Capital Press | Capital Press Sun, 12 Jul 2015 15:19:46 -0400 en Capital Press | Parent firm of Yogi Tea plans expansion Thu, 9 Jul 2015 09:03:02 -0400 SHERRI BURI MCDONALDThe Register-Guard EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Fueled by growing demand for its lineup of hot teas, the maker of Yogi Tea plans to roughly double its space by building a $12 million facility in west Eugene.

East West Tea Co., Yogi’s parent company, plans to buy 13 acres of vacant land in the Westec Business Park off Highway 126, where it will build a plant and offices totaling 150,000 to 200,000 square feet, CEO Conrad Myers said.

“We have property in escrow,” he said. “We’re deciding whether to start with 150,000 square feet and later enlarge (it), or build out the whole thing at once.”

The company, which has 103 U.S. employees — about 85 of them in the Eugene-Springfield area — plans to expand its workforce as it expands production, Myers said.

The company plans to add five employees in the U.S. by the end of the year, and forecasts adding 30 to 40 positions from 2016 to 2018, said Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, director of global community relations and HR development.

East West Tea Co. is owned by the Sikh Dharma religious community, which is based in Espanola, New Mexico, and was founded by the late Yogi Bhajan.

The tea company is what remains of Golden Temple of Oregon, a food and beverage company that was started by the local Sikh community in the early 1970s and became a pillar of Lane County’s natural food industry.

The investment in the new plant continues that longtime local presence, Myers said, adding, “we’re here for the long haul.”

East West Tea is the unnamed food company that The Register-Guard reported in late April was trying to decide whether to expand at the site in Westec or one farther west in Greenhill Technology Park.

The company ultimately chose Westec, Myers said, because “we think it’s an easier site to build on.”

“We think the soil conditions are better,” he said. “There are some wetland remediation issues not yet complete on the other site, which lends some uncertainty.”

East West Tea hopes to break ground next summer and to move into the new building in mid-2017, Khalsa said.

However, the timeline will be determined by what the company discovers in its due diligence, Myers said. He said the company’s lease for its International Way facility in Springfield expires in September 2018.

“We’ve given ourselves plenty of time to make good decisions and work with our landlord partners,” Myers said.

The 13.3-acre Westec parcel is between Oregon Lox Co. and Lane Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home and is owned by developers John Hammer and Richard Hunsaker, according to Lane County property records.

It is in the west Eugene Enterprise Zone, which offers expanding companies three to five years of property tax waivers.

Myers said they had not calculated the tax savings associated with a waiver.

But “that’s not our prime motivation,” Myers said. “Our prime motivation is our business is growing. We’re situated in several locations. That’s not the most efficient way to run our business, and it doesn’t make it cohesive for our employees.”

When the company opens the new plant, it will close three facilities it leases: a 38,000-square-foot headquarters and factory at 950 International Way in Springfield’s Gateway area, a 32,000-square-foot warehouse in west Eugene, and a 14,000 square-foot warehouse in Coburg, Myers said.

He declined to provide detailed financial figures for the privately held company. But he said, “we’ve had excellent growth both here and in Europe over the last two years.”

In addition to the Springfield site, East West Tea has an office in Portland; European headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, where Myers has been based since the managing director there resigned in November 2013, and a tea packaging plant in Imola, Italy, near Bologna.

East West Tea makes about 60 products for the U.S. market and introduces two to three new products each year, Myers said.

It is pushing to make its products in the U.S. with 100 percent organic ingredients -- something the company has already achieved in Europe, Myers said.

In June 2014, it introduced a recyclable K-Cup product for Keurig brewing machines, he said.

The Yogi brand’s niche in the tea market has always been in “functional, wellness teas,” a niche that is growing more quickly than the overall tea market, Myers said.

U.S. retail sales of tea and ready-to-drink tea in bottles or cans were $7.3 billion in 2014, up nearly 20 percent from 2009, according to Mintel International, a market research firm. Sales are projected to continue to grow at least through 2019.

“The great majority (of Yogi teas) have a functional purpose, with roots in Ayurvedic wellness and medicine,” Myers said. “That’s our sweet spot: They’re functional and delicious.”

Over the past decade, Yogi Tea has made the leap from natural food stores into mass retailers, such as Walmart and Target.

“There are many, many more opportunities to find our products,” Myers said.

For now, East West Tea makes bagged teas and K-Cups, but other products are “always a possibility,” Myers said. “We have a strong brand. Our main focus is on tea. Despite this being a 30-year-old company, it continues to grow like a much younger one.”

Yogi tea had sales of $27 million in 2009, according to court documents filed as part of lengthy legal dispute with a group of then-Golden Temple managers, including former Golden Temple CEO and Eugene resident Kartar Singh Khalsa.

In December 2011, a Multnomah County judge found the group of Golden Temple managers was unjustly enriched by a 2007 corporate restructuring that shifted 90 percent of ownership in Golden Temple to the executives and away from the Sikh Dharma community. The judge ordered the managers to return $36 million to the Sikh community.

The former management group left the company in fall 2012, Myers said. In a settlement reached in late 2012, Kartar Singh Khalsa agreed, among other terms, to relinquish ownership interest in Golden Temple valued at $23.5 million.

That dispute “is tremendously behind us,” Myers said.

However, a different lawsuit is ongoing. It involves allegations of trademark infringement by Yogi Bhajan’s widow, Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Puri, a Los Angeles resident.

“There is unresolved litigation with the widow,” Myers said. “We hope it will be resolved. We’d like to have a settlement. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Arbitrators found several years ago that the Yogi brand name belongs to Yogi Bhajan’s heirs. The yogi died in 2004, leaving half of his estate to his wife and half to a group of 15 female former assistants.

Myers said East West Tea has received authorization to use the trademark from the group of Yogi Bhajan’s former assistants.

The cereal brands Golden Temple built, including Peace Cereal and others, are now owned by Post Holdings, the parent company of Post Foods.


1960s-70s: Yogi Bhajan served a spicy tea after yoga classes, which students called “Yogi Tea.” It was served in restaurants founded by the Sikh Dharma community.

1984: Sikh Dharma community founded a tea company in Los Angeles

1992: Tea company moved to Eugene and was located with Golden Temple of Oregon, which produced cereal products

2008: Tea production moved to facility at 950 International Way in Springfield

2010: All tea production and operations moved to Springfield after Golden Temple cereal division was sold

Future: Plans to build a large tea plant in Westec Business Park in west Eugene

Researcher seeks new markets for crops Fri, 10 Jul 2015 16:20:41 -0400 Matw Weaver PULLMAN, Wash. — Girish Ganjyal stands by as his team of graduate students tests materials in hopes of building a better puffed cereal.

As Ganjyal watches, Ryan Kowalski compares corn, wheat and tapioca starches, pushing samples through an extruder, which heats them under pressure so they come out puffed in a long strand. Students Bon-Jae Gu slices the strand to make samples and Sravya Kallu bags them for testing.

Ganjyal’s work in the value-added processing laboratory at Washington State University seeks to increase the nutritional value of the puffs, but still maintain their taste and texture.

The project is one of many the laboratory undertakes to find new markets for crops Washington farmers grow and to help processors perfect their products.

Other research projects include:

• Increasing soft white wheat uses in tortillas and cereals.

• New uses for pea and lentil starches and proteins.

• New uses for quinoa, a popular gluten-free crop.

• Reducing splits and cracks in cherries during packing.

• A new drying process for apple packing.

• Making candies from leftover cherry materials.

The lab indirectly helps farmers by creating more markets for their crops, Ganjyal said. For example, sprouted wheat isn’t good for bread. The dough, instead of being elastic, becomes viscous. But it could be used for tortillas or in powder used to make energy drinks, Ganjyal said.

Another project looks at the waste from fruit juice processing. The lab is studying different pomaces, which can improve the juice by adding fiber and improving the taste.

The laboratory also provides technical assistance to processors.

Colleen Lamb-Gunnerson, owner of Dungeness River Lamb Farm and Lamb Farm Kitchen in Sequim, Wash., said Ganjyal’s laboratory evaluated 16 fruit preserve products for her company.

