Capital Press | Capital Press Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:17:27 -0400 en Capital Press | Ukraine, Romania hungry for U.S. ag investment Thu, 30 Jun 2016 11:48:01 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski Ukraine and Romania are hungry for U.S. investment in grain storage, irrigation and other agricultural infrastructure, said Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba.

Major U.S. companies are best poised to immediately take advantage of opportunities in Ukraine and Romania due to their expertise working in foreign nations, said Coba, who recently returned from a trade mission to the two countries.

In the future, though, there may be greater openings for Oregon farm exports to the Eastern European countries, particularly as they need more high-quality seed, she said.

“If democracry continues to grow, those are markets for us to keep our eye on,” Coba said.

The USDA led a trade mission of state agriculture officials and agribusiness representatives to Ukraine and Romania on June 13-17, after which Coba visited Croatia with her two daughters.

A major challenge for U.S. farm exports to the two countries is transportation — air freight is expensive, while ships must take a meandering route through the Mediterranean and Black Seas, she said.

“It’s quite a truck for our stuff,” Coba said.

The U.S. shipped $321 million worth of farm goods to Ukraine in 2013, but that amount had plummeted more than 75 percent by last year, according to USDA trade data.

“The Ukrainian economy collapsed after the overthrow of their president in 2014,” Coba said.

That year, Ukraine’s parliament ousted the nation’s Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, leading to Russia’s invasion of its Crimea region and conflicts along its eastern border.

During the trade mission in Ukraine, U.S. officials toured a grain facility owned by Archer Daniels Midland and participated in the opening ceremony for an oilseed crushing facility built for nearly $300 million by Bunge.

Ukraine has insufficient infrastructure for irrigation, storage and processing of crops, so the nation is looking for American help to expand its production capacity, Coba said.

“They’ve got a long road ahead of them,” she said. “The U.S. presence there is critical.”

Romania also faces changes to its agricultural system, which is dominated by a large number of farmers who cultivate relatively small plots of land, Coba said

The country’s government wants to increase its agricultural efficiency, which is often achieved through consolidation, while protecting its small farmers, she said.

U.S. farm exports to Romania have ranged from roughly $50 million to $100 million per year over the last decade, while our imports from that country tripled last year, to more than $150 million.

Dairies reducing nitrogen, EPA says Thu, 30 Jun 2016 11:43:54 -0400 Dan Wheat SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — Three Lower Yakima Valley dairies have made progress in controlling sources of nitrogen to a drinking water aquifer in the three years since reaching a legal agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA says.

The dairies have made “important progress” and “will continue this work as required by the consent order,” said Lucy Edmondson, director of EPA’s Washington state office.

The Cow Palace, owned by the Dolsen family, George DeRuyter & Son Dairy, and Henry Bosma Dairy and Liberty Dairy, both owned by the Bosma family, have improved field manure application and irrigation practices, the EPA said in a public update.

Nitrogen levels have dropped below the excessive level of 45 parts per million at 2 feet deep in 11 out of 20 fields and levels in the other nine appear to be declining, said Suzanne Skadowski, EPA spokeswoman in Seattle.

Nitrogen levels in 26 groundwater monitor levels have not yet improved but the EPA believes it will, Skadowski said.

“We don’t know how much nitrogen is built up in soils and rocks over the years, so we don’t know how soon it will go down,” she said.

“The good news is that better management by an agronomist adjusting the land application is dropping the amount of nitrogen in fields and we expect it will improve in the wells,” she said.

The dairies have demonstrated in their own monitoring that they are the source of at least some nitrate pollution but how much versus historical build up of nitrate in soils is an open question, she said.

In 2012, EPA concluded the dairies likely were significant contributors to high nitrate levels in groundwater.

Adam Dolsen, owner of Cow Palace Dairy, said he’s pleased with the nitrate reduction but didn’t think it was very bad in his fields to begin with. With the help of the agronomist, hired by the dairies and approved by the EPA, Cow Palace was able to get 95 percent of its fields below the 45 ppm within a year, he said.

Sensors alert the dairies if effluent irrigation water reaches 3 feet in depth and the dairy shuts off the water or diverts it to another field. Nitrates getting to the groundwater aquifer are reduced by curtailing water from leaving the root zone.

To minimize nitrogen entering manure lagoons, Cow Palace and Liberty added centrifuges to solid screening and George DeRuyter & Son added a dissolved air flotation solids removal system.

The minimize lagoon leakage, the dairies are planning to line 41 lagoons.

The lagoons already are lined to USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service standards and the dairies agreed to higher standards with Community Association for Restoration of the Environment, Dolsen said.

EPA didn’t approve those but “it was frustrating because EPA wouldn’t tell us what it wanted,” Dolsen said. The dairies hired a different engineer and decided to install double synthetic liners that were approved by the EPA, he said.

Cow Palace plans to install the first one in late summer at a significant cost.

“So much higher costs puts us at a competitive disadvantage with other dairies around the nation,” Dolsen said. “All of this is costing each of us millions of dollars and we’re falling behind in installing milk meters and upgrading milking barns. We’re dipping into reserves to keep things afloat.”

The dairies are paying for reverse osmosis water treatment for drinking water for 110 down gradient well owners with elevated nitrate levels.

The dairies will continue monitoring wells quarterly for five more years and then will submit and eight-year report. If nitrate trends are not downward, the dairies will further assess and propose and implement additional controls.

Dan DeRuyter, co-owner of George DeRuyter & Sons, said he’s still working on an effort to convert a manure digester from producing electricity to producing natural gas. That system is not required by EPA but would lessen nitrates.

In 2012, DeRuyter said the conversion would cost $13.5 million. Cow Palace planned to be involved at that point but has subsequently dropped out. Dolsen said it doesn’t produce liquid manure needed except for three months of the year. Promus Energy, Seattle, was involved in that project which was to be the only one of its kind on the West Coast and close to unique in the nation.

Number of Hispanic farm operators continues to grow Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:31:41 -0400 Dan Wheat WENATCHEE, Wash. — From humble beginnings in Mexico, Jesus Limon has spent a lifetime working hard for his slice of the American dream.

As a young man, he picked celery and oranges in California and tree fruit in Washington state. Twenty years ago he became one of the few Hispanic orchard owners in the Wenatchee area.

He and his wife of 40 years, Maria Luisa Limon, helped put their four sons through college and today see retirement in their not-too-distant future.

They now own 150 acres of apple trees and lease 35 acres of cherry and apple trees.

Limon — pronounced “Lee-moan” — is one of about 100,000 Hispanic farm operators in the United States. Operators are defined by the U.S. Census of Agriculture as those managing daily operations. They may or may not own a farm.

The growth rate of Hispanic farm operators was still accelerating nationally in the last Ag Census in 2012.

