Capital Press | Spokane Ag Expo Capital Press Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:32:22 -0500 en Capital Press | Spokane Ag Expo Longtime volunteers help Expo Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:41:17 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Longtime volunteers like Brad Hoyt and Bill Nelson are among the many people who keep the Spokane Ag Expo running smoothly.

Brad Hoyt has volunteered for the Spokane Ag Expo for roughly 30 years.

A certified financial planner for Hoyt, Lewis & Associates in Spokane, he grew up on a farm, and wanted to support Greater Spokane Inc.

Bill Nelson has volunteered for roughly 20 years. He also grew up on a farm, and helped on his uncles farm when he moved to Davenport, Wash., in 1956, while working for the local grain supply. He rented a farm for three years before going to work for Calkins Manufacturing for 35 years.

He was part of the first expo, selling farm machinery for Calkins. Several years later, a departing board member recommended Nelson as his replacement.

Hoyt primarily runs move-in and move-out of the expo, and then helps run the show, coordinating the movement of large equipment.

“If they have a question, comment or something that needs to be fixed, I’ve been there, done that,” he said. “Usually I can help with solving the problem or know who to contact to solve the problem.”

Nelson primarily works to help load and unload machinery during the expo. During the week he works at the front gate.

Nelson said he enjoys interacting with former customers and people he used to see while he was working.

“Being retired, it’s a way once a year I can still talk to my farmer friends,” he said. “It’s part of my blood, it’s something I enjoy doing.”

Some of Hoyt’s clients are farmers, but that’s not his primary objective of his job, he said.

“I don’t look at it as trying to get business there, (I’m) trying to help the community,” he said.

He takes off the week of the expo to volunteer.

“It’s not really a vacation, but it’s something different,” he said.

Hoyt enjoys talking with people he’s gotten to know over the years, including manufacturers.

“I enjoy seeing the farmers come to town and enjoy their time here,” he said. “We try to make it so their visit to the expo is worthwhile. We’re always looking for new products, new ideas, new things that are happening in the farming community to bring to their attention.”

Market expert: Production boost weighs down prices Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:41:02 -0500 Matw Weaver Many U.S. farmers saw larger corn, wheat and soybean yields than they expected in 2013, said Kevin Van Trump, an agricultural marketing expert.

“I guess that’s a good problem to have, more bushels than you thought you were going to have at one point in time,” he said. “The bounce back in production is probably the biggest surprise” of the year. Drought reduced yields in many parts of the nation in 2012.

But that bounce in production is helping to weigh down prices, the CEO of Farm Direction in Raymore, Mo., and producer of the daily Van Trump Report said. Wheat prices in particular are having a hard time rallying after several strong years riding the coattails of spiraling corn prices.

Van Trump returns to the Spokane Ag Expo after making his debut in 2013. He delivers his agricultural economics forecast at 9 a.m. Feb. 5 in Salon IV at the DoubleTree Hotel.

“I enjoyed all the people up there, it was a great trip,” Van Trump said of his 2013 experience, noting that he got to chat with a lot of his customers.

Last year, Van Trump predicted big-money players, drawn by opportunity, would enter the commodities markets. This year, he said, some of them are starting to phase out of the agriculture market. In the United States, companies like J.P. Morgan are starting to sell some of their commodity assets.

“They’re actually starting to backpedal a little bit,” he said. “We’re seeing a substantial amount of money being reallocated into the equity side of things. It tends to take some money away from the ag sector.”

That means farmers could see less volatility in prices, but that also reduces the extreme upward price swings that come with that volatility, Van Trump said.

“You might not see prices move that high because there are fewer big players in the game to push that rock up the mountain,” he said.

The major grain market factors Van Trump anticipates in 2014 include foreign competition, with South America having a record soybean crop and the Black Sea region working to become the world’s low-cost provider of wheat and corn.