The lab has helped significantly, Lamb-Gunnerson said, as the products can be sold as “shelf stable” in a variety of markets, including the Internet.

“We have confidence, from Dr. Ganjyal, that our products will remain safe food products,” she said.

Susana Rios, production assistant at Chukar Cherry Co. in Prosser, Wash., said Ganjyal has helped identify and correct the causes of failed batches of its foods, and improving flavor profiles and texture.

“Girish’s lab has helped us not only know what to do, but why we need to do so,” Rios said.

The researchers also hope to modify pea proteins naturally to increase their solubility for use in energy drinks. The proteins could also be used in gluten-free noodles or cakes.

“That’s adding value to the existing crops,” Ganjyal said. “That gives them a whole different market.”

“Girish’s work is of significant value to the agricultural processing industry,” said Robert McDaniel, director of community and economic development for WSU Extension. “He is highly sought after as a problem-solver, applied researcher and trainer.”

As consumer demands change, the industry must combine nutritional value with food ingredient functions, such as using healthful pea starch as a thickening agent for soups, Ganjyal said.

The lab has an annual budget of $300,000 to $500,000, Ganjyal said. Funding comes from commodity organizations, the National Science Foundation, USDA, the Economic Development Authority and WSU. Individual companies contribute as well.

In the long term, Ganjyal hopes to explore byproducts that are currently without existing uses. Some are ever-present, but others such as sprouted wheat only happen once in a while.

“But if you find a use for it, don’t you all of a sudden have a market?” Ganjyal said. “One farmer stood up (during a meeting) and said, ‘You know what, if you find a use for it, I’m going to go irrigate my wheat.’”

Girish Ganjyal

Occupation: Assistant professor and extension food processing specialist, Washington State University

Age: 38

Hometown: Hubli, India

Current location: Pullman, Wash.

Education: Ph.D. in food processing from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MBA from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.,

Family: Wife Uju, son Sahil, 7


Hot sauce headquarters moving to downtown Winston-Salem Thu, 9 Jul 2015 09:20:32 -0400 RICHARD CRAVERWinston-Salem Journal WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — TW Garner Food Co. is returning to downtown Winston-Salem after about seven decades, hoping to strike a balance between staying true to its private corporate roots while staking out a bolder community presence.

The company, a corporate mainstay for 86 years, has signed a 12-year lease with Nash Building LLC for the 14,500-square-foot second floor of the Nash-Bolich building off Fourth Street.

It expects to shift headquarters operations and 26 employees to the site in early 2016. The company will keep production at its 4045 Indiana Ave. facility, where it has 65 employees.

The move represents the Garner family’s recognition and appreciation of the downtown revitalization effort, as well as a desire to add their infusion of innovation and creativity that goes hand in hand with making Texas Pete Hot Sauce — the country’s No. 3 hot-sauce brand.

The company made its first downtown splash by launching the Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival last September.

The move also symbolizes another step toward securing management ascension and succession for the fourth-generation company.

“We’ve been contemplating this step for a few years, but the idea really began to take root in February when we brought the company into the 21st century with our management titles,” said Ann Garner Riddle, who has been president and chief executive since June 2010.

At that time, Glenn Garner’s title changed to chief marketing officer, Matt McCollum to chief financial officer and Heyward Garner to chief operating officer. Glenn Garner said the main reason for the changes is to open up the executive vice president and vice president levels to nonfamily members and shareholders.

The executives took their time choosing among 15 to 20 downtown and non-downtown sites before the Nash-Bolich building space became available.

“We’ve never been one to trumpet ourselves, but we have been active participants in our community,” Hayward Garner said. “This move is one way for us to contribute to the growth of downtown in a site that is visible, a comfortable fit and with extra space for the future.”

Mayor Allen Joines said that “because TW Garner and Texas Pete are synonymous with Winston Salem’s history and growth, it is entirely fitting to have this historic company as part of the downtown’s resurgence.”

“TW Garner’s presence will add energy and vitality to our center city and make it an even more energetic part of our community.”

Glenn Garner, who has lived downtown for 10 years, said the company used the same reasoning for moving downtown as it did for sponsoring the culinary festival.

“Repurposing an older building spoke to us,” Glenn Garner said. “Being part of a neighborhood with good visibility spoke to us.

“We believe being downtown will not only raise our community profile, but also help in attracting and hiring future corporate employees.”

McCollum said the executives channeled the company’s roots — having been founded during the Great Depression - in choosing a site “that fit our wallet.” Riddle chuckled “that it is well known that ‘TW means tightwad’ “ in terms of company spending on ambiance.

Hayward Garner followed up by saying “the new space will be done tastefully and offer a modern touch.”

Although TW Garner hasn’t chosen a general contractor for the renovation, it has chosen Workplace Strategies Inc. for the design work and Michael Steuart, owner of Evergreen Hill Studio Inc., at the architect.

Jason Thiel, president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, said he is thrilled to have TW Garner as another corporate headquarters site.

“On the heels of their remarkable first year success with the Texas Pete Culinary Food Festival, it shows that they are interested in further bolstering their relationship with our burgeoning food scene in Winston-Salem,” Thiel said.

“I believe it also is indicative of the growing value of storefront space in downtown.”

Gayle Anderson, president and chief executive of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, said the move will be a plus for employees.

“I’m certain the TW Garner employees will enjoy all the downtown amenities and the convenience of being able to walk out their door for lunch, arts events and shopping,” Anderson said. “Over time, some undoubtedly will decide to live downtown.”

Even though the production facilities are not making the transition, the executives believe the move will be freeing in terms of sparking product development beyond line extensions.

Besides a full line of hot sauces, wing sauces and seafood sauce under the Texas Pete brand, the company also offers CHA! by Texas Pete sriracha sauce, and salsa and tortilla strips under the Green Mountain Gringo brand.

The company will create space on the back side of the building, spilling over into the parking lot, for an expanded test kitchen that will be visible from the new corporate boardroom.

That’s where the company not only experiments with new sauces, but also invites restaurant chefs and clients, such as grocery store and discount chains, to find ways to incorporate their products into recipes for their menus and deli offerings.

“Helping clients and consumers think of our products as more than a condiment to be poured onto a meal is one way we are trying to make our products more relevant to them,” Heyward Garner said.

Despite their successes, the management team says they are committed to staying grounded.

That includes having no plans -- “whatsoever” Heyward Garner stressed - to taking the company public.

“We enjoy growth, but it has to be for the right reasons,” Glenn Garner said. “Controlled, managed growth has always been our mantra.

“As long as we continue to produce great products, and introduce new products to new consumers, the revenue will continue to come.”

Anders Benjamin Christensen, retired farmer, dies at 102 Fri, 10 Jul 2015 17:15:51 -0400 Anders Benjamin Christensen, a retired farmer and a charter member and 58-year director of the Linn Soil and Water Conservation District, died June 25, 2015, in Albany, Ore. He was 102.

Known by his friends and family as Ben, he was born June 9, 1913, in Rowland, Ore. He was the oldest of four children born to Katharine and Anders C. Christensen.

He graduated from Harrisburg High School in 1932 and worked with his father and brother on their farm until 1935, when he purchased a neighboring farm.

He married Rose Darling on Oct. 26, 1935. They had three sons, Anders Clifford, Cecil and Hubert.

In his younger years he helped build Gap Road east of Harrisburg using horses and a Fresno scraper. He also helped build and maintain telephone lines in the area when phone service became available.

He also helped survey and clear rights-of-way for Consumers Power in the area.

He farmed until 1961 and ran a tree-planting crew in the winters. Ben was a charter member of the Linn Soil and Water Conservation District. He not only ran equipment for the district building ditches, dikes and leveling fields, he served as a director for 58 years. He was treasurer for the State Conservation District for 45 years.

After retiring from farming, Ben worked for Lochmead Farms and Dairy for 30 years.

He joined the Harrisburg Fire Department in 1941-42. He helped serve the Fourth of July breakfast every year until he was 99. He also assisted with the fireworks displays.

He enjoyed deep sea fishing and hunting. For his 100th birthday, Ben traveled with family to Alaska and fished at Seward.

Ben was a member of the IOOF Lodge for 70 years, he was also a member of the Charity Grange for 64 years.