Those numbers include up to three operators per farm, said Christopher Mertz, Northwest regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service in Olympia, Wash. Nationwide there were approximately 67,000 Hispanic-owned farms in 2012 and 99,732 Hispanic farm operators.

Depending on the type of farm, breaking into the field can be difficult, Limon said.

“I’m not sure what the deal is in California, but here in Wenatchee packing houses that are not (grower-owned) co-ops don’t accept you if you don’t produce a certain amount of fruit,” Limon, 58, said.

It costs packing houses more than it’s worth to run their lines for a few bins of fruit, and co-ops are declining in number, Limon said. That makes it tough for a new grower, starting small, to get going.

Another hurdle is the cost of land.

Orchard prices are “skyrocketing” to $15,000 to $20,000 per acre for the cheapest established orchards and $18,000 for bare land where orchards are expanding in Quincy, 30 miles southeast of Wenatchee, he said.

Yet another factor, he said, is few second- and third-generation Hispanics are interested in farming.

That’s true in his family. Limon’s sons graduated from the University of Washington, Gonzaga University and Central Washington University.

The oldest, Jesus, 38, has a computer science degree and works for an airplane parts manufacturer in Snohomish County, Wash. Jose, 35, has a business degree and is manager of the USDA Farm Service Agency office in Wenatchee.

Eric, 28, also has a business degree and is a banker with Wells Fargo in East Wenatchee. Carlos, 25, just graduated in electrical engineering and works for Avista Utilities in Spokane.

Though the growth in the number of Hispanic farm operators in slowing in some states, Philip Martin, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California-Davis, cautioned against over-interpreting changes in just five years from one ag census to the next. Longer spans need to be studied to determine trends, he said.

Age could be one factor in the deceleration, Martin said. The average age of Hispanic farm operators is 57.1 years old, barely below the average age of all operators at 58.3. More will retire as they age.

Hispanic farms tend to be small and the number of Hispanic farm operators may be affected by more spouses working off the farm, Martin said.

It’s safe to say, he said, that the number of Hispanic farm operators will increase but how fast and in what commodities and in what size of farm is hard to predict because that data is not tracked.

At just 3 percent of total farm operators, Hispanics won’t become a majority any time soon because they often lack capital and marketing ability, Martin said. He views those factors as the two largest constraints and points out that California strawberry companies often provide capital and marketing for the Hispanic growers who operate most of that state’s strawberry farms.

Jesus Limon was born on Christmas day in 1957 in Zapotlanejo, Mexico, 22 miles east of Guadalajara.

“Everyone celebrates Christmas but not my birthday,” he said.

A Catholic, he doesn’t mind being named after Jesus Christ or being born on his birthday.

“If anyone was going to mind it would be him. No one will be as good as he was. No way,” he said with a laugh.

Limon had an older sister and was the oldest of five brothers. Their parents worked their small farm and did farm work for others. The family lacked food once or twice a month. Limon knew people who died because they couldn’t afford medical care, had no insurance and lacked access to social programs.

Their father, Jose Isabel Limon, sometimes worked in the U.S. under the Bracero guestworker program to make more money. He was working in a Glendale, Calif., factory when his wife, Teodora Casillas, died in 1969.

Jesus Limon was 12. He and his sister were helping their mother haul water from a well to their house. Limon got to the house first, put his buckets down and went back to help his mother. He found her collapsed on the ground from a heart attack.

“She made it through the night. The next day people made a gurney and took her to Guadalajara. She had another heart attack. I don’t know if she made it to the hospital or not before she died,” Limon said.

By this time, Limon’s father had a U.S. green card — a permanent work permit — and decided to move his family to California. It took several years, bringing one or two of the children at a time through legal immigration.

At the U.S. consulate on the border, Limon tested positive for tuberculosis and was denied U.S. entry. It was a false reading. He didn’t have TB but he had to wait a little over a year in a town there before finally gaining entry in 1974. He was 17.

He lived with his father for awhile in Glendale but didn’t like city life. He worked a few seasons picking celery in Salinas and Irvine and oranges in the Coachella Valley.

He attended school only a few days in Glendale.

“Kids were reading and writing and I just couldn’t make it because of the language,” he recalled.

He met his future wife at school and they decided to run away because she was underage, just turning 18. They headed north, on their way to Canada, when they stopped in Wenatchee, decided they liked the town and stayed.

Limon tended and picked fruit in several Wenatchee-area orchards and twice tried attending Wenatchee Valley College to learn English.

“I just couldn’t cut it. I started reading novels and books and picked it up faster that way. I can read it, but I can’t write it,” he said.

Three years in grade school in Mexico is the extent of his formal education.

In 1982, Limon hired on as an orchard laborer at Auvil Fruit Co. in Orondo, 17 miles north of Wenatchee. The company was founded by the late Grady Auvil in 1928. He was an industry innovator who, among other things, brought Red Haven peaches and Granny Smith and Fuji apples to the fore and co-founded the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission.

Limon worked his way up to foreman and then moved into management.

“Grady kind of took me under his wing. If he saw you wanted to do better, he gave you a little push. He was a good man,” Limon said.

In 1988, Limon tried to buy stock in Auvil Fruit but couldn’t because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. So he bought 10 acres of bare land to the north at Bray’s Landing and planted Fuji and Granny Smith apple trees.

In 1992, he obtained Farm Service Agency financing to buy 30 acres of orchard in the same vicinity.

In 1996, he quit Auvil and focused on his orchards, figuring it was the best way to get ahead.

The late 1990s and early 2000s were bad years in the apple industry because of too many Red and Golden Delicious apples. Prices were low. Growers were quitting the business.

Limon believes he was saved by switching to organic production — by accident. The owner of an orchard next to his 30 acres was growing organically

and asked if he could farm several rows of Limon’s orchard as organic to prevent Limon’s conventional pesticides from drifting onto his fruit.

“I said why don’t I just farm the whole block organic and when I found out the benefits I converted my other 10 acres, too,” he said. He made more money and his workers could re-enter the orchard sooner after spraying.

In 2006, Limon purchased another 30 acres of apple orchard that had been repossessed by a bank near Quincy. In 2013, he bought 80 more acres of bare land south of Quincy, planted rootstock and budded Honeycrisp apples.

“That’s taken a toll on me. It was expensive,” he said, adding it was a $2 million to $2.5 million investment. The first fruit will be harvested in 2017.

Limon also manages 20 acres of cherries on a lease south of Wenatchee and leases several other 5-acre blocks of apples in East Wenatchee.

He sells 90 percent of his fruit on contract directly to Whole Foods, which has it packed by Blue Bird Inc. and Phillippi Fruit Co. in Wenatchee.

