Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Mon, 30 May 2016 22:43:24 -0400 en http://EOR-CPwebvarnish.newscyclecloud.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Vinegar company fined for spill in Washington river http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20160527/vinegar-company-fined-for-spill-in-washington-river http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20160527/vinegar-company-fined-for-spill-in-washington-river#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 13:42:55 -0400 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529888 Fleischmann’s Vinegar Co. has been fined $10,000 for spilling concentrated vinegar on March 4 into the White River in Pierce County, according to the state Department of Ecology.

The 10,000-gallon spill was caused by a faulty valve at the company’s Sumner manufacturing plant, according to DOE. The company has replaced the valve, the agency said.

The river was high at the time of the spill, minimizing the environmental effects, according to DOE. There were no reports of dead fish.

Efforts to obtain a comment from the California-based company were unsuccessful.

The vinegar that spilled was twice as strong as household vinegar. The company reported the spill the day it occurred.

DOE has authority to issue a $10,000 fine for each violation. In deciding to levy the full amount, the agency considered the Sumner plant’s history, a DOE spokeswoman said.

Fleischmann’s was fined a total of $24,000 in 2014 by DOE. The company was fined $4,000 for spilling about 2,000 pounds of concentrated vinegar onto the ground and another $19,000 for violations found in follow-up inspections.

The vinegar spilled when corroded steel hoops on a 49,000-gallon wooden storage tank failed. The vinegar was contained in two stormwater ponds. DOE learned about the spill from an anonymous tip.

Fleischmann’s can appeal the latest fine to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.

According to the company website, Fleischmann’s is the world’s largest industrial vinegar producer and has manufacturing plants across the country.

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U.S. farms hiring more workers, survey shows http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160527/us-farms-hiring-more-workers-survey-shows http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160527/us-farms-hiring-more-workers-survey-shows#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 13:38:43 -0400 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529889 U.S. farms are hiring more workers and paying them more, according to a USDA report.

In April, farms employed 2 percent more workers than a year earlier, the report showed. In January, the number of workers was 6 percent more than a year earlier.

The farm labor report for the first half of 2016 was released May 19 by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. It showed 703,000 people were employed directly on farms and ranches the week of April 10-16 and 582,000 were employed Jan. 10-16.

Those numbers include field and livestock workers, supervisors, managers and office staff but do not include people working for farm labor contractors, said Teresa Varner, NASS labor statistician in Washington, D.C.

Farm employment has ups and downs and the report was normal in the number of employees and their wages, she said.

The largest percentage increase in the number of workers during April was in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio at 31 percent. Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington also had increases.

The largest decrease during the same period was in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, down 23 percent. Lesser decreases were seen in North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa and Missouri.

Farm operators paid workers an average of $12.75 per hour in the April 2016 reference week, up 4 percent from 2015. Field workers received an average of $12 per hour, up 6 percent. Livestock workers earned $12.01, up 4 percent.

Laborers worked an average of 40.4 hours in the April 2016 reference week compared with 39.9 hours a year earlier.

Farm workers received an average of $12.83 per hour in the January 2016 week, up 2 percent from 2015. Field workers were paid $11.84, up 4 percent and livestock workers, at $12.02, were up 3 percent.

The survey is conducted twice a year. The sample is about 13,000 farms and ranches of $1,000 or more in sales in all states except Alaska.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160527/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160527/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 09:22:18 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529894 Portland, Ore., Friday, May 27, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

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

In early trading July futures trended mixed, 1.00 lower to 3.00 cents per bushel higher compared to Thursday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for May delivery for ordinary protein were not available in early trading. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

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

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

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher compared to Thursday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher in early trading compared to Thursday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Jun 5.2000-5.3425

Jul 5.2000-5.3425

Aug NC 5.2000-5.3200

Sep NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

Jun 5.3200-5.4425

Jul 5.3200-5.4425

Aug NC 5.3000-5.3975

Sep 5.3200-5.4975

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 5.1475-5.4075

11 pct protein 5.3375-5.4875

11.5 pct protein

May 5.3775-5.5275

Jun 5.3775-5.5275

Jul 5.3775-5.5275

Aug NC 5.4375-5.5375

Sep 5.5375

12 pct protein 5.3975-5.5575

13 pct protein 5.4375-5.6175

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

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

13 pct protein 5.9150-6.1850

14 pct protein

May 6.2350-6.3850

Jun 6.2350-6.3850

Jul 6.2350-6.3850

Aug NC 6.2025-6.4025

Sep 6.2025-6.4025

15 pct protein 6.4350-6.5450

16 pct protein 6.5450-6.7050

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 4.9150-4.9550

Jun 4.9150-4.9950

Jul 4.9850-5.0150

Aug/Sep 4.9125-5.0325

Oct/Nov 4.9423-5.0023

Dec 4.9623-5.0023

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 11.3000-11.3300

Jun 11.3500

Jul 11.4000-11.4900

Aug 11.3775-11.5075

Sep 11.2900-11.4900

Oct/Nov 11.5300-11.5600

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Apr 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.2700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.4800

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.2700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Feds reject request to lift Snake River fall chinook ESA listing http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/feds-reject-request-to-lift-snake-river-fall-chinook-esa-listing http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/feds-reject-request-to-lift-snake-river-fall-chinook-esa-listing#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 08:59:31 -0400 KEITH RIDLER http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529897 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The first attempt to delist one of the 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act has been denied by federal authorities.

The decision made public Thursday by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries cites concerns Snake River fall chinook wouldn’t remain viable without continued protections.

An Alaska commercial fishing advocacy group called Chinook Futures Coalition requested the delisting in January 2015.

The group is concerned that protected Snake River fall chinook limit quotas for king salmon because of incidental catching of the protected Snake River fish that travel to waters off Alaska.

Federal officials listed Snake River fall chinook as threatened in 1992 following declines, partly attributed to habitat loss due to dams.

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Interstate highway becomes butterfly flyway http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/interstate-highway-becomes-butterfly-flyway http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/interstate-highway-becomes-butterfly-flyway#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 08:57:29 -0400 DAVID PITT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529898 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Soon, passengers zipping along Interstate 35 will see a lusher refuge and more food for bees and butterflies in the hopes of helping the insects boost their declining populations, six states and the Federal Highway Administration announced Thursday.

