Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Fri, 5 Feb 2016 23:24:26 -0500 en http://EOR-CPwebvarnish.newscyclecloud.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Utah sues federal government over sage grouse plan http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160205/utah-sues-federal-government-over-sage-grouse-plan http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160205/utah-sues-federal-government-over-sage-grouse-plan#Comments Fri, 5 Feb 2016 08:27:36 -0500 BRADY McCOMBS http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209912 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah has decided to sue the federal government over its new set of rules intended to protect the greater sage grouse — following similar lawsuits lodged by Idaho and nine Nevada counties, ranchers and two mining companies.

Utah state officials argue that the guidelines announced in September impose unnecessary restrictions for activities on and near sage grouse habitat. A state plan unveiled in 2013 is sufficient for the conservation of the hen-sized bird, the Utah Attorney General contends in the lawsuit filed Thursday.

State officials and members of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation called the lawsuit an important stance against federal overreach.

“This one-size-fits-all decision does not reflect the tremendous diversity in greater sage-grouse habitats across the West,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “Utah is better positioned to manage our sage-grouse population than the federal government.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the new policies for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands Sept. 22 at the same time she decided against listing the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered. She said the added protections were necessary to reverse the department’s decision in 2010 that the bird warranted protection under the Endangered Species

The regulations establish buffer zones as large as 3 miles in diameter around sage grouse “leks,” the traditional breeding grounds for the bird whose numbers have dwindled from 16 million to between 500,000 and 200,000 due in large part to wildfires, mining, livestock grazing and other development.

Department of Interior spokesman Blake Androff said in a statement the plans were developed with input from state and local representatives.

“We believe the plans are both balanced and effective — protecting key sage-grouse habitat and providing for sustainable development,” Androff said.

Allison Jones, director of the Wild Utah Project, called the lawsuit counterproductive to helping sage grouse recover. The new federal plan doesn’t preclude the state from instituting its own sage grouse measures on state and private lands, Jones said.

Utah should allow the federal plan time and see if it can reverse a long-term downward population trend no matter how the state portrays the numbers, Jones said. “Why would Utah try to stop that?”

The previous lawsuits in Idaho and Nevada were filed on the heels of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s announcement. The Nevada counties, mining companies and several ranchers filed their suit in federal court in Reno the following day. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho Legislature filed theirs several days later in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Lawyers in the Idaho case have until April to file new response briefs. The Nevada case isn’t expected to go to trial until mid-summer. A judge in the Nevada case has refused to immediately suspend all sage grouse protections recently adopted in new land planning amendments.

Herbert, a Republican, said in a statement that the new regulations are more restrictive in many ways than an Endangered Species Act designation. He said the state is better positioned to know how to manage sage grouse, as evidenced by the restoration of 500,000 acres of the bird’s habitat and small increase in the animal’s population.

He is backed by the state’s top politicians. Sen. Mike Lee said there’s no need for the federal government to control public lands in Utah. Rep. Rob Bishop said the plan is an example of the Obama administration imposing its “misguided will on the West.”

Longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch also took the opportunity to blast the president: “The Obama administration has decided to fudge the facts and flout the law in pursuit of its radical anti-development agenda,” Hatch said in a statement. “I applaud Gov. Herbert for his efforts to hold the administration accountable and protect our lands and jobs from this latest federal overreach.”

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Obama seeks $10-per-barrel oil tax http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160205/obama-seeks-10-per-barrel-oil-tax http://www.capitalpress.com/AP_Nation_World/20160205/obama-seeks-10-per-barrel-oil-tax#Comments Fri, 5 Feb 2016 08:22:46 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209913 WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee for every barrel of oil to help fund investments in clean transportation that fight climate change.

Obama will formalize the proposal Tuesday when he releases his final budget request to Congress. The $10-per-barrel fee is expected face solid opposition from Republicans who control Congress and oppose new taxes and Obama’s energy policies.

Still, the White House hopes the proposal will drive a debate about the need to get energy producers to help fund such efforts to promote clean transportation.

The White House said the $10 fee would be phased in over five years. The revenue would provide $20 billion per year for traffic reduction, expanding investment in transit systems and new modes of transportation like high-speed rail. It would also revamp how regional transportation systems are funded, providing $10 billion to encourage investment that lead to cleaner transportation options.

The White House said the tax would provide for the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure the nation maintains its infrastructure. The added cost of gasoline would create a clear incentive for the private sector to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and drive investments in clear energy technology.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the plan “dead on arrival” and “an election-year distraction.”

