Capital Press | Nation/World Capital Press Mon, 22 Jan 2018 12:04:07 -0500 en Capital Press | Nation/World Amazon to debut store without checkout in downtown Seattle Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:23:21 -0500 SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon employees have been testing it, but is the public ready for a cashier-less store?

More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon is opening its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle on Monday.

The store on the bottom floor of the company’s Seattle headquarters allows shoppers to scan their smartphone with the Amazon Go app at a turnstile, pick out the items they want and leave.

By combining computer vision, machine learning algorithms and sensors, the online retail giant can tell what people have purchased and charges their Amazon account. If someone puts an item back, they aren’t charged.

The store is not without employees — Amazon says there will be people there making food, stocking shelves and helping customers. The store will offer ready-to-eat breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, as well as some grocery staples like bread, milk, cheese and chocolates. It’ll also have Amazon Meal Kits.

At about 1,800 square feet, the Amazon Go store adds to the company’s growing physical store presence and its expansion into groceries after its purchase last year of organic grocer Whole Foods and its 470 stores.

Amazon now has more than a dozen Amazon Books stores, which also sell toys, electronics and small gifts. It has space in some Kohl’s stores. Amazon also has small shops in several malls.

The company had announced the Amazon Go store in December 2016 and said it would open by early 2017, but it delayed the debut while it worked on the technology and company employees tested it out.

Growers follow wheat from farm to market Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:54:25 -0500 GEORGE PLAVEN PORTLAND — The end of harvest is just the beginning of the story for Oregon wheat, as farmers from around the state learned Jan. 18-19 at the Oregon Wheat Commission’s 2018 grower workshop in Portland.

A group of 15 people gathered at the commission offices in the historic Albers Mill overlooking the Willamette River. From there, they met with experts and toured facilities to witness firsthand what happens to their crop once it leaves the farm.

Oregon farmers typically grow 50 million to 70 million bushels of wheat every year, with a total economic output averaging more than $815 million. Tana Simpson, OWC associate administrator, said the commission assesses 5 cents per bushel, which pays for programs such as export market development, grower services and university research.

The annual workshop is intended to show farmers the value they get in return for their investment, Simpson said.

“These are your dollars that you’re going to see over the next few days,” she said.

The group made its first stop at the nonprofit Wheat Marketing Center, which does quality and product testing using wheat samples from across the Northwest. Janice Cooper, managing director at the center, said they also do hands-on training for overseas customers making products such as crackers, noodles and tortillas.

“Most of the work we do is with Asian and Latin American trade teams that come here,” Cooper said.

Laboratory supervisor Bon Lee demonstrated some of the high-tech equipment he uses to measure things such as gluten and starch content in dough. Lee explained in depth how he performs what is known as the “falling numbers” test, which checks for sprout damage in grain.

Low falling numbers has plagued parts of Washington and Idaho in recent years due to pre-harvest rains, Lee said.

“When it rains before harvest ... the sprouting process starts,” Lee said. “Even if you dry it, it’s too late.”

The vast majority of Oregon wheat — 85 to 90 percent — is shipped overseas. The U.S. Wheat Associates is the industry’s promotion arm, developing export markets in more than 100 countries.

Shawn Campbell, deputy director of the organization in Portland, said the most important thing farmers can do is maintain high quality, especially as the global marketplace for wheat becomes more competitive.

Countries such as Japan are particularly interested in buying high-quality soft white wheat from the Pacific Northwest, Campbell said, and consumers there have the income to pay for it.

“If we didn’t give our overseas customers what they wanted, they’d go elsewhere and find it there,” Campbell said.

Next, the group traveled to the Pacific Export Terminal at the Port of Portland, where employees work around the clock loading and unloading wheat shipments from around the region. The terminal is capable of moving 900 metric tons of wheat per hour, while also providing another layer of quality testing on site through the USDA.

Kim Harper, quality assurance specialist, showed how he pulls samples from wheat shipments and combs over each individual grain looking for things such as mold, insect and sprout damage.

“We’re seeing wheat come from across the West and Midwest,” Harper said. “We have to keep up on all that.”

The group wrapped up day one with a stop at a downtown Portland bakery, and spent day two aboard a river tugboat and chatting about the latest wheat research with Oregon State University scientists.

Blake Rowe, CEO of both the Oregon Wheat Commission and Oregon Wheat Growers League, said workshops are designed to give farmers a feel for everything that happens off their farm.

“They’ll actually get an appreciation of what a customer is looking for,” Rowe said. “I think that is something that is helpful to them.”

Solar industry on edge as Trump weighs tariffs on panels Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:14:53 -0500 DAVID KOENIG and SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN DALLAS (AP) — Some in the U.S. solar-power industry are hoping a decision this week by President Donald Trump doesn’t bring on an eclipse.

Companies that install solar-power systems for homeowners and utilities are bracing for Trump’s call on whether to slap tariffs on imported panels.

The solar business in the U.S. has boomed in recent years, driven by falling prices for panels, thanks in part to cheap imports. That has made solar power more competitive with electricity generated from coal and natural gas.

A green-technology research firm estimates that tariffs could cost up to 88,000 U.S. jobs related to installing solar-power systems.

On the other side are two U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies that argue the domestic manufacturing of solar cells and modules has been decimated by a flood of imports, mostly from Chinese companies with operations throughout Asia.

The four members of the U.S. International Trade Commission — two Republicans and two Democrats — unanimously ruled in October that imported panels are hurting American manufacturers, although they differed on exactly how the U.S. should respond. Trump has until Friday to act on the agency’s recommendations for tariffs of up to 35 percent.

Trump has wide leeway — he can reject the recommendations, accept them, or go beyond them and impose tougher tariffs. Congress has no authority to review or veto his action. Countries harmed by his decision could appeal to the World Trade Organization.

The trade case grew out of a complaint by Suniva Inc., a Georgia-based subsidiary of a Chinese company, which declared bankruptcy last April. Suniva was joined by SolarWorld Americas, the U.S. subsidiary of a German company. Both blame their difficulties on a surge of cheap imports, mostly from Asia. Suniva wants higher tariffs than those recommended by the trade commission.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed stiff anti-dumping duties on imported panels made from Chinese solar cells in 2012. Tim Brightbill, SolarWorld Americas’ lawyer, said Chinese companies have gotten around those sanctions by assembling panels from modules produced in other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. That makes the current trade case even more important, he said.

“It is a global case. It addresses the global import surge,” Brightbill said. “We need the strongest possible remedies from President Trump to maintain solar manufacturing here in the United States.”

A consultant for SolarWorld said tariffs on imports could create at least 12,000 jobs and up to 45,000 depending on capacity growth, and that installer jobs would also increase.

While U.S. solar manufacturing has shriveled, installations — from home rooftops to utility-scale operations — have boomed. Installations have soared more than tenfold since 2010, with the biggest jump coming in 2016, after prices for solar panels collapsed.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group for U.S. installers, says tariffs would drive up the cost of installing solar-power systems, leading to a drop in demand.

“We are selling energy that can be created by wind, by natural gas, by hydro, by coal, by nukes. When you raise the price of what we are selling, we can’t compete,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the group’s president.

Jim Petersen, CEO of PetersenDean, a California company that installs solar rooftop panels mostly for residential customers, once favored tariffs on imported panels, which he found to be of inferior quality. He has changed his mind.

Petersen said tariffs could stunt his business by raising the cost of a job, which ranges from $6,000 to $60,000 or more. He said he might be forced to lay off up to 25 percent of his 3,200 installers.

“This is bad for American jobs, bad for the consumer,” he said.

In the New Mexico desert, Albuquerque-based Affordable Solar is working on a $45 million solar farm to help power a massive new data center for Facebook. The company’s president, Kevin Bassalleck, said tariffs would hurt homegrown companies that make racks, tracking systems and electronics that are part of a power system. He said jobs at those companies are hard to outsource.

“If you ever set foot in a solar module assembly factory, most of what you see are robots. There are very few people,” he said. “But if go out on to any one of our project sites like the Facebook project, you would see a small army of people working and installing things.”

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat and advocate for renewable energy, says his state could lose more than 1,500 jobs by 2020 if tariffs are imposed, and tariffs won’t revive U.S. solar manufacturing.

“The jobs that have been lost because of cheaper solar cells have already been lost,” Heinrich said in an interview. “These tariffs are then going to take the very rapidly growing, successful, good jobs that we have built in manufacturing of the other equipment, in installing, and reduce those jobs to a fraction of what they should be.”

The conventional wisdom is that Trump will impose sanctions. Developers anticipating tariffs began flooding foreign manufacturers with orders last fall, driving up prices.

Brightbill, the lawyer for SolarWorld Americas, sounded confident.

“This administration’s focus is on U.S. manufacturing and U.S. jobs and getting tough on China for the trade deficit,” he said, “so we think the administration’s goals are very well-aligned with saving U.S. solar manufacturing.”

Montoya Bryan reported from Albuquerque.

California highway swamped by deadly mudslides reopens Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:06:03 -0500

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — A coastal California highway swamped by deadly mudslides reopened Sunday after a nearly two-week closure that caused traffic headaches across the region, state officials said.

