as versatile. We give lessons at the farm, and do a lot with kids and youth camps with our Morgans.”

She and Jessica have 10 mares and 3 stallions, raising and training foals and breeding outside mares.

“We had seven foals of our own this year. They were spoken for and sold before they were weaned,” Wendy says.

Jessica shows some of the horses, mainly at the Idaho State Fair at Blackfoot in Morgan classes and open classes — hunt seat and jumping. They also put on two or three of their own shows at the farm each year for local horsemen and kids. Jessica gives riding lessons to people of all ages.

“Kids can spend all day here riding, cleaning tack and learning about raising and taking care of horses,” Wendy says.

The Morgan cross is popular. Some people breed their Arabians or Quarter Horse mares to the Morgan stallions.

“There are a lot of Morabs (Morgan-Arabs) in our area. Some people also love the draft-Morgan cross. The Friesian-Morgan cross is also very popular right now,” she says.

Most Morgans are chestnut or bay, without much white.

“The breed association didn’t want blue eyes and a lot of white, but in 1996 lifted the color restrictions. Morgans can now have white markings higher on their legs. There are actually some pintos and palominos, and buckskin Morgans are very popular now,” Wendy says. She has a perlino stallion that sires buckskin foals.

Jessica has been training Morgans for 20 years, since she was 15 years old.

“We do a lot of ground work with ours when they are young,” Jessica says. “We’ve had a lot of comments from the vets when we take our mares and babies in to breed the mares, regarding how calm the foals are, and easy to handle.”

Jessica enjoys working with children and teaching them about horses.

“We’ve had scout groups come to the farm and the kids brush the horses. We give lessons for kids who come once or twice a week for riding,” she says.

The mares often do triple duty; pregnant mares give lessons, go to shows, foal a baby in the spring, and then the baby goes to shows. In the fall after foals are weaned, the mares do lots of trail riding, so they are busy and versatile.

Wendy and Jessica put on a kids’ show at the ranch Sept. 27. “The lesson kids get together to show their horses and we also invite people from the local Morgan club. In this area there’s not much English riding, so kids that want to learn to ride English can do it here,” Jessica explains.

Ranch family supports predator control Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:05 -0500 CRAIG REED ROSEBURG, Ore. — Both Dan Dawson and Breanne Santos grew up on Douglas County livestock ranches and then moved away to attend college.

They earned their degrees at Oregon State University, Dawson in agricultural business in 2000 and Santos in education in 2002. Dawson had an internship with Jeld-Wen and then had three full-time job offers.

But the couple, who married in 2002, decided to return home to become ranchers. Breanne also got a second grade teaching position at Glide, Oregon, Elementary School.

“I got offered jobs, but I came home,” said Dawson who is now 36. “I like seeing the animals born, I like seeing what you can do with the land to make money with it.”

“I like the outdoors, getting to be around the animals,” said Breanne Dawson, 35.

“Dan decided he wanted to pursue ranching,” she added. “We decided to take that path, to see where it would take us, to give it a try. It has worked out.”

Over the past 12 years, the couple has grown their livestock numbers to 1,500 ewes and 110 mother cows. They own almost 1,000 acres and lease 2,500 acres, including the Dawson Ranch that Dan grew up on.

Dan Dawson sheared sheep through his college years to help pay his educational expenses and continued to shear to help purchase more breeding stock.

The Dawsons have also increased their own family with twin sons Drew and Carter and daughter Reagan.

Since Dan Dawson was a young boy, he helped his father, Junior Dawson, with the sheep, cows and goats on the family ranch. As a teenager he learned to worm and vaccinate the livestock, to irrigate and fertilize pastures for grazing and hay production, to shear sheep, to build fence and to deal with wildlife that preys on the livestock.

“He taught us how to work,” Dawson said of his father. “There was no slouch time.”

Over on the Santos family ranch near Glide, Oregon, Breanne helped her father, Paul Santos, in doing similar types of livestock work. She said she enjoys the rewards of both ranching and teaching.