“The president should be proposing policies to grow our economy instead of sacrificing it to appease progressive climate activists,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement.

The American Petroleum Institute projected that the fee would raise the cost of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon.

“At a time when oil companies are going through the largest financial crisis in over 25 years, it makes little sense to raise costs on the industry,” added Neal Kirby, a spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “This isn’t simply a tax on oil companies, it’s a tax on American consumers who are currently benefiting from low home heating and transportation costs.

The administration said it recognized that oil companies would pass on some of the costs of the fee. However, it noted that Americans spend a lot of time and money as a result of an inadequate transportation system that also contributes to global warming.

“Businesses waste tens of billions of dollars each year in freight costs due to inadequate infrastructure and Americans currently spend a total of 7 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, and traffic is getting worse year after year,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This is the hidden tax.”

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Low wheat prices to continue, economist says http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160204/low-wheat-prices-to-continue-economist-says http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20160204/low-wheat-prices-to-continue-economist-says#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 09:34:01 -0500 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209933 SPOKANE — Northwest wheat farmers will have to rethink the definition of a “good” price during the next few years, a Washington State University economics professor says.

Farmers were not happy with wheat priced at $5.99 per bushel last year, said Randy Fortenbery, professor and small grains economist at WSU.

However, USDA forecasts average wheat prices at roughly $5 per bushel this year.

“When you see prices much above that, even if they may not be the kind of price you would have taken two or three years ago, that might actually be a sales opportunity,” Fortenbery said. “When you see prices below that, you might want to be more patient, because if USDA is right, the price should average $5. Something below that could be beaten sometime during the marketing year.”

The problem is a large global supply of wheat, plus a strong U.S. dollar in comparison to competing countries’ currencies, putting the U.S. at a disadvantage on the export market, Fortenbery said.

“In many cases, we are the most expensive person selling wheat in the world market,” he said.

Fortenbery expects prices to remain low for the next two years. If weather proves to be beneficial for national and global production, it will negatively affect prices, Fortenbery said, because it will add to the supply while demand is low.

Farmers are storing their wheat in hopes of seeing higher prices, Fortenbery said, but any increases aren’t likely to cover the cost of storage.

“This is the year where that’s probably not going to pay,” he said. “You’re not going to get rewarded for storage unless something really unexpected happens.”

A weather problem, animal health crisis or political issue would potentially create selling opportunities for U.S. producers, Fortenbery said.

Fortenbery recommends farmers consider selling wheat they store during brief price rallies.

If farmers start to see forward contracts for wheat in the $6.35 to $6.50 per bushel range, they should try to take advantage and sell, as they will not likely see prices that high at harvest, Fortenbery said.

He offered his economic forecast during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum on Feb. 3.

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Yum’s sales mixed in China, climb in U.S. http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160204/yums-sales-mixed-in-china-climb-in-us http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160204/yums-sales-mixed-in-china-climb-in-us#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 08:47:52 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209934 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Yum Brands reported mixed quarterly results for its troubled China unit, which the company is spinning off.

The Louisville, Kentucky, company said sales rose 6 percent at established KFC restaurants in China, while its Pizza Hut stores saw a decline of 8 percent. Yum has been trying to fix its business in China ever since sales there were slammed by food scares. In October, the company announced plans to spin off the business into a separate, publicly traded company.

Back at home, Yum said KFC and Pizza Hut both showed improved sales figures, with the two chains undergoing a turnaround push to reverse slumping sales. KFC’s sales were up 3 percent at established locations, and Pizza Hut’s were up 2 percent. Yum’s strongest chain in the U.S., Taco Bell, delivered a 4 percent sales increase at established locations.

For the quarter ended Dec. 26, Yum Brands Inc. reported net income of $275 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. That came to 63 cents per share. Adjusted for one-time costs, it earned 68 cents per share, 2 cents more than Wall Street expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue was $3.95 billion in the period, which fell short of the $4 billion analysts expected.

Yum shares have decreased nearly 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has dropped slightly more than 6 percent. In the final minutes of trading on Wednesday, shares hit $72.45, a decrease of almost 2 percent in the last 12 months. In after-hours trading, the stock lost about $1.10 to $71.35.

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Food industry looks to Congress as Vermont’s GMO labeling law nears http://www.capitalpress.com/Stocks/20160204/food-industry-looks-to-congress-as-gmo-labeling-law-nears http://www.capitalpress.com/Stocks/20160204/food-industry-looks-to-congress-as-gmo-labeling-law-nears#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 08:33:39 -0500 MARY CLARE JALONICK http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209936 WASHINGTON (AP) — The food industry is pressuring Congress to act before the state of Vermont requires food labels for genetically modified ingredients.