Traffic began moving again on U.S. 101 in Santa Barbara County shortly after noon, according to Jim Shivers, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. Officials had promised a day earlier that the highway would be open again in time for the Monday morning commute.

All lanes were inundated Jan. 9 when a powerful storm brought down boulders and trees from hillsides in Montecito made bare by last month’s wildfires. At least 21 people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged. A 17-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl remain missing.

Crews worked around the clock clearing drainage areas, stabilizing embankments and repairing guardrails and signs. They also cleaned and swept the highway.

During the U.S. 101 shut down, Amtrak added additional cars to its route between Santa Barbara and points east as travelers increasingly relied on rail service to get around the closure.

With many surface streets also impassable, for a time the only other ground route into the Los Angeles area — located 90 miles down the coast — was a series of smaller mountain highways that added more than three hours to the trip.

Desert tortoise faces uncertain future amid Bundy conflict Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:35:18 -0500 HENRY BREANLas Vegas Review-Journal LAS VEGAS (AP) — It all began with the tortoise.

In 1990, federal officials listed the Mojave Desert species as threatened across its range, touching off a series of new regulations and initiatives aimed at saving the long-lived reptile.

One of the people caught up in the effort to save the tortoise was a Bunkerville rancher named Cliven Bundy, who didn’t take kindly to being told to limit the number of cows he was grazing on public land in northeastern Clark County.

So began a decades-long dispute that would inflame anti-government sentiment, turn Bundy and his family into heroes of the militia movement and nearly end in bloodshed in 2014.

But despite all that has happened in the two decades since Bundy famously “fired” federal range managers over protections for the tortoise, the situation on the ground is largely unchanged. Bundy’s cattle continue to roam the vast swath of federal land 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and the tortoises are still out there, too.

In fact, the reptile’s numbers appear to be increasing in that area.

At least one expert studying the species freely admits he doesn’t know why.

Roy Averill-Murray is the desert tortoise recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He said understanding tortoises is tricky because they can live for 80 years or more and take up to 15 years to reach sexual maturity.

“When the animals live longer than anyone studying them has been studying them, it’s a slow process to figure out what’s going on,” Averill-Murray said.

In October, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued its first report in five years on the status of the species. The second paragraph begins with this surprising admission: “We remain unable to quantify how threats affect desert tortoise populations.”

“The reason that sentence is still in there — and why it’s so frustrating — is that it’s such a complicated web of threats,” Averill-Murray said. “Trying to pick that apart is almost impossible.”

But uncertainty hasn’t halted action on the species’ behalf.

In the early 1990s, desert land in Nevada, California, Arizona and Utah was designated as critical habitat, including more than 190,000 acres in northeastern Clark County.

To protect the tortoise living there, Bundy was told that he might have to limit his use of the range under certain conditions and at certain times of the year. In response, he stopped paying his grazing fees but kept using the federal rangeland surrounding his Bunkerville ranch, claiming in the process that the BLM had no jurisdiction over land within Nevada.

By 1997, Clark County was paying ranchers to give up their grazing rights in tortoise habitat, but no such buyout was needed in Bundy’s case. After he stopped paying his fees, the BLM canceled his grazing permit and, in 1999, declared the Bunkerville allotment his family had used since 1954 “closed to grazing.”

What happened next is well documented.

Over the course of almost two decades, Bundy was slapped with numerous trespass notices, court orders and more than $1 million in unpaid fees and penalties. He spent close to two years behind bars for his role in thwarting a BLM roundup of his livestock in 2014. But his cattle never left the range, much of which is now protected as Gold Butte National Monument.

Conservationists say it’s well past time for another roundup.

“Bundy is still an outlaw when it comes to his grazing actions, and the prosecutorial failings in the Bunkerville case do not excuse him from the decades of unauthorized livestock trespass on our public lands,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project.

Bundy and other ranchers have long argued that livestock operations actually benefit desert tortoises and other native wildlife, which get water from the stock tanks and new plants to eat from the ground that’s tilled and fertilized by the cattle.

The science so far suggests the opposite, according to Todd Esque, a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Nevada.

He said the biggest threat cows pose to tortoises is competition.

“You know when they talk about ephemeral forage for livestock? That’s tortoise food,” Esque said. “That’s the same stuff tortoises eat.”

Then there is damage cattle leave behind as they move across the landscape. Averill-Murray said the heavy animals break the desert’s natural crust and churn up the soil, aiding the spread of red brome, an invasive grass that lacks the nutrients to properly sustain tortoises but does provide ample fuel for wildfires.

Researchers believe that all of those things — combined with habitat loss and fragmentation, disease and predation — are taking a toll on the desert tortoise. Teasing out which threats are the most serious is hard because they tend to work in concert, Averill-Murray said: lousy habitat conditions lead to poor nutrition which leads to increased risk of disease, etc.

Since the species was listed as threatened, tens of millions of dollars have been spent on recovery efforts.

For decades, the government operated a Desert Tortoise Conservation Center at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley, where hundreds of the reptiles were warehoused. Many of the tortoises at the center were unwanted or escaped pets, part of a huge backyard population, once thought to number as high as 150,000, that makes the desert tortoise unique among federally protected species.

In the wild, though, tortoise numbers continue to decline across most of its range.

One exception is in northeastern Clark County and neighboring Mohave County, Arizona, where the estimated number of adult tortoises grew from about 1,100 in 2004 to almost 4,300 in 2014, in spite of Cliven’s cows.

Averill-Murray said the population there is still “below the density necessary for long-term viability,” but the trend is promising. Just don’t ask him to explain it.

National wool and sheep review Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:29:44 -0500 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.


(USDA Market News)

Jan. 19

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 also at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades reported.


(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Jan. 19

Compared to Jan. 12: Slaughter lambs mostly steady, instances sharply lower. Slaughter ewes steady to 10.00 higher. Feeder lambs not well tested. At San Angelo, Texas, 3217 head sold. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes and feeder lambs were not tested. 3400 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady to 5.00 higher. 2,229 lamb carcasses sold with all weights no trend due to confidentiality. All sheep sold per hundred weight (CWT) unless otherwise specified.

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

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 130-175 lbs 110.00-130.00.

Ft. Collins, CO: wooled 125-130 lbs 150.00-185.00.

Billings, MT: wooled 158 lbs 151.00.

Equity Elec: no sales.

Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 1-2:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs 260.00-276.00, few 284.00; 60-70 lbs 248.00-260.00, few 270.00; 70-80 lbs 218.00-232.00, few 242.00-252.00; 80-90 lbs 208.00-214.00; 90-110 lbs 170.00-180.00.

Ft. Collins: 70-75 lbs 210.00-220.00; 83 lbs 205.00.

Billings, MT: 56 lbs 231.00; 60-70 lbs 226.00-235.00.

Direct Trading: (lambs fob with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent) 3400: Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 144-175 lbs 115.50-155.51 (wtd avg 133.29).

Slaughter Ewes:

San Angelo: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) no test; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 70.00-75; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 80.00-90.00, few 92.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 72.00-78.00; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) 52.00-60.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) 50.00-52.00.

Ft. Collins: Good 3-5 (very fleshy) 67.00-77.50; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 75.00-85.50; Utility 1-2 (thin) 50.00-62.50; Cull 1 (extremely thin) no test.

Billings, MT: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 52.00-58.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 62.00-80.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 59.00-69.00; Cull 1 66.00.

S. Dakota: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 67.00-70.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 66.00-70.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 57.00-65.00; Cull 1 no test.

Feeder Lambs: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 70-90 lbs 208.00-214.00; 92 lbs 204.00.

Virginia: no test.

Ft. Collins: no test.

Billings: 60-70 lbs 226.00-233.00; 70-80 lbs 209.00-222.50; 80-90 lbs 192.00-215.00; 90-100 lbs 183.00-200.00; 100-110 lbs 170.00-184.50; 115-120 lbs 144.00-151.00, few 174.50; 125-130 lbs 140.00-146.00.

Replacement Ewes: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: hair ewes and lambs 82.00-106.00 per head; mixed age hair ewes 80-130 lbs 90.00-140.00 cwt.

Ft. Collins: no test.

Billings: ewe lambs 76 lbs 227.50 cwt.

S.. Dakota: bred solid mouth 230.00 per head, thin 110.00 per head; exposed 140-210 lbs 60.00-68.00 cwt; hair ewes 130 lbs 90.00 cwt.

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 41,000 compared to 39,000 last week and 33,000 last year.

West Coast grain price report Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:19:00 -0500 Grains are stated in dollars per bushel or hundredweight (cwt.) except feed grains traded in dollars per ton. National grain report bids are for rail delivery unless truck indicated.


(USDA Market News)


Jan. 18

Pacific Northwest Market Summary: Cash wheat bids for January delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, Jan. 18, were lower compared to week ago noon bids for January delivery.

March wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, January 18, lower as follows compared to week ago closes: Chicago wheat futures were eight cents lower at 4.2525, Kansas City wheat futures were 10.75 cents lower at 4.2950 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 18.50 cents lower at 6.1050. Chicago March corn futures trended 2.75 cents higher at 3.5150 and March soybean futures closed 23 cents higher at 9.73.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during January for ordinary protein trended 1.25 to seven cents per bushel lower compared to week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.20-5.32. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. White club wheat premiums were zero to five cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids this week and last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for January delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.56-4.71 and bids for White Club Wheat were 4.74-4.96.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: February, March, April and May 5.20-5.32. One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: February 4.56-4.71, March 4.46-4.71, April and May 4.46-4.60.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during January trended 3.25 cents per bushel lower than week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.20-5.30. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

White club wheat premiums for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein soft white wheat this week were zero to five cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids this week and last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein for January delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.76 and bids for White Club Wheat were 4.76-5.01.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: February 5.20-5.30, March 5.20-5.3125, April and May 5.20-5.2825.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: February not available, March 4.46-4.76, April and May 4.46-4.65.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for January delivery trended 5.75 cents per bushel lower than week ago bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. This week, bids were as follows: January, February, March 5.7950-5.9450, April and May 5.88-5.98.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during January trended 18.50 cents per bushel lower than week ago bids for the same delivery period.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

This week, bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: January 7.2550-7.4550, February and March 7.2550-7.5050, April and May 7.3975-7.5975.

Coarse feeding grains: Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BNSF shuttle trains for January delivery trended 4.75 to 5.75 cents higher than week ago bids for the same delivery period from 4.4650-4.4850. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Forward month corn bids were as follows: February 4.4650-4.4950, March 4.4550-4.4850, April 4.4150-4.4650, May 4.3750-4.3950 and June 4.3475-4.3975. Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BNSF shuttle trains for November delivery trended 13 to 21 cents higher than week ago bids for the same delivery period at 10.58.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Forward month soybean bids were as follows: February 10.58-10.63 and March 10.55-10.61. Bids for US 2 Heavy White Oats for November delivery trended steady at 3.0475 per bushel.

Pacific Northwest Export News: There were 16 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, Jan. 18, with eight docked compared to 14 last week with five docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the USDA.

California Weekly

Grain Report

Jan. 18

Paid by feed manufacturers and other users, delivered plant or receiving station. All prices are offers for prompt shipment unless otherwise stated.

Dollars Per Cwt.

BARLEY US No 2 (46-lbs. per bushel)

FOB Solano County NA

Colusa County NA

Tehama County NA

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

Los Angeles NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA


Fresno Counties 8.75

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

Glenn County NA

CORN US No 2 Yellow

FOB Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

Turlock/Tulare Basis 1.13+H

Rail: Single Car Units via BNSF

Los Angeles-Chino Valley Basis 1.16+H

Stockton NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock Basis 1.30+H


Fresno Counties Basis 1.30+H

Glenn County 8.00

Hanford County NA

Kern County NA

SORGHUM US No 2 Yellow (Milo)

Rail Los Angeles-

Chino Valley via BNSF Basis 1.70+H

Truck Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Turlock County NA

Glenn County NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

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

Truck Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

US No 2 White (38-lbs. per bushel)

Rail Petaluma NA

Truck Petaluma NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

Colusa County NA

WHEAT US No 2 or better - Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)

FOB Fresno NA

Merced NA

Truck (California Origin)

Los Angeles 12% Protein NA

Los Angeles 13% Protein NA

Los Angeles 14% Protein NA

Colusa County NA

Rail-Truck (Out of State Origin)

LA Guaranteed 12% Protein NA

LA Guaranteed 13% Protein NA

LA Guaranteed 14% Protein NA

WHEAT US Durum Wheat

FOB Imperial County NA

Truck Imperial County NA

Kern County NA


Fresno Counties NA

WHEAT Any Class for Feed

FOB Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties 9.10

Kern County NA

Merced County NA


Los Angeles-Chino Valley

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

13 percent protei NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA


Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Fresno NA

Merced County NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

California shell egg price report Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:58:35 -0500 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade A and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.


(USDA Market News)

Jan. 19

Benchmark prices are unchanged. Asking prices for next week are 14 cents higher for Jumbo, 25 cents higher for Extra Large, 28 cents higher for Large and 22 cents higher for Medium and Small. Trade sentiment remains sharply higher. Demand is moderate to good into all channels. Supplies are light to moderate with offerings light. Market activity is active. Small benchmark price is $1.24.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 185 Extra large 163

Large 154 Medium 144


Prices to retailers, sales to volume buyers, USDA Grade AA and Grade AA, white eggs in cartons, delivered store door.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 172-184 Extra large 149-153

Large 139-147 Medium 125-136

Fluid milk and cream review — West Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:52:34 -0500 FLUID MILK AND CREAM REVIEW – WEST

(USDA Market News)

Jan. 18

California milk output has increased since last week. Some manufacturing plant operators say that they are getting close to the flush production levels.

This week, sales into Class 1 are steady with schools’ milk needs being fulfilled. According to some market participants, a fire at one nonfat dry milk plant diverted milk intakes to Class 4 manufacturing plants in the area.

Current higher hay prices coupled with lower milk sale prices are putting more pressure on some dairies as they battle to make a profit. In Arizona, farm milk output is trending higher as the weather conditions are increasing cows’ well-being.

A shut down at one local plant resulted in more milk intakes by other plants. Most dairy plants are running at full capacity and cannot afford any down time due to excess milk that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. No milk is currently being shipped out of state for processing.

Class I intakes are steady this week. Milk pooled on the Arizona Order 131 totaled 423.2 million pounds in December 2017. Class I utilization accounted for about 25.6 percent of producer milk. The uniform price was $15.44, down $0.58 from last month and $1.36 below one year ago.

New Mexico milk production is up this week. Total Class I intakes remain higher. However, Class II and III sales declined partly due to repair/maintenance workloads in some processing plants. In addition, with the closure of some plants for the holiday, holdovers are higher.

Pacific Northwest milk production is steady. Milk intakes are returning to normal following the annual juggling of holiday milk. The bottling pipeline has mostly refilled following the winter holidays and manufacturers are finding milk intakes generally in good balance with processing needs.

Milk pooled on Pacific Northwest Order 124 totaled 610.2 million pounds in December 2017. Class I utilization accounted for about 25.9 percent of producer milk. The uniform price was $15.21, down $0.48 from last month and $1.16 below one year ago.

In the mountain states of Colorado, Idaho and Utah there is a lot of milk and very little to stanch the flow of milk.

Although temperatures have been fluctuating between cold and mild, dairymen are generally finding conditions to be favorable for milk production.

Industry contacts say loads of milk are moving around within the region. Most loads are finding homes within the milk shed without stressing processing capacity too much.

In the West, condensed skim is mainly being dried. Inventories are easily accessible to processors. Western cream supplies are steady to large. Some contacts report that their stocks are manageable while other are overwhelmed with theirs. Butter churning is strong as more cream moves to the churns. Cream multiples for all Classes vary greatly from state to state in the West.

According to the DMN National Retail Report-Dairy for the week of Jan. 12-18, the national weighted average advertised price for one gallon of milk is $2.67, down $0.34 from last week, and $0.39 lower from a year ago. The weighted average regional price in the Southwest is $2.66, with a price range of $1.89-$3.99. The weighted average regional price in the Northwest is $1.99, with no price range.

National feeder and stocker cattle report Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:30:55 -0500 NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Jan. 19

This week Last week Last year

278,500 HD 530,300 HD 392,000 HD

Compared to Jan. 12: Steers and heifers trends were all over the board. Early week sales (if auctions were open due to severe cold temperatures and treacherous roads) of feeder steers and heifers were reported steady to 8.00 lower; mid-week sales were reported 2.00 to 8.00 higher after futures rallied and Live Cattle Futures had near limit higher moves on Wednesday.

Steer and heifer calves followed the same trendline for the week; steady to 6.00 lower early week and steady to 8.00 higher mid-week.

Bidders and buyers flipped their buyers cards readily in those mid- to late-week auctions as they tried to keep up with the uptick in futures. With the CME closed Monday, Tuesday rolled around and the frenzy was on again.

After the Feeders closed last Thursday at 143.82; it has been up from there again. The roller coaster is hopefully hitting another high and can sustain the momentum in weeks ahead.

In the North Plains, heavier fleshed backgrounded cattle are plentiful; however, grass cattle and high quality replacement heifers are in high demand currently with not enough to go around for the buyers.

Last week’s large supply of cattle on offer across much of the country had the bears running for the woods thinking that feedyards were full and the longs would dictate the market.

Anecdotes of North Plains feedyards shipping cattle to the South Plains to complete kills for this week were abuzz around the industry with feedyards willing to wait and see if prices get better later in the week.

Freezing cold temperatures the past few weeks have been a concern for the wheat crop in all areas. Producers do not like to see that low of temperatures around and they are keeping watch on their fields to see how much winterkill they will incur.

Dressed steer slaughter weights were reported at 900 for the week ending Jan. 6, 5 pounds below last year and 10 pounds below the previous 5-year average.

This week’s big news centered around the largest cattle feeder in the world divesting some assets and selling their U.S. feedyards to an investment firm for approximately $200 million. According to reports the current management team and agreements to supply a packer with cattle will continue.


volume this week included 64 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 42 percent heifers.