Limon said he’s never felt discrimination from any businesses in Wenatchee but occasionally has seen it in individuals. Sometimes it can be hard to know if it’s racial or that someone just doesn’t like you, he said.

Misunderstandings from miscommunication and a steep learning curve from lack of English, education and knowledge of how American systems work can all be challenges. Limon said he’s never experienced those because of Grady Auvil’s teaching and coaching.

Workers becoming foremen and then managers and eventually buying into a farm when their bosses retire is a common way for Hispanics to get ahead, but it’s not always easy, Limon said.

“Getting guys who sell chemicals, equipment and everything else you need to open accounts and trust you will pay” and “getting warehouses to trust you will produce quality fruit” are difficulties, he said.

Long hours away from family present another challenge, but probably his greatest has been economic setbacks from bad weather or a poor economy, he said.

It’s a challenge, he said, for small growers to stay competitive, to grow big enough to keep per-unit costs down. New mandatory work breaks for workers paid piece rate is a “bookkeeping nightmare,” so he’s switching to hourly pay with a harvest bonus.

Being organic, keeping up with new varieties and selling directly to Whole Foods helps, he said.

Limon employs six to eight orchard workers year-round and hires 25 for seasonal thinning and harvesting. Domestic workers were plentiful 20 years ago but they’ve been getting harder to find every year for the last eight, he said.

In recent years, he’s hired H-2A visa guestworkers from Mexico through the farm labor organization WAFLA. He has 15 H-2A workers on a shared basis with other small growers and thinks he will need 20 next year. He built housing for 32 workers in Orondo.

“I know of a couple of guys last year who left cherries on the trees because they didn’t have pickers,” Limon said. “Guys with light cherry and apple crops will have to leave them this year. Right now, I’m not fixing trellis the way I should because I don’t have enough workers and picking cherries and thinning apples takes priority. You see weeds let go because there’s not enough time to do that.”

Beyond a tighter U.S.-Mexican border, Limon said part of the labor shortage is caused by “government not letting kids work when they are young and then when they are 18 they don’t want to work because they don’t know how.”

Youngsters can work for limited hours in orchards at 14 with parental permission and in warehouses at 16, but Limon said they should be learning at 8 or 9. They don’t have to work all day and there should be protections, he said. But they would learn to appreciate work and the money they could make if they could start earlier, he said.

Regarding immigration, Limon said the main thing that’s needed is a more efficient and faster guestworker program. It takes 90 days to get H-2A workers now and growers should be able to get workers within a few days of determining their need, he said.

A better system would be an incentive for illegal immigrants to go back to Mexico and apply to return, he said.

He also favors having illegal immigrants pay a fine and get work permits.

“It would be better if they could come in and out. Everybody wants to go back to see family but are afraid they might not get back in,” he said.

Limon became a U.S. citizen in the 1990s partly because he began serving on county and state Farm Service Agency committees. He said he votes for the U.S. presidential candidate that he figures will do the least damage. He said he’s not voting for Donald Trump because he doesn’t like Trump’s idea of deporting all illegals and that a fair amount of what Trump says he would do on other matters is unconstitutional.

Immigration has become too controversial and members of Congress don’t seem to care about it because “they are too busy being at each others’ throats,” he said.

“I don’t know what the big deal is about immigrants,” he said. “The constitution was written by immigrants.”

Thinking back over his journey and his humble beginnings when the next meal wasn’t always a sure thing, Limon says, “When you go through that and have a chance to do something, it’s a no-fail deal. It’s you’re going to make it, or you’re going to make it.”

Congress makes the law, the president enforces the law Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:14:39 -0400 The Supreme Court last week upheld the separation of powers as provided by the Constitution, ending President Barack Obama’s attempt to change immigration law by fiat.

Driven by crushing poverty illegal immigrants have flooded across the border. They have found ready employment, filling vital but tiring manual labor jobs Americans shun. But they have placed strains on public education, healthcare and law enforcement.

Late in 2014, the president issued executive orders temporarily lifting the threat of deportation for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants who have been in the country for five years and who have children born in the United States, and to children brought here by their parents prior to Jan. 1, 2010.

His orders also granted these immigrants temporary legal status and work permits.

Twenty-six states sued, alleging the action violated the president’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress, and had not been carried out in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

The district court in Texas and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. On a 4-4 vote due to the death this year of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court leaves in place the ruling by the federal appeals court in New Orleans.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress sole power to “establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” Congress has enacted laws that outline the process for immigrants to be granted legal status in the United States.

In granting illegal immigrants temporary legal status and work permits contrary to those laws, the president exceeded his constitutional authority.

We concede that the president and his law enforcement agencies have great prosecutorial discretion in pressing deportation cases, even if applying such discretion so broadly stretches the common exercise of the authority.

We could argue that we have 12 million illegal immigrants and all the issues inherent in their presence in large part because presidents of both parties have not, for a variety of reasons practical and political, fully enforced existing law.

While the president can within legal boundaries enforce laws as he sees fit, he cannot make or change those laws. That’s the job of Congress. And for the sake of this exercise, it matters not that Congress has failed to address these issues with changes to existing law despite nearly universal dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Last week’s ruling set no national precedent and changes nothing in practical terms. Few illegal immigrants outside those convicted of felonies will be repatriated. The millions who, armed with fake papers, hold jobs and live quietly will continue to do so in the shadows without legal status.

As we’ve said, the law should be changed to provide a pathway to permanent residency, but not citizenship, to deserving illegal immigrants living and working in the United States who meet strict requirements.

But whether we let illegal immigrants stay or force them to go, in the end it is most important that we do so under laws passed by Congress and enforced by the executive branch.

Mobile slaughter units answer to wild horse problem Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:14:07 -0400 The Capital Press and the East Oregonian during the past year have had articles on mobile slaughter trailers. As I read these articles I thought this might be the answer to the surplus wild (feral) horse problem faced by the BLM. They are presently holding 47,000 horses in corrals and feeding them at a cost to taxpayers of $50 million per year. I have advocated that these surplus animals be slaughtered and fed to the poor.

After visiting Iceland and rediscovering how savory horse meat can be and learning how nutritional it is, I propose it be marketed as a health food. These horses exist because of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The BLM is charged with maintaining an Appropriate Management Level which presently is 26,715 animals.

Currently it is estimated there are over 67,000 roaming the land, and they are increasing at 15 to 20 percent per year. These numbers are damaging the range, waterways, grouse habitat and are fouling remote wildlife water holes.

Those animals found to be exceeding the AML should be removed, but holding them in corrals would seemingly be violating the spirit of the Wild Free-Roaming Act. Slaughter is the only logical solution and these mobile units might be the answer.

