Capital Press | Capital Press Tue, 6 Oct 2015 02:46:24 -0400 en Capital Press | Zebra chip confirmed in four Idaho fields Mon, 5 Oct 2015 16:35:46 -0400 KIMBERLY, Idaho — Zebra chip disease has now been confirmed from fields in four Idaho counties, according to University of Idaho Extension storage specialist Nora Olsen.

Olsen said the most recent infected tubers were found during harvest in Twin Falls County on Sept. 25 and in Minidoka County on Sept. 28. The first confirmed infection was reported in Ada county on Aug. 13, followed by a confirmed infection in Power County on Sept. 10.

Olsen said each county’s case involved a couple of tubers, at most, from a single field. Olsen said the tubers were discovered either during test digs or random crop sampling.

Zebra chip, caused by the Liberibacter bacterium, first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 2011 and is spread by tiny, winged potato psyllids. It’s characterized by patterns throughout tuber flesh that darken during frying. There were no confirmed cases in Idaho tubers last season.

“We have a very small smattering of it,” Olsen said. “I don’t think we have a lot out there. Otherwise, we would have a lot more people talking about it.”

Olsen said the Columbia Basin has also reported a “smattering” of zebra chip infections.

She advises growers to keep an eye out for zebra chip during harvest and while loading potatoes into storage. The disease isn’t known to spread from infected tubers to clean spuds in storage, but symptoms may develop in storage in infected tubers.

“You can possibly see a little bit show up in storage that you didn’t see at harvest, especially if the infection came in late season, but we’re not seeing significant increases in storage,” Olsen said.

Most agriculture groups favorable to TPP Mon, 5 Oct 2015 11:16:39 -0400 Matw Weaver The agreement — known by its initials TPP — is designed to improve trade relations between the 12 participating countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

Brett Blankenship, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said he supports the pact but that the organization’s analysts will evaluate the final text.

“We have always viewed the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a great opportunity for potential marketing gains, as well as preventing future market access losses,” Blankenship said. “Without the multilateral approach of a broad-based trade agreement, our competitors have been working on country-to-country bilateral agreements, which would leave American products outside of the trade zone.”

Mark Powers, executive vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, Wash., said his organization hopes the TPP will remove all tariffs on apples, pears and cherries. The council belongs to several TPP advisory committees.

Powers said he expects to be pleased with the deal.

“There aren’t any tariffs on imported apples, pears or cherries coming in to the United States, so our longstanding position to the U.S. government has been to get other countries’ tariffs down to zero as well,” he said. “We’re anticipating that will be the case, but we need to see the details.”

Powers hoped sanitary and phytosanitary standards covered in the deal would prevent future trade barriers among TPP countries. It’s an area in international agricultural trade that’s creating problems, he said, with standards initially designed to protect against pests and diseases being used to create trade barriers that aren’t justifiable.

“We’re talking about how do we obtain the kind of access to export markets that other imports already have into our country,” he said.

Randy Suess, a former U.S. Wheat Associates chairman, said Japan may be allowed to protect several commodities, including wheat and barley, under the pact. Japan doesn’t grow much wheat and heavily subsidizes its wheat and barley farmers, he said.

“It’s not that big of a deal, but it seems like if we’re really going to have a true free-trade type policy, everything would have to be on the table, and I guess that isn’t going to be the case,” he said.

Suess said the agreement is designed to level the playing field for U.S. farmers. Some of the countries in the agreement are already good trading partners, and others, such as Vietnam, are emerging markets for the United States, he said.

“As far as wheat and barley goes, I think we’re going to be happy with this,” Suess said.

Suess hopes other countries, including China and Indonesia, will eventually join TPP.

Suess expects TPP to be a significant topic in the presidential campaigns.

The deal still must be approved by Congress. President Barack Obama must wait 90 days before signing it, and Congress will then begin debate on it.

Ag groups, however, aren’t unanimous in their support for the deal.

Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA in Billings, Mont., said his organization will encourage Congress to reject the deal.

“We are very disappointed that what we have is but yet another trade deficit-generating free trade agreement that will only cause more harm to our U.S. cattle and sheep industries,” Bullard said.

Bullard said trade agreements give developing countries a forum to force the United States to relax its health and safety standards. He wants to see the United States work to increase health and safety standards in other countries before allowing them access to the U.S. market.

“(TPP) will result in the further relaxation of our health and safety standards and the further erosion of our ability to maintain the highest health and safety standard in the world,” Bullard said. “Currency valuations have far more impacts on trade than tariff compromises or reductions.”

Blankenship pointed to the success of securing trade promotion authority — called fast-track authority — for the Oback administration in June, which allowed the TPP negotiations to continue. Congress won’t be able to modify the agreement, only vote for or against it.

Democrats opposed the authority for Obama, while supportive agriculture groups wanted to see it approved.

“That was a heavy lift, and we accomplished that, so let’s be optimistic that if the trade agreement in its final version is as positive as what many had hoped, we can push adoption of the agreement across the finish line,” he said.

The TPP nations account for up to 42 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports, totaling $633 billion, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

“Failing to grasp this opportunity would be a mistake, worse than just losing out on potential gains, our producers would fall behind other countries that are negotiating their own preferential arrangements in TPP countries,” Vilsack said. “We are committed to working with Congress within the framework of the recently passed trade promotion authority to obtain a strong bipartisan understanding of and support for this historic trade deal that benefits farmers, ranchers and all those who live, work and raise families in rural communities.”

Tale of two harvests in Idaho vineyards Mon, 5 Oct 2015 15:00:31 -0400 Sean Ellis CALDWELL, Idaho — Last November’s bitter cold snap has significantly reduced Idaho winegrape production this year.

But vintners and growers say the smaller harvest is resulting in concentrated fruit flavors and winegrape quality is excellent.

Winemaker Martin Fujishin said some vineyards look normal but others have produced close to nothing.

“It has kind of been a tale of two harvests,” he said. “There are some vineyards that didn’t have anything on them and some vineyards came out of it just fine and yielded very normally.”

He said the reduced harvest is due largely to the four-day November freeze, when temperatures fell suddenly from near 70 degrees to near or below zero in many parts of the Treasure Valley, where most of Idaho’s winegrapes are grown.

The temperature fell to as low as minus-6 degrees in some parts of the valley.

“The plants just didn’t react well to going from 70 degrees to zero degrees in three ... days,” Fujishin said.

The good news, he added, is that grape quality has been superb.

“I’m super tickled with what’s come in,” he said.

Bitner Vineyards owner Ron Bitner estimates his production will be down by 30 to 50 percent, and he said some growers with small blocks lost everything this year.

But, he added, “The fruit looks good. It’s good, clean fruit.”

The impact of the cold snap varied a lot by location.

“I have two vineyards 1.5 miles apart,” Bitner said. “One was really hammered and the other one wasn’t.”

“Depending on where the location of your vineyard was, some people got hit hard,” said Hat Ranch Winery owner Tim Harless.

He said his production will be down by about 15 percent “but quality looks wonderful.”

Skyline Vineyards Manager Dale Jeffers estimates his total production could be down by as much as 30 to 40 percent, but he’s excited about the flavor profile and quality of the grapes that have been picked.

“All the winemakers are saying the quality looks pretty good,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be a winner vintage for a loser crop as far as quantity goes.”

Fujishin, who teaches viticulture at Treasure Valley Community College, said vineyards on high ground tended to whether the cold snap better than vineyards lower in the valley.

The take-home message, he said, is that “having a good site is the most paramount thing to do here in Idaho and the Treasure Valley.”

Idaho farm leaders happy with new ag college dean Mon, 5 Oct 2015 13:21:44 -0400 Sean Ellis MOSCOW, Idaho — Idaho’s farming industry has responded well to University of Idaho’s announcement that Michael Parrella will be the new dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Parrella, who serves as the chair of University of California, Davis’ Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate dean of that university’s agricultural sciences department, will take over as dean of CALS on Feb. 1.

A 14-person advisory committee that began a nationwide search for the new CALS dean in January narrowed the pool of candidates to eight people who were interviewed in Moscow and also met ag industry leaders in Boise.

“I met all eight candidates ... and he clearly rose to the top in my mind,” Idaho Barley Commission Administrator Kelly Olson said of Parrella. “I liked his energy, his passion and he had fresh ideas. I really connected well with him.”

Olson said Parrella also “demonstrated a very strong record working with the California ag industry,” a sentiment echoed by others.

“He seemed to have a good rapport with industry (and) he understood private and public partnerships real well, which is important because land-grant universities are going to have to partner more with private entities to get the things we need to get done with agriculture and the university,” said Wilder farmer Doug Gross.