That 1,500-mile stretch of road from northern Minnesota to southern Texas is a flyway for monarch butterflies that migrate between Mexico and Canada, and is surrounded by acres of public land that can serve as friendly territory for the bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants that produce much of the nation’s food, such as fruits and vegetables.

But the monarch butterfly has lost population in recent years, which researchers say is due in part to shrinking stands of milkweed, on which butterflies feed and lay eggs. And last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40 percent of honeybee colonies in part due to pesticide use, habitat loss and parasites.

The agreement signed Thursday by officials from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and the federal government is meant to improve the habitat and develop a branding campaign to informally name the interstate the Monarch Highway.

The agreement forms what it calls “a cooperative and coordinated effort to establish best practices and promote public awareness of the monarch butterfly and other pollinator conservation.”

“We’ve actually found in Minnesota that restoring prairie along the interstate is not only good for the environment but it helps reduce our maintenance costs,” said Charles Zelle, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Natural prairie grasses and flowers that provide foraging habitat and places to breed, nest and overwinter also don’t have to be mowed as often and help prevent erosion on steep banks, he said.

The transportation agencies will share seed mixes and roadside management practices that promote the best habitats for pollinating insects while making sure the roadside areas are still safe for drivers, Zelle said.

The federal government’s involvement stems from an executive memo issued by President Barack Obama in June 2014 directing agencies to create a federal strategy to promote pollinator health. A task force last year set a goal of restoring or enhancing 7 million acres of land over the next five years through federal actions and public/private partnerships.

Roads have long played a role in food production, initially helping farmers distribute food from farms to markets, Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox said Thursday.

“I’d like to think the pollinator thing were doing now is kind of the final chapter in that cycle where we are now officially helping food get produced,” he said.

Monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico declined from an estimated 1 billion in the 1990s to around 33 million by 2014, according to a U.S. Forest Service report released last year. The decline is attributed in part to loss of natural habitat including the milkweed plant in the countryside and deforestation in Mexico and California where they winter.

Honey bee pollination contributes an estimated $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, the White House said.

The agreement was signed in Des Moines at a meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, nonprofit, nonpartisan trade group.

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Poultry returning to Pennsylvania fairs, farm show, after ban http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/poultry-returning-to-pennsylvania-fairs-farm-show-after-ban http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160527/poultry-returning-to-pennsylvania-fairs-farm-show-after-ban#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 08:12:38 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529902 HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A year-long poultry ban at state fairs in Pennsylvania is about to be ended.

The state Department of Agriculture said Thursday the poultry suspension will be lifted on Wednesday for the state’s 109 county fairs and the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Chickens, ducks and other poultry were barred in May 2015 as a precaution to protect the state’s poultry industry against the threat of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza killed tens of millions of birds last year. The virus spreads when domestic poultry come in contact with wild birds that carry the disease.

Poultry exhibits now must test negative for the virus at least 30 days before the fair.

State officials say the ban will be reinstated if Pennsylvania has a positive case.

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Nebraska pig supplier promises to investigate alleged abuses http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20160527/nebraska-pig-supplier-promises-to-investigate-alleged-abuses http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20160527/nebraska-pig-supplier-promises-to-investigate-alleged-abuses#Comments Fri, 27 May 2016 08:47:29 -0400 GRANT SCHULTE http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529900 LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A national pork supplier promised Thursday to investigate abuse allegations at one of its Nebraska facilities after an animal rights group released an undercover video showing pigs with open wounds and other health problems.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund released the footage Wednesday and sent letters to the Nebraska and Illinois attorney general’s offices requesting a criminal investigation. The facility is owned by The Maschhoffs, the largest family-owned pork production business in North America, which is based in Carlyle, Illinois.

The video allegedly shows pigs with maladies such as intestinal ruptures, large open wounds and baseball-sized cysts. At one point, a person is shown slamming a piglet’s head into the floor to try to kill it. The group said its undercover investigator documented long stretches of time — up to three days — where pigs received no food, leading them to become agitated and hurting each other and themselves.

“Conscious consumers who are looking to support more responsible businesses are deceived by companies, such as The Maschhoffs, that misrepresent themselves with false idyllic words and images rather than developing a better business model,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells.

The Maschhoffs said in a statement Thursday it will act immediately to address the allegations and will cooperate with any criminal investigation. Hormel Foods, one of its largest customers, said it has suspended all sow operations at the plant and is sending auditors to see whether animal care requirements are being followed.

“As a family-owned, long-standing hog production company, we recognize our ethical obligation to provide for the wellbeing and human care of our animals as do our customers,” said Bradley Wolter, president of The Maschhoffs.

The Maschhoffs and the Animal Legal Defense Fund both declined to reveal the facility’s exact location. A spokesman for The Maschhoffs said the company didn’t want to endanger employees at the plant, and an attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund said his group was concerned that its undercover investigator might be identified.

A spokeswoman for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson declined to comment and wouldn’t confirm whether that office has opened an investigation.

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Wheat growers organization names new CEO http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160526/wheat-growers-organization-names-new-ceo http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160526/wheat-growers-organization-names-new-ceo#Comments Thu, 26 May 2016 10:01:02 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529919 The National Association of Wheat Growers has chosen a new chief executive officer.

Chandler Goule, currently senior vice president of programs for the National Farmers Union, will take over as the new CEO for NAWG on July 5, the organization announced.

Goule will also become executive director of the National Wheat Foundation.

“The U.S. wheat industry is poised to reach new heights in both production and quality,” Goule said in a NAWG press release. “I am thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to work alongside our national wheat grower leaders in positioning NAWG and NWF as pre-eminent wheat advocacy and educational organizations as we begin to develop strategy for making wheat a major player in the drafting of the next farm bill.”

NAWG conducted a nationwide search for a new CEO to fill the vacancy left by Jim Palmer, who announced in April his intention to step down to spend more time with family and on his Missouri farm.

“With our industry at a critical juncture, we know that with Chandler’s guidance, NAWG will be in a great position to advocate on behalf of all wheat farmers,” NAWG president Gordon Stoner stated in the press release.