At issue is how food companies will deal with Vermont’s law. They could make separate food packages just for the state, label all their items with genetically modified ingredients or withdraw from the small Vermont market. The law kicks in by July, but the companies have to start making those decisions now.

The food industry wants Congress to pre-empt Vermont’s law and bar mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods before it goes into effect. They argue that GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack brought the parties together twice this month to see if they could work out a compromise. But agreement won’t be easy, as the industry staunchly opposes mandatory labels. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are divided, too, but agree that a compromise needs to be worked out before this summer.

A look at the debate as the food industry and Congress wrestle with labeling of engineered foods:

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WHAT’S A GMO, ANYWAY?

Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.

The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

While there is little scientific concern about the safety of those GMOs on the market, advocates for labeling say not enough is known about their risks.

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DUG IN

The food industry has been battling the labeling advocates for several years, spending millions to fight ballot initiatives and bills in state legislatures that would require labeling of genetically modified foods. They have also challenged Vermont’s law in court.

Industry-backed legislation that passed the House last year would have blocked any such state laws. But that bill has stalled in the Senate.

The Food and Drug Administration has said GMOs on the market now are safe, and the federal government does not support mandatory labels. But supporters of labeling counter that consumers have a right to know what’s in their foods, and say Congress shouldn’t be trying to pre-empt states.

So far, Vermont is the only state set to require labeling. Maine and Connecticut have passed similar laws, but those measures don’t take effect unless neighboring states follow suit.

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NEW TALKS

Hours of talks with Vilsack haven’t produced compromise. The former Iowa governor hasn’t taken sides on the issue, but he has previously suggested some sort of digital labeling that consumers could access with their smart phones or in-store scanners.

The food industry has had similar ideas, introducing voluntary digital labels last year that could provide consumers with detailed information about products. Information could also be accessed by an online search.

Labeling advocates have frowned on digital labels, saying they discriminate against people who don’t have smart phones, computers or the know-how to use them.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to have a high-tech smartphone and a 10-gigabyte data plan to know what’s in their food,” said Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It Campaign, after Vilsack spoke publicly about the idea early last year.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., says he wants to take up a bill soon, before Vermont’s law goes into effect. The panel’s top Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota have been working to find bipartisan compromise.

“We’re not there yet,” Hoeven said earlier this month.

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COMPANIES GO ON THEIR OWN

As Congress has stalled on the issue, some companies are already prepared to deal with the Vermont law.

Campbell Soup said earlier this month it now supports mandatory national labeling for products containing genetically modified ingredients, and that it will stop backing efforts opposing the disclosures.

The company said about three-quarters of its products contain GMOs, and released a mock-up of the label it would use to comply if Vermont’s law goes into effect. It says “Partially produced with genetic engineering” in small print at the bottom.

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison has been outspoken about the need for big food makers to adapt to changing tastes.

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Federal miscommunication causes pesticide respirator confusion http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/federal-miscommunication-causes-pesticide-respirator-confusion http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/federal-miscommunication-causes-pesticide-respirator-confusion#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 10:11:46 -0500 Mateusz Perkowski http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209944 Pesticide applicators have been required to use the wrong types of protective respirators when spraying certain chemicals due to apparent miscommunication between federal agencies.

The problem evidently dates back to the 1990s, when federal classifications for respirators were changed, but it did not come to light until an Oregon workplace safety regulator noticed the mismatch in 2014.

Garnet Cooke, pesticide coordinator for the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has since been educating farmers about picking the right respirators despite the misclassification while pushing for necessary revisions to labels.

“I want people to be able protect themselves and pick the right one,” Cooke said.

The issue was brought to Cooke’s attention when she saw that one pesticide label required applicators to wear a respirator classified as TC-21C, a piece of equipment that consists of a full helmet and powered air purifier.

However, Cooke knew that the same chemical historically only required a simple face mask respirator, which was once categorized as a TC-21C before the federal government recycled that code to refer to the highly sophisticated respirator.

After calling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cooke learned that the agency hadn’t increased its safety requirements for the pesticide — it was simply using the outdated respirator classification.

While this example involved a respirator that was overly complex — and expensive — for the pesticide in question, in another case Cooke found that the required respirator did not provide full protection from particulates.

In other words, the required respirator was overkill for some pesticides and inadequate for others due to the label misclassifications.

Cooke said that the problem was likely caused by a lack of communication between the three government agencies that regulate respirators: the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, which approves and classifies them; the EPA, which assigns them to pesticide labels; and OSHA, which enforces their proper usage.

