Capital Press | Special Sections Capital Press Sat, 10 Dec 2016 18:19:33 -0500 en Capital Press | Special Sections Financial planner, CFO offer unique expertise Thu, 8 Dec 2016 11:59:59 -0500 Dianna Troyer Realizing he would one day switch his role from chief executive officer of Moss Farms to retiree, Dan Moss sought advice from a financial planner 20 years ago.

The Idaho farmer not only needed an investment portfolio to provide retirement income for himself, but he wanted to offer an employer-matching 401K plan to his workers.

The farm’s 50 full-time summer workers grow potatoes, sugar beets, wheat and corn on 14,000 acres. The business’ potato packing plant in Rupert has 40 full-time year-round workers. Some 80 workers are hired during harvest.

“I wanted to offer some financial help to our employees for their retirement,” says Moss, 64.

He turned to a financial planner, Dee Darrington, an investment representative at D.L. Evans Bank in Burley.

“Dan was really progressive for offering a matching 401K plan to his employees, from managers to pipe movers,” says Darrington. “I think more farmers will start doing that in the future.”

He emphasizes that a retirement portfolio needs diversification.

“Safety through diversification is the key,” says Darrington, who helps clients pick from a combination of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities to provide retirement income.

Darrington says some farmers and ranchers tend to be land rich but cash poor when approaching retirement.

“They need to bank some of their annual profit and invest that to provide for their future,” he says. “A good portfolio can buffer farmers from fluctuating commodity prices.”

With an outside financial planner in place for long-term retirement, Moss realized he needed an in-house financial planner for day-to-day operations. Ten years ago, he hired Klade Williams as chief financial officer.

“You get to a point where you outgrow the kitchen table or home office for bookkeeping,” Moss says.

Williams oversees the company’s 401K plan, bank loan applications, accounting, human resources and new rules that will impact the business financially.

“You take all this information, even if it’s bad news, and present it to Dan and managers to help them make decisions,” says Williams. “It’s a balancing act to maintain a financially healthy business that can keep the family happy and employees happy.”

Moss says the 401K has been a good investment. The plan, along with paid time off and paid leave, has fostered employee loyalty. “A lot of people at our packing plant have been there 20 years or more.”

Workers at the plant, Arrowhead Potato Co., pack Idaho’s signature crop year-round for restaurants and food service companies Sysco and Markon.

As for his eventual retirement, Moss says he cannot envision himself being completely away from the business he started in 1980 when he farmed 160 acres near Declo.

His son, Ryan, 42, chief operations officer, will likely replace his father as CEO.

“I’ll always be involved with the farm somehow,” Moss says.

Operating loans financial lifeblood for ranchers, farmers Thu, 8 Dec 2016 11:58:57 -0500 Dianna Troyer For most southeastern Idaho ranchers such as Doug Ward, an annual operating loan is the financial lifeblood of their business.

“We couldn’t operate without it,” says Ward, 59, who runs 300 cows and raises hay on about 300 acres near Almo just north of the remote Idaho-Utah border.

A third generation rancher, Ward applies for the annual infusion of cash at one of Idaho’s oldest banks. Established in 1904 in the small town of Albion about 30 miles from Ward’s ranch, D.L. Evans Bank is the same bank his dad and grandad used.

Ward relies on Kent Gunnell, commercial ag loan officer and assistant manager, not only for the loan, but also for information about new lending practices and financial assistance in case of emergencies.

“You can’t budget for unpredictable events,” says Ward. “Sometimes a tractor needs major repair or replacement or other things happen, so it’s good to know I can extend out my payments. Kent’s really on the ball and gets paperwork processed on time.”

Ward says he appreciates a banker who takes the time to know his clients.

“I can sit down and tell him what my needs are, and we go from there,” says Ward.

To help clients, Gunnell has sometimes advised them to rewrite their business plan, estimating their income conservatively.

“If unforeseen things happen, it gives you a buffer,” Gunnell says. “We sometimes advise borrowers to write a personal budget, too, to help them make decisions about their money.”

Gunnell says generations of families, such as the Wards, have supported the bank for more than a century and helped build it into what it is today.

“We’re on a first-name basis with most people who walk through our doors,” Gunnell says. “Our customers are like friends and repay their loans, so we don’t have the losses a larger city bank might have. They know that if a problem arises or if they want to discuss financial objectives, they can talk to someone face-to-face instead of a person at an 800 number.”

The bank was Cassia County’s first financial institution. When state Sen. D.L. Evans established it for farmers and ranchers in remote areas, he said, “Banking is really just about one thing: helping people.” The bank was capitalized with $25,000.

Today, the third-generation, family-owned community bank has more than $1.2 billion in assets with 28 full-service branches and seven mortgage lending offices across Southern Idaho.

The bank’s headquarters eventually moved from Albion, a town of 270, to Burley, a town of 10,500 about 18 miles to the northwest.

At the Albion branch, Gunnell says a small town atmosphere still prevails.

“We’ve stayed true to our founder’s goals about helping people.”

Estate planning can help relieve stress Thu, 8 Dec 2016 11:59:34 -0500 Dianna Troyer When confronting rare and quirky medical issues, central Idaho rancher Wiley Smith is reassured that at least his estate plans are in healthy condition.

After being diagnosed with a rare and mutating prostate cancer in 2009, he and his wife, Carolyn, discussed the unthinkable.

“We had to face it,” says Smith, 78, who owns Mount Borah Ranch 30 miles north of Mackay, where he grew up. He and his sons, Leon and Steve, raise Hereford cattle, hay and grain.

“What would become of the ranch if I passed on, or if we both did? How could we distribute our assets fairly among our five kids?”

For advice, the Smiths turned to attorney Stephen Martin of Idaho Falls, who has written estate plans for agricultural clients throughout the West since 1974.

“We discussed our goals,” says Smith, “and he guided us through the process and provided us with the legal documents we needed to do what was best for our situation. It was a worthwhile investment for us.”

The family’s estate plan was especially reassuring in late summer when Smith was diagnosed with a staph infection. The bacteria entered his bloodstream at a bruised toenail and settled in his left knee replacement, requiring intravenous antibiotics every four hours. The infected knee replacement was removed in September and was to be replaced later this fall.

Martin acknowledges that estate planning can be an emotional experience for all people.

“Think of estate planning as a way to express the love you feel for your family members,” he says. “People sometimes say business is business and love is separate, but I do not find that to be the case at all. Passing on assets is an expression of love. However, the love one holds for one’s child is not the only factor. One must also consider financial practicalities as well as the work and commitment of various family members.”

He acknowledges the questions are difficult.

“How do you fairly divide a family farm or ranch among several siblings when only one shows any interest in running it?”

Martin offers a few tips.

• You do not need to decide exactly who gets what before visiting an attorney. An experienced attorney should be able to help you solidify your goals and give you options to obtain those goals. An attorney may have some tools to help you achieve your goals that you might not have been aware of.

• Proper planning can shelter a family’s assets from federal estate taxes and reduce income taxes.

• Some parents say they will let their kids fight it out, but that is a terrible idea. Have a plan in place to avoid conflict.

