Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Fri, 20 Jan 2017 01:46:45 -0500 en http://EOR-CPwebvarnish.newscyclecloud.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Spud equipment sales remain steady http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170119/spud-equipment-sales-remain-steady http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170119/spud-equipment-sales-remain-steady#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:26:29 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119840 POCATELLO, Idaho — Farm equipment manufacturers participating in the recent Agricultural Expo at Holt Arena say they’re still doing plenty of business on machinery used in potato production, though sales of agricultural equipment in general have slumped.

Leaders in agricultural equipment production such as John Deere have reported sharp declines in sales during the past two years, due to depressed commodity markets.

The potato market has been no exception to low prices, with current fresh-market spud payments still well below production costs, as recently estimated by University of Idaho economists.

However, companies specializing in potato equipment, such as the Blackfoot, Idaho-based manufacturer Spudnik, say they’re somehow bucking the machinery sales trend.

“We’re doing a good business this year, maybe a little ahead of where we were this time last year,” said Spudnik sales representative Phil Cardon, based in Pasco, Wash. “We’ll still have a strong year. We’ve got strong orders.”

If there’s been a challenge for Spudnik recently, it’s been keeping up with orders, said Cardon, whose company has improved controls in the cabs of its latest generation of field equipment. Cardon believes that the potato market can turn around more quickly than other commodities since spuds are perishable, and he noted Northwest fresh sheds have been “shipping hard since the very beginning of the year.”

Brock Mitchell, vice president of sales with the Burley, Idaho-based potato equipment manufacturer Double L, believes the contract market with processors provides some stability for the potato industry, enabling growers to take advantage of new product innovations.

“Whether it’s domestically or worldwide, potato equipment seems to still be moving, in spite of some of the pressure on commodity prices,” Mitchell said. “It will be interesting to see how it goes throughout the year, but it seems to be moving.”

Bruce Nyborg, with the Rexburg, Idaho-based potato machinery manufacturer Logan Farm Equipment, said truck-bed sales have been strong as growers seek to harvest with less labor.

“Our sales have been steady,” Nyborg said. “It’s down a little bit this year, but it’s still a pretty good year.”

Dan Reeves, with the Blackfoot-based potato equipment manufacturer Milestone, highlighted his company’s new piler at the Expo. It should reduce bruising while allowing growers who often need to use side-by-side pilers to cover their largest potato storages to get by with a single machine.

Reeves said his sales have been flat.

“(Declining sales) are something you’re seeing across the board in the agricultural industry, but we’re staying steady with our Milestone stuff,” Reeves said.

By contrast, Harvey Stushnoff, with Agri-Service in Twin Falls, believes hay-intensive growers have been especially hard hit by low commodity prices and are “hanging on to their equipment.”

Gary Miller, a Bank of Commerce loan officer in Shelley, Idaho, emphasized a lot of hay has been fed this winter, and he’s hopeful the forage glut will diminish. For the most part, he said growers have stopped upgrading and are waiting for prices to rebound.

Organizers of the Expo, hosted from Jan. 17-19, say interest in their event also remained strong, with 120 vendors participating.

]]>
Soil health workshop set for Burley http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20170119/soil-health-workshop-set-for-burley http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20170119/soil-health-workshop-set-for-burley#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:11:08 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119842 A soil health workshop featuring a direct seeding and cover crop project by the Minidoka Soil and Water Conservation District is planned for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Best Western Burley Inn and Convention Center.

Keynote speaker Marlon Winger, Natural Resources Conservation Service state agronomist, will also give a presentation titled “Is It a Cover Crop or a Biological Primer?”

Other topics will include cover crops as they relate to eradicating blight and integrated pest management, as well as presentations on biofumigation and NRCS programs and projects.

Lunch will be provided and two pesticide applicator credits are available.

To register, contact Doreen McMurray at 208-878-5556 or dmcmurray6@gmail.com.

]]>
Trump picks former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as USDA chief http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/trump-picks-former-georgia-gov-sonny-perdue-as-usda-chief http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/trump-picks-former-georgia-gov-sonny-perdue-as-usda-chief#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 08:11:45 -0500 JONATHAN LEMIREand RUSS BYNUM http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119859 WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, his choice to lead the Agriculture Department, will “deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

Agriculture secretary was the final Cabinet post to be announced by Trump, who is set to take office Friday.

Perdue, 70, is a farmer’s son who built businesses in grain trading and trucking before becoming the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Perdue, from the small city of Bonaire in rural central Georgia, would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. He is not related to or affiliated with the food company Perdue or the poultry producer Perdue Farms.

“From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land,” Trump said in a statement.

Perdue, in a statement released by Trump’s transition team, said he began as “a simple Georgia farm boy,” and he pledged to “champion the concerns of American agriculture and work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families.”

Agriculture secretaries are often from the Midwest, where corn and soybeans dominate the markets. U.S. farm policy has long been favorable to those crops, and congressional battles over massive farm bills every five years often divide along regional lines. Southerners have pushed for subsidy programs that are more favorable to rice and cotton, which can be more expensive to grow.

The last three agriculture secretaries were from Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska.

Many farm-state lawmakers and agriculture groups grew concerned as Trump approached his inauguration without having named an agriculture secretary candidate. Earlier Thursday, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted that he was frustrated with the process.

“NEED Ag leader w dirt under finger nails 4farmers,” he wrote.

Perdue began his political career as a Democrat in the Georgia Legislature in the 1990s. After switching his allegiance to the Republican Party, he was elected governor in 2002. The victory over an incumbent Democrat completed Georgia’s shift to a solidly Republican state, ending generations of Democratic control of state government.

Despite that political change, Perdue showed little interest in pushing big programs or signature legislation during his two terms. Instead he focused on finding ways to save money while improving customer service by state agencies. He often referred to himself as Georgia’s CEO.

Critics accused Perdue of failing to tackle some of Georgia’s biggest problems, such as struggling public schools.

Perdue, who was re-elected in 2006, didn’t rely only on his business acumen as governor. A devout Southern Baptist, he also found a place for faith in his administration. In 2007, when a withering drought gripped Georgia and neighboring states, he held a prayer rally in front of the Capitol in Atlanta to pray for rain.

Perdue brought an end to Georgia’s conflicts over a state flag that featured the Confederate battle emblem. The flag was replaced by lawmakers under Perdue’s Democratic predecessor, but the new design proved unpopular. Perdue insisted Georgia voters should pick the flag. A referendum was held in 2004, though Southern heritage groups were outraged that the options did not include the old flag with the Confederate symbol.

Under Perdue’s watch, Georgia adopted tough food-safety regulations after a deadly U.S. salmonella outbreak was traced to Georgia-made peanut butter. He moved the state office that issues water permits for irrigation and other agricultural uses from Atlanta to rural south Georgia, where it would be closer to farmers. Perdue poured millions of state dollars into Go Fish, a program that aimed to lure bass fishing tournaments to the state.

The ex-governor, whose full name is George Ervin Perdue III, was born in rural Perry, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia, where he played football as a walk-on and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Following a stint in the Air Force, he returned to Georgia and settled in Bonaire, a city of about 14,000 people.

Perdue already has family serving in Washington. A cousin, former Dollar General CEO David Perdue of Sea Island, Georgia, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.

]]>
Ag industry welcomes USDA nomination http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/ag-industry-welcomes-usda-nomination http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/ag-industry-welcomes-usda-nomination#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:50:37 -0500 Eric Mortenson Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119844 Farm and natural resource groups quickly announced their support Thursday for President-elect Trump’s nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be secretary of Agriculture.