“These agencies do not sit in a room and talk,” Cooke said.

Capital Press was unable to reach officials from NIOSH or EPA for comment as of press time. In Oregon, the state government enforces OSHA standards.

So far, Cooke has been contacting individual pesticide manufacturers on a case-by-case basis about respirator misclassifications as they come to her attention.

While there’s currently no organized system for correcting the problem, there is an opportunity for EPA to require revisions as it implements new worker protection standards on pesticide labels, she said. An EPA task force has also been assembled to look for solutions.

“There is movement in that direction,” Cooke said.

In the meantime, Cooke has developed a guide for farmers to consult when deciding which respirators to use for certain pesticides.

Growers should buy respirators based on the components of the equipment needed to spray the pesticide, she said.

The problem is that farmers now face an added layer of complexity when trying to properly apply the chemicals.

“You’ve got a lot of restrictions on a label,” said Mark Trostle, director of global registrations and regulatory affairs for Loveland Products, a pesticide company.

Loveland faced a misclassification for its “Tombstone” brand of cyfluthrin insecticide, for which the label mandated a full hood respirator when only a face mask was necessary.

The company was able to correct the issue with Cooke’s help, Trostle said. “This was unusual, because usually the EPA is pretty well on top of it.”

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Review reveals problems protecting workers from pesticides http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/review-reveals-problems-protecting-workers-from-pesticides http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/review-reveals-problems-protecting-workers-from-pesticides#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 09:41:02 -0500 JASON DEAREN http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209947 BELLE GLADE, Fla. (AP) — Dozens of farmworkers looked up at the little yellow plane buzzing over the Florida radish field, a mist of pesticide falling from its wings.

Farmworkers are supposed to be protected by government rules regulating exposure to toxic farm chemicals. But in this case, the breeze pushed the pesticide over the crew in a neighboring field, where it fell mostly on women, including at least one who was pregnant.

“I smelled a strong odor and started feeling bad,” worker Maria Garcia later told a state investigator. “I had a headache, itchy eyes and threw up.”

The health investigator assigned to the case said more than a dozen workers showed symptoms of pesticide poisoning, and also found evidence that the farm and crop-dusting contractor may have violated federal farmworker safety laws.

An Associated Press review of federal and state enforcement data and other records revealed that the pesticide-safety system is riddled with problems: Investigations often take years to complete and result in few penalties. Written warnings are common, fines rare. Compliance is sometimes voluntary, not required. And worker anonymity can be compromised, making employees reluctant to report violations.

The agriculture industry defends the system, saying the low numbers are a sign that farms are doing a good job of protecting workers.

President Barack Obama’s administration recently adopted tougher farmworker protections after 20 years of debate and fierce resistance from the chemical and agricultural lobbies. The more stringent regulations adopt annual training requirements, safeguards to keep children workers out of the fields and stronger penalties for companies that retaliate against workers who report violations. However, when they take effect in 2017, all of the new rules will still rely on the existing enforcement system.

Adding to the troubles are the regulators themselves. In all states except California, enforcement of federal pesticide-safety laws is managed by the same agencies that promote agricultural industries.

The Florida workers fell ill on Oct. 14, 2014, in Belle Glade, a farm town near Lake Okeechobee where the motto is “Her soil is her fortune.” They had been moved at the last minute to a celery field owned by Duda Farms. Rains the previous night had made the fields they were supposed to plant too soggy.

That was not communicated to the crop-duster pilot, who should have waited to spray a “restricted-use” pesticide called Bathyroid XL, records show.

Bathyroid XL is listed as a probable human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Studies on rats showed some neurological effects, but the results of long-term exposure on people are not known. As a restricted-use agent, it is considered one of the more toxic pesticides available to American farmers.

Twelve women including Garcia and one man were hospitalized. Many were released and cleared to go back to work after a few hours. But some, including the pregnant worker, required follow-up medical screening for lingering symptoms, according to state health records about the incident.

Despite the findings about pesticide poisoning and evidence of violations, a state investigation resulted in no punishment for the farm and, after more than a year, only the small fine for the crop duster, according to the case file obtained by the AP through a public-records request. Workers contacted by the AP said they were never interviewed.

“The Florida system is terribly broken,” said Greg Schell of Florida Legal Services, a national expert who has been litigating farmworker cases for decades. “Unless you see somebody being sprayed, it’s your word against the employer.”

Florida is the nation’s second-largest agricultural state, with more than 47,000 farms. Inspectors conducted 785 worker-protection inspections in 2014, the last year for which data was available. That’s more inspections than any other state in the region, yet they issued only seven fines for a total of $11,400.