He is preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Rose; brother Leonard Christensen; and sisters Blake Enos and Elsie “Chris” Bryant.

He leaves behind sons Clifford of Terrebonne, Ore., Cecil of Eugene, Ore., Hubert (Carolyn) of Harrisburg, Ore., four grandchildren, six step-grandchildren and numerous great, great-great and great-great-great grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. July 25 at the Harrisburg Area Museum.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Harrisburg Fire Rescue, Samaritan Evergreen Hospice and the Harrisburg Area Museum.

Lawyer retires to run 40-acre Minnesota farm Tue, 7 Jul 2015 08:49:15 -0400 JAKE LAXENSt. Cloud Times ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (AP) — Jim Degiovanni clears his throat and unlocks a gate on his farm.

“Come on sheep, out to pasture,” the Dancing Bears Co. farmer yells at the top of his lungs.

Charging behind Degiovanni comes a herd of bleating Icelandic sheep, a breed dating back to the Vikings that’s raised for lamb meat and sold at the St. Joseph Farmers Market, Minnesota Street Market Co-Op and to local restaurants.

Dancing Bears Co., named after a painting by Degiovanni’s daughter, also sells chickens and a variety of fruits and vegetables from the 40-acre farm, the St. Cloud Times reported.

“When we first moved out here 12 years ago, I had no intention of doing this,” Degiovanni said.

His previous profession was as a lawyer. But after being encouraged to raise sheep by a member of his church, Degiovanni found a new passion. He soon retired from law to focus on farming full time.

“Both careers have served him well,” said his wife Mary, Sartell’s city administrator. “Farming came at a different phase of life.”

And it was a natural transition.

“Jim is a people person,” Mary said. “To make a living in this industry you have to interact with people to sell your product. He’s perfect out with customers at the farmers market.”

Jim, who grew up in Rosemount, has his hand in variety of products. He’s constantly researching new products. He claims to have brought the first kale to the St. Joseph Farmers Market.

“Now everybody does it — it’s become such a popular superfood,” Jim said.

He’s now experimenting with a cabbage/cauliflower cross called Romanesco broccoli, an apple orchard, plums and honey making. Jim even grows his own hops as part of a home brewing hobby.

A high tunnel allows Dancing Bears Co. to harvest cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers weeks ahead of schedule. He also has strawberry and raspberry plants.

Everything he does has an emphasis on organic principles — a sign by the farm’s driveway even politely asks people to not use chemicals on the property.

And his days of wearing suits and working in courtrooms is a thing of the distant past.

“I love it — my life is so much better now,” Jim said. “I have more peace of mind. There’s less conflict. And I’m working at my own pace.

“All of that together makes it so great.”

Appropriations rider aims to save sheep research station Fri, 10 Jul 2015 16:44:22 -0400 John O’Connell DUBOIS, Idaho — Sheep industry leaders say a recent vote in the U.S. House subcommittee bodes well for their continued efforts to save the local U.S. Sheep Experimental Station from planned closure.

The facility, operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in partnership with University of Idaho, was on a list of agency facilities targeted for closure in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget in February. The closure would take effect on Oct. 1.

However, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee retained language pertaining to the closures, added by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, when it approved the FY16 Agricultural Appropriations bill on July 9.

Simpson’s rider would prohibit USDA from shuttering any of the ARS facilities on the closure list.

Simpson also blocked a USDA attempt to close the sheep station in July 2014 with language added to the agricultural appropriations bill.

“I was disappointed when USDA attempted to close (the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station) last year and failed to provide prior notice to Congress and the sheep industry,” Simpson said in a press release. “Because of its location and expertise, staff at the Dubois station are working on unique issues, including research on the domestic-wildlife interface, that is vital to the sheep industry’s future.”

The station has 16 employees and operates on a nearly $2 million budget. Bret Taylor, research leader at the facility, declined to comment.

Simpson’s spokeswoman, Nikki Wallace, is optimistic his efforts to retain the facility will succeed once more. She said House members have until Sept. 31 to pass appropriations bills and are working diligently to move them through the process in time for the Senate to act. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, has sponsored companion legislation.

American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick said he is “absolutely optimistic” that the provision will pass. Even if appropriations bills are lumped into a single omnibus bill to continue funding, Orwick said it’s unlikely that riders within the bills would be removed.

“It’s the only ARS research facility dedicated to the sheep industry,” Orwick said. “Certainly, there’s room in that budget for one facility dedicated to furthering the sheep industry in this country.”

Washington ecology lays down rules for drought relief money Fri, 10 Jul 2015 16:42:49 -0400 Don Jenkins LACEY, Wash. — The Washington Department of Ecology is reworking its drought response plan, shifting the focus from bringing farmers relief this summer to longer-term water projects proposed by cities, irrigation districts, tribes and other public agencies.

The agency has been scrambling for months to respond to a steadily worsening drought without a firm spending plan or budget authority from lawmakers. With newly appropriated money finally in hand, DOE Director Maia Bellon signed an order Friday setting out rules to obtain up to $500,000 for public projects to relieve water shortages causing hardship to fish, communities and farms.

The order represents a change from the plan outlined by DOE to lawmakers last spring, when the agency said it was focusing its drought relief efforts on minimizing crop losses in the Yakima Basin.

Back then, DOE proposed spending $4 million or more in the basin on agriculture, compared to $2 million for city water systems and $1.2 million for fish survival statewide. “Those delineations are pretty much out the window,” DOE spokesman Dan Partridge said Thursday.

DOE says spending in the Yakima Basin hasn’t materialized because of the scarcity of water rights to lease.

DOE has committed $1.1 million to draw water from about 40 emergency wells, mostly in the Roza Irrigation District in the Yakima Basin. The state and farmers share costs.

The agency has said it anticipates spending about $700,000 on water leases between Roza and senior water right holders in the Sunnyside Irrigation District.

Transfers between the districts were completed even before DOE had received funding from the Legislature.

Roza’s general manager, Scott Revell, said Friday that state funding hasn’t been an obstacle — water isn’t available. The district has obtained about 15 percent of the water it leased during the last statewide drought in 2005, he said. “It’s not there.”

Lawmakers this month committed $16 million for drought relief over two years. DOE requested $9.6 million for this year, though it’s unknown how much actually will be spent and how much will carry over into 2016, Partridge said.

According to the order signed by Bellon, the state will consider a wide-range of projects to conserve water and develop new water supplies, though a project can’t create a new use or new water right.

Public entities that win funding will have to put up at least 50 percent of the cost of the project.

Eligible projects include deepening wells, installing pumps and meters, and repairing leaky canals.

The projects likely will drive drought response, though may bring limited immediate relief.

“For this year, we’re definitely late in the season,” DOE drought relief coordinator Jeff Marti said. “It’ll be challenging to have significant large-scale, infrastructure projects at this time.”

The department already has allocated up to $200,000 to compensate Olympic Peninsula irrigators for forgoing drawing from the Dungeness River after Aug. 15.

Cowboy Logic goes visual, but not yet viral Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:57:19 -0400 Ryan M. Taylor TOWNER, N.D. — There’s a lot of crossover between work and pleasure here on the ranch, and that’s a good thing. We have horses on the place for work, but they’re also a pleasure to use. Others might say the same thing about their four-wheeled ATV, or a nice shop where they service tractors for the farm and tinker with old cars for fun.

Life is good when the things you use to make a living also help you have a life. When I bought my last iPad, I knew it was another tool with a lot of crossover potential.

I bought a little keyboard for it and I’ve typed a bunch of columns out on it while I’ve traveled. I suppose I could have written those columns at home before hitting the road but there’s no excitement in having them done so far ahead of my deadline. Best to leave them to the last minute, pound them out on that miniature screen and zap them to the editors via cellular phone signaled email just under the wire.

Plenty of non-work is logged onto the iPad, too. I do a lot of reading on it, some books but mostly newspapers. The kids have watched a movie or two on it, and our little girl discovered how much she likes YouTube music videos, especially from a couple of young ladies named Lennon and Maisy.

