Capital Press | http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Wed, 22 Feb 2017 00:28:04 -0500 en http://EOR-CPwebvarnish.newscyclecloud.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | http://www.capitalpress.com Washington pot growers seek right-to-farm protection http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/washington-pot-growers-seek-right-to-farm-protection http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/washington-pot-growers-seek-right-to-farm-protection#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:16:42 -0500 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229959 OLYMPIA — Washington marijuana growers want to take another step toward joining mainstream agriculture, though their presence may raise questions about taxes and labor law.

Cannabis advocates are championing legislation to insert marijuana into the state’s right-to-farm law.

The law bars new neighbors from claiming dust, odors and noise from an existing farm’s lawful operations are a nuisance.

Outdoor marijuana farms in particular need protection from disgruntled neighbors, the advocates say.

“We are intimately aware that there are people who do not like cannabis,” said Lara Kaminsky, executive director of the Cannabis Alliance, an advocacy group.

Washington voters legalized recreational pot in 2012, and production and sales are flourishing. The state has 1,128 licensed marijuana producers. Retail pot sales totaled $972.7 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Sales for this fiscal year already have topped $984 million.

Currently, however, Washington’s right-to-farm law specifically excludes marijuana. The House agriculture committee recently voted 11-4 to reverse that policy.

House Bill 1692 prime sponsor Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, said the law shouldn’t discriminate against marijuana — anymore than it does against beer-essential hops or wine-producing grapes.

“Regardless of how we feel about the end product, it should be considered agriculture,” he said.

The bill could affect more than nuisance lawsuits.

As passed by the agriculture committee, the bill makes it clear that marijuana growers would continue to pay business and occupation taxes.

Farmers who sell other agricultural products are exempt from paying the tax on wholesale income.

More controversially, the Democratic-led committee excluded marijuana growers from the state’s farm labor law.

The law exempts farms from having to pay overtime.

Buys and other Republicans objected to the amendment, which was suggested by United Food and Commercial Workers lobbyist Seamus Petrie. The union is seeking to organize the marijuana industry’s workforce.

One marijuana grower testified that in an emergency he needs workers to put in long hours, just like other farms.

So far, mainstay farm groups have been largely absent from the debate. The Washington Farm Bureau remains mostly silent on marijuana. “We don’t advocate for crops that are illegal under federal law. Simple as that,” Tom Davis, the Farm Bureau’s director of government relations, said.

The issue may get more attention, however, if the House passes over to the Senate a bill that would bring marijuana farms into the agricultural fold, but set a precedent by excluding its workers from farm labor law.

“That will probably raise some red flags for the ag folks,” Davis said.

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Organic certifiers de-stress transition http://www.capitalpress.com/Organic/20170221/organic-certifiers-de-stress-transition http://www.capitalpress.com/Organic/20170221/organic-certifiers-de-stress-transition#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:02:49 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229960 TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Transitioning to organic production brings a certain level of trepidation to those considering the move.

But it really isn’t as intimidating as people think, said Sarah Brown, education director for Oregon Tilth.

“Inspection is really stressful for producers. They think it’s pass or fail, and that’s not the case,” she said during a session at the organic conference sponsored by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides last week.

A grower might come away with a list of corrective actions and receive reminders from the certifier, but it doesn’t mean he’ll lose certification.

Even if there is a problem — such as using a prohibited substance — a grower might have to take a field out of certification, but not the entire farm, she said.

A grower’s organic system plan, required in the National Organic Program, might send up red flags, at which point an inspector will call and ask about something of concern, she said.

Growers at the conference were most interested in the consequences of contact with a prohibited substance outside their control, such as algaecides in irrigation water or pesticide drift from a nearby conventional farm. And they asked about requirements for buffer zones.

Growers should cultivate a relationship with their irrigation district and ask to be notified before the district treats irrigation water so they schedule around that treatment, said Gwen Ayres, agricultural inspections program specialist with Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

But the organic program “is more about intentional application, not what someone else might have applied,” Brown said.

As for buffer zones, there are no strict guidelines, she said.

“It must be sufficient in size or other features to prevent intentional contact with prohibited substances. I think it’s rare that someone doesn’t put in enough,” she said.

If an inspector thinks drift is a factor, he can test for it. But a grower isn’t going to be shut down because of it, she said.

“The deal with organic is it’s not a guarantee the final product is going to be chemical-free. It’s certifying the growing process and that the grower is taking every step to be chemical-free,” she said.

Along that line, growers should call their certifier if they are confused about using a particular substance, Ayres said.

Oregon Tilth’s recommendation is to always ask the certifier before using something new to the farm, Brown said.

“When you’re transitioning, it’s good to be aware of all the rules regarding substances,” Ayres said.

The Organic Materials Review Institute is a great online comprehensive resource that provides reviews of inputs intended for organic production against the organic standards, Brown said.

Recordkeeping is also intimidating for most transitional growers, she said.

“The best system is what works for you. It can be as high tech or low tech as you want,” she said.

A simple calendar can be a great tool, and three-ring binders also work well, she said.

A good place to start in the transitioning process is to read through USDA’s organic standards and any procedural manuals provided by the certifier, she said.

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Expert: Efficiency, not regulation, reducing dairy air emissions http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170221/expert-efficiency-not-regulation-reducing-dairy-air-emissions http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170221/expert-efficiency-not-regulation-reducing-dairy-air-emissions#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:54:01 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229961 SALEM — A desire to reduce inefficiencies — and neighbor conflicts — is driving Oregon dairy farmers to cut unwanted emissions, according to an industry expert.

Environmental activists often bemoan the lack of federal and state air quality restrictions for dairies, but farmers are taking steps on their own, said Troy Downing, dairy extension specialist at Oregon State University.

“As we get new science, our industry is adopting it quicker than we would through regulation,” Downing said at the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association’s annual conference on Feb. 20.

The prospect of Oregon’s government taking a more active role has been raised by Senate Bill 197, which would require the state Environmental Quality Commission to enact formal rules for reducing dairy air emissions.

The legislation seeks to formalize recommendations made by a dairy air task force in 2008, which proponents of SB 197 complain haven’t been acted upon, Downing said.

In reality, though, dairy farms have voluntarily implemented “best management practices” such as installing anaerobic digesters to capture gases and use them for energy production, he said.

“We have made significant progress,” Downing said.

Decreasing odors allows dairy farmers to be good neighbors as well as curtail volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, he said.

The adoption of automated scrapers has led to more frequent removal of manure and urine from barns, Downing said. Waste is more stable in a liquid state, which prevents volatilization and the release of undesirable gases.

Some measures also help farmers put the nutrients in manure to better use.

By applying to manure to fields with “big guns” at high pressure, more of the substance is released as an aerosol-like spray that’s prone to volatilizing into a gas, Downing said.

More farmers are now switching from the big guns to low-pressure or injection systems that preserve nitrogen while reducing gases, he said.

Manure is often assumed to be the culprit in dairy emissions, but feed and silage also release gases, Downing said.

Dispersing smaller amounts of silage several times a day — rather than a large amount once — decreases the amount of time it lays around, reducing VOCs, he said.

Storing silage in a narrower pit also shrinks the size of the open “face” as feed is removed, reducing volatilization of gases compared to a broader pit with a larger face, he said.

As gases are volatilized from silage, the material’s weight decreases, Downing said. “That’s dry matter you’re losing to the atmosphere that the cows aren’t eating, that you bought and paid for.”

Reducing emissions can be advantageous for dairies, but Downing noted that livestock production contributes to only 4 percent of U.S. emissions of “greenhouses gases,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The dairy industry’s share is less than 1.5 percent of total U.S. emissions.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s air quality is predominantly rated as “good” by the EPA, though some areas occasionally dip into “moderate” territory when people heavily use wood stoves during atmospheric inversions, Downing said.

