Capital Press | Capital Press Mon, 19 Feb 2018 02:12:49 -0500 en Capital Press | National wool and sheep review Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:56:59 -0500 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)

Feb. 16

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was slow this week. There were 88,000 pounds of confirmed trades reported. Domestic wool trading on a greasy basis was very slow this week. There were 45,000 pounds of confirmed trades reported.


(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Feb. 16

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs steady to 15.00 higher, except at New Holland, Pa., steady to 10.00 lower. Slaughter ewes steady. No comparison on feeder lambs. At San Angelo, Texas, 3208 head sold. Equity Electronic Auction sold 330 slaughter lambs in North Dakota.

In direct trading no recent comparison on slaughter ewes and feeder lambs. 3200 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were 2.00-4.00 higher. 2,303 lamb carcasses sold with all weights no trend due to confidentiality. All sheep sold per hundredweight (CWT) unless otherwise specified.

Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 2-3 90-160 lbs:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 120-180 lbs 124.00-130.00.

VA: no test.

PA: shorn and wooled 90-110 lbs 215.00-230.00, few 240.00-245.00; 110-130 lbs 170.00-205.00, few 225.00-227.00; 130-150 lbs 160.00-170.00; 150-200 lbs 125.00-185.00.

Ft. Collins, CO: wooled 90-105 lbs 205.00-215.00; 136 lbs 170.00.

South Dakota: shorn and wooled 118 lbs 163.00; 125-145 lbs 150.00-155.00.

Kalona, IA: wooled 114 lbs 146.00.

Billings, MT: no test.

Missouri: 150-160 lbs 75.50-90.00.

Equity Elec: wooled 145 lbs 147.75.

Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 1-2:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs 246.00-266.00, few 273.00; 60-70 lbs 220.00-238.00, few 240.00-248.00; 70-80 lbs 196.00-224.00, few 230.00-232.00; 80-90 lbs 200.00-218.00; 90-110 lbs 176.00-190.00.

Pennsylvania: 40-50 lbs 265.00; 50-60 lbs 250.00-275.00, few 275.00-315.00; 60-70 lbs 250.00; 70-80 lbs 240.00-260.00, few 265.00; 80-90 lbs 210.00-245.00, few 252.00-280.00; 90-110 lbs 210.00-220.00.

Kalona, IA: 50-60 lbs 262.50-275.00; 60-70 lbs 235.00-255.00; 75-85 lbs 217.00-227.50; 85-90 lbs 182.00-197.00; 100-105 lbs 187.00-197.00.

Ft. Collins: 77 lbs 222.50; 80-90 lbs 190.00-205.00.

Missouri: 60-70 lbs 270.00-287.50; 80-90 lbs 237.50-241.00; 90-110 lbs 165.00-180.00.

Virginia: no test.

South Dakota: no test.

Billings, MT: 93 lbs 177.50; 105 lbs 190.00.

Direct Trading: (lambs fob with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent) 3200: Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 127-184 lbs 121.01-154.27 (wtd avg 139.07).

MT: 1900: Feeder Lambs 105-115 lbs 190.00.

WY: 1000: Feeder Lambs 110-120 lbs 160.00.

UT: 700: Slaughter Ewes Utility and Good 1-3 65.00; Utility 1-2 55.00.

Slaughter Ewes:

San Angelo: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) no test; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 65.00-72.00; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 76.00-82.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 65.00-74.00; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) 55.00-62.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) 30.00-50.00.

Pennsylvania: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 65.00-95.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 70.00-100.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) no test; Cull 1 no test.

Ft. Collins: Good 3-5 (very fleshy) 70.00-76.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 64.00-72.50; Utility 1-2 (thin) 48.00-55.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) no test.

Billings, MT: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 58.00-65.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 63.00-68.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 61.00-69.00; Cull 1 57.00-64.00.

So Dakota: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 71.00-80.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 66.00-79.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 50.00-61.00; Cull 1 no test.

Missouri: Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 75.00-105.00; Utility 1-2 50.00-55.00.

Virginia: Good 2-4 77.50-92.50.

Kalona: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) no test; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 72.50-97.00; Utility and Good 1-2 (medium flesh) 75.00-85.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 70.00-80.00; Cull 1 no test.

Feeder Lambs: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: no test.

Virginia: no test.

Ft. Collins: 113 lbs 180.00.

Billings: 70-80 lbs 230.00-241.00; 80-90 lbs 218.00-227.00; 90-100 lbs 200.00-216.00; 100-110 lbs 179.00-195.00; 110-120 lbs 164.00-184.00; 132 lbs 157.00; 150-160 lbs131.00-135.00.

Kalona: no test.

So Dakota: no test.

Missouri: 45-60 lbs 265.00-285.00.

Replacement Ewes: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: hair ewes and lambs 68.00-80.00 per head; mixed age hair ewes 80-130 lbs 85.00-120.00 cwt.

Ft. Collins: no test.

Billings: bred lambs 220.00-270.00 per head; bred yearlings 240.00-325.00 per head; bred baby tooth 220.00-310.00 per head; bred solid mouth 130.00-190.00 per head; bred broken mouth 140.00-170.00 per head; baby tooth 125-165 lbs 69.00-75.00 cwt, solid to broken mouth 130-175 lbs 61.00-69.00 cwt.

So Dakota: bred baby tooth to solid mouth 195.00-235.00 per head; exposed baby tooth to solid mouth 145-220 lbs 75.00-80.00 cwt.

Kalona, IA: no test.

Missouri: hair ewes 75-145 lbs 135.00-165.00 cwt.

Virginia: exposed baby tooth 190.00-230.00 per head; ewes with lambs 190.00-360.00 per family.

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 37,000 compared with 39,000 last week and 36,000 last year.

West Coast grain price report Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:43:43 -0500 rains 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)


Feb. 15

Pacific Northwest Market Summary: Cash wheat bids for February delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, Feb. 15, were mixed compared to week ago noon bids for February delivery.

March wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, Feb. 15, mixed as follows compared to week ago closes: Chicago wheat futures were 5.50 cents higher at 4.6175, Kansas City wheat futures were 3.50 cents higher at 4.78 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 4.50 cents lower at 6.0850. Chicago March corn futures trended two cents higher at 3.6775 and March soybean futures closed 36.50 cents higher at 10.2425.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during February for ordinary protein trended steady to two cents per bushel higher compared to week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.30-5.52. 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 and last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for February delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.85-4.9475 and bids for White Club Wheat were 5.03-5.0475.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: March 5.30-5.5275, April 5.45-5.55, May 5.45-5.58 and August New Crop 5.40-5.5550.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: March 4.7675-4.9475, April and May 4.7325-4.9825 and August New Crop 4.67-4.9850.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during February trended steady to 0.25 of a cent per bushel lower than week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.25-5.4975. 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 February delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.9975 and bids for White Club Wheat were 4.9975-5.0975.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: March 5.30-5.5275, April 5.45-5.5225, May 5.45-5.5525 and August New Crop 5.40-5.5550.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: March 4.7675-4.9975, April and May 4.7325-5.0325 and August New Crop 4.85-5.0350.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for February delivery trended 3.50 to 8.50 cents per bushel higher than week ago bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

This week, bids were as follows: February 6.23-6.48, March 6.28-6.48, April and May 6.43-6.48.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during February trended 4.50 cents per bushel lower than week ago 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: February 7.2350-7.3850, March 7.2350-7.4350, April 7.3875-7.5375 and May 7.3875-7.5875.

Coarse feeding grains: Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for February delivery trended 19 to 37 cents per bushel higher than week ago bids for the same delivery period from 4.7275-4.9775.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Forward month corn bids were as follows: March 4.6275-4.7775, April 4.6050-4.6750, May 4.5550-4.5850, June and July 4.56-4.57.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for February delivery trended 36.50 cents higher than week ago bids for the same delivery period from 11.0225-11.0925. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Forward month soybean bids were as follows: March 11.0225-11.0425. Bids for US 2 Heavy White Oats for November delivery trended 14.50 cents higher at 3.1925 per bushel.

Pacific Northwest Export News: There were 23 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, Feb. 15, with four docked compared to 11 last week with three docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the USDA.

California Weekly

Grain Report

Feb. 15

Compared to Feb. 8: Paid by feed manufacturers and other users, delivered plant or receiving station. All prices are offers for prompt shipment unless otherwise stated.

Dollars Per Cwt. Bulk

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

FOB Solano County NA

Colusa County NA

Tehama County NA

Yolo County 10.05 FOB

Rail: Any Origin - via BNSF and U.P.

Los Angeles NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA


Fresno Counties NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County 10.60 Del

CORN US No 2 Yellow

FOB: Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

Rail: Single Car Units via BNSF

Los Angeles-

Chino Valley Basis 1.19

Truck: Petaluma-

Santa Rosa NA

SORGHUM US No 2 Yellow (Milo)

Rail Los Angeles-

Chino Valley Basis 1.68


US No 1 White (40-lbs. per bushel)

Truck Los Angeles-

Chino Valley NA

US No 2 White (38-lbs. per bushel)

Rail Petaluma NA

Truck Petaluma NA

WHEAT US No 2 or better-Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)


Fresno NA

Merced NA

Truck (California Origin)

Los Angeles 12% Protein NA

Los Angeles 13% Protein NA

Los Angeles 14% Protein NA

Rail-Truck (Out of State Origin)

Los Angeles

Guaranteed 12% Protein NA

Los Angeles

Guaranteed 13% Protein NA

Los Angeles

Guaranteed 14% Protein NA

WHEAT US Durum Wheat

FOB Imperial County NA

Truck Imperial County NA

WHEAT Any Class for Feed

FOB Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

California shell egg price report Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:24:39 -0500 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade A and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.