In as much as the BLM is spending over $1,000 per horse per year it would seem they would see the value of spending the $70,000 per unit mentioned in the East Oregonian article. I could see the BLM leasing these units to enterprising individuals. I can see Oregon Food Bank utilizing one or more of these units since they are always short of meat. Doing the math, it is obvious that it will take a number of these units.

Since these animals do not receive medications they would be an excellent source of an organic health food. In a recent survey 64 percent of respondents say would not eat horse meat but this would indicate that 36 percent might. Winners would be the local fabricators who would build the units and the butcher-operators who would gain steady employment. People who would like to obtain a tasty source of a nutritionally superior meat free of additives could do so.

Those who might oppose a slaughter house in their back yard might favor horse slaughter if it was removed from their neighborhood. These units might also give the wimps in the BLM and Congress the courage to do the right thing.

Carlisle Harrison

Hermiston, Ore.

Corps plows under farmer’s constitutional rights Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:13:39 -0400 The federal government’s campaign against agriculture continues, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers drags yet another farmer into court for the “crime” of — get ready for it — plowing a field.

It would be funny if it won’t so pitiful. The most powerful government on the planet busting a farmer for, well, doing what farmers do. John Duarte, a Tehama County, Calif., farmer, had the temerity to convert 450 acres of pasture into a wheat field.

Oh, and he did it without genuflecting and kissing the ring of local Corps officials and paying for a Clean Water Act permit.

That’s it. There’s no intrigue. There’s no back story, hidden or otherwise.

Oh, and there was also no due process. You know, that inconvenience to the government that was inserted into the U.S. Constitution by radicals such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and George Washington.

They would be aghast to see how the 21st century federal government has tried to void that document by subtracting due process from the rights of farmers and ranchers.

The Corps of Engineers, Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency have long been the runaway trains of the federal government, substituting bureaucratic convenience for the right of appealing an agency decision.

In this case, Duarte was found “guilty” of plowing a field, and his due process rights evaporated along with the Corps’ “plowing exemption” in which the agency assured farmers that they could farm without worrying about an attack.

However, the Corps found that soil was displaced while plowing an area it labeled wetlands.

“There’s no way you can plow without displacing soil from the track of the plow into a little ridge next to it,” said Tony Francois, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing Duarte.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller was to rule July 1 on whether to re-hear Duarte’s case.

We hope she gives this case another look, particularly in light of how the Corps skewers anyone who disagrees with its interpretation of wetlands and drags him into court or forces him to buy a Clean Water Act permit.

We have repeatedly pointed out instances in which federal agencies have tried to void the constitutional rights of farmers and ranchers. This is one more case of Uncle Sam masquerading as a thug.

It is also a case of the Corps sending a message to farmers that it has the final say on how every acre of farmland will be used. All of the assurances that farm activities will be exempted from power grabs such as the Waters of the U.S. ring especially hollow these days.

Farmers and ranchers must have the right to appeal agency decisions. The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled — twice — on that basic constitutional right.

The Corps is apparently looking to make it three in a row.

Does anyone care what is happening to the dairy farmer? Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:13:25 -0400 Arden Tewksbury Several months ago we reported and we continue to report that dairy farmers are receiving a milk check that is 40 percent below 2014’s price.

Finally, other people have started to use percentage figures, but none of these people are urging any steps to eliminate this financial mess.

Does it have to be this way? Of course not. The solution to me is very clear. The Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act can correct many of the inequities that are facing dairy farmers today.

If this act had been passed in previous years, the average dairy farmer would not be in the financial crisis he is facing today.

Let’s examine many of the reasons dairy farmers are in their present situation. In 1981, Congress froze the dairy support price at $13.10 per hundredweight but in a few days it went to $13.60. Since that time, they continued to drop the support price until it reached $9.90 per cwt — unbelievable!

Congress also passed legislation that compelled dairy farmers to pay money into the dairy herd termination act as well as the milk diversion program. Later dairy farmers were victimized by the Gramm-Rudman deductions. Later Congress mandated the Federal Milk Marketing Orders be consolidated to the present number. Some of us testified at a milk hearing in Alexandria, Va., urging the new consolidated Order 1 to consider the dairy farmer’s cost of production.

However, this was done in vain.

What did dairy farmers lose by the consolidation in milk orders? Well, they were mandated to have their milk price on a product price formula, which included the milk processors to receive a make allowance at the dairy farmers’ expense.

What else did dairy farmers lose? They lost the cooperative payment provision that was contained in Order 2, which mandated the market administrator to compel the dairy cooperatives to market a producer’s milk in the event any producer had lost his market.

Look at what is happening today.

Former Order 2 producers also lost farm point pricing, which mandated a dairy farmer had his milk priced at his farm, not at a plant 200 miles away. Dairy farmers also lost the base excess plan that was contained in former Order 4. Improvements could have been made in this plan that would have prevented large corporate farmers from flooding the market.

So what did Congress do to further advance the escalation of many dairy farmers? The current Farm Bill eliminated the milk price support program and eliminated the MILC program. In its place, they passed a very controversial and unethical margin insurance program, which does absolutely nothing for dairy farmers to receive a fair price for their milk.

Isn’t this a great record for Congress? We haven’t even mentioned some of the trade agreements that have injured the American family farm. Also, please remember some of the New York politicians put on a great push to encourage N.Y. dairy farmers to produce more milk for yogurt plants.

One plant failed; another plant is still in existence using a lot of N.Y. milk but opened a plant in Idaho, consequently using less N.Y. milk.

We and other organizations always proclaimed that dairy farmers should not be encouraged to produce more milk for the export market. Look at what has happened.

Now, Mr. Dairy Farmer, do you think Congress has been fair to you? Of course not. It’s high time that all dairy farmers get behind the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act. It could play a major role in stabilizing a fair price to all dairy farmers.

However, if you as a dairy farmer don’t get behind this bill and urge all senators and House members to support this bill, then the alternative will be more and more of what you are going through today.

Arden Tewksbury is manager of the Progressive Agriculture Organization in Meshoppen, Pa.

Darden forecasts profit that falls short of expectations Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:10:19 -0400 ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Shares of Darden Restaurants fell Thursday after the parent company of Olive Garden forecast a profit for its fiscal 2017 that fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The Orlando-based company also reported total sales for its fiscal fourth quarter that fell short of expectations.

The owner of Olive Garden and other chain restaurants posted revenue of $1.79 billion in the period, which did not meet Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.81 billion.

For the quarter ended May 29, Darden Restaurants Inc. said it earned $139.6 million, or $1.09 per share. Earnings, adjusted to account for discontinued operations, were $1.10 per share. Analysts expected $1.08 per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

For the year, the company reported profit of $375 million, or $2.90 per share. Revenue was reported as $6.93 billion.

Darden Restaurants expects full-year earnings to be $3.80 to $3.90 per share. That was short of the $3.99 per share analysts expect, according to FactSet.