“Oregon really has no air quality problem. What problem are you trying to fix?” he said.

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200 Bushel Club studies companion crops http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/200-bushel-club-studies-companion-crops http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/200-bushel-club-studies-companion-crops#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:43:38 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229965 FORT HALL, Idaho — Participants in an organization devoted to boosting Eastern Idaho wheat yields say they’re impressed by a Terreton, Idaho, farmer’s experiments with planting so-called companion crops.

Companion crops are intermingled with cash crops, growing along side them to increase soil health, nutrients and biodiversity.

The research, conducted with grower Steve Shively, was one of five trials the club attempted in 2016. The 200 Bushel Club — a partnership of Thresher Artisan Wheat, the Idaho Wheat Commission, University of Idaho, Bingham Cooperative, McGregor Co., WestBred, Silver K Farms and the Nature Conservancy formed in 2011 — shared its new data during Thresher’s recent spring meeting in Fort Hall.

For three years, Shively has mixed 4 to 6 pounds per acre of radish seed in with his fall wheat seed, following a potato crop. Radish’s deep taproot scavenges for the nitrogen missed by potatoes. The plants die during the winter, making nutrients available for wheat as they decompose and open pores in soil for wheat roots.

Carson Blakely, the 200 Bushel Club’s intern, said protein levels were slightly higher in wheat planted with radish, though there was no yield gain in the trial. Wheat with radish also produced more stems, and soil was less compact.

“I think overall, what we saw was soil health increased, which eventually, over years of doing it, will increase yield,” Blakely said.

Shively has found he needs 10 to 20 pounds per acre less nitrogen to raise fall wheat when he also plants radish, which more than offsets the cost of radish seed. Last fall, a late potato harvest and early frost prevented Shively from planting a companion crop.

Another 200 Bushel Club experiment studied responses in wheat crops to fertilizer placement. Club researchers expected to see a yield improvement when they placed fertilizer in the same row as wheat seed, believing the “starter fertilizer” would be available sooner to plants spur root growth, compared with broadcasting fertilizer on the surface. Results were inconclusive, as fields in the trial were limited by insufficient early season water.

However, Rexburg farmer Terry Wilcox also used a starter fertilizer to raise the same hard red spring wheat variety, WB9668. A 5-acre sample of that field produced the second highest overall yield in the National Wheat Foundation’s yield competition. Wilcox yielded 179.75 bushels per acre, compared with the county average of 87 bushels.

“You’re laying (fertilizer) right with the seed piece, and that seed piece grabs it right off the bat as it starts sprouting and makes the plant healthier,” Wilcox said.

Gary Farmer, with Valley Agronomics, said few growers use starter fertilizer, especially when they suspect there may be adequate residual fertilizer following row crops.

“A lot of times, (growers) just do what is most convenient, and they end up getting respectable, if not good, yields,” Farmer said. “With a little bit more effort, they could certainly get better yields.”

Farmer said salt in fertilizer can kill wheat seeds when too much is applied in furrow. The club has planted fall wheat with fertilizer bands 3 inches below the seed for the 2017 trials, allowing plants to grow a bit before they access fertilizer.

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Cheese slipping, but butter unsure http://www.capitalpress.com/Dairy/20170221/cheese-slipping-but-butter-unsure http://www.capitalpress.com/Dairy/20170221/cheese-slipping-but-butter-unsure#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:01:09 -0500 Lee Mielke http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229962 Dairy traders awaited market direction last week and were anticipating Tuesday’s Global Dairy Trade auction and January Milk Production report.

Block cheddar closed Valentine’s Week at $1.58 per pound, down 3 cents on the week and 9 1/4-cents above a year ago.

The barrels held at $1.65 per pound for five consecutive sessions last week but slipped to $1.62 Friday, down 3 cents on the week and 14 cents above a year ago.

The markets were closed Monday for President’s Day but the blocks plunged a nickel Tuesday, to $1.53, the lowest price since Oct. 13. The barrels were down 2 cents, to $1.60, an inverted 7 cents above the blocks.

Cheesemakers in the Midwest continue to see readily available milk, according to Dairy Market News. Overall cheese demand is slow and stocks are long.

Cash butter closed Friday at $2.1575 per pound, up 5 1/2-cents on the week and 10 1/4-cents above a year ago.

The butter shed 1.75-cents Tuesday and slipped to $2.14.

Central butter producers are seeing plenty of cream, says DMN, and butter production is increasing. Western output is also active and cream is plentiful.

Political uncertainty regarding the Trump administration’s trade policy provided downward pressure on the cash Grade A nonfat dry milk, which closed Friday at 87 cents per pound, down a nickel on the week, 12 1/2-cents above year ago, and the lowest spot since November.

The powder inched up a half-cent Tuesday, to 87 1/2-cents per pound.

U.S. exports are in limbo, not just because of politics and higher prices, but currency valuation.

U.S. milk production started 2017 well above a year ago as cow numbers and output per cow remain strong. The Agriculture Department’s preliminary data showed January output in the top 23 producing states at 17 billion pounds, up 2.7 percent from January 2016.

The 50-state total, at 18.1 billion on pounds, was up 2.5 percent. Revisions lowered the original December estimate 2 million pounds, now pegged at 16.8 billion, up 2.6 percent from December 2015.

January cow numbers in the 23 states totaled 8.69 million head, up 5,000 from December and 67,000 more than a year ago.

Output per cow averaged 1,957 pounds, up 37 pounds from a year ago.

California output slipped for the first time in three months, down 0.6 percent from a year ago, on a drop of 14,000 cows. Output per cow was only up 5 pounds.

Wisconsin made up the shortfall, up 1.0 percent, on a 20-pound gain per cow, but cow numbers were unchanged.

Texas garnered the most attention again and had the biggest gain, up 19.2 percent from a year ago, thanks to a whopping 39,000 more cows and a 180-pound gain per cow, but that was measured against the aftereffects of Winter Storm Goliath, as is the case with New Mexico, which was up 15.3 percent, on a 190-pound per cow increase and 15,000 more cows.

Michigan was up 3.5 percent, on 12,000 additional cows and 10 pounds more per cow.

Idaho also milked 12,000 more cows but saw a 20-pound drop in output per cow, resulting in just a 1 percent increase.

New York was up 3.8 percent, on a 70-pound gain per cow and 1,000 more cows. Pennsylvania was up 2 percent, thanks to a 50 pound gain per cow, but cow numbers were down 5,000 head.

Minnesota was up 1.7 percent on a 30 pound gain per cow. Cow numbers were unchanged. Washington was down 0.4 percent, on 2,000 fewer cows, though output per cow was up 5 pounds.

Global dairy traders reversed direction in Tuesday’s Global Dairy Trade auction. The weighted average for all products offered dropped 3.2 percent, following a 1.3 percent increase Feb. 7.

Buttermilk powder led the declines for the third event in a row, plunging 12.9 percent. Cheddar cheese was down 5.3 percent, skim milk powder was down 3.8 percent, and whole milk powder was down 3.7 percent. Anhydrous milkfat was off 1.3 percent, following a 4 percent gain last time.

Lactose was up 6.8 percent and butter inched 0.2 percent higher, after it saw a 4.9 gain last time.

FC Stone equated the average 80 percent butterfat GDT butter price to $2.0348 per pound U.S. CME butter closed Tuesday at $2.14 per pound.

