Capital Press | Capital Press Wed, 13 Dec 2017 20:22:25 -0500 en Capital Press | Fighting for Idaho’s original entrepreneurs — farmers, ranchers and dairymen Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:12:16 -0500 Dr. Tommy Ahlquist Agriculture is the fabric out of which Idaho was made. Woven by the sweat and sacrifice of our farmers, ranchers and dairymen and reinforced by innovation and technology — this industry has cultivated Idaho’s history as our state has grown to feed the world.

Agriculture is Idaho’s original small business and our farmers, ranchers and dairymen are our original entrepreneurs. It defines not only our state’s economy — but our heritage and values of hard work and sacrifice, faith and family and a dedication to something larger than ourselves.

I understand farmers, ranchers and dairymen because like them I’m also an entrepreneur. Over the years I’ve started and built several businesses. I’ve personally signed my name on numerous bank loans, and I’ve signed the front of thousands of paychecks. I’ve dealt with ridiculous government regulations, felt the intense pressure of payroll obligations and woken-up in the middle of the night startled with worry about how I’m going to make this work for my family and my employees.

I know hard work. I know business. And I know Idaho agriculture needs someone who will always stand up for them. I’m running for Governor so I can listen and work to do everything in my power to improve Idaho’s agricultural economy. And I will always be there for the farmers, ranchers and dairymen who built our state and defined its very values in the process.

Starting day one, I’ll fight to remove burdensome regulations facing all areas of agriculture. I know firsthand that over-regulation harms business, but for agriculture, it’s especially detrimental. Take sage grouse, for example. We can no longer protect sage grouse at the expense of farmers and ranchers. And while I support efforts to strengthen Idaho’s position on this issue and work with all stakeholders for a solution — that solution must protect the rights and economic interests of Idaho farmers and ranchers. And if the federal government won’t work with us, then I support fighting them through all means necessary, including litigation — until we have an Idaho solution. And you bet I’ll do the same on any other regulation that harms our agricultural community.

I will also fight to protect Idaho’s water for farmers, ranchers and dairymen and make sure Idaho maintains sovereignty over its water. I’ll work closely with the agricultural community to ensure recharge efforts continue, storage options are pursued and water rights are protected. And while I will work with all stakeholders and listen to all ideas and concerns, I do not support bad ideas like breaching dams or proposals that aren’t in Idaho’s best interest.

Rising healthcare costs are another challenge facing Idaho’s agricultural community and all Idahoans. And I promise not to stop until healthcare premiums and costs are lowered for Idaho’s families and businesses. I was an ER doctor for 18 years and can tell you definitively that I can and will lower healthcare premiums and costs — and I’ve released a plan outlining how to do just that. I’m tired of listening to Idaho’s career politicians talk and talk about these skyrocketing costs. It’s time they get out of the way and let those of us who’ve worked in the industry take action.

Another shared priority with Idaho agriculture is keeping our kids — yours and mine — in Idaho. That starts with education and includes creating a robust economy with high-paying jobs. Our public education system must prepare Idaho kids for Idaho jobs and when governor, I will not stop fighting until it does.

Simply put, I know hard work and I know business. And I know Idaho’s values. I’ll fight to remove known burdensome regulations facing agriculture and fight until healthcare premiums are lowered. I’ll fight to keep our kids at home in Idaho and I’ll fight to protect our water for agriculture. But most importantly — I will always stand up for Idaho agriculture. Because from grain and potatoes to sugar beets, cattle, dairy and more — listening to and fighting for Idaho’s agricultural businessmen and women cements not only Idaho’s core values and past heritage — but cements a cornerstone of Idaho’s economic future.

Dr. Tommy Ahlquist is a businessman and Republican candidate for Idaho governor.

Massive Montana ranch owned by Mars candy heir is sold Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:23:39 -0500 BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest Montana ranches owned by the late Mars Inc. co-president has been sold.

The Billings Gazette reports Heal Holdings LLC purchased the 187-square mile Diamond Cross Ranch on Dec. 1.

The asking price for ranch — located in Birney in southeastern Montana — was $64.8 million.

According to Florida’s secretary of state’s office, Heal Holdings is a limited liability company.

The Diamond Cross Ranch was assembled by Mars candy heir Forrest Mars Jr. who died in July 2016 in Sheridan, Wyoming at age 84.

The ranch went on sale in March.

Century 21 BJH Real Estate Agent Bruce Garber says the ranch was likely bought quickly because of its large size.

Crews gain on huge California fire but wind threat remains Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:20:42 -0500

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After announcing increased containment on one of the biggest wildfires in California history, officials warned that communities remain at risk and the threat could increase as unpredictable winds whip up again.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended, with a possible increase in gusts into the end of the week.

Evacuations continued Wednesday for the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.

Officials announced Tuesday night that crews had carved containment lines around one-quarter of the blaze straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The so-called Thomas fire has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes, since it broke out Dec. 4. It stretches across nearly 370 square miles of Southern California, making it the fifth largest in state history.

Elsewhere, fire officials announced that a cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a blaze last week that destroyed six homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Arson investigators determined that the so-called Skirball fire near the world-famous Getty museum was started by an illegal fire at a camp near a freeway underpass, city fire Capt. Erik Scott said.

The camp was empty when firefighters found it, but people apparently had been sleeping and cooking there for at least several days, he said.

Back at the largest of the wildfires, firefighters protected foothill homes while the flames churned mostly into unoccupied forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and his wife, Marianna, of Ojai were among the people who fled the smoke Tuesday. Burdon, a member of the 1960s British Invasion band The Animals, wrote on Facebook last week about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around.

“A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters,” he wrote.

A photo accompanying the post showed his handprint and signature written in ashes.

Nevada officials vote to transfer management of mustangs Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:14:13 -0500 RENO, Nev. (AP) — Over the objections of wild horse advocates, Nevada’s Board of Agriculture has voted to transfer control of as many as 3,000 free-roaming mustangs in northern Nevada to a non-profit group.

The board announced in October it was terminating an existing agreement with the American Wild Horse Campaign to manage the herd in the Virginia Range south and east of Reno.

More than 100 critics of the move lined up in opposition to the action before the board voted 8-1 on Tuesday to begin accepting proposals from other groups to assume that responsibility.

Board member Dave Stix said the change is necessary because the state isn’t capable of managing the animals that are considered feral horses not subject to U.S. protection on adjacent federal lands.

Opponents said it could ultimately put the horses at risk of slaughter.

Minnesota announces restrictions on using herbicide dicamba Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:10:03 -0500 STEVE KARNOWSKI MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota announced restrictions Tuesday on how farmers can use the herbicide dicamba in 2018, responding to complaints by soybean growers across the country that it harmed their crops this year.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture set a June 20 cutoff date for applying the herbicide and prohibited applications when the temperature or forecast high for the day is above 85 degrees. The rules are meant to reduce instances of the herbicide drifting and damaging neighboring fields, which has been a problem in soybean- and cotton-growing states nationwide this year.

“We will be closely monitoring the herbicide’s performance with these restrictions in 2018,” Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said in a statement.