“One of my passions is being outdoors, being with the animals,” she explained. “Another passion is working with kids. I have the best of two worlds.”

Once the Dawsons got their ranching operation established, Dan Dawson became an advocate, fundraiser and spokesperson for wildlife control. His mother’s father was a government trapper and the young Dawson also learned about hunting and trapping from his father. He saw up close what coyotes and cougars can do to ewes, lambs and calves, and how those losses impact a rancher’s bottom line when there are fewer animals to send to market.

Dan Dawson practiced what he advocated by putting labor and money into his own property to better ward off predators, and in some cases domestic dogs. Over the years he has built miles of fence, using 6-inch woven wire with a string of barb wire at the bottom, one in the middle and two at the top. He also added an outrigger hot wire on the outside of the fence and 6 inches off the ground so any critter thinking about digging under the fence gets zapped.

In addition, he put guard dogs in with his livestock.

His efforts decreased his losses from 70 to 80 sheep a year down to about 30 in recent years.

“To stay in business, you have to be passionate about controlling predators,” Dawson said. “It’s taken me thousands of dollars to get to that point … it’s been a lot of work and money. It’s how I came into a leadership role regarding wildlife control. Somebody needed to and it ended up being me.”

This past summer, Dawson and Ron Hjort of Oakland, Oregon, wrote a bill to set up a predator control district for Douglas and Coos counties. Dawson said the bill would establish a pilot program that would charge a fee per acre for those livestock owners wanting predator control.

“We’re trying to enhance the program we already have,” Dawson said. “People using the program would pay for it.

“So far everyone we’ve talked to about it likes the concept,” he added.

The bill still has to be introduced to the Oregon legislature. If approved, Dawson said the program could be implemented in 2016.

“He’s very passionate about wildlife control and he puts his all into it,” Breanne Dawson said of her husband. “Once something disappears, it is hard to bring it back. Trappers help everybody with livestock and they’re needed.”

The Dawsons are carrying on their families’ ranching traditions, working the land and raising livestock for the lamb and beef markets. And they’re including their own three children in the activities just as they were when they were younger.

Once rescued, horses help others Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:55:00 -0500 TERRELL WILLIAMS At her Across the River Horse Ranch below Bliss, Idaho, Amita Smith offers a safe haven for unwanted horses.

“If you give kindness, you get kindness back,” she said, explaining her ability to gentle mustangs and win over a few confirmed outlaws.

“It takes time. I give them food and water and let them get curious. ... I bribe my horses in the beginning. Once they like grain, it’s very easy. They follow me anywhere as long as I’m holding a grain bucket.”

Smith, 45, grew up in the island nation of Sri Lanka off the southern coast of India. When she was seven years old, she was given a red American Indian doll with feathers and a drum.

“That’s where my curiosity started,” she said. “They looked like us, but different. I started learning about the Rocky Mountains. I was fascinated by horses and cowboys and Indians. I felt a powerful draw.”

Armed with a dream and determination to make a life for herself, Smith worked to become a professional model. She then went on to establish clothing shops in France, Greece and the French Caribbean. Retiring at age 30, she made her way to Sun Valley, Idaho. But it never felt like home.

Then she met artist Joe Leonard, whose rustic property along the Snake River was for sale.

“I came here and I just fell in love with the place,” said Smith, who bought it in 2004.

The next step was to buy a pair of boots and find a horse.

She got one horse. Then two more. She read books by trainers Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. She sought advice from local horse trainers. She took equine classes at the College of Southern Idaho. And, doing what she says is essential, Smith began riding her horses daily.

Along the way, she started rescuing. A small paint mare was rejected at an auction sale for being too mean. Smith bought her by the pound.

“She’s become the most famous kid horse on the ranch,” Smith said. “She was pretty bad in the beginning. It took me a little time, but she completely turned around.”

