Capital Press | Capital Press Sat, 24 Jun 2017 18:56:19 -0400 en Capital Press | Pest abatement expert aims to protect public from mosquitoes Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:03:19 -0400 ERIN BURDENMountain Home News MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (AP) — Farmers and residents in Elmore County know him as Mosquito Jim. It’s because Jim Torbert has spent the last three years of his career with the county’s pest abatement department protecting the people from diseases spread by mosquitoes.

Torbert’s main battle involves the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus, which reached Idaho in 2004. By 2006, there were 996 confirmed cased of the virus reported to the state health department.

The state fought back with the creation of mosquito abatement districts across Idaho to deal with pests deemed a public health concern. Shortly after, Elmore County’s Pest Abatement District was created, and Torbert was hired to lead the fight against species-crossing illness.

“It’s all about the health and welfare of the people of Elmore County,” said Torbert, who admits that he hasn’t always had the easiest time accomplishing the task.

He’s had instances where he pulled his truck up to someone’s property and was met with someone holding a shotgun on their porch. He also had a lawsuit filed against him after he fogged an area to rid it of mosquitoes.

Generally, he remains respectful of other’s property and boundaries. State statutes, however, give him the authority to go onto federal, state, county, city or private property to capture and test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus. It also allows him to rid that area of these pests if the virus is detected, regardless of where they’re found.

“Mosquitoes are out there, and they suck,” Torbert says laughing at his own play on words.

But it’s true, he said. These pests don’t care whose property they invade.

“I love the meaning of the job,” said Torbert, who sees it as helping people and making a difference, not policing.

When it comes to West Nile Virus, Torbert speaks from experience. Both Torbert and his office manager, Beverly Engelhardt, have contracted the virus, which is passed between infected birds to mosquitoes and then to horses and humans.

In 70 to 80 percent of cases where people become infected, they don’t develop symptoms. However, Torbert and Engelhardt weren’t so lucky. They were part of the one in five who develop symptoms like fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rashes.

Symptoms usually appear between five to 15 days after infection. Most people recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks to months.

The reason health departments are concerned of an outbreak of this illness is the effects it can have on the less than one percent of people infected. Those people can develop severe neurological illnesses such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain).

Those severe symptoms can include headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, seizures, paralysis and coma. In extreme cases, it’s been known to kill people.

The elderly and those with medical conditions that have a weakened immune system are more at risk. Of the one percent who contract the neurological infections associated with West Nile Virus, about 10 percent of them will likely die.

Those who do recover may have permanent neurological effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How does Torbert deal with protecting the entire county? He starts with educating the public on how to protect themselves.

It starts with flyers that are mailed out to every address in the county that contain facts, myths, protection and how to contact his office to report mosquito-ridden areas. He’s also hung posters around town teaching residents how to “Fight The Bite.” Students in the county were included in this education outreach during a “mosquito 101” poster contest where fourth grade students were able to color and name a new type of mosquito.

These efforts warn people to look for standing water and eliminate areas where that water can breed mosquitoes. Females of the species are the only one that bite and can live from three to 100 days. During that time, those female insects can lay between 1,000 to 3,000 eggs.

To avoid creating a mosquito habitat, Torbert asks people to drain neglected swimming pools, bird baths, water features, pet dishes, planters, clogged drain gutters and fix leaky hoses. They should check for tree holes, landscape depressions, storm drains, boat covers, old tires, ponds, drain fields and wetlands to eliminate or treat these places for insects.

In Idaho there are 52 species of mosquito but only two of them are vector species for West Nile Virus — the Western Equine Encephalitis Mosquito (Culex Tarsalis) and the Northern House Mosquito (Culex Pipiens). Both of these species are hunted by Torbert.

Spraying is not the first answer, he said. There is extensive study of any area before action is taken, and even then, he uses the most natural means available to make the smallest impact on the environment.

Trapping is the first step in determining the species that have made an area their home. As of 2016, there are 36 sites in Elmore County where traps are set with more are being added each year.

Torbert and his assistant travel out once a week and check traps that sit out over a 12-hour period from sunset to sunrise. The captured mosquitoes are then taken back to the office to be counted, catalogued by species and checked for the virus if either of the two vector species are found.

To help in this process, the pest abatement office purchased $4,500 worth of equipment to test mosquitoes in the office versus sending them out to a lab. This gives Torbert the ability to shorten the amount of time for results from four days down to just 90 minutes. This allows for a quicker response to infected areas.

Because mosquitoes also pollinate plants, the pest abatement department is very careful about when, where and how often they spray, Torbert said. For instance, spraying and fogging only happens when the mosquitoes cross the line from being a nuisance to becoming a health hazard.

Currently, the chemical used is a bacterial spray that goes after mosquito larva versus older versions that affected all types of pollinator insects. This leaves other insects in the area safe and leaves food for the insects. Torbert even makes an effort to keep from eliminating other types of insect larva.

Dragonflies, for example, lay their eggs near mosquito eggs, so when their larva hatch, they can eat the mosquito eggs. If dragonflies are in the area where mosquitoes are seen, that is a good sign that the problem is under control, Torbert said.

Mosquitoes are also a source of food for some birds and many bats. Torbert is in the process of erecting bat boxes in the county to encourage these groups to live in areas of large mosquito populations. The brown bat can eat between 600 and 1,000 mosquitoes, while a nursing mother can eat as many as 4,500 in an evening.

“Anyone who notices bats around their property or wants a nursery of brown bats, I would supply the materials out of the budget for bat boxes,” Torbert said.

The environment is a concern for Torbert, who works to find natural solutions such as the brown bats and public awareness on the issue. One of the biggest impacts he has had is the types of chemical he uses to kill mosquitoes.

Although the chemical growth regulators are cheaper, he uses a bacterial spray that is safe to use on crops. It is released in a fog, which burns off when touched by sunlight, meaning it doesn’t leave residue behind. For Elmore County, the pest abatement district is of the utmost importance considering there are 52 different species of mosquito found in Idaho, according to Torbert. That’s about a third of the different species of mosquitoes in the United States, which total 176.

Worldwide, that number of species climbs to approximately 3,000. With the speed of travel and the connectedness of the world today, it’s not difficult for an insect to find its way into a car or onto a plane and start a new population on foreign soil.

However, many of them are unable to survive the winters in Idaho and the northern United States, which limits the numbers of species. The best way to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes is still to use DEET, said Torbert. The chemical found in most bug repellent sprays is the only one that has been proven to ward off the insects.

Colorado Company converts shredded trees to carbon product Thu, 22 Jun 2017 09:54:04 -0400 CRAIG YOUNGLoveland Daily Reporter-Herald BERTHOUD, Colo. (AP) — James Gaspard points to a pile of charred logs, burned in the 2013 Black Forest fire, and says, “What else were they going to do with it?”

What else, he means, than shred the 50 truckloads of trees, cook the wood at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and sell it as a high-quality carbon product called biochar, which is what his Berthoud-area company does.

Biochar Now, which the Loveland resident founded with local serial entrepreneur Bill Beierwaltes in 2011, has 40 large steel kilns operating on the 17-acre property it leases southeast of Berthoud.

Beierwaltes, the company’s former CEO and still a part-owner, has retired from active involvement, Gaspard said.

With a few million dollars of investment, Biochar would be ready to increase its Berthoud operation to 120 kilns and fire up the technology nationwide, Gaspard said.

“We’re negotiating expansion sites currently in California, British Columbia, the southeast United States,” he said.


Biochar Now’s product has a variety of uses, Gaspard said. Added to the soil, it holds and slowly releases water and fertilizer and dramatically increases yields, he said.

“Anecdotally, some of our customers are reporting doubling and tripling of yields,” he said. “It’s not a subtle effect this has on crops.”

Dropped into algae-choked lakes in long cloth “socks,” it sucks up the excess phosphorus in the water and starves the algae.

The negatively charged carbon also attracts and holds heavy metals such as arsenic and lead and is used to clean up water in mine-reclamation work. And the biochar effectively removes mercury from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, he said.

Biochar Now products have won the acclaim of producers of specialty crops such as berries, vegetables, grapes and citrus, Gaspard said, and he sells his char to two national lawn-care chains.

In Colorado, the cannabis growers are loving the results, he said.

“We greatly increase the potency and yields of the cannabis and the hemp,” he said.

The product is expensive, he said, so a farmer with acres of alfalfa wouldn’t be as inclined to use it. But the smaller producers recover their investment in one season, he said, and the product stays effective in the soil “forever.”


Biochar Now also sells its char to producers of high-end potting and gardening soils available to consumers.

A future cash crop that Gaspard is looking forward to exploiting is the carbon credit.

“If you leave the dead trees in the woods, they rot, and the carbon goes back into the air, the methane goes back into the air,” he said. “Biochar is one of the only technologies that has been verified to take gigatons out of the air ... to roll back global warming.

“We literally break the carbon cycle,” he said.

In use in other countries but not yet widely implemented in the United States, a carbon-credit system gives credits to companies such as Biochar Now that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Those companies can then sell the credits to companies that release carbon, allowing them to reduce their net carbon footprint.

So what, exactly, is biochar? Is it just charcoal?

“Yes and no,” Gaspard said. “We’re talking about a whole different grade of charcoal. We process our product at about three times the temperature of regular charcoal.”


An electron microscope photo shows the open, honeycomb structure of Biochar Now’s product that allows it to hold five times its weight in water, attract certain molecules and serve as a home for microbes, he said.

“Regular charcoal is just baked wood that burns easier,” he said. “This is a totally different product. We probably ought to change the name.”

To create that special char, the company shreds clean waste wood — beetle-killed pine, logs from forest fires, pallets and crates and, soon, tree trimmings diverted from the Larimer County Landfill.

In 11-cubic-yard kilns fabricated in Fort Collins, the company uses propane burners to start a chemical process called pyrolysis that, in an oxygen-free state, turns the shredded wood into chunks of biochar. Introduce oxygen into the kiln, and the wood turns to ash, he said.

The process takes six to 14 hours to complete, depending on the type of wood and the moisture content. Then the kiln is left to cool for a day.

Gaspard won’t say how his company creates the oxygen-free state inside the kiln, nor will he divulge how it keeps the kiln emissions clean.

He said his previous company, Colorado Biochar, hadn’t solved the emissions puzzle, and he brought on Beierwaltes to help devise an answer.