Martin says every client’s situation and goals are unique.

“Engage in planning if you care about your family,” he says. “Having an estate plan before some crisis or emergency occurs provides peace of mind for you and future generations.”

Farmers rely on accountants in making tough decisions Thu, 8 Dec 2016 11:59:13 -0500 Dianna Troyer Would a robotic milking system be a sound investment for Midway Dairy?

Dairy manager Dave Gerratt asked the question recently during the weekly board meeting of Ida-Gold Farms’ general partners in southeastern Idaho.

The third-generation family business includes a 4,000-cow dairy north of Malta and a sprawling 8,000-acre farm that produces potatoes, alfalfa, grain and corn. Gerratt’s cousin, Todd Gerratt, oversees crop production.

To answer the question, they turned to their certified public accountants at Condie Stoker and Associates in nearby Rupert.

“A financial analysis showed we couldn’t cover our existing debt while adding more debt with a new robotic system,” Gerratt says. “It would have worked if we were building a new facility or were debt-free.”

For the Gerratts, their accountants are indispensable.

“We need to know the unit cost of production, whether it’s 100 pounds of milk, a bushel of wheat, or a 100-pound sack of potatoes,” Gerratt says. “When agreeing to contracts, we make our decisions based on that information.”

The Gerratts have relied on the Rupert accounting firm for more than two decades. The accountants’ analysis was crucial several years ago when Ida-Gold expanded into an existing trucking company and a precision fertilizer application business with their joint venture partners Schaeffer Farms, Jones Farms and Circle G Farms.

“We swap equipment and employees,” Todd Gerratt says. “Equipment has become so expensive that we maximize use by putting trucks, equipment and employees wherever they’re needed.”

When the Gerratts’ grandfather, Don, started farming in 1939 south of Burley, the business was uncomplicated and bookkeeping was straightforward. Eventually, Don passed the business to his sons, Rex (Dave’s father), and Larry (Todd’s father).

As Dave and Todd began managing the business, increasingly complex financial issues arose, making an accounting firm essential.

“It’s not just the quarterly financial statements that our clients need to review,” says Ben Brown, a certified public accountant at Condie Stoker who works with the Gerratts. “New income tax laws and changing labor rules affect a business financially, so a good accountant has to inform clients of impending changes.”

For example, a new Labor Department rule concerning overtime pay for salaried employees was to take effect Dec. 1. Employees earning less than $47,476 annually were to receive overtime for the hours they work beyond 40 a week. A federal judge has put the rule on hold for the time being.

“The threshold used to be $23,660,” says Brown, “and it will affect some of Ida-Gold’s 100 employees.”

Whenever Ida-Gold family members consider new ideas to keep their business profitable, Gerratt says, “We ask our accountants to run scenarios, so we can make a good decision.”

Horses mow and bale their own hay Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:13:02 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas Mike Sardinia has a mobile veterinary service he operates from his farm near Clayton, Wash., 30 miles north of Spokane, but his passion is draft horses.

He and his wife, Teri, have 60 acres and 13 draft horses.

“We breed and raise a few, but also have several retired rescue horses, living out their lives at our place,” said Sardinia.

“We mostly raise Clydesdales but we have an old Shire mare who has been with us since she was a baby,” he said. “We adopted a Clydesdale from the vet school, then we bought this Shire filly, and they made our first team.”

At first glance they seemed mismatched — the huge tall Budweiser Clydesdale and the small Shire mare, but they worked well together.

“The little mare had a very long stride for her size, and the big Clydesdale gelding didn’t. Their way of going was amazingly well-matched; they just didn’t look right,” he said. “But looks aren’t everything when trying to get the work done.”

Sardinia has made videos of working with horses — and a movie.

“We go to the Western Regional Clydesdale Show every year to show our horses, and also show that movie to let people know what farming with horses looks like,” he said. “We enjoy the horses, including the retired ones, but we have to feed them. We raise our own hay and put up about 80 ton per year.”

The farm has 25 acres in hay — enough to feed the horses and sell a little.

“This helps pay for keeping the horses, since we have so many retired horses,” Sardinia said. “The working horses do all the work to produce plenty of hay for themselves and a lot more.”

They use two mowers at the same time.

“Teri and I enjoy the horses and do everything together. With the two of us mowing it goes faster. When we give the horses a break we just sit and talk,” Sardinia said.

“The nice thing about when you stop for a break with the horses, everything is quiet,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer than with tractors.”

He and Teri both grew up farming with tractors.

“We enjoy doing our haying with horses because it’s less noisy,” he said. “You can hear the birds and enjoy peaceful surroundings. It’s almost like going back in time, doing the haying and farming without monster machines with cabs and lights.”

They have two balers, also pulled by the horses. They make 50-pound bales.

“It only takes two horses to pull the motorized baler,” he said. “We put four horses on the wheel-drive baler if we don’t put a wagon behind it. We use five or six horses if we have the wagon behind the baler, and we prefer to do that, so we don’t have to go back and pick up bales off the ground.”

They used to do haying for their neighbors, but they’ve expanded their place to the point that they’ve got their hands full.

“Teri and I both have other jobs,” he said. Teri teaches high school and he has his mobile veterinary service.

He plows with horses and says that if you have a good furrow horse everything goes great.

“If I don’t have a good furrow horse, then it’s up to me, and I’m not as good at going straight,” he said.

Horses are smart, and creatures of habit. If you can get them doing the right thing, they continue doing it, he said.

“We don’t own a tractor, so this saves on fuel costs, machinery repairs, maintenance and frustration when things don’t start,” he said.

And tractors can’t reproduce.

Test your horse IQ with this equine quiz Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:08:08 -0500 TERRELL WILLIAMS 1. What is equitation?

2. What is a fetlock?

3. What are skid boots?

4. What are a farrier’s clenches?

5. One of the most famous paintings by Charles M. Russell depicts the calamity of a bucking horse and rider smashing through the morning camp. What is the title of this 1908 painting?

6. At what age should the average horse have a full set of permanent teeth?

7. What are gut sounds, and what do they mean?

8. What is a Leopard Appaloosa?

9. When is the Kentucky Derby? (Bonus question: What horse won this year?)

10. In horse racing, what is a “win bet?”

11. What is a rowel?

12. At the National Finals Rodeo starting the first week of December in Las Vegas, what are the seven events? (What might be considered the eighth event on the final night?)

13. What is the meaning of a red ribbon tied to a horse’s tail?

14. What boot company, started in El Paso, Texas, in 1912 by the son of Italian immigrants, now has 780 employees and produces 3,100 pairs of boots a day?

15. What is bolting feed?

16. What are eggbutts, French links and bridoons?

17. Complete this old rhyming adage: “Never a bronc that couldn’t ____, and never a cowboy that couldn’t ____.”

18. What are girth galls?

19. What is the poll?

20. What 1944 movie about a difficult horse turned into a champion starred Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney?

BONUS QUESTION: What do you call a pony that won’t do anything you ask?


1. Equitation is another word for horsemanship, which is riding skill, especially with regard to form and control.

2. A fetlock is the lower leg joint above the foot.

3. Skid boots (also called sliding boots) are gear that strap around the fetlocks to protect those joints during sliding stops and other reining moves.