Another rescue was a buckskin mare severely injured in a chariot racing wreck that killed her teammate. “Tack” needed extensive care, but now is sound and gentle to ride.

A 17-hand mustang, unsold at a Bureau of Land Management auction, was adopted by Smith for $25. After gaining his trust and then training him, Smith rode the powerful gelding this year over a 9,000-foot mountain pass. Other animals — some starved, some abandoned — have found a happy home at Across the River.

There are now 21 horses and two mules at Smith’s ranch. Other rescues include two goats and eight dogs. On a typical day, children are riding draft horses, the pony and several still-healthy retired horses around the arena. Smith takes her kids on rides up the nearby trail to high desert lands, and on four-hour wagon rides to the town of Hagerman for ice cream.

Smith says horses have been therapeutic for everyone at her ranch, including herself.

“I came here, but I was lost in life,” she said, strolling through a corral with a dozen mismatched horses tagging along. “In the beginning, I rescued them. But I am the one who really was getting rescued.”

Contact information

Amita Smith

Across the River Horse Ranch

P.O. Box 84, Bliss, Idaho 83314

Phone: (208) 961-1911


Hay trucker nears 1 million miles Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:54:45 -0500 CRAIG REED LANGLOIS, Ore. — Rhett Kreutzer and his blue hay truck are on the verge of clocking a million miles.

Kreutzer purchased the International in 1997. It had 4.8 miles on the odometer. The two have rolled over many miles since, hauling hay from such areas as the Willamette Valley, the Klamath Basin, Lakeview, Silver Lake, Christmas Valley and Culver to western Oregon customers in Coos, Curry and Douglas counties.

They have delivered grass, orchard grass, grassy alfalfa and alfalfa to three feed stores and about 15 different livestock businesses, ranging from a couple animals to operations of 200 to 300 beef cattle or sheep.

In mid-November, Kreutzer and his truck passed 980,000 miles. He estimated that over the past half dozen years, he has bought, hauled and sold in the range of 500 to 800 tons of hay a year.

These numbers are not surprising for the 52-year-old Langlois native and resident because the hay hauling business seems to run in the family. Kreutzer’s father, Lowell, now 87, also topped a million miles during a 22-year hay career and his uncle, Lloyd Kreutzer, drove truck for 3 million miles, hauling hay and numerous other products during a long driving career.

“I don’t hold a bucket to what dad and Lloyd used to haul,” Rhett Kreutzer said. “They would drive over east, hand load, tarp up, whatever it took. I had two really good teachers.

“To this day, I respect them both,” he added of the twin brothers.

Rhett Kreutzer was about 8 when he started making road trips for hay with his father. At 15, the son began to help load and unload the truck and trailer. He admits the bales were under 100 pounds back then while today they are well over that weight.

He first drove his dad’s empty hay truck at age 16 on Interstate 5 coming down from Sexton Pass just north of Grants Pass, Oregon, and not long after that he first drove a loaded truck on Highway 97 going north from Klamath Falls, Oregon.

“I was pretty confident in myself, but I was nervous of course,” Rhett Kreutzer recalled.

“He just kind of grew up with it,” Lowell Kreutzer said of his son. “He’s seen me work all my life, and he’s trying to do the same damn thing.”

While Rhett Kreutzer has access to squeeze machines to load and unload today, what makes him unique in this age of mechanical equipment is that just like his father and uncle, he’s not scared to pick up hay hooks and unload his truck and trailer or to load a customer’s pickup, truck or trailer. He specializes in hauling two- and three-tie bales that weigh 100 to 140 pounds each, but can still be handled by hand for customers who only want to purchase several bales or a couple tons at a time.

“It’s something my dad and uncle did. It’s hard work, but rewarding,” the Kreutzer said. “Not many guys want to hand load pickups and trailers and horse trailers for people. That’s the challenge of it, but it just feels good to help people in that way.”