“We struggled with that for four years and several million dollars,” he said.


After the wood is turned into char, the chunks are fed into a machine that crushes it into four sizes: chips, rice-sized medium pieces, small chips the size of sand and powder.

Depending on the size of char used, it can be added to soil before planting, spread on top of grass or even suspended in water and sprayed on, he said.

Governor declares drought emergency in eastern Montana Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:40:00 -0400

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has declared a drought emergency in 19 counties in eastern Montana and two Native American reservations.

The governor’s office said in a statement Friday that those areas have seen record low precipitation, high temperatures and excessive wind over the last two months.

Bullock says farmers and ranchers are feeling the effects after a winter of below-average rain and snow.

Oats, wheat, peas, sugar beets and other crops have suffered. Pasture and range conditions are poor and dust has made it difficult for ranchers to keep track of cattle.

The governor is also requesting that federal officials make agricultural producers eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency livestock and conservation assistance programs.

The federal agency authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands in Montana earlier Friday.

Eco-group billboard blitz to greet Interior chief in Montana Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:36:44 -0400 MATT VOLZ HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups plan to crash the homecoming in Montana next week of President Donald Trump’s Interior Department secretary with billboards, television ads and speeches to pressure him on issues from national monuments to sage grouse.

Ryan Zinke is scheduled to address the Western Governors Association’s annual conference Tuesday in the town of Whitefish, which he represented as a state lawmaker from 2009 to 2011.

He will be welcomed by billboards urging him not to touch the Upper Missouri River Breaks, one of two dozen national monuments he’s reviewing to eliminate or scale back protections.

Television ads will air during the conference telling him to leave alone a conservation plan by the Obama administration and 11 Western states to protect the sage grouse, an imperiled bird.

Advocates will give speeches in a downtown Whitefish park the day before Zinke’s address, calling on the interior chief to better protect public lands.

“Welcome home,” said Larry Epstein, a member of group renting the billboards that supports the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. “We hope to get the attention of Secretary Zinke and the Western governors.”

Eleven governors, their staffs, lobbyists, business representatives and special interest groups will meet in the resort town near Glacier National Park on topics that include the Endangered Species Act, forest management and ties with Canada.

Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift and the Department of Interior press office did not return email queries for comment.

Supporters of the Trump administration’s plans to review and possibly loosen existing land and wildlife protections are dismayed by the heavy investment that environmentalists are making to confront Zinke on his home turf.

Ron Poertner, one of about 120 ranchers, farmers and landowners who live in or use the Upper Missouri River Breaks and favor reducing the size of the 590-square-mile national monument, said they can’t compete with that level of organization and money.

“We’re haying, we’re still spraying weeds, we’re still doing farm work,” Poertner said. “To say, ‘Let’s take a bus and do some counter-protesting,’ there’s no way.”

The Montana monument, created in 2001 just before President Bill Clinton left office, includes federal, state and private land that surrounds a 149-mile stretch of the Missouri River that is mostly unchanged since Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery traversed it in the early 1800s.

Zinke is reviewing it and 23 other monuments in a report that will recommend whether they should be resized or eliminated.

Opponents of changes, such as Epstein’s Hold Our Ground group, say the review is a waste of taxpayer money by rehashing already settled arguments. Supporters like Poertner are worried they’ll be squeezed off the land and say presidents have too much power to unilaterally designate national monuments.

Zinke’s Interior Department also is reviewing the land-use policies implemented in 2015 as a way of preventing even stricter policies to protect the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

The conservation group Western Values Project is launching a television ad campaign for the Western Governors Association meant to ratchet up pressure on both Zinke and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

“It appears Secretary Zinke wants to scrap all the work done by to Western communities, coalitions, sportsmen and women, wildlife managers, private landowners, and industry groups,” Executive Director Chris Saeger said in a statement. “If Governor Bullock has an audience with Secretary Zinke next week, he must use it to insist that Interior continue with the sage-grouse plans.”

National feeder and stocker cattle report Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:57:54 -0400 Cattle prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals per pair or head as indicated.


(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

May 26

This week Last week Last year

244,900 179,400 160,700

Compared to June 16: Steers and heifers sold mostly 2.00 to 8.00 lower. Yearlings and heavy weight steers were steady to weak with lower undertones noted.

The supply of feeder cattle is fairly tight as there is competition in the marketplace with farmers trying to buy cattle at lower prices, especially farmer feeders with old crop corn to feed.

Live and feeder cattle futures started the week by closing moderately lower and continued with a mostly downward trend for much of the week before seeing slight gains on Friday.

Compared to last Friday, June live cattle futures ended the week 2.50 lower at 119.20 and August 2.90 lower at 115.27. Feeder cattle futures were 2.92 lower at 144.95 for August and 2.95 lower at 144.40 for September.

Although the market lost support from the board throughout the week, there were still positive high notes out in the field, including the sale of 200 head of home raised steers weighing 770 pounds at 178.00 in Valentine, Nebraska on Thursday.

Throughout the week, cash cattle trade has moved lower and at a significantly quick pace. In the Southern Plains live trades were 5.00 to 11.00 lower from 122.00-123.00. In Nebraska live trades were 9.00 to 11.00 lower from 121.00-123.00 and dressed trades were 7.00 to 17.00 lower from 193.00-198.00.

In Colorado live purchases were 9.00 to 10.00 lower from 122.00-123.00. Colorado’s week-to-date volume is 11,236 so far, the third largest head count in over six years.

Along with this, it must be noted that in NASS’s Livestock Slaughter Report the average dressed carcass weights of steers and heifers have dropped 25 pounds since last year.

Since the previous report covering April, steer carcasses have decreased 13 pounds and heifer carcasses have decreased 20 pounds, indicating feedlots are staying current and “green” cattle being sold for slaughter.

The U.S. cattle industry experienced many market moving headlines throughout the week. On Tuesday, an announcement from the largest feedlot operator in the U.S. as they disclosed their divestment plan. The plan included the dispersal of several major feed yards throughout the country.

Also, on Thursday it was announced that the U.S. would suspend beef imports from Brazil, mainly due to safety and health concerns.

Drought remains persistent in the upper Great Plains, impacting the states of Minnesota, Montana, and the Dakotas. Producers have requested the use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage for emergency grazing, as well as haying. Although the area has received recent rain showers, there will be little impact on long-term conditions and after a harsh winter, there is a shortage in the hay supply.

If the use of CRP land is not granted or much needed rain is not received, producers will face tough decisions, including the options of decreasing their herd size or driving several hundred miles to purchase hay.

The most recent five-day forecast remains dry for the area, which may be hard on livestock and crops. Throughout the north and southeast portions of the Midwest, scattered rain showers are expected, with mild summer temperatures.

According to this week’s Crop Progress Report, corn and soybeans are rated with 67 percent in the good to excellent categories, with soybean plantings now 96 percent complete.

The month of May saw large volumes of feeder cattle run through auction barns. This is credited to the higher futures and cash cattle trade. Cattle on Feed was released this afternoon with numbers that were slightly above the estimates. Cattle on feed June 1 totaled 103 percent, placed on feed during May totaled 112 percent, and fed cattle marketed in May totaled 109 percent.

Yesterday NASS’s Cold Storage Report was released, which concluded that total red meat supplies in freezers is down 5 percent from last month and 7 percent from last year.

Total pounds of beef in freezers is down 10 percent from last month and down 11 percent from last year. For pork, frozen supplies are slightly lower than last month and down 4 percent from last year, with the stock of pork bellies down 6 percent from last month and 59 percent from last year.

The Choice-Select spread began to recede this week, closing today at 23.03, down 7.01 from last Friday.

For the week, Choice boxed-beef closed 10.09 lower at 239.75 and Select closed 3.08 lower at 216.72. Auction volume this week included 57 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.


This week Last week Last year

145,400 146,700 126,900

WYOMING 1300. 100 pct over 600 lbs. 75 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 pkg 710 lbs 160.00. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 half load 610 lbs 154.00; part load 735 lbs 147.50.

DAKOTAS 10,400. 96 pct over 600 lbs. 46 pct heifers. South Dakota- 10,400. Steers: Medium and Large 1 550-600 lbs (587) 183.69; 600-650 lbs (635) 180.24; 650-700 lbs (663) 173.71; 700-750 lbs (720) 161.79; 750-800 lbs (775) 157.17; 800-850 lbs (818) 147.13; 850-900 lbs (868) 144.85; 900-950 lbs (920) 148.42; 950-1000 lbs (975) 137.37. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 500-550 lbs (545) 166.14; large pkg 575 lbs 575 165.50; 600-650 lbs (614) 161.26; 650-700 lbs (672) 157.91; 700-750 lbs (718) 154.96; 750-800 lbs (776) 144.97; 800-850 lbs (817) 143.65; 850-900 lbs (882) 134.06; 900-950 lbs (922) 130.20; 950-1000 lbs (972) 128.65. Medium and Large 1-2 650-700 lbs (675) 147.65.

MONTANA 8800. 86 pct over 600 lbs. 68 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 500-550 lbs (514) 183.86; 550-600 lbs (581) 173.80; 600-650 lbs (632) 173.24; 650-700 lbs (678) 163.63; 700-750 lbs (726) 160.18; 800-850 lbs (838) 152.58; 850-900 lbs (879) 150.70; 900-950 lbs (904) 147.38; 950-1000 lbs (982) 142.08. Medium and Large 1-2 550-600 lbs (579) 163.67; 800-850 lbs (819) 142.79. Heifers: Medium and Large 1 500-550 lbs (530) 164.77; 550-600 lbs (577) 162.73; 600-650 lbs (619) 161.44; 650-700 lbs (673) 155.33; 700-750 lbs (715) 146.29; 750-800 lbs (775) 146.29; 800-850 lbs (818) 143.78; 850-900 lbs (869) 139.23. Medium and Large 1-2 500-550 lbs (591) 155.13; 600-650 lbs (631) 151.53; 650-700 lbs (684) 149.40; 800-850 lbs (836) 123.79.

WASHINGTON 1500. 51 pct over 600 lbs. 45 pct heifers. Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2 650-700 lbs (665) 129.95.