4. Clenches are the shoeing nail ends that are cut off, bent over and squeezed down against the hoof wall to secure the shoe.

5. This C.M. Russell painting is titled, “Bronc to Breakfast.” (A similar, later Russell painting is called, “Camp Cook’s Troubles.”)

6. A full set of permanent teeth arrives at 4 1/2 to five years of age.

7. Gut sounds are the gurgling of digestion, heard by listening with a stethoscope or even the naked ear pressed against the horse’s barrel just behind the last rib. These sounds indicate the stomach and intestines are in normal working condition. A horse with no gut sounds may be a horse in trouble with colic or other digestive problems.

8. A Leopard Appaloosa has white body hair covered all over with dark spots.

9. The Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday in May, won this year by Nyquist.

10. A win bet is a wager that a horse will finish only in first place.

11. A rowel is the pointed wheel of a spur. The length, shape and number of rowels determine the spur’s severity.

12. The seven NFR events are bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Take a bonus point for knowing the clowns’ bull fighting competition at the end (the 10th night) of the rodeo.

13. Used mostly in trail riding, a red ribbon is a warning sign to keep your distance because this horse will kick when crowded.

14. Tony Lama (1887-1974) founded the legendary Tony Lama boot company. A cobbler by trade, he served in the U.S. Army making boots for soldiers, then earned a reputation throughout the Southwest for making top quality custom boots. Some of his original company employees were his six children.

15. Bolting feed is when a horse eats too fast because of being overly hungry, or anxious about another horse taking the food away, or simply having too much nervous anxiety. When a horse bolts his feed, he doesn’t chew it thoroughly, which may result in intestinal blockage.

16. These are three types of the snaffle bit, which is a milder, non-leverage bit.

17. “Never a bronc that couldn’t be rode, and never a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed.”

18. Girth galls are saddle sores made by dirty or poor fitting cinches, saddle pads and saddles.

19. The poll is the highest portion of a horse’s head, behind its ears.

20. That movie classic was National Velvet.

Bonus answer: A recalcitrant little equine is called a “neigh sayer.”

(Sources: The Horseman’s Illustrated Dictionary, The Horse Lover’s Bible and the internet.)


16 to 20: Top Hand

11 to 15: Seasoned Buckaroo

6 to 10: Weekend Wrangler

5 or less: Tenderfoot

Cattleman looks for answers to problems Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:07:30 -0500 JULIA HOLLISTER GLENNVILLE, Calif. — Cattleman Jack Lavers has lived and worked on his ranch in Kern County for most of his life and there are three things he hates: government regulations, negative meat publicity and snow.

First, the snow.

“I don’t see myself sliding down a hill or going on a ski trip,” he said. “No! Snow means feeding cattle. Snow means it’s falling down the back of your neck while riding. It looks so romantic in so many old movies. But not when the truck gets stuck and you have to walk back home just to go back out and get the truck out.”

He said some of his greatest and funniest memories were on those walks back home to get another truck and a chain. He said he would dream of being a football player like Neon Deion Sanders or being a “super-rich cowboy ninja.”

As he got older he started to realize what a cowboy earns, and began thinking of different careers.

Then the itch to ranch returned and income no longer mattered. He decided there is only one thing he wanted to do.

“My family established the ranch in 1858. When I got to high school, my dad made me go work for other ranchers in the area,” Lavers said. “He told me that I would have to learn to be an employee before I ever could be a boss. I’d have to learn how to treat people by how I was treated by my bosses.”

The experiences also broadened his perspective.

“In their operations, maybe they did something different and more profitable than we did,” he said. “Every job I have had has been a learning experience for me and my business.”

The ranch is a cow/calf outfit, and the majority of the cattle are Red Angus crosses.

Lavers also raises American Quarter Horse Association horses.

He said he remembers when he was younger that they were “horse poor” and the price to buy a new horse was a tough pill to swallow. He started raising horses to make sure he would never be in that position again. 

“The only thing that is unique to our operation is that every generation has bought out the previous generation,” he said. “Nobody has just been given anything.” 

Lavers said this time of year is generally down time — putting out supplement, checking water and fences, and moving cows here and there — nothing too extreme.

But the downfall of down time is he can see what the government has done to his bottom line. 

“Every year it gets harder and harder to be successful,” he said. “The burdensome regulations are not only taking time out of an already short day, but every new regulation always finds its way into my checking account.”

He offered some examples.

“Ever heard of diesel exhaust fluid? No? How about SGMA (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act)?” he said. “Wait until there is no more hay being grown in California due to SGMA.” 

Lavers has another “beef.”

“Outside of regulation, I think dealing with the negative publicity, from ‘No Meat Mondays’ to the U.N. using faulty science and climate change to call for a meat tax or the reluctance to promote American beef are the biggest obstacles for our industry,” he said.  “I think our marketing and beef ads seem to be lacking. Now obviously that is as overly simplified as it gets.”

He contends members of the beef associations are always talking about telling their story yet they won’t promote American beef. They are promoting global beef.

“The only company promoting local meat, and I say this loosely, is Wendy’s,” Lavers said. “They point out in their commercials that some companies bring meat all the way from Australia, but not Wendy’s. Their meat comes from right here in North America. We got rid of (Country of Original Labels) and look what happened to our market.”

He sees ways to attack the problem.

“So much of the problem is described as a lack of a cash market,” he said. “OK, let’s fix that. How about cutting the packer contracts so that a minimum of 50 percent of the market is cash. Or maybe, as an industry, we should start looking at antitrust laws.”

Brothers raise cattle for high desert Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:22:22 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas The Duckett brothers grew up on a ranch in Oregon, went to college, then worked at other jobs.

A few years later they decided they wanted their families and children to have the same opportunities they had as kids, growing up on a ranch.

Matt Duckett purchased some registered cows in 2005, and they went into partnership on an Idaho ranch in 2007. Their cows are wintered along the Snake River and summered near Cascade and Donnelly, Idaho.

“In 2007 Adam and I started acquiring registered cows from some of the best purebred Angus and Hereford operations in the western U.S.,” Matt said.

Their objective is to raise cattle that will work in the high desert environment.

“In our program, three-quarters of our cow herd is Angus and one-quarter is Hereford,” he said. “We also farm in Canyon and Owyhee counties, raising forage, row crops and seed crops and do custom haying and straw baling.”

In 2014 they built a backgrounding lot on one of their places near Melba.

“We grow a lot of feed, and can feed cattle fairly reasonably,” Matt said. They background cattle for some of the best cattle feeders in the Northwest.

“Our long-term goal is to feed some of our bull customers’ calves and gather data on how these calves perform in the feedlot. We’ll use that information to help us improve our genetic selection,” he said.

The breeding program includes artificial insemination and embryo transfer, using proven sires to produce cattle that excel on the ranch, in the feedlot and on the rail.

“We want to provide genetics our customers need to be competitive and profitable,” he said.

“The genetics we select will also be our future females — our bull-making factories. The main criteria when evaluating sires is whether we’ll be happy with their daughters when they go into our herd.” he said. “If a bull doesn’t pass that test we don’t look at him any farther.”