GDT cheddar cheese equated to $1.6286 per pound U.S. and compares to Tuesday’s CME block cheddar at $1.53. GDT skim milk powder was at $1.1677 per pound and whole milk powder averaged $1.4463 per pound U.S.

CME Grade A nonfat dry milk price closed Tuesday at 87 1/2-cents per pound.

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Small farm conference helps attendees thrive http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170221/small-farm-conference-helps-attendees-thrive http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170221/small-farm-conference-helps-attendees-thrive#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:32:43 -0500 Jan Jackson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229963 CORVALLIS, Ore. — New and experienced small farm enthusiasts made up the near-capacity crowd at the 17th Annual Oregon Small Farm Conference Feb. 18 on the Oregon State University campus.

The sessions were geared toward farmers, agricultural professionals, food policy advocates, students and farmers’ market managers.

Attendees could go to some of the 27 sessions offered throughout the day and had access to 45 industry vendors, an industry-rich resource bookstore, a breakfast and lunch of local foods and “Think and Drink” information-sharing sessions throughout the day.

First-time attendee Sue Delventhal came with her husband, Joerg, and their 13-year-old son, Tim.

“This not only is our first conference, but we are new to farming,” Delventhal said. “Two-and-one-half years ago, Joerg and I followed our dream and bought five acres on a 1,400-foot elevation ridge on Chehalem Mountain near Newberg. The property is heavily wooded, which almost makes us more like homesteaders than farmers.”

She heard about the conference after a visit to the OSU Yamhill Extension office in McMinnville.

“After attending, I saw that it wouldn’t matter who you were or what you were doing, you could find something there of value,” she said. “My priority was the session on organic weed management and I was really impressed with what I was able to learn. I know now that I have basically two types of weeds, that I need to do more mulching and I need to do a lot more studying on the subject.”

Joerg was most interested in the dryland farming session.

“We have a great loam soil but living on top of a mountain gives us water issues,” she said. “Because I’m the one home in the daytime, I am able to do a lot of the farm work but Joerg and Tim get called in on all of the big muscle jobs.”

The conference started in Eugene in 2000 and moved to Corvallis two years later.

“There were 50 at the first one, then 180, 240, 800 and today there were 925,” Chrissy Lucas, one of the event coordinators, said. “Some people come every year, and some come if there are specific sessions they need. First-timers made up 40 percent of the attendees this year.”

Featured among the presenters this year were farmer-authors Ben Hartman of Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen Ind., and Josh Volk of Slow Hand Farm near Portland, Ore.

Their books “The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work” by Hartman and “Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less: Includes Detailed Farm Layouts for Productivity and Efficiency” by Volk are available at Amazon.com.

“Our goal is to bring people together to help solve problems of small-scale farming,” Garry Stephenson, OSU Extension small farms specialist and small farms program coordinator, said. “Both of our featured presenters drew 200 to 250 people each in their sessions.”

He said the target market for the conference is “both young people who are interested in and already doing it and an older group of people who are doing it as a second career.”

“We are trying to help them with profit, viability and, most of all, show them ways to stay nimble,” Stephenson said. “As soon as we get this conference evaluated, we’ll start on the next one set for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.”

Online

For more information, visit smallfarmconference.org.

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Panel explores building local food economy http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/panel-explores-building-local-food-economy http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/panel-explores-building-local-food-economy#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:55:18 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229964 TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Demand for local food is high, but building a local food economy in Idaho faces some challenges.

Four people with expertise in marketing organic and local production addressed those challenges and offered support to growers at the organic conference hosted by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides last week.

The Boise Co-op works with farmers year-round to buy organic and sustainably grown products, said Hannah Laws, who orders produce for the co-op.

During the growing season, the co-op strives to stock 50 percent local produce. The co-op has an ample supply of such items as tomatoes and kale but has no local options for broccoli and celery, which could provide opportunity for growers.

It could also use more fruit and year-round production from greenhouses, she said.

The co-op welcomes more producers and products. If something doesn’t sell, the co-op just won’t buy it again. The operation is flexible and can market small or large amounts of produce for growers, she said.

“We can kind of do whatever you guys want to do,” she said.

Idaho’s Bounty is another option for growers. The co-op is basically a broker, said Mike Seaman, head of producer relations.

“We help growers find buyers for their products,” he said.

Idaho’s Bounty gets a lot of requests for root crops; there just aren’t a lot grown in Idaho. In addition to the underserved demand, root crops offer more flexibility with perishability and less stress for farmers, he said.

Idaho Preferred is another program that supports growers by providing farmers with marketing connections. The program promotes Idaho food and ag products to raise consumer awareness of where to find local products, said Leah Clark, Idaho Preferred program manager for the state Department of Agriculture.

The program also works with retailers, restaurants and foodservice to source and showcase local products, she said.

“Consumer demand and the trend toward local food is working in our favor. There’s a lot of opportunity out there,” she said.

The program receives a lot of requests for fruit, especially berries. And chefs are always looking for anything new and unique, such as ancient grains. What the program doesn’t need is more pumpkins, sweet corn and kale, she said.

Garden Creek Farms in Challis is a diversified sustainable farm that raises organic produce and grain, grass-fed beef and fish and shellfish. It has the only certified organic commercial kitchen in the state, said Jerry D’Orazio, co-owner.

The operation produces organic soup for a company in Colorado, using mostly its own produce and can help other small producers with processing and packaging. The farm is part of a larger organization, Firstfruits Foundation, which wants to develop local markets and promote regional farms and food production, he said.

“The demand is there, you just have to get your food into the consumers’ hands. And we need to help ourselves” by pressing restaurants and retailers to offer local food, he said.

The panel members agreed the two biggest challenges to building a stronger local food economy are the limited amount of year-round production and a lack of processing.

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Washington farmers seek shield against agritourist lawsuits http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/washington-farmers-seek-shield-against-agritourist-lawsuits http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/washington-farmers-seek-shield-against-agritourist-lawsuits#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:26:13 -0500 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229966 OLYMPIA — Washington farmers with corn mazes, pumpkin patches and other visitor attractions are asking legislators to shield them from lawsuits by injured visitors who didn’t heed warning signs.

Many states, including Oregon and Idaho, have granted agritourism operators immunity from claims arising from injuries and deaths, as long as visitors are alerted to farm hazards.

Several farmers told the Senate agriculture committee at a hearing Feb. 16 that they warn customers about slippery ground, sharp-toothed animals and moving tractors. But they still see cringe-inducing behavior and fear bankrupting lawsuits.

“To be frank, it is a disheartening and sickening feeling to know my family is at risk,” Ellensburg U-pick pumpkin farmer Hilary Huffman said.

Senate Bill 5808 has cleared the low hurdle of passing the agriculture committee, on a 6-3 vote. The committee’s chairwoman, Moses Lake Republican Judy Warnick, sponsored the bill. The same legislation was introduced in the House, but was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and did not receive a hearing.

A lobbyist for lawyers who represent plaintiffs in civil suits, Larry Shannon of the Washington State Association for Justice, said state law already provides some liability protection for landowners who open their property for recreation. He said farmers could also have visitors sign waivers.

Shannon said he was concerned about the breadth of Warnick’s proposal.

“We’re talking largely about kids, putting them around heavy machinery, putting them into activities that have a danger that may not be apparent to those kids,” he said.

Farmers said they do what they can to keep kids and adults safe, but sometimes it’s not enough. “We’ve actually had to put signs up, telling people not to not to jump off our bridges, which are 12-feet tall in our corn maze,” said Rob Rutledge of Rutledge Corn Maze in Olympia.

Olympia farmer Jeff Schilter said he recently settled a lawsuit filed by an 83-year-old man who slipped at a private event on the farm, injuring his leg so severely that it had to be amputated. Schilter said he had suggested the event be canceled because of rain.