“The United States has gone from being the world’s leading exporter or bean supplier to now being the residual supplier,” Van Trump said. “Everyone looks for the cheapest stuff they can from the poorer competitors.”

If there’s a long lineup or logistical problems on deliveries, then they’ll turn to the United States, he said.

“That’s going to hurt our exporters and that’s weighing on the minds of some traders,” Van Trump said.

Van Trump advises farmers to work to capture the highest prices while marketing their commodities.

“Trying to reduce our risk is going to be the number one thing,” he said. “Having strategies in place and trying to find ways to eliminate some of the risk and exposure on the downstroke is going to be the key move, for at least the next year or two.”


Students seek out ag career possibilities Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:41:09 -0500 Matw Weaver High school students will hear from agricultural business leaders during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

Last year marked the first time for a panel of agriculture professionals to share with students what drew them to the field. That project, developed by students at Odessa High School in partnership with Greater Spokane Inc.’s AgriBusiness Council, placed first in the nation at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2013.

“The kids worked really hard,” said Terri King, business education teacher and FBLA adviser at Odessa High School. “Any time kids can work really hard at something and be successful, boy, that’s just the best thing we can do for them. It gives them great skills and the confidence to go out in the world and follow their dreams, whatever that’s going to be.”

This year, the theme is “Growing Your Future — What You Didn’t Know about a Career in Agriculture.” The panel will begin at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6 in  Salon IV at the DoubleTree Hotel.

King said the panel furthers the goal of the agribusiness council to promote the industry throughout the region. One of the industry’s greatest needs is finding qualified employees interested in agriculture, she said, and the panel helps students to become more aware of the opportunities available after high school.

As a teacher and a mother, King hopes all students find something they’re passionate about and pursue an education to achieve that goal.

“I hope they leave becoming more aware of some opportunities that they weren’t aware of before,” she said.

The outcome of holding the business panel likely won’t become visible for several years, after students graduate or pursue college. At least eight of the 12 graduates from Odessa last year are pursuing business or agricultural careers of some sort.

“Everything you can do to expose kids to their different opportunities and choices certainly makes a difference,” she said.

This year, King plans to expand the panel beyond a business focus to address other agricultural careers, including mechanics and agronomists.

King hopes the success stories shared by the speakers will help the students realize just how capable they are of getting a college education and having a great career one day.

“Every person who spoke had a message about working hard, not giving up and what it takes to finish college,” she said. “I think that was really powerful. I don’t want them to struggle for a minimum wage job because they don’t feel like they can do anything else.”

Mayor: Ag is an economic driver in Spokane Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:40:49 -0500 Matw Weaver Agriculture is a major economic factor in the region, Spokane’s mayor says.

Agriculture provides an annual economic impact of $587 million and more than 1,500 jobs in the Spokane region, Mayor David Condon said.

“A lot of people don’t think of Spokane County as a farm hub, but I’ve seen we’re the second highest number of farms in the state, with more than 2,500 farms,” he said. The average farm size is 289 acres.

“The reality is, it’s small and medium-sized business and it’s a major economic driver for our community,” he said. “It’s a major lifestyle in our community. We’re still an ag community, but it’s backed up by some pretty serious economic numbers.

“The reality is the ag industry is strong, and it should be strong, but it’s also exciting to hear the magnitude,” he said.

Condon will declare Ag Week in Spokane for a second year during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which take place Feb. 4-6.

Condon said he is also excited to see more wine producers come into the region, and there are discussions about a cork or keg district in Spokane to highlight the growing craft beer industry. Condon also pointed to a growing “farm to fork” phenomenon and an increasing demand for locally grown products.

“It’s exciting to see the interest in that, to see that we can really be leaders in that area,” he said. “I think the urban city dweller is in many ways demanding and looking to the rural parts of our community for a lifestyle.”

These “exploding” agricultural movements appeal to urban residents and have a direct impact on local producers, he said.