Trump’s pick to head the USDA was the last of his Cabinet nominations, a fact that irritated some in agriculture because it appeared to indicate Trump had little interest in the nation’s farms, forests and rangeland. At the recent American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Phoenix, AFBF President Zippy Duvall acknowledged that worry but urged producers to trust the incoming president.

On Thursday, Duvall called the nomination of Perdue, a fellow Georgian and friend, “welcome news.”

“I’ve seen firsthand his commitment to the business of agriculture as we worked together on issues facing farmers and ranchers in our home state of Georgia,” Duvall said in a prepared statement.

“He understands the challenges facing rural America because that’s where he was born and raised. He is a businessman who recognizes the impact immigration reform, trade agreements and regulation have on a farmer’s bottom line and ability to stay in business from one season to the next.”

Other organizations voiced variations of that endorsement.

Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif said Perdue “has proven to be a consummate champion for agriculture and will undoubtedly serve our industry well in this capacity.”

Nassif said vegetable, fruit and nut growers are counting on Perdue to press the administration and Congress for immigration reform and assure agriculture a stable workforce. In a prepared statement, he said ag is “unique among industries” because its labor needs can’t be met by domestic workers.

“Foreign hands will harvest our crops, either here or abroad,” he warned.

Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said he hopes Perdue supports a comprehensive, “robust” farm bill, including comprehensive crop insurance and good conservation and rural development programs.

Perdue will hopefully help Trump realize the importance of trade for agriculture, Goule said.

“Pulling out of the (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and renegotiating (the North America Free Trade Agreement) is not in the best interest of agriculture, family farmers and wheat growers, especially in the United States,” Goule said. “I’m hoping he can use his influence and ability to talk to President-Elect Trump and the rest of the administration as a more economical or reasonable way to move forward with trade, so we not only don’t disrupt our markets, but we make sure they are still there for years to come.”

Perdue supports trade, but shares the Trump’s administration position on TPP, “which is concerning,” said Matt Harris, director of government affairs at the Washington State Potato Commission.

“Hopefully what we can see is the administration moving toward unique trade agreements with specific countries,” Harris said.

The American Wood Council called on Perdue to continue USDA’s and Forest Service’s support for basic research of innovative wood products and tall wood building construction. Doing so would introduce carbon-neutral building materials to urban areas and provide jobs in rural areas, the council said.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership praised Perdue as a quail hunter and “true sportsman” who created a “culture of conservation” during his time as Georgia governor.

From the Heritage Foundation, conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., ag expert Daren Bakst said Perdue should “work diligently to free our nation’s farmers from excessive regulation, stop government handouts that presume farmers cannot compete in the marketplace like other businesses, and break down barriers to increase farmers’ freedom to trade.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association called Perdue an “excellent choice” with a strong track record in Georgia of supporting rural utilities and the farms, ranches and small towns they serve.

]]>
Union Pacific cost cuts offset declining shipments in 4Q http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170119/union-pacific-cost-cuts-offset-declining-shipments-in-4q http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170119/union-pacific-cost-cuts-offset-declining-shipments-in-4q#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:54:11 -0500 JOSH FUNKAP Business Writer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119848 OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter profit grew 2 percent as cut costs offset a 3 percent decline in shipments.

Net income reached $1.14 billion, or $1.39 per share, well above the per-share earnings of $1.34 that Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by the data company Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue declined 1 percent to $5.17 billion, but that was also better than the $5.14 billion analysts expected.

The railroad reduced its expenses 3 percent to $3.2 billion in the quarter in response to the slower shipping volume.

Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Lance Fritz said higher energy prices, favorable agricultural markets and improving consumer confidence all suggest railroad shipping volumes will grow this year.

“We are fairly optimistic about some of the macro-economic indicators that drive our core business,” Fritz said.

Shares jumped 4 percent before the opening bell. Almost all shares in the railroad sector rose significantly, with new developments hinting at a new potential for consolidation of the industry.

Fritz said Union Pacific plans to spend $3.1 billion on capital projects and equipment this year. That would be down from the $3.5 billion spent last year as the railroad delays some planned locomotive purchases.

Union Pacific Corp., based in Omaha, Nebraska, operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 states.

]]>
Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170119/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170119/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:40:49 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119849 Portland, Ore., Thursday, Jan. 19, 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 mixed, from 5.25 cents lower to 3.50 cents per bushel higher compared to Wednesday’s closes, with the greatest decline in Chicago hard red wheat and the advance in Minneapolis dark northern spring wheat.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for January delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as steady to lower compared to Wednesday’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 January delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as mixed compared to Wednesday’s noon bids. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Bids for 14 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for January delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher compared to Wednesday’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 January were not well tested in early trading but bids were indicated as mixed compared to Wednesday’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 January were not well tested in early trading, but bids were indicated as mixed compared to Wednesday’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

Jan 4.5600-4.6725

Feb 4.5600-4.6725

Mar 4.4225-4.6725

Apr 4.4175-4.5300

May 4.4175-4.5200

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jan NA

Feb NA

Mar 4.4225-4.7225

Apr 4.4175-4.5675

May 4.4175-4.5675

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

Ordinary protein

Jan 4.7400-4.9225

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jan NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 4.4200-4.5200

11 pct protein 5.0200-5.1200

11.5 pct protein

Jan 5.3200-5.4200

Feb 5.3200-5.4200

Mar 5.3200-5.4200

Apr 5.2875-5.4375

12 pct protein 5.4700-5.5700

13 pct protein 5.7700-5.8700

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 6.2700-6.4600

14 pct protein

Jan 6.9200-7.0700

Feb 6.9200-7.0700

Mar 6.9200-7.0700

Apr 6.8650-6.9150

15 pct protein 7.2000-7.4700

16 pct protein 7.4800-7.8700

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jan 4.8150-5.0150

Feb 4.6450-4.8150

Mar 4.5850-4.6550

Apr 4.5175-4.5275

May 4.5175

Jun 4.5375-4.5575

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jan 11.7475-11.8975

Feb 11.6475-11.7475

Mar 11.5275-11.5675

Oct 11.2050

Nov 11.1750

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Dec 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 4.5700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 4.0300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 4.9300

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.5000

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

]]>
Federal agencies approve new phosphate mine in Idaho http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170119/federal-agencies-approve-new-phosphate-mine-in-idaho http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170119/federal-agencies-approve-new-phosphate-mine-in-idaho#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:37:44 -0500 KEITH RIDLER http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119850 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two federal agencies have approved a 2.4-mile-long open pit phosphate mine proposed by a Canadian company in southeastern Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service late last week issued separate decisions approving the plan by Calgary-based Agrium Inc.

The BLM manages the area where the mining will occur, while the Forest Service manages land that will receive waste materials.

Agrium turns phosphate ore into fertilizer needed by farmers to grow food. Phosphate mining is a major business in southeastern Idaho, and BLM officials said the new mine will preserve 1,700 jobs and generate about $85 million per year for the local economy in Caribou County.

The expected life of the new Rasmussen Valley Mine is just under eight years, and the project follows a pattern where companies move to a new area once an old area is mined out. Mining has taken place in the area since the early 20th century.

The area contains one the nation’s most abundant deposits of phosphate, and agribusinesses Simplot and Monsanto also have mines in the area. But the area also contains 17 Environmental Protection Agency superfund sites because of pollution from past phosphate mining.