Darden’s stock was down 4.5 percent to $63.01 in pre-market trading Thursday.

Darden Restaurants shares have climbed nearly 4 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased slightly more than 1 percent.

Portland daily grain report Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:08:52 -0400 Portland, Ore., Thursday, June 30, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

Bids for grains delivered to Portland, Oregon in dollars per bushel.

In early trading July futures trended 0.25 to 1.75 cents per bushel lower compared to Wednesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for June delivery for ordinary protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading, as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for June delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Wednesday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for June delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as mixed compared to Wednesday’s noon bids. Some exporters are not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during June trended lower compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during June trended lower in early trading compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jun NA

Jul 4.8775-5.2000

Aug NC 4.9275-5.2000

Sep 4.9275-5.2500

Oct 5.1275-5.3400

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jun NA

Jul 4.9775-5.2000

Aug NC 5.0975-5.2000

Sep 5.0275-5.2500

Oct 5.1675-5.2775

US 1 White Club Wheat - delivered by Unit Trains and Barges

Ordinary protein

Jun NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jun NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat - (Exporter bids-falling numbers of 300 or


Ordinary protein 4.5100-4.6600

11 pct protein 4.7100-4.8600

11.5 pct protein

Jun 4.8100-4.9600

Jul 4.7100-4.9600

Aug NC 4.9100-4.9600

Sep 4.9100-5.0100

Oct 5.0625-5.2625

12 pct protein 4.8600-5.0100

13 pct protein 4.9600-5.1100

US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat (with a minimum of 300 falling numbers, a maximum

of 0.5 part per million vomitoxin, and a maximum of one percent total damage)

13 pct protein 5.6375-5.8575

14 pct protein

Jun 5.9575-6.0575

Jul 5.8575-6.0075

Aug NC 5.8575-5.9575

Sep 5.9075-6.0075

Oct 6.1250-6.2750

15 pct protein 6.1175-6.1375

16 pct protein 6.2175-6.2775

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jun 4.6675-4.6975

Jul 4.6675-4.6975

Aug 4.6875-4.7175

Sep 4.6775-4.7475

Oct/Nov 4.6650-4.6950

Dec 4.6950-4.7050

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jun 12.2325

Jul 12.2125-12.2325

Aug 12.2125-12.2325

Sep 12.1575-12.1875

Oct/Nov 12.1575-12.2075

Dec 12.0950-12.1350

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.0475

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge May 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 5.3400

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.1800

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.3400

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.2700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Poachers kill newborn wolf pups in Idaho forest Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:47:49 -0400 SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Wildlife officials say poachers took some newborn wolf pups from their Idaho den and killed them.

The Spokesman-Review reports the pups were just a few weeks old.

Authorities believe poachers killed them sometime during the week of May 16 in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The den was near a heavily used recreation area.

Defenders of Wildlife regional representative Suzanne Asha Stone says it’s illegal to hunt the pups on public land, but some private land has a year-round hunting season with no age limits. Her organization has lobbied for changes to protect pups.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says those regulations help landowners address wolf-livestock conflicts and wolves that get habituated to people.

Nampa, Payette mosquitoes infected with West Nile Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:45:55 -0400 NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Officials say mosquitoes in the cities of Nampa and Payette have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that the infected mosquitoes in Nampa were from a trap collected Tuesday south of Lake Lowell in the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge area. The Payette mosquitoes were collected Monday in the Little Willow area.

Mosquito abatement efforts have been applied to the affected areas.

West Nile is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Flu-like symptoms can occur and are usually mild, though it can be fatal.

Officials recommend people wear bug spray and remove standing water around homes or in yards.

ConAgra 4Q profit falls as company gets a makeover Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:43:37 -0400 JOSH FUNKAP Business Writer OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — ConAgra Foods Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell 44 percent as it continued to overall its food production business, but the results met Wall Street expectations.

ConAgra reported fourth-quarter profit of $117.6 million, or 27 cents per share, as its executives settled into the company’s new Chicago headquarters. That’s down from $209.2 million, or 48 cents per share, last year.

The company is in the midst of unloading several major divisions, so it can focus on its consumer brands, which include Healthy Choice, Banquet and Chef Boyardee. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 52 cents per share.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 52 cents per share.

The maker of Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National hot dogs and other packaged foods posted revenue of $2.83 billion in the period, which fell short of Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.91 billion.

For the year, the company reported that its loss widened to $677 million, or $1.56 per share. Revenue was reported as $11.64 billion.

Since last summer, ConAgra has sold off its private-label business to Treehouse Foods for $2.7 billion and announced plans to spin off its Lamb Weston frozen potato business later this year.

ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly said the company will become leaner and more agile in the future.

“I am pleased with our results which reflect the progress we are making as we continue to execute our strategy to drive focus and discipline across the company,” Connolly said.

ConAgra just moved its headquarters to Chicago from its longtime home of Omaha, Nebraska. After the spinoff ConAgra will change its name to Conagra Brands Inc.

ConAgra shares have increased 13 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen slightly more than 1 percent. The stock has risen nearly 10 percent in the last 12 months.

FDA warns against eating raw dough amid E. coli fears Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:35:10 -0400 WASHINGTON (AP) — In a warning that’s sure to disappoint many who enjoy sneaking a taste of cookie dough, federal regulators said this week that people should not eat raw dough or batter of any kind due to an ongoing outbreak of illnesses related to a strain of E. coli bacteria found in some recalled flour.

Raw dough also should not be used for homemade play clay for children or to make ornaments, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Restaurants are being advised by the Centers for Disease Control to refrain from giving children raw dough to play with while they wait for their meals.

The flour in question is among 10 million pounds voluntarily recalled last month by General Mills, the FDA said. It comes from a General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri, that the CDC pinpointed earlier this month as the likely source for dozens of illnesses in 20 states related to a strain of E. coli. General Mills says a sample of the recalled flour tested positive for the E. coli strain.

Many people infected with the bacteria suffer bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Kidney failure is also possible. At least 10 people have been hospitalized due to the outbreak. No deaths have been reported.

Anyone handling raw dough or flour should wash their hands and anything the ingredients touched, the FDA advised. The agency said the E. coli bacteria can be killed once food is baked, boiled or otherwise heated during preparation.

Despite the recently announced recall, eating raw dough has always carried the risk of salmonella poisoning due to the presence of raw eggs.

Those looking to get their fix may want to turn to commercially-made cookie dough ice cream, which the FDA says should be made with treated flour and pasteurized eggs.

Kellogg opening cereal cafe in New York Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:32:00 -0400 NEW YORK (AP) — Kellogg is opening a cafe in New York as it pushes to reinvent cereal’s soggy image.