He also hopes to see the resurgence of interest in the agriculture industry tied to schools, engaging students in agricultural career fields.

“It has become very popular to talk about science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he said. “Those fields are alive and well in the ag industry.”

FFA students learn to build a good credit score Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:40:41 -0500 Matw Weaver FFA students will get an early start on learning the importance of building good credit card scores at this year’s Spokane Ag Expo.

University of Idaho Extension educators Luke Erickson, of Madison County, and Lyle Hansen, of Jerome County, will present “Credit Score Millionaire” during the FFA program, which begins at 9 a.m. Feb. 6 at the DoubleTree Hotel during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

Erickson and Hansen’s presentation includes a brief animated video of the potential impacts of a credit score on career options and opportunities, and a game show.

“The take home message is that it’s not rocket science to build strong credit, but it is extremely important to know some of the ground rules for building credit properly and for avoiding the common pitfalls that may result in substantial financial losses,” Erickson said.

He said the last few years of high school are a good time to begin educating young adults on credit score benefits and perils.

“The day students turn 18, their credit reports can be accessed by six major industries, including lenders, insurers and employers,” Erickson said. “Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad borrowing decisions to destroy a person’s credit, and it can take years to undo such bad decisions.”

It can also cost tens of thousands of dollars in higher interest and premiums, and untold costs from missed employment opportunities, he said.

Before age 18, teenagers can begin building credit as an authorized user on a parent’s credit card account. Erickson said the key is to become an authorized user only on a responsible person’s account, as that account can both positively or negatively affect students.

At 18, a person can sign up for loans, although it can be difficult without an established credit history. Many turn to payday lenders or other subprime lenders for quick, easy loans, Erickson said, mistakenly thinking this will help establish credit. Subprime loans only build negative history, even when used responsibly.

“The next big mistake is getting a traditional loan like a credit card or an auto loan and missing a few payments here and there,” he said. “It only takes a handful of missed payments to do a lot of damage to a credit score.”

Erickson teaches the Credit Score Millionaire program to a variety of groups, including youth and adults. This will be his first presentation at Spokane Ag Expo.

“I definitely think that FFA students overall are above average when it comes to general skills and levels of responsibility, so I don’t think they are more likely, per se, to end up in a bad credit situation,” he said. “But I do know that no one is immune from potentially negative borrowing decisions unless they are well-educated on how credit works.”


Dump Hunger hopes to fill six dump trucks Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:40:33 -0500 Matw Weaver A Pacific Northwest agricultural equipment dealer hopes to help families in need again this year through its affiliation with the annual Dump Hunger food drive.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum will serve as a drop-off point for Dump Hunger, which is spearheaded at the events each year by Western States Equipment Co.

Annette Gilbertson, Western States credit analyst, said the drive is noteworthy because it starts at the beginning of the year.

“Everybody contributes for the holidays and is generous, but as soon as the holidays are over, contributions slow down tremendously and the need is still there,” she said. “We help the pantries out.”

Dump Hunger runs from Jan. 6 through Feb. 10.

Rod Wieber, chief resource officer for Second Harvest, a food bank in Spokane, said the drive comes at an important part of the year, when food bank lines are long and need is still high.

“Giving is not always top of mind,” he said.

Dump Hunger drive partners like Western States, Albertsons and Wells Fargo have done a “tremendous” job of recognizing that hunger remains a need, Wieber said.

“Over the last few years, the economy has certainly challenged many households,” he said.

Reductions in food stamp programs that began Nov. 1 have created additional challenges, he said.

“For the average household of four that was relying on food stamps, that’s now 15 more missing meals a month with those cuts that went into effect,” he said. “To have food resources available in your local community is just important for them.”

The program began with the goal of raising a dump truck full of food, or roughly 75,000 pounds of food.

Every year, the program has added another dump truck to its goal.

Over five years, the drive has collected 2.7 million pounds of food.