Federal officials said the latest mine has requirements to avoid those problems.

“The water quality issue is the No. 1 issue that we deal with when it comes to determining impacts with mines that are being permitted now,” said Bill Volt, environmental planning coordinator with the BLM.

Virginia Gillerman, an associate research geologist with the Idaho Geological Survey, said the area is rich in phosphate because it was once an 116,000-square-mile inland sea where organic material from fish, plants and small animals was deposited over a 5-million-year span about 265 million years ago.

Geologic activity caused faulting and folding in the sedimentary rock that once formed the seabed that’s now part of Idaho and three neighboring states. In Idaho, the activity pushed the phosphate closer to the surface, making it economical to mine, Gillerman said.

Volk said Agrium has struck a deal with Monsanto to take waste rock from the new mine and dispose of it in a pit at a nearby Monsanto mine now going through the reclamation process.

The material will be covered, Volk said, to prevent water from reaching it that could cause selenium to leach out into streams or be absorbed by plants. Selenium is needed for life but is toxic in large quantities.

Volk said the selenium problem first became apparent in the 1990s when hundreds of sheep and horses died after eating plants over mine waste material that had absorbed selenium from that material. The realization of what caused the deaths led to the superfund sites.

Additionally, water running through the waste rock has caused increased selenium in streams that can harm aquatic organisms.

Earthworks, an environmental group, earlier this month released information from tests it did on trout in streams below Simplot’s Smoky Canyon Mine. The group said the fish in Sage Creek and Crow Creek had selenium levels up to four times the levels the EPA says can cause defects and reproductive failure in fish.

“It’s been eight years since the (Smoky Canyon) mine expansion was approved, yet there’s still no proven cover system to prevent future water pollution,” Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks said in a statement.

]]>
Election provides fund-raising windfall for environmental organizations http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/election-provides-fund-raising-windfall-for-environmental-organizations http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/election-provides-fund-raising-windfall-for-environmental-organizations#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 08:21:39 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119857 The money began rolling in to the environmental groups immediately after Donald Trump won the presidential election last November.

Though they wouldn’t divulge specific amounts, environmental activists say building their war chests has never been so easy, as a growing support base looks to them to take on Trump and his Cabinet picks they say are linked to “extractive” industries.

Pictures of oil pipelines and industrial smokestacks spewing dark clouds accompany social media warnings alleging that the new Republican president and GOP-controlled Congress will run roughshod over the environment.

“It’s time to turn shock and outrage into action,” the Natural Resources Defense Council encourages would-be donors in a social media campaign. “NRDC is gearing up to fight the Trump administration’s disastrous anti-environmental agenda at every turn — in the courtroom, in Washington and on the global stage.”

Experts who track nonprofit organizations expect environmental activists to use their donation windfall — they call it the Trump Bump — to step up litigation. They also predict environmentalists, who may find themselves stonewalled at the federal level, will shift their focus to local, state and international venues.

Many involved in agriculture say they hope Trump will ease some of the regulations governing their industry, but worry that environmental groups will use their bigger war chests to fight more legal battles on key issues such as public lands management, air- and water-quality standards, food safety and endangered species.

“The fear is you would have an unfounded lawsuit filed, and then the (agricultural) business is still responsible for funding a defense of themselves, even if the suit has no legitimacy,” said Rick Naerebout, director of operations at the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.

Naerebout recalled a case in the early 2000s in which an environmental group filed a notice of its intent to sue a dairy for alleged methane-emission violations. The suit was eventually dropped, but only after the association made a six-figure investment in scientific studies that proved the dairy didn’t pollute.

Environmental groups contacted by Capital Press all say they have received many more contributions since the election, though they wouldn’t provide numbers.

“We’re clearly seeing folks who were hesitant to associate with us because we’re the tree huggers, and now they’re coming around and saying, ‘We need the tree huggers,’” said Jeremy Nichols, who handles climate and energy issues for New Mexico-based WildEarth Guardians.

Josh Mogerman, a spokesman for NRDC, emphasized his organization would rather be broke than have to defend “bedrock environmental protections Americans have come to expect.” But he acknowledges NRDC has experienced an “exponential bump in engagements for online actions, as well as fundraising.”

“To some extent, we initially didn’t have to ask people (to donate). People were coming to us,” Mogerman said.

The additional contributions are on top of already substantial revenues. According to tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, NRDC reported $155 million in total revenue, including slightly more than $134 million in contributions and grants.

For the year through December 2015, WildEarth Guardians reported nearly $3 million in total revenue, and Earthjustice, a nonprofit law firm that takes on environmental cases, brought in $48.1 million.

During that same period, the Sierra Club reported $109.2 million in revenue, including $94.3 million in contributions and grants.

Hailey, Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project brought in $639,000 in total revenue for the year ending December 2014.

More recently, criticizing Trump’s Cabinet and agency leadership choices has been an especially lucrative fundraising strategy, the environmentalists said.

A Sierra Club blog describes Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, as a “climate science denier who repeatedly partnered with the state’s largest polluters to block health and environmental safeguards.”

The organization concludes that the choice of Pruitt will make “America the scorn of the world.” On the site is a link with instructions to donate to the club each month and “protect the planet from Trump.”

In its online advertising, the NRDC encourages supporters to “Speak out! Tell your senators to vote NO on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of polluters.” NRDC contends Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson, the retired CEO of Exxon Mobil, “put his company’s interests ahead of those of the U.S. and thwarted action on climate change.”

NRDC also takes to task former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, tapped to oversee the Department of Energy, for his record on climate change and claims Secretary of the Interior pick Ryan Zinke, a second-term congressman from Montana, has a “rock-bottom voting record on the environment of 3 percent,” as calculated by the League of Conservation Voters.

“You have a list of extremely pro-industry advocates with very weak records on environmental protection and conservation,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project. “That elevates the need for conservation groups like Western Watersheds to hold them accountable.”

Meanwhile, agricultural interests are formulating strategies of their own.

A top priority for Ethan Lane, who represents public lands grazing interests at the pro-agriculture Public Lands Council, will be seeking legislation that would force the executive branch to publicize how much taxpayer money is awarded to environmental groups to cover their litigation costs when they prevail in court.

Lane suspects the public would be aghast if the numbers were made available.

“We’re at the point right now where almost everything is litigated the second it comes out by these radical environmental groups,” Lane said, adding that the council will also encourage Congress to take up broad litigation reform.

Lane believes environmental activists have abandoned facts and turned to scare tactics in their appeals to the public, increasingly depicting ranchers and others who depend on public lands as villains motivated by greed.

Nichols, of WildEarth Guardians, dismisses any criticism of turning to the legal system as a tool, noting the courts are the government’s third branch.

“It’s downright democratic to use courts to advance goals,” Nichols said.

Drew Caputo, vice president of litigation at Earthjustice, said 100 of his organization’s 225 staff members are attorneys. As a last resort, Caputo said Earthjustice has taken both Democratic and Republican administrations to court for decades to force the government to follow the law. But he acknowledged that he’s especially concerned about Trump, based on the businessman’s rhetoric and a slate of Cabinet picks Caputo claims are the most anti-environment nominees ever appointed by a president during his lifetime.

“We have reason to believe they’re going to take actions which are not only bad for the environment, but also bad for the law,” Caputo said.

Molvar also expects the Western Watersheds Project to spend a lot of time fighting Trump policies in court, noting conservation groups are more apt to sue when they believe the environment is under attack.