The company based in Battle Creek, Michigan, says bowls will cost $6.50 to $7.50 and combine cereals like Special K and Frosted Flakes with ingredients like pistachios and lemon zest.

The move comes as Kellogg Co. has suffered declining cereal sales in the U.S., with people reaching for a growing array of breakfast options. To boost sales, the company is also trying to market cereal as a night-time treat and on-the-go snack.

Kellogg says its cereal cafe, located on Broadway, between 48th and 49th streets, will open July 4. The cafe will also serve ice cream dishes, juices and coffees. Later this year, Kellogg says it plans to offer delivery.

PepsiCo Inc. is also planning to open an “experiential lounge” with an “artisanal menu” in New York as it tries to reinvent soda’s image amid declining sales. The company, based in Purchase, New York, said its “Kola House” will also have a cocktail curator.

The idea of packaged food makers opening stores featuring their products isn’t new. Chobani also has a cafe with a menu featuring its Greek yogurts in New York. And Mars Inc. has M&M retail stores in cities including New York.

Hershey stock soars after report of Mondelez takeover bid Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:29:48 -0400 NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Hershey are soaring after a report that it could be taken over by Oreo cookie maker Mondelez International.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources it did not name, reported Thursday that Mondelez recently sent a letter to Hershey proposing the deal. A takeover would bring together two of the world’s largest snack and candy makers. Mondelez said it would locate the headquarters of the combined company in Hershey, Pennsylvania and take on the Hershey name, according to the Journal.

The Hershey Co.’s stock was up 15 percent at $112.34 in midday trading.

A spokeswoman for Mondelez, Valerie Moens, said in an email that the company does not comment on “market rumors or speculation.” A representative for Hershey did not respond to a request for comment.

Mondelez International Inc., based in Deerfield, Illinois, also owns Cadbury chocolates, Nabisco cookies and Ritz crackers. The company split from Kraft Foods in 2012, taking brands that were seen as having international appeal and bigger growth potential.

A tie-up between Mondelez and Hershey would mark the latest chapter in a series of deals in the packaged food industry, with companies looking for ways to improve their financial results while up against struggling sales growth in major markets such as the U.S. When Heinz announced plans to buy Kraft last year, for instance, executives cited the cost savings that would be achieved by combining manufacturing and distribution networks.

Later this year, ConAgra Foods also plans to split into two publicly traded companies. One will hold onto branded products such as Slim Jim and Healthy Choice, while the other will take the company’s Lamb Weston frozen potato business that supplies to restaurant chains and foodservice.

Farm Rescue adds more services, eyes geographical expansion Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:27:38 -0400 BLAKE NICHOLSON BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A farm aid nonprofit in the Northern Plains that has grown beyond its founder’s dreams is expanding its services again, with an eye toward spreading geographically in a year or two.

Farm Rescue needs to boost its annual budget from $750,000 to $1 million to do that, and it’s finding new ways to raise money, including selling downloads and CDs of a country music tune sung by a North Dakota farmer.

“My Field of Dreams” written by Billy Ray Cyrus’ cousin, Bobby, and sung by Medina farmer-rancher Joe Schmidt is about American farming traditions, which include rural families helping one another. Farm Rescue has been doing that since 2005, with volunteers coming to the aid of farmers stricken by illness, injury or natural disaster.

“You never know who they’re going to help next — it might be you,” Schmidt said.

North Dakota farm boy and UPS pilot Bill Gross started Farm Rescue 10 years ago, to help North Dakota farmers in need with help planting crops. The organization has since branched out to South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and eastern Montana, with services expanding to include harvesting and haying. This year, the organization also is offering hay bale-hauling and grain-hauling services.

“We want to do more things with ranching,” Gross said. “We’re thinking in about a year doing some work with livestock, and this is a precursor.”

Farm Rescue is offering the free hauling services to producers in need and making those services available for hire to anyone, in another effort to generate more income.

Farm Rescue’s base of volunteers has grown through the years to about 1,000 people from around the country, many of whom use vacation time from their regular jobs to help out. Playing a small role in the overall effort is inspiring and rewarding, Schmidt said.

“It says a lot when you’ve got 1,000 people waiting to get their hands dirty,” he said. “It’s fun to be part of something like that.”

His single is available for download through several vendors, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Farm Rescue, and a CD is available for order on the Farm Rescue website. Gross said it hasn’t generated much money yet, but Schmidt said the song is starting to get air time on radio stations in the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Farm Rescue will this year help its 400th family, Gross said, underlining the organization’s expansion at a pace “faster and larger than what I ever envisioned.”

“To see that Farm Rescue has developed into this avenue of goodness, it’s just a wonderful feeling,” he said. “It’s where our country started — helping farm families, people producing food for the entire nation and the world.”



Farm Rescue:

Group sues to force pollution disclosure at Washington dam Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:04:57 -0400 PHUONG LE SEATTLE (AP) — An environmental group sued the federal agency that operates the nation’s largest hydropower producer Wednesday, saying operations at the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state are polluting the Columbia River in violation of federal clean-water laws.

The nonprofit Columbia Riverkeeper says the Bureau of Reclamation should get a pollution permit and be required to disclose as well as reduce the amount of oil, greases and other pollutants the dam in eastern Washington sends into local waters.

“The dam is similar to a giant factory placed in the river, and the federal government should play by the same rules as other dischargers,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, the group’s executive director.

Manufacturing plants, municipal wastewater treatment plants and other facilities that release pollutants into waterways must obtain permission from state and federal governments.

Michael Williamson, a Bureau of Reclamation spokesman, said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation. The agency operates 53 hydroelectric power plants in the country.

The Grand Coulee Dam, about 90 miles west of Spokane, provides enough electricity to power 2.3 million households in 11 states and Canada in one year.

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, flowing more than 1,200 miles from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. It is treasured for its beauty and recreational offerings, and for the salmon and steelhead caught by sport and commercial fishermen and Native Americans.

The group says water pollution harms salmon and wildlife and threatens the health of people who eat local fish.

The lawsuit alleges an unknown amount of oil stored and used at the dam enters the Columbia River without monitoring and other controls required under the federal Clean Water Act.

In 2013, the group similarly sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for releasing — without a pollution permit — oils, cooling water and other pollutants from eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon and Washington.

In a 2014 settlement, the Corps agreed to disclose the amount of pollutants its dams send into local waters and, for the first time on those dams, apply to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a pollution permit. The Corps also agreed to investigate the use of more environmentally friendly oils at the dams.

Columbia Riverkeeper says it hopes Wednesday’s lawsuit will push the Bureau of Reclamation to do the same.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

FBI: Utah militia leader cased mosque, military facilities Thu, 30 Jun 2016 09:01:54 -0400 LINDSAY WHITEHURST SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah militia group leader accused of trying to blow up a federally owned cabin in rural Arizona also scouted mosques and U.S. military facilities as possible targets, an FBI agent testified on Wednesday.