This week Last week Last year

26,800 32,500 32,400

(74 pct over 600 lbs, 28 pct heifers)

NORTHWEST (WA-OR-ID) 600. 63 pct over 600 lbs. 82 pct heifers. Steers: Medium and Large 1 Current Delivered Price 800 lbs 144.00 ID. Feeder Heifers Medium and Large 1 Current Delivered Price 750-800 lbs 138.00 ID. Large 1 1050 lbs 108.00 ID. Future Delivery FOB Price 550-600 lbs 150.00 for Nov-Dec ID; 600-650 lbs 150.00 for Nov-Dec ID.


(USDA Market News)

Oklahoma City, Okla.

June 23

Fat cattle traded 5.00-8.00 lower on a live basis this week. Dressed sales in Nebraska 8.00-10.00 lower.

Boxed Beef prices as of Friday afternoon averaged 239.75 up 4.93 from last Friday. The Choice-Select spread is 30.04. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Friday afternoon totaled about 89,854 head. Last week’s total head count was 88,857.


(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

June 23

This week Last week Last year

550 2000 3050

Compared to last week: Feeder cattle weak in a light test. As the CME and slaughter cattle markets remain bearish. Trade slow with good demand. JBS announced plans this week to sell its stake in Five Rivers Cattle Feeding.

USDA placed a ban on imported beef from Brazil and while that will not stop imports from other countries, it might slow them down.

The feeder supply included 39 percent steers and 61 percent heifers. Near 100 percent of the supply weighed over 600 lbs. Prices are FOB weighing point with a 1-4 percent shrink or equivalent and with a 3-8 cent slide on yearlings. Delivered prices include freight, commissions and other expenses. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1: Current Delivered Price: 800 lbs. 144.00 ID.

Feeder Heifers Medium and Large 1: Current Delivered Price: 750-800 lbs. 138.00 ID. Large 1: 1050 lbs. 108.00 ID. Future Delivery FOB Price: 550-600 lbs.

150.00 for Nov-Dec ID; 600-650 lbs. 150.00 for Nov-Dec ID.

National wool and sheep review Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:29:39 -0400 Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.


(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

June 23

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades reported.

Domestic wool trading on a greasy basis was at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades reported. All trades reported on a weighted average.

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50


(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

June 23

Compared to last week: All classes were steady to sharply lower. At San Angelo, Texas, 6488 head sold. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes were not tested and no recent comparison on feeder lambs; 2400 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were firm. 2,809 lamb carcasses sold with all weights no trend due to confidentiality. All sheep sold per hundredweight unless otherwise specified.

Slaughter Lambs Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: Shorn and wooled 100-170 lbs 158.00-164.00.

Ft. Collins, Colo.: Wooled 137 lbs 172.50; 154 lbs 157.50.

Billings, Mont.: No test.

Slaughter Lambs Choice and Prime 1-2:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs 190.00-214.00; 60-70 lbs 190.00-214.00; 70-80 lbs 180.00-198.00, few 202.00; 80-90 lbs 178.00-191.00; 90-110 lbs 165.00-190.00.

Ft. Collins: 40-50 lbs 182.50-190.00, few 200.00; 50-60 lbs 180.00-190.00; 60-70 lbs 175.00-187.50; 70-80 lbs 185.00-190.00; 80-90 lbs 175.00-185.00; 90-110 lbs 167.50-187.50.

Direct Trading (lambs fob with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent)

Slaughter Lambs 2400: Shorn and wooled 116-191 lbs 160.00-207.50 (wtd avg 186.98).

Texas: 1100: Feeder Lambs 75 lbs 220.00.

Slaughter Ewes:

San Angelo: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 49.00-50.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 52.50-64.00; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 63.00-78.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 53.00-64.00; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) 46.00-53.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) 20.00-45.00.

Ft. Collins: Good 3-5 (very fleshy) 53.00-60.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 54.00-59.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 40.00-49.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) no test.

Billings, Mont.: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) no test; Good 2-3 (fleshy) no test; Utility 1-2 (thin) no test; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) no test; Cull 1 no test.

S. Dakota: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 65.00-70.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 61.00-71.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 53.00-63.00; Cull 1 42.00-46.00.

Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 55.00-73.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 57.50-65.00; Cull 1 35.00-40.00.

Feeder Lambs: Medium and Large 1-2

San Angelo: 60-90 lbs 210.00-218.00; 90-100 lbs 205.00-210.00.

Ft. Collins: 76 lbs 175.00.

National Weekly Lamb Carcass: Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Wtd. Avg.

45 lbs. down Price not reported

due to confidentiality

45-55 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

55-65 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

65-75 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

75-85 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

85 lbs. up Price not reported

due to confidentiality

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 38,000 compared with 36,000 last week and 38,000 last year.

West Coast grain price report Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:47:47 -0400 Grains are stated in dollars per bushel or hundredweight (cwt.) except feed grains traded in dollars per ton. National grain report bids are for rail delivery unless truck indicated.


(USDA Market News)


June 22


Cash wheat bids for June delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, June 22, were higher compared to last week’s noon bids for June delivery.

July wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, June 22, higher as follows compared to last week’s closes: Chicago wheat futures were 7.50 cents higher at 4.6125, Kansas City wheat futures were 2.50 cents higher at 4.6775 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 23.75 cents higher at 6.5625. Chicago July corn futures trended 16.75 cents lower at 3.6275 and July soybean futures closed 30.75 cents lower at 9.04.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during June for ordinary protein trended 7.50 cents per bushel higher compared to week ago prices for the same delivery period at 4.8625-5.0625. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

White club wheat premiums were zero to five cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids this week compared to zero to 10 cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for June delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were not available and bids for White Club Wheat were also not available. Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: July 4.8625-5.0625, August New Crop 5.00-5.1025, September 5.0525-5.1525 and October 5.12-5.1750.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: July 5.0375-5.33, August New Crop 5.1225-5.32, September 5.1225-5.37 and October 5.33-5.47.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during June trended 7.50 cents per bushel higher than week ago prices for the same delivery period at 4.8625-5.1125. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

White club wheat premiums for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein soft white wheat this week were zero to five cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids this week and last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein for July delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were not available and bids for White Club Wheat were not available.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: July 4.8625-5.1125, August New Crop 5.00-5.1025 and September 5.03-5.1525.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: July 5.0375-5.25, August New Crop 5.1225-5.25, September 5.1725-5.30 and October 5.33-5.38.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for June delivery were 2.50 cents per bushel higher compared to last week’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. This week, bids were as follows: June 5.4275-5.6275, July 5.4275-5.5775, August New Crop 5.5575-5.6575 and September 5.5575-5.7575.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during June were 23.75 cents per bushel higher than last week’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

This week, bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: June and July 7.5625-7.7125, August New Crop 7.5125-7.7625 and September 7.5125-7.9125.


Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BNSF shuttle trains for June delivery trended 15.75 cents lower from 4.1875-4.2075. Forward month corn bids were as follows: July 4.2175-4.2875, August and September 4.2875-4.3675 and October 4.4875-4.5075. Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BNSF shuttle trains for June delivery were not available as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Forward month soybean bids were as follows: July 9.74-9.79, September 9.9525-9.9625 and October 9.9325-9.9525. Bids for US 2 Heavy White Oats for April delivery trended steady at 3.2650 per bushel.


There were 16 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, June 22, with five docked compared to 21 last week with six docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the USDA.


(USDA Market News)


June 23

Prices in dollars per cwt., bulk Inc.= including; Nom.= nominal; Ltd.= limited; Ind.= indicated; NYE=Not fully estimated.


Mode Destination Price per cwt.

BARLEY US No 2 (46-lbs. per bushel)

Truck Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties 8.50

CORN US No 2 Yellow

FOB Kings-Tulare-Fresno 8.25

Turlock/Tulare 8.33

Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley 8.62

Truck Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock 8.64

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties 8.64

SORGHUM US No 2 Yellow (Milo)

Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley via BNSF 8.58

WHEAT US Durum Wheat

Truck Imperial County 11.90

WHEAT Any Class for Feed

FOB Kern County 9.40

Hard choices loom as farms exit Conservation Reserve Program Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:02:22 -0400 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group PENDELTON, Ore. — It was about a year ago when Pendleton farmer Henry Lorenzen learned, much to his surprise and disappointment, that a portion of his land would not be re-enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

As a third-generation wheat grower with 4,000 acres west of town, Lorenzen remembers hearing “horror stories” from his father about dust storms that would sweep across the fields, eroding soil and kicking up a dusty haze that reached all the way to Interstate 84.

Not only did the gusts cause some very serious traffic problems — like the 1999 pileup on I-84 that killed six people and injured 27 others — but created significant farm management and environmental issues as well.

“You lose topsoil, and ultimately you lose productivity,” Lorenzen said.

The Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, was established in 1985 to help protect vulnerable areas. Administered by the Farm Service Agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CRP is essentially a rental agreement between the government and landowners where a portion of farmland is taken out of production and planted in native grasses, which in turn helps protect against erosion, increase wildlife habitat and improve water quality.

General CRP contracts run for 10-15 years, with payments averaging around $45 to $65 per acre. Land enrolled tends to be less suitable for growing crops, and is scored by the feds based on a number of environmental criteria, known as the Environmental Benefit Index.

The program, however, was slashed in the 2014 Farm Bill, which lowered the national enrollment cap from 32 million acres to 24 million acres. A report by the Congressional Research Service indicated the reduction would save $3.3 billion over the next 10 years.

More than 50,000 acres of land are set to expire from CRP later this year across Umatilla, Morrow and Sherman counties, and that is forcing landowners to make some difficult decisions about what to do next. They could get it back into farming, though the low price of wheat may make it difficult to turn profit. They could try to sell the land, but without a steady stream of revenue, the value may not be nearly what it was.

For Lorenzen, the situation is less dire. Only a small portion of his farm was enrolled in CRP, and he has already managed to lease half of that ground to another farmer.

The real challenge, Lorenzen said, is for people who retired and put their entire property in CRP. Given the market conditions, it will be an uphill struggle to find growers willing to take on substantially more acres.

In Sherman County, growers will meet Friday to discuss their options moving forward. Meanwhile, Lorenzen also worries about worsening erosion along I-84.

“It’s going to be a significantly changed environment,” he said.

Umatilla County has 143,994 acres enrolled in the program, along with 110,913 acres in Morrow County and 78,800 in Sherman County, according to figures provided by the Farm Service Agency.

In order to satisfy the shrinking cap, all three counties will see 13-18 percent of those acres expire by the end of the fiscal year Oct. 1 — including 21,456 in Umatilla County, 20,122 in Morrow County and 10,794 in Sherman County.