“Conservation groups are a bit like the highway patrol of the environment,” Molvar said. “Somebody driving 5 mph over the speed limit you’re less likely to pull over and give a ticket than if he’s driving 90 mph and drunk.”

Though the incoming Trump administration is generally viewed as friendly to agriculture, some warn against trying to go too far, too fast.

Jay Byrne, president of the St. Louis issues management and research firm v-Fluence, advises agricultural leaders to focus their advocacy on core issues instead of “moving too quickly on too many fronts” in pursuit of reforms that could be viewed as extreme. The firm provides public policy intelligence to the food industry,

“Some suggest there may be a radical dismantling of regulations, and that could end up with pushback and other reactions that, in the end, could hurt farming interests,” said Byrne. “You want to take advantage of the opportunities, but also be cautious that we don’t enable and lift up some of the more radical opponents.”

Regardless, Byrne predicts unprecedented levels of litigation impacting agriculture ahead.

Based on observations from 2005 to 2007 — the last time Republicans held both houses of Congress and the White House — Byrne expects environmental activists to take many of their fights to the city, county and state levels. For example, Byrne said anti-agricultural groups recently convinced a New York City Parent Teacher Association to endorse a ban on serving genetically modified foods in school, as well as a ban on milk and other dairy products from cows treated with artificial growth hormone.

Regardless of the science, Byrne said many liberal-leaning local and state leaders will be apt to support the activists because of their general disdain for Trump.

“We’re going to be challenged by fighting thousands of little fires,” Byrne said.

He also expects the groups to increase their lobbying in international policy forums, which could influence key agricultural trade partners such as China, Japan and South Korea.

“Junk science” — scientific claims appearing in so-called pay-to-play journals not backed by credible research — will also proliferate in the coming years, Byrne said. He said biotech crops and animal health products are popular targets of junk science.

“You might find more mainstream sources giving additional weight or coverage to these types of tactics for political reasons,” Byrne said.

Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, agrees with Byrne that conservationists will “avoid the national circus” and increase their efforts at the local and state levels.

“IWF is really looking forward to the support of these national organizations,” Brooks said.

Brooks emphasized that IWF is nonpartisan, representing sportsmen in general, and is viewed by many as a middle-ground organization. Since Trump’s victory, however, Brooks believes the environmental movement has become more “cohesive,” with conservative hunting organizations finding new common ground with groups on the far left. IWF has also enjoyed a recent spike in new memberships, boosting revenue.

“What’s changed is we need to understand help is going to come from the right and the left of us because of the uncertainty,” Brooks said.

]]>
Trump can scale back monument designations, experts say http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/trump-can-scale-back-monument-designations-experts-say http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170119/trump-can-scale-back-monument-designations-experts-say#Comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 08:15:47 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119858 The Trump administration could sharply revise controversial national monument designations made by its predecessor, though it’s unclear such changes would be a high priority, experts say.

Pro-monument environmental groups would also likely seek to counteract such moves, testing largely uncharted legal waters.

While the Trump administration could not entirely revoke earlier national monument designations, their size and land use restrictions within their boundaries could be modified, said Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney who represents ranchers in public land disputes.

“All that stuff is fair game for the Trump administration,” she said. “It’s pretty clear they have maneuvering room.”

Theoretically, Trump could go beyond recent designations — such as the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon — and amend monuments created by presidents before Obama, Budd-Falen said.

“There’s not a statute of limitations or a time frame on these things,” she said.

Ranchers fear that grazing will be increasingly restricted within the 49,000 acres recently added to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Under an opinion issued in 1938, the U.S. Attorney General said Congress delegated its authority to create national monuments to the president in the Antiquities Act.

However, the power to revoke such designations belongs solely to Congress, not to succeeding presidential administrations, according to the opinion.

Even so, the Trump administration could greatly reduce the scale of a national monument by shrinking it to a quarter-acre, for example, Budd-Falen said.

The Republican-controlled Congress could also outright overturn a national monument designation or simply excise tracts that are most problematic for ranchers and other natural resource users, said Scott Horngren, an attorney with the Western Resources Legal Center, which litigates on behalf of agriculture and timber interests.

“They could use a scalpel,” said Horngren.

With the multitude of contentious issues facing the Trump administration and Congress, though, it’s open to question whether they’ll want to tackle disputes over national monuments, he said. “We just don’t know that.”

If the Trump administration did drastically roll back the size of a national monument, environmental groups could argue in federal court that the reduction was made arbitrarily in violation of the Antiquities Act, Horngren said.

Under that statute, national monuments should be as small as possible to protect resources within the monument, so the Trump administration could argue that his predecessor’s boundaries were too expansive, he said.

Though opponents of national monument designations tend to cast them as “midnight regulations” by outgoing presidents, in reality, new monuments and expansions must be justified in “rationales,” said Michael Blumm, an environmental law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School.

If the Trump administration decided to significantly shrink a national monument, it would have to provide a similarly well-reasoned justification, he said.

“The courts have taken seriously those rationales,” Blumm said. “There can’t be any arbitrary decision-making.”

Presidents do have a “fair amount” of flexibility in deciding what uses are permitted within national monuments, as long as they don’t undermine the monument’s fundamental values, he said.

A major reduction in a national monument’s boundaries would be unprecedented, partly because past presidents have been reluctant to scale back earlier designations, Blumm said.

The Bush administration, for example, defended national monuments created by the Clinton administration, he said.

The issue goes beyond partisan politics and resonates with concerns about the institution of the presidency, Blumm said. “Presidents like the monument authority, especially on their way out, because it provides them with a legacy.”

]]>
Experts: Farm machinery sales to level off after steep drop http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170118/experts-farm-machinery-sales-to-level-off-after-steep-drop http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170118/experts-farm-machinery-sales-to-level-off-after-steep-drop#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:04:43 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119870 The precipitous drop in farm machinery sales seen in recent years will likely begin leveling off in 2017 but the industry’s outlook remains glum, experts say.

“I see nothing in 2017 that would lead me to believe there would be an uptick in machinery sales,” said Michael Langemeier, an agricultural economist at Purdue University who has studied the industry.

About 70 percent of the farmers surveyed for Purdue University’s “Ag Economy Barometer” believe it’s not a good time to invest in farm machinery, he said.

Manufacturers aren’t expected to see sales rebound until 2018 or 2019, when crop prices are projected to strengthen, Langemeier said. “Eventually, people will have to buy machinery, but 2017 isn’t the year they will do that,” he said.

Unit sales of large tractors and combines have decreased by more than half since 2013, the most recent peak, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

In 2016, farmers bought 26 percent fewer combines, 26 percent fewer four-wheel-drive tractors and 22 percent fewer two-wheel-drive tractors over 100 horsepower compared to the previous year, according to AEM.

The steep decline in commodity crop prices has stabilized, so the deterioration of demand for farm machinery probably won’t be as brutal in 2017, said Eli Lustgarten, an industry analyst with Longbow Securities.

Even so, sales of large equipment will likely fall another 5-10 percent, he said. “It’s a weak market.”

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers doesn’t expect positive sales news in the coming year, but the group hopes that 2017 will at least mark an end to double-digit declines, said Charlie O’Brien, the organization’s senior vice president.

Even when sales do start rising again, manufacturers don’t expect to repeat the “heyday” of surging sales between 2009 and 2013, he said.

“The pendulum has swung both ways pretty hard,” O’Brien said.

Manufacturers learned their lesson from the agricultural downturn of the 1980s and were prepared to be “more nimble” when the “abnormal times” of unusually high commodity prices ended, he said.