(USDA Market News)

Feb. 16

Benchmark prices are unchanged. Asking prices for next week are 3 lower for Jumbo, 21 lower for Extra Large, 24 lower for Large, and 17 lower for Medium and Small. The undertone is fully steady. Retail demand is moderate. Warehouse demand is moderate to fairly good. Offerings are light to moderate. Supplies are moderate. Market activity is moderate. Small benchmark price $1.62.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 228 Extra large 224

Large 218 Medium 182


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

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 215-227 Extra large 212-219

Large 206-213 Medium 170-177

Fluid milk and cream review — West Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:19:33 -0500 FLUID MILK AND CREAM REVIEW – WEST

(USDA Market News)

Feb. 15

In California, according to some contacts, fluid milk demand is steady to increasing this week. Educational institutions are getting the usual amount of milk they need.

Milk production continues to increase, outpacing last year’s output for some dairies. Some manufacturers continue to send condensed skim out-of-state for processing.

According to CDFA, March 2018 Class 1 prices in California are $15.20 in the North and $15.47 in the South. The statewide average Class 1 price based on production is $15.21. This price is down $0.28 from the previous month, and $3.42 lower than a year ago.

Arizona milk production remains higher, and several processors are struggling to clear excess milk to Class IV due to limited processing capacities.

Most processing plants are working at

full capacity. Some plant managers are looking for additional processing space. However, other processing plants are full and cannot take on additional loads.

Transportation availability for moving milk is also a concern in Arizona. A few manufacturers are planning to move some loads of milk to California in the upcoming days. Class I sales are unchanged from a week ago.

New Mexico milk output is steady to slightly up due to current good weather conditions. Processing plants are working at or near full capacity to make sure that the milk is taken care of.

Unplanned repair/maintenance workloads at certain plants are contributing to increased holdovers of milk.

However, handlers are redirecting the milk to plants with available processing capacities. Milk production in the Pacific Northwest is following typical seasonal patterns.

Manufacturers are not having any major issues getting the milk needed for processing. Bottling demand is steady. So far, the winter weather in the Northwest has not impacted cow comfort much.

In the mountain states of Idaho, Utah and Colorado, milk handlers report volumes are heavier than expected for this time of year. Milk is readily available for most processing needs. The mild winter has made it possible for farmers to maintain a strong milk production per cow.

Intakes are currently steady, but there is a lingering concern that as the spring flush develops, some farms may not have a market for their milk. Several farms in Idaho are selling off cows. The limited market growth opportunities and financial pressures are pushing a few farms to close.

Western condensed skim is moving from state to state.

Many plant operators are moving condensed skim as they do not have enough time to dry it.

In the West, cream sales continue to be mixed.

In some areas, sales have dropped, but in others they continue to be higher. Manufacturers are actively clearing cream to the churns.

Cream multiples for all Classes are .95-1.20. According to the DMN National Retail Report-Dairy for the week of Feb. 9-15, the national weighted average advertised price for one gallon of milk is $2.33, down $0.55 from last week, and down $0.52 from a year ago.

The weighted average regional price in the Southwest is $2.50 with a price range of $1.89-$2.89.

The weighted average regional price in the Northwest is $1.91 with a price range of $1.88-$1.99.

National feeder and stocker cattle report Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:11:38 -0500 NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Feb. 16

This week Last week 2017

303,100 308,500 318,200 hd

Compared to Feb. 9: Steers and heifers sold steady to 5.00 higher. Buyers continue to pay up for cattle suitable for summer grazing as they anticipate the supply of those calves get more difficult to find the farther in the new year they get.

Demand was quoted as good to very good at most auctions this week as long strings and high quality cattle were on consignments sheets.

Last Friday in Fort Pierre, S.D., a load of 701 lb steers with all the bells and whistles sold at 180.00 and six loads of replacement quality heifers weighing from 772 to 792 lbs sold from 154.00 to 158.50 for a weighted average of 156.69.

On Monday at Tri-State Livestock Auction in McCook, Neb., a string of six loads of 908 lb steers sold at 147.00.

Buyers are betting on the come as the drought picture in many states continues to intensify. Even though rainfall totaled from 2 to 6 inches from eastern Texas to Tennessee, the west Texas area is listed in extreme drought conditions again as Amarillo has now passed the 4-month mark of not receiving any measurable amount of precipitation.

Nebraska seems to be in pretty good shape moisture wise as some market reports out there have made reference to some “tag” evident on consignments at auctions. Colors other than white touch every county in Kansas and Missouri on the drought monitor map

which can be viewed at:

The CME Cattle complex regained the losses from last week as the front five months of Live contracts were 2.62 to 4.15 higher when compared to last Friday.

Likewise for the Feeder Cattle contracts as gains of 3.13 to 4.80 were reported for the week.

Feedlot trade was sluggish to develop last week as most sales occurred after reporting agencies closed up shop.

However, today packers did not want to take a chance of feedyards not selling as analysts were guessing that their inventory numbers were probably getting a little short with the last couple weeks of February upon them.

On Wednesday the Tama Livestock Auction in Iowa, top sales of steers and heifers sold above 132.00; making ranchers wonder if the packers are going to chase the feedlot trade or try to keep the price advance to a minimum.

Right around the time the CME closed for the week, packers blinked and paid up.

Compared to last week, negotiated live sales of slaughter steers and heifers sold 4.00 higher at 130.00 while dressed sales were 5.00 higher at 205.00.

Breaking through the 130.00 barrier is a big psychological gain as that price level is the highest since the middle of June 2017.

Auction volume this week included 66 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.

National Slaughter

Cattle Summary

Feb. 16

Slaughter cattle traded mostly 3.00-5.00 higher for live and 5.00 higher dressed offerings. Boxed Beef prices as of Friday afternoon averaged 207.50 up 2.87 from last Friday. The Choice/Select spread is 4.76.

Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Friday afternoon totaled 43,400 head. Last week’s total head count was 17,050.

Midwest Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers: 130.00. Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: 205.00.

South Plains Direct Markets: Live Basis: Steers and Heifers 130.00.

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to 3.00 higher. Packer demand good. Cutter Cow Carcass Cut-Out Value Friday at noon was 172.28.

Northwest Weighted

Direct Feeder Cattle

Feb. 16

This week Last week 2017

390 155 1,650 hd

Compared to Feb. 9: Feeder steers and heifers not well tested but a higher undertone was noted. Demand good. The feeder supply included 100 percent over 600 lbs and 19 percent heifers. Unless otherwise stated prices are FOB weighting points with 2-3 percent shrink or equivalent and a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 4-12 cent slide on yearlings from base weights. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Feeder Steers Medium and Large 1:

Head Wt Range Avg Wt Price Range Avg Price Delivery

65 Head: 875 lbs; Avg Price 140.00; Current Del

250 Head: 860 lbs; Avg Price 145.00; Mar Del

Feeder Heifers Medium and Large 1:

75 Head: 700 lbs; Avg Price 148.00; Current Del

Western hay price report Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:52:13 -0500 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)

Feb. 16

This week FOB Last week Last year

2865 3510 5620 Tons

Compared to Feb. 9: Alfalfa steady in a light test. Trade slow this week with light to moderate demand. Retail/Feedstore not tested this week. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated. USA Hay export totals for 2017 were 6.3 percent higher than 2016 totals. Alfalfa totals were up 7.2 percent from 2016. Other hay was up 5 percent from 2016.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square

Premium/Export 290 180.00

Tarped 275 160.00

Fair/Export 1350 148.63

Tarped 950 137.37


(USDA Market News)

Feb. 16

Compared to Feb 9: Prices trended generally steady in an extremely limited test. Retail/Stable type hay remains the most demanded hay. Most hay producers are sold out for the growing year.

This week FOB Last week Last year

879 944 3900 Tons

Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco Counties

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square

Premium 150 150.00

Small Square

Prem/Ret/Stable 41 221.46

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Prem/Ret/Stable 8 243.13

Orchard Grass Small Square

Prem/Ret/Stable 26 240.19

Triticale Large Square

Good/Premium 25 165.00

Eastern Oregon:

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Large Square

Good/Prem/Ret/Stab 5 140.00

Harney County:

Orchard Grass Large Square

Premium 32 175.00

Meadow Grass Large Square

Good 75 120.00

Klamath Basin:

Alfalfa Large Square

Fair/Good/Rain Dam 150 140.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Sm Square

Prem/Ret/Stable 100 200.00

Meadow Grass Small Square

Gd/Prem/Ret/Stab 50 150.00

Lake County:

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme 99 215.00

Small Square

Premium/Organic 28 250.00

Retail/Stable 30 185.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Sm Square

Prem/Ret/Stable 30 185.00

Good 30 150.00


(USDA Market News)

Feb. 16

This week FOB Last week Last year

450 900 3275 Tons

Compared to Feb. 9: Alfalfa steady in a light test. Trade slow with light demand. Idaho dairies continue to rely on previously bought supplies. Retail/Feedstore not tested.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square

Premium/Tarped 150 125.00

Oat Mid Square

Good 300 60.83


(USDA Market News)

Feb. 16

Compared to Feb. 9: All classes traded steady with good demand. Drought intensified and expanded from the central Corn Belt southwestward across

the southern Plains into the Southwest, including much of southern California. Other modest changes to the nation’s drought depiction over the past 7 days included reductions to drought intensity in Montana as a result of recent snowy, cold weather, while dryness and drought expanded in Oregon due in large part to subpar snowpacks. Hay is reported FOB the stack or barn unless otherwise noted.