This is a family operation. “Adam and I started from scratch. This coming year will be our ninth season selling bulls.”

Their sale is the second Tuesday in February and is held at the ranch. Many of the bulls go to the same customers who have bought them the past nine years.

Matt and Adam are involved in the cattle industry. Matt is treasurer of the Idaho Cattle Association. Adam serves on the board of directors for the Owhyee Cattlemen’s Association and is on the board of directors of Leadership Idaho Agriculture. They have gone to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional delegations to advocate for agriculture issues.

“The last three years at our bull sale we donated a registered Angus heifer and auctioned her off to raise money for the Idaho Cattle Association and Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association. We also asked local businesses to make donations or buy the heifer and sell her again to raise more money,” Matt said.

They’ve raised $40,000 for the Owyhee 68 litigation, which involves a challenge of 68 grazing permits in that county.

“These are important issues for our friends and neighbors and impact many of our customers,” he said.

Matt and his wife, Pyper, have four children. Adam and his wife, Stephanie, have three. The kids enjoy the ranch, helping with cattle, farming and other chores.

Adam and his family live at their ranch south of Marsing, near Melba, along the Snake River. Matt and his family live on the Canyon County side of the river. Matt oversees the purebred operation while Adam handles the farming and the feedlot.

3 Sisters Beef a family effort Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:20:47 -0500 Margarett Waterbury 3 Sisters Beef, a 600-acre family farm and ranch on Whidbey Island, Wash., has seen its fair share of change over the last five generations.

But every time the Muzzall family faced a challenge, they adapted, and today they’re one of Western Washington’s most prominent direct-market 100 percent grass-fed beef producers.

Not long ago, 3 Sisters was primarily a dairy farm.

“We were milking 200 cows when we got out,” explains co-owner Ron Muzzall. “But we really felt the ups and downs of the dairy business. So we started looking for ways to mitigate that commodity price swing. About 15 years ago, we started growing the beef cattle operation.”

By 2006, the Muzzalls had exited dairy altogether. While beef is their biggest business — their current herd is about 400 mother cows. They also raise hogs, lambs and fryers to keep the farm diversified.

They sell most of their beef directly to consumers, but also operate an onsite market and sell to local grocery stores and restaurants.

Once a rural community, Whidbey Island is rapidly urbanizing, and the ranch is adapting to more traffic, more neighbors and a different kind of clientele.

Initially, that pressure was a challenge for 3 Sisters Beef. As the community became more crowded, neighbors began complaining about the truck traffic and early morning noise that comes with running a dairy.

After switching from dairy to beef and beginning direct marketing, those challenges from the community vanished. “Those obstacles are now our customer base,” Ron says. “We do a lot of marketing within the community. Every five years, we have an open house, and last year we had 2,500 people show up. We get a ton of vacationers, weekenders and seasonal people, so we’ve become an avenue for them to taste part of the community in their meals, and to take something home.”

But all that outreach is a lot of work.

“My advice to any producer starting down the direct marketing path is this: 25 percent of the work is raising the animal, 25 percent is getting it butchered, and the remaining 50 percent is marketing,” Ron says. “The amount of time we spend on customer service is incredible.”

Through it all, 3 Sisters Beef has remained a family enterprise: Shelly and Ron Muzzall operate the farm in partnership with their three daughters: Jennifer, Jessica and Roshel.

“Each of the girls owns a share in the business,” Ron says. “And having them involved has been a real asset.”

One of the first projects the younger generation started was marketing the business online.

“Social media is a huge asset to farms,” Jennifer says. “When I got back to the farm, there was no social media. Now, we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and a website. The consumer wants that story and the connection with their food.”

Social media also gives 3 Sisters Beef a chance to tell their story, and Ron says it resonates.

“People really like to get involved with that team effort. We have three millennials willing to work, to sacrifice, to look at the future. That isn’t a very common thing.”

Father, daughter follow holistic strategies Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:19:19 -0500 Margarett Waterbury On Lazy R Ranch, a 1,000-acre, third-generation cattle ranch in Cheney, Wash., cattle aren’t just a profitable business venture, they’re a critical tool for managing the ecosystem.

Together with his daughter, Beth Robinette, rancher Maurice Robinette cares for a herd of 140 to 160 Angus cattle. All of their beef is sold directly to consumers, with most of their clients located around Spokane.

Lazy R Ranch relies on a philosophy called holistic management, a system developed by a Zimbabwean wildlife biologist and farmer named Allan Savory that views land, plants and animals as integrated and interdependent.

“Nature functions in wholes,” Maurice says, “which means that everything is related to and has an impact on everything else.”

Maurice’s first professional encounter with holistic management came in 1995, when he participated in a five-year holistic management project with Washington State University. By 1996, he had begun implementing holistic management practices on his own farm, and he quickly became an advocate and educator.

“Think about environments where predators are free to pursue large herbivores,” Maurice continues. “Like Canada with caribou and buffalo, or Africa with wildebeest and zebra. The predator/prey dynamic keeps animals closely bunched and moving all the time, so they don’t return to re-graze the same place. Over millions of years, grass has evolved to grow in those conditions. So when you duplicate that, grass grows better.”

To that end, Lazy R Ranch uses a planned grazing system that moves cattle among pastures that range in size from just one-third acre to 150 acres. The strategy allows grass to rest a long time between grazings, at least 90 days, and sometimes up to 500 days.

Longer rests between grazing allows grasses to develop deeper roots and hold more moisture, a critical consideration in Eastern Washington, where only 15 inches of rain falls on average each year.

The system has repercussions well beyond the confines of the ranch itself. Holistic management sees pasture and grassland restoration as a powerful tool in the fight against rising atmospheric carbon. By increasing the organic matter of soil, growers can sequester carbon while increasing fertility and water retention. Over the past 15 years, Maurice says he’s been able to triple the carbon content of his soil.

Now, Lazy R Ranch is also an official hub of the Savory Institute, an international nonprofit founded by the inventor of the holistic management system.

As the first hub in the U.S., Maurice regularly hosts educational groups interested in seeing holistic management principles at work. On top of all that, Maurice still plays an active role in a nonprofit called Roots of Resilience, which advocates holistic management in the Northwest. It’s enough to send even the most energetic rancher searching for help — which, for Maurice, came in the form of his daughter, Beth, who returned to help run the family business a few years ago.

“Until five years ago I was a one-man show, with occasional help from my neighbors. But now that my daughter is here, everything’s working better,” laughs Maurice “I’m so glad she’s here. She’s coming around real good.”

Brothers have ranching in their blood Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:18:28 -0500 Craig Reed ROSEBURG, Ore. — Cattle and sheep were in Cody and Lee Sandberg’s DNA from the time they were born. The brothers, now in their 30s, have always been around livestock.

Their parents, George and Cathy Sandberg, had cattle and sheep and the boys had livestock projects during their 4-H and FFA years.

Now Cody Sandberg, 35, runs a 3,000-head operation that includes Angus and Angus-Hereford cross cows and calves and Suffolk and Suffolk-Dorsett cross ewes and lambs. He owns some property, but also leases ground for his livestock.