“We can’t put a sidewalk out in the middle of a field, just because of practicality, but also because of government regulations,” he said.

Many farmers said their families have been in agriculture for generations. They said they turned to agritourism to stay profitable.

Washington Farm Bureau director of government relations Tom Davis said that a Clark County farm with agri-tourist activities has seen its liability insurance rates increase by 400 percent the past two years.

“There is a problem that we need to fix,” he said. “There is a reason for this bill.”

To gain protection from lawsuits, farmers would have to post a sign warning visitors that they are assuming the risk.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170221/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170221/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:20:40 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229967 Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017

USDA Market News

All bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully

established in early trading.

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

In early trading March futures trended 0.75 of a cent to 2.75 cents per bushel lower compared to Friday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for February delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as steady to lower compared to Friday’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

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

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

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during February were not well tested in early trading but bids were indicated as lower compared to Friday’s noon bids. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during February were not well tested in early trading, but bids were indicated as lower compared to Friday’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

Feb 4.7325-4.8500

Mar 4.6325-4.8500

Apr 4.6250-4.8500

May 4.6250-4.8200

Aug NC 4.6700-4.8175

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb NA

Mar 4.6325-4.8000

Apr 4.6250-4.7700

May 4.6250-4.7700

Aug NC 4.7675-4.8000

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

Ordinary protein

Feb 4.8325-5.0000

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 4.5650-4.8050

11 pct protein 5.1550-5.4050

11.5 pct protein

Feb 5.4550-5.7050

Mar 5.4550-5.7050

Apr 5.4850-5.5850

May 5.4850-5.5350

Aug NC NA

12 pct protein 5.6050-5.8550

13 pct protein 5.9050-6.1550

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

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

13 pct protein 6.0375-6.1175

14 pct protein

Feb 6.5975-6.8775

Mar 6.5975-6.8775

Apr 6.5750-6.8750

May 6.5250-6.8250

Aug NC NA

15 pct protein 6.8775-7.2775

16 pct protein 7.1575-7.6775

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 4.8200-4.9700

Mar 4.7700-4.9700

Apr 4.5425-4.6425

May 4.5225-4.5425

Jun 4.5650

Jul 4.5650

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 11.0600-11.2800

Mar 10.9300-11.0300

Apr 11.0050

Oct 11.0450-11.1050

Nov 11.0450-11.0850

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jan 2017

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 4.6300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 4.3400

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.2400

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.8100

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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U.S. to expand pool of people targeted for deportation http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/us-to-expand-pool-of-people-targeted-for-deportation http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/us-to-expand-pool-of-people-targeted-for-deportation#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:17:54 -0500 ALICIA A. CALDWELL http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229968 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is greatly expanding the number of people living in the U.S. illegally who are considered a priority for deportation, including people arrested for traffic violations, according to agency documents released Tuesday.

The documents represent a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s immigration enforcement priorities.

The Homeland Security Department memos, signed by Secretary John Kelly, lay out that any immigrant living in the United States illegally who has been charged or convicted of any crime — and even those suspected of a crime — will now be an enforcement priority. That could include people arrested for shop lifting or minor traffic offenses.

The memos eliminate far more narrow guidance issued under the Obama administration that resources strictly on immigrants who had been convicted of serious crimes, threats to national security and recent border crossers.

Kelly’s memo also describes plans to enforce a long-standing but obscure provision of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act that allows the government to send some people caught illegally crossing the Mexican border back to Mexico, regardless of where they are from.

One of the memos says that foreigners sent back to Mexico would wait for their U.S. deportation proceedings to be complete. This would be used for people who aren’t considered a threat to cross the border illegally again, the memo said.

It’s unclear whether the United States has the authority to force Mexico to accept foreigners. That provision is almost certain to face opposition from civil libertarians and officials in Mexico.

Historically, the government has been able to quickly repatriate Mexican nationals caught at the border but would detain and try to formally deport immigrants from other countries, routinely flying them to their home countries. In some cases, those deportations can take years as immigrants ask for asylum or otherwise fight their deportation in court.

The memos do not change U.S. immigration laws, but take a far harder line toward enforcement.

The pair of directives do not have any impact on President Barack Obama’s program that has protected more than 750,000 young immigrants from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals remains in place though immigrants in the program will be still be eligible for deportation if they commit a crime or otherwise are deemed to be a threat to public safety or national security, according to the department.

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Forecast models expand to honeybees, tree fruit size http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/forecast-models-expand-to-honeybees-tree-fruit-size http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170221/forecast-models-expand-to-honeybees-tree-fruit-size#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:15:37 -0500 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229969 WENATCHEE, Wash. — A better model to predict timing of tree fruit blossoms and new models for best honeybee foraging and fruit size will be tested this year by Washington State University.

The improved and new models of WSU’s Decision Aid System (DAS) for tree fruit growers will be used for the first time by 13 out of 250 system users.

It’s sort of a road test of the models by growers, independent consultants and fieldmen of tree fruit companies, chemical dealers and organizations, said Vince Jones, DAS director and entomologist and behavioral ecologist at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

Jones, former center director and entomologist Jay Brunner and Gary Grove, WSU plant pathologist, developed DAS and launched it 10 years ago.

DAS uses current and historic weather data from 175 WSU AgWeatherNet stations to drive 10 insect and four disease models to help growers know when and how to combat pests and diseases, specific to areas around each station. The models are based on cumulative heat units called degree days.

DAS also predicts bloom, sunburn damage and storage scald.

Now models have been updated and new models developed with analyses Jones just finished last fall from a large data set collected from 2010 through 2014 at nine sites scattered throughout Central Washington. A total of 50 apples each — Red Delicious, Gala and Cripps Pink — were measured once or twice a week at each site throughout each season to track growth along with degree days.

“The relationship between proportion of final fruit size and degree days is a very tight relationship,” Jones said.

He developed models for those three varieties to estimate final fruit size early in the season and hopes to expand the work to other cultivars.

“It doesn’t tell you timing of maturity but timing of full size. It helps plan harvesting and what the harvest will be in fruit size category,” he said.

It also predicts when pesticide residue on apples will lessen, he said.

Data from the same research was used to more accurately predict bloom development from bud green tip to full bloom and petal fall, he said. Bud development also is closely tied to accumulated heat.

Better predictions of bud and bloom development helps growers with timing of pesticides and honeybee pollination of blossoms.

The new honeybee model uses temperature, wind speed, solar radiation and rainfall to predict best days for honeybee foraging for pollination.

It’s an adaptation of a model developed by Gloria Degrandi-Hoffman, entomologist at the USDA-ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz.

“At this point, pollination is sort of an art. This should give growers a guide that tells them that even if they have the bees in for seven days, the best two for foraging,” Jones said.

Jones and his associates also have developed a new model to better predict a season’s first generation of San Jose scale, a tree fruit pest. It also, for the first time, predicts the second generation.

They are working on models to help combat aphids, mites, pear psylla and to protect natural pest enemies.

At the state tree fruit association’s annual meeting in December, Nick Stephens, an East Wenatchee ag consultant, said DAS is the best tool for timing of sprays which reduces their overuse. DAS accurately predicted a bad year for fire blight in the Quincy area in 2016 and high heat in May that “cooked a bunch of small fruit,” he said. Growers using overhead cooling were helped, he said.

DAS’s $150,000 annual operating cost is paid by $150 user subscriptions per model per station and WSU funding and grants, Jones said. The goal is to reach 100 percent user-fee support, he said.

Not a lot of growers subscribe, but surveys show pest management consultants and fieldmen advising growers subscribe and use DAS to aid in management of about 90 percent of the tree fruit acreage in the state, he said.