Farmers have used dicamba for decades, and its problems with volatility and drift were well-known. But its use has surged in the last couple years since agribusiness companies Monsanto, BASF and DuPont introduced genetically engineered, dicamba-tolerant varieties of soybeans and cotton so that farmers could use the herbicide to control tough weeds in those crops, such as pigweed, that have become resistant to other weed killers such as glyphosate, also known as Roundup.

The companies also introduced low-volatility formulations of dicamba designed to reduce evaporation and drift, but farmers who didn’t plant resistant crop varieties or use dicamba soon began reporting suspected damage anyway.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says it received 253 complaints from soybean growers in 49 Minnesota counties, including 55 requests for formal inspections. University of Minnesota researchers estimate that 265,000 acres across the state were affected.

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association welcomed the new rules.

“We need dicamba,” the group’s president, Michael Petefish, said in a statement. “We also need these new restrictions. Producers need to have the ability to adapt this product to their operations, and these additional guidelines will allow users to do just that in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

But Monsanto criticized Minnesota’s new restrictions.

“There’s no scientific reason to have a cutoff date or a temperature limit. There is no testing that supports it,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, said in an interview. He encouraged the state to be flexible about the cutoff date if local conditions warrant. He pointed out that pigweed doesn’t know the cutoff date, and it will be frustrating for farmers who find infestations of resistant weeds after that date not to have the herbicide available.

Partridge said the solution lies in education and training, so that farmers and applicators use the right equipment and follow the label instructions. He pointed out that in Georgia, where training was mandatory this year, the state received no reports of off-target movements of dicamba. In Monsanto’s experience, he said, when dicamba is applied according to the label, the herbicide doesn’t move beyond the buffer zone and damage nearby crops.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a deal with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont in September for new voluntary labeling requirements. Additional training and certifications will be required for workers who apply dicamba to crops. The new federal rules also limit when and how the herbicide can be sprayed, such as time of day, with winds not exceeding 10 mph.

Other states have also adopted restrictions that go further than the federal rules. Neighboring North Dakota has banned applications on soybeans after June 30 or the crop’s first bloom phase, whichever comes first. Monsanto has sued to block even tougher restrictions proposed in Arkansas to prohibit its use from April 16 through Oct. 31. A legislative panel on Tuesday recommended state regulators revise the proposed ban.

Arkansas has received nearly 1,000 complaints about dicamba. The state imposed a temporary ban on its sales and use earlier this year.


Associated Press writer Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

USDA reduces expectations for Florida’s citrus crop harvests Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:04:13 -0500 WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Federal agriculture officials have reduced expectations for Florida’s citrus crop for the coming year.

The Ledger reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced the projected Florida orange harvest to 46 million boxes, an 8 percent decline from the agency’s November estimate.

The declines are expected among orange varieties picked from October to March and Valencia oranges harvested from March to June.

The USDA also reduced the expected tangerine and tangelo harvest by 4 percent to 910,000 boxes. Grapefruit crop estimates remain at 4.65 million boxes.

Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Michael Sparks said the reductions show the need for a federal citrus-relief package to help citrus growers recover from Hurricane Irma. The fatal bacterial disease citrus greening also continues to plague Florida’s groves.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Florida’s growers need support “as quickly as possible.”

Low milk prices depress Idaho hay market Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:36:39 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas BURLEY, Idaho — Ample hay supplies, plentiful alternative feeds and sour milk prices are teaming up to create a bleak outlook for Idaho hay prices.

Premium alfalfa hay in Idaho sold for $125 a ton last week, compared to $187 in the Columbia Basin and $210 in northern California, according to USDA Market News Service.

Idaho has carried over a lot of hay in recent years, and there’s a lot stacked up in southern Idaho, Steve Hines, University of Idaho Extension educator for Jerome County, told growers at the university’s annual Idaho Ag Outlook.

Last winter’s extreme weather had growers thinking a lot of the excess hay would be fed to livestock “and the sun is going to shine again,” he said.

But that didn’t happen. A lot got fed, but there’s still a lot of hay, he said.

Stocks of all hay in Idaho on May 1 were 510,000 tons, down significantly from a year earlier, but they had been much higher. May 1 stocks were 950,000 tons in 2016 and 900,000 tons in 2015, compared to 320,000 tons in 2014.

“I don’t see pricing going up ’til some of these stocks go out,” Hines said.

Despite declining prices the last couple of years, there was only a slight decline in Idaho’s alfalfa acres in 2017, and production of alfalfa hay was up 9 percent year over year.

Production-wise “2017 was a pretty good year for alfalfa growers. There were a few less seeded acres, but in a lot of situations more was produced on those acres,” he said.

Idaho is a livestock state, and that’s good for hay growers, but they aren’t the ones who set the price, he said.

“Dairies get to set the price on hay,” he said.

The hay market isn’t going to come back until the dairy market comes back, he said.

“We’ve still got a lot of hay in the stack, and pricing is going to stay low as long as milk is low,” he said.

Dairymen can and do substitute straw, corn, barley, corn silage, hay from other states and pasture for Idaho alfalfa. Corn silage acres in Idaho have increased greatly over the last 25 years, about 440 percent, he said.

Substitute feed stocks are showing high carryover and lower prices for 2018. The total supply of U.S. corn, for example, is near a record high at close to 17 billion bushels, with an average price of about $3.25 a bushel in September.

The average low U.S. price for alfalfa hay for the 2011-2015 crops was $180 a ton. The average low for the 2016 crop was $129. So far, the average price for the 2017 crop is in the $140-$150 range.

That’s a long way from $180, and the market is not going to get back there until the dairy market improves, he said.

“We’ve still got a lot of hay in the stack, and pricing is going to stay low as long as milk is low,” he said.

BASF consultant: Use treatments for largest impact Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:18:23 -0500 Matw Weaver Capital Press

SPOKANE — Cereal farmers must look at the goals they set for their operations when using seed treatments and fungicides to increase productivity, says a consultant with BASF.

Paula Halabicki, technical market manager for plant health fungicides for corn and wheat, spoke to farmers during the Wheat U. program sponsored by the Capital Press, High Plains Journal and BASF.

Halabicki said she wanted to convey to growers the importance of what occurs in the plant throughout the season, and the importance of using seed treatments and fungicides when they can have the largest impact.

Halabicki joined BASF in the U.S. in August after three years with BASF Canada in Manitoba. She said she is still learning the U.S. markets.

“Wheat used to be treated as a rotational crop in some areas,” she said. “I think growers are focusing more on their wheat acres nowadays, really striving to drive yields.”

In the Pacific Northwest, where wheat is a primary crop, farmers are looking for opportunities to improve their bottom line, especially in the face of lower wheat prices, Halabicki said.

Halabicki recommends farmers use several modes of action to reduce the risk of weeds and diseases developing resistance.

Huge 2017 snowpack gives Idaho irrigators a boost Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:06:44 -0500 Sean Ellis CALDWELL, Idaho — The large amounts of snowfall that fell in basins across Idaho and Eastern Oregon last winter will benefit irrigators into the 2018 water year.

“Last year was so exciting and set the stage for the coming year,” Ron Abramovich, a Natural Resources Conservation Service water supply specialist, said during University of Idaho’s Ag Outlook Seminar in Caldwell Dec. 7.

Some reservoirs in Idaho are at or near record high storage levels for this time of year, he said.