Goule holds degrees from Texas A&M and George Washington University, and was a subcommittee staff director for the House Agriculture Committee before moving to the National Farmers Union in 2009 as vice president of government relations, according to the NAWG press release. He was appointed senior vice president of NFU programs in 2014.

Online

http://bit.ly/1U9nJX7

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Judge rules softwood lumber checkoff unlawful http://www.capitalpress.com/Timber/20160526/judge-rules-softwood-lumber-checkoff-unlawful http://www.capitalpress.com/Timber/20160526/judge-rules-softwood-lumber-checkoff-unlawful#Comments Thu, 26 May 2016 16:26:18 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529909 A federal judge has ruled the USDA violated the law in creating the softwood lumber checkoff, which raises money to promote the use of wood in construction.

Companies that manufacture more than 15 million board-feet of lumber a year — enough to build 1,000 homes — must pay an assessment of 35 cents per 1,000 board-feet to fund the program.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., has decided the threshold of 15 million board-feet, or 15 mmbf, was “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of federal administrative law.

“Nearly every calculation upon which the agency relies has significant mismeasurements or inaccuracies, and many of the agency’s explanations across its original rulemaking process, its briefings and its two responses to the court’s remand orders contradict one another,” Boasberg said.

Resolute Forest Products of Montreal, Canada, filed a lawsuit against the softwood lumber checkoff in 2014 seeking to void the program, stop the USDA from collecting funds and return the money that’s already been spent.

Although the judge has now ruled the checkoff program was “promulgated unlawfully,” the implications for the program’s future aren’t certain.

A hearing has been scheduled for June 1 “to discuss the appropriate next steps concerning the remedies sought by plaintiff.”

For 2016, the Softwood Lumber Board, which oversees the checkoff, has a budget of $15.4 million that’s used for a variety of programs, such as encouraging builders to use lumber in larger, multistory structures.

The program was created in 2011, with 67 percent of manufacturers voting in favor of it, in reaction to the severe housing downturn that greatly diminished the demand for lumber.

Boasberg gave the USDA two chances during the litigation to explain how it arrived at the 15 million board-foot exemption level but was ultimately dissatisfied with its rationale.

“The record, in sum, simply contains too many misstatements, unsubstantiated (or incorrect) estimates, and statements contradicted by the agency’s subsequent litigation positions to support the selection of 15 mmbf as the de minimis quantity,” he said.

For example, the USDA’s projects were unclear about how much lumber — and thus revenue for the checkoff — would be excluded under that threshold level, according to the ruling.

In setting the exemption, the agency relied on “significantly outdated” production and sales data that was compiled before the recession reduced lumber demand, Boasberg said.

USDA also failed to justify why companies selling less than 15 million board-feet were considered small under the checkoff, when the agency previously defined a small entity as shipping less than 25 million board-feet, he said.

“Lacking reliable data, the court has no way whatsoever to assess the impact of the 15 mmbf exemption on small entities, and it casts doubt on whether the agency even had its eyes on the road as it steered the proposed checkoff order through notice and comment,” the judge said.

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Wilco, Hazelnut Growers of Oregon propose merger http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160526/wilco-hazelnut-growers-of-oregon-propose-merger http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160526/wilco-hazelnut-growers-of-oregon-propose-merger#Comments Thu, 26 May 2016 16:08:25 -0400 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529910 Members will vote on June 7 whether to merge Wilco’s farm supply business with Hazelnut Growers of Oregon’s processing facilities.

The boards of directors of the two Oregon cooperatives have already approved the combination, which they believe would create “synergies,” such as spreading administrative costs across additional business units.

Doug Hoffman, Wilco’s CEO, said the merger would further diversify his cooperative, insulating it from the ups and downs experienced by any one sector.

“It has served us well over the years not to have all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “It spreads our risk.”

Apart from its seven agronomy centers, which sell fertilizers and pesticides, Wilco also provides fuel services and owns 15 retail stores, with total annual revenues of about $220 million.

Wilco’s consumer-oriented farm stores are currently growing faster than its farmer-focused supply business, so the merger provides an opportunity to provide more services to grower-members, Hoffman said.

“It’s more of a vertical integration,” he said.

The merger would also provide HGO with more financial stability when the cooperative must cope with volatile hazelnut volumes or prices.

HGO is considering relocating from its current facility in Cornelius, Ore., to a plant that’s more geographically accessible, so the combined balance sheet will help with that investment.

The existing processing facility owned by HGO is food-grade and shells nuts, but needs a quality upgrade to better serve the domestic market, said Hoffman. “It needs to be bigger and more automated.”

The two cooperatives have scouted a location for the new facility near Donald, Ore., and are in negotiations with the property owner, but plans to build the plant in time for the 2018 harvest are contingent on the merger’s approval, he said.

Members of Wilco currently earn equity in the cooperative based on their purchases, while those in HGO gain equity based on hazelnut deliveries.

Those two modes of earning equity — and thus dividends — would remain distinct under the merged cooperative.

“Two separate pools, two separate checks,” Hoffman said.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the two would simply merge and no money would change hands.

The current CEO of HGO, Jeff Fox, would head the hazelnut unit and report to Hoffman, who would be at the helm of the combined cooperative.

Roughly half of the 150 farmers who belong to HGO are already members of Wilco, which has 3,000 members in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and was created in 1967 from the merger of four smaller cooperatives.

The two companies have 900 employees combined, though some administrative positions will likely be eliminated if the merger is completed as planned in August and some of HGO’s office functions are eventually shifted to Wilco’s headquarters in Mt. Angel, Ore.

While Wilco’s current agronomy stations wouldn’t likely begin cleaning or processing hazelnuts, they may serve as transfer stations for the crop during harvest.