Taylor Murray, conservation specialist with the Farm Service Agency state office in Tualatin, said there was no general CRP sign-up this year and he does not expect one will be held for the foreseeable future.

There is a subset of CRP, called the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, that still has room under the cap, though Murray said the criteria for enrollment are much more strict, leaving many farmers on the outside looking in.

“I do firmly believe that, going forward, the process is going to be much more competitive,” Murray said.

Murray is cautiously optimistic that the new USDA administration, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, could allocate another half-million acres nationwide for general CRP.

“We could definitely get a piece of that,” Murray said.

Until then, local growers are crunching the numbers to determine their best course of action.

Bill Jepsen, who farms wheat about 14 miles south Ione, has figured out the equation. As of Wednesday, soft white wheat was selling at $4.86 per bushel. For southern Morrow County growers, they pay an additional 70 cents per bushel to ship the grain west, putting the net price at $4.16.

Assuming an average yield of 45 bushels per acre, that’s $187.20 per acre on a crop that’s grown once every other year — given the region’s summer-fallow rotation. Now, a typical lease agreement divvies the receipts up one-third for landowners, and two-thirds for farmers. That leaves $56.16 per acre to the landowner every other year.

Compare that to CRP, where a landowner may make up to $65 per acre every year, and it’s not difficult to see where the economic advantage lies.

“It’s pretty simple math,” Jepsen said. “The lease won’t compare to CRP.”

Don Wysocki, extension soil scientist for Oregon State University, said negotiating those leases will be the biggest point of contention for farmers looking ahead.

“Do you really want to take on more land with the price of wheat, is the question,” Wysocki said.

Murray, with the Farm Service Agency, said he’s heard of people try to sell land instead of putting it back into farm production. But that poses its own set of economic challenges.

Todd Longgood, a broker with the Whitney Land Company in Pendleton, said the issue of declining CRP acreage is having an appreciable effect on land values. Three or four years ago, Longgood said, CRP ground was trading at an all-time high, around $1,000 to $1,300 per acre. Now, it has fallen to around $500 to $700 per acre.

“Today, we’re seeing a drastic decrease in the land values,” Longgood said.

There is still demand for the high-producing agricultural land, Longgood explained. But without the steady income that CRP provided for less productive acres, sellers are being forced to adjust their asking price.

While there hasn’t been a market glut yet, Jim Whitney, the owner and president of the Whitney Land Company, said there is a “very real possibility” they could become oversupplied with CRP land depending on how landowners react.

“It makes no sense to put more ground into wheat right now,” Whitney said.

There are other natural attributes that could make expired CRP land attractive to potential buyers. Some farmers may consider using the ground for growing organic crops, since it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals in over a decade. Any springs or water sources could provide flexibility to convert the land to cattle pasture.

Wildlife and recreational opportunities are also a big plus, Whitney added.

“People pay a lot of money for recreation today,” he said.

Though the market is cyclical, Longgood said the conditions now have lent themselves to a perfect storm.

“There’s still demand for (land). It just has to be priced adequately,” Longgood said.

Eric Orem, a Morrow County wheat grower who farms primarily on leased ground, said that while CRP is a good tool, he was never a big fan of the program and felt it took opportunities away from younger farmers.

“If you look back in the mi-d ‘70s, there were 270 to 280 farmers and now there’s about 75 or 80,” Orem said. “A big chunk of that was ground put into CRP.”

With more land available, Orem said more farmers could get the chance to start working, which would benefit communities economically.

As opposed to CRP payments going to landowners who may not even live in the county, growers will be out hiring employees spending money at local farm equipment dealers.

But he acknowledged that is easier said than done with today’s wheat prices, not to mention the high up-front cost of putting CRP ground back into production.

“Those are really tough grasses to kill,” he said. “It takes a lot of heavy tillage to get it worked out. Then, what you find there are almost no nutrients left in the soil.”
Orem said he expects farmers will be picky if they decide to take on more leased land, especially on ground that may already be marginal at best.

Murray said he realizes the difficulties growers are facing, while adding the Farm Service Agency is doing everything it can to advocate for more acres in the program.

“There will be some hard decisions, for sure,” Murray said.

Chinese trade mission gets a taste of the Northwest Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:16:30 -0400 Eric Mortenson PORTLAND – Time will tell, but Oregon and Washington producers of specialty snacks and drinks hope they made a tasteful impression on a visiting trade mission team from China.

Makers of cider, wine, mead and beer and vendors of various nut, seed and fruit snacks set up display tables two consecutive days at an event organized June 21-22 by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The China trade group was on its way back from a Fancy Food Show in New York, and the Portland visit was its only other stop.

Trade mission members sampled products as they moved from table to table.

“There’s been some interest,” said Doug Furlong, who described himself as the “boss nut” of Doug’s Nuts, based in Eugene. He sells nut mix snacks in a variety of flavors and combinations. He said Chinese buyers appeared to be looking for upscale products and “Everybody likes the packaging.”

Paula Phillips, president of Pure Steeps in Portland, offered visitors tastes of the company’s Wonder Drink Kombucha, a fermented tea. One trade mission member took a sip and said it reminded him fondly of a drink served at home in his childhood.

Phillips and company marketing representative Linda Shively said Pure Steeps sells in Hong Kong, but is not yet in mainland China. Their kombucha is organic and shelf stable, and appeals to the Chinese desire for healthy beverages.

Phillips grew up in Taiwan and conversed easily with trade mission members. “She can tell you about kombucha in two languages,” Shively said.

Holly Witte, of A Blooming Hill vineyard and winery in Cornelius, west of Portland, offered samples of her Pinot noir, Riesling and blush wines. Witte said she’d been researching the Chinese market and “I knew they would love our label.”

She said the company has exported a bit to China in the past. “What does it take? It takes exposure – and a great product,” she said.

Corrine Konell, of Sandy, Ore., displayed her protein bars made with goats’ milk dairy products. Konell said she is not quite ready to scale up production enough to sell in China, and most likely would look into Canada and Europe first. But she was interested in gauging reactions to her chewy bars, and was gratified by the buyers’ interest.

Adam Carlson, of Seattle Cider Co., joked he was “crashing the party” of Oregon producers. The company sells hard cider in Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom, and China is a promising future market.

“You look at how fast the Chinese middle class is growing, and the rise of discretionary income,” he said.

China is Oregon agriculture’s fourth largest export market, behind Japan, Canada and South Korea. A minimum of $240 million worth of Oregon ag products is shipped to China annually. The figure is incomplete because some Oregon-grown or manufactured goods are shipped from ports in Washington or California, and aren’t counted toward the total.

Online: A link to the ODA’s trade and marketing section

California shell egg price report Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:12:27 -0400 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade AA and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.


(USDA Market News)

June 23

Benchmark prices are steady. Asking prices for next week are 6 cents higher for Jumbo, 7 cents higher for Extra Large, 10 cents higher for Large and unchanged for Medium and Small. Trade sentiment is mostly steady. Offerings are moderate. Demand is moderate to good while some distributors secure shell eggs in advance of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Supplies are moderate. Market activity is moderate. Small benchmark price 67 cents.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 137 Extra large 114

Large 105 Medium 87


Prices to retailers, sales to volume buyers, USDA Grade AA and Grade AA, white eggs in cartons, delivered store door.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 124-137 Extra large 105-109

Large 90-99 Medium 68-79

Fluid milk and cream review – West Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:14:18 -0400 FLUID MILK AND CREAM REVIEW – WEST

(USDA Market News)

June 22

In California, milk production at the farm level flattened compared to last week.

Higher temperatures across the state are impacting milk output. They are also melting snow in the mountains.

With most schools closed, bottlers have reduced their daily milk intakes. Balancing plants are taking in additional milk to help clear any unused milk by bottlers.

Alfalfa fields are making excellent progress, and they are being cut and baled. Extreme hot weather is negatively affecting farm milk output in Arizona. This week, milk yield is trending down. Bottling demand has scaled back due to most educational institutions being on vacation.

Eighty-five percent of alfalfa hay was rated good to excellent, compared to only 73 percent last week. Harvesting is taking place on more than 85 percent of alfalfa acreage.

Milk production in New Mexico is dropping. The Southwest part of the state is experiencing warmer weather conditions that are taking a toll on cows’ well-being. Some contacts suggest that milk production will continue to decline, as the weather heats up. Orders for Class I are holding flat. Milk holdovers from last week are steadily declining this week.

Class II demand is slightly up due to increased orders from ice cream makers. The third cutting of alfalfa hay just started and is 13 percent completed. Sixty-nine percent of alfalfa hay was reported good to excellent.

Although milk production in the Pacific Northwest is down year over year, processors say there is plenty of milk for manufactured product needs. Some impacts of the cold, wet winter may have lingered through the remainder of cow lactations, but warmer weather is helping milk production recover. Manufacturers say milk intakes are in relatively good balance with processing needs. Bottling demand is now fully into summer patterns.

Warm weather has moved into much of the mountain states of Colorado, Idaho and Utah, but industry contacts say the heat has not impacted milk production yet. In most years, milk production peaks in late June or early July for areas within the region.

According to the NASS Milk Production report, the states have added cow numbers since last year, and aside from some lingering effects of a harsh winter in Idaho, milk production continues to grow in Utah and Colorado. Milk processors say they have no problem getting the milk they need for most processing needs. Many manufacturing facilities are operating at or near full capacity.

In the West, some industry participants confirm that condensed skim intakes from ice cream manufacturers are picking up. In general, cream is available in the West.

However, supplies are getting tighter every week. Demand continues to be very active from ice cream manufacturers. According to the DMN National Retail Report-Dairy for the week of June 16-22, the national weighted average advertised price for one gallon of milk is $2.55, up $0.03 from last week, and $0.04 higher from a year ago. The weighted average regional price in the Southwest is $2.94, with a price range of $2.29-$3.99. No ads were reported in the Northwest.

The NASS Milk Production report noted May 2017 milk production in the 23 selected states was 17.8 billion pounds, 1.8% above a year ago.

Milk cows in the 23 selected states totaled 8.72 million head, 81,000 head more than a year ago.