William Keebler, who authorities say has ties to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, took video of an unidentified mosque and cased federal offices such as National Guard facilities before settling on the remote cabin, FBI agent Steve Daniels said.

Keebler’s militia had seven members, including three who were actually undercover FBI agents, Daniels said.

Undercover agents built the inert explosive device and placed it against a cabin door last week before handing Keebler the remote detonator, defense attorney Lynn Donaldson pointed out. Some of Keebler’s so-called recognizance involved simply driving by offices, he said.

“Not liking a particular religion or minority group or action of the federal government is not illegal, it’s just not politically correct,” said Donaldson.

But prosecutors contend Keebler wanted to use explosives and was also willing to shoot people if anyone came after the group when he detonated the device. He had an AR-15-style gun, a handgun and “lots of ammo,” Daniels said.

“It doesn’t get too much more serious than detonating a bomb,” said prosecutor Andrew Choate.

Wednesday’s hearing came as U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead considers whether to keep Keebler in jail ahead of trial on one count of attempting to damage federal property with an explosive. He’s expected to decide after reviewing recordings at the request of the defense.

The FBI started investigating Keebler after he took part in a 2014 armed standoff with federal officials at Bundy’s Nevada ranch over unpaid grazing fees, Daniels said.

Keebler considered the grazing restrictions harassment, and wanted to blow up federal property to retaliate, charges state. The cabin the group eventually settled on is in the northern Arizona area of Mt. Trumbull.

Keebler was also an associate of Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who served as a spokesman for Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, and other ranchers involved in an armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge earlier this year, prosecutors say. Finicum was shot and killed by authorities during a Jan. 26 traffic stop that led to Ammon Bundy’s arrest.

Keebler raises his own chickens and rabbits on a farm in Stockton, Utah, about 40 west of Salt Lake City, and suffers from several health problems, Donaldson said. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Arizona tattoo artist pleads guilty in Oregon refuge case Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:22:28 -0400 STEVEN DUBOIS PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Arizona tattoo artist pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in the Oregon’s ranching standoff case.

Brian Cavalier, a bodyguard for standoff leader Ammon Bundy and his father Cliven Bundy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possessing a gun in a federal facility. Cavalier admitted in federal court in Portland that he conspired with others to impede Interior Department employees from doing their jobs at the refuge near Burns.

He became the sixth defendant to plead guilty in the continuing case. The other five took deals in which government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the gun charge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said prosecutors, in exchange for Cavalier’s acceptance of responsibility, will recommend a sentence far below the maximum of 11 years in prison, likely 15-21 months.

Cavalier also faces charges in Nevada for his involvement in a 2014 armed standoff with federal agents at Cliven Bundy’s ranch. Gabriel said Wednesday’s plea agreement is with Oregon alone, and there are “no promises” in the Nevada case.

Cavalier, 45, traveled to Oregon this past winter to participate in the Ammon Bundy-led occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a protest against the federal control of Western lands and the imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of setting fires.

Cavalier stayed for only five days before going back to Arizona. He had a run-in with police there and returned to Oregon.

He was arrested Jan. 26 along with Bundy as the two traveled to a community meeting away from the refuge. Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the occupation spokesman, was in a different vehicle and was fatally shot by Oregon State Police during the traffic stop.

Gabriel noted that Cavalier was armed during his initial stay at the refuge, but didn’t have a gun when he returned to Oregon and was unarmed during the traffic stop.

Cavalier told the judge his actions could have led to the intimidation of federal employees. Gabriel took exception to the word “could,” and the defendant rephrased his answer. In response to another question, he said: “Yes, your honor. I did agree with at least one other person to impede,” emphasizing the last word.

Cavalier will be sentenced Sept. 30, three weeks after most of the remaining 20 defendants — including Ammon Bundy — are scheduled to go on trial.

Experts: Climate change could be worsening Oregon’s water quality Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:20:42 -0400 BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is one of several states without a routine water testing program, leaving many bodies of water unmonitored for harmful algae blooms.

The Bulletin reports a handful of the state’s lakes are shut down each summer because of harmful algae blooms. The blooms, sometimes called blue-green algae, are caused by toxin-producing bacteria and often form a green paint-like scum on the surface of the water. It can cause health problems for humans and can kill livestock and pets.

Most blooms are only a minor inconvenience, but environmental authorities are concerned that climate change and runoff are increasing the frequency and severity of harmful algae blooms and putting people and animals at greater risk.

Algae expert Dr. Wayne Carmichael says the blooms will get worse unless people address water quality.

Crop aggregation facility designed to help local farmers Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:09:24 -0400 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s first crop aggregation facility, which is designed to help local farmers, has opened in Huntington.

Tuesday’s opening ceremony of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Huntington Aggregation Center included a demonstration of several pieces of new equipment that will be used at the facility, The Herald-Dispatch reported.

The opening of the facility gave local farmers a glimpse into how it could help them prepare their products for marketing.

State Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick said the facility will serve as a crop aggregation point for farmers and will be used for agricultural classes for students and farmers. He said the goal is to capture some of the approximately $6 billion that state residents spend on agricultural products produced outside the state.

“Farming has always been, and always will be, a part of West Virginia’s heritage and history,” he said.

Helmick called the facility a $475,000 investment that will help small farmers reach larger customer bases.

“Potatoes being grown in other parts of the state through the pilot project will be processed and packed at the Huntington facility during this year’s harvest,” he said. “We will help make these local farmers real entrepreneurs, making a good living in the state’s growing agriculture industry.”

Appeal to delay $50M settlement to Northeast dairy farmers Thu, 30 Jun 2016 08:07:08 -0400 MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — An appeal of a financial settlement to be paid by a national dairy marketing cooperative to thousands of Northeast dairy farmers could delay the payments for at least a year.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Vermont approved a $50 million settlement to be paid by Dairy Farmers of America to about 8,860 farms to settle a lawsuit that accused the marketing group of trying to drive down milk prices.

Vermont Public Radio reports a lawyer representing one group of plaintiffs in the case says a small group of farmers are unhappy with the settlement terms and have appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says word of an appeal comes as many dairy farmers are grappling with low milk prices.

Farm Bureau disputes WSU’s upbeat take on carbon tax Wed, 29 Jun 2016 11:25:01 -0400 Don Jenkins Carbon tax proponents are calling attention to a Washington State University study that concluded Initiative 732 on the November ballot would slightly boost the state’s farm economy.

The study, led by Gregmar Galinato of the WSU School of Economic Sciences, concludes that an increase in the cost of fuel and other goods would be more than offset by I-732’s other features, which would cut taxes and stimulate consumer demand.