Wilco and HGO currently each have a nine-member board of directors, with farmer Ben Coleman serving on both boards. The combined board would have 17 members, which would be whittled down to 12 as they come up for re-election.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160526/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160526/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Thu, 26 May 2016 09:21:09 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529924 Portland, Ore., Thursday, May 26, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

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

In early trading July futures trended 7.25 to 10.00 cents per bushel higher compared to Wednesday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for May delivery for ordinary protein were not available in early trading. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

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

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

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended mixed compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended lower in early trading compared to Wednesday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Jun 5.2000-5.2800

Jul 5.2000-5.3000

Aug NC 5.2000-5.3200

Sep NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

Jun 5.3200-5.3600

Jul 5.3100-5.3600

Aug NC 5.1175-5.3200

Sep 5.2175-5.3200

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 5.1150-5.3750

11 pct protein 5.3050-5.4550

11.5 pct protein

May 5.3450-5.4950

Jun 5.3450-5.4950

Jul 5.3450-5.4950

Aug NC 5.4050-5.5050

Sep 5.5050

12 pct protein 5.3650-5.5250

13 pct protein 5.4050-5.5850

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

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

13 pct protein 5.8725-6.1425

14 pct protein

May 6.1925-6.3425

Jun 6.1925-6.3425

Jul 6.1925-6.3425

Aug NC 6.1725-6.3725

Sep 6.1725-6.3725

15 pct protein 6.3925-6.5025

16 pct protein 6.5025-6.6625

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 4.8625-4.9025

Jun 4.9125-4.9425

Jul 4.9325-4.9525

Aug/Sep 4.8650-4.9750

Oct/Nov 4.9300-4.9900

Dec 4.9600-4.9900

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 11.3050-11.3350

Jun 11.3550

Jul 11.4050-11.4950

Aug 11.3725-11.5025

Sep 11.3950

Oct/Nov 11.4450-11.4850

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Apr 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.2700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.4800

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.2700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Court upholds $3 million judgment against food manufacturer over pay http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160526/court-upholds-3-million-judgment-against-food-manufacturer-over-pay http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160526/court-upholds-3-million-judgment-against-food-manufacturer-over-pay#Comments Thu, 26 May 2016 08:42:22 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529925 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ highest court says a baby food manufacturer must pay more than $3 million to workers for the time they spent dressing and undressing into uniforms and protective gear.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling that Gerber Products Co. should have compensated workers at its Fort Smith facility for the time they spent changing into uniforms, donning protective gear such as ear plugs and washing their hands, as well as undressing after their shifts ended.

In a 4-3 ruling, justices sided with the workers who said Arkansas’ Minimum Wage Act required the company to compensate for the activities despite an agreement with the union.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160525/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160525/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Wed, 25 May 2016 09:36:46 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529930 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, May 25, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

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

In early trading July futures trended mixed, from one cent lower to 2.25 cents per bushel higher compared to Tuesday’s closes, with the greatest decline in Minneapolis dark northern spring wheat and the advance in Chicago soft red wheat.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for May delivery for ordinary protein were not available in early trading. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

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

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

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher in early trading compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Jun 5.1375-5.2800

Jul 5.1375-5.3000

Aug NC 5.2000-5.3200

Sep NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

Jun 5.2375-5.3500

Jul 5.1875-5.3500

Aug NC 5.1950-5.3200

Sep 5.2950-5.3200

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 5.0075-5.2675

11 pct protein 5.2075-5.3475

11.5 pct protein

May 5.2875-5.3875

Jun 5.2875-5.3875

Jul 5.2675-5.3875

Aug NC 5.2950-5.3950

Sep 5.3950

12 pct protein 5.3075-5.4175

13 pct protein 5.3475-5.4775

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

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

13 pct protein 5.7900-6.0600

14 pct protein

May 6.1100-6.2600

Jun 6.1100-6.2600

Jul 6.1100-6.2600

Aug NC 6.0875-6.2875

Sep 6.0875-6.2875

15 pct protein 6.3100-6.4200

16 pct protein 6.4200-6.5800

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 4.8275-4.8875

Jun 4.8775-4.9075

Jul 4.8975-4.9075

Aug/Sep 4.8300-4.9200

Oct/Nov 4.9075-4.9675

Dec 4.9375-4.9675

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 11.2675-11.2975

Jun 11.3175

Jul 11.3675-11.4575

Aug 11.3200-11.4500

Sep 11.3575

Oct/Nov 11.4075-11.4475

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Apr 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.2700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.4800

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.2700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Cargill plans to keep several operations in Wichita http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160525/cargill-plans-to-keep-several-operations-in-wichita http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160525/cargill-plans-to-keep-several-operations-in-wichita#Comments Wed, 25 May 2016 09:19:57 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529932 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Agribusiness giant Cargill says it is keeping several of its operations in Wichita, Kansas, and is searching for a new facility to house them.

Cargill corporate vice president Brian Sikes made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and other officials.

The company is headquartered just outside Minneapolis, Minn. Wichita is home to its beef business and its turkey and cooked meat business, which includes deli meats. Its value-added protein services such as its North American egg business and its food distribution also are located in Wichita.

The company had been considering moving the operations to another location, citing workflow issues with having people in several buildings.

Most of the 900 employees that work in its Wichita-based operations are housed in a 10-story building.

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Judge orders rancher to repay USDA $65,000 for loan he misused http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20160525/judge-orders-rancher-to-repay-usda-65000-for-loan-he-misused http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20160525/judge-orders-rancher-to-repay-usda-65000-for-loan-he-misused#Comments Wed, 25 May 2016 09:07:57 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529934 PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge in South Dakota has ordered a rancher to pay back the U.S. Department of Agriculture $65,000 for a loan he misused.

The order against 36-year-old Pierre resident Timothy Sherwood came after he pleaded guilty to conversion of mortgaged property. He was also ordered to spend five years on unsupervised probation.

Sherwood was charged for an incident that authorities say happened between December 2011 and September 2012.

Authorities say Sherwood received a $76,000 USDA loan administered by the Farm Service Agency to buy sheep and cover expenses for their care. But Sherwood sold the sheep without the FSA approval and deposited the proceeds of the sale into his personal bank account instead of an FSA account.

Authorities accuse Sherwood of spending large sums on personal, non-ranch expenses.

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Senate votes to scrap catfish inspection program http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160525/senate-votes-to-scrap-catfish-inspection-program http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160525/senate-votes-to-scrap-catfish-inspection-program#Comments Wed, 25 May 2016 09:05:30 -0400 MARY CLARE JALONICK http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529935 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted to scrap a new catfish inspection program that critics have argued is wasteful and unnecessary.