The adjustment has involved lay-offs and factory closures, O’Brien said. “It’s a constant effort to right-size operations.”

Deere & Co., a major U.S. farm machinery company, has experienced a 30 percent reduction in revenue since the 2013 peak, but nonetheless managed to post a $1.5 billion profit during its 2016 fiscal year, according to financial documents.

Similarly, the AGCO Corp., which manufactures multiple machinery brands, reported net income of $99 million during the first three-quarters of 2016 despite a sales decrease.

“The larger players anticipated this and made adjustments,” said Langemeier of Purdue University.

It’s likely that major manufacturers will be on the prowl to acquire smaller machinery companies during this time of distress, he said.

Farmers who are still able to afford machinery, meanwhile, are well-positioned to benefit from deals, particularly for used equipment, Langemeier said.

“If they have the liquidity, it’s not a bad time to look,” he said.

As growers bought new machinery when crop prices were soaring, they traded in recently-manufactured tractors and combines, creating a glut of high-quality used equipment, O’Brien said.

Dealers have done a good job of clearing out inventories of used combines, but still face a surplus of used large tractors, he said. “We are basically a victim of our own success.”

]]>
States argue in court for more say over endangered species http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170118/states-argue-in-court-for-more-say-over-endangered-species http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170118/states-argue-in-court-for-more-say-over-endangered-species#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 08:43:34 -0500 DAN ELLIOTT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119877 DENVER (AP) — A battle over how to save endangered wolves in the Southwest moves to a federal appeals court Wednesday as judges hear arguments on whether states can block the federal government from reintroducing wildlife within their borders.

The Interior Department is asking the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a preliminary injunction that bars the department from releasing more captive-bred Mexican gray wolves into the wild in New Mexico without that state’s approval.

It’s the latest skirmish in the federal government’s long and troubled effort to restore the rare wolves to part of their original range under the Endangered Species Act. It comes as the future of the law is in question, with Congress and the White House in the control of Republicans who generally see it as an impediment to jobs and economic development.

New Mexico has multiple complaints about the Mexican gray wolf program, and in 2015 it refused to issue a permit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — part of the Interior Department — to release more of the predators in the state. New Mexico also announced it might sue the agency.

Fish and Wildlife decided to release more wolves anyway, citing an urgent need to expand the wild population to prevent inbreeding. New Mexico officials went to court, and a federal judge in New Mexico issued an order last year blocking further releases while the dispute is resolved.

The Interior Department appealed to the 10th Circuit. Appeals court judges generally take weeks or months to issue a ruling after hearing oral arguments.

Even if the court sides with the government, it’s not clear whether president-elect Donald Trump’s administration will continue to fight after he takes office.

New Mexico state attorneys contend the Endangered Species Act and federal rules require the Fish and Wildlife Service to cooperate with the state and not release more wolves without state permission. They also made a states’ rights argument, saying states have the primary responsibility to manage wildlife.

Eighteen other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with New Mexico.

Interior Department lawyers argue the law allows the department to go around the state, if necessary, to save a species. The preliminary injunction against more releases “threatens the survival in the wild of a protected species,” they said in written arguments.

A coalition of environmental groups, led by Defenders of Wildlife, intervened on the Interior Department’s side. They argue that the state’s legal interpretation would wrongly give them veto power over measures to save a federally protected species.

Reintroducing wolves is always contentious because they sometimes attack domestic livestock as well as game animals prized by hunters. Last year, the Interior Department’s internal watchdog said the Fish and Wildlife Service had not fulfilled its obligation to remove Mexican gray wolves that preyed on pets and cattle.

The Mexican wolf program has had other problems, including multiple failed attempts to update the original 1982 recovery plan. Fish and Wildlife has agreed to produce a new plan this year to settle a lawsuit filed by conservation groups.

New Mexico officials also complain that federal officials tripled the target number of wolves in the wild — from about 100 to 300 — without sufficient justification.

Only about 100 Mexican gray wolves live in the wild. They nearly disappeared in the 1970s, and the federal government added them to the endangered species list in 1976. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing them in New Mexico and Arizona starting in 1998.

]]>
Events raise hopes for cherry exports to China http://www.capitalpress.com/Orchards/20170118/events-raise-hopes-for-cherry-exports-to-china http://www.capitalpress.com/Orchards/20170118/events-raise-hopes-for-cherry-exports-to-china#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:24:40 -0500 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119869 WENATCHEE, Wash. — The president of Northwest Cherry Growers says he has new hope for cherry exports to China after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met recently with Chinese billionaire businessman Jack Ma.

Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., met with Trump Jan. 9 at Trump Tower in New York and said he would allow small and medium-size American companies to sell goods through Alibaba’s online shopping platforms. They are estimated to do more business than eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. combined and are geared toward China’s 300-million-member middle class.

In December, the U.S. Trade Representative re-listed Alibaba as linked to significant infringement of American businesses’ intellectual property rights.

B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission, told growers in Wenatchee, Jan. 17, that he’s been worried about Trump “sharpening his horns and putting his head down toward China” over China’s piracy of U.S. products and ideas. Thurlby said he doesn’t like those practices either but doesn’t want the cherry market derailed.

China bought about 1.7 million, 20-boxes of Northwest cherries last year, virtually tied with Canada as the No. 1 export market, and the Northwest needs those markets, Thurlby said.

“Two years ago, Ma got involved in fresh produce and the first thing he sold was cherries,” Thurlby told several hundred growers at Northcentral Washington Stone Fruit Day at Wenatchee Convention Center.

“We heard he spent half his time (with Trump) talking about cherries. I’m feeling better now about our prospects in China. I have hope,” Thurlby said.

Every market is important, he said, as the Northwest continues to expect 20-million-box cherry crops, a growth of 6.3 percent per year for the past 17 years.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah shipped 20.97 million, 20-pound boxes of fresh sweet cherries in 2016 making it the third largest crop in Pacific Northwest history. A similar amount is likely in 2017, given bud sets growers and fieldmen are reporting, Thurlby said.

The region, with Washington leading, has long dominated sweet cherry production which was 6 million boxes in 1999 but has been in the 20-million-box range since 2009 with a record of 23.2 million in 2014. That’s a “brisk growth pace” of 6.3 percent a year over the last 17 years, Thurlby said.

Prices of 2016 have not yet been released by USDA, but Washington’s 2015 crop garnered $436.9 million and averaged $19.70 per box. Those were low values due to prices tumbling due to harvest compression from hot weather.

A few years ago, harvest volume was lessening in May and June and increasing in July and August because of cooler springs. That’s reversed the last three years because of warmer springs. That’s a good thing, Thurlby said, because there’s less fruit competition on produce shelves earlier in the season.

New records were set in 2016 of 700,000 boxes shipped in May and 12.3 million in June. A new daily record of 651,000 boxes shipped was set June 27. But shipments have compressed to 63 and 64 days the last four years.

“If this trend continues we will have to have our boots on and animals loaded and ready to go to war,” Thurlby quipped.

But fast new high-tech electronic sorting and sizing in packing houses has helped the industry handle the compression. It’s also resulted in a higher 84 percent of packouts containing 10.5 row and larger cherries, he said.

]]>
Sustainable farming consultants acquired by food verification firm http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170118/sustainable-farming-consultants-acquired-by-food-verification-firm http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170118/sustainable-farming-consultants-acquired-by-food-verification-firm#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:27:26 -0500 Tim Hearden http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119872 SOQUEL, Calif. — A California consulting firm that advises growers on sustainable farming methods has been acquired by the largest independent verifier of food production practices in North America.