Lee Sandberg, 31, and his wife, Erin Sandberg, 25, own 80 cows, most of them Angus. Erin also has an agricultural background as her family has a cattle ranch in the Ashland, Ore., area. In addition to tending to their cattle, Lee is a firefighter/paramedic with the city of Roseburg and Erin is a hairdresser three days a week.

The couple has registered stock and sells bulls to other ranches. They also have some animals that produce meat for the commercial market. They lease ground for their animals.

Both businesses are headquartered in the Roseburg area of central Douglas County.

While the brothers have separate operations, they do have a piece of ground they hay together and loan equipment back and forth. Occasionally, when needed, they’ll help each other.

“We’ve had livestock since we were little kids, way back,” said Cody Sandberg. “We were always around livestock because our parents had both sheep and cattle.”

“It’s definitely not for the money,” Lee Sandberg said of having a cattle business. “But it’s a lifestyle I was raised in, that my wife was raised in, and it is something we want to raise our family in and around.”

Lee and Erin are expecting their first child in December.

“You are your own boss, you’re able to be out with Mother Nature,” Lee Sandberg said of ranching. “There are multiple things to do and challenges on a daily basis, but when you’re raised in it, you have a passion for it.”

The brothers agreed that what they learned most from their parents was a work ethic.

“Work until the work is done and don’t worry about the pay until another day,” Lee Sandberg said.

“Without a work ethic, you won’t be much of a rancher,” Cody Sandberg said.

Cody Sandberg has a 7-year-old daughter, Reece, who is following in her father’s footsteps. She enjoys helping in the lambing barn and helps pen sheep.

Cody Sandberg direct markets most of his cows and lambs after taking them from birth to finish on grass pastures. Through a distributor, the beef goes to store chains and the lamb goes to restaurants and stores.

“You get out of it what you put into it,” Cody Sandberg said of his operation. “I get to see my product from the very beginning all the way to the end. You get to see your accomplishments.”

Lee and Erin Sandberg also direct market their beef. In many cases, they are able to meet the people who are buying and eating their product.

“My wife and I have the theory that is: You take care of the land, take care of the animals, they’ll take care of you,” Lee Sandberg said. “Take care of the property, take care of God’s creation, they’ll take care of you.”

The brothers said they expect to be in the livestock business for a long time and hope to pass the livelihood on to their children.

“I’m sure I’ll be running cows and sheep until they put me in the ground, and then I hope by then, my daughter will be interested and will carry on.”

Rancher learns business from the ground up Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:17:19 -0500 Margarett Waterbury In 2004, Wapato, Wash., resident Janelle Moses had a nasty bout of food poisoning.

Afterwards, she swore off store-bought meat — but she wasn’t willing to give up meat altogether. For Moses, that meant just one thing: time to learn how to do things herself.

Although she’d never farmed before, her family has a long history in agriculture, and Moses was no stranger to hard work. Before starting her cattle ranch, Holy Cow, Moses was a truck driver. Before that, she owned a general contracting company.

“I think it was having dirt in my blood, being a farmer’s daughter,” says Moses. “At the age of 50, I said, ‘I can do this.’”

She began by learning everything she could. “I would read anything and everything I could get ahold of,” she laughs. Moses names Washington State University and their Extension programs as a key resource, and credits her veterinarian with helping her gain the first-hand knowledge of animal husbandry that she needed.

Motivated by a desire to produce exceptionally flavorful beef, Moses opted for a combination of certified Angus and Limousin genetics in her herd: Angus for marbling, and Limousin for structure and docility.

Known as the “butcher’s breed,” Limousin cattle are long-bodied — Moses describes them as “a weenie dog in a beef body” — which means they produce more desirable loin cuts like T-bones and rib eyes per animal than many other breeds.

While Limousin cows aren’t the most food-efficient breed, they are hardy and docile, both important considerations for Moses, as she manages her herd of over 100 animals without any employees.

Like many ranchers, Moses thinks of herself as a grass-grower first. Her animals are grass-fed and grass-finished, and Moses grows all of her own feed on the farm from a custom blend of five grass varieties, as well as alfalfa.

“Cows weren’t born to eat corn,” says Moses. “Being able to move around and graze is essential for them.”

Animal welfare was also a key consideration for Moses. Calves live with their mothers their whole lives, and a mobile butcher visits the farm periodically for slaughter and processing.

All of Holy Cow’s beef is sold directly to consumers around the Northwest, and customers can request custom cuts from their animals.

“It’s great for customers to be able to trace their food directly from the farmer, to the butcher, to their table,” Moses says.

Holy Cow’s quality-focused approach seems to be working. In 2012, Moses was named Farmer of the Year by the Wapato Chamber of Commerce, the first woman to receive that honor.

For Moses, it just goes to show that it’s never too late to make a major career change. “I think if you put your whole heart into something, and you dream about where you want to go in life and what you want to do, I think God will open up those doors and you will be able to do it.”

Blackford cattle perform well in harsh conditions Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:14:51 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas Steve Teichert comes from a four-generation ranching family. He now lives at Mackay, Idaho, where he raises efficient cattle he calls Blackfords — half Angus, half Hereford.

“I grew up in Wyoming and lived there 45 years. The best cattle there were black-baldy cows. Most ranchers used bulls of a third breed to make a terminal cross. But the biggest problem with that program is the black-baldy cow was the best cow they had, and they couldn’t keep any replacement heifers,” Teichert said.

In the 1950s and 1960s his family raised registered Herefords and had a large herd of commercial Herefords.

“I started using the best Angus bulls I could find, on my registered Hereford cows, to produce F1 females. The black white-faced cow was superior in all aspects,” he said.

“I started my Blackford program, breeding F1 females to F1 bulls. We keep them half and half. Some of the bulls we have now are 25 generations of halfbloods on halfbloods,” he said.

As long as you keep the mix half-and-half it works well. It doesn’t matter which breed the bull is, to create that first cross, as long as the bull and the cow are selected for the traits you want.

“My personal preference (but it depends on the individual cow or bull) is to use a Hereford bull. I like the black cow a little better than the Hereford cow, and the Hereford bull better than an Angus bull,” he said.

The Hereford bull is more fertile, with more longevity, fewer breeding injuries, and will cover more cows in rough conditions.

“Black bulls often shade up in hot weather, or spend more time fighting each other than breeding,” Teichert said.

The Angus cow is a good mother and tends to have a better udder than the Hereford cow.

“I prefer to put up with Hereford bulls rather than Angus bulls. The Blackford bulls are also better than Angus bulls for breeding cows. Crossbred bulls are the most fertile and cover more cows,” he said.

“I’ve been playing with Blackford cattle since early 1970s. I’ve made many mistakes, but probably the reason I made so many is that no one else has tried what I’m doing. Once I got the kinks out of this breeding program, the cattle are phenomenal.”

As a geneticist, Teichert wanted to create a better breed of cattle through crossbreeding.

“I studied all the other breeds and composites — including Brangus, Santa Gertrudis, Beefmaster, et cetera — and decided the most important trait for cattle is fertility. So I used the two most fertile beef breeds — Angus and Hereford,” he said.