Kreutzer said that on his way home to Langlois with a hay load, it’s not unusual for him to pull the truck over to a wide spot in the road or into a barnyard and unload hay for a customer.

“If it’s convenient, why not stop rather than have them come to my place to get the hay?” Kreutzer said.

The hay that he does take home, he unloads with a squeeze and stacks in his 40-foot by 80-foot insulated shop that has room for 200 tons. He explained the insulated building is a necessity because on the coast with all the moisture in the air, it doesn’t take long for mold to grow in the hay if the temperature isn’t regulated.

Orders are then delivered to customers or they come to get hay with their own rigs.

Kreutzer said it is harder to find two- and three-tie bales because more growers are going to the larger 1,200-pound bales, but he has a few growers who continue to make the smaller bales for him.

“My customers don’t have a use for those big bales, they’re not set up to handle them,” he said.

As he and his blue International approach 1 million miles, Kreutzer is happy to say his driving record is near perfect. He’s had no accidents and only knows of losing one bale off a load.

“That truck is in perfect shape for having a million miles on it,” Lowell Kreutzer said.

Flashover Farm has its roots in Alaska Fri, 5 Dec 2014 09:54:31 -0500 Erick Peterson GRANDVIEW, Wash. — Sean and Marie Glasser admit that their experience with animals was limited when they started farming pigs and cattle just over a decade ago. Once they started, however, they found that they liked it and quickly decided to devote their lives to “natural production” farming.

Sean said that he started raising animals in 1991 when he was living in Fairbanks, Alaska. His school had a pig farm, and it offered him the runts, which he gratefully accepted. He did not have any experience raising animals, but it was simple enough, he said, and he liked the meat.

Driven by his taste for meat from the animals he was raising himself, he bought more.

“It just grew from there,” he said. By 1995, his hobby turned into a fledgling farm, and Flashover Farm was born in Rainier, Wash.

His wife, Marie, joined him in his efforts, though she admits that he does almost all of the work. Her experience, like his, was limited at the start, though she grew up on a farm and recalls bottle-feeding calves from nearby dairies and helping raise chickens, she did not possess the expertise to be of much help to him.

“This is so much more than anything I ever did,” she said of Flashover Farm and her own experience. “I try to help where I can, but this farm is all my husband, and he’s doing a good job here.”

They relocated from Rainier to Grandview, as Sean took a job as a firefighter in nearby Sunnyside and they raise Scottish Highland and Irish Dexter cattle. They also raise Berkshire, Chester and Duroc pigs, and Holland White Turkeys.

“We’re working toward being a sustainable farm,” he said. He produces hay and mixes his feed, raising pigs on barley and pea-based diet.

He boasts of his methods for raising animals, his cattle in particular, taking pride in “minimal intervention.” Cows are given wide space on the 20-acre farm.

The result, he said, is superior beef.

Flashover Farm

Year started: 1995 (in Rainier, Wash.), 2008 (in Grandview, Wash.)

Owners: Sean and Marie Glasser

Location: Grandview, Wash.

Acres: 20

Number of cattle: 20

Biggest Expo packs a lot into three days Fri, 7 Nov 2014 10:10:56 -0500 Geoff Parks Willamette Valley Ag Association manager Jill Ingalls was explaining an increase in duties to a cadre of FFA students who will help out at this year’s event, stressing how much it has grown.

This year, the 250,000-square-foot Willamette Valley Ag Expo will be open at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center in Albany from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12; and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13.

“We’ve added some positions this year,” Ingalls told the Scio High School FFA Chapter, whose members help with a variety of duties during the Expo. “It’s the biggest one we’ve ever had — and it’s getting bigger.

“So far, we’ve actually expanded our floor space, which is a good sign for the economy,” she said. “There will be more pressure on all of our volunteers and staff to handle the bigger crowds that will come.”

The Willamette Valley Ag Association is a nonprofit agricultural trade and education organization whose members are either exhibitors or sponsors of the event, or both.