The vote Wednesday came just after President Barack Obama visited Vietnam, a major exporter of catfish to the United States that has criticized the program. The Senate has approved by 55-43 a resolution that would void the regulations, if the House agrees and Obama signs on.

The inspection program was first created by Congress in the 2008 farm law and is championed by lawmakers from catfish-producing states, including Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The law took safety oversight of catfish and other ray-finned fish away from the Food and Drug Administration and gave that authority to the Agriculture Department, which does more frequent inspections.

USDA delayed putting the program in place for several years, but inspections started in March and are being phased in over the next year.

Supporters said the inspections are a necessary precaution against potentially tainted imports from Asia. USDA has already found illegal drug residue in some shipments.

“It is clear that the inspection rule is working as intended to protect consumers,” Cochran said on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to vote against the resolution.

Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other critics have said the added regulation is wasteful and solely intended to raise a new, higher hurdle for catfish imports from Vietnam and other nations. Besides the new catfish inspections, USDA has traditionally only been responsible for meat, poultry and processed eggs. FDA inspects most other foods.

“This kind of program is exactly what our hardworking citizenry who work hard and pay their taxes, they don’t get it,” McCain said.

Catfish is among the most popular fish in the U.S. The market was long dominated by U.S. producers, located mostly in Southern states such as Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama. But there’s been a rise in cheaper Asian imports in recent years.

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Parasitic wasps drafted into battle against ash borer http://www.capitalpress.com/Timber/20160525/parasitic-wasps-drafted-into-battle-against-ash-borer http://www.capitalpress.com/Timber/20160525/parasitic-wasps-drafted-into-battle-against-ash-borer#Comments Wed, 25 May 2016 08:46:55 -0400 DAVID PITT http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529939 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Millions of tiny wasps that are natural parasites of the emerald ash borer have been released into wooded areas in 24 states as the battle against the tree-killing borer is now biological.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has researched and approved for release four species of parasitic wasps that naturally target the larval and egg stages of the ash borer, which has killed an estimated 38 million ash trees in urban and residential areas.

The estimated cost of treating, removing, and replacing the lost trees is $25 billion, according to a report written by USDA and U.S. Forest Service entomologists earlier this month.

On average, federal and state resource managers spend more than $29 million per year to manage ash borer populations.

The tiniest of the wasps looks like a pepper flake on a white surface. It lays eggs inside ash borer eggs, preventing them from hatching. Three other wasps, one the size of a gnat, lays eggs inside ash borer larvae halting development into adult beetles.

They were identified in China in 2002 and studied for several years before scientists concluded they could be safety released in the United States to fight the ash borer.

The wasp release program is in 24 of the 26 states where the ash borer has been found, said entomologist Ben Slager, the manager of the laboratory in Brighton, Michigan, producing the wasps run by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a USDA agency. Plans are to also distribute wasps to Texas and Georgia, the final two states not yet in the program.

“This isn’t going to save anybody’s tree in their yard or in the city. What we’re working to do is to protect the next generation coming up,” Slager said Tuesday. “It’s really a long-term management strategy.”

Ash was the most commonly planted tree species used to replace elm trees decimated from the 1920s through the 1980s throughout North America by Dutch elm disease.

Scientists believe the ash borer was accidentally introduced into North America in the 1990s, most likely in wooden shipping crates from Russia, China, Japan or Korea. The ash borer feeds on tree tissue beneath the bark, destroying the ability to move water and nutrients to branches.

Iowa, the latest state to introduce the wasps, will begin distribution in the next few weeks in a 133-acre timber near Fairfield, about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines. The ash borer was found there in 2013 and continues to spread, said Mike Kintner, the ash borer program coordinator for Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Iowa has about 52 million rural ash trees and about 3.1 million more urban areas, the USDA Forest Service said.

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Mechanical harvests of raisin grapes increase dramatically http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160524/mechanical-harvests-of-raisin-grapes-increase-dramatically http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160524/mechanical-harvests-of-raisin-grapes-increase-dramatically#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 13:09:13 -0400 Tim Hearden http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529946 SACRAMENTO — Mechanical harvesters were used on a little more than 28 percent of the acres that produced raisins last season, and industry insiders believe that percentage will keep going up as labor costs increase.

The total acreage harvested by mechanical means last fall was 47,754, up from the 31,483 acres mechanically harvested just two years earlier, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sacramento.

Carlos Murrieta, owner of Mechanical Raisin Harvesting in Dinuba, Calif., said he expects more growers to switch to mechanical picking as California’s minimum wage gradually rises to $15 an hour by 2022.

“It’s going to trend way up,” Murrieta said of the use of machines to pick raisin-type grapes. “The majority of the thing is going to be mechanical, and pruning will be mechanical. … Instead of having 20 or 30 guys do a field, you get two or three, but you pre-prune first.

“For harvesting, you probably let some of your weaker guys go and push your better guys, and pay them more than $15 to stay ahead,” he said.

Most California raisins are produced by sun drying after placing bunches on paper trays on terraces between vine rows. University of California researchers have noted the rapid mechanization of the raisin industry, which typically required about 60,000 workers during its six-week peak.

George Zhuang, UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Fresno County, said the move to mechanization is being aided by the development of a grape variety that naturally dries on the vine.

“There’s huge potential for this variety to be mechanically harvested and pruned,” he said.

Several different methods of mechanically harvesting are used on raisin grapes. The most popular is the overhead trellis management system, in which workers cut canes mid-season to allow grapes to dry on the vine and a machine later knocks the grapes into a catch tray.

Fresno County had the most acreage with mechanical harvesting, at 33,746, representing about 28 percent of the county’s raisin grape acreage, according to NASS. Neighboring Madera County harvested 40 percent of its raisin grape acreage by machine, the agency reported.

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U.S. organic food, fiber sales booming http://www.capitalpress.com/Organic/20160524/us-organic-food-fiber-sales-booming http://www.capitalpress.com/Organic/20160524/us-organic-food-fiber-sales-booming#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 11:16:17 -0400 Carol Ryan Dumas http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529951 Capital Press

U.S. organic product sales jumped nearly 11 percent in 2015, setting records along the way.