National Slaughter

Cattle Summary

Jan. 19

Slaughter cattle trade was mostly inactive in all major feeding regions, with exception of Nebraska selling dressed trades 3.00 higher.

Boxed Beef prices as of Friday afternoon averaged 202.51 down 2.43 from last Friday. The Choice/Select spread is 4.70. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Friday afternoon totaled 18,440 head. Last week’s total head count was 67,031.

Midwest Direct Markets:

Live Basis: Steers and Heifers: NT

Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers: 195.00

South Plains Direct Markets:

Live Basis: Steers and Heifers: NT

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to 2.00 lower with exception of the Colorado trading 2.00-3.00 higher. Cutter Cow Carcass Cut-Out Value Friday was 170.10 down 0.30 from last Friday.

Northwest Weighted

Direct Feeder Cattle

This week Last week Last year

2,566 1,519 2,200

Compared to Jan. 12: Feeder steers lightly tested with last week few sales steady to 6.00 higher. Feeder heifers 1.00-3.00 higher. Some cattle at the lower end of the price range were contracted early in the trading period. Cattle futures have traded on the plus side every day since last Friday. The feeder supply included 100 percent over 600 lbs and 62 percent heifers. Unless otherwise stated prices are FOB weighting points with 2-3 percent shrink or equivalent and a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 4-12 cent slide on yearlings from base weights. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Feeder Steers Medium and Large 1

70 Head; Avg Wt 725 lbs; Avg Price 154.00; Current Del

468 Head; 800-825 lbs; Avg Price 145.00; Current Del

190 Head; 850-885 lbs; Avg Price 143.00; Current Del

120 Head; 900 lbs; Avg Price 141.00; Current Del

Feeder Steers Medium and Large 1-2

131 Head; 750-780 lbs; Avg Price 146.00; Current Del

Feeder Heifers Medium and Large 1

369 Head; 615-625 lbs; Avg Price 153.04; Current Del

215 Head; 675-685 lbs; Avg Price 144.00; Current Del

860 Head; 700 lbs; Avg Price; 144.71; Current Del

143 Head; 750-775 lbs; Avg Price; 139.14; Current Del

Western hay price report Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:21:36 -0500 Hay prices are dollars per ton or dollars per bale when sold to retail outlets. Basis is current delivery FOB barn or stack, or delivered customer as indicated. Grade guidelines used in this report have the following relationship to Relative Feed Value (RFV), Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients), or Crude Protein (CP) test numbers:


Supreme 185+ <27 55.9+ 22+

Premium 170-185 27-29 54.5-55.9 20-22

Good 150-170 29-32 52.5-54.5 18-20

Fair 130-150 32-35 50.5-52.5 16-18

Utility <130 36+ <50.5 <16


(Columbia Basin)

(USDA Market News)

Jan. 26

This week FOB Last week Last year

1290 Tons 2625 Tons 5400 Tons

Compared to Jan. 19: Alfalfa steady in a light test. Trade slow this week with light to moderate demand. Retail/Feedstore steady. Feeder hay remains in firm hands.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square

Premium Organic 300 310.00

Fair/Good/Org 160 280.00

Tarped 800 136.88

Orchard Grass Small Square

Prem/Retail/Stable 30 215.00


(USDA Market News)

Jan. 19

Compared to Jan. 12: Prices trended generally steady in a limited test. Retail/Stable type hay remains the most demanded hay. Feeder alfalfa (rain damage) sales have decreased compared to last report. Organic sales have increased compared to the past few reports. Many hay producers have sold out for the growing year.

This week FOB Last week Last year

2718 Tons 1124 Tons 6031 Tons

Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco Counties

Tons Price

Alfalfa Large Square

Premium 200 150.00

Good/Premium 120 140.00

Fair/Good 60 120.00

Small Square

Premium 27 225.00

Retail/Stable 56 220.00

Orchard Grass Small Square

Prem/Retail/Stable 36 242.08

Meadow Grass Small Square

Prem/Retail/Stable 25 210.00

Klamath Basin:

Alfalfa Large Square

Supr/Organic 50 300.00

Premium 25 230.00

Organic 900 271.11

Good/Organic 200 265.00

Small Square

Premium/Grassy 125 220.00

Good/Premium 50 175.00

Fair/Good/Rain Dam 30 140.00

Wheat Large Square

Good/Prem/Org 220 170.00

Lake County:

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme 242 203.26

Prem/Org/Rain Dam 200 225.00

Small Square

Supreme/Org 30 250.00

Prem/Retail/Stable 30 185.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Premium 62 185.00

Retail/Stable 30 185.00

Eastern Oregon: No New Sales Confirmed.

Harney County: No New Sales Confirmed.


(USDA Market News)

Jan. 19

This week FOB Last week Last year

1430 Tons 3025 Tons 3850 Tons

Compared to Jan. 12: Alfalfa steady in a light test. Trade slow this week. Muddy conditions continue. Retail/Feedstore not tested. Prices are dollars per ton and FOB the farm or ranch unless otherwise stated.

Alfalfa Mid Square

Prem/Sup.Tarped 650 130.00

Good/Prem/Tarped 750 130.00

Orchard Grass Mid Square

Fair/Good/Export 30 180.00


(USDA Market News)

Jan. 19

Compared to Jan. 12: All classes traded steady with moderate demand. Retail hay is in high demand due to lack of hay in barns this year. Winter forage crops, such as wheat, barley and other cereal grains and forage mixes continued to be planted and seed shipments received. Irrigation was still necessary to maintain growth of those plantings that have germinated. Alfalfa was growing well.

This week FOB Last week Last year

1320 Tons 4935 Tons 1525 Tons


Includes the counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen and Plumas.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Supreme 75 230.00

Fair 170 160.00


Includes the counties of Tehama, Glenn, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Solano and Sacramento.

Alfalfa Prem/Retail/Stable 25 280.00


Includes the counties of San Joaquin, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Mono, Merced and Mariposa.

Alfalfa Prem/Del/Ret/Stab 150 300.00

Fair 25 170.00

Region 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

Includes the counties of Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Inyo.

No New Sales Confirmed.


Includes the counties of Kern, Northeast Los Angeles and Western San Bernardino.

Alfalfa Prem/Ret/Stab 350 280.00


Includes the counties of Eastern San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial.

Alfalfa Prem/Ret/Stab 250 232.50

Good/Premium 100 207.50

Retail/Stable 75 200.00

Good Contracted 1 135.00

Bermuda Grass

Prem/Ret/Stab 100 220.00

EPA official: government must plan for climate change Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:39:22 -0500 MICHAEL BIESECKER WASHINGTON (AP) — A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed to Superfund sites from climate change.

The testimony by EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Barry Breen before a House oversight subcommittee conflicts with the agency’s policy positions under President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. Breen’s boss, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, is an ardent fossil fuel promoter who questions the validity of mainstream climate science.

During a hearing Thursday, Rep. Jerry McNerney, a California Democrat, asked Breen whether extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires could damage the highly toxic sites and cause contamination to spread.

“We have to respond to climate change, that’s just part of our mission set,” replied Breen, a career official who leads EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “So we need to design remedies that account for that. We don’t get to pick where Superfund sites are. We deal with the waste where it is.”

There are more than 1,300 Superfund sites in the U.S.

Under the Obama administration, EPA issued a robust plan for prioritizing cleanup and protection of toxic sites located in flood zones and areas vulnerable to sea level rise. However, a Superfund Task Force appointed by Pruitt last year issued a 34-page list of recommendations that makes no mention of climate change, flooding risks from stronger storms or rising seas.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox did not respond to questions Thursday about whether Pruitt agreed with Breen’s testimony or precisely what the agency is currently doing to address to risks posed to Superfund sites by climate change.

The Associated Press first reported in September that more than a dozen Superfund sites in the Houston area were flooded by heavy rains from Hurricane Harvey. Spills of potentially hazardous waste were reported at two of those sites, including a release of cancer-causing dioxin into the San Jacinto River.

A subsequent AP review of EPA records and census data revealed that more than 2 million Americans live within a mile of 327 Superfund sites located in flood-prone areas or those at risk from rising sea levels.

The Government Accountability Office told Congress earlier this month it was assigning investigators to study the risks to human health and the environment posed to Superfund sites by natural disasters.

EPA’s 2014 Climate Adaptation Plan noted that prolonged flooding at low-lying Superfund sites could cause extensive erosion, carrying away contaminants as waters recede.

Pruitt says he has made faster Superfund site cleanups a high priority for the agency. Pruitt’s task force on the issue is led by Albert “Kell” Kelly, a former Oklahoma banker with no experience as an environmental regulator.

Kelly had been expected to testify at Thursday’s hearing, but was replaced by Breen due to what EPA told the House committee was a scheduling conflict.

AP reported in August that Pruitt hired Kelly as a senior adviser at EPA after federal financial regulators cited Kelly for unspecified violations while serving as the top executive at a community bank in Oklahoma. Kelly previously served as chairman of Tulsa-based SpiritBank, which provided a $6.8 million financing when Pruitt and his business partners purchased Oklahoma City’s minor league baseball team in 2003.

Asked by Democrats for details about why Kelly was barred by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from working for any U.S. financial institution, Breen said Thursday that Kelly had elected to settle the case against him and “is fully willing to discuss this matter.”