Jill Ingalls’ husband, Scott, is producer of the Expo. His jobs include organizing the many exhibitors and vendors — more than 140 in all.

This year, the expanded Expo features three days of seminars and classes, including Pesticide Application CORE Course training sessions, training sessions on soil health and an Ag Lime Conference.

An Antique Farm Equipment Display with over 70 tractors and other types of equipment will be in the Cascade Building at the Expo Center.

Wednesday, Nov. 12 is Youth Ag Education Day.

“We encourage all ag students, FFA or 4-H, to attend the Expo free of charge,” Ingalls said. “Students are encouraged to visit the exhibitor booths and gather information related to their current education.” Transportation scholarships are available courtesy of Doerfler Farms.

Oregon Women for Agriculture will host an educational area in the lobby of the main Expo building with refreshments for visitors.

A unique treat is the third iteration of Dine Around Oregon, a “progressive dinner” of Oregon-grown food and beverages that will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Admission to the Expo is $4 per day with free parking on-site at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany.

Proceeds from the Expo go toward the association’s college scholarships.

FYI: Willamette Valley Ag Expo Fri, 7 Nov 2014 10:01:49 -0500 Albany, Ore.

Nov. 11, 12 and 13

• Tuesday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Wednesday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

• Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Admission $4 (price includes $2 discount on the featured lunch)

• Free parking

The nine-member board of directors is nominated by the members and serve a minimum of a three-year term. Board members are elected at the annual meeting, which typically takes place on the final morning of the Expo during the exhibitor breakfast meeting.

Current board members are:

• Bill Lusk, Chair, Ag West Supply

• Eric Fery, Vice Chair, Ag Chains Plus

• Don Kropf, Linn-Benton Tractor

• Tom Wells, Pape Machinery

• Mike Brown, DeJong Products

• Steve Prouty, NW 94 Sales

• Stacy Bostrom, Citizens Bank

• Andy Steinkamp, Wilco

• Terry Marstall, Les Schwab Tires

The Willamette Valley Ag Association contracts with Ingalls & Associates, LLC to provide association management services and event production.

Event Producer

Scott Ingalls

Ingalls & Associates

Association Manager

Jill Ingalls

Phone: 800-208-2168

Fax: 866-509-3212


Training, seminars keep farmers up to date Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:58:32 -0500 Geoff Parks The Willamette Valley Ag Expo will feature a full slate of educational opportunities spanning three days.

In addition to Pesticide Applicator CORE Training — each worth two to four credit-hours — that will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11, and again on Thursday, Nov. 13, classes and seminars this year will focus on soil health management and a special Ag Lime Conference.

A training session offered by Soil Health Recology Environmental Solutions will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12. Soil Health Recology Environmental Solutions provides ideas for alternative waste handling, focusing on environmental sustainability and serves communities in the San Francisco Bay area, Portland, Seattle, Northern California and elsewhere in Oregon and Washington.

Recology is also offering a Compost for Soil Health Management Seminar on Nov. 12. In it, the company will share an overview of the uses and benefits of compost in tree and vine applications. The presentation focuses on compost’s contribution to soil health.

The role of custom blending and mechanical application methods as part of strategic cultural practices in orchards and vineyards will also be discussed.

Those who wish to participate in the seminar are asked to register at They can call Kim Carrier at (707) 693-2109 with questions.

Wednesday, Nov. 12, is also Youth Ag Education Day, a popular feature of the Expo. Free admission is offered for any youth educational program related to agriculture.

That includes “any ag-related programs from 4-H to FFA, college ag, home-school ag programs, community garden programs for churches, all sorts of things like that,” said Jill Ingalls, manager of the Willamette Valley Ag Association.

“We do have a small transportation grant available online,” she added. The grant is courtesy of Doerfler Farms.

The 2014 Ag Lime Conference will be hosted by Columbia River Carbonates on Thursday, Nov. 13. Class topics include applying lime to raise pH for crop production, in-field pH testing methods, lime application methods, prilled lime use in Europe and new liming technology.