Not all the growers need all the models.

“We are trying to cover the broad range of things that are predictable so the person can plan ahead,” Jones said. “It incorporates spray guides, forecasts and a whole range of things. We are trying to give the person as much information as they need all in one spot.”

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Wal-Mart tops Street 4Q forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/20170221/wal-mart-tops-street-4q-forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/20170221/wal-mart-tops-street-4q-forecasts#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:15:05 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229970 BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $3.76 billion.

On a per-share basis, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said it had net income of $1.22. Earnings, adjusted for severance costs, came to $1.30 per share.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.29 per share.

The world’s largest retailer posted revenue of $130.94 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $130.55 billion.

Wal-Mart expects full-year earnings to be $4.20 to $4.40 per share.

Wal-Mart shares have climbed slightly since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen 5 percent. The stock has climbed 8 percent in the last 12 months.

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Progress made on reducing Yellowstone bison herd http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20170221/progress-made-on-reducing-yellowstone-bison-herd http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20170221/progress-made-on-reducing-yellowstone-bison-herd#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:03:36 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229971 BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife managers estimate that more than 570 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed so far this winter.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the numbers show that bison managers are making progress on their goal to eliminate 1,300 bison from the Yellowstone herd. A 2000 management plan calls for a population of 3,000 bison in the region, but about 5,500 live there now.

A Yellowstone report says 179 bison have been transferred to Native American tribes for slaughter and 359 have been killed by hunters as of last Friday.

A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report on the bison hunt compiled last week shows a lower number of confirmed bison kills but says officials believe more the total number of bison hunted and killed is already above 400.

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Sticker shock for olive oil buyers after bad Italian harvest http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/sticker-shock-for-olive-oil-buyers-after-bad-italian-harvest http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/sticker-shock-for-olive-oil-buyers-after-bad-italian-harvest#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:59:00 -0500 COLLEEN BARRYand MARIA GRAZIA MURRUAP Business Writer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229972 ROME (AP) — From specialty shops in Rome to supermarkets around the world, lovers of Italian olive oil are in for some sticker shock this year, with prices due to jump by as much as 20 percent.

The combination of bad weather and pests hit the harvest in Southern Europe, most of all in Italy, where production is halved from last fall. That’s pushing up Italian wholesale prices by 64 percent as of mid-February compared with a year earlier, which translates to shelf price increases of 15 to 20 percent in Italy.

In other countries, the ultimate price increases will depend on several factors — such as how much retailers take on the costs themselves and the change in currency values. The U.S., for example, is likely to see a more modest rise in price as a stronger dollar keeps a lid on the cost of imports.

Italy’s harvest was especially hard hit by the combination of early rains that knocked buds off the trees and the threat of an olive fly that forced an early harvest, further cutting yields. Wholesale prices of olive oil from Spain, the world’s largest producers, are up a more modest 10 percent, with yields similar to last year’s.

Vincenzo Iacovissi, the owner of the Sapor d’Olio olive oil shop in Rome, says sales have dropped, though he’s tried to ease the shock for customers by explaining why prices have gone up.

“When there are increases of 15 to 20 percent there is some impact on sales. However, explaining the reasons for this increase has in part helped to make up for this,” Iacovissi said.

Italians collectively consume about 35 percent of the world’s olive oil, leading Spain at 30 percent, and that affinity makes them pretty resilient as consumers.

Flaminia Leoni, a 50-year-old mother of four, buys 80 to 100 liters of olive oil a year for her family and says that at most she will consider substituting lower quality olive oil for extra virgin for cooking — but not on the table, where olive oil is a staple giving accent to pasta, meats, salads and vegetables.

“I buy it more or less always at the same price, in truth, maybe a euro more. But I haven’t found this enormous growth in price,” she said.

Cedric Casanova, the owner of an Italian grocery in Paris, said he was hoping to get 30,000 liters of olive oil delivered, but received just 8,000 liters. He will have to rely on leftover stock from last year to help make up for the remaining difference — and absorb some of the price increase himself.

“I’m working with a standard price, by trying to assume the cost myself,” he said.

With global stocks down just 14 percent, no one is predicting general olive oil shortages, even with a 75 percent increase in consumption of olive oil over the last 25 years as demand pushed into non-traditional markets. The market for olive oil in the period has grown by two-fold in the United States, seven-fold in Britain and 14 fold in Japan, according to Italy’s Coldiretti farm lobby, even if continental Europe remains by far the largest market.

Italian olive oil is more vulnerable than that of other major producers to climate shifts and pests due to its varied topography, from hills in the north to larger groves in the south. This also lends great variety to Italian olive oil, where unique flavors are derived from a combination of the terrain, topography and the more than 400 olive varieties, according to Nicola Di Noia, an olive oil expert for the Coldiretti farm lobby.

“We have hundreds of different varieties of olives that are more difficult to defend compared with Spain or northern Africa, where there are big groves that are easier to manage,” Di Noia said.

He said the challenge is educating consumers about why they pay for quality.

“We need to learn to choose oils with awareness. Extra-virgin is the juice of a fruit. The primary material from which it derives is very important. Therefore, oil should be tasted and smelled,” he said.

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Tim Hortons owner adding Popeyes to holdings http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170221/tim-hortons-owner-adding-popeyes-to-holdings http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170221/tim-hortons-owner-adding-popeyes-to-holdings#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:56:27 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229973 NEW YORK (AP) — The parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons is buying Popeyes for $1.8 billion, with plans to accelerate the growth of the fried chicken chain.

Such a move fits Restaurant Brands International’s strategy of taking over well-known fast-food chains that it believes have the potential for wider expansion. While Popeyes has a presence in almost every state, its locations now are concentrated in the eastern half of the continental U.S.

Josh Kobza, Restaurant Brands’ chief financial officer, said Tuesday the company plans to speed up Popeyes’ expansion, as it has done with Burger King.

Restaurant Brands was created after Burger King, controlled by Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, bought Tim Hortons in 2014. The corporate name it took signaled the company’s aim of expanding its stable of fast-food chains. In the meantime, Restaurant Brands has been striking deals with local operators to open additional Burger Kings around the world.

However, Cowen analyst Andrew Charles said last week that the company has not yet accomplished its goal of expanding Tim Hortons internationally. Although Tim Hortons has signed three master franchise development agreements in the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Mexico, Charles noted no stores have yet opened under those deals.

Stephen Anderson, a Maxim Group analyst, noted last week that Popeyes has had stronger sales performance worldwide in the past two years compared to Burger King and Tim Hortons.

The deal gives shareholders of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. $79 per share, a 19 percent premium from its closing price on Friday.

Restaurant Brands International Inc., based in suburban Toronto, has more than 20,000 locations globally, and Popeyes would give it about 2,600 more.

By comparison, McDonald’s Corp. had more than 36,800 locations around the world at the end of 2016. Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has more than 43,600.

Restaurant Brands makes money from fees it charges franchisees who operate Burger King and Tim Hortons restaurants. It has also been improving its financial results by cutting costs, the same strategy 3G has employed with another of its investments, Kraft Heinz.

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Fresh Del Monte Produce posts 4Q profit http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170221/fresh-del-monte-produce-posts-4q-profit http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170221/fresh-del-monte-produce-posts-4q-profit#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:54:04 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229974 CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter net income of $12 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Coral Gables, Florida-based company said it had net income of 23 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs, were 26 cents per share.

The food producer posted revenue of $954.6 million in the period.

For the year, the company reported profit of $225.1 million, or $4.33 per share. Revenue was reported as $4.01 billion.