Western hay price report Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:04:41 -0400 Hay prices are dollars per ton or dollars per bale when sold to retail outlets. Basis is current delivery FOB barn or stack, or delivered customer as indicated. Grade guidelines used in this report have the following relationship to Relative Feed Value (RFV), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients), or Crude Protein (CP) test numbers:


Supreme 185+ <27 55.9+ 22+

Premium 170-185 27-29 54.5-55.9 20-22

Good 150-170 29-32 52.5-54.5 18-20

Fair 130-150 32-35 50.5-52.5 16-18

Utility <130 36+ <50.5 <16


(Columbia Basin)

(USDA Market News)

June 23

This week FOB Last week Last year

30,700 3630 17,800

Compared to June 16: New crop export and domestic Alfalfa and export Timothy 5.00-10.00 higher. Trade very active with very good demand. Some producers are reporting lower yields due to colder weather. Exporters remain very aggressive for new crop Timothy. Retail/Feedstore not tested this week.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square Supreme 1100 160.00

Premium Export 2000 172.00

1200 171.67

Good 3500 140.00

Export 6000 168.33

300 140.00

Fair/Good Export 100 110.00

Fair 1000 110.00

Export 4200 140.00

Rain Damage 400 147.00

Weedy 400 162.00

Alfalfa Small Square

Premium Export 200 190.00

Timothy Grass Mid Square

Premium Export 5950 252.44

Good Export 1150 228.70

Rain 1000 195.00

Fair/Good Export 1600 210.00

Timothy Grass Small Square

Premium Export 600 304.17


(USDA Market News)

May 26

This week FOB Last week Last year

687 600 932

Compared to June 16: Prices trended generally steady in an extremely limited test compared to week-ago prices. Most producers are sold out for the year, and are busy out in the fields preparing for new crop. Some producers have cut and starting to bale and are preparing to start selling 2017 hay. So far, new crop hay pricing, in an extremely limited test, seems generally steady compared to 2016 pricing for similar quality.

Tons Price


Alfalfa Large Square

Good New Crop 168 170.00

Small Square Premium 32 220.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Premium 8 245.00

Orchard Grass Small Square Premium 237.10

Klamath Basin

Prairie Grass Small Square

Good/Premium New Crop 100 200.00

Lake County

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme 148 191.49

Good Rain Damage 200 125.00

Eastern Oregon

No new sales confirmed.

Harney County

No new sales confirmed.


(USDA Market News)

June 23

This week FOB Last week Last year

1600 500 6000

Compared to June 16: Domestic Alfalfa steady. Trade very slow with moderate demand for new crop. Rain showers reported in parts of the trade area. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square Good 1600 120.00


(USDA Market News)

June 23

This week FOB Last week Last year

21,280 22,221 25,533

Compared to June 16: All classes traded steady with moderate demand. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with June a normally dry and warm month in the Southwest, it was not surprising that most of the region was rain-free this week. But after a very wet winter season this year across the West (nearly every NRCS SNOTEL basin average precipitation since Oct. 1, 2016, is above or much above normal), the past 3 months (March-May) have been drier than normal. Monday evening a thunderstorm dumped .3-1.2 inches of rain in the intermountain region that affected a lot hay that was down according to a report contact. All hay is reported FOB the stack or barn unless otherwise noted.

Tons Price


Includes the counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, and Plumas.

Alfalfa Supreme 650 200.77

Premium 250 190.00

100 185.00

Orchard Grass Premium 725 252.00

25 290.00


Includes the counties of Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Solano, Sacramento.

Alfalfa Premium 100 225.00


Includes the counties of San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced and Mariposa.

Alfalfa Supreme 100 242.50

Very High Testing 50 250.00

Del 500 260.00

Del Very High Testing 50 270.00

Premium/Supreme 50 235.00

Premium 75 230.00

Fair/Good 75 175.00

Oat Good 280 110.00


Includes the counties Of Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Inyo.

Alfalfa Premium Del 3500 265.00

Wheat Good Del 1500 105.00

Barley/Wheat Straw Good 3000 80.00

Del 3000 95.00


Includes the counties of Kern, Northeast Los Angeles, and Western San Bernardino.

Alfalfa Good 1400 144.29


Includes the counties of Eastern San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial.

Alfalfa Premium 650 167.69

Contracted Retail 1200 170.00

Retail/Stable 100 170.00

Good 500 140.00

Export 250 150.00

Fair/Good Export 2200 150.00

Fair Export 300 130.00

Sudan Premium Export 575 244.78

Wheat Straw Good 75 45.00

County, Azure Farms reach agreement on weed control Fri, 23 Jun 2017 08:23:16 -0400 Eric Mortenson Sherman County, Ore., commissioners and Azure Farms agreed to a weed control plan that may settle a dispute that pitted the organic operation and its supporters against conventional wheat growers who don’t want weeds spreading into their crops.

The farm near Moro in the north-central part of the state agreed to control weeds, with “control” defined as “little or no noxious weed seed production that would affect neighboring fields” and spread by the wind. Conventional farmers are chiefly concerned about seeds from Rush Skeleton, Canada thistle, White top, Diffuse napweed and Morning Glory, or Bindweed.

The agreement allows Azure Farms to use any method it sees fit, while the county’s weed district staff has the right to monitor Azure’s fields, pastures and range ground for compliance. County employees can access the fields by permission and appointment only, and must be accompanied by Azure Farms staff, according to the agreement.

If a weed patch is in more than 50 percent flower production, Azure Farms will have seven days or a “mutually agreed upon reasonable amount of time” to take action. If it doesn’t, Sherman County can spot-spray the weeds and mark the area in hopes the farm can maintain organic certification.

“This looks fine,” farm manager Nathan Stelzer said in a late-night email following a June 21 meeting with the county court. “Thanks for the good interactive communication and discussion today. I think we can have a very good working relationship, now that we know each other better and have a clearer understanding of the meaning of ‘control.’”

Commissioner Tom McCoy said he’s optimistic the farm, its neighbors and the county have reached an agreement that will work for all three.

That wasn’t the case earlier this spring. The farm’s weeds have been an irritant to other farmers for several years, especially those who grow certified wheat seed. This year, the weeds were described as “rampant.”

Sherman County officials warned Azure they would ask the state Department of Agriculture to quarantine the farm, and said they would spray weeds with herbicide if the farm didn’t get a handle on the problem.

But using conventional week killers would cause Azure to lose organic certification for three years after the last application.

Azure Farms appealed to its fans and followers on social media, and county officials received an estimated 59,000 emails critical of their stance on the issue.

At a county court meeting in May, held in a high school gym to accommodate the crowd, residents said they were angry about being vilified on Facebook and called names by people they’d never met. Nathan Stelzer and his brother, David, who is president of Azure Standard in nearby Dufur, apologized for the social media outburst.

Judge reverses key ruling in $1.4 billion timber class action Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:55:38 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski A judge has ruled that counties can’t sue the State of Oregon for financial damages, potentially undermining a $1.4 billion class action lawsuit over state logging practices.

Linn County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy has reversed an earlier ruling in the case, which held that Oregon’s “sovereign immunity” doesn’t bar counties from seeking such damages.

In his most recent June 20 decision, Murphy has agreed with Oregon’s attorneys that counties — as subdivisions of the state — cannot sue the state government for money.

Murphy said he’s “well aware this interpretation contradicts” his earlier opinion, but he will provide the plaintiff counties with “the opportunity to re-plead their case in such a manner that is supported by the law if they can.”

“Like peeling a very large onion this case contains complex layers of legal issues and theory that can take time to unravel,” he said.

The judge has left open the possibility for the plaintiffs to seek an “equitable” remedy, such as an injunction or order that requires the state government to take certain actions without paying financial damages.

However, the counties have repeatedly said they’re not aiming for Oregon to change its logging practices, but instead seek compensation for insufficient timber revenues.

The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 14 counties that donated forestland to the state government in exchange for a portion of logging proceeds.

The counties argue that a 1998 rule change emphasizes environmental and recreational values over timber harvest, thereby violating a contract that required logging to be maximized.

John DiLorenzo, attorney for the counties, said his clients may decide to recharacterize their complaint or seek clarification from an appellate court regarding sovereign immunity and other issues.

In the long term, such an opinion would provide a “road map” for the litigation, DiLorenzo said.

“Maybe we’re better off having clear declarations from the appellate courts on what the law is,” he said.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney representing Oregon in the case.

Ralph Bloemers, an environment attorney with the Crag Law Center, said that Murphy’s latest ruling has effectively “torpedoed” the counties’ lawsuit.

“In essence, he’s granting the motion to dismiss for sovereign immunity,” Bloemers said, adding that he expected the state’s attorneys to refile a motion for the complaint to be thrown out.

“The case should be dismissed,” he said.

The plaintiffs face an uphill battle if they decide to seek an equitable remedy, Bloemers said.

It’s tough enough to win an injunction, let alone an order requiring the state government to manage its forests a certain way, he said.

Tobacco virus found in Washington wine grapes Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:14:29 -0400 Dan Wheat WAPATO, Wash. — A virus discovered in Virginia tobacco 90 years ago has been found in Washington, in a vineyard near Wapato.

When Andrew Schultz became general manager of the vineyard five years ago, the owner asked him to figure out what was wrong with his Grenache wine grape vines.

Shoots were short and stumped. Some collapsed. Others grew poor fruit that dropped. Some vines had great canopies and no grapes. Others had small grapes and little canopy. The xylem, tissue in stems conveying water and nutrients, was discolored.

Schultz had never seen anything like it, began mapping problem areas within the 3-acre block and called in his former professor, Naidu Rayapati, Washington State University virologist and grapevine disease expert.

“It was quite surprising to realize that we had this virus here in Washington state in wine grapes,” Rayapati said. “It took us three to four months to figure it out, using a variety of diagnostic techniques.”

He used three different methods to verify and is “100 percent sure” it is Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV), first identified in Virginia tobacco fields in 1927. TRSV is transmitted by nematodes, varroa mites and honeybees and also can be by sap inoculation and seeds. It has a wide host range of crops, ornamentals and weeds. It’s most common symptom is chlorotic ringspots on leaves.

TRSV has been reported in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan but never in the Pacific Northwest, Rayapati said.

“There is a knowledge gap in the distribution of this virus and its economic impact on different crops,” he said. “No one is doing active research.”

At the request of the owner, Rayapati and Schultz are not revealing the identity of the vineyard. But Schultz said it had been a pear orchard with no fallow time between tree removal and vine planting in 2006. The virus is in nematodes and they think it likely was present in the pear orchard and maybe undetected in other places in the lower Yakima Valley.