A majority interest in SureHarvest, which has offices in Soquel and Modesto, Calif., and works with groups such as the Almond Board of California and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, has been bought by the Colorado-based Where Food Comes From.

That organization verifies food production practices for more than 12,000 farmers, ranchers, vineyards, wineries and other agriculture-related businesses, according to a news release.

The transaction was valued at about $2.8 million, including $1.1 million in cash and 850,852 shares of WFCF stock, according to a news release. In addition, WFCF has the right of first refusal on the remaining 40 percent interest in SureHarvest, a privately held company.

SureHarvest is expected to add about $1.5 million in annual revenue to Where Food Comes From’s portfolio with no long-term debt, according to the release.

The transaction expands WFCF’s reach into high-value specialty crops such as wine grapes, almonds and strawberries, company representatives said. For SureHarvest’s clients, it increases access to expertise in production management.

“This acquisition essentially creates a one-stop shop for producers facing increased pressures to streamline operations with resource efficiency while meeting the needs of an ever-more-curious customer base,” spokeswoman Katie Nieri said in an email.

SureHarvest president and chief executive officer Jeff Dlott said in a statement the deal will enable more growers to tell their sustainability and production stories. The added expertise in verification and traceability could help producers and distributors “be better managers of natural resources and even achieve competitive differentiation,” he said.

SureHarvest uses patented devices and systems for helping growers capture farm-level data, record chain of custody and guarantee production standards and methods to consumers, according to a news release. Its sustainability software supports more than 2,200 agri-food operations, including growers, packers, shippers, processors, wineries and trade associations.

The 18-year-old company has eight full-time employees who will continue to operate in their current offices.

]]>
Cowboy’s thumb reattached after rodeo roping accident http://www.capitalpress.com/RuralLife/20170118/cowboys-thumb-reattached-after-rodeo-roping-accident http://www.capitalpress.com/RuralLife/20170118/cowboys-thumb-reattached-after-rodeo-roping-accident#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:09:37 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119874 DENVER (AP) — A Wyoming cowboy has got his thumb back after losing it while roping a steer at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

KCNC-TV reported Monday that Justin Johnson had been competing in a team rodeo event when the incident happened last week.

The cowboy and rancher from outside Casper says he roped a steer by its hind feet and was trying to wrap the rope around the saddle horn when his thumb got stuck. The rope then sliced it off.

Johnson says his son later found the thumb still in his roping glove.

The 48-year-old is now recovering after doctors reattached his thumb at a Denver hospital.

Healing is expected to take several weeks, and Johnson says he can’t wait to get back in the saddle.

]]>
Bill to lift protections for wolves introduced in U.S. Senate http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170118/bill-to-lift-protections-for-wolves-introduced-in-us-senate http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170118/bill-to-lift-protections-for-wolves-introduced-in-us-senate#Comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 08:47:18 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119876 MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Senators from three states have introduced legislation to lift federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and return responsibility for managing those populations to the states.

The bill introduced Tuesday comes from Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, John Barrasso and Enzi of Wyoming, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

The Interior Department has tried several times to take wolves in the four states off the endangered list but has been blocked by the courts. Both the Senate bill and one introduced in the House last week would prevent the courts from overruling the decision.

Similar proposals stalled out last year, partly due to White House opposition. But farm and rancher groups and other wolf hunting supporters hope that changes under the Trump administration.

]]>
Public lands transfer backers seek convention of states to amend Constitution http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170117/public-lands-transfer-backers-seek-convention-of-states-to-amend-constitution http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20170117/public-lands-transfer-backers-seek-convention-of-states-to-amend-constitution#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:55:37 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119885 SALT LAKE CITY — A leader in the effort to force the transfer of Western federal lands to state control believes calling a convention of states to change the U.S. Constitution is the best path forward.

Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, said states’ rights advocates are already laying the groundwork for a convention.

The federal government owns nearly half of the land in the West, which Ivory believes has tied up resources and put the region’s states at an economic disadvantage. He contends public lands are also in poor health due to federal neglect.

Under Article 5 of the Constitution, two-thirds of states may call a convention, and proposed amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Eight states have already passed resolutions calling for a convention. Idaho has a bill in the works to join the list. Thus far, the constitution has been revised only through congressional action.

“Now millions of people are working to convene a convention of states,” said Ivory, who is a lawyer and was picked as the first senior legislative adviser to the Convention of States Project.

The project has volunteers working in all 50 states to “restore the checks and balances that were put in place on our federal government.”

Ivory and Idaho Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, participated in a simulated convention of states last September in Virginia, addressing a host of perceived federal overreaches.

Loertscher said the bill he’s drafting to codify Idaho’s support of a convention should easily pass the House of Representatives, and he’s seeking help in the Senate. He said the bill endorses a convention to address “fiscal matters, overreach of the federal government and term limits,” and it could encompass public lands transfer.

“With all of the federal lands in Idaho, we’re operating with one hand tied behind our back,” Loertscher said. “We don’t have the tax base for all of that land.”

Ivory’s home state is also pursuing litigation and congressional action to force land transfers. Utah has conducted a legal analysis and set aside $5 million for a federal court battle, and Ivory hopes to “see a much more constitutionally focused Supreme Court.”

Ivory believes President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., for Secretary of Interior signifies a roadblock toward a congressional solution. Zinke, an avid hunter, has publicly opposed transferring federal lands.

“(Zinke) walked out on the Republican National Committee and declined to become a delegate because the transfer of public land was part of the GOP platform,” Ivory said.

Brian Brooks, executive director of Idaho Wildlife Foundation, believes Idaho sportsmen overwhelmingly oppose public lands transfer, due to the threat of lost public access and the potential for states to sell the land. Idaho has sold 41 percent of its former state lands, he said.

Brooks believes any avenue toward forcing a public lands sale is a long shot, but he’s taking the threat seriously, as advocates of the concept are well financed.

“I feel like there are interests who do not represent the majority of Americans who are going to surround Zinke,” Brooks said.

]]>
Tom Vilsack to take helm of U.S. Dairy Export Council http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170117/tom-vilsack-to-take-helm-of-us-dairy-export-council http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170117/tom-vilsack-to-take-helm-of-us-dairy-export-council#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:32:28 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119886 Tom Vilsack, who resigned his post ag secretary on Friday, is joining the U.S. Dairy Export Council as president and CEO, effective Feb. 1, according to an announcement by USDEC on Tuesday.

Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995 and retired at the end of 2016.

“I’ve spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council,” Vilsack stated in USDEC’s press release on Tuesday.

“Growing the global market for U.S. dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America’s dairy farmers,” he said.

Vilsack will provide strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC’s global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. That will include working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy, the press release stated.

Together with the USDEC board, he will create strategies to successfully achieve the shared vision. He will serve as the organization’s primary spokesperson and ambassador.

“I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USDEC as well as agriculture, food industry and key stakeholders at home and abroad to advance the council’s mission and strengthen trust in American dairy,” Vilsack said.

“Secretary Vilsack’s impressive record of leadership and his proven ability to manage complex issues, combined with his breadth and depth of industry knowledge, made him the preeminent choice to take the helm of USDEC,” said Thomas Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc., the umbrella organization that founded USDEC.