“The industry stakeholders on the advisory committee are extremely happy that he’s able to join us,” said Idaho Dairymen’s Association Executive Director Bob Naerebout, a search committee member.

Parrella said his interaction with ag industry stakeholders in Boise was positive and an important reason why he accepted the position.

He also said he did some homework on Idaho agriculture before he came here to be interviewed and he was struck by how important farming and ranching are to the state.

California total farm gate receipts are much higher than any other state but farming accounts for a much greater percentage of Idaho’s gross state product, he said.

“Agriculture is very important to the state of Idaho (and) people look to (CALS) for solutions to their problems,” he said. “To be a part of that is pretty exciting.”

He also said that while he understands California agriculture, “that doesn’t make me an expert in Idaho agriculture. I need to listen to the stakeholders and learn (from them).”

According to a UI news release, Parrella’s research focuses on developing integrated pest management programs for greenhouse and nursery crops, with an emphasis on biological control.

He was recently named vice president-elect of the Entomological Society of America.

Parrella, who was born and raised in New Jersey, has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Rutgers University and a master’s and doctorate degrees in entomology from Virginia Tech.

“A number of stakeholders appreciated that he was an entomologist with a ‘hard’ science background,” Food Producers of Idaho Executive Director Rick Waitley said in the UI news release.

Parrella will take over from John Foltz, who has been acting as interim CALS dean since December 2012 and will continue to assist with ag initiatives, including leading UI’s Western Initiative for the Dairy Environment.

United States, 11 Pacific Rim countries reach trade deal Mon, 5 Oct 2015 07:47:01 -0400 CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABERand PAUL WISEMANAP Business Writers WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries have agreed to an ambitious trade pact that cuts trade barriers, sets labor and environmental standards and protects multinational corporations’ intellectual property.

The agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership was reached Monday after marathon negotiating sessions in Atlanta through the weekend.

“We think it helps define the rules of the road for the Asia-Pacific region,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

The TPP is designed to encourage trade between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the basic agreement as “a farsighted policy for all participating countries that share the values and try to build a free and fair economic zone.”

The deal still has to be approved by the U.S. Congress, where opposition is widespread. President Obama has to wait 90 days after agreement before signing the pact, and only then will Congress begin to debate it.

As a result, a vote on the agreement likely will not happen until well into 2016. Given the political sensitivity of the deal, supporters of the agreement may push to hold the vote as far ahead of next year’s elections as possible. Congress can only give the deal an up-or-down vote; it can’t amend the agreement.

Many of the tariff reductions and other changes will be phased in over several years, so benefits to the U.S. economy could take time to materialize.

Peter Petri, a professor of international finance at Brandeis University, says he doesn’t expect the deal to lead to any U.S. job gains. But he forecasts it will boost U.S. incomes by $77 billion a year, or 0.4 percent, by 2025, mostly by creating export-oriented jobs that will pay more, even as other jobs are lost.

The Obama administration has also pursued the deal as part of a strategy to lift U.S. influence in fast-growing Asia and to counter China’s growing influence. China, the world’s second-largest economy, is not part of the agreement, but potentially could join later.

Ecology to order clean-up of grain-handling facility Mon, 5 Oct 2015 12:56:51 -0400 Matw Weaver The Washington Department of Ecology plans to order two companies to clean up pollution at a grain-handling facility in Freeman, Wash.

Ecology is seeking public comment on the proposed enforcement order until Nov. 2. The order would require Union Pacific Railroad and Cenex Harvest States Inc. to investigate contamination at the grain handling facility and study ways to clean it up.

Carbon tetrachloride and chloroform were found in soil samples collected at the grain handling facility. Contaminants found in ground water samples from the nearby Freeman School District’s primary drinking water supply well included those chemicals at concentrations above the Safe Drinking Water Act’s maximum contaminant levels, according to EPA.

Carbon tetrachloride was historically used as a fumigant. The chemical was outlawed in the mid-1980s.

The seasonally used grain elevator is considered a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Superfund program is aimed at cleaning up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

CHS Primeland owns the grain facility, which is built on property owned by the railroad. CHS Primeland leases the land from the railroad.

Ken Blakeman, general manager of CHS Primeland in Lewiston, Idaho, said his company would contest any order through the legal process.

“The chemical has not been used by us,” he said. “They’ve never shown any proof that this is the source. Unfortunately, the way the process works through Ecology and the EPA, you’re proven guilty before you get to prove yourself innocent.”

“Union Pacific does not agree with (Ecology’s) findings,” said Francisco Castillo, a spokesman for the railroad. “However, we’ll continue to work with the department on this issue.”

Blakeman questioned Ecology’s testing on the facility and school site.

“It’s underneath the facility, we don’t dispute that,” he said. “We haven’t used it, and we don’t believe we’re the source. We all have it underneath the ground. It could come from many sources — machine shops (or) solvent used in the bus garage.”

CHS took over the facility roughly a decade ago, Blakeman said.

The school district’s water supply is currently being treated and is safe to drink, according to Ecology. A long-term fix is being sought without making the school district spend its “limited resources,” according to an Ecology press release.

Based on the EPA’s initial study of the site, Ecology believes the grain-handling facility is the source of the groundwater contamination of the school district’s drinking water wells, said Brook Beeler, regional business administrator for Ecology.

“Washington’s law is clear,” Beeler said. “Property owners and companies that operate facilities are liable for any pollution on the property. Companies also assume liability of previous operations when purchasing property or businesses.”

The cost to clean up the facility will be determined after further study to identify the extent of contamination at the facility. Further study will identify potential cleanup options, Beeler said.

All steps go through a public comment process, Beeler said.

Potato truck returns to Idaho from fourth tour Mon, 5 Oct 2015 12:47:30 -0400 John O’Connell CHUBBUCK, Idaho — The Idaho Potato Commission’s Great Big Idaho Potato Truck is back in Idaho and making appearances at local events to wrap up a fourth U.S. tour.

IPC President and CEO Frank Muir said the truck’s latest tour covered 22,000 miles, with stops in 50 cities and seven events attended by more than 350,000 people.

“It’s one of those iconic experiences,” Muir said. “You’ll never forget where you were the first time you saw the Idaho Potato Truck.”

Major stops included the Kentucky Derby, the National Memorial Day Parade in Arlington, Va., the Fourth of July Parade in Galveston, Texas, Seafair in Seattle and the Nascar race in Bristol Tenn.

On Oct. 3, the truck visited the Chubbuck McDonald’s to join in the restaurant’s celebration of Idaho potato harvest. Visitors were invited to take photographs with the truck and Ronald McDonald, and children were awarded Spuddy Buddy toys for winning a bean bag toss game. A similar McDonald’s event was hosted in Blackfoot on Oct. 4.

Muir said the current tour will end with a few additional stops in Western Idaho.

IPC has spent roughly $700,000 on each tour, Muir said. The 6-ton replica russet Burbank on a flat-bed trailer traveled to raise awareness about the Meals on Wheels program for homebound seniors in its first two years, and supported the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign in its third year. Both organizations received donations from IPC.

During the most recent tour, the truck’s philanthropic theme was “a big helping,” with funds directed at charitable causes of local interest at various stops.

Muir explained IPC donated $1 for every visitor’s signature on a poster board to a designated local charity, with a maximum donation capped at $500. The maximum was reached at every stop. Muir said supporting local charities helped increase public and media interest, and IPC plans to use the same strategy during its fifth tour, which will depart next spring. Muir said charitable donations from the tour totaled less than $10,000.

“We were testing it this year,” Muir said. “Next year we’ll probably fund a significantly higher amount than that.”

Adam Branstetter, of Boise, toured with the truck as an IPC “spud stud.” He recalled one stop during which the truck raised funds to help a child with a rare case of dwarfism go to Disney World and meet his hero, Iron Man.

“I’ve gone to a lot of places I wouldn’t have had a chance to go to and had a great time,” Branstetter said.

Muir said hundreds of people called a “help” line to report truck sightings and tracked the truck’s progress via an online GPS map.

In its next tour, Muir said the truck will float on a barge past the Statue of Liberty for an “iconic photograph” in New York, which is the major buyer of Idaho potatoes.

Muir doesn’t anticipate the truck will make its farewell tour any time soon.

“I think in one way or another this truck will continue to have a life in the future,” Muir said. “It’s just too great of an experience for people to take it away.”

Spud farmer uses crop to support grandkids’ small business Mon, 5 Oct 2015 10:43:27 -0400 John O’Connell Capital Press

POCATELLO, Idaho — Generally, when 17-year-old Zoe Esplin works the conveyor at her grandfather’s farm, she sorts out dirt clods, vines and flawed tubers.