Del Monte shares have declined almost 4 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has climbed 45 percent in the last 12 months.

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UN agency: Almost 1.4 million children face ‘imminent death’ in famine http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/un-agency-almost-14-million-children-face-imminent-death-in-famine http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/un-agency-almost-14-million-children-face-imminent-death-in-famine#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:52:28 -0500 The http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229975 JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The United Nations children’s agency is warning that almost 1.4 million children are at “imminent risk of death” as famine threatens parts of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

The UNICEF announcement comes a day after famine was declared in parts of Unity state in South Sudan, where civil war has raged since late 2013 and where severe inflation has made food unaffordable for many.

UNICEF for months has warned about severe malnutrition in northeastern Nigeria, especially in areas that have been largely inaccessible because of the Boko Haram insurgency. The agency says nearly 500,000 children are expected to face severe malnutrition this year in Borno, Yobi and Adamawa states.

The agency says Somalia also faces drought and in Yemen’s conflict, nearly half a million children have “severe acute malnutrition.”

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Idaho irrigators back bills fighting Oregon fish plan http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/idaho-irrigators-back-bills-fighting-oregon-fish-plan http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170221/idaho-irrigators-back-bills-fighting-oregon-fish-plan#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:36:56 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229976 BOISE — Idaho irrigators are backing four bills in the state Legislature challenging the State of Oregon’s attempt to reintroduce endangered fish into the Snake River watershed upstream of the Hells Canyon Complex of dams.

For decades, the Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells Canyon dams — which provide about 30 percent of Idaho Power Co.’s total energy — have blocked the migration of anadromous salmon and steelhead trout, which once spawned in the upstream channel and tributaries.

The original federal license to operate the complex expired in 2005. As part of the ongoing relicensing process, Oregon issued a draft Clean Water Act certification re-establishing the historic migration, in conflict with Idaho’s draft certification.

In late December, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dismissed Idaho Power’s petition requesting that it step in and settle the dispute between the states.

Four bills, drafted by the Idaho Water Users Association, were introduced Feb. 14 in the House Resources and Conservation Committee concerning Oregon’s plan. House Joint Memorial 002 would formally express the Legislature’s opposition to re-introduction due to the “drastic impacts on irrigated agriculture, industry, water supply and electric generation.” The joint memorial concludes Oregon’s plan would impair Idaho’s sovereignty over its water resources, thereby violating the State Water Plan.

“(HJM 002) will support the longstanding position of the Legislature, as well as the governor, that there will be no endangered fish above Hells Canyon. Not only no, but heck no,” said Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, a farmer who heads the House committee. “It’s an issue that Oregon wants and Idaho pays for.”

On the same day, the committee also printed three bills clarifying Idaho code on forced reintroduction of an endangered species by another state. HB 169 would broaden a state law requiring the Idaho Legislature’s blessing before the federal government or another state can forcibly introduce a species.

HB 170 clarifies that Idaho has primacy over its state waters and prohibits any species introduction that could threaten that primacy, without state consent.

HB 171 grants the Hells Canyon Complex a special exemption to an Idaho law requiring infrastructure for fish passage past dams and other water obstructions.

Marilyn Fonseca, hydropower program coordinator with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, said her state has extended a public comment period on the draft Clean Water Act certification until Feb. 28. Oregon would like to introduce salmon and steelhead into Pine Creek — a tributary that originates in Oregon and connects with the main-stem Snake upstream of the dams — and expand to other tributaries based on the level of success. The plan would require Idaho Power to trap and transport trout to assist them on their migration back to the Pacific Ocean.

Fonseca explained her state considers fish passage to be integral in meeting its own EPA-approved water-quality standards.

“We’re certainly aware that (Idaho) is not happy with the inclusion of fish passage, but we are continuing with that process,” Fonseca said.

She said Idaho, Oregon and Idaho Power officials are already collaborating on efforts to address water-quality impairment upstream of Hells Canyon, due largely to agricultural nutrients and sediment.

Idaho Power spokesman Brad Bowlin said his company supports the irrigators’ bills, noting 95 percent of the company’s customers are in Idaho.

“We really think this water quality certification process is not the appropriate place to introduce this passage and reintroduction issue,” Bowlin said.

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France slaughtering all ducks in key region due to bird flu http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/france-slaughtering-all-ducks-in-key-region-due-to-bird-flu http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170221/france-slaughtering-all-ducks-in-key-region-due-to-bird-flu#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:34:13 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229977 PARIS (AP) — France’s agriculture ministry has ordered all remaining 600,000 ducks in a key poultry-producing region slaughtered to try to stem a growing outbreak of bird flu.

A previous cull in southwestern France failed to stop the spread of the H5N8 virus, which has hit ducks and other birds in more than 300 French farms in the last few months. Most are in the Landes, a foie gras-producing region where the new slaughter is focused.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said on France Bleu radio Tuesday that the flu spread faster than expected. He said all 600,000 farmed ducks in the Landes would be killed and measures would be taken to better secure transport of poultry and limit their mobility.

The virus does not transmit via food and is harmless to humans.

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NASA aims to measure vital snow data from satellites http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20170221/nasa-aims-to-measure-vital-snow-data-from-satellites http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20170221/nasa-aims-to-measure-vital-snow-data-from-satellites#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:32:52 -0500 DAN ELLIOTT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229978 DENVER (AP) — Instrument-laden aircraft are surveying the Colorado high country this month as scientists search for better ways to measure how much water is locked up in the world’s mountain snows — water that sustains a substantial share of the global population.

A NASA-led experiment called SnowEx is using five aircraft to test 10 sensors that might one day be used to monitor snow from satellites. The goal: Find the ideal combination to overcome multiple obstacles, including how to analyze snow hidden beneath forest canopies.

“It would be, I would say, a monumental leap in our ability to forecast water supply if we had this kind of information,” said Noah Molotch, a member of the science team for the experiment.

One-sixth of the world’s population gets most of its fresh water from snow that melts and runs into waterways, said Ed Kim, a NASA researcher and lead scientist for SnowEx. “Right there, it’s hugely important for people,” he said.

Snow has other consequences for society as well, including floods, droughts and even political stability when water is scarce, Kim said.

The key to predicting how much water will pour out of mountain snows each spring is a measurement called snow water equivalent. The global average is 30 percent of snow depth, Kim said — 10 inches of snow melts down to 3 inches of water.

But a single mountain snowbank contains multiple layers with different snow water equivalents, making measurement difficult. The layers were dropped by successive storms with different moisture contents, and then lingered under different weather conditions before the next storm covered them.

A further complication: At times during the winter, some snow melts, so water will flow through the interior of the snowbank, distorting or absorbing signals from remote sensors.

No single instrument can overcome all the obstacles.

“We have these different sensing techniques. Each one works to a certain degree,” Kim said. “What’s the optimal combination?”

Two SnowEx sensors will measure snow depth: Radar and LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging. LIDAR uses laser pulses to measure distance.

Four sensors will measure snow density: three other types of radar, plus a passive microwave instrument, which detects how much of the Earth’s natural microwave radiation the snow is blocking.

Two thermal infrared sensors will measure temperature.

A hyperspectral imager and a multispectral imager will measure how much sunlight the snow is reflecting, which helps determine how fast it will melt.

Aircraft will take the instruments on multiple passes over two areas in western Colorado, Grand Mesa and Senator Beck Basin. Ground crews will also analyze the snow to verify how accurate the instruments are.

One key technology used to predict snow runoff in the American West is the Snow Telemetry Network, or SNOTEL, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

More than 800 automated SNOTEL ground stations scattered across the West measure the depth and weight of the snow, the temperature and other data and transmit them to a central database. Federal agencies use SNOTEL to produce daily state-by-state reports and maps on how the current snow water equivalent compares to the long-term average.