Total sales of organic food and non-food products reached $43.3 billion, with organic food sales claiming about 92 percent of all receipts at $39.7 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Those food sales were up 10.6 percent year over year, outperforming the 3 percent growth in conventional food sales and claiming nearly 5 percent of all food sold in the U.S.

At $3.6 billion, organic non-food sales were up 12.8 percent, led by organic fiber and organic supplements, eclipsing the 2.8 growth in primarily conventional comparable products.

Total organic sales in 2015 marked the fourth-consecutive year of double-digit growth, adding $4.2 billion in sales over 2014. Those sales represent a 209 percent growth since 2005, when sales totaled $14 billion.

“Despite all of the challenges, the organic industry saw its largest dollar growth to date and the industry rallied together, investing in infrastructure, education and systems to endure that it will continue to be the most meaning farm-to-fork — and fiber — system,” said Laura Batcha, OTA executive director.

Growing consumer interest in organic products stems from a desire for transparency in the supply chain and to know where food comes from, she said.

“At the shelf, this translates to consumers seeking clean labels with simple ingredient lists,” OTA stated in its executive summary of its 2016 Organic Industry Survey, which won’t be available until June.

“Farm-fresh foods — produce and dairy — are driving the market. Together, they account for more than half of total organic food sales,” Batcha said.

Produce continued to lead organic food sales in 2015 with receipts of $14.4 billion for all fruits and vegetables, including $13 billion in fresh produce, and a sales increase of 10.6 percent. Almost 13 percent of produce sold in the U.S. is organic, OTA reported.

“Produce has always been and continues to be a gateway to organic. It is easy for shoppers to make the connection between agricultural practices used in the field and the fresh fruit or vegetables they bite into,” OTA stated.

Dairy followed with $6 billion in sales, an increase of more than 10 percent year over year.

Even with impressive growth in those sectors, they weren’t the fastest growing organic food sector, according to the latest survey.

The fresh juices and beverages category grew by 33.5 percent. Organic eggs were just behind with a 32 percent growth, and organic condiments as a whole marked an 18.5 percent growth, OTA reported.

“Organic is a bright spot in agriculture and the economy of America. Our success will continue to be built on a solid foundation of stakeholder engagement, transparency and meaningful organic standards that consumers trust in,” Batcha said.

While 2015 held significant growth for organic sales and access to organic products continued to grow at the retail level, the industry continued to struggle to meet demand. Dairy and grains were two areas where growth could have been even more robust if more supply had been available, OTA reported.

But the industry did collaborate to make headway in addressing the supply challenge, developing infrastructure and advocating for policy to advance the sector.

“There is an industry-wide understanding of the need to build a secure supply chain that can support demand. This goes hand-in-hand with securing more organic acreage, developing programs to help farmers transition to organic and encouraging new farmers to farm organically,” OTA stated.

OTA made progress this past year in an organic checkoff for research and promotion, crop insurance modifications and amendments to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system to address the needs of the organic industry.

In addition, it created an organic fiber council and several food companies formed the U.S. Organic Grain Collaboration to address challenges in expanding the supply of organic grain in the U.S.

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Apple commission chief pushes logo http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160524/apple-commission-chief-pushes-logo http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160524/apple-commission-chief-pushes-logo#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 11:13:38 -0400 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529952 WENATCHEE, Wash. — Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover is urging tree fruit marketers to make greater use of the generic Washington apple logo to increase exports.

He touted co-branding and selective branding of the logo at a May 19 commission meeting in Wenatchee, noting that per capita consumption of Washington apples has been increasing.

Co-branding is use of the generic Washington apple logo — an apple with the name “Washington” over it — along with an individual fruit company logo on the same PLU — the acronym for price look-up — sticker on an individual piece of fruit.

Selective branding is use of the generic Washington logo instead of company logos on fruit for specific markets.

The commission has invested $650 million over the past 75 years in promotional activities supporting the logo, including domestic promotions before 2003. The commission has conducted only export promotions since losing its legal status for domestic promotions in 2003. The generic logo is highly regarded in foreign markets.

“It’s the not the importer and wholesaler we are concerned about recognizing our fruit. They see it on the boxes. It’s not as obvious at the consumer level because fruit is sold mixed in bins and signage is difficult,” Fryhover said. “The generic Washington sticker helps identity and builds consumer continuity.”

Exports need to increase, he said, because world apple production is rising while trade barriers and other issues are slowing world fresh apple exports.

Markets will become saturated and Washington apple companies, a small part of the international market, are stronger together under a single brand than separately, Fryhover said.

World production is projected to increase from the current 80 million to 100 million metric tons by 2025, he said.

Meanwhile, world fresh apple exports have flattened in the 8.5 million metric ton range since 2010 because of economic slowdowns in many markets, he said. Protectionism in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the European Union and a ban on Western produce by Russia have slowed exports, he said.

Russia was the world’s largest importer of fresh apples but its ban, imposed Aug. 7, 2014, in retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, has left European suppliers scrambling for other markets while their production increases, Fryhover said.

Russia receives some gray-market apples but overall its ban has caused a global market disappearance for about 30 million apples, he said.

Washington apple exports to India have fallen a dramatic 62 percent because of a strong dollar, Indian port closures now resolved and a 50 percent Indian tariff, Fryhover said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if our 2014 volume into India (5.6 million boxes) may be our all-time high,” he said.

Washington has exported 1.9 million boxes of apples to India this season as of May 15, he said, noting to finish at 2.5 million will be good.

“India is important because it’s a Red Delicious only market and we will need to export Reds and Gala in greater numbers in the future,” he said. Therefore, the commission will continue to fund export promotions in India at $1.1 million. It takes a lot because it’s a large country geographically, he said.

Washington’s apple exports will finish this season at about 26 to 28 percent of the crop, down from a norm of 30 percent mainly because of a strong dollar, he said.

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Risk Management Agency exec touts whole farm revenue protection http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/risk-management-agency-exec-touts-whole-farm-revenue-protection http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/risk-management-agency-exec-touts-whole-farm-revenue-protection#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 10:39:54 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529953 SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — USDA Risk Management Agency associate administrator Tim Gannon is in the Pacific Northwest this week talking with farmers, insurance companies and agents about the popular new whole farm revenue protection.