Columbia River Carbonates is a supplier of high-grade, ultra-fine ground calcium carbonate products and is based in Woodland, Wash.

The Ag Lime Conference is free to WVAE attendees with their admission.

A free lunch ticket will be provided for the first 100 registrations at Certified Crop Advisor certification soil and water credits will be available.

Meeting and class schedule

Tuesday, Nov. 11

Meetings: Oregon Farm Bureau Luncheon (by invitation), 503-399-1701

Training: CORE training, no registration required. 2 to 4 credit hours, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 12

Youth Ag Education Day — free admission for student groups (restrictions apply).

Meetings: Pennington Seed Growers Breakfast (by invitation)

Rabo Agrifinance Luncheon (by invitation)


• Soil Health Recology Environmental Solutions

This will be a non-scientific overview of the uses and benefits of compost in tree and vine applications. The presentation will focus on compost’s contribution to soil health as the foundation of successful, sustainable farming. The role of custom blending and mechanical application methods will be discussed as components of strategic cultural practices in orchards and vineyards. To register: http://www.recology.c om/compost-registration Questions: contact Kim Carrier, 707-693-2109

•Forklift certification — classroom and driving training

Free with admission but registration is required. 10:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 13

Training: CORE training, no registration required. 2 to 4 credit hours, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

2014 Ag Lime Conference

CCA Soil and Water Credits available. Four classes: Applying lime to raise pH for crop production; In field pH testing methods; Ag lime application methods; Prilled lime use in Europe

The Ag Lime Conference is free with admission to the Expo. Registration required at

Expo funds scholarships for college ag students Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:54:59 -0500 Geoff Parks That the Willamette Valley Ag Association’s scholarship winners are bright and focused is a given, but Riane Towery of Salem, one of the five 2014 recipients, takes those qualities to a higher level.

Towery, 21, is a senior this year in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University. She shows her academic prowess with a 3.98 grade-point average and her focus with a double-major in horticulture and leadership. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural education and become a high school ag teacher and FFA adviser.

This year, five recipients were awarded $1,500 apiece toward their college educations. Besides Towery, the other WVAA scholarship award winners for 2014 are Jaimee Brentano of Corvallis, a senior in ag education; Justin Gutierrez of Heppner, a senior in agriculture; Kylee Jensen of Pilot Rock, a senior in agriculture; and Rebecca Thomas of Cornelius, a senior in agriculture. All attend OSU.

Towery said the entire amount “goes directly to my tuition, so I end up with less college debt.”

She said she raised sheep when she was in the fifth grade as part of 4-H and continued in her ag pursuits through her high school years at Silverton High, where her father is an ag teacher.

The WVAA scholarships are given out annually at the Willamette Valley Ag Expo. The Expo is the largest event put on by her group, WVAA manager Jill Ingalls said. It was established to support students pursuing a career in agriculture, she said.

A percentage of the proceeds from the Willamette Valley Ag Expo fund the scholarship program.

This year, Ingalls said the WVAA board of directors decided to bring management of the scholarship program in-house. The board will connect directly with ag colleges and make educators aware of the funds that are available — about $1,000 to $2,000 for each of five to seven students.

Under the WVAA board’s new plan, which does not require a federal student aid application from students or financial need as a primary consideration, awards would go to students who are on agricultural production-based career paths, Ingalls said.

Dine Around Oregon a savory trip for taste buds Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:51:54 -0500 Geoff Parks The third Dine Around Oregon event at the Willamette Valley Ag Expo will feature lamb, beef, pork and poultry “stations” for diners to choose their favorite entrees made with locally sourced products.

Mary Bentley will have had a hand in all four choices.

Bentley’s Valley Catering of Adair Village will be preparing all of the meals for the flourishing Expo event, created in 2012 by Willamette Valley Ag Association manager Jill Ingalls.