But a couple of times each harvest, he lets her take the most perfect Ranger Russet specimens to fill 50-pound boxes, which she sells directly to customers through her own small business.

Ronald Esplin, who raises spuds for processing in Firth, has helped his granddaughter raise money for college and toward financing an upcoming mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both employing her at harvest and supplying a product for her to sell.

Ronald sells the spuds to his granddaughter at the same rate he’s paid by his processor, Lamb Weston.

Ronald provided the same opportunity to Zoe’s older sister, Rachel. Her older siblings Brandon and Janel also sold spud boxes, but with produce their father, Keith, raised back when he was still potato farming.

“We’ve enjoyed working with them,” said Ronald, who raised 920 acres of spuds this season. “We thought we’d give them some extra money, and it doesn’t hurt us either.”

Even with a substantial markup above the contract rate, Ronald said, Zoe’s customers still pay considerably less than grocery store prices for loose bakers.

Over the course of 20 years, the Esplin kids have developed a devoted customer base that likes the freshness and quality of the locally grown spuds — and especially the fact that the potatoes are left coated in dirt, which extends their storage life.

“There’s a lot of people who buy from us every year,” said Zoe, who has helped to sell spuds since she was 8 years old.

Keith said Rachel wrote about running the business in her Harvard University entrance exam, and he believes the experience helped set her apart from other applicants.

Zoe works a single Saturday each fall at the Portneuf Valley Farmers Market in Pocatello, notifying her customers before the date.

She represents one of the few large farms at the market. Aside from a couple of fresh sheds that allow the public to buy boxes of spuds from their facilities, Keith said most large spud operations haven’t done much with direct sales.

“It’s unusual I think,” Keith said. “Most larger operations just don’t have the time to deal with the farmers markets.”

Zoe’s sister, Janel, also sells quite a few of Zoe’s boxes to friends in Boise, including a businesswoman who always buys 25 boxes as gifts to her workers.

Zoe fills about 150 boxes each harvest, a few of which are kept for family use. Her customers pay $17 per 50-pound box. Other business expenses include boxes, transportation and farmers market fees.

“It’s taught me a lot about balancing money and budgeting,” Zoe said. “I know hard work, and that’s been good for me.”

Keith said the tradition may continue after Zoe leaves for college. Janel’s children are interested in starting the next generation of Esplin family direct potato sales.

Airspace change threatens to disrupt Christmas tree harvest Mon, 5 Oct 2015 09:44:53 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski Christmas tree farmers in the vicinity of Salem, Ore., hope a change in federal airspace designation won’t complicate upcoming helicopter harvests of their crop.

Over the summer, the Federal Aviation Administration increased the radius of “Class D” airspace around the Salem Municipal Airport from about four miles up to eight miles in some areas.

This expansion would impede harvests of Christmas trees in the area because helicopters would come under stringent restrictions that would effectively prevent most flights when visibility is low — a common occurrence during the cloudy autumn months.

“We realized it would shut the growers down,” said Terry Harchenko, president of Industrial Aviation Services, a Salem aviation firm that serves farmers.

Roughly 2,600 acres of Christmas trees on multiple farms are included in the larger “Class D” airspace, said Ben Stone, whose family operates BTN of Oregon, a farm near Salem.

“That’s a big area,” Stone said.

Growers have a narrow window of five to six weeks to harvest trees, so companies such as BTN of Oregon wouldn’t have time to switch their harvest plans this year, he said.

The farm doesn’t have sufficient tractors, roads or workers to cut and haul the trees by ground, nor could such operations be accomplished quickly enough to meet holiday demand, Stone said.

“We’ve farmed with helicopters for 30-plus years,” he said.

Due to protests from pilots and others affected by the airspace change, the FAA agreed to scale back the expansion — under a new proposal, the radius of “Class D” airspace around the Salem airport will increase by up to one mile.

However, due to the public notice and comment process, growers fear the revision will not be finalized in time for this year’s harvest.

“Helicopter harvest is very critical to what we do,” said Bryan Ostlund, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. “I refer to the Christmas tree harvest as controlled chaos and this is going to make it even worse.”

There is a possibility that harvest disruptions can still be avoided.

Agricultural aviators may be able to operate under a “letter of agreement” that allows them to fly in the “Class D” airspace during periods of cloudiness and reduced visibility, as long as they follow certain conditions.

Rob Broyhill, air traffic manager at the Salem airport’s control tower, said he’s drafting a “letter of agreement” that he expects to have done by Oct. 15. The proposal must still be approved by FAA officials, he said.

Harchenko of Industrial Aviation Services said the outcry from pilots and growers, as well as intervention from Oregon’s congressional delegation, will hopefully allow the problem to be resolved in a timely manner.

“It could have been a real disaster if everybody wouldn’t have gotten with it,” he said.

Growers should also submit comments on the scaled-back “Class D” airspace proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 21 and can be found online, Harchenko said.

The original expansion occurred after an FAA review determined the change was needed to improve the safety for pilots operating on instruments around the airport, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Affected pilots and others didn’t comment on the proposed change because they were unaware of the FAA’s announcement, said Mitch Swecker, director of the Oregon Department of Aviation.

“Nobody noticed it,” Swecker said.

During periods of low visibility, pilots in “Class D” airspace come under the jurisdiction of FAA’s control center in Seattle, which is unlikely to have time for helicopers harvesting Christmas trees, he said. In such a situation, the Seattle control center would probably simply stop them from flying.

“There ability to focus on something as small as ag operations is not very good,” Swecker said. “It probably wouldn’t be a high priority for them.”

$43 million in California fire prevention money goes unspent Mon, 5 Oct 2015 08:29:02 -0400 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A state fire prevention account has ended recent fiscal years with tens of millions of dollars unspent despite bone-dry conditions across much of California’s wildland area.

The state ended the fiscal year in June with an estimated $43 million in fee money left over for fire prevention, the Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

The state collected more than $300 million through June from more than 800,000 property owners who pay a fire prevention fee. Most of them pay $117.33 a year for each habitable structure.

The money has been generated by a contentious, four-year-old fee pushed through by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats over the objections of Republicans and rural property owners.

Statewide since January, more than 5,300 fires have torched almost 300,000 acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The toll would have been worse without activities and projects funded by the fire prevention fee, state officials said.

Yet they said they have proceeded cautiously in spending the prevention fee money because they were not sure how much money the charge would bring in.

“Given the fact that it’s a relatively new fund, there’s not a long track record on receipts. We do want to maintain a prudent reserve for unforeseen circumstances,” Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said.

State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who sits on the budget subcommittee that oversees Cal Fire, rejected the idea that the fire fund’s large reserve reflects prudence.

“They’re hoarding it,” he said. “What for, I don’t know.”

Some have suggested the state may have one eye on the courts, where it is fighting a lawsuit filed by critics who contend the fee is an illegal tax.

In August, a Sacramento County judge elevated the case to class-action status, and a trial date is expected next year. If the state ultimately loses, the fee revenue would disappear and the state would face refunding an estimated 12,000 property owners eligible for the class.

Refunding five years of fees to landowners who filed a required protest would cost more than $7 million. Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston, echoing a common belief, said he thinks the large balance in the fire prevention fund reflects officials’ concern the state will lose the case.

Weston, a former Cal Fire unit chief who pays the fire prevention charge, said there’s no excuse for all of the unspent money in the fund.

“Statewide, they’re collecting $75 million (a year), during one of the worst droughts, in one of worst fire seasons, and the best thing would have been to add a bunch of inspectors. They didn’t do that,” Weston said.

Wendy’s names financial officer as next CEO Mon, 5 Oct 2015 08:25:48 -0400 NEW YORK (AP) — Wendy’s said Monday that it its next CEO will be chief financial officer Todd Penegor.

The fast food chain said current CEO Emil Brolick plans to retire in May. Brolick, who is 67 years old, has led Wendy’s for four years. He is expected to remain on the board of the company after retiring.

Wendy’s, based in Dublin, Ohio, has been remodeling its stores and adding new menu items to position itself as a more premium fast food chain. It has more than 6,500 restaurants, making it the third largest hamburger chain in the world.

Penegor, 50, joined the company more than two years ago. He previously worked at cereal maker Kellogg Co. and automaker Ford Motor Co. Wendy’s said it is looking outside the company for a new CFO.

Brolick will work with Penegor to transition his duties in the first quarter of 2016, the company said.

Shares of The Wendy’s Co. fell a penny to $8.70 in morning trading Monday. Its shares have fallen 3.6 percent so far this year.

Audit: Washington state overpaid contractor to fight 2014 fire Mon, 5 Oct 2015 08:23:37 -0400 TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A state accountability audit has found that the Washington Department of Natural Resources overpaid a private contractor to fight a 2014 north-central Washington wildfire.