They were young enough to directly relate to my daughter. Maisy was 6 years old in one of the first videos she found. It had over 2 million views. When they sang “Call Your Girlfriend,” complete with claps and cups, they got 27 million views. From there, they ended up on a television series and the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, where they sang “Ho Hey” and got 8 million views.

Before the songs play on YouTube, there’s a quick advertisement, which gave me an idea. Maybe I could make a little extra money with my iPad and its integrated video camera. I could do it myself, no film crew needed with the “selfie” video option and my iPad balanced atop a fencepost or the pickup dashboard out in the pasture. Cowboy Logic could hit the YouTube, and rake in some advertising dollars to buy the children new shoes for school.

Granted, it’s a crowded field. Every minute (yes, minute), 300 hours (yes, hours) of video is uploaded to YouTube. They have more than a billion users logging billions of views each day, and half of those views are on mobile devices. No wonder tractors need auto-steer technology so fields can stay straight while tech-savvy farmers watch mobile YouTube videos.

They even have videos for us up-and-coming YouTube “creators” on how to “monetize” our content in the YouTube “ecosystem.” It’s the one place where going “viral” is positive. I’d cry if my cattle herd went viral, but it’s aerial fist pumps if my video goes viral.

Most of the videos on my YouTube channel are minute-and-a-half-long pieces I’ve done for a show called AgWeek TV. Go ahead, search out “Ryan Taylor Cowboy Logic” and give them a click. My last upload has 127 views so it’s going to take a while to reach Lennon and Maisy status, and the associated ad monetization.

In the meantime, I’m going to step away from the screen, get outside and make sure my cattle don’t go viral. Looks like the calf check is going to outperform my YouTube channel this year, and I’m just fine with that.

NAWG leader urges progress in TPP talks Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:47:54 -0400 Matw Weaver The U.S. wheat industry will continue to impress upon Congress the importance of a new free trade agreement currently under negotiation, the president of the National Association of Wheat Growers says.

Trade promotion authority — popularly called fast-track authority — recently approved by Congress gave the Obama administration “the strongest hand possible” to negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, said Brett Blankenship, NAWG president and a Washtucna, Wash., wheat farmer.

He expects the 11 other nations involved in the TPP negotiations to now step forward. The high-stakes agreement would meld the nations’ trade policies. Included are Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam.

Another round of talks is slated for the end of July in Hawaii. Blankenship hopes for a conclusion to TPP negotiations within the next several months, with congressional review beginning before the end of the year.

“Any trade vote in Congress will be spirited discussion and a close vote,” he said.

NAWG will ask its member state organizations to tell their congressional delegations the importance of trade to the wheat industry, Blankenship said.

NAWG’s role is to educate members of Congress and their constituents that votes in favor of TPP are best for the nation, the economy and the wheat industry, Blankenship said.

He praised the region’s congressional delegation, particularly Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, all Democrats, for their efforts to get fast track legislation through the Senate.

TPP would put 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product in a free trade zone, Blankenship said. It would mean “enormous growth potential” for U.S. wheat exports and the U.S. economy in general, he said.

“Now we just continue to urge the president to work towards lowering trade barriers for wheat in the TPP and remove any significant barriers to imports,” he said.

House GOP, Democrats trade barbs over competing drought bills Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:31:32 -0400 Tim Hearden California lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are mostly talking at each other as they tout competing measures aimed at easing impacts from the state’s historic drought.

Republicans have pushed a bill to the House floor by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, which seeks to provide better access for farms and cities to water now set aside for fish under the Endangered Species Act.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, failed at attempts to amend the legislation as it passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a 23-12 vote on July 9. He has unveiled his own bill, which would set aside more than $1.3 billion for various agency projects such as groundwater recharge and cleaning up contaminated groundwater.

The two bills have been characterized as veritable wish lists from the two parties, but both sides insist their legislation has the best chance of making it through the Senate and being signed by President Obama.

“We’re certainly optimistic that some version of this — either on its own or part of a larger bill — will go to the president’s desk,” said Kevin Eastman, a spokesman for Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, a cosponsor of Valadao’s bill.

The legislation is primarily based on negotiations last year between House Republicans and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Eastman said.

“We think it’s a very balanced, even-handed approach.”

Feinstein’s office did not return a call or email from the Capital Press seeking comment about the two bills.

Valadao’s bill was expected to pass easily in the House but faces dubious odds in the Senate, where some Democrats’ support would be needed to overcome a filibuster. The bill is similar to one by Valadao the GOP-led House passed last year but couldn’t be reconciled with a Senate measure sponsored by Feinstein.

Within its 170 pages, the current bill would cut funding for a San Joaquin River salmon reclamation project that settled a lawsuit, increase operational flexibility for the Central Valley Project during droughts and cut red tape for major water storage projects.

The bill’s cosponsors are mostly Republicans, except for Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, who serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources committees. Costa said the legislation unveiled June 25 “is a comprehensive, common-sense approach that includes short- and long-term solutions” to the drought’s impacts.

So far only Democrats support Huffman’s bill, whose provisions include $500 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for water projects and $300 million more to the EPA’s Superfund for groundwater cleanup. The bill would also provide a $2,000 tax credit for homeowners to install water-capture and harvesting systems.

The cosponsors say they hope the proposals can serve as a model for future bipartisan legislation.

“There is room to work together on these issues to develop truly bipartisan legislation that involves all interested parties in an open process,” Huffman told the Natural Resources Committee. He noted that a near-unanimous California Legislature agreed last year to place the $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot, where it passed.

“There’s some aspects of Mr. Huffman’s bill that I think California Republicans might be interested in,” Eastman said. “But by and large, simply handing out borrowed money doesn’t solve the ongoing problem, and that’s primarily what Mr. Huffman’s bill does.

“That’s the fundamental difference between what House Republicans are trying to do, which is fix a broken system, and what some Democrats are proposing, which is to simply hand out money,” he said.

Idaho wilderness bill advances in House panel Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:26:04 -0400 John O’Connell WASHINGTON, D.C. — Legislation creating a wilderness area within Central Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Range unanimously passed the U.S. House Resources Committee on July 9 as its companion bill in the Senate awaits action.

The bill, HR 1138, was introduced by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. Sen. Jim Risch, also R-Idaho, sponsored S. 538 as a companion bill, which awaits final mark-up in the Senate Resources Committee.

Simpson has emphasized that he drafted his Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act with input and support from a broad group of stakeholders, including environmental interests and ranching industry representatives.

“To say I am pleased about the Boulder-White Cloud bill moving forward would be an understatement,” Simpson said in a press release. “For more than a decade, Idahoans of all walks of life have worked tirelessly on this legislation.”

Simpson’s spokeswoman Nikki Wallace said the wilderness legislation would be a far better alternative to efforts to establish a national monument through presidential decree, which would be created with far less local input. Wallace said the Obama administration has granted Simpson time to pursue an “Idaho solution,” but “the threat is very real of it becoming a national monument.

“There are still many organizations that would like to see a national monument and still work is being done to advance national monument status,” Wallace said.

Many ranchers who utilize the public land worry a monument would be more restrictive on grazing. According to the Idaho Cattle Association, the proposed wilderness area includes about 7,000 animal unit months of grazing land, but a monument would be much more expansive.

Thresher pilots ‘act of God’ clause for wheat Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:16:57 -0400 John O’Connell BLACKFOOT, Idaho — A major Eastern Idaho wheat buyer is experimenting with an “act of God” clause in its 2015 contracting, hoping to make wheat more competitive with other crops.

Thresher Artisan Wheat has offered the clause on a pilot basis for a limited acreage to a select number of growers.

Thresher Chief Operating Officer Don Wille said the clause specifies that growers needn’t deliver wheat if they don’t yield the contracted volume.

Wille said the program is aimed at helping growers mitigate damage, such as the widespread sprout damage to grain crops following heavy rainfall last August.

Contracts for other crops, such as barley, have long offered growers an act of God clause.

“We had to do something to see if we could make wheat a little more competitive with barley,” Wille said.

Blaine Jacobson, executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission, considers the pilot program to be significant and hopes it will set a precedent that Thresher and other grain buyers will follow. Jacobson said when weather reduces yields, wheat growers are sometimes forced to purchase other wheat to fulfill their contracts, or to convince their elevators to allow them to deliver the following year.