An email and voicemail to Kelly seeking comment on Thursday received no response. Wilcox also did not respond to a request seeking details about why the FDIC barred Kelly from the banking industry.

US government proposes new rules for hog slaughter Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:27:36 -0500 DAVID PITT DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The federal government wants to change the rules on how most hogs slaughtered for meat in the U.S. are processed.

Some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposals released Friday are similar to those enacted in 2014 for poultry processors.

One rule allows pork processors to voluntarily enact a new inspection system placing plant employees in charge of removing animals unfit for slaughter, and allows companies to set their own processing line speeds.

The USDA says the proposed rules would streamline production without compromising food safety.

Critics say similar poultry industry changes gave companies too much control over food safety.

Another proposed rule would require processing plants to implement new procedures for preventing bacterial contamination of meat.

The USDA is taking comments and has no date set for implementation.

USDA website chronicles stem rust battle Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:47:59 -0500 Matw Weaver A new USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website chronicles the battle to protect cereal grains from stem rust in the northern U.S.

Stem rust attacks wheat and barley and was once the most feared disease of cereal crops worldwide, according to the website. Because common barberry hosts stem rust during part of its reproductive cycle, the plant was targeted for extensive eradication efforts.

Tim Murray, a plant pathologist at Washington State University Extension, created the webpage with USDA geographer Lisa Kennaway. Murray and Kennaway collected historical information from the federal government’s common barberry eradication program between 1918 and 1981.

Orange dots on a map on the website indicate where barberry plants were eradicated. The website includes information about each location — the date of the original survey, approximate coordinates and the number of barberry plants.

The database could help locate remaining barberry plants in case of an outbreak, Murray said.

Landowner information is not included on the website. All other information is available at any county recorder’s office, Murray said.

Murray hopes to eventually include the original information card on the website.

“Each form also had a map that was hand-drawn of the property and where the barberries were found,” he said. “When we’ve gone out looking at those properties, that’s been very useful to us. Sometimes the property hasn’t changed at all, and sometimes it’s changed quite dramatically. At least we have an idea where the barberries may have been.”

Farmers may be interested in the data if stem rust has ever been a concern, or if they are curious about whether barberry was ever on their property, Murray said.

Murray estimated the cost of gathering data and putting the website together at $150,000. It was funded by grants from APHIS.

The website used records from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Other states also had barberry eradication programs, but the records aren’t available or were lost.

A strain of stem rust originally from Uganda, known as Ug99, raised concerns in 2008 about its potential to spread to the U.S.. The disease is not as large a concern as it was, Murray said. The race hasn’t spread outside Africa, and U.S. wheat breeders have developed resistant varieties.

Cereal disease experts have indicated some races in the Pacific Northwest were complex and had virulence patterns similar to Ug99, Murray said.

The constant evolution of stem rust is a concern, Murray said. But Pacific Northwest conditions are not optimal for stem rust development. Some barberry plants remain, but not in large numbers. He says it’s a relatively low risk for the region.


Cattlemen not worried about growing meat alternatives Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:08:10 -0500 BARBARA SODERLINOmaha World-Herald OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraskans know where their meat comes from: the farms, ranches, feedlots and packing plants that make the state the nation’s top beef producer and a growing supplier of pork and poultry.

But what happens to the Beef State’s massive livestock industry if Americans switch to “meat” made from plant protein — or from muscle tissue grown not on farms but in big industrial tanks?

It might sound far-fetched, but the plant products have launched and the factory-grown meat may be about to, with claims they are better for the environment than meat from livestock, and taste just as good.

Will they take off? No way, a steak-lover might say. But proponents point to the dairy aisle: Dairy milk sales are falling as shoppers pick up soy, almond, pea protein and other “milk” in mainstream supermarkets.

A future where lab-grown and plant-based “meat” is also mainstream may not be that far off, the Omaha World-Herald reported . Expect to hear a lot about alternative meats in 2018: The industry is at a turning point thanks to investment from big names like Bill Gates, and big food companies like Tyson and Cargill.

“Technology will begin to disrupt the traditional food chain in 2018 as enterprising manufacturers aim to replace farms and factories with laboratories,” market research company Mintel said in its recent annual food and drink trends report.

Plant-based versions of familiar foods such as burgers and chicken strips are already available at some Midwestern supermarkets and restaurants. Food scientists process plant proteins to imitate real meat in ways that the smashed-bean veggie burgers of the ‘90s never did.

Not on the market yet, but possibly launching later this year, is a product sometimes called lab-grown meat or “clean meat.” It starts with real livestock cells and grows in a factory in a tank some call a fermenter or a bioreactor, where cells are fed nutrients and proliferate. The product looks sort of like ground meat — the technology isn’t there yet to get cells to build a muscle structure that resembles a steak or chicken breast.

Leaders in Nebraska’s beef industry are aware of the challengers but say their product is better.

“We’ll see what the marketplace says, but we feel good about the growth of beef and the consumer’s confidence in our product,” said Pete McClymont, Nebraska Cattlemen executive vice president.

The new products are launching at a time of rising meat consumption, including beef. Americans are expected to consume a record amount of meat this year — 222 pounds of red meat and poultry per person, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts. McClymont said cattle producers are wondering why companies such as Tyson and Cargill are investing in what producers see as meat competitors.

The Nebraska Beef Council, which uses money raised from cattle sales to promote beef, won’t be advocating for “lab-grown beef.”

“Our focus truly is letting the consumer know what a nutrient-dense food beef really is,” said Ann Marie Bosshamer, executive director of the Nebraska Beef Council.

As confident as beef producers are in their own product, advocates for these new alternatives contend the products will upend the U.S. livestock industry. They hope so, at least, arguing that livestock production is hard on the environment and unsustainable as the world’s population grows.

“This is a new type of meat that can really change the world,” said Nick Halla, chief strategy officer for Impossible Foods.

The company makes the Impossible Burger, a patty sold in restaurants that looks and cooks much like a beef hamburger. Impossible credits its “heme” soy protein ingredient for its meaty taste and red color.

The company opened a new manufacturing plant in Oakland, California, last fall, making more than 1 million pounds of its burger mixture a month. (U.S. packers produce more than 2 billion pounds of beef a month.)

Its main competitor is Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, sold in supermarkets in raw patties destined for the backyard grill.

Beyond Meat investor Tyson Foods — a major employer in Nebraska, with plants in Omaha, Lexington, Dakota City and Madison — said plant protein burgers fit in with the company’s portfolio of protein-centric products and will help Tyson meet growing global demand for protein.

“This investment is about ‘and,’ not ‘or,’” spokeswoman Caroline Ahn said when asked whether Tyson foresees any drop in livestock-based protein sales.

On the lab-grown meat side, companies including Hampton Creek and Memphis Meats are racing to commercialize their versions, said Paul Shapiro, a former vice president at the Humane Society of the United States and the author of a new book, “Clean Meat,” that chronicles these businesses and their investors.

Hampton Creek says its product will be sold in restaurants later this year. Memphis Meats says it will be a few years. Cost is a barrier.

“These are not alternatives to meat, they are actual animal meats, simply grown with fewer resources than we use to produce animal meats today,” Shapiro said.

Its backers liken it to “clean energy.”

They say the beef industry damages the environment with greenhouse gases produced by the livestock and in transportation, and hurts water quality with runoff from farms growing grain for livestock feed.

For its part, the beef industry touts its gains in efficiency as cutting beef’s environmental footprint. Processors are under public pressure to conserve resources.

Steers and heifers headed to the slaughterhouse are a lot meatier than they used to be. In 2016 the U.S. produced 26 billion pounds of beef, nearly the same amount it did 40 years ago. It did so while raising and slaughtering 28 percent fewer cattle.

“What sustainability is is what producers are doing right now,” said Sarah Place, an animal biologist who leads research in sustainable beef production for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Shapiro, the former Humane Society executive, says traditional producers should be worried about the factory-grown product, even though it’s yet to hit the market. He contends it will be so disruptive it will send the livestock industry the way of the horse-drawn carriage, whale oil lamps and ice blocks cut from lakes.

“There’s a reason Cargill is investing in this — it recognizes that the future of protein production doesn’t have to come out of live animals,” Shapiro said. The Minnesota-based agribusiness, with meat processing plants in Nebraska, is an investor in Memphis Meats.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether consumers will want to eat meat from a tank. And Cargill says it is still investing plenty in its livestock-based protein business, noting $850 million spent in the past two years on acquisitions, plant expansions and renovations and new facilities.

“We believe consumers will continue to crave meat, and our goal is to bring it to the table in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” said Sonya Roberts, president of growth ventures for Cargill Protein. “Cultured protein products will provide greater choice and help meet the needs of those consumers who seek options.”

Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick said he’s not sure what path lab-grown meat will take, or if it will displace current sales of meat from livestock.

It could turn people who shun meat into meat eaters. It could also help satisfy the growing global demand for meat.

He said he’s in conversations with large meatpackers worldwide about working together: The meatpacker could license his technology, make the meat in its facility, and sell it using existing manufacturing and distribution channels.

He’s been surprised at the interest from meat processors.