This week FOB Last week Last year

1100 5400 11,732 Tons


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

No New Sales Confirmed.


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

Tons Price

Alfalfa Prem/Ret/Stab 25 280.00


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

Alfalfa Good/Del 25 260.00

Fair/Del 275 195.91

Oat Good/Del 100 175.00

Region 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

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

No New Sales Confirmed.


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

No New Sales Confirmed.


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

Alfalfa Prem/Supr 250 212.00

Export 100 210.00

Prem/Ret/Stab 325 217.69

Selected western livestock auctions Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:14:36 -0500 Oregon


(Woodburn Livestock Exchange)

Feb. 12-13

Receipts: 744, 342 Cattle

Top 10 Slaughter Cows A/P: 67.48 cwt

Top 50 Slaughter Cows A/P: 65.42 cwt

Top 100 Slaughter Cows A/P: 63.02 cwt

Back to the Country Cows: 70.00 cwt

Certified Cows: 80.00-140.00 cwt

Top Certified Organic Cattle: 54.00-66.00 cwt

All Slaughter Bulls: 67.00-83.00 cwt

Top Beef Steers: 200-300 lbs 145.00-165.00 cwt; 300-400 lbs NT; 400-500 lbs 150.00-170.00 cwt; 500-600 lbs 155.00-176.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs 140.00-159.00 cwt; 700-800 lbs 125.00-144.00 cwt

Top Beef Heifers: 200-300 lbs NT; 300-400 lbs NT; 400-500 lbs 145.00-158.00 cwt; 500-600 lbs 140.00-158.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs NT; 700-800 lbs 115.00-128.00 cwt

Cow/Calf Pairs: NT

Bred Cows: NT

Day Old Beef Cross Calves: 210.00-340.00 hd

Day Old Dairy Calves: 10.00-52.50 hd

Block Hogs: NT

Feeder Pigs: NT

Sows: 10.00-44.00 cwt

Weaner Pig: NT

Lambs: 40-70 lbs 160.00-187.50 cwt; 75-150 lbs 155.00-182.50 cwt

Thin Ewes: 50.00-132.50 cwt

Fleshy Ewes: 65.00-77.00 cwt

Ewe/Lamb Pairs: 52.50-72.50 hd

Goats: 10-39 lbs 30.00-40.00 hd; 40-69 lbs 42.50-155.00 hd; 70-79 lbs 82.50-170.00 hd; 80-89 lbs 80.00-165.00 hd; 90-99 lbs 152.50-177.50 hd; 100-199 lbs 130.00-250.00 hd; 200-300 lbs NT



(Toppenish Livestock Auction)

Feb. 15

Receipts: 2020

Compared to Feb. 8: Stocker and feeder cattle unevenly steady to 14.00 higher. Trade very active with very good demand for all classes. The best demand seen this week was for lightweight grass cattle or for heavyweight cattle which buyers hope to finish against the June live contract. Slaughter cows 3.00-4.00 lower. Slaughter bulls steady. Trade active with good demand. Slaughter cows 45 percent, slaughter bulls 10 percent, and feeders 45 percent of the supply. The feeder supply included 43 percent steers and 57 percent heifers. Near 52 percent of the run weighed over 600 lbs. Replacement Cows: Pre-tested for pregnancy, Bangs, and age.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1: 500-600 lbs 192.00, Thin Fleshed; 600-700 lbs 175.50-182.00, Thin Fleshed; 700-800 lbs 159.00, Thin Fleshed. Medium and Large 1-2: 200-300 lbs 215.00; 300-400 lbs 207.50-215.00; 500-600 lbs 177.00-189.50; 600-700 lbs 163.00-166.00; 600-700 lbs 153.50, Full; 700-800 lbs 148.50-158.00; 700-800 lbs 139.00-143.50, Full; 800-900 lbs 145.50. Large 1: 900-1000 lbs 137.00-140.00.

Feeder Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: 300-400 lbs 192.50; 400-500 lbs 177.00-189.50; 500-600 lbs 173.50-182.50; 500-600 lbs 163.00-170.00, Full; 600-700 lbs 147.00-157.50; 600-700 lbs 142.00, Full; 700-800 lbs 135.50-142.00. Large 2-3: 800-900 lbs 85.00. Small and Medium 2-3: 400-500 lbs 162.50.

Slaughter Cows:

Boners: 80-85 Pct. Lean; 1200-1800 lbs; Avg Dressing 69.00-74.00; Low Dressing 64.00-69.00

Lean: 85-90 Pct. Lean; 1100-1700 lbs; Avg Dressing 68.00-73.00; Low Dressing 62.00-68.00

Lean: 90 Pct. Lean; 900-1450 lbs; Avg Dressing 58.00-62.00: Low Dressing 53.00-58.00

Slaughter Bulls:

Yield Grade 1-2: 1500-2400 lbs; Avg Dressing 86.00-90.00; High Dressing 94.50-97.00; Low Dressing 74.00-86.00

Bred Cows (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: Broken Mouth 1100-1300 lbs. 900.00-1050.00 6-9 mos.

Feeder Cows: Medium and Large 1-2: 800-900 lbs 106.50, Young.

Please Note: The USDA LPGMN price report is reflective of the majority of classes and grades of livestock offered for sale. There may be instances where some sales do not fit within reporting guidelines and therefore will not be included in the report. Prices are reported on a per cwt basis, unless otherwise noted.

Column: Dear Port of Portland: Please diversify Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:41:58 -0500 Gary Cardwell Not all news is good news.

Three weeks ago, when the Port of Portland announced it had launched rail service out of its Terminal 6, after a multi-year stoppage of rail and storage container transfer, it seemed a cheery way to start the new year. But it was followed by a stark message in a consultant’s report: The Port must diversify at T6 to offer a variety of pass-through options such as multi-modal, breakbulk, cars, etc.

The economic engine potential of movement of goods through the Port cannot be underestimated. A full one-third of Oregon’s economy is based on goods movement dependent industries, with as many as 93,000 U.S. jobs being supported by the goods that move in and out of Oregon. Experts estimate it’s a $300 billion economic impact of imports and exports that move around and through our state.

But the possible launch of rail service at the Port highlighted a particularly worrisome element: The Port is using both public settlement money and the heavy hand of rail service owner and billionaire Warren Buffet to try to recoup its substantial losses over the past several years by attempting to compete with private, commercial entities.

Many questions now arise about subsidizing such a move with a public entity to both duplicate and compete with established commercial companies. Why the duplication if the recommendations are to diversify? And, why the unnecessary and disruptive duplication in our local marketplace?

The settlement money, arising from the shutdown and successive dispute, awarded the Port about $11 million in public funds and drove out private operator ICTSI Oregon. And, during and after the stoppage, Oregon shippers were forced to absorb annual costs of more than $15.1 million. During these high-profile problems, the last remaining container shipment and logistics business at Terminal 6 were driven away.

Unlike other ports on the West Coast, Terminal 6 is publicly owned by the State of Oregon. Now with the questionable use of the $11 million in settlement money, the Port is going head-to-head with well established commercial entities. The result is that our own Port of Portland is actually underwriting new steamship service at other ports, including Tacoma.

Likewise, the Port’s new partnership is with both Buffet and BNSF Railway Corp., which is headquartered in Texas, a far cry away from local interest in improving Oregon’s local economy.

That the Port of Portland has resolved the longstanding disruptions and shutdown is indeed encouraging. However, these issues also highlighted why the Port got out of the container business; it lost millions and millions of dollars running the container terminal. Data show Terminal 6 as far back as 2003 did not reach quantitative nor economic capacity, only running at about 50 percent of capacity. Now, we wonder if this new partnership will continue throwing good money away.

During and after the shutdown, we in the private sector worked even harder, shouldered more costs, made new investments and grew this sector. Our company expanded and grew our jobs base.

The container-by-rail sector in the Pacific Northwest shows continued growth with commercial investments, and limited public dollar infusion. It just makes good sense for commercial entities already doing it to keep up the good work. For example, Northwest Container Services has capitalized $8 million in company growth, creating numerous local jobs.

In 2014, we retrofitted stacker machines with diesel particulate filters, so pollution can be mitigated — air quality has greatly improved and shows how private investment is working well.

And, on the horizon are the opportunities ahead in infrastructure growth from the Oregon’s newly minted $5 billion statewide “Connect Oregon” transportation package. One such leading proposal is poised to create a rail and intermodal logistics facility in our growing Willamette Valley. We partnered with eastern Oregon’s Port of Morrow on a similar investment and have moved more than 30,000 containers through there, where transport would have otherwise occurred on roadways.