TRSV is spotty, not pervasive, in the 3-acre block but has spread some into two adjoining 3-acre blocks over 12 years, Schultz said. Other things, like leafroll virus, spread a lot faster, he said.

TRSV can cause plants to become totally unproductive and can render ground useless for growing, Rayapati said. But he believes the vineyard can be salvaged.

Chemicals kill nematodes but not completely. They bounce back.

Rayapati and Schultz are working on other means to combat and contain it, including testing different rootstocks and grafts and predatory nematodes to eat the ones spreading the virus.

Schultz said Syrah and other varieties may be less susceptible than Grenache.

However even with the infestation, the block has produced some great wine, he said.

The discovery is no panic but it is a reminder to the industry to be vigilant to test soil when switching crops and to use certified virus-free plants, Rayapati said.

WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, near Prosser, is home to the Clean Plant Center Northwest which helps growers plant virus-free trees and grape and hop vines.

Wine is a $4.8 billion industry in Washington with 60,000 acres of wine grapes and more planted each year.

“It’s important to nip this problem in the bud,” Rayapati said. “Tobacco Ringspot isn’t something that will wipe out the industry, but we need to make sure growers plant virus-free materials and there are no risks in the soil itself.”

Total solar eclipse casts spotlight on rural Oregon town Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:11:52 -0400 GILLIAN FLACCUS MADRAS, Ore. (AP) — Just before sunrise, there’s typically nothing atop Round Butte but the whistle of the wind and a panoramic view of Oregon’s second-highest peak glowing pink in the faint light.

But on Aug. 21, local officials expect this lookout point just outside the small town of Madras to be crammed with people from around the world, all hoping for the first glimpse of the moon’s shadow as it crosses Mount Jefferson’s snow fields. Then, a solar eclipse will throw the entire region into complete darkness for two minutes.

The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years will first be visible in Oregon, and Madras is predicted to be among the country’s best viewing spots because of its clear, high-desert skies, flat landscape and stunning mountain views.

Up to 1 million eclipse chasers will descend on Oregon for the celestial event, and officials are bracing for as many as 100,000 of them in and around Madras.

In this vast expanse of ranches and farms, rural, two-lane roads could mean traffic jams of cosmic proportions. Every hotel in Madras is booked, some residents are renting their homes for $3,000 a night, and campers are expected to flood the national forests and grasslands during peak wildfire season.

The state’s emergency coordination center will gear up, and first responders will prepare to respond to any trouble as they would for an earthquake or other natural disaster. Cell towers could be overwhelmed, traffic will be gridlocked, and police and fire stretched to the max managing the crowds.

“Bring extra water, bring food. You need to be prepared to be able to survive on your own for 24 to 48 to 72 hours, just like you would in any sort of emergency,” said Dave Thompson, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “This is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s really worth seeing. But you’ve got to be prepared or you won’t enjoy it.”

When the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, the path of totality — meaning total darkness — from the moon’s shadow will begin on Oregon’s coast, then cross the north-central part of the state from west to east.

But as the hype builds, authorities are increasingly worried that people who planned to watch from the notoriously foggy coast could move east at the last minute if the forecast sours. And Oregonians who live outside the path of totality could decide to drive to one of the prime viewing spots at the spur of the moment, creating havoc on the roads, said Cory Grogan, spokesman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

In addition, many tourists will be camping in hot, tinder-dry conditions, or even sleeping in their cars. First responders have been planning for months for a worst-case scenario: evacuating tens of thousands of people while trying to get fire engines through gridlocked roads. Cellular towers also may be crippled by the volume of people texting, calling and posting photos, making it difficult for fire crews to communicate.

Federal and local officials will stage engines and other resources at key locations, and firefighters from other agencies and private companies will send extra crews. But it’s impossible to plan for everything, and tourists frustrated with traffic may use forest access roads as shortcuts, further raising fire risk, said Kent Koeller, a recreation planner with U.S. Forest Service outside Madras.

“Just driving off-road - having that contact with a hot muffler or a catalytic converter - could start an ignition,” he said. “And in these fine fuels, it could spread very quickly.”

Lysa Vattimo was hired two years ago to coordinate the town’s planning efforts with more than 50 local, state and federal agencies. She spends her days trying to think of every possible consequence of having tens of thousands of people in a town of just 6,500 — and her nights worrying she missed something.

The town and surrounding campsites have rented nearly 700 portable toilets, including some from as far as Idaho, to meet demand. Sanitation trucks will run almost around the clock, transporting trash to 50-yard-long dumpsters before it rots in triple-digit temperatures.

Gas stations are filling their underground tanks in advance, and businesses are being told to use cash only, to avoid bringing down the wireless network. Banks are stocking their ATMs, local hospitals have canceled vacations, and pregnant women close to their due dates are being told to leave to avoid getting stuck.

“What we’ve asked our residents to do is get prepared ahead of time. About a week out, fuel up on propane, gas, whatever fuels they need, get their prescriptions, go to the doctor, do what you need to do,” she said. “And then stay home.”

In Madras, hotels were booked years ago, and spots at 25 campgrounds in and around the town are going fast. Farmers are renting out their land for pop-up campgrounds, and thousands of parking spaces for day trippers are getting snapped up.

The Black Bear Diner, one of the town’s most popular restaurants, expects to serve 1,000 people a day during the week leading up to the eclipse. Owner Joe Davis has ordered five weeks of food for one week of business and will have an abbreviated menu of 10 items to speed service.

“The Black Bear Diner has been here in Madras 18 years, and I’m sure this will be by far the busiest week - and probably double the busiest week - that we’ve seen,” he said.

But amid all the hubbub and anxiety, most residents have kept sight of the wonder.

Darlene Hoffman is one of the few here who watched the last total solar eclipse to touch Madras 38 years ago. Hoffman, 80, recalls how the birds stopped singing and the horses prepared to sleep as the sky gradually darkened and a hush fell over the land.

“It was really something to see. It really was,” she said. “That amazed me more than anything.”

Idaho county passes Emergency Declaration ahead of eclipse Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:05:46 -0400

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Washington County Commissioners have passed an Emergency Declaration ahead of the August 21 solar eclipse.

KIVI-TV reports the county near the Oregon border is expected to get tens of thousands of visitors eager to witness the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse seen in the U.S. in nearly a century.

A county disaster services spokesman says the commissioners passed the declaration Monday so they could ask the state for assistance in case more resources are need.

The declaration states that the solar eclipse may cause risk to public safety, financial damage, excess cost for labor, clean up and property damage in Washington County.

It will be in effect until the end of August.

Kids today: They don&#x2019;t work summer jobs the way they used to Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:02:31 -0400 PAUL WISEMAN WASHINGTON (AP) — It was at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie “The Shining,” where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

He was a busboy. The job didn’t pay much. But Doyle quickly learned lessons that served him for years as he rose to become the CEO of Domino’s, the pizza delivery giant:

Show up on time, dress properly, treat customers well.

“I grew up a lot that summer,” he says.

As summer 2017 begins, America’s teenagers are far less likely to be acquiring the kinds of experiences Doyle found so useful. Once a teenage rite of passage, the summer job is vanishing.

Instead of baling hay, scooping ice cream or stocking supermarket shelves in July and August, today’s teens are more likely to be enrolled in summer school, doing volunteer work to burnish their college credentials or just hanging out with friends.

For many, not working is a choice. For some others, it reflects a lack of opportunities where they live, often in lower-income urban areas: They sometimes find that older workers hold the low-skill jobs that once would have been available to them.

In July 1986, 57 percent of Americans ages 16 to 19 were employed. The proportion stayed over 50 percent until 2002 when it began dropping steadily. By last July, only 36 percent were working.

Economists and labor market observers worry that falling teen employment will deprive them of valuable work experience and of opportunities to encounter people of different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds.

But the longer-term trend for teen employment is down and likely to stay that way for several reasons:

— Teenagers and their parents are increasingly aware of the value of a college education. A result is that more kids are spending summers volunteering or studying, to prepare for college and compete for slots at competitive schools.

In July 1986, just 12 percent of Americans ages 16 to 19 were taking summer classes. Thirty years later, the share had risen to 42 percent.

“Parental emphasis on the rewards of education has contributed to the decline in teen labor force participation,” Teresa Morisi, a Labor Department economist, concluded in a February report on teen employment, which has been declining in the United States and other wealthy countries.

Nathan Miller, 19, of New Berlin, Wisconsin, didn’t work throughout high school, choosing instead to play baseball and spend time with his family. He’s forgoing summer employment again this year to play baseball and take a certified nursing assistant course at a high school.

Miller, who starts college in the fall, thinks the course may give him an edge in his quest to become a doctor.

“I’m going to try to get as much hours as I can as early as possible to get as much advantage as I can to get into a competitive med school,” he says. “It’s a competition out there.”

— Teens who do want to work can find that older workers are standing in the way. The summer jobs teens used to take — flipping burgers, unpacking produce at the grocery store, cashiering at the mall — are increasingly filled by older, often foreign-born, workers. In 2000-2001, teens accounted for 12 percent of retail workers, researchers at Drexel University found. Fifteen years later, it was just 7 percent. Over the same period, the teenage share of restaurant and hotel jobs fell from 21 percent to 16 percent.

Americans increasingly keep working even as they near traditional retirement age — sometimes taking entry-level jobs to provide income as they transition to full-time retirement. Foreign-born workers have also increased their share of jobs in hotels and restaurants that require little education.

Many employers view older workers as more reliable — more likely to show up on time, or at all, and to better know how to handle customers, co-workers and suppliers.

—Many school districts have lengthened their academic years to try to boost student achievement, in the process shrinking summer vacation and the chance for teens to find work even if they want to. School years now often don’t end well into June and resume before Labor Day.

“With a shorter summer off from school, students may be less inclined to get a summer job, and employers may be less inclined to hire them,” Morisi writes.

The picture varies, of course, across demographic and racial lines. In poor urban neighborhoods, teens who want work struggle to find it. The summer jobs they used to get — scarce in the best of times — now often go to adults.

In wealthier areas, teens are more likely to be attending summer school, doing volunteer work, traveling with their families or pursuing sports or other extracurriculars.

In Loudoun County, Virginia, an affluent suburb of Washington, many businesses say they struggle to find teens willing and able to work summers.