The Carlton Complex fires began in July 2014 in the Methow River valley of Okanogan County. They burned about 400 square miles.

The News Tribune in Tacoma reports that the audit, released Thursday, shows the contractor repaid the $9,000. Auditors say the error shows that in the department’s haste to respond to the fire, officials failed to follow proper procedures.

Auditors say the DNR acted so quickly it failed to establish reimbursement rates for a private contractor in advance and in writing, as is required by department policies.

DNR spokeswoman Sandra Kaiser says the emergency contract cited by the audit was signed in “dire circumstances.”

Selected Western livestock auctions Sun, 4 Oct 2015 15:52:49 -0400 Moses Lake, Wash.

Sept. 29, USDA Market News

Stockland Livestock Auction

Davenport, Wash.

Receipts Last Week Year Ago

820 900 1110

Compared to Sept. 22 at the same market: Stocker and feeder cattle $2.00-9.00 instances $17.00 lower. Trade slow with light demand and light buyer participation. Cattle futures improved late last week but not near enough to make many confident the market has turned the corner. Slaughter cows and bulls $9.00-12.00 lower. Trade slow to moderate with light to moderate demand as heavy discounted carcasses weigh on the boneless market. Slaughter cows made up 29 percent of the offering, Slaughter bulls 10 percent, and feeders 61 percent of the supply. The feeder supply included 52 percent steers and 48 percent heifers. Near 47 percent of the run weighed over 600 lbs.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: 400-500 lbs. $214.00; 500-600 lbs. $183.00-194.00; 500-600 lbs. $200.00, Thin Fleshed; 600-700 lbs. $181.00-188.00, Calves 700-800 lbs. $176.00.

Feeder Steers: Small and Medium 1-2: 500-600 lbs. $180.00-182.00; 600-700 lbs. $153.00.

Feeder Bulls: Medium and Large 1-2: 600-700 lbs. $161.00.

Feeder Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: 400-500 lbs. $184.00-195.00; 400-500 lbs. $202.00, Thin Fleshed; 500-600 lbs. $174.00-182.00; 500-600 lbs. $184.00, Replacement; 600-700 lbs. $177.00-180.00, Calves; 700-800 lbs. $151.50.

Feeder Heifers: Large 1-2: 900-1000 lbs. $130.00-136.00; 900-1000 lbs. $116.00, Full.

Feeder Heifers: Small and Medium 1-2: 300-400 lbs. $190.00; 600-700 lbs. $168.00.

Slaughter Cows: Breakers $75-80 1600-2100; Boning $80-85, 1400-1800; Lean $85-90 1300-1700.

Slaughter Bulls: Yield Grade 1-2, 1400-2700 $110.00-116.00

Bred Heifers (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: 950-1000 lbs., $1900.00, 3-6 mos.

Feeder Cows: Medium and Large 1-2: 1000-1100, $108.00, Young; 1200-1300 $94.00-99.00, Young.

Central Oregon Livestock Auction

Madras, Ore.

For the week of Sept. 28

2490 head

Baby calves: NA

Steers: 200-300 lbs., NA, 300-400 lbs., $225-245, 400-500 lbs., $215-230, 500-600 lbs., $200-215, 600-700 lbs., $185-200, 700-800 lbs., $170-185, 800-900 lbs., $165-175.

Bulls: High yield, $115-118, mostly $115, Thinner $100-110.

Pairs: Full Mouth Vacc NA; Broken Mouth Vacc NA.

Bred Cows: 1st Calf Hfrs NA; Broken Mouth Vacc NA

Heifers: 200-300 lbs., NA; 300-400 lbs., $220-230; 400-500 lbs., $200-220; 500-600 lbs., $185-200; 600-700 lbs., $170-185; 700-800 lbs., $160-170.

Heiferettes: 850-1000 lbs., $140-160.

Cows Average Top

Heiferettes $120 140

Feeder Cows $95 100

High yield $100 110

Med yield $80 94

Low yield $87 95

Producers Livestock Marketing Association

Vale, Ore.

Sept. 30

954 head

Comments: 400, 500 & 600 lb. calves $12.00-18.00/cwt lower than the previous week. 700, 800 & 900 lb. cattle $8.00-$15.00/cwt lower than last week. Butcher cow market $3.00-6.00/cwt lower. Butcher bull $ 15.00/cwt cheaper.

Steer calves: 300-400 lbs., $221.00-253.00; 400-500 lbs. $186.00-226.00; 500-600 lbs. $178.00-198.00.

Heifer calves: 300-400 lbs., $189.00-226.00; 400-500 lbs. $167.00-188.00; 500-600 lbs. $158.00-179.00.

Yearling steers: 600-700 lbs., $162.00-185.00; 700-800 lbs. $146.00-169.00; 800-900 lbs., $139.00-158.00; 900-1000 lbs. $141.00-154.00.

Yearling heifers: 600-700 lbs., $151.00-165.00; 700-800 lbs., $144.00-153.00; 800-900 lbs., $139.00-157.00; 900-1000 lbs., 132.00 - 144.00.

600 lb. and under light Holstein steers: $89.00-102.00

700 lb. and over Holstein steers: NA

Butcher cows: $89.00-99.00, top $106.00

Thin shelly cows: $64.00-85.00

Butcher bulls: $84.00-104.00

Younger Heiferettes: $106.00-126.00

Western hay price report Sun, 4 Oct 2015 15:04:34 -0400 Alfalfa hay test guidelines, (for domestic livestock use and not more than 10% grass), used with visual appearance and intent of sale Quantitative factors are approximate and many factors can affect feeding value.

ADF NDF RFV TDN-100% TDN-90% CP-100%

Supreme <27 <34 >185 >62 >55.9 >22

Premium 27-29 34-36 170-185 60.5-62 54.5-55.9 20-22

Good 29-32 36-40 150-170 58-60 52.5-54.5 18-20

Fair 32-35 40-44 130-150 56-58 50.5-52.5 16-18

Utility >35 >44 <130 <56 <50.5 <16

ADF = Acid Detergent Fiber; NDF = Neutral Detergent Fiber; RFV = Relative

Feed Value; TDN = Total Digestible nutrients. RFV calculated using the

Wis/Minn formula. TDN calculated using the western formula. Values based

on 100% dry matter, TDN both 90% and 100%.

Washington-Oregon (Columbia Basin)

Tons Last Week Last Year

5611 8690 6445

Compared to Sept. 25: Supreme and Premium dairy Alfalfa steady in a light test. Export Alfalfa steady. Timothy not tested this week. Trade remains slow. Plenty of last year’s feeder hay still on the market. A strong dollar abroad is hurting exporters. Demand remains light. Retail/Feedstore steady to firm. Demand remains good. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated. Delivered prices include freight, commissions and other expenses.

Tons Price


Large Square

Supreme 1000 200.00-225.00

Good/Premium 2200 160.00

Fair/Good 650 130.00-140.00

1000 120.00


Small Square

Premium 136 260.00-265.00

Orchard Grass

Small Square

Premium 125 260.00-275.00

Bluegrass Straw

Large Square

Fair 500 70.00-70.00

Oregon Weekly Hay Report

Tons Last Week Last Year

7013 5192 8258

Compared to Sept. 25: Prices trended generally steady compared to week-ago prices. Export sales continue to be slow. Retail/Stable demand for all types of hay from Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco counties continues to be good. Many producers have decided to hold on to their hay for now, in hopes for higher prices. Some producers are having their water rights cut off due to the drought. All prices are in dollars per ton and FOB unless otherwise


Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco Counties

Tons Price Range


Large Square

Good 900 150.00-175.00

Small Square

Premium 19 250.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix

Small Square

Premium 25 240.00

Good 70 180.00

Orchard Grass

Small Square

Premium 108 230.00-260.00

Fair/Good 16 220.00

Eastern Oregon

Tons Price Range


Large Square

Good 250 200.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix

Small Square

Good 5 90.00

Meadow Grass

Small Square

Good 34 175.00-180.00

Harney County

Tons Price Range


Large Square

Supreme 96 210.00

Klamath Basin

Tons Price Range


Large Square

Supreme 1100 210.00

Good 150 160.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix

Small Square

Premium 14 210.00

Orchard Grass

Small Square

Premium 300 294.00

Timothy Grass

Small Square

Premium 1275 273.00-315.00

Lake County

Tons Price Range


Large Square

Premium 1850 190.00-225.00

Organic 270 285.00-310.00

Small Square

Premium 30 220.00

60 200.00


Good 27 175.00

Organic 84 250.00

Fair/Good 30 150.00


Large Square

Good 300 110.00

Idaho Weekly Hay Report

Tons Last Week Last year

16,130 6700 5435

Compared to Sept. 25: Supreme, Premium and Good Alfalfa steady. Trade turned moderate this week as a few producers decided to let go of some carryover from last year and some 2-year-old Alfalfa. Demand light to moderate with heavy supplies of feeder hay. Retail/feed store/horse not tested this week. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated.