Water utilities, farmers, public safety agencies and wildland firefighters track the updates closely to help predict how much drinking and irrigation water will be available in the spring and whether they will face floods or fire-inducing droughts.

SNOTEL collects data from individual points, but the “holy grail of mountain hydrology” is a way to estimate the distribution of snow water equivalent across broad mountain landscapes, said Molotch, who is also director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Water, Earth Science and Technology.

SnowEx could be a step toward that, he said.

Government agencies that forecast the spring runoff say satellite data on snow water equivalent would help them, although they base their predictions on multiple sources of information, including rain, temperature and current river flows.

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, one of 13 National Weather Service centers that predict floods or river shortages nationwide, uses some NASA satellite data now, hydrologist Paul Miller said.

Satellite images show how much of the region has snow cover and how much dust is on the snow, he said. Dusty snow is darker, so it absorbs more heat and melts faster.

Snow water equivalent data from satellites “would be another source of information that we could look toward as guidance,” Miller said. “It would definitely be something we would monitor and we would explore.”

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Creeks, rivers top banks after latest California storm http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20170221/creeks-rivers-top-banks-after-latest-california-storm http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20170221/creeks-rivers-top-banks-after-latest-california-storm#Comments Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:26:36 -0500 KRISTIN J, BENDER http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229979 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Creeks and rivers topped their banks, hundreds of homes were evacuated and several thousand people found themselves trapped in a rural hamlet as Northern California emerged Tuesday from yet another winter storm.

The atmospheric river of moisture that has saturated drought-parched ground with a series of drenching storms in recent weeks returned with a vengeance to the north on Monday after briefly focusing its fury on Southern California.

The downpours swelled watercourses that already teetered near or above flood levels and left about half of the state under flood, wind and snow advisories.

However, the storm system began to weaken late Monday night and was moving away after dumping 1.86 inches of rain in San Francisco, around 2 inches in much of the Central Valley and more than 7 inches in the mountains above Big Sur, the National Weather Service reported.

“Current radar and satellite data show the primary cold frontal rainband extending northeast to southwest through southern Santa Clara County and northern Monterey County, and weakening as it progresses inland,” according to the forecast.

Scattered showers were expected to continue Tuesday, though.

On Monday, a levee break along the San Joaquin River prompted an evacuation order for about 500 people living in mainly ranch and farmland near Manteca, San Joaquin County authorities said.

Some farmers took their tractors and other equipment to the levee to help shore it up, Manteca resident Dino Warda told television station KCRA.

Crews finally filled in the breach and at least temporarily halted the leak Monday night but the evacuation order remain in effect late Monday night and a flash flood warning was in effect into Tuesday.

Water had been backing up almost to the top of the San Joaquin River levees before the downpour.

“When the water gets that high and more water is coming, there is just too much pressure and levees can break,” said Tim Daly, a spokesman with the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services.

In Monterey County, people living along a section of the Carmel River were told to leave, as were those in a neighborhood of Salinas near Santa Rita Creek and a few people in rural Royal Oaks, where a mudslide encroached on a home.

In Lake County, northwest of Sacramento, about 100 homes in two mobile home parks and nearby streets were ordered evacuated because nearby Clear Lake was a foot above flood stage, county Sheriff Brian Martin said.

More homes could be placed under evacuation order along the 75-mile shoreline as the water slowly rises, Martin said.

“It’s very serious,” he said Monday night of the potential for flooding. “There’s going to be widespread property damage ... our ground’s been saturated.”

No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, about 2,000 people in the remote community of Spring Valley were blocked in because one of two entrance roads to the hamlet washed away and mudslides closed the other, Martin said.

“Our deputies are basically hiking in and hiking out,” Martin said.

Authorities hope to use a temporary bridge to reopen it in the next few days.

The Carmel River, which has flooded several times in the past month, was expected to rise to nearly 11 feet by Tuesday, which would be a moderate flood stage, while the Salinas River near Spreckels could reach nearly to the moderate flood stage of 26 feet by Tuesday night, which could inundate the Monterey-Salinas Highway, the Monterey Herald reported.

The Big Sur River reached its moderate flood stage of 10 feet Monday morning and was expected to crest at 12 feet, the paper reported.

“The ground is saturated, and all rainfall at this point is increasing not only the pooling along the lower-lying elevations but also the river levels,” said Eric Ulwelling, a division chief with the Monterey County Regional Fire District.

A pre-evacuation advisory was issued for a community in Madera County after water discharges from Bass Lake were increased and threatened to swell rivers, officials said.

At the Don Pedro reservoir, which captures water from the Tuolumne River, a key tributary of the San Joaquin, operators had to open a spillway for the first time in 20 years.

In Napa County, water flowed into Lake Berryessa’s unique spillway for the first time in more than 10 years.

The Monticello Dam Morning Glory Spillway, also known as the Glory Hole, operates similarly to a bathtub drain for the Northern California lake.

The last time it spilled over was in 2006.

Elsewhere, the water level kept falling at Oroville Dam, where a damaged spillway had raised major flood concerns and prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people a week ago.

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Breadmaker relies on ancient grains http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170220/breadmaker-relies-on-ancient-grains http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170220/breadmaker-relies-on-ancient-grains#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:21:08 -0500 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229980 SPOKANE — When baker Shaun Thompson Duffy and his family moved to Spokane five years ago, he found the close proximity to the Palouse — one of the nation’s most productive wheat-growing areas — appealing.

“It just sort of makes sense for a bread baker to be here,” Thompson Duffy said. “There’s so much potential here, with food, with grains, with life in general.”

Thompson Duffy owns Culture Breads. He sells his breads at the Rocket Market and Doma Coffee, and through subscription.

He maxed out at 50 customers, and had to get a bigger oven to take on more people. He still has a waiting list of 150 people.

He said he intends to open a storefront in the Perry District in south Spokane at the end of August.

Originally from Texas, Thompson Duffy attended culinary school and was a chef in Las Vegas, New York City and hotels in Texas and Chicago, where he began, in his words, “exploring” bread.

“You can be at the top of the bread game but you can still have a life,” he said. “And you can really do it on your own terms.”

Thompson Duffy, 36, uses ancient, heritage or landrace grains, including spelt, einkorn, rye, Khorasan wheat, Turkey Red wheat, sonora wheat, Egyptian barley and Red Russian wheat, of which he says, “It’s my favorite grain in the world.”

He buys the grains from area farmers.

Carole Landt, a Reardan, Wash., farmer, provided Thompson Duffy with Khorasan wheat, or kamut, an ancient wheat whose grains are double the size of other wheat.

“I think he’s a caring individual that wants to make great, healthy bread for people,” she said. “I believe in that process, and I’d sure like to move that movement along.”

Don Scheuerman is co-founder of Palouse Heritage, which raises heirloom landrace grains in Endicott, Wash. He hopes Thompson Duffy is successful as “a voice in educating about bread” and provides “landrace breads to the Spokane market that are good for the soul, the soil, the environment and the health of his friends and customers.”

Thompson Duffy currently mills his grains in Post Falls, Idaho, once a week and bakes using a custom wood-burning oven in south Spokane. He will switch to twice a week as the weather gets warmer and move a mill into the bakery.

He gives talks about bread and setting up bakeries or pizza shops in the region, and offers bread-baking classes at Spokane public libraries.

He hopes to encourage businesses to use whole grains for flavor, nutrition and digestibility.

Thompson Duffy eventually wants 7 to 9 tons of each grain each year, although he’s interested in smaller amounts, too.