“They’re busy,” says Tyler Wegmeyer, who raises fruits and vegetables and runs a pick-your-own farm in the Loudoun town of Hamilton. “They’ve got activities. They’ve got camps. Their families go on vacation. It’s very rare I can get a kid to work all summer long.”

A few years ago, Marty Potts’ family, which has farmed in Loudoun County for decades, had to abandon its dairy operation, which requires many laborers, to focus on beef farming, which requires fewer. Even so, she says, “It’s been two years since we’ve been able to get anybody.”

Not until now has Collin Shipp, 18, who just graduated from Loudoun’s Woodgrove High School, ever looked for a summer job. A high school athlete, he spent previous summers trying to shave his time in the 400-meter dash and improving his distance in the triple jump.

“Track was my job,” he says.

Paul Harrington, Neeta Fogg and Ishwar Khatiwada of Drexel’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy studied average teen employment rates from June through August. They found that the percentage of employed 16-to-19-year-olds fell from 45 percent in 1986 to 30 percent last year. (Their numbers are lower than the July-only figures because teens are less likely to work in June and August.)

They forecast that teens’ June-August employment rate will reach 30.5 percent this year, surpassing 30 percent for the first time since the recession year of 2009 and evidence of an overall improved job market.

But it’s still a lot lower than it used to be. Drexel’s Harrington laments the decline of summer employment for teens. In addition to providing on-the-job experience, summer work has proved especially valuable for poor urban youths. Harrington cites research showing that city teens who participate in summer jobs programs achieve higher school attendance and academic performance and are less likely to commit crimes.

The value of summer work is hardly confined to American teens. Emily Lyons, CEO of Femme Fatale Media Group, which provides models and dancers for corporate events, recalls a summer job that wasn’t exactly pleasant.

The job stank. Literally.

Lyons spent the summer of 1998 working part time on an Ontario garlic farm, picking, sorting and packing the pungent plants.

“It was hard, dirty and strong-smelling work,” she recalls. In business, she discovered, “you have to be able to wear many hats and be willing to get your hands dirty. You can’t be too good for any role.”

Lyons carried those lessons — and experience from other youthful jobs as a nanny, a hotel housekeeper and a blueberry picker — into a career as an entrepreneur and eventually to her current post as a chief executive.

“Every job along the way taught me different lessons that I carry with me today,” she says.


AP writers Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee and Candice Choi in New York contributed to this report.

Rolling sequoia: Idaho tree tied to John Muir set for move Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:58:36 -0400 KEITH RIDLER BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Not very often does a 10-story-tall, 800,000-pound landmark change locations. Especially one that’s alive.

But workers in Idaho will attempt just that starting Friday. A massive sequoia sent to Boise as a small seedling by naturalist John Muir more than a century ago is now in the way of a hospital’s expansion and plans are to move it two blocks away to city property.

“We’ve all got our fingers crossed that the tree is going to make it to its new location,” said Mary Grandjean, the granddaughter of an Idaho forester who received the sequoia seedlings from Muir around 1912.

St. Luke’s Health System is doing more than hoping. It’s spending $300,000 to move the largest sequoia in the state, rather than chopping it down and risking a public relations backlash.

“We understand the importance of this tree to this community,” said Anita Kissée, spokeswoman for the hospital. Cutting it down “was never even an option.”

Even the tree company hired to do the move is feeling the pressure to keep the 98-foot tree upright as it travels about two blocks over about 12 hours to its new home.

“This is going to be one of what we call our champion trees,” said David Cox, who is overseeing the move for Texas-based Environmental Design. “We want to take extreme care to make sure everything goes well.”

Cox said the tree will be the tallest the company has ever moved, as well as the largest in circumference at more than 20 feet near its base. He puts the chances of the tree surviving at 95 percent.

“We’ve got all the equipment we need here,” he said Thursday.

The plan is to lift the sequoia Friday afternoon onto the inflatable, rolling tubes. The tree is set to start moving at midnight Saturday on the rolling tubes and arrive around noon Sunday.

It grew from one of four sequoia seedlings that Muir sent to Emile Grandjean, a conservation-minded professional forester and early employee of the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho, his granddaughter told The Associated Press.

Mary Grandjean’s father told her that Emile Grandjean planted two of the sequoias at his home in Boise and the two others went to the home of Fred and Alice Pittenger, both doctors.

New owners of the Grandjean home later cut down the trees, said Mary Grandjean, noting what a blow it was to her family. The fate of a third sequoia isn’t clear. Of the four trees, the only remaining one is being moved.

“My family and I are very hopeful that the transplanting will be successful,” she said.

Cox said sequoias in their native habitat in California draw moisture from the misty atmosphere and can live for several thousand years and reach several hundred feet tall.

The Idaho sequoia is in a drier, colder climate, and the tree lost its original top in the 1980s due to damage from Christmas decorations that people strung on it. At that point, the hospital hired tree experts and the sequoia has thrived despite living in the high desert.

Soil analysis has been done at the transplant site to ensure it will allow the tree to keep growing, Cox said. Most of the soil surrounding the roots also is moving to improve the tree’s chances, he said.

If it works, it could remain a Boise landmark for several more centuries.

“I would say three- to five-hundred years at least,” Cox said. “It’s still a young tree.”

In major blow to Brazil, US suspends meat product imports Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:44:13 -0400 PETER PRENGAMAN and RENATA BRITO RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In a major blow to Brazil, the United States on Thursday announced the immediate suspension of all imports of beef products from Latin America’s largest nation because of safety concerns.

The decision by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue came three months after a major scandal into allegations of bribed meat inspectors shook Brazil’s meat industry and prompted several countries to temporarily halt imports.

In a statement, Perdue said that since March, U.S. inspectors have refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products, about 1.9 million pounds.

“That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world,” the statement said.

It said the suspension will remain in place until Brazil’s agricultural ministry takes corrective action. The statement did not detail what those actions should be.

The statement noted that Brazil had already addressed concerns of American inspectors by prohibiting five facilities from shipping beef to the U.S., but said that didn’t go far enough.

“Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension,” said the statement.

The office of Brazil’s presidency said late Thursday that it had no comment. After-hours messages left with the Agricultural ministry were not immediately returned. JBS, a Brazilian company that is the world’s largest meat packer, declined to comment.

In March, Brazilian authorities said they were investigating inspectors who allegedly allowed expired meats to enter the market in exchange for bribes.

Several countries, including major importer China, temporarily stopped buying Brazilian meats. After assurances from Brazilian officials, most began buying again within a few weeks.

Still, the episode proved a major embarrassment for a nation that prides itself on its beef and it had a large financial impact at a time when Latin America’s biggest economy is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in a generation. For several weeks, the usual tens of millions of dollars in daily exports slowed to less than $100,000, according to Brazilian authorities.

Brazil was the world’s largest producer of beef and veal in 2016 and one of the top exporters, according to U.S. Agriculture Department. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products.

The U.S. is not a major importer of Brazilian beef, since it produces a considerable amount for internal consumption and export, but the decision will create fresh scrutiny on Brazil’s meat industry and is sure to be closely watched by European and Asian nations that are major customers.

It is also sure to put added pressure on President Michel Temer, who is facing several allegations of corruption and has been battered with calls to resign. Temer, who has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, is currently on a trip to Russia and Norway aimed in part at expanding Brazilian markets, including meat exports.

US officials to lift Yellowstone grizzly bear protections Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:56:19 -0400 MATT VOLZ HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Protections that have been in place for more than 40 years for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area will be lifted this summer after U.S. government officials ruled Thursday that the population is no longer threatened.

Grizzlies in all continental U.S. states except Alaska have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, when just 136 bears roamed in and around Yellowstone. There are now an estimated 700 grizzlies in the area that includes northwestern Wyoming, southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conclude that the population has recovered.

“This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

Grizzly bears once numbered about 50,000 and ranged over much of North America. Their population plummeted starting in the 1850s because of widespread hunting and trapping, and the bears now occupy only 2 percent of their original territory.

The final ruling by the Fish and Wildlife Service to remove Yellowstone grizzlies from the list of endangered and threatened species will give jurisdiction over the bears to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July.

That will allow those states to plan limited bear hunts outside the park’s boundaries as long as the overall bear population does not fall below 600 bears.

Hunting bears inside Yellowstone would still be banned. The bears roam both inside and outside the park, and their range has been expanding as their numbers have grown.

The Obama administration first proposed removing grizzlies as a threatened species by issuing an initial ruling in March 2016. The 15 months that have passed since then have been used to by federal officials to evaluate states’ grizzly management plans and respond to themes of concern generated by 650,000 comments from the public, including wildlife advocates and Native American tribal officials who are staunchly opposed to hunting grizzly bears.

Some 125 tribes have signed a treaty opposing trophy hunting grizzly bears, which Native Americans consider a sacred animal.

Thursday’s ruling is certain to be challenged in court by conservation groups that argue the Yellowstone bears still face threats to their continued existence from humans, climate change and other factors. Tim Preso, an attorney for environmental law firm Earthjustice, said his organization will look closely at the rule.

“We’re certainly prepared to take a stand to protect the grizzly, if necessary,” he said. “There’s only one Yellowstone. There’s only one place like this. We ought not to take an unjustified gamble with an iconic species of this region.”

Matt Hogan, the deputy regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s eight-state Mountain-Prairie Region, said he is confident that the science behind the decision and the management plans the states will follow will withstand any lawsuit.

“We feel like this species is more than adequately protected in the absence of (Endangered Species Act) protections,” Hogan said.

Endangered Species Act protections set strict rules meant to protect species from being killed or their habitat being harmed, as opposed to state management practices that can include hunting or trapping as a means to keep an animal’s population in check.

Wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have been managing the bear population alongside federal government officials for decades. Those states have submitted management plans that have been approved, and will follow strict regulations to keep a viable population, Hogan said.

The federal agency’s rule sets a minimum population of 500 bears for Yellowstone, and requires states to curb hunting if the population falls below 600.

Scientists also studied the effects of climate change on grizzly bears and their food sources, such as the nuts of whitebark pine trees, which are in decline.

“They found grizzly bears are extremely resilient, extremely flexible and adaptable,” Hogan said.

That adaptation has meant switching from nuts to a meat-based diet. That carries the risk of bringing the bears into greater conflict with ranchers protecting livestock and hunters searching for elk and deer, and grizzly deaths caused by human conflicts are on the rise, said Andrea Santarsiere, an attorney for the wildlife advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity.