This year, the program’s sixth, the goal is to fill six dump trucks with food, roughly 450,000 pounds. Last year, the drive far exceeded the goal, raising 769,000 pounds of food.

Each dollar donated is counted as the equivalent of five pounds of food, Gilbertson said. While food donations are welcome, “the money makes a bigger difference,” she said, noting partners like the Idaho Food Bank and Second Harvest have more buying power than individuals.

The program reaches out to schools, community events and grocery stores in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

“We’re trying to help out the communities in which we serve,” she said. “The people who have food on their table want to help those people in need, and we’re a vessel for them to go through.”

Wieber said the Spokane Ag Expo is an important venue.

“We’re hitting a market that’s very important,” he said. “The people attending (the Expo) are the folks that grow the food, and a lot of those people are the ones that are donating perishable, healthy, nutritious produce to us throughout the year.”

Photo contest showcases ag experience Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:40:20 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Top prize in the adult category of the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum photo contest went to “Future Farmer,” by Angela Lenssen of Pullman, Wash.

“The body language of the subject against the nicely lit scene and wheat made this image the strongest of the bunch,” Gonzaga University photographer Rajah Bose said. “The child had a timeless element, a slice of Americana. The perfectly placed combine in the background gave context to the reader, the long wheat in the foreground gave texture.

“This is a great example of a personal experience of the land through the eyes of the photographer.”

Bose and the other judges said they were looking for photographs that stood out from the dozens of others.

They laid all of the entries on a table and walked around them, looking for images that were beautiful or “grabbing,” Bose said.

“The photos that win are ones that not only show, but tell about the experience of working the land, the beauty of the landscape and the details of life often overlooked by much of society,” Bose said. “We look for uniqueness, moments between people or between animals or between animals and people. We want to see how the land is used, not just the land. We want to see the people, not just where they live.”

Photographers who entered the annual contest were asked to depict agriculture in the Inland Northwest.

Second and third place in the adult category went to “Elevator in Spring,” by Robert Griffith of Veradale, Wash., and “My Grandmother’s Basket,” by Karen Baumann of Washtucna, Wash.

The Show Director’s Choice award went to “Old Iron Running Again,” by Otto Stevens of Spokane.

“Barley Sky,” by Marshall Howard of Spangle, Wash., “Wheat Field Fire,” by Lauren Crosby of Odessa, Wash., “The Day is Done,” also by Lenssen and “Spiral of the Ages,” by Tracy Delyea of Colville, Wash., all received honorable mentions.

Garrett Lewis of Rockford, Wash., placed first in the youth category for “Delivery Day.”

Bose said Lewis’ photo stood out for its composition and arrangement of the trucks depicted.

“The goal of the contest is to show a slice of life, and we believe this frame captured that more than the rest,” Bose said.

Allison Lenssen of Pullman, Wash., placed second for “Reel Times.” Kelsee Peavey of Sprague, Wash., received third place for “Silk Spun Barn.”

Lacy Elkins of Colville, Wash., received the Show Director’s Choice award in the youth category for “Motherhood.” Allison Lenssen received honorable mention for “Wheat and Harvester,” as did Tracy Melville of Lamont, Wash.,” for “Field and Sky.”

Greater Spokane Inc.’s Choice award went to Karen Baumann for “Hoefel Barn at Sunset.”

All 83 entries will be displayed at the Ag Expo and posted on its website.

First aid course helps farmers in medical emergencies Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:39:47 -0500 Matw Weaver Instructor Mark Lidbeck will lead a first aid course for farmers at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries requires at least one person on any work site to carry a current first aid card, Lidbeck said.

The class will start at 3 p.m. Feb. 5.

Lidbeck has been teaching first aid to a wide variety of audiences for more than 30 years. He is based in Colbert, Wash.

Lidbeck comes from a farm background, so he said he finds it easy to relate to agricultural audiences.