About 85 percent of the calves are born in the first 21 days of calving season. He does some AI work, but doesn’t synchronize.

“I’ve lived in five different Western states during my lifetime and I want cattle that work in every environment,” he said. “The Blackfords have worked very well in every environment I’ve been in.”

Other breeds may not always work.

“Eared cattle (with Brahman influence) don’t do very well in cold country. In Nevada, where I lived awhile, some cattle can’t handle that rough environment and traveling; they may have to walk 10 miles to water. But the Blackford cattle excel everywhere,” he said.

The Blackford breed association was created in the 1970s.

“To be registered, the cattle must be half and half — from an Angus bull and a Hereford cow or vice versa,” he said. “This first cross can be put back on black baldy cows. If you have half of each, you can register that animal. Often the choice in how a person crosses these two breeds is whether they have a superior black cow or a superior Hereford cow.”

No ‘usual’ days for this cattlewoman Thu, 1 Dec 2016 10:10:58 -0500 JULIA HOLLISTER GLENVILLE, Calif. — Rancher Sheila Bowen has a full plate. She works on the family’s commercial cow-calf operation, raises quarter horses and is president of the California CattleWomen.

“My husband’s family has been ranching in Glennville (Kern County) since the 1870s,” she said. “My husband, Jeff Bowen, manages the Carver Bowen Ranch operation that is made up of English Cross cattle.”

She grew up on a farm near Bakersfield, where her family raises cattle and farms cotton, alfalfa and some other rotational crops. The land has been in the family since the 1860s.

“Six generations have lived and worked on our ranch,” she said.

Jeff and his sister, Cindy, manage the ranch with their parents, Carver and Alice Bowen. Jeff and Sheila’s daughter, Alicia Bowen, works on the ranch as well.

Jeff’s father attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, majoring in agriculture. Cindy Bowen graduated from the University of California-Davis with a degree in animal science.

“Jeff and I both attended Cal Poly and majored in agriculture business management,” she said. “All four of our children graduated from Cal Poly with various agriculture degrees.”

The topography of the ranch is unique. The cattle run on rangeland from an elevation of around 500 to 8,000 feet. The cattle spend the winter at lower elevations and move to higher elevations in the spring and summer. The ranch has a U.S. Forest Service allotment where some of the cattle spend the summer.

Sheila Bowen sees a change in ranching today.

“I believe there are more women involved in ranching today than five years ago,” she said. “This is the case on our ranch. Women outnumber men two-to-one right now.”

Bowen said there are no “usual” days on the ranch.

“This time of year I help to gather cattle out of the high country, wean and process calves, and move cattle to lower range,” she said. “Some parts of my day are devoted to working on California CattleWomen business.”

As president of the 2,050-member organization — created to promote the beef industry — she has a variety of tasks that need to be done daily.

She says ranching in California is not easy, and the daily challenges are getting bigger.

“It is getting harder and harder to ranch in California,” she said. “The regulations imposed by the government require more and more time and money in order to comply. Coupled with that is a five-year drought that has taken a toll on ranch resources including feed, water and cattle inventory.”

Conversely, she said, cattle ranching continues to be a wonderful way of life.

“Living and working on the ranch provide unique opportunities to experience God’s creation,” she said. “Each day’s work offers something different than the day before and each season brings its own beauty and set of responsibilities. We are committed to providing a healthy food supply through the proper care of the cattle we raise and provide for on this ranch.”

Willamette Valley Ag Expo marks its 16th year Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:43:31 -0500 Geoff Parks It’s been 16 years since the first Willamette Valley Ag Expo, and it keeps growing with every passing year.

The Willamette Valley Ag Expo begins its 16th year on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and finishes its three-day run on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, in Albany, Ore.

Expo hours are:

• Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Thursday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The sponsoring Willamette Valley Agriculture Association is a nonprofit educational and trade organization whose members are either exhibitors or sponsors of the Expo, or both.

Proceeds from the Expo go toward the WVAA’s college scholarships, said association manager Jill Ingalls. She and her husband, Scott, the Expo producer, have been the force behind the successful event for the past decade-and-a-half.

“The Willamette Valley Ag Expo is 16 years strong and growing,” said Jill Ingalls. “The event just keeps getting bigger.

“For 16 years, I’ve been blessed to work with this industry and the amazing people that live and breathe agriculture,” she said. “I learn something new all the time. It’s so rewarding to see this event continue to thrive and change along with agriculture in Oregon.”

Scott Ingalls is equally enthusiastic.

“From a production standpoint, this is a fun show to put together,” he said. “Because the vendors own the show, everyone is very cooperative and share in each other’s success. I see that throughout the show, from load-in to load- out, it goes smoothly and the vendors are always helpful and supportive.”

He said he looks forward to the Ag Expo every year.

“We’ve been blessed to have basically the same staffing for the last 14 or 15 years, so every one of our people know what they’re doing and know all the vendors,” he said. “That makes it pretty easy for me.”

The Linn County Fair & Expo Center allows the Expo to spread out over 250,000 square feet for exhibitors, equipment, seminars, classes and food.

Dine Around Oregon is the show-stopper of the Expo, and will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16. The cost of the meal would be more than $30 anywhere else, Jill Ingalls said, but at the Expo sponsors and partners bring the cost down to just $12.

A chock-full agenda of training classes and educational opportunities are also provided each year as part of the Expo.

The Willamette Valley Ag Expo is open to visitors of all ages. Current FFA and 4-H participants are encouraged to attend.

Admission is $4 per person and parking is free.

Willamette Valley Ag Expo at a glance Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:42:54 -0500 Willamette Valley Ag Expo

Linn County Fair and Expo Center

Albany, Ore.

Nov. 15, 16 and 17

• 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

Board of directors

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

• Carl Laux, Pape Machinery

• Mike Brown, DeJong Products

• Steve Prouty, NW 94 Sales

• Stacy Koos, Citizens Bank

• Andy Steinkamp, Wilco

• Terry Marstall, Les Schwab Tires

Expo managers

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


Dynamic board keeps Ag Expo on right track Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:32:38 -0500 Geoff Parks The French have a saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

That’s the perfect tagline for the makeup of the Willamette Valley Ag Expo’s nine-member board of directors.

The board members are nominated by the WVAE membership and each serves a minimum three-year term. They are elected at the annual meeting of the organization, which usually takes place on the final morning of the Expo during the exhibitor breakfast meeting.

The Expo board makeup has changed little through the years, but each change has been seamless, keeping its dynamic stable and smooth.

The most recent change involved one of the original board members, Tom Wells, who left Salem for another ag-industry opportunity in Othello, Wash.. He was replaced by Carl Laux of Papé Machinery. But that just means the Expo will stay the same as it has for the past 15 years — on an upward path of success.

“Tom had been on our board since the beginning, and always had good input about the farm economy, trends and ideas on how to move the focus of the event to remain relevant and on top of the curve,” said Jill Ingalls, Willamette Valley Ag Association manager. “He just had a great perspective, and we miss him a bunch.”

Wells also had praise for the Expo.