“They approach the world through this question of ‘How do we sell more animal protein more efficiently, in a safer way, in a more sustainable way?’,” he said. “They know it’s a challenge. They’re aware of the resource constraints around land and water.”

The plant-based protein makers also envision their products being sold far and wide, not appealing just to people who don’t eat meat today.

“We’re not going to have the big impact until we really hit the masses,” Impossible’s Halla said. That means plant-based meat in McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Subway, he said.

Consumers are increasingly interested in protein in all forms, and it’s showing up on labels in foods around the grocery store, even the cereal aisle.

Meat no longer has the only claim on protein in a shopper’s mind, said Danette Amstein, principal at Midan Marketing, a Chicago company whose clients include meat companies. “We have to share it with a long list of items, including fake meat,” which is what she calls plant-based patties.

Her advice to the meat industry is to keep an eye on the trend. The new competitors have the potential to erode market share.

“Don’t ignore it, but consider how they can find more ways to talk about the nutritional value of meat,” or launch new protein-centric products, she advised.

Plant-based meat substitutes are one of the top challenges for agriculture in 2018, said Chuck Jolley, who is president of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame, and president of Jolley & Associates, another food industry marketing company.

“If Tyson decides that they want to make a big deal out of it, they have an awful lot of clout at the supermarket,” he said.

How fast could plant-based and lab-grown meats build market share?

It depends on how consumers perceive the new alternatives, including how they feel about the manufacturing process and whether they see a health benefit, analysts said.

It also depends on taste and cost. Some will switch because of the perceived environmental benefits, but most people won’t switch from traditional meat if the alternative is expensive or doesn’t taste good.

Advocates for lab-grown meat point to the milk aisle to illustrate how quickly new products can put a squeeze on conventional ones.

Cow’s milk has been losing shelf space and sales to competitors like soy milk, almond milk and newer pea-protein milks.

Sales of dairy milk will continue to fall, market research company Mintel said. Mintel forecasts dairy milk sales to fall 11 percent between 2015 and 2020, to $15.9 billion. Meanwhile, U.S. sales of non-dairy milk will grow by about 50 percent, to $3 billion.

Dairy farmers try to defend their territory in the milk aisle. They, with members of Congress, have launched a campaign against the use of the word “milk” on non-dairy beverages. The meat industry could put up that kind of fight over “clean meat” and “plant-based meat.”

Ironically, total U.S. milk production has been growing. Americans are passing on milk but eating more yogurt, butter and cheese. Similarly, if consumers replace burgers with plant matter, they still may order up real-beef steaks.

If the new products do take a bite out of meat sales, Nebraska could be vulnerable, its economy relying on a livestock industry that employs tens of thousands of people in a labor force of 1 million.

Still, don’t sell your herd just yet. A pair of recent reports, from ag lenders CoBank and Rabobank, concludes that the new meat alternatives aren’t going to make a significant dent in demand for meat, at least not anytime soon.

Yes, meat alternatives are growing quickly, CoBank economist Trevor Amen wrote in a November report, and are something to watch. But they’ll remain “dwarfed” by sales of traditional meat. The alternatives may benefit from total global protein demand growth, but won’t bite into the existing market for livestock and poultry protein, he said.

Rabobank said “alternative protein products are not about to get close to the demand for traditional meat products,” although it said growth of these products will be faster in Europe and in some coastal, urban areas of the U.S., and will represent a material share of growth there.

Meat processors can respond by promoting the health benefits of eating animal protein, and improving animal welfare and the sustainability of their supply chains and operations, some analysts say.

If the new products cut into beef sales, they could also open up new opportunities for Nebraska agriculture. Some plant-based proteins come from crops like peas, some of which are grown here. Tetrick at Hampton Creek said it makes sense to put manufacturing facilities in the Midwest, taking advantage of livestock processors’ supply chains and technical capabilities. Beyond Meat already has a plant in Columbia, Missouri.

Whatever “meat” consumers eat, it seems the Midwest will have a role.

Deal reached in rural Washington state water dispute Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:45:44 -0500 PHUONG LE SEATTLE (AP) — Top state lawmakers have reached a deal on a rural water dispute that has held up approval of more than $4 billion in new school and other construction projects for months, officials said Thursday.

Rep. Larry Springer, a Kirkland Democrat, said that top Republican and Democratic leaders reached a negotiated agreement earlier this week on both the water dispute and the two-year capital budget.

House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, a Snohomish Republican, told TVW’s Inside Olympia that a deal was reached late Wednesday after a meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote on the water bill and the capital budget Thursday night.

New money for local water and sewer projects, school construction, mental health facilities and other construction across the state have been on hold since lawmakers adjourned last year without approving the capital budget.

Republicans had insisted first on getting legislation to fix the so-called Hirst court decision. That 2016 state Supreme Court ruling effectively restricted new household wells in certain rural areas if they affect water kept in streams for fish or other senior water rights.

The negotiated deal would allow landowners in rural areas to tap household wells — more commonly known as permit-exempt wells — while newly formed local committees come up with longer-term mitigation plans for individual watersheds, said Springer, a key negotiator on the water issue.

The proposal also includes $300 million over the next 15 years for projects that improve stream flows and restore watersheds, Springer said. Examples include reconnecting floodplains, buying water or other improvements that offset potential water used by wells.

The deal would also allow counties to rely on the Department of Ecology’s water rules as they had before the Hirst decision. In its 6-3 ruling, the state’s high court said counties must make its own independent assessment of water availability before issuing building permits in certain areas. Many counties said they didn’t have the resources or expertise to do the kinds of studies that would have been required under the ruling.

Sen. Judy Warnick, a Moses Lake Republican, said last week when the Senate agriculture, water and natural resources committee passed Senate Bill 6091 — which attempts to fix Hirst — that the issue is simply about helping people who want a well for their home.

The Senate plans to take up an amended version of that bill, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat.

Property owners have provided emotional testimony in Olympia, recounting how they spent thousands of dollars to prepare lots to build homes or to dig wells but weren’t able to get building permits.

Building, real estate and property rights groups and other critics said the court ruling resulted in staggering economic impacts in rural communities, from declining home values to stalled building.

Environmental groups and several tribes across the state maintained that the Hirst decision correctly required local governments to plan ahead so new water withdrawals don’t take way from water in streams or from those with senior water rights, including tribes, municipalities and farmers.

Under the proposal, Springer said that landowners who already began drilling wells would be grandfathered in.

And until new mitigation plans are put in place for specific watersheds, landowners who want to access a domestic well would pay a $500 fee to use a permit-exempt well. The amount of water they could withdraw would vary depending on the watershed basin.

People with wells in some areas would be allowed to take 950 gallons a day, while others would be allowed 3,000 gallons a day.

Tax law gives unexpected break to farmers who sell to co-ops Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:40:28 -0500 STEVE KARNOWSKI MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Key senators and farm groups are trying to fix a provision in the federal tax overhaul that gave an unexpected tax break to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives rather than regular companies.

Lawmakers say they didn’t intend to give a competitive advantage to co-ops. But it’s not clear they can rework the legislation given the partisan divide on Capitol Hill. That means many companies — from local grain companies to agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ADM — could wind up paying more for crops than co-ops.

The provision from GOP Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota surfaced in the final days of the debate over the tax bill, which President Donald Trump signed last month. Thune and Hoeven wanted to replace a deduction that benefited co-ops in the old law, which was being dropped, and they wanted to make sure farmers didn’t wind up with a tax increase.

But the final language went further than maintaining the status quo.

“I think at the end of the day what it boiled down to is the staff didn’t know what they were doing. ... They rushed this thing through,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.

Agricultural co-ops are typically owned by farmers, and they provide their members with help with marketing crops, purchasing supplies and various other services. They range from small and local co-ops to big, nationwide ones such as Land O’ Lakes and Sunkist Growers.

The new provision lets farmers deduct 20 percent of their gross sales to co-ops, but only 20 percent of their net income if they sell to other companies. The difference is big enough that farmers who sell to co-ops could entirely eliminate their tax bills.

“If it stands the way it is, you’re going to see a dramatic change in who farmers sell their product to,” said Paul Neiffer, a partner with CliftonLarsonAllen, a national accounting firm with clients on both sides.

Farmers who do sell to regular companies may be able to command higher prices to help make up for the lower tax break.

Kristine Tidgren, assistant director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University, calculated that a farmer with $300,000 in income from grain sales to a regular company and $180,000 in expenses would have $86,400 in taxable income for the year. If that same producer sells to a co-op, she said, the farmer would have just $48,000 in taxable income.

“It’s a huge difference. ... We’ve tried to tell everyone to hold on and see what happens before you make any major changes to your business,” she said.

Hoeven’s chief of staff, Ryan Bernstein, said the senators didn’t intend to give a competitive advantage to co-ops and their farmer-patrons. They’ve been working with the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and other parties to find a quick solution, he said.

Greg Ibach, undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the tax code shouldn’t “pick winners and losers” and the agency expects a correction.

The new tax break has at least one defender, the North Dakota Farmers Union. The group’s president, Mark Watne, said efforts to change it “may not be in the best interest of farmers or the viability of cooperatives.”