Tons Price


Large Square

Supreme 300 200.00

Premium 1300 180.00

230 150.00

Good 12,000 70.00

Organic 400 150.00

Utility/Fair 900 100.00

Alfalfa/Grass Mix

Large Square

Fair/Good 1000 75.00

California Hay Report

Compared to Sept. 25: All classes traded slow on very light demand. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, across the California and the Great Basin, drought remained unchanged as the region continued through its dry summer season. However, heat exacerbated the impacts of the region’s historic drought, with daytime highs reaching or eclipsing 100 degrees from Central California into the southern Great Basin. Rain fell this week and some hay was on the ground and rain is in the forecast for this weekend. Prices reported FOB at the stack or barn unless otherwise noted. Regions are defined at bottom of report.

Tons Last Week Last Year

15,860 4430 13,775

Region 1: North Inter-Mountain

Tons Price Range


Premium 550 160.00

Organic 75 310.00

Good/Premium 25 240.00

Good Organic 25 220.00

Orchard Grass

Premium 250 300.00

Region 2: Sacramento Valley

Tons Price Range


Good Organic 110 265.00

Region 3: Northern San Joaquin Valley

Tons Price Range


Premium 1000 195.00-210.00

550 225.00

Good/Premium 700 190.00

Good 700 175.00

Fair/Good 1800 130.00

Region 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

Tons Price Range


Good 625 160.00

Forage Mix-Three Way

Good 75 80.00

Region 6: Southeast California

Tons Price Range


Good/Premium 200 190.00-191.00

Good 125 130.00

Export 850 150.00

600 165.00-185.00

Fair 7500 100.00

Bermuda Grass

Premium 75 195.00-205.00

Good/Premium 25 185.00

Region 5: Southern California: No New Sales Confirmed.

Region 1: North Inter-Mountain: Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, and Plumas.

Region 2: Sacramento Valley: Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Solano, Sacramento, Amador, and Alpine.

Region 3: Northern San Joaquin Valley: San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced, Mariposa.

Region 4: Central San Joaquin Valley: Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Inyo.

Region 5: Southern California: Kern, Northeast Los Angeles, and Western San Bernardino.

Region 6: Southeast California: Eastern San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial.

West Coast grain markets Sun, 4 Oct 2015 14:18:21 -0400 Pacific Northwest Market Summary: Cash wheat bids for October delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, Oct. 1, higher compared to last Thursday’s noon bids for October delivery.

December wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, Oct. 1, higher as follows compared to last Thursday’s closes: Chicago wheat futures were 21 cents higher at $5.1825, Kansas City wheat futures were 17.50 cents higher at 5.0750 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 17.25 cents higher at $5.3125. Chicago December corn futures trended 7.25 cents higher at $3.8875 and November soybean futures closed 9.25 cents higher at $8.7725.

Bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during October for ordinary protein were 14.00 to 21.00 cents higher than week ago prices at $5.4825-5.55, mostly $5.5125, compared to $5.2725-5.41 last week for October delivery. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. There were no white club wheat premiums for this week or last week.

One year ago bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for October delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were $6.49-6.63, mostly $6.5625 and bids for White Club Wheat were $8.59-9.29, mostly $8.8750. Nearby bids for U.S. 1 Soft White wheat ordinary protein started the reporting week on Friday through Tuesday were not available.

On Wednesday, bids were mostly $5.4875 and ended the week Thursday higher at mostly $5.5125. Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: November $5.55-5.5825, December $5.55-5.6825; January and February $5.55-5.7425.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: November $6.49-6.66, December $6.49-6.69, January $6.5725-6.7225 and February $6.5725-6.6725.

Bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during October were $6.6825-6.8825, mostly $6.7625, $8.25 to 21.00 cents per bushel higher compared to $6.4725-6.80 last week for October delivery. White club wheat premiums for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein soft white wheat were 1.50 cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids compared to 1.50 cents last Thursday.

Nearby bids for U.S. 1 Soft White wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein began the reporting week on Friday at mostly $6.7075, and rose to mostly $6.7150 on Monday. On Tuesday, bids moved lower to mostly $6.6775 before bouncing higher to mostly 6.7225 on Wednesday. Bids ended the reporting week today (Thursday), higher at mostly $6.7625. Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: November and December $6.6825-6.9325; January and February $6.6925-6.72.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein U.S. 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for October delivery were 17.50 to 22.50 cents per bushel higher compared to last Thursday’s noon bids for October delivery. On Thursday, bids were as follows: October $6.1750-6.3250, mostly $6.2750, November and December $6.1750-6.3250, January and February $6.2675-6.3175.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein U.S. 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during October were 17.25 cents higher than last Thursday’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. On Thursday, bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: October $6.4625-6.7125, mostly $6.5925; November $6.3625-6.7425; December $6.4625-6.7925; January and February $6.4450-6.8450.

Coarse feeding grains: Bids for U.S. 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for October delivery were 7.25 to 11.25 higher from $4.6475-4.7875 per bushel.

Forward month corn bids were as follows: November $4.6575-4.6875, December $4.6975-4.7175, January $4.8175-4.8475, February $4.8275-4.8475 and March $4.8375-4.8575.

Bids for U.S. 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for October delivery were 13.25 to 19.25 higher from $9.7725-9.8725 per bushel. Forward month soybean bids were as follows: November $9.7925-9.8325, December $9.7875-9.8275 and January $9.7775-9.8275. Bids for U.S. 2 Heavy Wheat Oats for October delivery held steady at $3.7750 per bushel.

Outstanding Export Sales: Outstanding U.S. white wheat export sales as of Sept. 24 for the marketing year beginning June 1, 2015 and ending May 31, 2016, in 1000 MT, totaled 839.6 thousand MT compared to 902.9 thousand MT one week ago, and 782.3 thousand MT one year ago.

Outstanding white wheat export sales for the 2015-2016 marketing year were to the following countries in 1000 MT: Philippines 243.0, Japan 120.1, South Korea 106.6, Thailand 26.7, Taiwan 23.6, Guatemala 20.7, El Salvador 16.8, Nigeria 15.5, Venezuela 10.0, Canada 2.4, Vietnam 0.7, Hong Kong 0.3, and total unknown 253.2. Accumulated white wheat export shipments as of Sept. 17, 2015, in 1000 MT for the 2015-2016 marketing year, totaled 1,104.6 compared to 1,380.0 one year ago.

Outstanding U.S. barley export sales as of Sept. 24, 2015 for the marketing year beginning June 1, 2015 and ending May 31, 2016, in 1000 MT, totaled 5.0 compared to 5.5 last week and 58.8 one year ago. Outstanding barley export sales for the 2015-2016 marketing year in 1000 MT were to the following countries in 1000 MT: Japan 3.1, South Korea 1.6, and Taiwan 0.8. Accumulated barley export shipments as of September 24, 2015 were 18.3 thousand MT compared to 23.4 one year ago.

Pacific Northwest Export News: There were 12 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Oct. 1, with five docked compared to 14 he previous week with four docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the USDA.

California Weekly Grain Report

Dollars Per Cwt. -Bulk-

BARLEY U.S. No 2 (46-lbs. per bushel)


Solano County Sale 9.65 unch

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

Los Angeles NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA


Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock 10.40 no comp

Sale 10.75 no comp

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

CORN U.S. No 2 Yellow


Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

Turlock/Tulare 8.65 up .03

Rail: Single Car Units via BNSF

Los Angeles-Chino Valley 9.15-9.17


Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock 8.96

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties 8.96

Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

SORGHUM U.S. No 2 Yellow (Milo)

Rail: Los Angeles-Chino Valley via BNSF

Single 10.87 up .04


Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

OATS U.S. No 1 White (40-lbs. per bushel)


Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA


Petaluma NA


Petaluma NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

WHEAT U.S. No 2 or better-Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)


Tulare NA

Truck (California Origin)

Los Angeles 12% Protein NA

Los Angeles 13% Protein NA

Los Angeles 14% Protein NA

Colusa County 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 U.S. Durum Wheat


Imperial County NA


Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

WHEAT Any Class for Feed


Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Colusa County In-Store 10.50


Los Angeles-Chino Valley

(11-1/2 to 12-1/2 percent protein) NA

13 percent protein NA


Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Fresno NA

Merced County NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

California shell egg price report Sun, 4 Oct 2015 13:16:16 -0400 Benchmark prices are steady. Asking prices for next week are 23 cents lower for Jumbo, 17 cents lower for Extra Large, 18 cents lower for Large, and 7 cents higher for Medium and Small. The undertone is lower for the Larger sizes and steady to firm for Medium. Retail and food service demand is light to moderate. Warehouse buying is light. Offerings and supplies are light for Medium and moderate to heavy for the larger sizes. Market activity is slow to moderate. Small benchmark price $2.10.


Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade AA and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.

Jumbo Extra Large

$3.26 $2.93

Large Medium

$2.87 $2.36

Southern California

Prices to retailers, sales to volume buyers, USDA grade AA white eggs in cartons, delivered store door, cents per dozen.

Jumbo Extra Large

$2.78-2.89 $2.19-2.31

Large Medium

$2.19-2.28 $1.74-1.83

National wool and sheep summary Sun, 4 Oct 2015 13:03:30 -0400 National wool review

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades. A strong dollar at the current time is causing less than ideal trade conditions.

The wool market as remained weak and no wool is currently being marketed due to the current condition. There is still optimism that going into the fall and early winter that there will be some stability in the market making it easier to trade and some wool is being gathered at this time to try to market in late October and early November.

National sheep summary

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were mostly sharply lower. Slaughter ewes were steady to $10.00 lower. Feeder lambs were mostly steady to $10.00 lower.

At San Angelo, Texas, 7246 head sold in a one-day sale. Equity Electronic Auction sold 335 slaughter lambs in North Dakota and 253 slaughter ewe and ram lambs in Nebraska.

In direct trading slaughter ewes had no comparison and feeder lambs were steady. 5300 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were $2.00-5.00 higher. 6900 head of formula sales under 55 lbs. were not well tested; 55-65 lbs. were 5.00-6.00 higher; 65-75 lbs. were steady to $2.00 higher; 75-85 lbs. were $3.00-6.00 higher and over 85 lbs. were not well tested. 6,788 carcasses sold with 45 lbs. and down 15.68 lower; 45-55 lbs. .64 lower; 55-65 lbs. $2.83 lower; 65-75 lbs. $.51 lower; 75-85 lbs. $.48 higher and 85 lbs. and up $2.00 higher. All sheep sold per hundred weight (CWT) unless otherwise specified.

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

San Angelo: Shorn and wooled 100-130 lbs. $130.00-158.00.

Ft. Collins, Colo.: wooled 172 lbs. $160.00.

South Dakota: Shorn and wooled 110-165 lbs. $160.25-165.25.

Billings, Mont.: No test.

Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $230.00-240.00, few $246.00-250.00; 60-70 lbs., $210.00-224.00; 70-80 lbs. $190.00-216.00; 80-90 lbs., $175.00-184.00; 90-110 lbs. $167.00-170.00, few $188.00.

Slaughter Ewes:

San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $56.00-68.00; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $64.00-80.00, high-yielding $80.00-84.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) $50.00-64.00; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $46.00-52.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $22.00-50.00.

Ft. Collins: Good 3-5 (very fleshy) $60.00-67.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) $73.00-88.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) $48.00-53.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $33.00-37.00.

Billings, Mont.: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) $37.50-49.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) $48.00-53.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) $44.00-53.00; Cull 1 $35.00-46.00.

Feeder Lambs: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $208.00-226.00; 60-70 lbs. $184.00-210.00; 70-90 lbs. $174.00-186.00; 91 lbs. $174.00; 100-115 lbs. $150.00-159.00.

Ft. Collins: 80-90 lbs. $160.00-170.00; 90-100 lbs. $159.00-164.00; 100-110 lbs. $153.00-158.00; 110-115 lbs. $149.00-155.00; 120-125 lbs. $142.00-147.00.

Replacement Ewes: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: No test.

Ft. Collins: Ewe lambs $240.00-250.00 per head; yearlings $205.00-230.00 per head; baby tooth to solid mouth $170.00-190.00 per head; solid mouth $140.00-165.00 per head.

Billings: Yearlings $140.00 per head, other yearlings 90-150 lbs. $55.00-85.00 cwt; young $115.00 per head.

National Weekly Lamb Carcass

Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Head Wt Avg

45 lbs. down 352 $449.66

45-55 lbs. 252 $381.59

55-65 lbs. 1162 $339.81

65-75 lbs. 2331 $326.66

75-85 lbs. 1777 $315.36

85 lbs. up 914 $306.48

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 34,000 compared with 43,000 last week and 46,000 last year.

National slaughter, feeder and stocker cattle summary Sun, 4 Oct 2015 12:40:25 -0400 National slaughter cattle summary

Compared to last week: Slaughter cattle trade limited this week as cattle futures, and beef prices tumbled. Few trades in Texas and Kansas sold $8.00-12.00 lower. Dressed trades in Nebraska were $15.00- 17.00 lower.

The whole cattle complex just seemed to crater this week. Packers ramped up their kills despite the moderate demand for beef.

Boxed beef prices Friday afternoon averaged $203.57 and is $7.45 lower than last Friday. The Choice/Select spread is 4.41. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Friday afternoon totaled about 52,283 head. Last week’s total head count was 59,680 head.

National feeder and stocker cattle summary


This Week Last Week Last Year

249,800 250,600 265,800

Compared to last week: Yearling feeder cattle started the week $3.00-5.00 lower then turning mostly $5.00-10.00 lower as the week progressed. Calves traded mostly $5.00-15.00 lower with instances $20.00 lower throughout the Southeast.

Calf prices have lost a third of their value in just a few short months, and any class of feeder calves does not look attractive to buy as the bottom continues to succumb in this market free-fall. Some of the best 500 lb. steer calves are now looking at $2.00/lb or less in many areas. Fear seems to be a very good motive that is driving this feeder cattle and fed cattle market as the cash market searches for a bottom.

Last Friday’s limit higher move in the Live and Feeder cattle futures was nothing more than a mirage. Cash fed and feeder cattle prices along with the futures continue to slide into a black hole as the inability to draw any kind of interest into this market has uncertainty dominating the picture as huge losses continue in the cattle complex.

The “calf run” is beginning to start and with wide price spreads for similar weight and class calves depending on if they are weaned and have a health program or if they are right-off the cow, severe discounts will more than likely be seen.

Fed cattle dressed sales on Wednesday traded in Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt; $13.00 lower than last week at $187.00-190.00, with live sales $8.00 lower at $117.00-120.00. On Thursday a few live sales traded from $115.00-119.00 and few dressed sales at $184.00-186.00.

In Kansas on Wednesday light trade on live sales sold $4.00-8.00 lower at $124.00; then on Thursday, live sales traded at $118.00-120.00.

Boxed-beef has continued its aggressive price slashing hoping to find a buyers’ market. With prices falling so fast retail buyers seem to be at ease to take a wait and see approach to see if prices will fall further. On Tuesday of this week the Cutter-Cow cutout value closed at $215.13 for 90 percent lean, but closed 5.82 higher than Choice cutout at 209.31. Then on Wednesday the Cutter Cow cutout plummeted $14.73 to close at $200.40 as choice boxed-beef fell 69 cents to close at $208.62.

With record heavy carcass weights and record highs for the number of cattle grading choice, Choice boxed-beef has lost over $55.00 from the May record high to current. Friday Choice boxed-beef closed $1.78 lower at $205.77, compared to last Friday’s close at 212.23.

The National Restaurant Performance Index was released Sept. 30, as a result showed softer same-store sales and customer traffic levels. The August RPI stood at 101.5, down 1.2 percent from July, the lowest level in 11 months. Despite the decline, August represented the 30th consecutive month above 100.

With foodservice a key driver in beef demand, going forward it will be important to keep these levels above 100. Corn Belt farmers are in the middle of harvest with 18 percent of the corn crop completed a bit behind the 5 year average at 23 percent with 68 percent still rated good to excellent.

Soybean harvest is 21 percent harvested, compared to the 5-year average of 16 percent with 62 percent rated good to excellent. Auction volume included 47 percent over 600 lbs. and 35 percent heifers.

Device helps take guesswork out of harvest Sat, 3 Oct 2015 17:32:33 -0400 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — Growers would be able to more accurately pay workers for what they pick, if Kevin Oldenburg has his way.

Oldenburg is CEO of 2nd Sight BioScience. The company recently completed summer trials for FairPick, a weighing system designed to take the guesswork out of paying pickers for hand-harvesting fruits and vegetables.

The system measures weight instead of volume. Pickers wear a radio-frequency identification bracelet or card. They scan their card on a FairPick scale, weigh the fruit or vegetables they have harvested and get a receipt.