]]>
Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170117/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170117/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:28:26 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119887 Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 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 three to eight cents per bushel higher compared to Friday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for January delivery for ordinary protein were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as steady to higher 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 January delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher 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 January delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as higher 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 January were not well tested in early trading but bids were indicated as higher 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 January were not well tested in early trading, but bids were indicated as higher 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

Jan 4.5600-4.7400

Feb 4.5600-4.7400

Mar 4.5600-4.7400

Apr 4.5300-4.6975

May 4.5200-4.6975

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jan NA

Feb NA

Mar 4.6000-4.7900

Apr 4.6275-4.6975

May 4.6275-4.6975

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

Ordinary protein

Jan 4.7400-4.9900

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Jan NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 4.5525-4.6425

11 pct protein 5.1425-5.2425

11.5 pct protein

Jan 5.4425-5.5425

Feb 5.4425-5.5425

Mar 5.4425-5.4925

Apr 5.4625-5.5125

12 pct protein 5.5925-5.6925

13 pct protein 5.8925-5.9925

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 6.3575-6.5475

14 pct protein

Jan 7.0075-7.1575

Feb 7.0075-7.1575

Mar 7.0075-7.1575

Apr 6.8675-6.9175

15 pct protein 7.2875-7.5575

16 pct protein 7.5675-7.9575

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jan 4.7225-4.8425

Feb 4.6525-4.7625

Mar 4.6125-4.6425

Apr 4.4925-4.5125

May 4.4625-4.5125

Jun 4.5125-4.5425

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Jan 11.7000-11.8000

Feb 11.5400-11.6500

Mar 11.4000-11.5500

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.2650

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Dec 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 4.5700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 4.0300

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 4.9300

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.5000

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

]]>
Interior nominee Zinke to be quizzed on public lands, coal http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170117/interior-nominee-zinke-to-be-quizzed-on-public-lands-coal http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170117/interior-nominee-zinke-to-be-quizzed-on-public-lands-coal#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:55:53 -0500 MATTHEW DALY http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119891 WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke says he would never sell, give away or transfer public lands, a crucial stance in his home state of Montana and the West where access to hunting and fishing is considered sacrosanct.

Zinke feels so strongly that he resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last summer because of the GOP’s position in favor of land transfers to state or private groups. But Zinke’s commitment to public lands has come into question in recent weeks and is likely to be a point of contention Tuesday as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considers his nomination to be interior secretary under President-elect Donald Trump.

Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL who just won his second term in Congress, was an early Trump supporter and, like his prospective boss, has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change.

A self-described “Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” Zinke has supported legislation to boost land and water conservation and recreation on public lands. Zinke has also advocated for increased oil and gas drilling and coal-mining on Western lands.

The Interior Department and other U.S. agencies control almost a third of land in the West and even more of the underground “mineral estate” that holds vast amounts of coal, oil and natural gas.

Zinke’s position on public lands came under fire after he voted in favor of a measure from House Republicans that would allow federal land transfers to be considered cost-free and budget-neutral, making it easier for drilling and development.

Zinke “says he’s against transfer of federal lands, but there’s a big gap between what he says and what he does in that regard,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental group.

“You’d think the congressman would be on his best behavior going into a job interview, but instead he’s taking steps to once again jeopardize the future of Montana’s outdoor economy,” Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said after the Jan. 3 vote.

Zinke’s spokeswoman said the congressman maintains his position against the sale or transfer of federal lands.

Supporters calls the dispute overblown and say Zinke’s vote was on a much larger package that sets House rules in the new Congress.

Indeed, his support for public lands was a crucial reason why Zinke was chosen by Trump. The president-elect and his son, Donald Trump Jr., both oppose sale of federal lands. The younger Trump, an avid hunter, has taken a keen interest in Interior issues and played a key role in Zinke’s selection.

Coal is likely to be another focus on Tuesday. Montana boasts the largest coal reserves in the nation, and Zinke has warned environmentalists and the Obama administration that to take coal out of the energy mix would be “a disaster.”

“I don’t agree with keeping it in the ground,” he said during his re-election campaign.

Eric Washburn, a lobbyist and former aide to Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, said Zinke will likely be asked to “defend federal ownership over federal lands” and detail how he would balance energy development with the need to conserve fish and wildlife habitats.

Zinke “appears to be a straight shooter, someone that energy and conservation interests can both work with,” Washburn said.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership endorsed Zinke, calling him “a leader on many issues important to America’s hunters and anglers.”

Brune, of the Sierra Club, scoffed at the comparison to Roosevelt, saying the only way to connect the men is “to describe the ways Zinke wants to undo TR’s legacy” of conservation.

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, the top Democrat on the energy panel, said she is eager to ask Zinke about modernizing the federal coal program “to make sure American taxpayers aren’t short-changed for the benefit of corporate interests.” Cantwell also said wants reassurances that Zinke will protect the interests of American consumers and native tribes — “not just the coal and mining companies.”

Zinke spent 23 years as a Navy SEAL, serving in Kosovo and Iraq, where he was awarded two Bronze Stars for combat missions. He currently serves on the House Natural Resources and Armed Services committees.

He made an unsuccessful 2012 run for Montana lieutenant governor before shifting his ambitions to Congress in 2014. Before his selection for Interior, Zinke had been considered a likely challenger to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018.

]]>
Teacher’s lesson: Waste not, want not http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170117/teachers-lesson-waste-not-want-not http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20170117/teachers-lesson-waste-not-want-not#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:41:32 -0500 RAF CASERT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119893 BRUSSELS (AP) — The sheer waste of food had been bothering teacher Marijke De Jongh for so long that two years ago she set up a pop-up restaurant to serve perfectly good groceries and meat that were approaching their expiry date.

With her Rekub team, she followed it up with an app that brings thousands of consumers to retail shops were they can buy food closing in on its sell-by date.

Still, the efforts of a small group of conscientious consumers are no match for the masses that still waste food from farm to fork.

The European Court of Auditors on Tuesday chided the European Union’s executive branch in a report, “Combating Food Waste,” that decried the bloc’s lack of effort in reducing the food waste. It estimated the EU wastes 88 million tons of food a year for a population of 510 million.

“The Commission is not combating the food waste effectively,” said ECA member Bettina Jakobsen, noting a lack of strategy and inspiration being used to tackle the problem.

The report said more efforts should be made all along the food chain and special precautions should be taken when setting farm policy to make sure that less produce is discarded. An EU study, however, shows about half that waste can still be tied to households, not policy.

The ECA also recommended making food donations easier, since they are still mired in legal and tax issues that sometimes become a disincentive for food producers to give food away. It said with better EU regulations that could be turned around.

The European Commission complained the ECA had overlooked recent efforts the member states and the executive had made.

“This commission is fully committed in the fight against food waste and maybe some of these efforts were a bit overlooked,” European Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio said.

At the same time, De Jongh continues to try to make a difference at a local level in Antwerp, northern Belgium. After her pop-up experiment in 2015, she is planning a permanent Rekub eatery now.

“We have to keep this moving and put it on everyone’s radar,” she said.

]]>
3,600 chicks killed in Pennsylvania fire http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170117/3600-chicks-killed-in-pennsylvania-fire http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170117/3600-chicks-killed-in-pennsylvania-fire#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:38:22 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119894 ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A fire chief says 3,600 chicks have been killed in a chicken house fire at a south-central Pennsylvania farm.

Rheems Fire Chief Charles Stanford says a malfunctioning heater caused the fire Monday afternoon at the farm in West Donegal Township, about 20 miles southeast of Harrisburg.

The chief says the farm hands worked to hold the fire in check until firefighters arrived, but it wasn’t enough to save the chicks.