Industry watchers agree the troubles of the containing shipping saga at Terminal 6 aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. Many now wonder if the Port of Portland’s expenditure of public money (and the loss of more than $15 million annually) to subsidize and duplicate out-of-market infrastructure and compete with efficient commercial providers is really the right policy for Oregon.

Gary Cardwell is divisional vice president for Northwest Container Services Inc., a commercial logistics provider headquartered in Portland, Ore., that transports more than 25,000 containers each year.

Mercury pollution may impact Oregon farm erosion rules Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:48:41 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski To meet a court-ordered deadline, environmental regulators are racing to update mercury pollution limits in Oregon’s Willamette River Basin that may affect agricultural erosion rules.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that’s naturally found in soils but is also emitted by fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes. In Oregon, mercury from coal-burning power plants thousands of miles away in China, deposited through rain and dust, is also a significant source.

Agricultural practices are implicated as a source of mercury pollution due to the erosion of soils containing the element.

Currently, there’s a “minimal” amount of awareness among Oregon farmers about the link between erosion and mercury pollution, said Eric Horning, a farmer near Corvallis.

“It’s not a common topic of conversation,” Horning said. “There’s going to have to be an education process.”

Mercury may soon become a more relevant subject for growers in the Willamette River Basin due to upcoming regulatory decisions.

Last year, a federal judge ordered the region’s water quality standard for mercury — known as a total maximum daily load, or TMDL — to be revised by April 2017 due to an environmental lawsuit that faulted how the limit was calculated.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has now pulled together a committee, which includes representatives of the agriculture and timber industries, to advise on the revision process.

The state agency’s TMDL for mercury, which it’s updating with new data, is overseen the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The Oregon Farm Bureau is troubled by the lack of input that DEQ is accepting about its estimates for the amount of mercury that’s deposited in the Willamette Valley and released into waterways.

Agriculture and other industries aren’t being given enough opportunity to review and weigh in on the agency’s assumptions about mercury sources, said Mary Anne Cooper, the organization’s public policy counsel and an advisory committee member.

Farmland is a major land use in the region, so it’s likely to be considered a “big player” in controlling mercury pollution, she said.

“I think this is probably going to be one of the most meaningful TMDLs for agriculture, certainly in recent memory or even ever,” Cooper said.

During a Feb. 15 meeting in Portland, DEQ officials told committee members their primary role was advising on how the TMDL will be implemented to reduce mercury levels.

The technical work of calculating the TMDL will mostly be decided by the DEQ and EPA due to time constraints, though the public will be able to comment on their findings, officials said.

However, assumptions about the sources of mercury are closely linked to the implementation of controls, since both involve crop types and farm practices, said Cooper.

Since sedimentation from farmland will likely be considered a significant source of mercury, the “fix” may involve a DEQ directive on managing soil erosion, she said.

Agricultural water quality regulations are overseen by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, but the concern is that DEQ may provide that agency with prescriptive instructions to reduce mercury pollution, Cooper said.

Such a directive could be burdensome for farmers and discourage innovation in erosion control, she said.

However, the ODA cannot realistically become much more drastic about controlling sediment, which is already a major focus of its agricultural water quality program, said Paul Measles, an agency hydrologist and committee member.

“The staff we have and the amount of places we can look at any one time isn’t going to change,” he said.

Erosion control in the region could be improved, but farmers are constrained by regulations in what they can do to reduce streamside sedimentation, said Horning, who is also a committee member.

Work to reduce bank erosion can be quickly performed with a front-end loader but generally requires cumbersome permitting from state and federal agencies, Horning said.

“It’s frowned upon and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “It should be embraced.”

Trump ag budget reductions at a glance Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:19:39 -0500 Though Congress holds the federal purse strings, the Trump administration has offered its opinion on changes to the USDA budget. Congress will write its own version of the budget in coming months.

Some highlights of the Trump proposal. Comments are from the budget document:

• Limit commodity, crop insurance and conservation assistance to producers that have an adjusted gross income of $500,000 or less. “It is hard to justify to hardworking taxpayers why the government should provide assistance to wealthy farmers with incomes over $500,000,” according to the budget document. “Doing so undermines the credibility and purpose of farm programs. In 2013 (a year of record-high farm income), only 2.1 percent of farmers had AGIs in excess of this amount.”

• Reduce premium subsidies for crop insurance from an average subsidy rate of 62 percent to 48 percent.

• Reduce payments made to private sector crop insurance companies. The budget would reduce subsidies to the crop insurance companies by setting a 12 percent cap in law for underwriting gains, “which is considered a reasonable rate of return for the industry,” according to the budget proposal.

• Tighten commodity payment limits. “There is no need for any one producer to receive more than $125,000 in commodity support payments per year ($250,000 for married couples), or for peanut producers — who already benefit from higher price supports than most producers — to get special treatment so they are eligible for $250,000 in payments ($500,000 for married couples) if they produce other crops,” according to the budget document.

• Better target conservation funding to the most sensitive agricultural land. “A 2016 Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General report found that over 30 percent of Conservation Stewardship Program contracts reviewed as part of an audit contained errors or inconsistencies,” according to the budget document. The errors were due to “ineligible participants receiving CSP contracts and eligible participants receiving excessive program payments.”

“These indicators demonstrate that CSP funding is not always spent in the taxpayers’ best interest,” according to the budget. In addition, the budget proposes to eliminate funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, instead favoring legislative flexibility to achieve program goals.

• The budget also offers several legislative proposals for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) encouraging work among able-bodied adults, targeting benefits to the neediest households and promoting efficiency and integrity in program operations. The budget would also create a new approach to nutrition assistance that combines traditional SNAP benefits with USDA Foods provided directly to households.

“This cost-effective approach supports American agriculture, prevents certain types of program abuse, provides state flexibility in delivering food benefits, and ensures the nutritional value of the benefits provided,” according to the proposed budget. “Combined, these reforms will maintain our commitment to ensuring Americans in need of assistance have access to a nutritious diet while significantly reducing the cost to taxpayers.”

Under the proposal, households receiving $90 or more per month in SNAP benefits will receive a portion of their benefits in the form of a USDA Foods package, which would include items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables and meat, poultry or fish. The remainder of their benefit would go on the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card for use at approved grocery retailers.

“This cost-effective approach will generate significant savings to taxpayers with no loss in food benefits to participants. It will also improve the nutritional value of the benefit provided and reduce the potential for EBT fraud. States will have substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships, or commercial/retail delivery services.”

— From “An American Budget,

Major Savings and Reforms”

Beekeeper calls pollinator protection bill an overreaction Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:37:39 -0500 Dan Wheat EPHRATA, Wash. — One of Washington state’s largest beekeepers says the reintroduction of a bill to ban certain pesticides to protect honeybees is an overreaction.

“Neonics are insecticides, and bees are insects, so sloppy or careless application kills bees. But the majority of applicators use caution and don’t cause major acute kills,” says Tim Hiatt, co-owner of Hiatt Honey Co., in Ephrata.

U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., reintroduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act in the House on Feb. 14. The bill would suspend the registration of certain neonicotinoid insecticides until the EPA conducts a full scientific review.

The congressmen and more than a dozen environmental and conservation groups say studies implicate the insecticides, called neonics, as contributors to declining populations of honeybees and butterflies and pose risks to birds and aquatic invertebrates.

Some beekeeper groups support the bill. But Hiatt says while studies show sub-lethal effects on honeybees at certain exposures, hives also have superorganism defenses and, aided by beekeepers, can survive.

“More judicious use of neonics would help beekeepers combat sub-lethal effects, which shorten the life of bees and colonies. But an outright federal ban is an overreaction as it relates to honeybees. States should assess the impacts to honeybees in their states and take appropriate action,” Hiatt said.

On the other hand, native pollinators usually don’t have the advantages that honeybees have and a national ban may be appropriate for them, he said.

Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, said NHC has no position on the bill. He said some neonics are used in tree fruit production and others are not.

“In general, neonics are an important tool for growing pears and controlling pear psylla and are also sometimes used in apple and cherry orchards for controlling specific pests,” Powers said.

“Pollinators are critically important to the tree fruit industry. We cannot produce apples, pears and cherries without pollinators,” he said.

Growers follow EPA label requirements such as not applying neonics until after trees are done blooming, he said.

Trump budget would make crop insurance unaffordable for many, ag industry says Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:34:32 -0500 Matw Weaver When President Donald Trump spoke before the American Farm Bureau Federation in January, he asked members if they liked crop insurance.

“He asked the question, our members responded enthusiastically,” recalled Dale Moore, executive director for public policy at the organization. “He looked over to where (Senate Agriculture) Chairman Roberts was sitting and said, ‘Pat, you were right, they like crop insurance, so I guess we’ll keep it.’”

A month later, Trump has proposed a budget that calls for cuts in the total crop insurance program and the federal premium that helps make crop insurance affordable for farmers, said Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers.

The budget plan would reduce premium subsidies for crop insurance from an average of 62 percent to 48 percent.

That would make it harder for some farmers to participate in the program, spreading the risk over fewer acres and making the program more expensive for the remaining farmers, Goule said.