“Whether people want to admit it or not, these guys have a really tricky job,” he said of farmers. “When they’re out there in the fields for hours on end, they’re hundreds and hundreds of yards away from anybody, maybe even miles. They need to have some basics just to take care of themselves if an emergency occurred.”

In the absence of having an infirmary, clinic or hospital in close proximity to the workplace to be used for treatment of injured employees, somebody needs to be adequately trained to provide first aid, said Raymundo Rivas Jr., safety and health specialist for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Labor and Industries’ workplace safety program.

L&I “frequently” finds people are not in compliance with the first aid requirement, Rivas said.

He advises farmers to read Washington state standards related to their specific industry and business.

Lidbeck’s lessons have come in handy. He’s heard from audience members who have put his teachings to good use.

“It happens all the time,” Lidbeck said. “Every other year I see pretty much the same people. Every second or third class, I get somebody who will come up and say, ‘My little baby choked and I was able to remember to do this and this.’”

Lidbeck’s cards are good for two years.

Lidbeck recommends people keep their wits in an emergency.

“It’s funny, when it comes down to brass tacks, how scary it can really be when you’ve got somebody’s life in your hands,” he said. “It’s really easy to see something and just kind of lose it.”

But Lidbeck hopes the students come away understanding how simple first aid can be.

The rules for first aid have changed over the years, most importantly bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, developed by the American Heart Association.

“A lot of people are squeamish about putting their mouth on another person’s mouth,” he said. “If a person has blood or body fluids on their mouth, you don’t have a mask and time is critical, they want you to jump right in and push hard and push fast on the center of the chest until help arrives.”

Panel will discuss falling number test Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:39:17 -0500 Matw Weaver In recent years, more farmers have seen the price they receive for their grain reduced by the falling number test.

A panel of industry experts will talk about the test during the 9 a.m. session Feb. 4 in Salon IV at the DoubleTree Hotel as part of the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The falling number test is used to measure wheat quality, particularly in the event of sprout damage.

The test involves grinding a small sample of grain and mixing it with water to create a paste. When placed in boiling water, the slurry thickens. If the enzyme alpha amylase, which is associated with sprout damage, is present, it begins to consume the starch, reducing the slurry’s thickness.

A small, weighted plunger then passes through the paste. The test measures the time it takes for the plunger to fall, plus 60 seconds for stirring.

The industry standard for soft white wheat is 300, meaning it takes 300 seconds for the plunger to fall. Numbers below that generally indicate lower quality wheat that could run into processing problems.

Farmers receive a reduced price for wheat that is below that standard.

“It’s an opportunity for growers to become more educated about the failing numbers, what it is, how is the test conducted, what are the causes, are there certain varieties,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, of the panel discussion. “A lot of producers were affected negatively by falling numbers. I think a lot of growers have questions about it.”

Growers can be docked for falling number results on the price they receive for their grain at elevators. Discounts vary according to elevator.

“It’s hard to know whether it’s just a cyclical thing or whether there’s some varieties that are more prone to that,” Squires said. The commission is funding research to consider variety susceptibility to sprouting and low falling numbers.

Camille Steber, USDA Agricultural Research Service wheat geneticist, believes the increased prevalence of dockage as a result of the falling number test in recent years is “entirely about weather” and genetic susceptibility in the wheat.

“Even rainfall that isn’t enough to wet the soil is enough to wet the spike,” Steber said. “The very start of germination is going to give you the expression of alpha amylase, even if you don’t have physical sprout.”

Steber advises farmers:

• Harvest wheat quickly after it reaches maturity to reduce the risk of rain. “The longer it sits in the field, the bigger your risk,” she said.

• Avoid cultivars known to be susceptible. “If you have to grow a susceptible variety, my suggestion would be to grow two cultivars separately, not intermingled, that have different maturity dates, so if you do have an isolated cold shock or rain event, you won’t lose the whole crop. Chances are it will hit one and not the other.”