The fire caused about $16,000 damage to the building.

]]>
Wyoming to get its first USDA slaughterhouse http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170117/wyoming-to-get-its-first-usda-slaughterhouse http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20170117/wyoming-to-get-its-first-usda-slaughterhouse#Comments Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:29:23 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119896 CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A Cody business is on track to become Wyoming’s first federally licensed and inspected slaughterhouse.

The Cody Enterprise reported Monday that Wyoming Legacy Meats is working to attain licensing through the United States Department of Agriculture, a move that will allow the brand to sell Wyoming beef to markets beyond state borders.

Cody orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Schmidt purchased the former Cody Meat slaughterhouse in September and rebranded it as Wyoming Legacy Meats. Wyoming Legacy Meats spokeswoman Virginia Schmidt, Frank Schmidt’s daughter, says the company plans to partner with ranches across the state.

The company hopes to operate a USDA facility by April, though the process could take longer.

]]>
Progress made on Mexican potato access http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170116/progress-made-on-mexican-potato-access http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170116/progress-made-on-mexican-potato-access#Comments Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:31:53 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119897 DENVER — Potatoes USA officials say an “important and very positive step” has been taken in the industry’s 15-year effort to gain access to all of Mexico for fresh U.S. potato shipments.

Precisely how significant the development will prove to be remains to be seen.

U.S. potato exports to Mexico have been allowed only within 16 miles of the U.S. border, except for a brief period in 2014 when the market was opened. Mexican courts granted an injunction against fresh U.S. potato shipments shortly after full access was granted, based on Mexican growers’ claims that some phytosanitary issues had not been properly addressed. The restriction was reinstated and has remained in place ever since.

On Jan. 13, Mexico’s agriculture department, called SAGARPA, published a pest risk assessment for U.S. potatoes and a sheet offering requirements for shipping fresh U.S. potatoes beyond the 16-mile zone. According to Potatoes USA, the publication will set the rules governing fresh U.S. potato shipments beyond the 16-mile zone until a permanent decree is formalized, which should take 60 to 90 days.

“Can people export? We don’t know because the process by which that is to occur based on the document has not yet been clearly defined by the Mexicans,” said Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern. “They made these publications, but they haven’t sorted out the exact process.”

Toaspern also offered the caveat that officials are still determining if the previous legal actions by Mexican potato growers will prevent further imports, and additional lawsuits could result in new injunctions against U.S. potato exports.

“It is very much in flux,” Toaspern said.

Opening all of Mexico to fresh U.S. spuds would be a major victory for the U.S. potato industry.

Even with access restricted to within 16 miles of the border, Mexico is the second largest market for fresh U.S. potatoes. Toaspern said opening Mexico would also benefit Mexican consumers, who would enjoy a broader supply and variety of potatoes.

]]>
Supreme Court to hear WOTUS appeal http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170116/supreme-court-to-hear-wotus-appeal http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20170116/supreme-court-to-hear-wotus-appeal#Comments Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:49:42 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119898 The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether jurisdiction in lawsuits filed over the Waters of the U.S. rule lies with federal district courts or appellate courts.

The high court on Friday granted the appeal to review a 6th U.S. Court of Appeals decision asserting its jurisdiction to hear the lawsuits. Many of the lawsuits have been consolidated in the court.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — part of coalition led by the National Association of Manufacturers — considers the Supreme Court’s decision to review that assertion a victory for cattle producers and other private property owners.

Beyond the procedural issue of jurisdiction, “it raises the issue of WOTUS and our opposition at the highest level,” said Scott Yager, NCBA environmental counsel.

It also shows the Supreme Court is interested in WOTUS and that private property rights are at the forefront of the justices’ minds, he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contend the WOTUS rule is meant to clear up confusion and define which waters fall under their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

Opponents say the rule is regulatory overreach, unconstitutional and inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent.

At issue in the appeal to the Supreme Court is where the case should start. A panel of three judges in the 6th Circuit appellate court issued a 2-1 decision. One of the judges who voted in favor of the appellate court based his decision on what he considered to be wrongful precedent, Yager said.

In its petition for review of that decision, filed in September, the plaintiff coalition argued that challenges to the WOTUS rule belong in district court. It further argued if the 6th Circuit doesn’t actually have jurisdiction to hear the case, any action it takes could be overturned on appeal and the process would have to start over at the district level, resulting in a waste of resources.

The Department of Justice and the federal agencies argued the challenges belong in the appellate court. If they prevail, it could impact all litigation involving the Clean Water Act, Yager said.

Language in the Clean Water Act lays out what type of action can be brought at the appellate level, and these legal challenges to EPA’s rulemaking is not on that list, he said.

“We are fighting back against the government to (make it) obey the rules of the road on how the Clean Water Act works and where cases are started,” he said.

While the petition asks the Supreme Court to look at jurisdiction, justices have the discretion to go farther and could indicate where they are leaning on the overall case, he said.

Many of the lawsuits were filed both in district and appellate courts “to make sure we didn’t lose out,” said Reed Hopper, principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which sued on behalf of Western livestock associations and private landowners.

Some of the cases in district courts were dismissed and some were stayed. All the appellate cases were consolidated in the 6th Circuit, with briefings scheduled through the end of the month. That court will be hearing arguments on the validity of the rule around the same time the Supreme Court will be issuing a decision on the venue, he said.

Arguments in the Supreme Court are scheduled for April, with a decision to follow by the end of June. If that court decides the 6th Circuit doesn’t have jurisdiction, it’ll be back to district court, where dismissed cases would have to be refiled, he said.

But Hopper said he thinks the new Trump administration is probably going to “cool the rule” before that.

]]>
National wool and sheep report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170116/national-wool-and-sheep-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20170116/national-wool-and-sheep-report#Comments Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:05:36 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017170119902 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.

Jan. 13

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

Jan. 13

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were firm to $4 higher, except at San Angelo, Texas, weak to $5 lower. Slaughter ewes were steady to $3 higher, instances sharply higher. No comparison on feeder lambs.

At San Angelo, 3,750 head sold. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes and feeder lambs were not tested. 4,200 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady. 10,800 head of formula sales had no trend due to confidentiality.

3,006 lamb carcasses sold with 45 lbs. down $3.06 higher; 45-65 lbs. no trend due to confidentiality; 65-75 lbs $1.85 higher; 75-85 lbs $.10 lower and 85 lbs up $2.43 lower.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 115-150 lbs. $129-140, few $146.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $240-252, few $260; 60-70 lbs. $218-244; 70-80 lbs. $212-230; 80-90 lbs. $186-216, few $224; 90-110 lbs. $165-172.

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

4,200 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 114-184 lbs. $126-164 (wtd avg $141.93).

SLAUGHTER EWES:

San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $79-82; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $82-93; Utility 1-2 (thin) $74-82; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $60; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $40-56.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 60-70 lbs. $180-194; 70-80 lbs. $180-185; 80-90 lbs. $172-180; 94 lbs. $168; 100-115 lbs. $156-166.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: hair ewe lambs 70 lbs. $238 cwt; mixed age hair ewes 90-150 lbs. $90-144 cwt.

NATIONAL WEEKLY LAMB CARCASS Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. Down $472.60

45-55 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

55-65 lbs. Price not reported

due to confidentiality

65-75 lbs. $299.30

75-85 lbs. $292.97

85 lbs. and up $282.92

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 39,000 compared with 32,000 last week and 37,000 last year.

]]>