“The grower is paying for exactly what the picker is picking, and the picker is being paid for exactly what he or she picks,” Oldenburg said.

Currently, field managers typically use punch cards to record pickers’ information. The information is entered manually to create payroll, with the grower sending the data to accounting, which has to count it again, Oldenburg said.

“The grower hopes they’re on the positive side, they’re not overpaying, and the picker hopes they’re not being underpaid,” Oldenburg said.

FairPick records the data electronically, sends it to a website and turns it into a payroll report, taking the variables out of the process.

The system also tracks the time pickers work.

“The growers can prove they gave the person a half-hour lunch break,” Oldenburg said. “They can also prove that to meet state law, they’ve given the person two 10-minute breaks, and that those two breaks were paid at their average hourly piece rate. It’s really got a lot of sophistication behind it, to make sure the grower has good documentation. Any time they get audited, they can prove they’ve met all the requirements for state law.”

The system can be set up in any state, said Oldenburg, who relied on his background in science and technology — he has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California-Los Angeles — to develop the device.

“It’s an area that’s really ripe for automation and technology,” Oldenburg said.

The company is taking orders. Oldenburg expects to produce 150 units before harvest next year.

Harley Stoltes tested FairPick on his 6-acre blueberry farm in Bow, Wash., after seeing a demonstration at a trade show.

Stoltes said his pickers liked the system. They received a printed receipt every time they weighed their berries.

“It gives you a real-time estimate of what each picker is making per hour,” he said. “We want our pickers to make enough money so we have good, stable staff and keep track of what we’re paying. It gives us a really good handle on our costs as we go.”

Stoltes liked Oldenburg’s technical understanding and willingness to listen to feedback.

“To have a device that allows us to actually pay for exactly the mass of what we’re picking is new. This scale gives us that opportunity,” said Robin Graham, who tested FairPick on cherries in Mattawa, Wash.

“I would imagine any company would want to be able to increase the accuracy of paying their employees,” he said.

Oldenburg’s farming background gives him an better understanding of how growers’ businesses operate than other technical companies, Graham said.

Oldenburg’s career has come full circle. He grew up in a Rhinelander, Wis., dairy family, went to college and graduate school and was looking to get back into agriculture after a career as a scientist.

“It’s just a lot more fun working with farmers,” he said.

Kevin Oldenburg

Age: 53

Title: President and CEO, 2nd Sight BioScience Current location: Spokane

Education: Bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in biochemistry, Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of California-Los Angeles

Family: Wife, two children.


Restoring grasslands with managed grazing Tue, 29 Sep 2015 14:00:19 -0400 Doug Warnock Properly managed grazing improved grassland health and productivity in a Washington study coordinated by Steve Van Vleet, Washington State University Extension Educator. The two-year study, funded by a USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant involved 295 acres and three ranchers.

The study was conducted on state-owned land located on The Dalles Mountain Ranch in Klickitat County. This land had degraded over the years from lack of use.

“Vegetation was changing for the worse. They were losing wild flowers, diversity and plant communities. They were getting undesirable invasives,” said Jim Sizemore, one of the ranchers involved in the project. High density grazing and reseeding with native species were the methods they used to regenerate the grassland.

Results of the study showed perennial grass populations either stayed the same or increased and annual grasses either decreased or remained the same. Also, forbs and total forage cover increased and accumulated litter decreased. The grazed forage was more productive and had a higher protein content than non-grazed forage. This indicates the grazed area could hold more cattle and provide more healthy feed than the non-grazed area.

All those connected with the study agreed they wanted to do what was best for the ecosystem. Several groups that initially didn’t recognize grazing as a method of restoring rangeland health were convinced by the study of its benefits. This included the Native Plant Society, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and some Washington state officials.

During the project, Van Vleet’s team conducted workshops that trained 230 ranchers, educators and agricultural professionals on rangeland revitalization and management. As a result, five ranchers began working with Van Vleet to convert over 7,000 acres of former Conservation Reserve Program land to grazing.

The success of this project was recognized by SARE and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents in awarding Van Vleet with a Search for Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture Award in 2013. A side benefit of the improved ecosystem health is an increase in visitors to the property, which has a positive effect on the local communities’ economies.

Doug Warnock, retired from Washington State University Extension, lives on a ranch in the Touchet River Valley where he consults and writes on grazing management.

Farmer finds woolly mammoth bones in soybean field Fri, 2 Oct 2015 08:57:44 -0400 LIMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An eastern Michigan farmer has made a mammoth find while digging in a field.

The Ann Arbor News reports the bones of a woolly mammoth were found by James Bristle in a soy field Monday night in Washtenaw County’s Lima Township. Bristle says he and a friend were digging when they found what they thought was a mud-covered, bent fence post.

University of Michigan professor Dan Fisher confirmed the remains were a woolly mammoth Thursday morning. He and others worked to dig out the skull and a huge tusk.

Fisher says there are only 10 similar sites in Michigan in recorded history where such a significant portion of a woolly mammoth skeleton was found. He says this one was likely 40 years old and was probably killed by humans.

Researcher offers irrigation options for farmers Fri, 2 Oct 2015 14:19:08 -0400 Dan Wheat PROSSER, Wash. — Growers can consider options to save irrigation water as they face the likelihood of a second drought year in a row, a Washington State University irrigation specialist says.

Center-pivot irrigation systems can be 10 to 15 percent more efficient with low-energy precision applications (LEPA) and low-energy spray applications (LESA), said Troy Peters, an irrigation specialist at WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser.

“Deficit irrigation, where we don’t irrigate as much as crops want, has been going on for some time. We know quite a bit about how different crops respond to different deficits and different times of the year, but not many people in the Pacific Northwest are using low-energy applications,” Peters said.

LEPA dribbles water onto the ground and LESA lowers pivot arm spray heads to just above crops, lessening loss of water to wind drift and evaporation, Peters said.

It’s worked successfully in the South for some time but hasn’t been used much in Washington because there hasn’t been a need, he said.

“We’re trying to demonstrate its efficiency and, where appropriate get growers to turn to it,” he said.

Because the systems apply the same amounts of water in less time there’s greater propensity for ponding and runoff, particularly on steep slopes and tight soils, he said.

“It won’t be applicable everywhere,” he said.

Speeding up pivots to apply less water per pass and changing tillage methods are ways ponding and runoff can be addressed, he said.

Growers can contact him for field evaluations. LEPA and LESA save power because they operate with less pressure. The energy savings pay for the cost of converting pumps and equipment in about two years, he said.

Other things growers can do is irrigate only when crops need it and stress crops during vegetative development in late spring rather than during fruit development, Peters said.

Water stress during vegetative development has less impact on yield and quality than stress during flowering stage or growth of potatoes, corn, wheat or other crops, he said.

“Many people irrigate just in case and a lot of water is lost to deep percolation. The soil can’t hold it and it goes down into aquifers. It’s timing. How much and when. We have irrigation scheduling tools on mobile apps tied to AgWeatherNet that helps with that,” he said.

AgWeatherNet provides access to weather data from WSU’s automated weather station network and computerized models and decision aids for farmers.

The tools aren’t widely used because of cost and time it takes growers to interpret data, he said.

Fully automated irrigation controls, such as those used for lawns and gardens, are not available for commercial agricultural use because companies don’t want to be liable for crop losses, Peters said.

“No one wants to pay for a pivot of potatoes at $10,000 an acre,” he said.

So many farmers still run pivots manually and others customize their own automated systems, he said.

Wolf-plagued Washington rancher caught in the middle Fri, 2 Oct 2015 13:58:06 -0400 Don Jenkins Washington’s most-scrutinized rancher, Dave Dashiell, says he’s not sure whether he’ll stay on the state’s wolf advisory group or if he’ll even remain in the sheep business.

“I’ve been pushed and pulled in every direction,” Dashiell said Friday. “If I’m not in a no-win situation, it’s darn close to that.”

Dashiell has apparently lost more livestock to wolves than any rancher in the state. Coincidentally, he has been on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wolf advisory group since it was created in 2013. The dual roles are thrusting him into the spotlight, again.

He didn’t attend this week’s WAG meeting in Ellensburg because the organization he represents, the Cattle Producers of Washington, quit the group. CPoW said WAG had become a forum for theoretical discussions that excused WDFW from managing problem wolves.

“It’s a worthless group from the cattlemen’s standpoint,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick, who was the Cattle Producers alternate member. “We’re worse off than three years ago when the group started.”

Dashiell was one of three people who signed CPoW’s resignation letter.

“It was pretty hard for me to give a convincing argument (the group) was doing any good,” Dashiell said. “Going to meetings didn’t keep my sheep from being slaughtered and my dog from being torn up.”