Dine Around Oregon has grown to the four stations. Expo visitors pay $11 for the event. Food is served during the Dine Around Oregon event in all four of the Expo’s buildings. The event is 5-8 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

The first year, 320 people took part in the culinary tour de force. More than 500 participated last year. Bentley expects about the same number this year.

But it’s the Oregon food that attracts the spotlight.

“We get products donated from companies such as Norpac (which will be supplying soups and appetizers),” Bentley said. “Willamette Valley cheeses get donated from the dairy people” along with other foods from around the valley.

“Each of the four stations will feature a different Oregon-raised meat, along with all the sides and goodies for a full meal,” Ingalls said. “The lamb will come from Reed Anderson of Anderson Ranches (and) it will be marinated and prepared by Pat Manning of Manning Farms. Both are famous for their lamb.

“We will be putting out 300 pounds of lamb alone.”

She added that the Expo also brings in other contributions from groups such as the Oregon Beef Council, she said.

Bentley’s Valley Catering has been in business since 1998, operating out of the former Officers’ Club building on the old Camp Adair military campus. She has three staff and 30 employees working full- and part-time.

Ingalls said the WVAE board budgets Dine Around Oregon to “buy down” the cost of the ticket, and “sponsors offset costs so we can serve a $35 meal for $11.”

“The goal of this event is to bring families and customers in for an outstanding experience while promoting the Willamette Valley Ag Association’s scholarship program,” Ingalls said.

Frequently asked questions Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:45:59 -0500 The Willamette Valley Ag Expo is easy to find. It is east of Exit 234 off Interstate 5 at Albany. The address is Linn County Fair and Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany, Ore.

Which classes are offered?

To view which classes are offered, please take a look at our class schedule, which is on Page 9.

Is there meal service on site?

Yes, it is located in two main buildings. Concessions are open during the Expo hours. The featured lunch special is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Calapooia building on the upper deck. Enjoy a $2 off coupon on this meal provided on the back of your admission ticket. The menu includes chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and salads.

Do I have to pay to get in?

Yes, admission is $4 per day, and parking is free.

Is there anything for my family to do?

Yes, several exhibitors are featuring products of interest plus the Oregon Women for Agriculture are hosting an educational area in the lobby with refreshments. Nearby Albany boasts a long list of dining and entertainment options, plus shopping, museums and historic districts.

Click on for more information.

These sponsors help make the Expo a huge success Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:44:12 -0500 Here is a list of sponsors who have helped make the annual Willamette Valley Ag Expo a success.

Please take the time to thank them, the many vendors and the board members who have all worked hard to make this year’s Expo the biggest ever.

• Sunbelt Rentals, Full Sponsor, Sunbelt Arena

• Complete Wireless, Full Sponsor, Complimentary Coffee for vendors

• Linn-Benton Tractor, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Peterson Machinery, Full Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon Presenting Sponsor

• Farmland Tractor, Full Sponsor, Antique Farm Equipment Display

• Doerfler Farms, Full Sponsor, FFA transportation to the event

• Ag Chains Plus, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Citizens Bank, Full Sponsor, Welcome Bags

• Wilco, Full Sponsor, CORE Training

• NW 94 Sales, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Crop Production Services, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Ag West Supply, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Pape Machinery, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Northwest Farm Credit Service, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Coastal Farm & Ranch, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

• Overton Safety Training, Full Sponsor, Forklift Training

• GK Machine, Partial Sponsor, Dine Around Oregon

Company offers many types of safety training Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:41:27 -0500 Geoff Parks Overton Safety Training is a new partner with the Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

Jill Ingalls, manager of Expo sponsor Willamette Valley Ag Association, said the professional training service is “jumping in to help provide free forklift training” at the Nov. 11-13 expo.

Overton Safety Training also will have a booth at the WVAE to meet customers and assist them with their company safety training and regulatory compliance needs.

The forklift operator classroom safety training course, written exams and practical operating evaluations for employers will be 10:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 12. Registration is required.