“The event has exceeded all of our expectations,” Wells said of the successful, growing Willamette Valley Ag Expo. “The reason being is we filled a niche left by another show that addressed the ag industry,” but which couldn’t handle the larger equipment.

Wells also noted the Expo’s important ag scholarship program, informational seminars and classes — including pesticide certification courses — and the “pleasant surprise” of the three-day event, Dine Around Oregon.

“That event (Dine Around Oregon) gave that Wednesday evening time slot a whole new dynamic,” Wells said. “The pulse and vibe of that event has really given the show a new life.”

The Expo board in 2016 is a mix, which includes long-serving members such as Bill Lusk of Ag West, the chairman; Eric Fery of Ag Chains Plus, the event’s vice chairman; and Don Kropf of Linn-Benton Tractor, secretary.

Seasoned members such as treasurer Terry Marstall of Les Schwab Tires, Steve Prouty of NW 94 Sales, Mike Brown of DeJong Products and Stacy Koos of Citizens Bank are joined by relative newcomers Andy Steinkamp of Wilco and Laux of Papé Machinery.

Valuable classes seminars offered Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:35:51 -0500 Geoff Parks The Oregon Department of Agriculture pollinator program and the Oregonians for Food and Shelter will team up to sponsor the CORE pesticide training and credit hours on Tuesday and Thursday, Nov. 15 and 17, during this year’s Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

Jill Ingalls, WVAE event coordinator, said no registration is required for the 2- and 4-hour sessions.

Here’s the lineup for classes that will be presented at the Expo:

Kaci Buhl of Oregon State University will be the instructor on Nov. 15 and 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The session will help participants determine what Worker Protection Standards requirements apply to their operations and how to comply, including exceptions, restrictions, exemptions, options, and examples. Additionally, new training requirements for handler and worker employees will be covered.

Melissa Scherr of the ODA will be the instructor for pollinator protection classes from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 17. Participants must attend all three hours, two CORE plus one other.

Scherr is in charge of developing the Oregon Managed Pollinator Protection Plan, and will teach on “Pollinator Protection: Declines, Pesticide Exposure and Developing Best Management Practices for Oregon Agriculture.”

Ingalls also said the Expo will offer free forklift training and certification tests from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, by Overton Safety, with driving tests to follow. The class includes written and driving requirements. Class size is limited, and advance registration is available online at

Full schedule of events at this year’s Expo Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:34:02 -0500 Meeting

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


10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CORE training. No registration required — 2-4 credit hours (repeated Thursday). Kaci Buhl of Oregon State University will discuss Worker Protection Standards (2 CORE). In January, new standards for agriculture and forestry operators go into effect. This session will help you determine which WPS requirements apply to your operation and how to comply, including exceptions, restrictions, exemptions, options and examples. New training requirements for employees will also be covered.

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch Break

1:30-4:30 p.m. Pollinator Protection (2 CORE + 1 other). Melissa Scherr, Oregon Department of Agriculture, will talk about pollinator declines, pesticide exposure and developing best management practices. Scherr is developing the Oregon Managed Pollinator Protection Plan. You must attend all three hours; 2 CORE plus 1 Other.


Pennington Seed Growers Breakfast (by invitation)


1-3 p.m. Forklift Certification Training (free with admission) with driving test to follow. Includes written and driving requirements, provided free by Overton Training. Class size is limited. Advance registration:

1-2 p.m. CPR/AED Training. Participants will review and practice emergency procedures that prepare them to act in breathing- and cardiac-related emergencies with adult and pediatric victims.

Demonstrations and practice on mannequins are offered. Includes skills test. AED — Automated External Defibrillator — device operation will be demonstrated. Certificate will be presented upon completion.

5-9 p.m. Dine Around Oregon. Enjoy a unique progressive dinner featuring Oregon foods. Tickets:


10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CORE training. No registration required — 2-4 credit hours. Kaci Buhl of Oregon State University will discuss Worker Protection Standards (2 CORE). In January, new standards for agriculture and forestry operators go into effect. This session will help you determine which WPS requirements apply to your operation and how to comply, including exceptions, restrictions, exemptions, options and examples. New training requirements for employees will also be covered.

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch Break

1:30-4:30 p.m. Pollinator Protection (2 CORE + 1 other). Melissa Scherr, Oregon Department of Agriculture, will talk about pollinator declines, pesticide exposure and developing best management practices. Scherr is developing the Oregon Managed Pollinator Protection Plan. You must attend all three hours; 2 CORE plus 1 Other.

Volunteers help make Expo a success Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:31:50 -0500 Geoff Parks The smooth running of the Willamette Valley Ag Expo each year always comes down to a firm reliance on the dedicated volunteers who set up, keep running and tear down the event each year.

For the individual volunteers, that usually means starting at the bottom rung of jobs and working their way up over the years — always with a smile on their face.

“I started as a ‘gruntling,’” said 8-, 9- or 10-year Expo volunteer Rich Riffle, who says he’s lost count.

He said he started off helping with general purpose setup and teardown, then worked his way up “to a ‘Gruntling,’ with a capital G — though I’ve been a building superintendent at the Expo for most of my career at the show.”

A former Benton County sheriff’s deputy and Adair Village police chief, Riffle, 58, moved to Scappoose from the Corvallis area after retiring. But continues to dedicate himself to a long stretch of hard work at the Expo each November — starting with the commute to Albany.

“I’m more or less a stage hands coordinator,” he said.

He started his volunteer work at the Expo after he met event producer Scott Ingalls about a decade ago as he was carrying out his duties as a sheriff’s deputy.

“We met at the Benton County Fair, where he was doing marketing work and we became fast friends,” Riffle said of Ingalls. “He mentioned the Willamette Valley Ag Expo and said, ‘Hey, I need your help,’ and that’s how I started.

“I mostly just do it for Scott and Jill (Ingalls, Scott’s wife and manager of the Expo-sponsoring Willamette Valley Ag Association).”

He said the three-day event is actually a four-day challenge each year for the crowd of volunteers.

“We’ve got to set up before the first day of the show, then keep things going for three days and get out with the rest of the crews on Thursday evening,” Riffle said.

Linn Benton Tractor offers many lines of equipment Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:31:00 -0500 Geoff Parks Don and Vivian Kropf started Linn Benton Tractor in Tangent, Ore., steadily growing the business for 26 years to the point that they were able to establish a second location in Silverton.

A multi-line dealership, Linn Benton Tractor highlights the Kubota tractors, implements, accessories and other equipment, both new and used, but also features other high-quality lines such as Krone, Land Pride, Great Plains, Vermeer, Hustler, Walker Mowers, Trioliet, Echo and MacDon.

They stay on the cutting edge, said Suzy Worthington, assistant to Don Kropf.

“We like to keep consistent with our current customers,” she said, noting that the company is “excited to introduce the latest line” — products from the Finnish company Avant, including “internationally acclaimed and innovative Avant loaders.”

Avant’s plant in Finland has manufactured more than 45,000 loaders, she said.

She added that more than 150 different kinds of attachments make Avant a “very multi-functional loader,” that, along with other loaders and attachments “are being actively developed based on customer feedback.”