Nevertheless, Dashiell hasn’t ruled out staying on the panel and representing himself. He remains listed as a member. WDFW has ramped up its investment in using the WAG to mediate conflicts over wolf management.

“I guess the value to participate is so you are informed on what they’re up to. As far as solving the problem, I don’t know if it will or not,” Dashiell said. “Maybe things are turning in the right direction, maybe. It’s hard to say. … I guess it’s a work in progress. I don’t have a whole bunch of time to work this thing out.”

CPoW withdrew less than two weeks after Dashiell tentatively agreed at a WAG meeting in early September to work with conservation groups on a 2016 grazing plan. Dashiell said reaction from colleagues about the potential collaboration wasn’t “too bad.”

“Everyone who talked to me said they understood the position on the deal, but I did hear some rumbling that environmentalists were going to make my grazing plan, and they were going to call all the shots,” Dashiell said. “We didn’t give up lethal control. We didn’t give up anything.”

Environmentalists were cautious, too, about supporting a plan that would risk depredations on livestock, followed by pressure to lethally remove wolves.

“It took some soul-searching on the spot,” said Tim Coleman, director of the Kettle Range Conservation Group. “The whole idea of killing wolves before they’re recovered is very difficult and almost unacceptable.”

Dashiell said he’s lost confidence in non-lethal wolf deterrence, though he’s still open to working with environmentalists, especially if they want to endure camping out with the sheep. But he’s not sure what he’ll do next year.

He estimates he lost 300 sheep to wolves in 2014. WDFW shot one wolf, but the Huckleberry pack remains largely whole and has split into two groups. Wolves mauled one of Dashiell’s sheep dogs this summer. Dashiell said the dog has healed and hangs around the house.

“He’s way more friendly and sociable than he ever was,” Dashiell said. “I don’t know if he’ll work again.”

To avoid further losses to sheep, Dashiell kept his flock this summer in Eltopia in south-central Washington and spent more than $10,000 a month on hay. The sheep were safe, but ended the summer underweight, he said.

“They like green grass, brush and shade in the summertime,” he said. “It just didn’t work. It kept the sheep alive, but there’s no money to be made.

“They’re going to have to go someplace because we’re not going to do that again,” Dashiell said. “Any place in the mountains, there’s wolves, so I don’t know where you go.”

If he brings the flock back to northeast Washington and depredations occur, “I’ll be accused of just doing it so lethal control will kick in,” Dashiell said. “I want to stay in the sheep business, but don’t know if I can or not.”

CPoW drops out of wolf advisory group, wants it abolished Fri, 2 Oct 2015 13:20:45 -0400 Dan Wheat ELLENSBURG, Wash. — The Cattle Producers of Washington has withdrawn from the state’s Wolf Advisory Group, calling it “inept and pointless” and saying it has prevented any action by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in dealing with wolves that kill livestock.

The department should abolish the advisory group — known by the acronym WAG — courageously take on wolf management that’s fair to communities impacted by wolves and should not “stand idle as livestock operations that are vital to rural communities perish under inadequate public policy,” said Monte McPeak, CPoW president, in a letter dated Sept. 10 that was sent to the Fish and Wildlife Commission and department director Jim Unsworth.

“WAG has consistently prevented any real action by WDFW, creating dire circumstances for the ranch families and communities that have been negatively impacted” by wolves, McPeak wrote. Continuing to participate in WAG would work in opposition to CPoW’s mission of sustaining, improving and protecting the state’s cattle industry, he wrote.

WAG meetings often consist of theoretical discussions while ignoring data and wolf management tools in other states, he said in the letter. WDFW uses WAG to delay action as it waits for “some kind of unattainable consensus from WAG,” and WAG refuses to seriously discuss lethal removal, he wrote.

A majority of WAG members always want one more depredation before removing wolves and CPoW has no desire to work with a facilitator who closes WAG meetings to the public, creating “a secret and obscure environment to discuss an issue of high public importance,” McPeak wrote.

WDFW spent $76,000 to remove the Wedge wolf pack in 2012 but is spending $850,000 on the WAG facilitator for two years, the letter says.

In two days of WAG meetings in Ellensburg, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, there was no direct public mention of CPoW’s withdrawal. WAG facilitator, Francine Madden, said she alluded to it but not by name.

“I want us to be respectful of that (CPoW’s) decision but remain open to engagement,” she said later. “If there is any way we can be supportive of their community, then I would do that. The door is open to re-engagement at any time and in any form.”

She said the $850,000 for two years goes to her nonprofit organization, Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration in Washington, D.C., and not directly to her. She said she had seen CPoW’s letter but had no comment on it.

Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf policy coordinator, said it’s unfortunate CPoW dropped out, that he valued the organization as a stakeholder and appreciates its reasons.

“We’re not delaying any management action based on WAG,” Martorello said. “WAG is looking for cohesion on controversial parts of our protocol but that doesn’t pause any management of wolves.”

Jack Field, executive vice president of Washington Cattlemen’s Association who is on WAG and has expressed frustration with its slowness, said he respects CPoW’s decision but that his board decided to stay at the table.

“I’m glad we did because yesterday afternoon (Oct. 1), we finally “quit writing conceptual thoughts on butcher paper and went line-by-line through a checklist of non-lethal actions. That was huge. If we come into the next meeting with the same focus we will do a lot of good things,” Field said.

Madden said she intends to get the group to agree on a checklist for standing behind lethal action when needed. Paula Swedeen, carnivore policy lead in Olympia for Conservation Northwest, said she’s willing to do that.

Shawn Cantrell, director of Defenders of Wildlife in Seattle, said it’s hard to trust ranchers who won’t sign cooperative wolf management agreements with WDFW. Swedeen agreed regarding public land.

The department has an obligation to protect ranchers who don’t sign agreements, said Jay Shepherd, of WDFW.

“I would guess there are people in here on WAG who don’t want any lethal measures taken. They may accommodate it at the extreme, but fundamentally they don’t want to see any wolf killed and others in the room who want to see all the wolves back out of Washington,” said Dan McKinley, regional director of the Mule Deer Foundation, of Spangle, Wash.

The group worked through a WDFW checklist of livestock-wolf mitigation measures, bouncing questions off its member Nick Martinez, of Washington State Sheep Producers and a Moxee sheep rancher, to tailor a possible plan toward him. They covered handling mortality, treatment of sick or injured livestock, sheep turnout and wolf hazing.

Swedeen and others pushed for greater human presence — range riders and sheepherders — as a deterrent to wolves early on in any potential conflicts.

Martinez said an understanding is needed so WAG isn’t always pushing for one more thing before wolves can be killed.

“I hope we get to a definition on range rider. Right now if you talked to five producers and five conservationists, you could get 10 answers,” Field said. “There’s a lot of variability in handling mortality. It was beneficial for conservation folks to hear that.”

The group talked about coming up with generic plans for sheep and cattle and specific plans for Martinez and Dave Dashiell, a Hunter rancher who lost 300 sheep to wolves, and was the CPoW member of WAG.

WSU to dedicate new plant growth facility Fri, 2 Oct 2015 12:23:45 -0400 Matw Weaver Washington State University will mark the opening of its $15 million plant growth facility with a dedication ceremony Oct. 17.

The building “epitomizes” the partnership between WSU Extension, the Washington Grain Commission and USDA Agricultural Research Service, said Rich Koenig, associate dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and director of WSU Extension.

The facility opened in late summer and is occupied by the WSU and USDA wheat breeding programs. In addition to greenhouse space, it offers room for the WSU doubled haploid laboratory, which is designed to speed up the wheat-breeding process, allowing breeders to save years when selecting key wheat traits. It also includes an herbicide spray room for controlled applications for research and controlled-environment seed storage, Koenig said.

WSU and the commission each paid $5 million for construction of the building, while the research service’s allocation paid for growth chambers, Koenig said.

“They can’t fund a building, but they can fund things within a building,” he said.

The dedication ceremony is invitation-only due to space limitations, but farmers interested in a tour of the facility can contact Koenig’s office at 509-335-2933 or Agricultural Research Center director Jim Moyer’s office at 509-335-4563.

Koenig credited the commission with helping to remove bottlenecks from the plant-breeding process through its support for the facility, the doubled haploid lab and investments in the USDA ARS genotyping lab.

The plant growth facility came about because the commission asked WSU the single biggest limiting factor in developing new wheat varieties. The response was a lack of greenhouse space, Koenig said.

“This will allow those breeding programs to reduce the amount of time it takes from cross to getting varieties into the field and into growers’ hands,” Koenig said.

The ceremony will honor the long partnership between all three entities, Koenig said. In the 1950s, the then-Washington Wheat Commission was organized and began supporting USDA and WSU research at the university, he said.