While the president can propose a budget, Congress holds the federal purse strings, Moore and Goule said. Both said they believe the House and Senate agriculture committees will shrug off the president’s proposal and produce a farm bill with strong insurance programs.

But a president’s budget outlines an administration’s priorities, Goule said.

If Trump’s proposed cuts were to be enacted into law, “they would have devastating impacts on wheat growers,” Goule said.

“It is a significant enough cut that it will make crop insurance unaffordable for many, if not most, wheat growers,” he said.

Trump also proposed cuts to the companies that deliver crop insurance to farmers.

“If you make it impossible to deliver a risk management tool and then you cut the funding for the risk management tool, then you basically set back not only the wheat growers but all farmers’ ability to protect themselves against things they can’t control, like the weather,” Goule said.

Some of the proposed cuts are held over from the Obama administration and other previous administrations, Goule said.

“OMB seems to have some sort of vendetta against agriculture — not just this administration, but across multiple administrations,” Goule said. “You see continued cuts in the budget proposals coming out from each administration, attacking crop insurance programs and farm bill programs.”

Trump was “heavily influenced” last year by organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the Environmental Working Group, which don’t want to see any type of farm bill, Goule said.

Agriculture organizations need to invite such groups to their meetings so farmers and ranchers can hear directly from them that their opposition to the farm bill is “real, strong and it has money behind it,” Goule said.

“I do not see (the groups) changing their stances because this is how they raise money from their urban members who do not understand agriculture production,” Goule said.

Goule said growers are lucky to have Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky, championing the importance of the farm bill and crop insurance programs in the White House.

Critics blast EPA for lowering Syngenta pesticide fine Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:23:26 -0500 AUDREY McAVOY HONOLULU (AP) — Critics are blasting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for dramatically lowering a fine on agribusiness company Syngenta for violations of pesticide regulations.

Syngenta, under a settlement announced this week, will pay $150,000 for improperly using the pesticide chlorpyrifos at a seed corn field in Hawaii in 2016 and 2017. It will also spend at least $400,000 to train farmers, particularly small-scale growers, in pesticide use.

The EPA initially proposed a fine nearly nine times larger — or $4.9 million — for just one incident. This amount was proposed in December 2016, under the Obama administration.

Syngenta “got off with a ridiculously small fine,” said Paul Achitoff, managing attorney for mid-Pacific office of Earthjustice, an environmental law organization.

He said that the EPA often asks for the maximum penalty when it files a complaint and then lowers the amount for the fine that is ultimately imposed. But, in this case, he said “there’s such a huge difference.”

He also said the EPA and Syngenta were close to resolving the case for a larger amount in 2016, when President Barack Obama was in office. But he said Syngenta pulled back after the 2016 election, figuring they could pay less under the Trump administration.

“And now a year and a half later, we see that they’re absolutely right. They could get a much better deal under Trump,” Achitoff said.

Achitoff declined to say how he knew the EPA and Syngenta were close to reaching a deal before Trump’s election, saying he didn’t want to compromise his sources.

Syngenta did not answer when asked by email if the company was close to a deal in 2016 and then decided to wait, betting the fine would be lower with Trump in office.

The company said in a statement: “Agricultural worker safety is a top priority for Syngenta and safe use training has for many years been an integral part of the way the company does business worldwide.”

Dean Higuchi, a spokesman for the EPA in Honolulu, defended the settlement as the largest of its kind in the U.S., said the fine sends a strong message to potential violators and will also protect farmworkers by providing training.

First developed by Dow Chemical in the 1960s, chlorpyrifos is among the most widely used pesticides in the world and is commonly sprayed on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops.

In March, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era effort to bar the use of chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables after several peer-reviewed academic studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children’s brains.

Federal scientists also concluded last month that organophosphate pesticides, which includes chlorpyrifos, pose a threat to dozens of endangered and threatened species, including Pacific salmon, Atlantic sturgeon and Puget Sound orcas.

The first pesticide use violation occurred in January 2016 at Syngenta Seeds’ crop research farm on Kauai where workers entered a recently sprayed field.

Syngenta failed to tell the workers to avoid the fields, and then allowed them to enter the fields without protective gear. The EPA said Syngenta also failed to provide adequate decontamination supplies at the farm and supply prompt transportation for emergency medical care.

The incident happened when a state agriculture inspector was at the farm. She documented the violations and referred the case to the EPA, which resulted in the initial complaint filed in 2016.

The EPA, in an amended complaint filed this month, said Syngenta again violated pesticide use rules in January 2017 when a worker applied chlorpyrifos but failed to inform work crews about the treated areas and when they should avoid those fields.

A worker called the EPA the same day to report he believed he had been exposed to pesticides and was experiencing “adverse health effects” as a result. The complaint didn’t include details about his health problems.

Lori Ann Burd, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, said the lower fine is “a win for the pesticide maker, not the farmworkers carelessly exposed to a dangerous pesticide.”

“This absurdly low fine just reassures pesticide makers what they already knew, that as long as Trump is president they’re free to do whatever they want,” Burd said.

Scott Enright, the chairman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said his department was encouraged that the settlement includes “substantial” training in farm pesticide safety. He said the department hopes to work with Syngenta to develop training materials and programs that may benefit all Hawaii farms.

JoAnn Yukimura, a Kauai County Council member and former Kauai mayor, said she hopes requiring Syngenta to pay over a half-million dollars for the violations will prevent future incidents.

She said a law Kauai passed in 2013 requiring large farms to create buffer zones around their crops and to disclose what pesticides they use has raised awareness of the issue, even though federal courts invalidated the measure.

Yukimura said she believes there’s more effort on everyone’s part to ensure regulation, compliance and enforcement.

“I hope that the direction we’re moving in will continue,” she said.

Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland, was purchased last year by China National Chemical Corp., a state-owned company also called ChemChina.


Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker in Washington contributed to this report.

Coca-Cola sales plunge as drink maker sheds bottling biz Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:15:54 -0500

ATLANTA (AP) — Coca-Cola swung to a fourth-quarter loss after being hit with a $3.6 billion tax charged tied to a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws.

Revenues also plunged as the world’s largest drink maker sells off its bottling operations.

Industry analysts have anticipated both as the company reshapes operations, and shares headed higher in early trading Friday.

“We achieved or exceeded our full year guidance while driving significant change as we continued to transform into a total beverage company,” said CEO James Quincey. “While there is still much work to do, I am encouraged by our momentum as we head into 2018.”

The Atlanta company reported a loss of $2.75 billion, or 65 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs like the tax hit, came to 39 cents per share, which was a penny better than analysts had expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue fell 20 percent to $7.51 billion, also topping Wall Street projections for revenue of $7.36 billion.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 38 cents per share, while six analysts expected in revenue.

Shares of Coca-Cola Co. rose more than 1 percent before the opening bell Friday.

Deere hit by tax changes, but tops expectations all around Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:12:45 -0500

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere swung to a loss in its first quarter, weighed down by charges tied to the U.S. tax overhaul, but it easily beat Wall Street expectations when those extraordinary costs are removed.

The Moline, Illinois, company also boosted its 2018 outlook, citing improving market conditions.

For the period ended Jan. 28, Deere lost $535.1 million, or $1.66 per share. A year earlier it earned $199 million, or 62 cents per share.

Earnings, adjusted for charges and other items, were $1.31 per share, much better than the $1.16 analysts were looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Deere & Co.’s revenue increased to $6.91 billion from $5.63 billion. Its adjusted revenue totaled $5.97 billion, which was below the $6.4 billion in revenue that analysts surveyed by Zacks expected.

Chairman and CEO Samuel Allen said in printed release that there was more demand for Deere’s products as conditions improved in key markets. Sales were moderated by bottlenecks in the supply chain and logistical delays in shipping products to dealers.

Deere now anticipates a 2018 adjusted profit of about $2.85 billion, with revenue rising approximately 25 percent. Its prior forecast was for net income of about $2.6 billion, with revenue up approximately 19 percent.

Shares rose slightly in premarket trading Friday.

Kraft Heinz 4th-quarter results miss Wall Street&#x2019;s view Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:09:33 -0500

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kraft Heinz’s fourth-quarter performance fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, as sales climbed slightly but were somewhat hampered by lower shipments of nuts, natural cheese and cold cuts in the United States and cheese and coffee in Canada.

The maker of Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese earned $8 billion, or $6.52 per share, for the period ended Dec. 30. The latest quarter includes a multibillion dollar gain related to the recent U.S. tax overhaul. A year earlier the Pittsburgh company earned $944 million, or 77 cents per share.

Earnings, adjusted mostly for benefits from the tax law, came to 90 cents per share. That’s below the 96 cents per share analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research expected.

Revenue edged up to $6.88 billion from $6.86 billion as sales improved in Europe, but the results also missed forecasts.

The company said it’s accelerating its spending on numerous initiatives thanks to the tax overhaul, including $1.3 billion to prefund retirement benefit plans, $800 million in quality and safety-related capital expenditures, and investments of $300 million to “build our capabilities, our people skills and our brands,”

For the year, Kraft Heinz Co. reported a profit of $11 billion, or $8.95 per share, on revenue of $26.23 billion. Its adjusted profit was $3.55 per share.