Spokespeople for Thune and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said they’re supporting efforts to fix the provision.

Randy Gordon, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, which represents co-ops as well as regular companies, said there’s been progress in the past week. He said in a newsletter Wednesday that all sides have held several meetings and conference calls to explore alternatives.

Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes, the country’s third-largest agricultural co-op, and Illinois-based ADM both said they look forward to a fix.

But it won’t be simple. Bernstein said Hoeven and Thune are looking at attaching it to must-pass legislation, likely a big spending bill expected to come up late next month. That assumes that everyone agrees on a solution by then.

Even a must-pass bill likely would require 60 votes to pass the Senate, which would require some support from Democrats.

“All it’s going to take is a couple Democrats in the Senate to derail the whole thing. ... I’m willing to help, but it looks like a long shot to me,” Peterson said.

West Coast Cannabis Groups Band Together To Protect Interests Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:20:05 -0500 Kristian Foden-VencilOPB Cannabis trade associations in Oregon, Washington and California are banding together to “protect West Coast cannabis interests.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded what was known as the Cole Memo. It was an Obama-era legal memo that allowed states to legalize cannabis with minimal interference from federal authorities.

Amy Margolis with the Oregon Cannabis Association said they were planning to join forces with other West Coast associations before the memo was rescinded. “But this certainly accelerated our timeline and made this announcement even more important.”

“With all of the West Coast states having legalized adult-use cannabis, our organizations strongly believe that we must move towards a collaborative process to ensure that we maximize our political power, offer our members the most comprehensive benefits possible and stand together against existential federal threats,” said Margolis.

The three associations will share strategies for legalizing marijuana at the federal level. Margolis said they have three main goals: “One, to share strategy and information. Two, to share resources when it’s appropriate. And three, to put forward a united front to the federal government.”

The group says it plans to coordinate lobbying efforts. So instead of 40 Oregonians visiting Washington, D.C., a trip might involve 100 advocates from up and down the West Coast.

“With more than 1,000 combined business members, who collectively employ thousands and generate millions and millions in tax revenue, represented by this new relationship, we will be the largest and most powerful voice for the West Coast,” said Lindsay Robinson from the California Cannabis Industry Association.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer called the initiative an exciting, important and historic development.

“Responsible leaders in the industry working together is exactly how we will change destructive and nonsensical federal policies and set things right,” he said.

Sessions says marijuana is a dangerous drug and dealing it is a serious crime.

Yakima approves emergency proclamation ahead of landslide Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:16:40 -0500 YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A city in central Washington state issued an emergency proclamation in response to a mass of rock and soil crawling down a ridge that officials say could turn into a landslide.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the Yakima City Council on Tuesday approved a resolution for city officials to request state or federal assistance should the city require help in responding to the effects of about 4 million cubic yards of material inching down Rattlesnake Ridge.

Emergency management officials say the proclamation would aid agencies in coordinating and tracking funds for emergency response efforts.

Officials say the mass is moving less than 2 feet each week, but it could slide from the ridge at any time.

Even without El Nino last year, Earth keeps on warming Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:14:06 -0500 BY SETH BORENSTEINAP Science Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth last year wasn’t quite as hot as 2016’s record-shattering mark, but it ranked second or third, depending on who was counting.

Either way, scientists say it showed a clear signal of man-made global warming because it was the hottest year they’ve seen without an El Nino boosting temperatures naturally.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom’s meteorological office on Thursday announced that 2017 was the third hottest year on record. At the same time, NASA and researchers from a nonprofit in Berkeley, California, called it the second.

The agencies slightly differ because of how much they count an overheating Arctic, where there are gaps in the data.

The global average temperature in 2017 was 58.51 degrees, which is 1.51 degrees above the 20th century average and just behind 2016 and 2015, NOAA said. Other agencies’ figures were close but not quite the same.

Earlier, European forecasters called 2017 the second hottest year, while the Japanese Meteorological Agency called it the third hottest. Two other scientific groups that use satellite, not ground, measurements split on 2017 being second or third hottest. With four teams calling it the second hottest year and four teams calling it third, the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization termed 2017 a tie for second with 2015.

“This is human-caused climate change in action,” said Nobel Prize winning chemist Mario Molina of the University of California San Diego, who wasn’t part of any of the measuring teams. “Climate is not weather, (which) can go up and down from year to year. What counts is the longer-term change, which is clearly upwards.”

Which year is first, second or third doesn’t really matter much, said Princeton University climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi. What really matters is the clear warming trend, he said.

NOAA’s five hottest years have been from 2010 on.

During an El Nino year — when a warming of the central Pacific changes weather worldwide — the globe’s annual temperature can spike, naturally, by a tenth or two of a degree, scientists said. There was a strong El Nino during 2015 and 2016.

But 2017 finished with a La Nina, the cousin of El Nino that lowers temperatures. Had there been no man-made warming, 2017 would have been average or slightly cooler than normal, said National Center for Atmospheric Research climate scientist Ben Sanderson.

On the other hand, NASA calculated if the temperature contributions of El Nino and El Nina were removed from the global data through the years, 2017 would go down as the hottest year on record, NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said.

Carbon pollution is like putting the Earth on an escalator of rising temperatures, with natural variation such as El Nino or the cooling effect of volcanoes like hopping up or down a step or two on that escalator, scientists said. Not every year will be warmer than the last because of natural variations, but the trend over years will be rising temperatures, they said.

The observed warming has been predicted within a few tenths of a degree in computer simulations going back to the 1970s and 1980s, several scientists said.

It has been 33 years since the last month that the globe was cooler than normal, according to NOAA.

Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini has never lived through a month or year that wasn’t hotter than normal.

“I look at pictures of the great winters of the late ‘70s from my parents and wonder if I’ll ever experience anything like that in my lifetime,” said Gebsini, who’s 31.

Longtime Idaho representative won&#x2019;t seek re-election Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:53:43 -0500

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Longtime Idaho Rep. Dell Raybould says he will not seek re-election this year.

The Post Register reports the 84-year-old Republican on Wednesday announced he wants retire after 18 years representing a district in southeastern Idaho.

Raybould says he and his wife want to travel and “decided it’s been long enough.”

The farmer and businessman is the chairman of the Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. He has also served on the Revenue and Taxation Committee and the Resources and Conservation Committee.

Considered a legislative expert on water issues, Raybould says his work on the topic is among his top contributions to state policy.

Raybould has endorsed his granddaughter Britt Raybould to take his seat. Republican Elaine King has also announced candidacy for the seat.

Ag groups line up grassroots support for trade Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:27:16 -0500 Carol Ryan Dumas Fleets of trucks, lines of railcars and bustling ports send U.S. agricultural products to far-flung foreign markets each day.

Last year alone, those exports exceeded $140 billion with a trade surplus of more than $21 billion. They also supported more than 1 million jobs to deliver those products around the world and generated $178.8 billion for the U.S. economy.

But a growing sentiment of protectionism in the U.S. is threatening the future of agricultural exports and the health of rural communities, according to a group that is mobilizing to combat those threats. Farmers for Free Trade is on a mission to rebuild grassroots support for trade.

Launched last summer, Farmers for Free Trade is chaired by former U.S. Sens. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican. Both are strong proponents of free trade who say they are concerned by the loss of the country’s long-held pro-trade consensus.

“We need to rebuild consensus on agriculture trade. It must be one that incorporates the position of American farmers, that reflects the needs of rural communities, that is echoed by state and local leaders, and that seeks to heal the deep fissures on trade in Washington D.C.,” they said in an opinion column they wrote on behalf of Farmers for Free Trade.

The organization was formed in response to the beating trade deals took on the campaign trail in the 2016 presidential elections, with both Republican and Democratic candidates bashing existing and pending agreements at every turn.

The discussion was focused on the U.S. trade deficit, which was more than $700 billion in goods in 2016.

“It was a field day of people beating up on trade. The farmer’s voice was not being heard,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade and director of federal affairs at K-Coe Isom, a national agricultural accounting and consulting firm.

“The real loser was free trade. The voice of reason on the benefits of trade was completely lost in the dialogue,” he said.

“Candidates started questioning decades of assumed consensus that trade and agriculture are very complementary,” said Darci Vetter, former chief U.S. agricultural negotiator, who serves as an adviser to Farmers for Free Trade and is the diplomat in residence at the University of Nebraska.

“Candidates started questioning that and whether the U.S. was winning or losing at trade,” she said.

That question really sank in. Even some farmers, who have long prospered and taken pride in feeding the world, were questioning the balance. And all the rhetoric about losses in manufacturing jobs had them feeling a little sheepish — despite the fact that food processing is the largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., she said.

The anti-trade sentiment fueled by the elections prevailed, with Congress failing to enact the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership — an agreement largely supported by U.S. agriculture — and newly elected President Donald Trump quickly pulling the U.S. out of it.

Trump’s threat to pull out of the free trade agreement with South Korea has not yet materialized. But his threat to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico has resulted in negotiations aimed at revamping the treaty.

The country now has a Republican president who’s turning the U.S. trade agenda on its head, said Vetter, whose tenure was during the Obama administration.

Typically, the Republican Party platform embraces open and free international trade, she said.