Thompson Duffy is looking for farmers who use natural practices and no chemicals. He’s also willing to contract-mill grains for farmers looking to sell flour.

“I’m looking for the funkiest grains, just stuff that’s good and cool and whole,” he said. “I don’t really use a lot of modern wheat. I’m not one of those guys who doesn’t use modern wheat, but ... the funkier the better.”

Thompson Duffy can be reached at culturebreads@gmail.com

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California dairy groups weigh USDA marketing order proposal http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20170220/california-dairy-groups-evaluating-usda-marketing-order-proposal http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20170220/california-dairy-groups-evaluating-usda-marketing-order-proposal#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:46:04 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229981 California dairymen are nearing the finish line in their efforts to establish a federal milk marketing order for the state, after the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service published its recommended decision.

“It’s been a long process. We’ve wanted this for many, many years,” said Lynne McBride, executive director of California Dairy Campaign.

USDA’s proposal isn’t all that producers had hoped for, but the process isn’t over. There will be a 90-day comment period, and the final proposal will go to a statewide referendum of producers.

“We want to make sure we follow it through. The stakes are really high,” McBride said.

Led by the state’s three major dairy co-ops, the initiative came from years of frustration over the price producers receive for milk going into cheese vats. That price was consistently and significantly below the price of like milk in federal orders.

California Dairies Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes developed a federal order proposal and petitioned USDA in February 2015. USDA held public hearings on that proposal and three others in the fall of 2015.

USDA’s proposal isn’t exactly what the three co-ops proposed, but it’s not the final proposal, said Kevin Abernathy, general manager of the Milk Producers Council.

MPC is now “looking under the hood” to understand how the federal order would work and how it compares to the state’s marketing system.

“MPC is really excited about the process and the opportunity. It’s a process we waited for. … Now we’ve got something to look at,” he said.

Producers’ goal in a federal order is to raise minimum prices on all classes of California milk, particularly Class 4b — cheese milk, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s production.

Two of the anticipated wildcards in a USDA proposal were the co-ops’ provisions to maintain the state’s quota system and the state’s all-inclusive pooling.

USDA will have a public meeting on its federal milk marketing order proposal from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 22 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, 808 Fourth St., Clovis, Calif. The meeting will be webcast online with a link posted at www.ams.usda.gov/caorder.

USDA’s proposal does maintain the quota system, which provides additional payments to Grade A producers holding quota certificates. But like the 10 other FMMOs, it does not require all processors to participate in the pool and pay regulated minimum prices for milk, except for Class 1.

The pooling provision is something producers need to learn more about, and the Dairy Campaign will be looking at it closely, given utilization in the state, McBride said.

The co-ops and dairy producer organizations have put a tremendous amount of time and resources into the effort to establish a federal order, and the proposal deserves close attention to detail and what it would mean on the ground to dairy producers, she said.

MPC will be running models to determine what the pool looks like under USDA’s proposal and how it would work, Abernathy said.

MPC has been holding conference calls with people who know and understand California’s system and federal orders and will be making recommendations to USDA during the comment period.

In a statement to Capital Press, DFA said the three co-ops and the producer community continue to support the effort for a federal order and it is now reviewing and analyzing USDA’s proposal.

Online

For more information, including an economic analysis of the proposal, visit: www.ams.usda.gov/caorder

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WDFW cites threats as reason to tighten release of wolf records http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170220/wdfw-cites-threats-as-reason-to-tighten-release-of-wolf-records http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20170220/wdfw-cites-threats-as-reason-to-tighten-release-of-wolf-records#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:27:36 -0500 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229982 OLYMPIA — Legislation to shield Washington wildlife managers and ranchers from death threats also could bar the public from learning where wolves are attacking livestock and what steps are being taken to prevent depredations.

The House State Government Committee has unanimously endorsed withholding public records that name ranchers who report and state employees who respond to depredations.

House Bill 1465 also would bar releasing “any information regarding the location of the depredation” that “reasonably could be used” to identify any person. The names of ranchers who sign agreements to use non-lethal measures to deter depredations also would be exempt from disclosure.

The bill stems from unspecified threats last summer as the Department of Fish and Wildlife shot seven wolves in the Profanity Peak pack in the Colville National Forest. One producer told the Capital Press that the ranch was receiving daily death threats.

WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello, whose name appeared frequently in the media as the agency’s spokesman, told the committee at a hearing this month that he was so alarmed that he sent his family to a hotel.

In Ferry County, where the state shot wolves, Sheriff Ray Maycumber said in an interview that phone calls, emails, Internet postings and second-hand reports raised concerns. “We heard some pretty violent rhetoric,” he said.

No arrests were made and no suspects were questioned, he said. “Nothing struck us as clear and present.

“If I had had something solid to go on, I would have spent money I don’t have to put a deputy on a plane to fly somewhere and make an arrest to set an example,” Maycumber said. “It would have been very beneficial to everybody if I’d been able to arrest someone.”

Under current disclosure laws, WDFW limited the release of information last summer, providing sporadic updates on its search for wolves. WDFW didn’t respond to a Washington State University researcher’s claim that a rancher elected to release cattle “on top” of the pack’s den.

Six days after the Seattle Times reported the claim, WSU released a statement calling the allegation against the rancher inaccurate.

Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen, who ranches in adjoining Stevens County, said that during the operation in Ferry County “the crazies came out of the woodwork.”

He said he couldn’t support withholding information about damage-prevention agreements between the state and ranchers.

The agreements make ranchers eligible for compensation for lost livestock and added expenses, such as hiring more cowboys to guard herds.

“If you’re going to take state dollars and give it to ranchers for any reason, you better not keep it secret from folks,” Nielsen said. “I think the people have the right to know that.”

Rowland Thompson, a lobbyist for two newspaper trade groups, likened the ranchers to crime victims.

State law already allows the names of crime victims to be withheld.

Thompson also said the organizations are not concerned about disclosing where state employees live.

“We are concerned about the location of (the depredations), and we are concerned about what is done with these complaints,” he said.

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National wool and sheep report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170220/national-wool-and-sheep-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170220/national-wool-and-sheep-report#Comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:00:40 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170229983 Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.

NATIONAL WOOL REVIEW

(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

Feb. 17

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

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50

NATIONAL SHEEP SUMMARY

(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Feb. 17

Compared to Feb. 10: Compared to last week slaughter lambs were mostly steady to $10 higher. Slaughter ewes and feeder lambs were not well tested.

At San Angelo, Texas, 2,459 head sold. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes were not tested; no comparison on feeder lambs. 3,200 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady to $1 lower. 11,800 head of formula sales had no trend due to confidentiality.

3,427 lamb carcasses sold with 65 lbs. down no trend due to confidentiality; 65-85 lbs. $5.29-5.30 lower and 85 lbs. up no trend due to confidentiality.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 110-145 lbs. $126-146, few $154.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $238-260; 60-70 lbs. $230-246; 70-80 lbs. $220-230, few $242-246; 80-90 lbs. $196-210, few $230; 90-110 lbs. $170-194, few $214-226.

DIRECT TRADING (Lambs with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent):

3,200 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 128-175 lbs. $123.75-164 (wtd avg $141.13).

SLAUGHTER EWES:

San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) no test; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $97-108; Utility 1-2 (thin) $92; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $62-67; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $58.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: No test.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: mixed age hair ewes 90-140 lbs. $100-121 cwt.

NATIONAL WEEKLY LAMB CARCASS Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. and down 487.88

45-55 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

55-65 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

65-75 lbs. $284.89

75-85 lbs. $273.69

85 lbs. and up Price not reported

due to confidentiality

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

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