“There is a tremendous amount of water in the reservoirs now and flows are above normal, too,” Abramovich said. “We are going to put less emphasis on snow this year because there is so much water in the reservoirs.”

Snowpack levels are below normal so far this season in many basins of the region but the amount of water in reservoirs that was carried over from the 2017 water season has provided a significant buffer that could insulate irrigators from even a below-average snow year this winter.

For example, the overall snowpack level in the Owyhee River basin was only 26 percent of normal as of Dec. 11 but the Owyhee Reservoir has 449,000 acre-feet of water, which means that reservoir is already 63 percent full with the rest of the winter still to come.

The Owyhee basin feeds the Owyhee Reservoir, which provides water to 118,000 acres of irrigated land in Eastern Oregon and part of Idaho.

“An average year for us is 300,000 acre-feet of carryover. We’ve done much better than that this year,” said Owyhee Irrigation District Manager Jay Chamberlin. “We’re sitting in real good shape.”

Even if snowpack in the Owyhee basin is slightly below normal this winter, growers who depend on the reservoir for their irrigation water would have a full season of water next year, he said.

Many basins in the state produced near-record natural stream flow levels this year and many had near-record amounts of carryover water, said Terrell Sorensen, a University of Idaho Extension educator in Power County.

Idaho’s overall 2017 water season “ranks right up there in the top (ever),” he said. “It was a really good water year.”

Natural river flow in the Upper Snake River basin this year was the second highest in the last 106 years.

At the end of the 2017 water season, the Upper Snake reservoir system had the highest amount of carryover water in its history, said Lyle Swank, watermaster for Water District 1, which is Idaho’s largest and provides water for more than 1 million acres of irrigated farmland.

On Nov. 7, the system was 78 percent full, which is twice the normal average for that date, Swank said.

“The benefits of 2017’s high snowpack are still helping us out heading into the 2018 water season,” he said. “We’re in excellent position as far as reservoir storage carryover.”

New president takes reins at Oregon Cattlemen’s Association Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:55:59 -0500 GEORGE PLAVEN A new president is saddling up at the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

Nathan Jackson, general manager for sales and administration at K-Bar Ranches in Myrtle Creek, stepped into the position Dec. 2 during the organization’s annual convention in Bend.

Jackson, who served the last two years as president-elect, takes over for John O’Keeffe, who wrapped up his term. The OCA also tabbed Tom Sharp as the next president-elect and Todd Nash as treasurer, maintaining the line of succession.

O’Keeffe, a third-generation rancher from Adel in south-central Oregon, said he was honored to represent the cattlemen, and believes they made progress on key issues at the state and federal levels — including the removal of wolves from the Oregon endangered species list in late 2015.

The delisting applies to wolves east of highways 395, 78 and 95, though wolves in western Oregon remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We hope to shortly have these wolves delisted statewide,” O’Keeffe said. “They’re definitely here, and it’s time to manage them. We’re getting a lot of depredation, and quite a bit of hardship.”

The status of wolves remains a hot-button issue for cattlemen, as the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission considers a long-awaited update to the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. O’Keeffe said the plan needs to have reasonable criteria for lethal control of wolves that make a habit of preying on livestock.

“These wolves, if they get in a pattern of preying on livestock, it tends to accelerate,” he said. “We would like to get away from that.”

O’Keeffe said the new administration in Washington, D.C. is also working to fine-tune protections for sage grouse habitat while balancing the interests of ranchers.

As OCA president, Jackson said he recognizes that he will be the face of the organization and will work to ensure cattlemen have a strong voice at the Legislature. In particular, he said there are restrictions being pushed by groups that “aren’t interested in finding a compromise, but that want to put natural resource users out of business.”

“Those are the most egregious things we have to look out for,” Jackson said.

In addition to legislative work, Jackson said he hopes to strengthen the connection between the OCA and 26 county or regional cattlemen’s associations across Oregon.

“We’re going to do a fair amount of organizational stuff,” Jackson said. “Some of our county organizations need some support and capacity.”

The three-day OCA annual convention was held Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes. The event drew more than 350 attendees, 45 trade show exhibitors and 50 presentations on topics ranging from wild horses to public lands.

Jerome Rosa, OCA executive director, said the wild horse program — led by Robert Sharp, supervisory wild horse and burro specialist with the Bureau of Land Management — was especially well attended.

“The room was packed,” Rosa said. It’s a real problem in some parts of our state, in particular southeast Oregon. They’re really causing a lot of problems on private and public lands, the way the population is really expanding.

Rosa said turnout at the convention was the best it’s been in a few years, which he attributed in part to a greater diversity of speakers.

“We tried to appeal to a little more of a broad spectrum of folks than we had in the past,” Rosa said. “There was a little bit of something for everybody.”

Washington Dems float rural well bill Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:55:55 -0500 Don Jenkins OLYMPIA — Democrats outlined a plan Tuesday to help fish while curtailing withdrawals from new rural wells, redistributing water in the wake of the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.

The proposal could allow more farm families to drill wells for homes. But it would limit withdrawals to 350 gallons a day, as opposed to the current cap of 5,000 gallons. The plan also would impose a $1,500 fee on new wells and set the stage for metering wells.

Some Republicans pushed back against the plan. “It’s unfortunate that these ideas have come forward from the city, the urban bubble,” said Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden. “It really is the rural folks impacted by this, not the urban communities.”

Democrats, who control the House and Senate, aired their proposal at a session attended by lawmakers from both chambers. The plan likely will be the starting point when legislators reconvene in January and take another crack at responding to the 2016 Hirst ruling.

The ruling directed individual landowners to prove their new well won’t affect streams that sometimes run lower than state-set levels. Tribes and environmentalists say the ruling should be enforced to protect fish. Builders, lenders and landowners say the decision has halted well drilling, amounts to a war on rural Washington and should be fixed.

The Washington Farm Bureau brands the ruling as a harsh blow to farm families and communities.

Farm Bureau associate director of government relations Evan Sheffels said the plan presented Tuesday was not as good as Republican legislation to repeal the ruling, but he credited Democrats with putting forward something to negotiate.

“I think it’s a better than moratorium” on new wells, he said. “The amount of water (allowed to be drawn) and the fees do raise concerns.”

To offset new wells, the plan calls for spending $200 million over 10 years on salmon recovery. Basin-level committees made up of state agencies, local governments and tribes would be charged with writing plans to keep new wells from lowering streams.

Fish projects are essential to allowing new wells, said House Environment Committee Chairman Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien. “Without the investments in stream flow recovery, we’re really back to where we started,” he said.

The proposal also calls on Ecology to put meters on wells in one watershed to test monitoring actual use.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s senior adviser on environmental issues, Rob Duff, said the proposal provides a framework for an agreement that eluded lawmakers during the 2017 session.

“I think we’re on the right track here,” he said.

Democrats took control of the Senate in a special election in November. A bill sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, to repeal Hirst is now dead. Senate Republicans, however, still hold enough seats to block the capital budget, a tactic they’ve used to get Democrats to negotiate a Hirst bill.

Warnick said that Tuesday’s meeting was a step forward for Democrats. But she said she couldn’t support the 350-gallon limit, the $1,500 fee or meters on wells. “Not those three things,” she said.