The net result would be a 1.76 percent increase in the value of the state’s agricultural output in the policy’s second year, the authors concluded.

The study did not report dollar figures. Washington’s agricultural production topped $10 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Washington Farm Bureau views the report skeptically. It maintains that a carbon tax would raise the cost of fuel, electricity, fertilizer and food processing, and that farmers and processors would have to absorb those costs.

“We would disagree with this professor,” Tom Davis, the bureau’s director of government relations, said. “Anything that impacts our food processors and causes them to move to other states would have a big detrimental impact to agriculture.”

The report was completed in April, but highlighted Monday in a press release from the Yes on I-732 campaign.

“This policy supports the state’s economic goals, while addressing our moral responsibility to protect our children and future generations from the harmful effects of climate change,” Yes on I-732 founder Yoram Bauman said in a written statement.

Galinato’s study was funded by a USDA grant. He has endorsed I-732, according to the campaign’s website. Efforts to reach Galinato were unsuccessful.

I-732 would phase in over two years a $25 per metric ton tax on carbon emitted by the refining of fossil fuels and the generation of electricity.

The tax would increase annually by 3.5 percent, plus the rate of inflation until climbing to $100 per ton. I-732 proponents estimate the cap would be reached in 40 years.

Agriculture would be partially shielded from the carbon tax. The tax on diesel, biodiesel and aircraft fuel used for agriculture would be phased in over 40 years.

Sponsors sought to make the proposal “revenue neutral” by reducing taxes on manufacturers, cutting the state sales tax to 5.5 percent from 6.5 percent and distributing the carbon taxes to low-income workers.

The WSU study concluded the sales tax cut and working-families rebate would help farmers by increasing food consumption

Climate-change activists are not united behind the plan, criticizing the tax-cutting aspects of the plan. The Office of Financial Management estimated that state tax revenues would decline by $914 million over the policy’s first four years.

Carbon Washington, the group behind I-732, collected enough signatures last year to force state lawmakers to either adopt the measure or put it to a vote.

Another Galinato-led study completed this year, titled “How a Race to the Bottom Can Make You Fat, linked lower business taxes with higher childhood obesity rates.

The study concluded that cutting taxes and increasing spending on infrastructure to attract businesses siphoned money from health and education programs that reduce obesity.

Velde joins Legacy Seeds’ Alfalfa Team Wed, 29 Jun 2016 14:52:39 -0400 Legacy Seeds Inc. is excited to announce the recent addition of Mike Velde to their Alfalfa Team as Alfalfa Plant Breeder and Sales Agronomist.

Bruce Ceranske, Owner and Vice President of Legacy Seeds, says that Velde’s outstanding skills and integrity are a perfect fit for the Legacy Seeds team. Velde’s 35 years of experience in alfalfa breeding and world-wide sales adds to the wealth of experience on the Legacy Alfalfa team. Velde, who serves as current President of the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference, will play a key role with the Legacy alfalfa breeding program and sales effort regionally through the Legacy Brands and also Nationally and Internationally. Velde played an integral role in bringing branch-root, deep set crown and other high yielding dormant and winterhardy semi-dormant varieties to market. Velde is excited to work with Dave Huset, Legacy Seeds’ Alfalfa Research Director. “Dave Huset has a number of outstanding varieties that he has bred that are performing exceptionally well in the marketplace”, says Velde,” Legacy has an outstanding alfalfa breeding program.”

Bruce Ceranske added that Mike’s addition solidifies Legacy’s commitment to alfalfa breeding. “As the last independent alfalfa breeder left in the industry, Legacy Seeds provides many options that several regional and national companies find very attractive.” Dave Robison, Forage and Cover Crop Manager for Legacy Seeds comments that “our alfalfa breeding program has become much more visible the past few years with many outstanding HDTM and StandLife Genetics® alfalfa varieties performing especially well in the FD 3 – FD 5 markets in North America. Mike will greatly enhance our visibility and effort to place more alfalfa genetics into the marketplace both in our Legacy’s Brand and also private labeling varieties worldwide.”

Legacy Seeds, Inc. is an independently owned company with locations in Scandinavia, WI and Nampa, ID. Check out Legacy Seeds Inc. at

Idaho revises proposed changes to field burning program Wed, 29 Jun 2016 11:25:04 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — Idaho environmental groups and public health advocates have balked at a revised proposal that would amend the state’s crop residue burning program.

Department of Environmental Quality officials say the program changes are needed to avoid a large reduction in the number of allowable field burning days in Idaho.

To achieve that goal, DEQ initially proposed loosening the state’s ozone standard while tightening the standard for small particulate matter, known as PM 2.5.

The changes are necessary because the federal ozone standard was tightened in October, which will result in a large reduction in allowable burn days in Idaho unless the state’s program is changed, DEQ officials said.

DEQ can only approve field burning requests if ozone and PM 2.5 levels are not expected to exceed federal standards in the area.

After hearing from farm group representatives whose members are concerned about tightening the PM 2.5 standard, DEQ released a revised proposal that leaves the PM 2.5 standard unchanged.

Mary Anderson, who manages DEQ’s crop residue burning program, said the department could not provide scientific justification that shows tightening the PM 2.5 standard would make it less likely that field burning in Idaho would impact public health.

Leaders of three of the state’s main environmental and public health advocacy groups said it’s not equitable to loosen the ozone standard but not tighten the PM 2.5 standard.

“We’re being asked to lower the ozone standard in exchange for no public health protection,” said Courtney Washburn, executive director of Conservation Voters for Idaho. “I’m really frustrated that we might lose all the work and effort everyone has put into maintaining this balance (between field burning and protecting public health) over a few burn days.”

The stakeholders have met twice during negotiated rule-making meetings hosted by DEQ.

Before the third and final meeting July 20, DEQ will release a third draft proposal. After that meeting, the department will release a final proposal.

Tiffany Floyd, who manages DEQ’s air quality division, said the second meeting June 23 revealed a lot about where the parties stand on the issue and she believes a proposal acceptable to everyone can be reached.

“I definitely think we can reach a compromise,” she said.

Patti Gora-McRavin, who represents safe air advocates, said she’s hopeful the two sides want to and can reach an agreement.

However, she said DEQ is going to have to tighten the PM 2.5 standard for a consensus to be achieved.

“I do hope they have a better (third) draft,” she said.

During the June 23 meeting, Mike McGown, EPA’s smoke management coordinator for this region, reminded people that field burning in Idaho was halted in 2007 as the result of a lawsuit. It resumed only after a negotiator was brought in and the sides reached an agreement that created the current program.

“It is an excellent program. It’s one of the best programs in the country,” McGown said. A big reason for that, he added, is that the sides have been able to work with a consensus.