“The message we’re hearing now is that the U.S. is looking inward. But are we winning when we renegotiate trade agreements instead of opening new ones?” she said.

During the campaign, Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and other presidential candidates took aim at NAFTA and the $74.4 billion U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico. They decried the loss of manufacturing plants, the loss of U.S. jobs and lower wages.

They also opposed TPP because the agreement didn’t address currency manipulation.

Overall, agricultural exports represent 20 percent of U.S. production and 20 percent of U.S. farm income. But the stakes are much higher for some commodities. Exports account for 70 percent of the cotton and tree nuts and 50 percent of the wheat, soybeans and rice grown in the U.S.

Loss of those export markets would cause prices to tumble, harming U.S. agriculture, Kuehl said.

“Unless we reinvest in talking to people about the benefits, we’ll lose out on trade,” he said.

Agriculture has long been a bright spot in the U.S. trade portfolio, posting an annual trade surplus for more than 50 years. Any threat to that trade could have an overall net negative effect on the export economy, he said.

“It’s a perilous time because the United States is now asking itself these questions, whether we will continue to engage or pull back. Without competitive access to markets, we can very easily be left behind,” Vetter said.

Other nations and trading blocs are stepping into the doors that the U.S. has left open. The European Union is negotiating with Japan and Mexico, and China is working on regional agreements, she said.

“We are by no means the only game in town,” she said.

It’s a myth that the U.S. can somehow pull out of trade and still be OK because the U.S. is such a big economy, she said.

“We can’t really pull ourselves out of trade agreements. The trade won’t stop if we don’t engage,” she said, adding that there needs to be a clear message that the U.S. needs open and free trade to be successful.

“We need to have farmers clearly state why trade is important and what they want Congress and the administration to do,” Vetter said.

“By and large, the United States has been successful in being a leader in the global economy and setting the rules of the road,” she said.

If the U.S. is not part of setting the terms of trade agreements, farmers will pay the price because U.S. agriculture is so export-dependent, she said.

Sitting on the sidelines is not an option, Vetter said.

Trade agreements take a long time to negotiate and to go into effect, she said. The negotiations for the TPP took seven years. Meanwhile, the middle class in many countries is growing and demanding better food — products the U.S. excels at producing, such as meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, she said.

Those consumers are establishing buying habits and adopting brands. If U.S. products can’t get into those markets or if they are too expensive because of high tariffs, they would lose ground to competitors. And it would take a long time to overcome those obstacles if the U.S. comes late to the negotiating table, she said.

“Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. If we don’t stay competitive and get access to those markets, we’ll fall behind,” Vetter said.

Other countries have built up their agricultural industries and are more competitive than they used to be, she said.

“Being part of these agreements and helping to write the rules is more important than ever,” she said.

Despite all the protectionist rhetoric, Vetter said she is not convinced that support for free trade in general has withered that much, but agriculture has not done a good job of communicating the benefits.

Agriculture is now in the position of playing catch-up in communicating those benefits to the broader public, she said.

Farmers for Free Trade believes the message of how trade benefits farmers and rural communities will prevail, Kuehl said.

Most farmers and ranchers understand the importance of trade, and the objective is to make sure their voices are heard. For others, it’s about education and connecting the dots between their products and exports, he said.

The organization is working to educate and mobilize farmers through events such as grower conventions and social media.

Farmers for Free Trade is not a Washington, D.C.-focused effort, and it’s not a lobbying organization, he said.

“We’re very much focused on the conversation in the heartland. Middle America shapes what happens in D.C.,” Kuehl said.

It’s making sure everyone in a coffee-shop conversation understands the benefits of trade and that farmers know where their products go beyond harvest, he said.

“We believe if you rebuild the national consensus on trade, it’s naturally going to flow uphill to the people in D.C. to support trade. This investment on the ground is critical,” he said.

It’s also about farmers and rural Americans sharing the benefits and support of trade with their local and state officials, who in turn will push that sentiment up the line.

The effort is already seeing that sentiment reflected in statements from elected officials, such as the governors of Arizona and Arkansas, who have issued agricultural trade awareness proclamations.

It’s also gaining momentum in the farm community, garnering support from the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, CropLife America and hundreds of independent farmers and ranchers.

“We really feel like we’re building a good head of steam,” Kuehl said.

This grassroots effort is critical, said Julie Anna Potts, American Farm Bureau executive vice president.

Misperceptions have taken hold about trade. It’s been a political lightning rod, and the rhetoric has often not been balanced, she said.

“We have to take this action now to make sure everyone knows the real story of how agriculture relies on export markets,” she said.

Farm income is already 50 percent lower than it was four years ago. If the U.S. loses its foreign markets, farm income will decline even more and that would be disastrous, Potts said.

“Also, if we lose those markets, our competitors in other countries will take full advantage and we’ll never recover,” she said.

“It’s important to get all sectors of agriculture and all of our grassroots voices aligned on this issue,” she said.

Through Farmers for Free Trade, farmers and ranchers can share their stories of why trade matters to them in a way that can be heard at the White House and on Capitol Hill, she said.

Alaska, Hawaii attorney generals seek pot business banking Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:09:45 -0500

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska and Hawaii attorneys general asked Congress to change laws so marijuana businesses can start using banks.

Alaska’s Jahna Lindemuth and Hawaii’s Doug Chin were among 19 attorneys general who urged U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to move forward with legislation that would allow the marijuana businesses to stop working as cash only operations.

Chin said banks and other institutions are hindered by U.S. law from working with marijuana businesses. This creates a cash-only, “grey market” that hurts law enforcement and tax collections, he said.

The proposed legislation would provide a safe harbor for banks and other institutions that work with the marijuana industry. The officials said their legislation would protect public safety and result in billions of dollars being infused into the banking industry.

“Allowing banks to work with these businesses is good policy, which is why the concept has bipartisan support,” Lindemuth said.

The officials said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy change earlier this month intensified the need for national legislation that clarifies how marijuana should be regulated and policed.

Sessions rescinded the 2013 Cole Memo, which deferred to states on enforcing marijuana laws.

“Despite the contradictions between federal and state law, the marijuana industry continues to grow rapidly,” the letter from the state attorney generals said. “Our banking system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses in the various states, with state input, while protecting the interests of the federal government.”

The letter was sponsored by Hawaii, Alaska, District of Columbia and North Dakota. It was signed by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington state.

Hemorrhaging stanched in farm machinery market Wed, 17 Jan 2018 12:46:06 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski The hemorrhaging downturn in U.S. large farm machinery sales appears to have been stanched in 2017 despite continued weakness in agricultural incomes.

In 2017, manufacturers sold roughly half the number of self-propelled combines, four-wheel-drive tractors and two-wheel-drive tractors over 100 horsepower as they did five years earlier.

For the year, though, unit sales of combines and four-wheel drive tractors ticked up 3.6 percent and 5 percent, respectively — a huge improvement over 2016, when the market for large farm machinery was still in a double-digit freefall.

Unit sales for two-wheel-drive tractors over 100 horsepower decreased 8 percent in 2017, compared to a drop of more than 22 percent the prior year.

“We started seeing the slowing of the decline,” said Curt Blades, senior vice president of agricultural services for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which compiles machinery sales data.

It appears the farm machinery industry entered a “replacement cycle” in the final half of 2017, boosting sales even as growers remain unenthusiastic about crop prices, he said.

Manufacturers can’t expect sales to return to the “exuberance” earlier in the decade, but the current market is more predictable, Blades said.

“The good news about a replacement cycle, those are sustainable,” he said.

Strong profitability spurred farm machinery demand between 2007 and 2013, when unit sales increased about 88 percent for four-wheel-drive tractors, 78 percent for two-wheel-drive tractors over 100 horsepower and 50 percent for combines.

Economists aren’t forecasting a major upswing in commodity crop prices, but they’re likely to at least remain stable in 2018, allowing the “replacement cycle” to keep its forward momentum, Blades said.

Meanwhile, agriculture-friendly provisions in the tax reform bill enacted late last year will probably “shake some sales loose” in the future, he said.

The amount of used machinery on the market is not so abundant as to significantly cannibalize sales of new equipment, he said. “The excess inventory is beginning to work its way through the system.

Manufacturers are also heartened by the healthy demand for small farm machinery, which is generally tied to the overall U.S. economy, Blades said.

Two-wheel-drive tractors under 40 horsepower have seen unit sales climb 8 percent in 2017 over the prior year, while sales have been flat for those between 40 horsepower and 100 horsepower.

Vandals topple Prunedale beehives, kill 200,000 bees Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:02:26 -0500

PRUNEDALE, Calif. (AP) — A California man says vandals toppled 100 beehives and killed hundreds of thousands of bees after dousing them with diesel fuel.

Mike Hickenbottom told KSBW-TV that the Italian and Russian honey bees on his property in Prunedale were attacked on Saturday.

Hickenbottom says the bees are stored on his property during the winter, and beekeeper Alfonzo Perez leases the hives to pollinate almond trees growing on farms across the state.

Hickenbottom says neighbors have complained about the bees in the past, but the bees are not aggressive. An estimated 200,000 bees died.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and authorities say no arrests have been made.

Prunedale is about 100 miles south of San Francisco.