Wolves kill alpaca in NE Oregon Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:18:03 -0500 GEORGE PLAVEN The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has confirmed wolves killed an alpaca Sunday on private land in Union County.

Investigators found tracks and blood in the snow as evidence of an attack by three wolves in the Starkey area southwest of La Grande. GPS data also placed OR-30, a collared male wolf, about 130 yards from the carcass at 5 a.m. the same morning.

The incident comes just a few weeks after ODFW ruled that wolves “probably” killed a llama in a different area of Union County, which evoked sharp criticism from landowner and retired rancher Howard Cantrell about the investigation findings.

The OR-30 pair was most recently documented in 2016, occupying a large territory spanning the northern Starkey and Ukiah units south of Interstate 84. OR-30 originally dispersed from the Snake River pack and spent most of 2015 in the Starkey, Ukiah and Mount Emily units of northeast Oregon.

This is the first livestock predation attributed to the OR-30 pair.

Selected Western livestock auctions Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:42:57 -0500 Oregon


(Woodburn Livestock Exchange)

Dec. 12

Total Receipts: 527 (493 Cattle)

Top 10 Slaughter Cows A/P: 62.11 cwt

Top 50 Slaughter Cows A/P: 60.30 cwt

Top 100 Slaughter Cows A/P: 58.81 cwt

Top Certified Organic Cattle: 40.00-70.00 cwt

All Slaughter Bulls: 67.00-76.00 cwt

Top Beef Steers: 300-400 lbs 135.00-145.00 cwt; 400-500 lbs 135.00-146.00 cwt 500-600 lbs 130.00-146.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs 119.00-136.25 cwt; 700-800 lbs 117.00-123.50 cwt; 800-900 lbs NT

Top Beef Heifers: 300-400 lbs 130.00-138.00 cwt; 400-500 lbs 125.00-140.00 cwt 500-600 lbs 122.50-132.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs 110.00-127.50 cwt; 700-800 lbs 94.00-118.50 cwt; 800-900 lbs 94.00-115.50 NT

Cow/Calf Pairs: NT

Bred Cows: 650.00-975.00

Day Old Dairy Calves: 2.00-70.00

Block Hogs: 85.00-92.00

Feeder Pigs: 21.00-61.50 HD

Sows: 35.00-82.00 cwt

Weaner Pigs: 27.50-32.50

Lambs: 40-70 lbs 135.00-145.00 cwt; 75-150 lbs 134.00-157.50 cwt

Thin Ewes: 65.00-125.00 cwt

Fleshy Ewes: 50.00-90.00 cwt

Goats: 10-39 lbs 25.00-47.50 HD; 40-69 lbs 35.00-117.50 HD; 70-79 lbs 87.50-157.50 HD; 80-89 lbs 95.00-155.00 HD; 90-99 lbs 122.50-170.00; 100-199 lbs 80.00-260.00 HD; 200-300 lbs 107.50-135.00 HD


(Central Oregon Livestock Auction)

Dec. 11

Head: 3471

Steers (1765 HD): 300-400 lbs 185-206; 400-500 lbs 170-195; 500-600 lbs 160-187; 600-700 lbs 148-155; 700-800 lbs 145-153; 800-900 lbs 136-145

Heifers (1670 HD): 300-400 lbs NT; 400-500 lbs 154-179; 500-600 lbs 143-155.50; 600-700 lbs 134-148; 700-800 lbs 125-133; 800-900 lbs 117-132

Butcher Cows: High Yield 55-63; Med Yield 5055; Low Yield 47-54

Bulls: High Yield 80-84; Med Yield 75-80; Feeder 65-74

Feeder Cows; 55-70

Heiferettes: 85-110



(Lewiston Livestock Market)

Dec. 6

Receipts: 2173 HD

Comments: Zero to $5 lower due to futures market.

Steers: 300-400 lbs 146-166; 400-500 lbs 161-190; 500-600 lbs 160-180; 600-700 lbs 148-159; 700-800 lbs 137-155; 800-900 lbs 144-150; 900-1000 lbs 130-138.50 1000 lbs up 104-114

Heifers: 300-400 lbs 130-155; 400-500 lbs 146-155; 500-600 lbs 138-148; 600-700 lbs 138-148; 700-800 lbs 133-143.50; 800-900 lbs 120-136; 900-1000 lbs 90-119; 1000 lbs up 70-90

Utility Cows: 53-62

Young Feeder: 70-80

Bulls: 70-83

Baby Calves: 200-300

OSU professor named dean at S. Dakota State University Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:03:05 -0500 GEORGE PLAVEN An Oregon State University professor and department head has been named dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at South Dakota State University.

John Killefer, who created the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences at OSU by merging the departments of animal sciences and rangeland, ecology and management, will begin working at South Dakota State in late March 2018.

“I am truly appreciative of the many opportunities that have been provided me at Oregon State University,” Killefer said in a statement. “I am honored to have worked with so many outstanding professionals and colleagues that have allowed us to make tremendous progress within our programs.”

As a researcher into production animals and beef products, Killefer’s programs have secured more than $6.3 million from federal and industry sources. He was inducted into the Oregon Beef Council Hall of Fame in 2014 and served as a fellow from 2013-15 for the Food Systems Leadership Institute.

“It has been exciting to see the individual and programmatic growth throughout our department and I anticipate a bright future moving forward,” Killefer said. “I thank the many colleagues that I am now able to call friends.”

Killefer came to OSU in 2011 after working at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and West Virginia University. He has a doctorate in animal science with an emphasis in growth and development from OSU.

Irrigators protest Hood River instream water rights Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:47:56 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski Several farm groups have filed protests against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proposal to obtain instream water rights in the Hood River Basin.

Fourteen of the agency’s applications for instream water rights, which are meant to protect flows, were met with objections from the Oregon Farm Bureau, Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers, local irrigation districts and county Farm Bureaus.

The Oregon Water Resources Department had proposed approving the applications, but the protesters argue the agency wrongly determined the instream water rights served the public interest.

Farmers are concerned that new ODFW-owned instream water rights could prevent the development of irrigation water rights under the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s 83,000 acre-feet of “water reservations” in the basin, said Mary Anne Cooper, public policy counsel for Oregon Farm Bureau.

“We’re not clear on how they stack up with these instream water rights,” Cooper said.

When Oregon lawmakers passed a law to protect instream flows 30 years ago, they also allowed the Oregon Department of Agriculture to “reserve” water for economic development.

Last year, the Hood River Basin’s water reservations were renewed for another two decades, as they generally haven’t yet been used to develop water rights.

However, such water reservations may play an important role in storing irrigation water if the Hood River Basin sees lower future snowpack accumulations.

Another concern is that instream water rights may impede the transfer or lease of senior water rights, said Cooper.

New instream rights would be junior to those of existing water users, but Cooper said problems can arise when those irrigators want to move a point of diversion further upstream.

In such a situation, ODFW may claim injury because the water remains instream for a shorter distance, she said.

If water rights within Hood River Basin were canceled, the water would be “swallowed up” by the instream rights instead of becoming available to other irrigators, according to the protesters.

Conversations about these worries did not take place “on the front end,” before the agency sought new instream rights, which necessitated the protests, Cooper said.