“Added to those threats will be trophy hunting,” she said.

The federal agency will continue monitoring the grizzly population over the next five years, and certain factors would prompt a new federal review of the bears’ status, such as a high number of female deaths for three consecutive years.

The ruling does not directly affect other populations of grizzlies that are still classified as threatened but which wildlife officials consider recovered, such as the estimated 1,000 bears in the Northern Continental Divide area of Montana and Idaho.

Federal resources used to prepare the final rule on Yellowstone’s bear population will be shifted to planning for lifting protections for the bears living in the Northern Continental Divide, Hogan said.

California beehive heists lead to felony charges Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:51:42 -0400 SCOTT SMITH FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Two California men have been charged with a string of felony counts stemming from a criminal case that created a buzz among beekeepers across the country, authorities said Thursday.

The men charged with possessing more than 1,200 stolen beehives could each spend more than a decade in jail if convicted, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office said.

The case stems from a tip in April that led investigators to Pavel Tveretinov, 51, and Vitaliy Yeroshenko, 48, at work among stacks of mismatched beehives on a field outside Fresno.

Bees are a key part of the agriculture industry in California, the nation’s most productive farming state. Beekeepers from around the country truck in their beehives and rent them to farmers to pollinate their flowering crops, such as almonds.

Investigators have said the beehives had been stolen during the night over more than two years from orchards in several California counties. The victims were beekeepers as far away as Missouri, Montana and North Dakota.

The two Sacramento-area men are charged with nine felony counts of receiving stolen property.

While announcing the break in the case in May, Fresno County Sheriff’s investigators said they had netted 2,500 stolen beehives valued at nearly $1 million.

Charges filed by prosecutors on Thursday, however, estimate 1,200 beehives valued at $200,000. Prosecutors based their charges on the reports they received from investigators, said Geri Benavides, a spokeswoman for the office.

An attorney representing Yeroshenko could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment. Authorities have issued a warrant seeking his arrest.

Defense attorney Andrew Kalnoki dismissed the validity of the case filed against Tveretinov, who was booked into jail with bail set at $267,750.

“The charges have no factual or legal basis,” Kalnoki said. “We are going to put forth a very vigorous defense.”

Tour offers update on research progress Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:21:04 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas KIMBERLY, Idaho — About 120 growers, field men, chemical company representatives and researchers turned out for the annual University of Idaho Snake River Pest Management Research tour at the Kimberley Research and Extension Center on Tuesday.

The weather was hot and so were the topics, ranging from weed-control trials, insect management studies and irrigation research.

Most of the results of this year’s trials will be shared later this summer, but researchers wanted to update industry members on what’s taking place at the research center this season.

Don Morishita, UI weed scientist and superintendent of the research center, explained trials on broadleaf weed, wild oat and foxtail control in spring wheat comparing different herbicides.

So far, broadleaf weed control looks “pretty darn good” although kochia control with Quelex is not as good as expected. Combining it with an adjuvant is showing a big benefit, however, he said.

Some differences are being seen in wild oat control, with a Rimfire Max mix visually looking the best at this point, but the plots didn’t have a lot of wild oat pressure this year, he said.

Another study is looking at the potential hormetic effects of four herbicides on sugar beets. The trials are focused on the beneficial effects of low doses of herbicides that would be toxic at higher doses.

As sugar beet yields continue to increase, sugar factories are about to hit the amount of biomass they can handle. The trials are looking at the use of low doses of herbicide to increase sugar content without adding biomass.

“We hope we can improve sugar yield more than the biomass or the roots,” Morishita said.

With no new herbicides for sugar beets coming down the pike in the near future, another research project is looking at sugar beet tolerance to ethofumesate and herbicides not registered for sugar beets.

In bean research, trials are continuing on the effects of adjuvants on Basagran, as well as weed control in dry beans using narrow rows, different seeding rates and different tillage methods. Researchers are also looking at the effects of tillage and irrigation on garden seed bean production and herbicide tolerance in two garden seed bean varieties.

Research is also continuing on hairy vetch control in cover crops, and new research is looking at safflower tolerance to sulfentrazone.

The tour also highlighted insect-management studies, including the timing and development of zebra chip infection in potatoes; evaluation of potato psyllid insecticides; and potato psyllid behavioral response to resistant potato germplasm.

Insect studies are also being done on the response of sugar beet germplasm to sugar beet root maggots and the effects of aphids on sugar beets. Wireworm resistance and preference in crops and the use of trap crops and biologic controls are also being studied.

Research continues on final irrigation timing and the effects of polymers in sugar beets and potatoes, as well as the effects of irrigation with different irrigation methods and rates, different tillage methods and the use of cover crops in dry beans.

UI research initiatives support animal agriculture Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:09:26 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas JACKPOT, Nev. — Over the past 15 to 20 years, Idaho agriculture has moved from primarily plant-based production to embrace thriving animal industries, including dairy and beef production.

To meet the research and education needs of animal agriculture, the university is shifting some of its focus — led by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean, Michael Parrella, who’s been on the job a little over a year.

Parrella brought forth an effort to transform the college, leading to several cattle-centric initiatives, Mark McGuire, the college’s associate dean of research, told cattle producers during the Idaho Cattle Association Summer Round-Up on Wednesday.

The college has nine research and extension centers, with 66,000 experiment units focused on plant-based work and only 700 focused on animal research — 400 beef, 200 sheep and 100 dairy.

“We need to better help address animal issues,” he said.

Environmental health and public opinion associated with animal production are becoming increasingly important, he said.

That has led to renewed efforts to build an animal-research facility in the Magic Valley, where the majority of the state’s animal agriculture exists. The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment is a $45 million project that will focus on environmental sustainability.

“It’s critical, I think, to address the issues out there,” he said.

The facility will house a 2,000-cow dairy and probably a feedlot, with 1,000 to 2,000 acres for research on alfalfa and corn production. It’s planned to be within 30 miles of Twin Falls.

“We’re really going to try to put Idaho on the map with the largest research/education/outreach dairy in the U.S. It will really be focused on environmental science,” he said.

The facility will operate through public-private partnerships and, hopefully, federal grants. The university is already moving ahead with educational partnerships with the College of Southern Idaho, BYU-Idaho and Boise State University to offer unique courses for undergraduates and hopefully attract more graduate students to the University of Idaho.

Other initiatives include expanding facilities at the Nancy M. Cummings center for beef cattle research in Salmon to increase the teaching, research and educational capacity for the livestock industry.

“We’re really close to being able to put a spade in the ground” on that project, he said.

Another project with fundraising efforts underway is a new building for Vandal Brand Meats on the Moscow campus to enhance training, research and outreach. The facility houses a well-recognized, high-quality meat science program, with 14 to 16 students per year hired out of the program. But the old facility is showing its age; it’s slow and awkward, he said.

An independent feasibility study showed it’s well worth the $5 million to build a new facility that will have slaughter and processing facilities and the capacity to produce artisan meats, he said.

“Students are really looking for some of these advanced trainings in meat processing,” he said.

Relatively new to the college’s research on animal agriculture is Rock Creek Ranch near Hailey, where the university is collaborating with the Wood River Land Trust and Nature Conservancy for research and outreach on conservation and sustainable ranching.

The university’s Department of Animal and Veterinary Science is the second-largest department in the college for undergraduate enrollment, and the majority of its facilities are off-campus, he said.

“We’re trying to stay at the forefront of animal science.” The department “provides a wide range of curriculum and hands-on education … from birth to consumption,” he said.

Field day offers tips for potato growers Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:26:00 -0400 GEORGE PLAVENEO Media Group HERMISTON, Ore. — Potato lovers rejoice. Two new spud varieties are coming soon to the Pacific Northwest.

Echo Russet and Castle Russet — developed by the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program that includes Oregon, Washington and Idaho — are just about ready to be released commercially, according to Sagar Sathuvalli with Oregon State University.

Sathuvalli, a potato breeder at OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Experiment Center, discussed the traits of each variety with local growers during the station’s annual potato field day Wednesday. Both varieties boast high yields and good cooking quality, and can be used either for french fries or fresh market.

Getting to this point is no small feat, Sathuvalli explained. From the time breeding begins to when the potatoes are approved for release, it usually takes 12-15 years of rigorous field trials.

Echo Russet — named for the nearby town — and Castle Russet are about to cross that finish line. The Capital Press reports that the Potato Variety Management Institute, which handles licensing and royalties for Tri-State varieties, has decided to release the latest creations in December.

“We should have approval very soon,” Sathuvalli said.

Potato field day also featured updates on research projects to help farmers control pesky Lygus bugs, manage various diseases and thwart parasitic nematodes.

Sapinder Bali, who works with Sathuvalli in the potato breeding program, said they are still working to pin down the specific genes in potatoes responsible for nematode resistance. Nematodes are microscopic parasites that infect potato roots and suck out the plant’s nutrients, causing both internal and external defects that can make the crop unmarketable. Once the genes are identified, breeders like Sathuvalli can use them to boos the resistance of new varieties over the next decade.

“Probably next year, I will have some exciting findings to share with you all,” Bali said.

Josephine Antwi, a postdoctoral researcher at HAREC, later transitioned into talking about Lygus bugs and how the insects may affect potato yields.

There are two species of Lygus bugs in the area, Antwi said, which are widely distributed and should not be confused with aphids. What Antwi is still trying to figure out is whether the bugs are capable of transmitting harmful purple top virus, and how many insects are too many for potatoes to handle.

“We are trying to relate the presence of Lygus bugs to yield,” Antwi said.

Wednesday marked the first potato field day for Ruijun Qin, the station agronomist who was hired last year to replace Don Horneck. Qin recently started field trials with Sathuvalli looking into the best nutrient management practices for Echo Russet and Castle Russet potatoes, so farmers will know what to do and what to expect if they decide to plant new varieties in their own fields.

Ken Frost, plant pathologist at HAREC, wrapped things up by delving into disease concerns this year. Late blight has an especially high probability of turning up around Hermiston given the region’s cool, wet spring.

“We’re going to see it sometime this year,” Frost said. “The problem is we don’t know when or where.”

HAREC station manager Phil Hamm said field day is an opportunity for growers to see (and touch) for themselves how the facility’s research can help them improve their success.

“This station is about you,” Hamm told them.