Shares dipped before the market open on Friday.

Water use climbs in California enclaves as drought returns Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:05:09 -0500 ELLEN KNICKMEYER and AMY TAXIN TUSTIN, Calif. (AP) — Overall water use is climbing in Southern California as that part of the state plunges back into drought, driving state and regional water managers as they consider permanently reinstating some watering bans and conservation programs.

Gov. Jerry Brown lifted California’s drought emergency status a year ago, after a wet winter that snapped a historic 2013-2017 drought, and the state ended his 25 percent mandatory conservation order.

Water use has been moving steadily upward since then, especially in a six-county area of Southern California that includes the biggest chunk of the state’s nearly 40 million people.

Water use there was up 3 percent in December, the last month for which figures are available, compared to the same month in 2013 before mandatory conservation.

Many of the biggest offenders are well-off communities, with sweeping lawns to keep alive. The average residential user in one Malibu water district, for instance, used 255 gallons a day, according to the state water board — three times the U.S. average of 83 gallons per person per day. It’s also up 7 percent from the same month in 2013, before Brown ordered the 25 percent conservation by cities and towns in 2015.

The water district for an enclave north of Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, hit 270 gallons per person, per day water use that month. Residents of an east Orange County water district used 203 gallons a day.

Despite a fall and winter that have brought Los Angeles less than one-fourth of normal rainfall, “you still see thick green lawns” in some communities, said Conner Everts, a Los Angeles-based conservation specialist who works with nonprofits and government agencies.

Wendy Silva, a 57-year-old homemaker from the Orange County city of Santa Ana, wasn’t lured by multimillion-dollar rebate programs during the drought that paid homeowners to remove thirsty lawns, and admits to her husband giving their lawn extra water since conservation orders eased.

Silva said she’s glad to have her green grass back after seeing it turn brown during the drought. She doesn’t plan to swap it out for drought-tolerant landscaping as some of her neighbors in arid Southern California have done.

“I like the lawn,” she said. “I don’t like the desert look.”

Many other Southern California communities have winnowed water use to well below the national average over successive droughts, water officials say. Residents of lower-income communities — with much less lawn — are some of the heroes when it comes to keeping water use down. That includes residents of East Los Angeles, who used an average of 42 gallons a day, and people in Huntington Park, who got by on just 34 gallons.

U.S. drought monitors this month declared parts of Southern California back in severe drought, just months after the state emerged from that category of drought.

A winter of shorts and T-shirts, record warm days, and growing worry over water supply in Southern California are leading California’s Water Resources Control Board to consider next week whether to permanently reinstate some bans on water use that were imposed during the drought state of emergency.

If board members say yes, a handful of old-style water practices including using a hose to wash down sidewalks, and leaving automatic sprinklers on during and just after a rain, would be specifically outlawed statewide and could draw $500 fines.

Pending state legislation, meanwhile, would also give local water districts that kind of enforcement power over wasteful water use.

Board members of the Los Angeles-area Metropolitan Water District, the nation’s largest urban water wholesaler, also are looking this winter and spring at making drought-style public-education conservation campaigns on social and news media permanent, along with programs encouraging homeowners to replace lawns. More than two-thirds of the water households consume is used outdoors, chiefly for lawns.

The permanent water restrictions that the state is looking at acknowledge that what California is facing now is growing extremes in wet spells and dry spells, not just the occasional drought.

The measures are about “transforming the relationship we have with water, which is increasingly scarce due to climate change,” said Max Gomberg, a leader of water conservation programs at the state water agency.

California, the country’s top state economy and agricultural producer, depends on 700 miles of canals and pipelines and a network of dams, reservoirs and pumps to pipe water from the wetter north to Silicon Valley and the farms and population centers of the Central Valley and Southern California.

Weather trends are undermining the state’s complex water system, however. Rising temperatures and changing storm patterns mean less snow is falling in the Sierra Nevada. Much of what snow does fall melts in place before spring runoff ever reaches the reservoirs that depend on it.

Water reservoirs are full from last winter’s welcome, near-record rain. But if Californians draw them down over a dry year, and “we head back into next winter and it’s really dry, we’re right back in emergency this time next year,” Gomberg said.

New UI Extension course helps landowners manage small, rural acreage Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:01:40 -0500 Matw Weaver University of Idaho Extension offers a one-day program to help owners of small rural acreages manage their land.

“Ten Acres and a Dream” will be March 16 in Sandpoint and March 17 in Hayden.

Topics to be covered include: living on the land — a great American tradition; homesteading infrastructure; growing fruits, vegetables and other crops on small acreages; working with county government; raising large and small livestock and managing pastures on small acreages and Idaho panhandle forestry fundamentals. Three UI master volunteers will share their Idaho rural living experiences.

The new program was the idea of the Master Forest Stewards, according to UI Extension.

The stewards were interacting with many landowners new to a rural setting, said Chris Schnepf, extension educator for forestry with UI Extension in Coeur d’Alene.

“Even simple things like, ‘How do you make contact with your neighbors?’” he said. “Sometimes you live in a rural area and someone pulls up in a pickup, some landowners are a little suspicious ... or when you get out of the car and there’s nobody there, kind of shout something out. Basically the idea is making your presence known, not just surprising somebody in their backyard. People move out to rural settings for a variety of reasons. One of them often is privacy.”

Program enrollment is limited to 75 participants per session. Pre-registration is encouraged, no later than March 9. A $15 registration fee includes resource materials and refreshments.

“My gut instinct is we’re probably going to go to max capacity and end up repeating it down the road in different locations,” Schnepf said.

Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai and Benewah counties collectively have more than 1.5 million acres of private lands, 47.5 percent of all lands in those counties, according to UI Extension.

Schnepf said the program will emphasize how to do right by the land, managing weeds and creeks, and addressing a wide variety of different visions for landowners.

“Giving them a little bit of traction for making those things a reality,” he said.

For registration questions on the Sandpoint session, contact the University of Idaho Extension office in Bonner County at (208) 263-8511. For registration questions on the Hayden session, contact the University of Idaho Extension in Kootenai County at (208) 446-1680. Registration forms can also be downloaded at

The program is co-sponsored by UI Extension and the Idaho Department of Lands.

Campbell beats Street 2Q forecasts but soup sales decline Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:55:23 -0500

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Campbell Soup Co. beat Wall Street second-quarter expectations, but declining soup and juice sales and an ongoing dispute with Walmart left investors cold and shares fell in morning trading.

U.S. soup sales were down 7 percent amid a disagreement with Walmart over a promotional program, an issue Campbell hinted at six months ago. Campbell said it is making progress with Walmart on the issue and expected the decline in soup sales to moderate in the second half of the fiscal year.

Another disappointment was the Campbell Fresh segment, which did not recover as the company expected. Poor sales of its Bolthouse Farms refrigerated beverages drove a 1 percent decline in the segment, which also includes salad dressings, hummus and salsa.

The soup, snack and juice maker reported fiscal second-quarter earnings more than doubled to $285 million from $101 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the Camden, New Jersey-based company earned 95 cents. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, earnings per share rose to $1 from 91 cents.

The results beat Wall Street expectations of 81 cents per share, according to an analyst survey by Zacks Investment Research.

The maker of canned soup, Pepperidge Farm cookies and V8 juice posted revenue of $2.18 billion in the period, also exceeding the average Street forecast of $2.17 billion.

Based partly on the new tax law, Campbell raised its full-year earnings projections between 2 and 4 percent to a range of $3.10 to $3.17 per share.

Campbell shares have fallen 26 percent in the past year.

Food box idea draws ire from Democrats, advocates Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:49:49 -0500 JULIET LINDERMAN WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is pushing what it calls a “bold new approach to nutrition assistance”: replacing the traditional cash-on-a-card that food stamp recipients currently get with a pre-assembled box of canned foods and other shelf-stable goods dubbed “America’s Harvest Box.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney likened the box to a meal kit delivery service, and said the plan could save nearly $130 billion over 10 years. But the idea, tucked into President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget, has caused a firestorm, prompting scathing criticism from Democrats and nutrition experts who say its primary purpose is to punish the poor.

“The main goal is to alleviate food insecurity, and the reason SNAP is so successful is because it gives low-income families the autonomy and dignity to make their own food choices,” said Craig Gundersen, a professor in agricultural strategy at the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gundersen said people will leave the program as a result of the shift.

SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — is the official name for the food stamp programs.

“All of a sudden you’re saying, ‘we don’t trust you to make the right decisions for your family.’ It’s demeaning and it’s patronizing. This is pro-hunger, because people will leave the program,” Gunderson said.

Under the proposed plan, households that receive more than $90 in SNAP benefits each month — roughly 81 percent of households in the program, or about 16.4 million — would be affected.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the box “a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families.”

But the proposal doesn’t include any concrete details about how much the program would cost or how it would be implemented, saying only that states will be given flexibility to distribute the boxes “through existing infrastructure, partnership, and/or directly to residences through commercial and/or retail delivery services.”

Lawmakers say they aren’t even sure where the idea came from.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the ranking member of the House nutrition subcommittee, called the proposal a “cruel joke” that came out of nowhere. He said despite having numerous hearings on SNAP, Monday’s budget was the first time he’d heard of the food box proposal.