“It’s something that has kept wheat at a disadvantage when spring planting decisions are being made,” Jacobson said. “If Thresher can make it work for them, it would be a huge step forward.”

Idaho Falls grower Matt Gellings forward contracted about half of his 2015 crop to Thresher, with delivery in December. The act of God clause was no longer available for his sale, but he hopes to have the opportunity to take advantage of it in the future.

“I don’t dare sell more than half unless I’ve got it in the bin, especially after last year,” Gellings said. “Nobody knew that (sprout damage) was coming, and it hurt a lot of people.”

New national monuments coming in Texas, California, Nevada Fri, 10 Jul 2015 11:22:59 -0400 JOSH LEDERMAN WASHINGTON (AP) — Mammoth bones, prehistoric rock carvings and more than a million acres of wilderness will be protected as part of three new national monuments that President Barack Obama is creating in California, Nevada and Texas.

The presidential move, announced by the White House early Friday, brings to 19 the number of monuments that Obama has created or expanded since taking office. Environmental advocates hailed the new monuments as bringing sorely needed protection to natural American treasures, even as Republicans in Congress were pursuing legislation to stop the president.

In Texas, Obama is creating a monument at Waco Mammoth, a relatively small site in central Texas where archaeologists have discovered remains of 24 Columbian Mammoths — the largest of the mammoth species — from more than 65,000 years ago, the White House said. Like other mammoths, the Columbian Mammoth is now extinct, but roamed freely in North America during the Pleistocene epoch, known colloquially as the ice age. The site marks the only spot in the U.S. where a nursery herd of mammoths has been discovered, and is also home to preserved remains of other ancient species including the saber-toothed cat, dwarf antelope and the western camel.

Nevada’s Basin and Range, home to rare rock art from 4,000 years ago, will also become a national monument. The White House said more than 700,000 acres of public land will be protected in an untouched area of the Great Basin region. In addition to petroglyphs, the site also contains “City,” an array of abstract sculptures that artist Michael Heizer has worked on for more than four decades. The project evokes elements of Mesoamerican life, with ceremonial mounds interspersed with more modern architecture. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, has been pushing for years to protect the site and its surroundings.

Tourists and nature lovers in California will see more than 330,000 acres in northern California set aside for a new monument at Berryessa Snow Mountain. The White House touted the area’s rich biodiversity and Native American cultural sites, but the area is best known as a destination for hikers, campers, fishermen and hunters. Officials said designating the site as a monument would likely prompt increased visits to the area and drive economic growth in the coming years.

“I applaud the president, because his historic action will preserve this magnificent area for generations and boost the local economy,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Some Republicans have complained for years that Obama has abused his authority to designate monuments. In anticipation of Obama’s move, this week Nevada Rep. Cresent Hardy introduced an amendment to an Interior Department bill that would block Obama from creating monuments in areas where there’s been local opposition. His amendment, which successfully made its way into the bill, lists counties in Nevada, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah as off-limits.

“Any decisions that restrict ranching, recreation or other types of land-use activities should have as much local input as possible,” Hardy said, adding that the amendment was “about empowering local communities and local stakeholders most affected by monument designations.”

Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, presidents have broad authority to designate historic or ecologically significant sites without congressional approval, protecting those areas from new development like mining, oil wells and grazing.

Obama has used that authority aggressively as he’s worked to secure a legacy of protecting the environment and warding off the effects of climate change. Earlier this year, Obama designated new monuments in Hawaii, Illinois and Colorado, and last year he expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to cover 490,000 square miles, making it the largest marine preserve in the world.

California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will be managed the U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, the White House said. The National Park Service will run Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas, with help from Baylor University and the City of Waco. In Nevada, Basin and Range National Monument will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Fire destroys hay barn, 1 other structure in central Montana Fri, 10 Jul 2015 11:19:29 -0400 LEWISTOWN, Mont. (AP) — Officials in central Montana are investigating what caused a fire in a Lewistown hay barn that destroyed two structures.

The Billings Gazette reports the Thursday fire at the Lewistown livestock auction facility didn’t injure any people or animals, but caused $100,000 in damage.

Fergus County Sheriff Troy Eades says the fire broke out during prime haying season, when shipments were coming in and filling the barn.

Fire Marshal Joe Ward said enough bales caught fire that it will continue to burn for several days, with crews on site to keep the blaze from spreading.

Utah hunter who killed gray wolf won’t be charge Fri, 10 Jul 2015 11:17:20 -0400 BRADY McCOMBS SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah hunter who killed the first gray wolf seen near the Grand Canyon in seven decades won’t face criminal charges because he thought he was shooting a coyote, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials announced Thursday.

The federal agency’s investigation concluded the hunter didn’t intentionally shoot the wolf, which is protected in Utah under the Endangered Species Act. The man, whose name was not released, realized his mistake after he saw the dead animal and immediately reported it to authorities, according to a news release. In Utah, anybody can hunt coyotes.

The 3-year-old female wolf — named “Echo” in a nationwide student contest — captured the attention of wildlife advocates across the county because it was so rare to see the animal near the Grand Canyon.

The wolf was shot in December in southern Utah. The Fish and Wildlife Service did DNA tests to confirm the wolf was the one seen roaming near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and nearby forest earlier that year.

Fish and Wildlife officials said in the release that the case is a good reminder that all hunters should “identify their target before pulling the trigger.”

Investigators spoke with a hunter the man was with, reviewed other records and went in with their “eyes wide open” to make sure the man was being honest in saying he didn’t know it was a wolf, said Dan Rolince, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant special agent in charge of law enforcement for the region.

“We didn’t find anything to refute the hunter’s statement,” Rolince said.

Prosecutors tasked with making the final decision didn’t have evidence to prove the hunter knew he was shooting a wolf, meaning they fell short of reaching the burden created by the long-standing McKittrick policy, said U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.

Under that policy, hunters who kill wolves get off unless authorities can prove they knew they were shooting a wolf.

That makes the burden of proof too high and undercuts the protections of the Endangered Species Act, said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity. He is one of many wildlife advocates who called the wolf’s death heartbreaking and said they wanted the hunter prosecuted. They said the animal could have helped wolves naturally recover in remote regions of Utah and neighboring states.

Robinson argues the policy should be changed.

“You can get a ‘Get out of jail free card’ by saying the magic words,” Robinson said. “Those are: ‘I thought it was coyote.’”

Robinson also laid blame on Utah state officials for not doing more to inform the public that the wolf may be roaming through the state.

State officials have said they are planning to address that by teaching hunters how to tell the difference between a wolf and a coyote during an orientation for a county program that offers people $50 per coyote. The man who shot this wolf was not registered for the program, officials said.

The wolf had worn a radio collar since January 2014.

Wolves can travel thousands of miles for food and mates. Gray wolves had been spotted as far south as Colorado until the Arizona wolf was confirmed. Gray wolves last were seen in the Grand Canyon area in the 1940s.

In recent years, the Fish and Wildlife Service lifted protections for the wolves in the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.

But during the past year, federal judges reinstated protections, which barred further hunting and trapping, in Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan after wildlife advocates sued.

Wolf hunts have continued in Montana and Idaho.

Wolves and coyotes often have similar coloring, but wolves are usually twice as large. Wolves also have longer legs, bigger feet, and rounder ears and snouts.

But how well a person can distinguish depends on the lighting, the distance and how much experience a hunter has comparing the two animals.

A similar mistake happened in northern Colorado recently when a hunter with permission to kill coyotes shot a gray wolf. After the hunter shot the wolf on April 29, he notified authorities.

There are at least 13 documented cases since 1981 in which hunters have shot a wolf thinking it was a coyote, according to research from the Center for Biological Diversity. That figure includes the recent incidents in Utah and Colorado.

Portland daily grain report Fri, 10 Jul 2015 10:48:55 -0400 Portland, Ore., Friday, July 10, 2015

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 September wheat futures trended mixed from 6.00 cents lower to 1.00 cent per bushel higher compared to Thursday’s closes, with the most decline in Minneapolis and the advance in Chicago.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for July delivery were not available for ordinary protein.

Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 protein were not well tested in early trading but were indicated as higher compared to Thursday’s noon bids.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as lower compared to Thursday’s noon bids.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for July delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Thursday’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 trended steady to higher compared to Thursday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains were not available in early trading.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

Jul NA


Sep NA

Oct NA

Nov NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 7.3500, ranging 7.0400-7.3900

Aug NC 7.0400-7.3900

Sep 7.0400-7.3900

Oct 7.0125-7.4625

Nov 7.0125-7.4625

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

Ordinary protein

Jul NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jul mostly 7.3500, ranging 7.0400-7.3900

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


Ordinary protein 6.2050-6.3050

11 pct protein 6.2850-6.3850

11.5 pct protein

Jul 6.3250-6.4250

Aug NC 6.3250-6.4750

Sep 6.3250-6.6250

Oct 6.6750-6.7250

Nov 6.6750-6.7250

12 pct protein 6.3250-6.4750

13 pct protein 6.3250-6.5750

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 NA

14 pct protein

Jul NA

Aug NC 7.0300-7.1800

Sep 7.1300-7.2300

Oct 7.3125-7.4125

Nov 7.4125-7.5125

15 pct protein NA

16 pct protein NA

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul 5.0675-5.1275

Aug 5.1075-5.1475

Sep 5.0875-5.1475

Oct 5.2250-5.2550

Nov 5.2250-5.2550

Dec 5.2250-5.2750

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jul NA

Sep 10.8875-10.9375

Oct 10.9875-11.0375

Nov 11.0375-11.1175

Dec 11.0975-11.1675

Jan 11.1575-11.1975

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.8475

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jun 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 6.1300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 6.2500

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 7.4800

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

Idaho governor visits wildfire scene Fri, 10 Jul 2015 10:42:25 -0400 BAYVIEW, Idaho (AP) — Gov. Butch Otter on Thursday visited the area burned by the Cape Horn wildfire near the town of Bayview in northern Idaho.

The tour started aboard an Idaho National Guard Blackhawk helicopter. Although heavy smoke obscured views, Otter said he was able to watch helicopters drop water on the flames.

The Spokesman-Review reported that the Cape Horn fire started Sunday and has burned 1,155 acres and six homes.

Officials said it was 40 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon, and was no longer threatening homes.

More than 300 firefighters were working to strengthen containment lines.

Otter toured the affected neighborhoods and urged homeowners to keep brush and trees near homes trimmed.

“Still some pretty good hotspots up there,” Otter said at a news conference. “And from what I know about fire management it’s pretty tough to fight because it’s very, very steep and it’s going uphill. An aerial attack, as long as you have the visibility, is about the only way you’re going to get that.”

On Monday, Otter declared Kootenai and Bonner counties a disaster emergency area because of the fire.

Residents of the Bayview area who had to evacuate because of the fire were allowed to return to their homes on Thursday.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Farm struggles to find support for quality, local food Fri, 10 Jul 2015 10:17:58 -0400 SPENSER HEAPSDaily Herald PROVO, Utah (AP) — Standing at the foot of La Nay Ferme’s tiered plot of land on the bench above Provo, nearly every corner of Utah Valley is visible.

Behind the roughly two-dozen hoophouses where the farm’s produce is grown, the land slopes upward into grassy foothills, backed by the steep faces of Cascade Mountain and Mount Timpanogos.

In June 2011, Clinton Felsted decided to turn his attention away from his career in the software industry and start an organic farm. Days later he found this picturesque plot of land and signed a 20-year lease. His vision was clear: start a Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. He would grow the best organic produce available in Utah Valley, find people to buy a share of what the farm produced and feed his neighbors. If he could get 200 people out of this valley of half-a-million to buy into his program, the farm would be a success.

Four years later, the farm is struggling to break even. Unable to find support for something he truly believes in, Felsted’s vision seems deflated, even while his passion for what he is trying to do burns intensely.

“To be honest, it’s been a complete failure,” said Felsted, 43. “I had no idea it would be such a failure.”


When he started out, Felsted wanted to keep things simple and local.

“What defines us is that we’re very focused on high-quality produce,” Felsted said. “We’re not a cheap product; we’re the best food that you can possibly get in Utah.”

Felsted said he was motivated to try to break out of the pattern of cheapness that is becoming ubiquitous in our country, not just in the realm of food. People today are more interested in buying something cheap than they are in buying something of quality, Felsted said. They’d rather keep replacing things that break than buy something quality that lasts.

“We don’t want to be a part of the cheap culture,” he said. “I personally think it’s awful. It’s destroyed the economy of America. ... I don’t think we can afford to be so cheap.”

Felsted saw a lack of local, high-quality food being grown in Utah Valley and felt it was a role he could fill. He thought if people were given the chance, they’d stop buying cheap produce grown on mega-farms in California, sprayed with pesticides and preservatives and shipped in trucks to be left sitting in grocery stores for weeks.

Instead, they would choose to buy something grown by their neighbor, harvested that morning, devoid of chemical adulteration.

“Being a member of the CSA means buying your produce in season without a middle man. I think there’s something special there,” Felsted said. “It’s more neighborly; it’s more of a community.”

The CSA would allow him to do something productive that added value to his community. He would grow the best food possible, and those who bought into it would be supporting the farm and, in turn, each other.

“We want to connect with people,” Felsted said. “Being big is not what I care about at all; having a quality product is what I care about.”


Unfortunately, Felsted hasn’t found the support he thought he would, and he is still pouring his own money in to keep the farm afloat. In order to keep things going he has had to change his strategy and move away from a strictly CSA model.

La Nay Ferme now sells its produce at several Days Market locations, Meier’s Fine Foods in Highland and Real Foods Market in Orem. Customers can have it delivered by Winder Farms, and the farm now offers direct home delivery to its CSA customers. Still, the farm struggles to find enough customers to make a profit.

To complicate matters, Felsted now lives out of the country due to family issues. He still works on farm business six days a week, he said, and keeps in touch with his farm workers and customers every day. He handles all of the marketing and customer service for his farm, writing weekly newsletters and coordinating professional photography of the food being grown to entice new customers.

“I had no idea I would be facing such a situation when I started my farm, and the easiest decision for me was to build a beautiful family rather than work my heart out for a farm that is not supported by the community,” he wrote in an email.

Felsted said there are few things that could keep him away from the farm, and that he’s spent an overwhelming amount of time, money and stress trying to return to Utah.

He knows his absence has hurt the farm, but it also allowed him to develop a software program for the farm that helps with planning and efficiency.

What it comes down to, Felsted said, is people in the area don’t seem inclined to support local agriculture. They care more about price than food integrity. He said he routinely emails restaurants that market that they serve organic, local produce to see if they would offer a local salad and he almost never gets a response.

Recently, Provo Mayor John Curtis wrote a blog post about La Nay Ferme, sharing it with thousands of followers. Felsted said it generated $100 in sales.

Before he left, Felsted visited the Provo and Happy Valley farmers markets and found very little interest in produce. He said if he was here and took the food to Salt Lake City or Park City markets he could probably do well, but his goal was to do something for the people of Utah Valley.


La Nay Ferme recently got an injection of passion in the form of a new worker — Nakita Nez.

Felsted said he was on the verge of shuttering the farm last month when several workers quit all at once, until he received an email from Nez, who was looking for a job that she could feel good about. She had seen produce marked La Nay Ferme in a Days Market, looked it up online and was immediately interested.

“We both have the same passions and visions about healthy lifestyle, eating healthy and supporting the community,” Nez said.

Nez, 27, now spends her mornings harvesting produce for the CSA members who are scheduled to pick up that day and making deliveries to the grocery stores and restaurants that serve La Nay Ferme’s food. Nez said although she goes home every day dirty and sweaty, working for something she believes in makes this the best job she’s ever had.

Nez, like Felsted, is a firm believer that local, organic food is something important for a community to have access to. She said some people may think organic food is a luxury, but that the price is really reasonable for the average consumer. Nez also said she thinks people need to change the way they think about organics.

“I think it’s kind of funny though, that people think that something that is organic and natural is something special,” Nez said. “It is special, but this is normal.