“At that point, our only recourse was to file the protest,” she said.

Capital Press was unable to reach Anna Pakenham Stevenson, ODFW’s water program manager, for comment.

WaterWatch of Oregon, an environmental group, also lodged protests against four of the proposed instream rights in the basin.

Contrary to the irrigators, the organization complained the amount of water protected by instream rights would be insufficient to guarantee a healthy habitat for fish.

When a protest is filed, the Oregon Water Resources Department can still approve an instream water right or modify it, said Dwight French, administrator of the agency’s water right services division.

The other two options are to move forward with a contested case hearing or allow the parties to settle the case, he said.

If OWRD issues a final order after a contested case process, the decision can be challenged before the Oregon Water Resources Commission, which oversees the agency, and then the Oregon Court of Appeals, he said.

Cash dairy market breaks volume records Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:10:59 -0500 Lee Mielke CME block Cheddar fell to $1.47 per pound last Wednesday but closed Friday at $1.4750, down 8 3/4-cents on the week and the sixth consecutive week of decline, 23 1/2-cents below a year ago and 19 1/2-cents below the barrels.

The barrels closed the week at $1.67, up 13 1/2-cents and 9 1/4-cents above a year ago, with 34 cars of block finding new homes last week and a whopping 56 of barrel.

The blocks lost 1 3/4-cents Monday and 1 1/4-cents Tuesday, dipping to $1.4450, the lowest price since March 29, 2017.

The barrels were unchanged Monday, despite 36 cars being sold, a record single-day volume since daily trading started Sept. 1, 1998 and eclipsing the previous high of 35 loads set June 18, 2010, according to FC Stone. They were also unchanged Tuesday but with a record December inversion of 22 1/2-cents above the blocks.

Milk remains available for cheese production in the Midwest, according to Dairy Market News. Output is steady and not expected to slow until the holidays. Sales are steady to slower but the inverted prices remain a concern.

Western cheesemakers report a lot of milk is available and cheese production is active. Lower prices are generating new interest in international markets but cheesemakers are watching cheese and Class III milk futures closely.

Cash butter fell to $2.19 per pound last Monday, then climb back to $2.2375 Thursday, and close Friday at $2.22, up a half-cent on the week and 15 1/2-cents above a year ago, with 60 cars selling last week.

Monday saw the butter down 3 cents but regain 1 3/4-cents Tuesday and inch back to $2.2075.

Retail and food service orders, in some cases, were slower the previous two weeks. Others report steady to solid interest in both salted and unsalted product. Inventories are reportedly balanced but cream has become readily available.

Western churning is less active in some areas despite long cream supplies.

CME Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Friday at a record low 68 1/4-cents per pound, down 3 3/4-cents on the week and 29 cents below a year ago.

It was unchanged Monday and inched a quarter-cent lower Tuesday to a new record 68 cents per pound.

October cheese output totaled 1.07 billion pounds, up 5.2 percent from September and 1.7 percent above October 2016. Year to date output stands at 10.3 billion pounds, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

California produced just under 212 million pounds of that cheese, up 9.3 percent from September but 0.7 percent below a year ago. Wisconsin, at 287.5 million pounds, was up 5.9 percent from September and 2.8 percent above a year ago. Idaho output, at 85.0 million pounds, was up 5.5 percent from September and 1.3 percent above a year ago.

Italian cheese output totaled 455.22 million pounds, up 5 percent from September and 1.8 percent above a year ago, with YTD output at 4.5 billion pounds, up 1.5 percent.

Mozzarella, at 348 million pounds, was up 0.9 percent, with YTD at 3.4 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent.

Total American type cheese production hit 417.6 million pounds, up 6 percent from September and 4 percent above a year ago. YTD totaled 4.1 billion pounds, up 3.4 percent.

Cheddar output, the kind traded at the CME, totaled 294.3 million pounds, up 4.4 percent from September and 4.1 percent above a year ago, with YTD at 2.96 billion pounds, up 4.5 percent.

Butter churns produced 143.5 million pounds of butter, up 6.8 percent from September and 2.6 percent above a year ago. YTD butter totaled 1.5 billion pounds, up 3.7 percent.

Nonfat dry milk production totaled 149.2 million pounds, up 11.7 percent from September and 6.5 percent above a year ago, with YTD at 1.5 billion pounds, up 3.7 percent.

Skim milk powder totaled 23.8 million pounds, down 20 percent from September and 42.5 percent below a year ago. YTD output is at 440.4 million pounds, was down 3.6 percent.

October nonfat dry milk stocks at 328 million pounds, up 7.1 million pounds or 2.2 percent from September and a whopping 104.2 million pounds or 46.5 percent above a year ago.

The Agriculture Department lowered its 2017 and 2018 milk production forecasts in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, due to slower growth in milk production per cow. That slower growth is expected to carry into 2018 and “combined with an expected slower rate of growth in cow numbers,” the 2018 milk production forecast was also lowered.

2017 production and marketings were projected at 215.7 billion and 214.7 billion pounds, respectively, down 100 million pounds from last month. If realized, 2017 production would still be up 3.3 billion pounds or 1.6 percent from 2016.

2018 production and marketings were projected at 219.3 billion and 218.3 billion pounds, respectively, down 400 million pounds from last month. If realized, 2018 production would be up 3.6 billion pounds or 1.7 percent from 2017.

The 2017 Class III milk price forecast was unchanged from last month, ranging $16.15-$16.25 per hundredweight, up from $14.87 in 2016 and $15.80 in 2015. The 2018 average is projected at $15.30-$16.10, down 20-30 cents from last month’s estimate.

The Class IV price forecast was reduced a nickel from the previous month, with the 2017 average projected to range $15.05-15.25, and compares to $13.77 in 2016 and $14.35 in 2015. The 2018 average is estimated at $13.90-$14.80, down 25-35 cents from last month’s projection.

California’s January 2018 Class I milk prices are $16.07 per hundredweight for the north and $16.35 for the south, down $1.88 from December 2017, $2.70 below January 2017, and the lowest Class I since July 2016.

Recovery plans for Snake River salmon, steelhead released Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:05:38 -0500 KEITH RIDLER BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Authorities have released recovery plans for federally protected Snake River chinook salmon and steelhead with the goal of making sure each species is self-sustaining in the wild.

The plans released Tuesday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries include spring and summer chinook, fall chinook and steelhead. Authorities listed the three runs as threatened in the 1990s.

Strategies in the 366-page fall chinook plan include reintroducing them above Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon Complex of hydroelectric dams.

The 284-page recovery plan for spring and summer chinook and steelhead include protecting existing tributary habitat and restoring degraded habitat.

Salmon and steelhead are important as both a commercial and sport fishery, and are also important to tribes in the region that hold treaty rights concerning salmon and steelhead.

Large stocks of wheat, corn keep prices down Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:47:38 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas BURLEY, Idaho — Large world stocks of corn and wheat are keeping futures markets bearish, as grain producers face a third year of managed money funds taking heavily short positions.

That means there’s no offsetting side in long positions to drive prices higher, Kelly Olson, administrator of the Idaho Barley Commission, said during the University of Idaho Ag Outlook seminar.