“I don’t even know how to implement it. Who would distribute these boxes?” he said. “How would we do this? Do they anticipate recipients getting them at supermarkets? In addition to being a cruel and demeaning and awful idea, it’s just not practical.”

A spokeswoman for House agriculture committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said the committee has held 21 hearings and invited 80 experts to speak about SNAP in its preparations of the forthcoming farm bill, and the idea of a food box was not once discussed.

An Agriculture Department spokesman said the idea was developed internally, but didn’t provide further details on the brainstorming process. Mulvaney credited it to Perdue.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, top Democrat on the Senate agriculture committee, said the food box idea “isn’t a serious proposal and is clearly meant to be a distraction from this Administration’s proposed budget that fails our families and farmers.”

The proposal is part of a broader plan to gut the SNAP program, reducing it by roughly $213 billion — nearly 30 percent — over the next decade. The plan also proposes tightening work requirements for recipients.

Matt Knott, president of hunger relief network Feeding America, called it “an unworkable solution in search of a problem.”

“SNAP is an efficient program that already utilizes a grocery system,” Knott said. “It’s a program that expands and contracts as the economy expands and contracts as well. It’s flexible, timely and efficient, and converting a sufficient portion of it to an antiquated program where boxes are delivered is simply unworkable.”

Trespass bill backed by Idaho farm groups sent to House floor Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:52:34 -0500 Sean Ellis BOISE — A bill supported by dozens of Idaho farm groups and aimed at deterring trespassing on private property has been sent to the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation.

Dozens of people testified on House Bill 536 before the House Agricultural Affairs Committee Feb. 14, including many farmers and ranchers who recounted numerous examples of damage done to their crops and equipment by trespassers.

“We have had corrals burnt for firewood, fences cut, crops destroyed, water tanks shot up, livestock chased and shot and calves run over,” said Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who crafted the bill.

The bill is supported by at least 30 farm groups.

Boyle, a rancher, said Idaho’s trespassing laws are currently scattered over three different statutes and are inconsistent. She said her bill clarifies the state’s trespassing laws so they are more easily understood.

The bill also increases penalties because, Boyle said, current laws don’t include penalties sufficient to deter trespassing.

Currently, someone convicted of criminal trespassing on private property faces a $50 fine but the bill would increase the fine for a first offense to $500.

“It is literally not worth the prosecutor’s time for a $50 fine,” said Boyle, chairwoman of the House ag committee.

The legislation also eases the posting requirements that private property owners have to follow, which currently include placing “no trespassing” signs every 660 feet.

During the meeting, committee members heard from a lot of farmers and ranchers who offered examples of the damage they have sustained from trespassers who have shot their pivot tires, drove through planted fields and even destroyed expensive tractors.

Madison County farmer Brett Ricks provided images of one of his fields with vehicle tracks running through it. “I would say this is a yearly occurrence,” he said.

“The testimony you’ve heard today from farmers and ranchers points to the need for House Bill 536,” said Stacey Katseanes-Satterlee, who spoke on behalf of Food Producers of Idaho and Idaho Grain Producers Association.

Committee members also heard from leaders of several sportsmen and wildlife organizations opposed to the legislation that said the 15-page bill was rushed through with no input from their members.

“Last week was the first time we were privy to this bill,” said Michael Gibson, the Idaho field coordinator for Trout Unlimited.

Lobbyists representing the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, Idaho Association of Counties and Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association said the legislation contains a lot of good provisions but the groups can’t support it as written.

Though the 15-member ag committee voted 14-1 to approve the bill, several members expressed concern about a provision that could result in someone being convicted of a felony for a third criminal trespassing conviction.

Property owners have “been treaded on way too much. That’s evident by the testimony we have seen today,” said Rep. Van Burtenshaw, R-Terreton, a rancher. “But I would prefer to give fines as opposed to felonies. That’s where my anxiety is.”

If the legislation passes the House, it will be sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mark Harris, a Republican rancher from Soda Springs.

Washington House OKs bill to move wolves Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:44:02 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — The state House this week showed strong support for redistributing wolves in Washington, except from lawmakers whose districts could be candidates for taking in wolves.

The House voted 85-13 on Tuesday to direct the Department of Fish and Wildlife to study moving wolves from Eastern Washington to Western Washington. The “no” votes, three Democrats and 10 Republicans, were cast by westside legislators whose districts include expansive tracts of wildlife habitat.

Okanogan County Republican Joel Kretz pushed the bill to relieve his district from having a vast majority of the state’s wolves. His alternative proposal, giving wildlife managers more leeway to control the wolf population in four northeast counties, has gone nowhere.

“I don’t have any hard feelings about the people who voted ‘no.’ They voted their districts, and I told them they should. I get their concerns,” Kretz said Thursday. “I’m not excited about putting wolves onto anyone, anywhere, but on the flip side, I’ve tried to deal with this in a way that didn’t affect anybody else’s district, and it hasn’t worked.”

House Bill 2771 now goes to the Senate, where it could be blocked by senators concerned that their districts would be on the short list of places to introduce wolves. The House bill moved because the chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Aberdeen Democrat Brian Blake, set aside his opposition and let the bill through for a vote.

The bill was supported by a few westside lawmakers with rural constituents, but the lopsided vote was driven by eastside Republicans and urban Democrats.

Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen, a Stevens County rancher, said he understands resistance to taking in wolves. Still, he said that he supports the bill because translocation would expand support for protecting livestock and the public from wolves.

“While I don’t wish wolves on anyone, it will bring the rest of agriculture and rural folks into the fight,” Nielsen said. “It’s a social battle, and the best way to win a social battle is to have as many people on the same page as us.”

Nielsen said regional de-listing would be a better way to help northeast Washington ranchers who are losing cattle.

“I understand why people don’t want wolves in their backyard because I’m in the same boat,” he said. “We’ll welcome them into the fight.”

Under the bill, WDFW would look for places without wolves, but with enough prey to feed them. A review to satisfy the State Environmental Policy Act could take a year or longer and would be further complicated by the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over wolves in Western Washington.

Wolves are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington, where they are well established. Wolves have yet to colonize the North Cascades, South Cascades or the Olympic Peninsula and appear to be at least several years away from meeting the state’s recovery goals.

Washington’s wolf plan, adopted in 2011, holds out the possibility of translocating wolves if recovery stalls. WDFW predicts recovery will happen without capturing and transporting wolves west.

Kretz said his district already has enough wolves to colonize the state. He said that he fears the consequences of having dozens of packs in northeast Washington without a plan to manage them.

“What we’re asking is for the department to take (translocation) seriously. Their response over the last few years has been, ‘We’d rather not do that. We’d rather let them naturally disperse. And we have to start (an environmental review) to do that.’ My response has been, ‘You should have started (it) a long time ago,’ ” he said.

Federal wildlife managers have moved wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to get the predators away from cattle. A study published in 2005 by Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, the University of Montana and the Nez Perce Tribe concluded that 88 wolves translocated between 1989 and 2001 had a higher mortality rate and a strong tendency to head back toward where they came from.

Wallowa ranchers pursue energy projects Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:32:05 -0500 KATY NESBITT JOSEPH, Ore. — A conditional use permitted on Wallowa County ranchland this winter would allow two cattle producers to offset their power costs with energy generated on their shared irrigation pipeline.

The Triple Creek Ranch sprawls across the upper Wallowa Valley north of Wallowa Lake, abutting the Schaafsma Ranch. Ditch water diverted from a nearby creek runs through a pipe and irrigates pasture on both ranches. If the project is built, excess pressure from the pipeline will generate energy sent to the power grid via power lines less than 20 feet from the generator.

Kyle Petrocine of Wallowa Resources, the local organization coordinating the project, said there are operational benefits to both ranches.

“The ranches will share the net metering credit generated and have lower operational costs due to lower power costs,” Petrocine said.

Ranch owner Lori Schaafsma said if the project goes through, power will only be generated during the irrigation season. She said the energy credits earned through power generation can only be used by the partnering ranches.

The cost saving could be considerable. While Schaafsma said their power bill runs about $3,000 a year, Scott Shear, manager of the Triple Creek Ranch, said his ranch spends roughly $20,000 on electricity annually.

The cost savings are high, but so is the initial outlay for permitting, siting and construction.

Schaafsma said she and her husband, Tom, have long been interested in harnessing power off of their irrigation pipeline, but need grant funding to pay for installation.

“We had always talked about it, but when we were told how much it would cost it was way more than we could afford,” Schaafsma said.

Funding for hydro projects, Petrocine said, is always a hold up

“Hydro is still fairly expensive, even for small-scale projects,” Petrocine said.

To help pay for the project Petrocine said he is applying for grants this spring and targeting fall of this year for installation.

The proposed power plant on the upper Wallowa Valley ranches will be the third hydro project Wallowa Resources has fostered; the first two were installed on a ranch in the mid-Wallowa River Valley between Lostine and Wallowa on the Spaur Ranch in 2010 and 2016. Now that Wallowa Resources has made hydro a priority, Petrocine said he anticipates overseeing two projects a year. From concept to installation, each project takes about two years. Permitting alone takes about six months, including the conditional use permit granted by Wallowa County Jan. 30.

“Now that we have our ducks in a row things will be accelerating,” Petrocine.