“Eating plants and fruit from the earth that haven’t been genetically modified or have pesticides on them — that’s natural. That’s normal to humankind.”

Knowing she is eating something that is good for her body and good for the environment is a bonus, but Nez said it really comes down to taste. She feels nothing can compare to going out in the farm, harvesting a tomato or cucumber or some spinach, and eating it right there.

“It looks better, it feels better, it tastes better,” Nez said. “It’s all over amazing.”


Felsted said La Nay Ferme is very close to being successful. If he can at least break even he will continue with the farm, as he feels it is a positive element in the community. He knows he will never make a living off the farm, but if he can at least break even and keep it going he will consider it a success.

He knows there are people out there he hasn’t reached yet, but the percentage of people who voice their support compared to those who actually buy food from the farm is a continuing frustration.

The farm’s Facebook page has more than 1,100 likes, yet only 36 people are members of the CSA. Felsted said if half his online followers bought a $4 bag of greens each week, the farm would be a success.

“I don’t need many customers to be successful,” Felsted wrote in an email. “All the farm needs is about 100 customers to break even. Breaking even is all I really care about.”

Selling to the local grocery stores is the only reason La Nay Ferme is still in business, Felsted said. He plans to continue to develop that business, but it’s not the person-to-person intimacy he wanted when he started this venture.

Felsted stressed his main goal is to have a positive influence on our food culture and to provide something beneficial for the community. While he will do whatever he can to make sure the farm survives, he still hopes that survival can center around a CSA model that allows him to put food directly onto the tables of the people who live here.

“I really want the families,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping will change eventually.”

Frozen custard disappears because of egg shortage Fri, 10 Jul 2015 08:15:35 -0400 KATHY MATHESON PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The latest casualty of bird flu? Frozen custard.

The summer treat made with eggs is being pulled from Rita’s stores across the country due to an egg shortage and has been replaced by soft-serve ice cream.

“Until we can get enough eggs, we’ve replaced our custard with a high-quality, premium ice cream soft-serve product,” Rita’s President and CEO Jeff Moody said Thursday. “Many people don’t really notice a big difference.”

More than 48 million turkeys and chickens have died or were euthanized because of the H5N2 avian flu virus that hit Midwest farms this spring. As a result, nationwide egg production in May dropped 5 percent from last year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

About two-thirds of Rita’s 600 stores have switched from custard to the eggless soft-serve, Moody said, and the rest will follow once their custard stock is depleted. All menu items are still available, except they’ll be made with ice cream instead of custard.

The change didn’t faze customers at a Rita’s stand in downtown Philadelphia on Thursday.

City resident Tracy Morton said she’d heard about the issue on the news but still wasn’t sure if her favorite Rita’s treat would be available to help her cool down on a muggy day. She was happy to find she could still get a Gelati — Italian ice layered between dollops of soft-serve.

“I asked the young lady if they were still making Gelatis, and she said yes. Yay for me!” Morton said. “I don’t taste the difference at all.”

David Gounis said he didn’t know anything about the shortage until he saw a sign posted at the ordering window — and it was welcome news.

“I never could get the custard here because I’m allergic to eggs, so that actually worked for me,” Gounis said.

It’s not clear when Rita’s will be able to switch back to custard, Moody said.

The company is not alone in its egg difficulties. Texas-based chain Whataburger temporarily limited its breakfast-serving hours last month because of the shortage but has since rebuilt its egg supply.

Arkansas man accused of defrauding USDA feeding program Fri, 10 Jul 2015 08:12:56 -0400 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Prosecutors have accused a Little Rock man of defrauding a federal feeding program.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Thursday that 24-year-old Michael R. Lee was arrested Wednesday. A grand jury on Tuesday handed up a 20-count indictment alleging wire fraud involving U.S. Department of Agriculture funds.

According to prosecutors, Lee overstated how many children were served at “Our Children of Tomorrow,” an organization he sponsored. Prosecutors say that, at one location, he reported serving 115-450 children while no more than 30 attended, and that he reported serving 76-350 children at a location with no children seen visiting.

A federal magistrate released Lee on bond Thursday.

Lee’s lawyer, Willard Proctor Jr., declined comment, saying he hadn’t had a chance to read the accusations closely.

Prosecutors announced similar charges against others previously.

Dogs that killed alpacas to be euthanized Fri, 10 Jul 2015 08:11:14 -0400 BEND, Ore. (AP) — Three Siberian huskies will be euthanized for attacking alpacas on a central Oregon farm.

The Bend Bulletin reports the owners of the alpacas and the three dogs were both tearful during a Deschutes County Dog Control Board meeting Thursday. Officials decided Tasha, Buddy and Wolfers had to be put down over fears they may attack again and were unsuitable for adoption.

Dog owner Norman Jensen was fined $1,000, which he can later appeal.

Two of Michelle Alexander’s alpacas were killed during the attack, and two others were later put down due to their injuries. She says a veterinarian is monitoring a pregnant alpaca that was also injured by the dogs.

Self-described ‘bee czar’ keeps watch in Texas Fri, 10 Jul 2015 08:08:54 -0400 ALLAN TURNERHouston Chronicle HOUSTON (AP) — The neat two-story house in the 16000 block of Tiburon Way had been vacant for the longest time.

Area residents eyed it anxiously, hoping that a friendly family would soon become their neighbors.

The Houston Chronicle reports one day, the house was empty, eerily quiet, and the next it was abuzz with its new occupants — maybe as many as 60,000 of them.

Honeybees, residents of the normally tranquil southwest Houston neighborhood soon discovered, are the raucous rock stars of the insect world. Ensconced between the floors of their new digs, they filled the night with a menacing buzz. When neighbors ventured too near, the bees pinged through air like exploding popcorn kernels.

The bee house’s nearest neighbors, Angela LaFord and Melzena Banks, canceled their planned July Fourth barbecue and uneasily monitored the next-door doings through securely locked windows.

Despite their scary qualities, agriculture experts say, bees may be man’s greatest ally. Without them, Albert Einstein once observed, “mankind would have only four more years of life.”

The collapse of bee populations around the world — resulting from disease, parasites and insecticides — has led to similar warnings of a crisis in foods grown with the help of insect pollinators. Beekeepers have reported losses of up to a third of their bees in recent years.

Tranquility returned to Tiburon Way on Wednesday afternoon in a most unlikely way as tattooed, dreadlocked Walter “Bee Czar” Schumacher and his American Honey Bee Protection Agency associates arrived in a bee-striped minivan loaded with scaffolding, saws, smoke canisters and a low-power industrial vacuum.

Called to the scene by Houston City Councilman Larry Green, the team’s goal was to locate, calm, capture and then move the bees to a five-acre bee refuge on the city’s east side.

Based in Austin, Schumacher’s nonprofit organization has been in the bee-rescue business for nine years. It has established educational programs in the capital city’s public schools, turning students into junior bee keepers who profit by selling honey and bee-related products.

In the past year, the group’s range has expanded to Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth.

In Austin, volunteers typically relocate about 500 swarms a year; in Houston, about 250. Requests for assistance can be made at

Schumacher’s group learned of the Houston bee infestation through a television news broadcast documenting the eradication efforts of an exterminator at another bee-infested Tiburon Way residence.

“They were trying to make it out as a killer bee issue,” said Cameron Barnette, the group’s Austin operations manager. “That’s when we sent our press release to the Houston City Council. We could save those bees so easily.”

In 2011, the city of Austin passed a resolution asking owners of bee-infested properties to seek help from live-capture beekeepers like the American Honey Bee Protection Agency before turning to pest control professionals.

In Austin, Schumacher said, the city routinely turns to his group to handle bee emergencies. The bee protection group works for free or for small donations.

Schumacher said he hopes Houston City Council will follow Austin’s lead.

Councilman Green will meet with Schumacher’s group to explore the possibility, said Claude Foster, constituent service director for Green’s Council District K. “His primary concern is for safety and health issues in the community,” Foster said. “Whether or not he supports extermination or removal, he hasn’t had that conversation yet.”

Wednesday afternoon, Schumacher’s bee rescue effort — he was assisted by Houstonians Michael Hanan and Chris Close — was the best show on Tiburon Way. Up and down the block, residents settled on porch chairs to watch the action.