Linn Benton Tractor’s sales team sells implements, construction equipment, compact utility tractors, farm tractors, landscape rakes, chippers, excavators, riding lawn mowers and a wide selection of other equipment.

“We have 80-plus years of ag and outdoor power sales experience,” Worthington said.

The Kubota line of ag equipment is also well-represented at Linn Benton Tractor’s two stores. Sales leaders include the newer M6-series of tractors — the M6-101, M6-111, M6-131 and M6-141 — which feature clean-diesel engines that consistently meet Environmental Protection Agency low-emission standards. The series also features high crop clearance, automatic four-wheel-drive and high-capacity 3-point hitches.

Linn Benton Tractor employs 50-plus professionals between the two locations, and serves the entire state of Oregon.

Ag Chains Plus offers solutions for customers Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:29:41 -0500 Geoff Parks Eric Fery and Cindy Octobre answer all questions about their company’s farm equipment belts, chains, bushings, collars, couplers and the like in the same way: “Come to us for solutions!”

The brother-and-sister tandem has turned their six-year-old company, Ag Chains Plus, from a small local supplier business housed in a tiny space into an independent, bursting-at-the-seams business on the lookout for further expansion. All just four years after moving into the Stayton industrial area.

Ag Chains Plus provides belting and lacing products for the food industry, lumber mills, aggregate firms and farm equipment.

It also sells power transmission products to the agricultural industry, roller chains, sprockets, belts, sheaves, bearings, electric motors — “things to make harvesters move, planters run and the like,” said Fery, 50.

“We grew up in this business,” Octobre said of their lives prior to starting Ag Chains Plus. “Eric’s lived around here his whole life and we both grew up on a farm (row crops) and we’ve been in this industry for years.”

They make their money, she said, when they are both on the road doing sales and deliveries, each with their own territories, clientele and business circuits around the Willamette Valley.

The company makes special deliveries and offers consulting services for winter maintenance, business expansion and custom design.

Business has grown consistently since the year it was started, Octobre said.

“There was a niche, a hole, a void that needed to be filled in this industry and we are very dedicated to the people that we have served over the years,” Fery said, explaining their beginnings at Ag Chains Plus.

Fery is also vice chairman of the Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

He said the Expo is much like his and his sister’s company in that it is “all about the farmer and getting the up-to-date technology and components in front of the farmer so they have the opportunity to go, ‘I never knew about that.’”

“When you come to the Expo, we’re going to show you everything that’s out there, from drones, to GPS tracking, to the latest combine swather and put it right out there in front of you,” he said.

Ag Chains Plus will be at Booth 220 in the Willamette Events Center at the Willamette Valley Ag Expo.

Collector adds exotic antiques to exhibit Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:28:15 -0500 Geoff Parks Jack Lang of Monmouth, Ore., isn’t bringing a time machine to the Willamette Valley Ag Expo’s Antique Tractor Display, but the tractors he’s got in the show this year will take visitors back decades and transport them to other countries.

Lang, 77, who retired from grass seed farming in 2008, said he has been collecting vintage tractors for years, but that year was “the first time I really had time to do this. Farming’s kind of a full-time job, you know.”

Though he said he likes all kinds of antique tractors (and owns about 34 or so), he admits he is “kind of passionate” about foreign tractors.

He said he owns seven British tractors, five Italian tractors, one German tractor “and a whole bunch of American tractors like Olivers, Allis Chalmers, Massey Harris, Massey Ferguson, International Harvester,” he said. But he has no John Deere machines.

“There’s plenty of them around and I wanted something someone else didn’t have,” he said.

He owns three Lamborghini tractors and said the other hyper-fast and hyper-expensive Italian sports car manufacturer, Ferrari, also made tractors at one point. He will take a Lamborghini R704 to the Expo, along with a 1961 McCormick International that was built in England, a 1972 British Leyland and 1961 Oliver.

Some of the other vintage foreign tractors Lang owns — and may bring to the Expo — include a 1961 Ford 600, a 1933 McCormick Deering crawler, a 1960 British David Brown 1200 and a 1954 Allis Chalmers.

“The foreign tractors really pique the interest of the folks who attend the Expo each year,” Lang said. “They see John Deere and other tractors every day, but they sure don’t see a Lamborghini every day.”

About 60 tractors and other antique farm equipment were on display at the Expo last year, Lang said.

Lang has lived on his grass seed farm for 40 years. He said his grandfather was a blacksmith, which is where he got his ability to work with metal in restoring all the old foreign tractors he has collected over the years.

The Antique Farm Equipment Display will be held at the Willamette Valley Ag Expo on Nov. 15-17 in the Cascade Livestock Pavilion on the grounds of the Linn County Fair & Expo Center in Albany.

Scio FFA members pitch in to make Expo a success Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:26:36 -0500 Geoff Parks The Scio FFA chapter’s energetic cadre of students has been the most noticeable face of the Willamette Valley Ag Expo since the beginnings of the event in 2000.

The longtime WVAE-Scio FFA connection is not a contract “written down on paper,” said the chapter’s adviser, Krysta Sprague. “It’s just an understanding that we are going to be the ones that are there when they’re open, take tickets, run things back and forth. It’s exclusive to us.”

“Usually you sign up for different positions (at the WVAE),” said Cassie Hyde, 16, secretary of the Scio FFA chapter. “Last year, I worked every day (at the three-day event).”

At the big Dine Around Oregon event at the Expo, FFA members take tickets, advise people of where things are, run things back and forth to the various areas of the event, serve food and clean up afterwards.

All that work helping the Expo become a successful event for the 16th year in a row pays dividends for the Scio FFA members as well.

“I think it’s and excellent opportunity for our kids,” Sprague said, “because we’re interacting, first of all, with our county, the city of Albany and with agriculture in the Willamette Valley.”

Her students also get a chance to meet with ag business leaders and those working in the ag industry, interact with the public and advocate for agriculture.

“It’s a fundraising opportunity for the students, too, because they (the sponsoring Willamette Valley Ag Association) pay us, which goes directly into the kids’ FFA accounts to pay for trips ... to the state and national conventions,” she said.

Sprague said it costs anywhere from $100 to $150 per student to attend the state convention in the spring and more like $1,000 each for the national convention in the fall.

Kyndal Porter, 16, the Scio FFA historian, and Hyde went to the national FFA convention, Sprague said, so they are doing a lot of fundraising.

These sponsors make Expo, Dine Around Oregon a success Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:23:24 -0500 Here is a list of the many sponsors who have helped make this year’s Willamette Valley Ag Expo and Dine Around Oregon a success.

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

Sunbelt Rentals

Complete Wireless

Peterson Machinery

Farmland Tractor

Citizens Bank


Linn Benton Tractor

Les Schwab Tires

Ag Chains Plus

NW 94 Sales

Crop Production Services

Ag West Supply

Pape Machinery

Northwest Farm Credit Services

Rabo Agrifinance

Fitzpatrick Painting

Overton Safety Training

GK Machine

Oregonians for Food and Shelter


Reed Anderson Ranches

Manning Farms

Oregon Dairy Women

4 Spirits Distillery

Oregon Cattleman’s Association