There are big supplies of wheat and corn around the world. High prices in 2012 and 2013 fueled world production. Favorable conditions produced big crops and rebuilt stocks, she said.

“Global grain stocks are coming down a little but are still quite burdensome,” she said.

The global stocks-to-use ratio in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates is 19 percent on corn and 36 percent on wheat.

The ratio indicates the level of carryover stock for a commodity as a percentage of the total demand or use.

Most of the burdensome grain stocks are on the wheat side of the equation, with world ending stocks for wheat 5 percent higher than a year ago. That’s despite a slight decline in world production and no change in usage.

In the U.S., wheat production was down 25 percent and ending stocks are down 21 percent. But that hasn’t raised prices because world stocks are still large, she said.

The U.S. exports 47 percent of domestic wheat production, and there’s a lot of cheaper wheat produced in the Black Sea Region. In addition, a strong U.S. dollar continues to hammer grain exports and is particularly bad for wheat, which is so dependent on exports, she said.

Global corn and wheat stocks wouldn’t look excessive if not for China. The country holds 39 percent of global ending corn stocks and 48 percent of global ending wheat stocks.

China uses the wheat for domestic food and corn for domestic livestock, and those stocks aren’t going out on the world market. In addition, a lot of the corn stocks are old and not good quality for feed and the country is trying to bring ethanol plants on line, she said.

Nonetheless, stocks are big and the price outlook for 2018 is “not great,” she said.

USDA is forecasting the 2018 corn price at $3.20 a bushel, down 5 percent year over year. The agency is expecting the all-wheat price to increase 18 percent to $4.60 a bushel. But the all-wheat price dropped 20 percent in 2016, so prices aren’t going to be back where they were two years ago, she said.

“This market is going to continue to trade sideways. There’s no big upside, but there’s some,” she said.

Australia could have a tighter wheat crop, with estimates of a 30 percent to 40 percent drop from last year’s record crop. The condition of Argentina’s wheat crop also remains to be seen, she said.

The corn picture could also change depending on the crops in Brazil and Argentina, how much is used in the U.S. for ethanol and how much China imports, she said.

Idaho is a net corn importer, but wheat prices are heavily influenced by corn and influence malt barley contracts. Higher wheat prices will lead to more malt barley contracts. Lower corn prices are going to shift livestock feeding from wheat to corn and put downward pressure on wheat prices, she said.

Oregon radish seed lawsuit stayed over farmer objections Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:43:17 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski Over the objections of farmers, a federal judge has stayed a lawsuit that accuses a bank of unlawfully interfering with the sale of radish seed.

Earlier this year, the Radish Seed Growers’ Association — which represents nearly 40 Oregon farms — filed a complaint seeking $6.7 million in lost crop value and added storage costs from Northwest Bank of Warren, Pa.

Northwest Bank had claimed about 7.4 million pounds of radish seed as collateral for a loan taken out by Cover Crop Solutions, a financially defunct seed broker.

However, the company’s attempt to take ownership of seed in the farmers’ possession was rejected by a federal judge in 2016. That ruling is now being challenged before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The growers allege that Northwest Bank filed meritless liens, pursued a meritless lawsuit and discouraged potential buyers from buying the seed they’d grown for Cover Crop Solutions.

However, the bank counters that these actions were permissible under the “absolute litigation privilege” of its complaint, even if the legal action has so far proven fruitless.

During a court hearing in September, the company asked a federal judge to dismiss the farmers’ lawsuit.

“It’s clear the bank had a good faith basis to assert a security interest in the seed,” said Peter Hawkes, the bank’s attorney. “They had a right to go to court and have that adjudicated.”

Paul Conable, attorney for the growers, argued that Northwest Bank wasn’t protected by the absolute litigation privilege because the meritless liens and interference with customers occurred before the lawsuit.

“You don’t immunize yourself from the effects of your actions by later filing a lawsuit,” he said.

However, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken will postpone any decision on these matters until Northwest Bank’s original lawsuit is resolved in the 9th Circuit, based on legal precedents.

“In addition to being consistent with the weight of authority, waiting for the resolution of the pending appeal has obvious benefits: it minimizes the risk of conflicting judicial decisions, conserves judicial resources, and will aid the court in reaching the correct result in this case,” Aiken said.

The farmers had opposed the stay, arguing they’d suffered million of dollars in losses by having to wait years to sell the radish seed due to Northwest Bank’s unlawful actions.

“This lawsuit is their only means to recoup those losses,” Conable said in a court brief. “Forcing them to wait another significant period of time for this litigation to proceed would be unfairly prejudicial.”

Tribes: Monument co-management proposal is slap in the face Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:20:48 -0500 FELICIA FONSECA FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s decision to drastically reduce and break up a national monument in Utah wasn’t the only blow Native American tribes say they were dealt last week.

The president’s proclamation on Bears Ears National Monument also contained a little-known plan that changes the makeup of a tribal advisory commission for the remote monument filled with canyons, plateaus, rivers and rust-colored rock formations. It adds a county commissioner who is among the minority of Navajos to support Republicans in peeling back protections for the land.

The new commissioner will have the same authority as the group’s five other members, all representatives of tribes.

The same day the president visited Utah to cut the monument by 85 percent to 315 square miles and divide it into two units, a Utah congressman introduced legislation to create tribal co-management councils that were touted by Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The Utah congressional delegation sees the changes as unifying forces in a region long divided over land management, and as a way to ensure local control.

Tribes say that while co-management might sound nice, the proposal by Republican Rep. John Curtis excludes tribes outside Utah and lets the president hand-select most representatives.

“Don’t try to appease us by giving us something you think we want or you think will make us happy,” said Katherine Belzowski, an attorney with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. “This is a slap in the face.”

Supporters heralded Bears Ears as the first national monument created by tribes on land they hold sacred. The monument contains tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including cliff dwellings.

Critics said President Barack Obama’s decision to designate 2,188 square miles was an egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act.

The original proclamation established the Bears Ears Commission as an advisory panel with one elected official from each of the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute and Zuni tribes.

Trump’s proclamation maintains the commission but renames it the Shash Jaa Commission, using the Navajo name for Bears Ears. It also adds a representative from the San Juan County Commission, now Rebecca Benally.

Benally said the appointment “came out of the blue,” but reflects a feeling among some that they were being left out of management discussions.

Obama’s proclamation had a separate advisory committee for state and local governments, tribes, recreationists, business owners and private landowners. It’s unclear if Trump’s proclamation maintains that panel. The Interior Department referred questions to the White House, which did not immediately respond to an email Monday seeking clarification.

Benally said she doesn’t believe her role will dilute the tribal voice, and she wants to elevate the commission’s work to more than advising the federal government on how to manage the land.

“We can spin our wheels and advise and recommend all we want, and that’s all it is,” she said. “I think the true authority will come once John Curtis’ bill can be passed.”

The Bears Ears Commission and Benally have been at odds all along. The tribes say Benally wasn’t elected to represent tribal interests and wasn’t vested in the monument’s creation. Unlike federally recognized tribes, county commissions have no direct relationship with the federal government.

The tribal group said it had been meeting regularly when it heard rumblings that Zinke would recommend shrinking the monument and was touting a management plan that would give tribes more say in Bears Ears decisions. Tribal co-management plans also were recommended at two national monuments in New Mexico and one in Nevada.