The bee men quickly ascertained that the insects had taken up residence between floors on both ends of the vacant house. As neighbors gathered on the lawn, photographing activities with their smartphones, the bee crew stripped siding from the house to reveal a series of honeycombs, each the size of a dessert plate. Carefully they stored the honey-saturated segments for use in the bees’ new hives.

Schumacher said the bees probably had been in the house about 45 days.

LaFord, Banks and other area residents moved closer for a better view. Exclamations of surprised delight arose as the bystanders sampled the golden liquid dripping from a small segment of honeycomb passed through the crowd. “This is the taste of your neighborhood,” Schumacher said.

“They made that?” one woman said. “Isn’t God’s work beautiful?”

Treasure Valley groups explore growing pumpkin seed for snacks Thu, 2 Jul 2015 14:38:00 -0400 Sean Ellis ONTARIO, Ore. — Economic development officials are teaming up with Oregon State University researchers to try to introduce a new crop — pumpkin seeds for the snack market — into the Treasure Valley.

Pumpkin seeds are grown on a four- or five-year rotation and could be inserted right into the traditional crop rotations prevalent in Southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon, said OSU cropping systems extension agent Bill Buhrig, who began studying pumpkin seeds in field trials last year.

“They would fit right into that type of rotation,” he said.

Buhrig is trying to figure out the agronomic side of the equation, while Kit Kamo, executive director of the Snake River Economic Development Alliance, is working on the unique harvesting and processing requirements for that crop.

Buhrig said the crop is harvested by what can be described as a pumpkin seed combine, which hammermills the pumpkin in the field and unloads the separated seed into a truck.

The seed has to be washed and dried quickly, before the starch solidifies.

Buhrig, as well as a few commercial growers who have planted small amounts of the crop, are trying to figure out which varieties will grow well here and are looking at things like proper planting density, fertility, and irrigation programs.

Buhrig’s trial, which is receiving funding from the state’s Agricultural Research Foundation, is also trying to determine which growing methods can be used to produce pumpkin seeds organically in this area.

“Before we do the processing and economic development part of it, we have to get a lot of the agronomic questions answered, and that’s the goal of my trial,” Buhrig said.

“I know the farmers here can grow the crop, but it has to be financially viable,” said Kamo, whose group covers Washington and Payette counties in Idaho and Malheur County in Oregon.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture recently awarded SREDA a $91,000 specialty crop grant for the bi-state project.

Kamo said the idea was first planted in her head two years ago when she was approached by several seed companies that wanted to know if pumpkin seed could be grown in the area. Those companies currently get most of their product from China but want to significantly increase the amount grown in the United States, she said.

She said the five companies that have approached her about the idea need a total of 5 million pounds of pumpkin seeds per year.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for farmers in this area,” Kamo said. “It’s an exciting project.”

In last year’s trial, the crop faced pressure from squash bugs, powdery mildew and fusarium and a lot of questions still have to be answered before pumpkin seeds take root as a major crop in this valley, Buhrig said.

“But my question when this whole thing started a year ago was, if there’s a demand and we can provide the product to meet that demand, why not us?” he said.

16 Idaho specialty crop projects share $1.7 million in funding Thu, 9 Jul 2015 09:09:41 -0400 Sean Ellis BOISE — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture will provide $1.74 million this year to help fund 16 projects designed to benefit the state’s specialty crop industries, including potatoes, beans, apples, cherries, onions, wine and table grapes, and peas and lentils.

The money is available through the ISDA’s federally funded block grant program, which provides funding each year to projects that benefit specialty crops.

The department received 22 requests seeking a total of $2.1 million in funding this year.

The department received some extremely good applications that pitched some creative projects this year, said Amanda Gibson, who administers the ISDA program.

“The overall pool of applications was very competitive,” she said. “We had some very good applications this year, so it wasn’t easy picking which ones to fund.”

Idaho’s potato industry received three grants this year.

The Idaho Potato Commission will receive $133,000 to help with its efforts to expand awareness of and demand for Idaho potatoes in international markets.

The commission will also receive $125,000 to help support an effort to develop a Russet potato variety that is resistant to pale cyst nematode.

University of Idaho will receive $83,000 for a project that seeks to investigate the nutritional benefits of potato peel waste.

Idaho’s wine and table grape industries also received several grants.

The Idaho Wine Commission will receive $88,000 to support its marketing and promotion efforts and to educate consumers, buyers and industry members.

Boise State University was awarded $139,000 to develop a web-based tool that will help producers evaluate the suitability of sites for wine grape production.

The ISDA awarded $67,000 to the Clearwater Economic Development Association to promote the pending Lewis-Clark Valley American Viticultural Area in north-central Idaho.

University of Idaho’s pomology program will receive $163,000 for field trials that seek to increase the size and quality of table grapes in Idaho.

The Idaho Bean Commission was awarded a $162,000 grant that will help fund field trials designed to help dry bean growers manage water and weeds more effectively and improve yields.

The IBC was also awarded $99,000 to help fund a project designed to simplify the process of breeding disease-resistant bean varieties.

The Idaho Apple Commission will receive $19,000 to create awareness of Idaho apples through in-store promotions and social media, and the Idaho Cherry Commission will receive $21,000 for a similar project.

The Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee was awarded $35,000 to help build markets in Mexico and Central America through trade missions and food-service promotional activities.

The Idaho Preferred program will receive $198,000 to promote all Idaho specialty crops through advertising and retail and food-service promotions.

Northwest Nazarene University was awarded $81,000 to develop an autonomous robot that could help Idaho growers maintain and harvest their crops.

A $91,000 grant will be used to help farmers in Southwestern Idaho grow and harvest pumpkin seeds and the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council will use a $140,000 grant to increase buyer and consumer interest in the region’s pulse crops.

Severe drought conditions spreading rapidly in Washington Thu, 9 Jul 2015 10:22:22 -0400 Don Jenkins Severe drought conditions prevail over 86 percent of Washington, a 40 percent increase in one week, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.

By comparison, 15 percent of the state was classified as being in a “severe drought” when Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency in mid-May.

Since then, the state has seen weeks of extraordinarily hot and dry weather. Washington sweltered through its hottest June and third driest June on record. The heat and lack of rain worsened an existing water shortage caused by historically low snowpacks.

“The drought that started as a snowpack drought is really a lack-of-precipitation drought,” Washington Department of Ecology spokesman Chase Gallagher said. “Folks are seeing well levels usually seen around August and September.”

Assistant State Climatologist Karin Bumbaco, who contributes information to the Drought Monitor, said the weekly updates were lagging behind the state’s changing conditions.

“I think they were playing a little catch-up,” she said.

No part of the state has yet reached “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the highest classification. But that may come, Bumbaco said. “If the summer stays on track, we’ll see that ‘extreme’ drought in Washington,” she said.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife drought coordinator Teresa Scott said the department has seen conditions worsen in the past week, with stream flows continuing to fall and putting more fish in distress, raising the likelihood some waterways will be closed to anglers. “It’s definitely picking up,” she said.

The average statewide temperature in June was 65.4 degrees, breaking the old record of 63.4 degrees set in 1992.

Average temperatures in June were 4 to 9 degrees above normal on both sides of the Cascades. The average temperature in Wenatchee in Central Washington was 10.9 degrees above normal. Around the state temperatures were “not just breaking previous records — but jumping over them,” according to the climatologist office’s July newsletter.

There has been no measurable precipitation at the Yakima Basin’s five reservoirs since May. Spring rains held out the last hope for preventing junior water right holders in the basin — the state’s most-valuable farm region — from facing severe water shortages.

Also, for the first time this year, the entire state is suffering at least a “moderate drought,” according to the Drought Monitor. The week before, 93 percent of the state was in a drought.

In other Western states, all of Oregon is now suffering a drought. Last week, 98 percent of the state was in a moderate drought or worse. The percentage of the state in extreme drought was unchanged at 34 percent.

The percentage of California suffering an extreme or exceptional drought also was unchanged at 71 percent.

Idaho saw a slight increase in the percentage of the state in extreme drought, from 6 to 7 percent.

The Drought Monitor is a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.