Training, testing and evaluations of those employers’ forklift operators will take place that day as well.

Based in Aloha, Ore., the company says it is “one of the largest providers of crane, forklift, aerial lift and rigging training on the West Coast,” and is an accredited provider of National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators certification exams.

Several training options are available for employers, said OST owner Ron Overton, including getting all of their training done at one time or by sending a few employees at a time to classes.

“In addition to training, employers can qualify one or more of their employees to conduct in-house forklift training via a ‘Train the Trainer’ course,” he said. “Our forklift training courses offer the opportunity for them to become a qualified forklift operator in just one day.”

Optimizer gets whole job done in single pass Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:37:12 -0500 Geoff Parks The Optimizer One-Pass Tillage System implement is as big as its name implies — 18 feet wide and 40 feet long — and should be a big draw for visitors at this year’s Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

The Optimizer is a tillage instrument designed by Tillage Management, Inc., of Tulare, Calif., and is manufactured by GK Machine of Donald, Ore.

Steve Prouty is the owner of a manufacturer’s representative company and of NW 94 Sales in Albany. He is also is a two-year board member of the Willamette Valley Agricultural Association, which produces the Expo.

The implement is so large that Prouty said “it’s going in the space outside” his rented exhibition area.

“The Optimizer has actually been around for some time,” Prouty said. “It is a one-pass tillage system and basically replaces anything that will prep the ground for seeding. And it will actually do that, too.”

The machine is designed to operate at 5 to 7 mph and cover 8 to 12 acres per hour, saving “50 percent or more” on fuel, with less soil compaction and improved soil tilth, according to the company.

The company also says the one-pass tillage implement reduces labor by up to 70 percent, shortens turnaround time between crops and increases profits.

“We introduced it into Idaho this season,” Prouty said.

Prouty said farmers in the Oregon and Idaho area talk about how the Optimizer will “go into a corn field after harvest and prep it for seedbed” in one pass. And “it likes to go fast,” he said.

Scio FFA chapter, Expo continue partnership Fri, 7 Nov 2014 09:32:38 -0500 Geoff Parks The Scio High School FFA has been the go-to chapter for the Willamette Valley Ag Expo for over 10 years.

The students play several important roles at the Expo, including serving as ambassadors and greeting attendees at the front door.

Krysta Sprague, in her first year as the Scio FFA’s adviser, is stepping into the successful, longstanding partnership between the FFA program and the Expo.

Sprague had the machinery of the Scio FFA Chapter humming along smoothly just after the start of the school year as plans were laid, assignments given out and activities prepared for the three-day, mid-November Expo. Sprague displays a firm command of her new duties and a determination to continue the success of the partnership. In addition to all four years of high school ag classes, she teaches beginner classes in welding and wood shop.

“I’m so new here and new to this community, so this is a big learning experience for me, too,” Sprague said.

Work her students do at the Expo includes duties as cashiers, greeters and survey-takers as well as hosting at the third year of the successful Dine Around Oregon event, which is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12.

“My kids work for the WVAE, which gives them money for what they do (pro-rated for hours worked),” Sprague said. “That money goes to pay off some of their debts to the chapter for things like their FFA jackets or anything else they owe.”

Some of the money they earn also goes toward attending the annual FFA National Convention in Louisville, Ky. Each student earns $900 to $1,000 during the year from car washes, sales of food items and events like the Expo, Sprague said.

The Willamette Valley Ag Association, a nonprofit ag trade and education organization, puts on the Expo each year. Association manager Jill Ingalls, works with her husband, Scott, to coordinate the yearly event.

Jill Ingalls made a trip to Scio in September to chat with the students and make sure the students were up-to-date on their Expo duties and responsibilities.

“You guys are very critical to this Expo,” Ingalls told the students. “We really do rely on you to be there to take tickets, sell tickets, act as our ambassadors and greeters and as the first faces people see when they come to the Expo.”