Introduced in 2015, the insurance, which provides a risk management safety net for all commodities on the farm under one insurance policy, was “most successfully sold” in the Northwest, Gannon said.

It replaced Adjusted Gross Revenue coverage, known by the acronyms AGR and AGR-Lite.

“In some parts of the country you may have one, two or three crops that producers are insuring in a given year,” Gannon said. “Here, depending on the size of the operation and where it’s based, it could be a whole bunch of more things than that.”

More than 10,000 farmers bought the insurance nationwide in 2015. It is now available in every county and state, Gannon said.

Changes made for the 2016 crop year include simplifying the livestock and nursery portions of the whole-farm policy.

Under the actual production history yield exclusion, a particularly bad year can be removed from a farm’s production history and won’t count against the insurance guarantee, Gannon said.

Gannon spoke with the Capital Press in regional RMA director Ben Thiel’s Spokane Valley, Wash., office. Among the other topics he covered were:

• Organic crop insurance is expanding: California and Washington are the top two states for organic production. In 2011, there were four price elections for organic crops, including corn and soybeans; in 2017 the agency will have at least 57 crops, Gannon said.

The agency added a contract-price addendum, meaning farmers may be able to receive up to double the conventional price and insure it under their organic policy. A 5 percent surcharge has been removed, Gannon said.

“Organic is a part of the ag economy that is growing,” Gannon said. “If we want to be producing those products in the United States and not importing them from overseas, we’ve got to provide the same kind of safety net for our organic producers that our other producers have been able to enjoy.”

• Payments to growers: Last year, insurance companies paid more than $6 billion to farmers nationwide, down from recent years. In 2012, for example, companies paid more than $10 billion, Gannon said.

• Crop insurance for triticale: A program is being privately developed, Thiel said. If approved, it would be available after the 2017 crop year, Thiel said.

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Labor officials hand out back pay to blueberry workers http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/labor-officials-hand-out-back-pay-to-blueberry-workers http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/labor-officials-hand-out-back-pay-to-blueberry-workers#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 09:37:55 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529955 KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) — Some farm workers are getting back wages and damages, following the settlement of a labor dispute with some Washington blueberry growers.

The Tri-City Herald reports that officials from the U.S. Department of Labor were in Kennewick Monday to hand out checks to some of the more than 1,000 workers covered by the settlement.

Earlier this year, some blueberry growers in Walla Walla County admitted in federal court that they violated the rights of their agricultural workers over a period of three years. That includes failing to pay the minimum wage and overtime in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 growing seasons.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit, and the consent judgment that ended the case in January requires Walla Walla County growers to pay a total of $385,318 in unpaid wages and damages to pickers and packing shed workers.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160524/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160524/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 09:24:04 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529958 Portland, Ore., Tuesday, May 24, 2016

USDA Market News

All Bids in dollars per bushel. Bids are limited and not fully established in early trading.

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

In early trading July futures trended one to five cents per bushel higher compared to Monday’s closes.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains and barges for May delivery for ordinary protein were not available in early trading. Bids for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein were not available in early trading as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby.

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

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

Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher compared to Monday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during May trended higher in early trading compared to Monday’s noon bids.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Jun 5.1700-5.2800

Jul 5.1700-5.3000

Aug NC 5.2500-5.3200

Sep NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

Jun 5.2700-5.4500

Jul 5.2200-5.4500

Aug NC 5.2300-5.4000

Sep 5.2800-5.3200

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

Ordinary protein

May NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

May NA

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

better)

Ordinary protein 5.0325-5.2925

11 pct protein 5.2325-5.3725

11.5 pct protein

May 5.3125-5.4125

Jun 5.3125-5.4125

Jul 5.2925-5.4125

Aug NC 5.3200-5.4200

Sep 5.4200

12 pct protein 5.3325-5.4425

13 pct protein 5.3725-5.5025

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

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

13 pct protein 5.8275-6.0975

14 pct protein

May 6.1475-6.2975

Jun 6.1475-6.2975

Jul 6.1475-6.2475

Aug NC 6.1200-6.2700

Sep 6.1200-6.2700

15 pct protein 6.3475-6.4075

16 pct protein 6.4575-6.5675

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 4.7625-4.8025

Jun 4.7525-4.8325

Jul 4.7425-4.8525

Aug/Sep 4.6800-4.8600

Oct/Nov 4.8850-4.9450

Dec 4.9250-4.9450

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

May 11.1550-11.1850

Jun 11.2050

Jul 11.2550-11.3250

Aug 11.2325-11.3625

Sep 11.2700

Oct/Nov 11.3200-11.3300

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Apr 2016

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges NA

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.2700

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.4800

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.2700

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Q&A: How would Bayer’s purchase of Monsanto impact workers, farmers, investors? http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/qampa-how-would-bayers-purchase-of-monsanto-impact-workers-farmers-investors http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160524/qampa-how-would-bayers-purchase-of-monsanto-impact-workers-farmers-investors#Comments Tue, 24 May 2016 08:30:58 -0400 DAVID McHUGHAP Business Writer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529963 FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayer wants to buy Monsanto for $62 billion, hooking up the German chemical and drug company with the St. Louis-based producer of seeds and weed-killers.

The deal would create a global giant in agriculture technology touching much of global food production through the development of seeds and pesticides.

Here’s a look at the deal and what it would mean for farmers, workers, consumers and investors.

Q: Who wants to buy whom?

A: Bayer is offering to acquire Monsanto, which makes seeds for fruits, vegetables, corn, soybeans and cotton, as well as weed-killer Roundup. It has more than 21,000 employees worldwide, about half of whom work the U.S. in 33 states.

Bayer, headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany, employs some 117,000 people worldwide. It makes pharmaceuticals, over the counter medicines such as Aleve and Alka-Seltzer, and farm chemicals.

Bayer said Monday the all-cash offer values shares of Monsanto at $122 each. That compares with a closing price Friday of $101.52 and is 37 percent higher than the closing price of $89.03 on May 9, the day before Bayer made a written proposal to Monsanto.

Q: Why would Bayer want to buy Monsanto?

A: The takeover would create the world’s largest seed and farm chemical company with a strong presence spread across the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Bayer says that combining research and development as well as product lines would make the two companies worth more together than separately. The combined company would have higher earnings and save $1.5 billion a year by eliminating overlapping functions and overhead.