Energy Trust of Oregon has funded feasibility studies for these Wallowa County projects, including a few that didn’t pencil out.

A large chunk of funding for a $219,000 project at the head of Wallowa Lake was received through a Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Grant — a fund supported through ratepayers who dedicate a portion of their bill to renewable energy development. County Commissioner Susan Roberts said Pacific Power granted $60,000 for the installation of a power plant that will generate around 150 kilowatts a year, saving the project’s owner, the Wallowa Lake Service District, a municipal water and sewer entity managed by Wallowa County, about $15,000 a year in energy costs.

The log cabin style pump house will be in Wallowa Lake State Park’s campground, Petrocine said, and will have an interpretive sign explaining how a spring on the mountainside powers the turbine.

Construction on the hydroelectric plant at Wallowa Lake State Park will begin in October or November, after the tourist season, Petrocine said.

Editorial: &#x2018;We&#x2019;re from the government, and we&#x2019;re here to help&#x2019; Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:19:09 -0500 The phrase, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help,” often gives farmers and ranchers pause.

While some agencies do indeed offer much-needed help in the form of crop insurance and other programs that help 2.1 million U.S. farms and ranches feed 320 million Americans — and much of the world — other efforts come up short.

Like the U.S. Department of Labor, which several years ago placed a “hot goods” order on fresh blueberries as a way to coerce several Oregon farms into paying a fine based on unproven allegations that two farmworkers were working on the same ticket. Only after the farmers took the agency to court did they get any justice — and their money back.

Then there was the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding of the What’s Upstream smear campaign against Washington farmers in an attempt to push through the state legislature new buffer zones along rivers and creeks. EPA lawyers say that was OK as long as no specific legislation was mentioned.

You get the idea. The concept of “help” is in the eye of the beholder. To the relief of many, during the past year many federal agencies have changed their tune, taking another look at rules such as the Waters of the U.S. regulation, which would have expanded the federal government’s control of that most precious commodity.

Then this happened.

It amounts to a tortured tango between California regulators and the USDA. The losers are California dairy farmers.

It’s no secret that milk prices have fallen far below the cost of production. In California, farmers estimate they lose an average of $5 for every hundredweight of milk they produce. To get some relief, farmers petitioned the state Department of Food and Agriculture to increase prices to slow down the flow of red ink.

Because the state has its own marketing set-up, the CDFA has the ability to make small adjustments in prices.

But CFDA last week told the farmers it wasn’t going to help. A federal milk marketing order is in the works, so state officials decided to defer to the USDA, which would control prices once it is in place.

Simple enough, except that the folks at USDA initially put the marketing order on hold pending the outcome of an unrelated Supreme Court case. In that case, the role administrative law judges should play in the bureaucracy is under consideration.

Now the USDA is appointing a judicial officer to review the record instead. Either way, the decision is likely to be delayed.

The upshot is the state won’t consider raising milk prices, and the USDA’s decision will likely be delayed.

In the meantime, California dairy farmers are getting all the help they can handle from the government.

R&D: Building a better piece of equipment Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:13:28 -0500 Tim Hearden When a sparkling new combine, tractor or sprayer debuts with big fanfare in equipment dealers’ lots, chances are it took years and many millions of dollars to develop and build.

Companies typically start by gauging the needs and interests of customers, then they often develop and test several generations of prototypes in the field and in the laboratory before the final product is ready for launch, executives told the Capital Press.

For instance, AGCO’s new IDEAL combine, which it introduced in September with a promise to “revolutionize” harvests, took more than four years of meticulous planning and roughly $200 million to develop, said Eric Hansotia, the company’s senior vice president of Global Crop Cycle and Fuse Connected Services.

The company started by meeting with farmers around the world and writing a specification that was 1,400 lines long, then went through a concept generation phase, a development process with nearly 50 prototypes that underwent hours of testing and use before engineers settled on the final design, Hansotia said.

“This is the most complicated product in the industry,” he said. “Nobody’s done a clean-sheet-of-paper new combine in the last 30 years. ... People are very cautious to make big changes on a combine. This is the biggest program in AGCO’s history.”

Likewise, Case IH’s new Trident 5550 combination liquid and dry fertilizer applicator was designed after detailed discussions with customers and took about three years to get to market, said Eric Shuman, the senior director of the company’s harvesting product line.

“We use a process called customer-driven product development,” Shuman said. “We look to the customers to identify what’s needed as far as particular issues they have or concerns they have and ways to address those needs.”

Once prototypes are available, they are placed with customers on their farms so the company can continue to gather information and make improvements, he said.

The result is an applicator that can handle both liquid and dry fertilizers, enabling the grower to switch from one to the other in about 45 minutes, he said.

“We’re replacing the need to have two pieces of equipment,” Shuman said.

The process has likely repeated itself often lately as equipment companies have come out with new products that increase automation — a strong desire for growers as labor costs rise and availability decreases.

In recent years, John Deere has added new models to its Self-Propelled Forage Harvester lineup and introduced a new high-horsepower 4-track tractor. New Holland in August announced a methane-powered concept tractor that “imagines the farm of the future” as being largely automated and completely energy independent, according to the company.

“At the level we’re describing, (the process) is fundamentally the same” for each company, said Hansotia, a former John Deere senior vice president. “Each group has its own nuances that they try to focus on and do a better job, but the general strategy for both construction equipment and agricultural equipment generally follows this approach.”

Given the complexities and challenges of farming, listening to and understanding producers’ needs — whether articulated or not — is an important early step in developing products, said Mike Park, a John Deere regional product marketing director.

“Today, that has resulted in products and solutions that focus on how we make the execution of in-field jobs easier, smarter and more precise,” Park said in an email. “Along with innovation, quality is also a critical deliverable and an expectation of our customers. Delivering on both areas factors into the overall development process.”

Within John Deere, cross-discipline teams collaborate and translate what they hear from customers into specifications and features for future designs, making the process a “team sport,” Park said.

“This is especially true as you look at precision agriculture, where we are combining equipment and technology and dealer support,” he said. “Our development processes not only consider what the solution should be, but also how we can ‘go to market’ in a way that John Deere dealers are committed to providing the best experience and support.”

This is done through training and investment in people, resources and tools, Park said.

For the IDEAL combine, AGCO started by “embedding” its professionals in the operations of farmers, shadowing them and listening to them describe the problems and issues they face, Hansotia said.

The company then drew up a specification and started mapping out different scenarios for the new combine on paper to develop a “wish list” of features the new machine should have, he said.

Then engineers started designing the machine on computer, creating virtual prototypes in a lab and testing their functions in various conditions. In the meantime, the company starts to plan supply management, customer support and what has to be in the design to make it possible to manufacture, Hansotia said.

Once the plan is set, a “cross-functional team” designs specific elements such as the tracks, the gear box and other features, he said. The company went through several iterations of virtual prototypes before putting the first machines in fields, he said.

From there, “waves of prototypes” tackled “corner conditions” — the most difficult conditions the engineers could think of — and underwent numerous durability tests, and problems that were discovered in the field were solved in the lab, he said.

“In the field, it’s about performance — making sure the machine performs well with every crop in every condition,” Hansotia said, adding that teams compared the new combine with competitors’ machines in the same fields.

While these physical tests were going on, other teams did six different virtual builds to make sure all the components fit together and the machine could be serviced easily, Hansotia said.

When the new combine was nearly ready, the company started planning its rollout, including a social media campaign to generate buzz and an event for dealers and media to introduce the new model.

“The amount of intelligence on this combine is 5 million lines of code,” Hansotia said. “The first space shuttle that went up had a half-million lines of code. This machine steers for itself, gears for itself and ... is automatically adjusting itself in real time based on sensors and software intelligence.”

Depending on the features a buyer chooses, the new combine and head could list for as much as $500,000, Hansotia said. The company’s goal is to sell 2,500 a year, he said.

“Interestingly enough, many of the big professional farmers ... sometimes buy a new one every one or two years,” he said. “Then they sell it to another farmer. (Combines can) go through five different farmers’ hands over 17 years.”

Similarly, Case IH gathered extensive input from customer focus groups and translated it into technical specifications, Shuman said. Once the product was defined, the first step was to “build a functional mule to prove the concept,” he said. Then additional prototypes were built and tested “to really iron out the product performance and reliability,” he said.

Totally new products like the IDEAL combine or Trident combination sprayer are rare, however, as the industry mainly focuses on updating equipment, the executives said.

“For sure the highest percentage (of projects) is improvements to current products,” Shuman said.

But even some of the improvements can involve a two- or three-year process, Hansotia said.

To get started, the machines’ designers look for customers who are the most forward-looking and can describe what they think they’ll need five years in the future, he said.

To feed a growing world population in the future, growers will have to double productivity without using more land or water, he said. At the same time, they’ll have to use fewer pesticides and herbicides and deal with a worsening labor shortage, he said.

“They’re looking for automation opportunities and simplification opportunities,” Hansotia said. “That’s why we were looking at so much automation on this combine.”

Shuman agreed.

“The general direction is more and more data management and using the advancements in electronics and sensor technology to provide a much simpler user interface,” he said.

, “to take a lot of guesswork out of operators’ hands and provide the right data for the customer to maximize the profit potential.”