• If you do have low falling number, it couldn’t hurt to store it for a while to see if it goes up a bit.

Steber encourages farmers to ask questions during the discussion panel.

“We have a tendency to forget what people do and do not know,” she said. “We have a tendency to want to tell people about our latest and greatest results, but it’s from people’s questions that I learn what I need to present.”

Squires said there are many questions right now as to whether there are steps growers can take, or if something needs to be done during the breeding process to avoid a low falling number, or even if something could be improved in current testing to create more uniformity in test results.

“I think we’re all in a discovery phase,” Squires said.

AgriBusiness Council to honor excellence in ag Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:38:53 -0500 The AgriBusiness Council of Greater Spokane Inc. will present its new “Excellence in Agriculture” Award during the 2014 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The award is intended to recognize an individual, business or organization that had a significant and positive influence on the agricultural industry in the Inland Northwest in 2013.

The selection committee considers several criteria:

• Innovation in agriculture.

• Economic and environmental stewardship.

• Contribution to agriculture.

• Impact on Agriculture.

• Industry Awareness and Outreach.

Nominations were gathered in November and narrowed to selected finalists, to be announced in late January, after press time. The winner will be announced during show week.

For more information, contact Spokane Ag Expo Show Director Myrna O’Leary at 509-321-3633 or email

Celebrating Agriculture in Spokane Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:37:11 -0500 Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 4, Spokane Ag Expo will celebrate its 37th year as the largest agricultural equipment show in the Inland Northwest, and the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum opens its 60th year of ag-related speakers and seminars in the Spokane Doubletree Hotel.

Show organizers have again joined forces with Visit Spokane to designate the week of Feb. 2–8 as “Ag Week in Spokane.”

Myrna O’Leary, manager of Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, said, “We are excited to continue celebrating agriculture during Ag Week in Spokane while we highlight the importance of agriculture in our region.”

Several ag-related activities and meetings are planned during the week, beginning with a news conference with Spokane’s Mayor David Condon on Monday, Feb. 3, during move-in of exhibits for Ag Expo.

Partnering with the Odessa High School’s FBLA program for the second year, a program is being put together for regional high school students to attend on Thursday, Feb. 6, following the FFA program titled “Growing Your Future — What You Didn’t Know About a Career in Agriculture.” This session will inspire students to consider new possibilities for their future. There will be a panel of successful owners, operators, managers and educators in agriculture to discuss what ag-related jobs there are and which will be in high demand.

Spokane Ag Expo attendees will again be able to donate canned food and donations to the annual “Dump for Hunger” food drive sponsored by Western States Equipment. This will be their fifth year of this fighting hunger drive at the Convention Center during the show. All food and money collected is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank and distributed throughout the Inland Northwest.

The first full week in February, 2014, will again be an activity-packed week for agriculture in Spokane and the Inland Northwest. For further details, visit the Spokane Ag Expo website at

2014 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:37:04 -0500 Ticket Prices

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

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

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

Tickets can be purchased at the Convention Center Complex in the Exhibit Hall ticket office and the DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom Lobby throughout the week of the show. Discount tickets for $8 are available at all Big R Stores in Washington and Idaho through show week.


Spokane Ag Expo: Spokane Convention Center Exhibit Halls

PNW Farm Forum Main Session: DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom in Salon IV

PNW Farm Forum Seminars: DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom in Salons I, II & III and Shades Conference Room

FFA Program: DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom in Salon I-IV

Spokane Convention Center: 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

DoubleTree Hotel Spokane: 322 N. Spokane Falls Court

2014 Show Hours

Tuesday, Feb. 4

Farm Forum Main Session: 9-11 a.m.

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

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

Wednesday, Feb. 5

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

Agriculture Economic Forecast: 9-10:30 a.m.

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

Thursday, Feb. 6

FFA Program: 9-11 a.m.

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

Farm Forum Seminars: 10:30 a.m., Noon