They would combine different regional strengths: Monsanto is big in the United States, while Bayer has a larger presence in Europe and Asia.

Bayer says the world needs more productive agriculture to meet the food needs of a growing world population. Monsanto says it’s considering the offer.

Q: So why are investors skeptical? Bayer shares slumped 5.7 percent Monday, off 12.5 percent since Bayer confirmed it was in talks with Monsanto.

A: One reason: Part of the deal will be paid for by issuing new shares. Shareholders either pay to sign up or see their share of earnings shrink through dilution of their holdings.

Another reason: Some investors may have bought Bayer due to its primary focus on pharmaceuticals and might not be so interested in getting a stake in a seed company.

Q: Why is that a problem?

A: A more complex company with a wider range of business operations can trade at lower prices than a more focused one. “What we find is that larger firms and more diversified firms are valued less than a single highly specialized firm,” says Michael H. Grote, professor of finance at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and an expert on mergers and acquisitions. “In general market participants think the more diversified the firm, the harder it is to manage.”

Not only that. Buying an outside business sends a subtle message that the company’s existing operations are “less profitable,” Grote said.

He said the 12 percent drop in Bayer shares was larger than the usual 4 to 5 percent dip seen after a takeover announcement.

Q: Anything else?

A: Yes. There’s the fact that some people don’t like Monsanto’s business in selling genetically modified crop seeds. Such seeds have been blocked in some countries and been a subject of anxiety among some consumers and the target of environmental activists.

The pluses of the deal must have seemed stronger to Bayer CEO Werner Baumann. But “it’s on the negative side, if you add up the pluses and minuses,” said Grote.

Q: Does this mean Bayer will now try to sell genetically modified Monsanto crop seeds in Europe?

A: Unlikely. Political resistance to genetically modified crops remains strong in Europe. Monsanto has only one product there, a pest-resistance variety of maize, and has given up on applications for more after officials failed to act on them despite approval by the European Food Safety Authority.

Liam Condon, head of Bayer’s crop science division, said that “the whole discussion is a political one and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

Q: What’s going to happen to people who work for Monsanto?

A: Bayer says the head office for the combined seed business will be in St. Louis, Missouri, where Monsanto is headquartered.

But some jobs probably have to be lost somewhere to achieve the advertised savings, says Grote.

Neither company offered any detail on that issue. Chief Finance Officer Johannes Dietsch mentioned marketing and research and development as two areas where synergies could be found.

Q: What’s it mean for Monsanto’s headquarters community?

A: The St. Louis region has lost several other corporate headquarters to mergers in recent years. Monsanto’s corporate office for all phases of its business is in one St. Louis suburb, Creve Coeur, and its research hub is in another, Chesterfield. All told, the company employs more than 5,000 workers in the St. Louis region.

St. Louis was once home to several Fortune 500 companies, but mergers in recent years have changed that. The most significant corporate loss was in 2008, when Belgium-based InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, the beer maker long identified with St. Louis.

Q: What would the deal mean for farmers?

A: Bayer says that its customers will get a broader range of products such as seeds and pesticides that work better together. New products and innovation would increase the amount farmers can growth from a given acreage. Bayer executive Condon said that “at the end of the day, what we are trying to do is increase farmers’ yields.”

The question is whether the company would become so dominant that it could hike prices.

Analyst Ulrich Huwald at Warburg Research said that the combined company would control 28 percent of the world’s market for pesticides and would have a “strong presence” in the U.S. market for corn and soybean seeds. Anti-trust regulators will scrutinize the deal to see whether it means less competition.

Mergers and acquisitions expert Grote said that “big players have some ability to set prices higher.”

But the impact on how much farmers would pay is impossible to determine at this point, he said.

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Hoping to increase demand, commission turns to domestic market for western white wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160523/hoping-to-increase-demand-commission-turns-to-domestic-market-for-western-white-wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160523/hoping-to-increase-demand-commission-turns-to-domestic-market-for-western-white-wheat#Comments Mon, 23 May 2016 11:10:40 -0400 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160529972 SPOKANE — Washington state farmers export most of the western white wheat they produce.

Now, however, members of the Washington Grain Commission hope to market the blend of soft white wheat and club wheat to domestic customers, too.

Working with consultant Art Bettge, the Washington Grain Commission is studying the possibility.

“It’s a niche market overseas, but expanding demand benefits everybody,” said Glen Squires, the commission CEO. “Domestic mills and bakers are making the same types of products. We should expand their knowledge into the different blends.”

Washington produces about 85 percent of the nation’s club wheat, estimated to be about 280,000 acres. The rest is grown in Oregon and Idaho, Squires said.

The domestic potential is best on the West Coast, where transportation costs are lowest, Bettge said.

Most domestic customers were unaware of the market class, Bettge said. Board of trade printouts typically show only soft white wheat or soft wheat, he said.

“They had no clue it even exists,” he said.

But they were sure interested when they heard that they might get 2 percent more flour yield than soft white or soft red wheat and enhanced performance in some products, he said.

Bettge said future demand depends on how willing corporate executives in large milling or baking companies are to embrace change.

Would this improve growers’ profitability?

“Oh, hell yes,” he said.

Club wheat acreage typically increases as the price premium increases. More demand would create more supply and level out that variability, he said.

“The more demand you get, it drives production,” Squires said.

Club wheat is priced the same as soft white on the Portland market, $5.23 to $5.32 per bushel. Club wheat with a maximum 10.5 percent protein is $5.37 to $5.76 per bushel, compared to $5.33 to $5.36 per bushel for soft white wheat with 10.5 percent protein maximum.

Western white wheat is a blend of 10 to 20 percent club wheat with soft white wheat. That blend gives the “biggest kick” for making sponge cakes, Bettge said.

The commission is looking into higher blends of club for some products, up to 40 to 60 percent.

“When you’re making other products baking down to a very low moisture content like you would see in a cookie or a wafer, putting in 40 percent to 60 percent club wheat in with your soft white gives you a big performance boost,” Bettge said. “The more club wheat put in, the better performance you get, especially if you’re using Otto or another stronger gluten-type soft white wheat.”

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