Curtis’ legislation would create management councils for each of the two Bears Ears units that would “regularly and meaningfully engage” with the Bears Ears Commission.

The councils would have different makeups but largely would be stacked with Utah residents appointed by the president in consultation with the state’s congressional delegation. Each council would include two San Juan County commissioners. Native Americans would be in the minority of one or both.

The management council for the monument’s Shash Jaa unit would include a Navajo specifically from the Aneth Chapter — the only Navajo community that voted against creation of the larger Bears Ears National Monument. The community southeast of the monument’s boundaries said the process in designating the larger monument was “undemocratic and unjust” and requested that Trump reverse it.

If passed, Curtis said, the bill would be a first in allowing tribes to co-manage a monument. It also would make “irrelevant” a lawsuit filed by tribes challenging Trump’s proclamation because the legislation gives tribes what they’re seeking, he said.

“This is not some kind of giveaway,” said Danny Laub, a Curtis spokesman. “This is an actual, very thoughtful, very serious legislative idea. We are in good faith trying to put forth a consensus of all these competing groups in the best possible way to manage these lands.”

Natalie Landreth, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, said Curtis’ bill is unacceptable for the three tribes she represents because it puts them in the minority and weakens their power on the panels that oversee the land. Tribes are not stakeholders, she said. They are sovereign entities.

“The particular way this was constituted is not an accident,” Landreth said. “It’s deliberately done to dilute and silence the tribal voice. They’re not fooling anybody. This is not a co-management body.”


Associated Press writer Michelle Price in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

Crews protect hillside homes as California fire grows Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:04:08 -0500 CHRISTOPHER WEBER LOS ANGELES (AP) — The fifth largest wildfire in California history expanded, ripping through dry brush atop a coastal ridge while crews struggled to keep flames from roaring down into neighborhoods amid fears of renewed winds.

Firefighters protected foothill homes northwest of Los Angeles, making progress in residential areas while much of the fire’s growth occurred to the north in unoccupied forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said Tuesday.

“There were a couple of flare-ups in the hills that put on a light show last night, but they were expected. For now the teams are fighting the fire on their own terms,” he said, adding that shifting winds are always a danger.

Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended into the week instead of expiring Monday afternoon as was initially forecast.

“It doesn’t get much drier than this folks,” the National Weather Service tweeted, adding that more than 80 observation sites in the region reported Monday relative humidity levels between just 1 and 9 percent.

Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated, including many from the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.

Residents near a Carpinteria avocado orchard said the trees could end up saving their homes.

“You have a thick layer of leaves underneath the bottom and they are watered regularly, so it’s like a sponge,” Jeff Dreyer, who lives nearby, told KEYT-TV. “So the fire gets to the sponge full of water and it slows it down. It takes a long time for it to burn.”

Poor air quality kept dozens of schools closed. As ash rained down and smoke blew through streets, regulators urged people to remain inside if possible and avoid strenuous activity.

Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles from Los Angeles that’s home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore. Actor Rob Lowe was among residents who evacuated over the weekend.

The blaze — known as the Thomas Fire — has destroyed more than 680 homes, officials said. It was just partially contained after burning more than 360 square miles of dry brush and timber. The fire has been burning for more than a week.

To the north, San Francisco Bay Area firefighters quickly contained blazes Tuesday that destroyed at least two homes in hills east of Oakland — the site of a 1991 firestorm that killed 25 people.

Santa Ana winds have long contributed to some of the region’s most disastrous wildfires. They blow from the inland toward the Pacific Ocean, speeding up as they squeeze through mountain passes and canyons.

The weather service said that if the long-term forecast holds, there will have been 13 consecutive days of dry offshore flow before it ends Friday afternoon. There have only been 17 longer streaks since 1948, including the record of 24 days set between December 1953 and January 1954.

High fire risk is expected to last into January.

Farmers in Washington and Idaho seek answer for acidic soil Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:56:25 -0500 LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Some farmers in northern Idaho and western Washington are looking for solutions after years of applying nitrogen-based fertilizer has left their land with acidic soil.

Carol McFarland with Washington State University told the Lewiston Tribune that soil surveys show a gradual increase in the acidity of soil in the region since the 1980s. Nitrogen-based fertilizer enriches the soil for some crops like wheat, but it can lower the natural pH of the soil, increasing the acidity level.

“There’s a certain degree of natural acidity in soil. However, on the Palouse, our previously near-neutral soils are being acidified by the application of nitrogen-based fertilizers.”

That can have an impact on some crops, like legumes, which are less tolerant of acidic soils. Lime can be applied to lower the acidity of the soil, but that can be expensive.

“It’s really tough for these guys to have enough on their (profit) margins to justify applying lime, so nobody really knows what the critical level is at this point,” she said, referring to what it would take to make the soil less acidic.

Some farmers who relied on legumes as a rotation crop are now experimenting with crops like triticale, she said.

“Different growers have been growing different things to work around the soil,” McFarland said.

But there is no one-size-fits-all remedy, because soils vary widely in the region, she said, depending on native vegetation, rainfall and other factors.

Washington State University will hold a daylong workshop on Jan. 4 with experts from WSU, the University of Idaho, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District to talk about the latest research and treatments for acidic soil. Pre-registration is required, and tickets cost around $45, depending on payment method.

“This is a concern that’s on a lot of people’s minds. We really just want people to know about it and care about it so they can come and learn,” McFarland said.

US says WTO losing focus on trade, becoming litigation group Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:52:07 -0500 BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The United States said Monday that the World Trade Organization is losing its focus on trade negotiation and “becoming a litigation-centered organization.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also complained that some WTO members try to gain concessions through lawsuits that he said they could never get at the negotiating table.

“We have to ask ourselves whether this is good for the institution and whether the current litigation structure makes sense,” Lighthizer said at the WTO’s ministerial meeting that is being held in Argentina.

Without naming names, he also said some member countries use their status as developing nations to obtain concessions and don’t follow WTO rules.

“We need to clarify our understanding of development within the WTO,” he said. “We cannot sustain a situation in which new rules can only apply to the few, and that others will be given a pass in the name of self-proclaimed development status.”

President Donald Trump has said the policy of the U.S. “is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods.”

Some member nations that favor free trade have decried what they say are Trump’s protectionist measures. But many also acknowledge the 164-nation WTO needs reform.

“We believe that it’s not sustainable to advance in a scheme where one is always the protectionist and the other one (is) the one who always breaks the rules,” Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Sunday during the event’s launch.

“The problems of the WTO will be resolved with more WTO, not less WTO.”

Earlier this year, 10 WTO members, including the European Union, Canada and Japan, urged Washington to continue honoring the trade body’s “Government Procurement Agreement” that binds the U.S. and 45 other countries — mostly EU members — to open government procurement markets to foreign competition and make them more transparent.

This week’s meeting in Buenos Aires will also address issues including food and agriculture, e-commerce, fisheries, and development.

A network of worldwide civil society organizations says about 60 of its experts who were planning to attend had their credentials revoked by Argentina’s government.

Washington apple crop estimate nears record Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:45:27 -0500 Dan Wheat WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Washington apple crop estimate continues to grow, putting downward pressure on prices, but an industry expert says that could be countered by improved exports.

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association now estimates the crop at 142.3 million, 40-pound boxes, up 8.7 percent from the Aug. 1 forecast and second only to the record 143.6 million boxes of 2014. That was a year of poor grower returns, but this year likely will be helped as light crops in Europe and elsewhere fuel overseas demand for Washington apples.

The large crop “means marginal downward pressure on prices but exports are doing well, and if that continues it will really help,” said Desmond O’Rourke, retired Washington State University agricultural economist and world apple market analyst.

A substantial part of the crop is Red Delicious, which Asian countries like, O’Rourke said. Nonetheless, marketers will struggle to maintain current prices for the next couple of months, he said. Prices have slid some in the last month or two, typical after being higher in August at the start of harvest.

“The wild card is how soon will the European crop wind down. They’ve had a much smaller crop and that will shift exports our way,” said Tom Riggan, general manager of Chelan Fresh Marketing, one of the state’s leading sales desks.

The shift will come in January and already European and Middle East customers are inquiring more about Washington apple availability and prices than they typically do this time of year, Riggan said.

“That tells us supply is tight over there. One customer wanted a certain volume and price and we said we needed another price. They came back a week later and were OK with it,” he said.

Exports got off to a slow start because this year’s crop was later than those of the last two years, O’Rourke said. As of Dec. 1, the industry had exported 8.3 million boxes of apples compared to 8.8 million at the same point a year ago. But the pace is picking up with good movement to Mexico and India, he said.

Season-to-date, domestic and export shipments totaled 29.6 million boxes as of Dec. 1. That’s 20.8 percent shipped this year versus 25.6 percent a year ago.

There’s already significant pressure on Red Delicious and Gala prices. Pressure will increase on Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Fuji due to large volumes, O’Rourke said.

The Dec. 1 estimate shows 34.4 million boxes of Red Delicious, 32.8 million of Gala, 20.9 million of Granny Smith, 18.7 million of Fuji, 11.9 million of Honeycrisp, 7.7 million of Golden Delicious, 5.4 million of Cripps Pink, 1.8 million of Ambrosia, 1.3 million of Braeburn and 504,000 of Jonagold. The rest of the crop consists of minor varieties and a growing amount of proprietary varieties.

The estimates for Gala, Granny, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia would be record highs. The estimates for Fuji and Cripps Pink are the second highest, O’Rourke said.

The Granny Smith volume is OK because there is tremendous demand and movement domestically and overseas, Riggan said. Prices will stabilize at the end of January and climb a little as the crop shrinks, he said.

Good weather allowed harvest to run to the end of November with some marginally profitable apples left on trees due to not enough pickers, Riggan said.

The national fresh crop on hand Dec. 1 was 131.1 million, 42-pound boxes, 9 percent more than the previous year. The total fresh and processing crop was 182.5 million boxes, up 12 percent from last year and 18 percent from the five-year average for that date, according to the U.S. Apple Association.

The larger national inventory pressures prices, but the smaller crops in Europe, Mexico and Canada help, O’Rourke said.

Washington growers are barely breaking even on Reds, Gala, Goldens, Braeburn, Cameo and Jonagold and making money on Honeycrisp, Granny, Fuji and proprietary varieties, he said.

“Overall, it will be a breakeven year on profitability for growers unless they have premium varieties,” O’Rourke said. “Integrated companies will have more packing and marketing fees with a larger crop so they will do OK, but they have big investments on new orchards.”

As of Dec. 8, USDA tracking of average asking prices among Yakima and Wenatchee shippers for extra fancy (standard grade) medium size 80 and 88 apples per packed box: $14 to $17 for Red Delicious, basically unchanged from November and October; Gala was $18 to $24 on 80s, down from $20 to $26 a month ago and $24 to $28 two months ago; Gala was $16 to $22 on 88s, stable from a month ago and down from $22 to $26 two months ago.

Generally, $17 to $18 per box is breakeven on major varieties.

Honeycrisp was $44 to $52, mostly $48 to $52, on premium 80s and 88s, down from $54 to $62 for both a month ago and $70 to $76 for premium 80s two months ago and $65 to $75 for premium 88s two months ago.

Granny Smith was $34 to $38 for 80s, down from $36 to $40 a month ago, and was $28 to $34 for 88s, down from $32 to $38 for 88s a month ago. They were $42 to $46 for 80s and $40 to $44 for 88s two months ago.

Fuji was $24 to $28 for 80s and $22 to $26 for 88s, down from $26 to $30 for both a month ago.

Golden Delicious was $24 to $28, close to the same as a month ago but down from $30 to $34 two months ago.

U.S. beef supply growing, balanced by stronger demand Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:42:10 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas BURLEY, Idaho — The U.S. cattle inventory is growing and beef production is rising, but domestic and foreign demand are keeping things in balance.

The industry is in the building phase of the latest cattle cycle. The cattle inventory was 3 percent higher year-over-year on Jan. 1, 2016, and 2 percent higher at the start of 2017, Joel Packham, University of Idaho extension educator for Cassia County, said during the university’s annual Idaho Ag Outlook seminar.

“The beef industry is growing the beef herd in the U.S. and will continue to do so,” he said.

At the first of the year, the beef cow inventory was 31.2 million head, up 3.5 percent year over year. That number is expected to be up another 700,000 head in 2018 and another 200,000 head in 2019 before flattening out, he said.

The 2017 calf crop, at 36.2 million, is up 3.4 percent and is expected to grow to 37.7 million by 2019 before evening out.

Producers have also continued to retain replacement heifers, increasing those numbers to more than 6.4 million at the start of 2017, up 1.2 percent year over year.

It all adds up to more cattle on feed, which stood at more than 11.3 million head on Nov. 1. Feedlots are keeping current in their marketing and slaughter weights are lower, so there’s not as much beef in feedlots as one might think. But cattle on feed and beef production are rising and will continue to do so, he said.

Commercial beef production in the fourth quarter of 2017 is expected at about 6.7 billion pounds, compared with the average for that time frame of about 6.3 billion pounds for 2012 through 2016.

Beef production is expected higher year over year in both 2018 and 2019 and is projected to reach 7.3 billion pounds in the third quarter of 2019.

But consumption is also up and is expected to increase, he said.

Per capita beef consumption is up 2 percent in 2017 to 55.6 pounds, and it’s projected to rise another 2.6 percent in 2018 to 58.1 pounds. The increase is due to rising U.S. median income, which increased 3 percent in 2016 and another 1 percent in 2017, he said.

“We believe people have the ability to pay for beef and are willing to do that,” he said.

But pork and poultry production are also on the rise, which could be a limiting factor for beef, he said.

Beef exports are a bright spot and are taking care of a lot of the extra beef production. Beef consumption in Japan is up 8 percent, and U.S. exports there are benefiting from tight supplies of Australian beef and high prices on that beef, he said.

But some of that market will dry up when Aussie production recovers due to higher tariffs on U.S. beef, he said.

Total U.S. beef exports were up 9 percent in quantity and 16 percent in value year to date through October, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

While the 2018 export forecast is promising, trade agreements are uncertain. And with beef production increasing, there is no room for error – such as a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, he said.