The numbers are comparable in other states.

In tobacco-growing North Carolina, only three fines were levied in 2014 against farms for violating pesticide protections. In the Cotton Belt states of Georgia and Alabama, there were no fines, according to data gathered by the AP.

It’s not clear how many workers get sick from pesticides each year. No one gathers comprehensive data.

A program run by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health identified 5,200 workers with acute pesticide-related illness, and eight deaths, in 11 states between 1998 and 2006. Those cases included only poisonings confirmed by doctors.

Using that data and other sources, the EPA estimates that the nation’s 2 million farmworkers suffer 10,000 to 20,000 cases of doctor-diagnosed pesticide poisoning in the U.S. every year.

Low enforcement numbers also reflect workers’ fear of reporting problems.

Many field hands have come to the U.S. illegally or are here on worker visas, and their immigration status is controlled by their employers.

Until a few years ago, Louisiana pesticide inspectors sometimes required farmworkers to travel hundreds of miles to Baton Rouge to lodge pesticide complaints in person. That practice was halted only after litigation and an EPA investigation that the state fought.

After the incident in Belle Glade, some of the Florida workers sprayed by the crop duster were advised by supervisors against taking legal action, according to state documents obtained by AP.

“They were told ‘You would never find a job in agriculture again. Their husbands may also be fired, and it would take years to get a settlement,”’ said Antonio Tovar, the Florida health department investigator on the case.

Luis Martinez, one of the workers in the fields that day, said a lawyer and the safety officer for the farm labor contractor hired by Duda Farms all discouraged him from making a complaint. The company also asked him to take a drug test to prove the symptoms he experienced were not from marijuana or other drugs.

“I feel so bad,” Martinez said, “because I have no rights because I have no money and can’t afford a lawyer.”

Defenders of the agriculture industry say the lack of fines and violations in Florida and other places shows a high level of compliance, not lax enforcement.

“The culture has changed. There may be a few bad apples, but they are few and far between,” said Gene McAvoy, who runs state pesticide safety trainings for farm supervisors in Florida.

Farm spokeswoman Donna Duda denied that anyone from the company had spoken to them. She said the company has complied with state investigators and was reviewing its policies after reading the allegations in Tovar’s report that workers were pressured not to file complaints.

Jose Ojeda of Martinez & Sons Trucking, the contractor in charge of the workers that day, denied his staff discouraged workers from filing a complaint.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services never interviewed Martinez or any workers about the retaliation or intimidation claims, despite a tip from the health inspector that some workers were talking about it.

In a statement, the agency denied being told about the intimidation allegations and said it would have investigated if it had known. Officials would not answer other questions.

Other workers contacted by AP at their homes in Belle Glade did not want to be interviewed, with one saying she did not want to make trouble.

The EPA said the numbers may be low because workers are reluctant to file complaints for fear of deportation. They also say retaliation violations often are not caught during the routine, random inspections.

Nationwide, few of those violations are ever filed. Data from 2006 to 2013, the years the EPA has available, show that only 13 violations involving companies that threatened to retaliate against employees were reported nationwide — none in any Southern states.

When workers do come forward, they face a yearslong process that often ends with nothing but a warning for the farm. In other cases, people who complain are sometimes put in professional exile.

North Carolina tobacco worker Cayetano Dominguez-Rosales complained to state investigators when 12 workers on his crew got sick in 2010 after witnessing pesticides being sprayed in a field that was no more than 40 paces away. Records show they all sat down and felt dizzy and nauseas. While heat stroke could have been to blame, it was unusual that so many workers fell ill at the same time, he said.

Dominguez-Rosales said his supervisor told him he would take him to the hospital for $20, a violation of federal law, according to state investigative documents. A clinic worker transported him and a fellow worker to the hospital five days after the incident.

After the hospital trip, he returned to work and was told to sign a “voluntary quit” paper giving up his job. He had worked for 15 years on North Carolina tobacco farms and never fallen ill, he said, but the incident left him without work. He returned to Mexico.

Nearly a year after he left, a state investigation issued a warning to the farm.

Pesticide investigations in North Carolina can take up to two years, and the vast majority nationwide end in warnings.

“A warning just says ‘We’re not going to hold you responsible for these actions,”’ said Caitlin Ryland, an attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina. “Really, there’s no teeth at all in that law.”

Delays in North Carolina investigations come largely from staffing issues, said Patrick Jones, deputy director of pesticide programs at the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The division shares one lawyer from the state attorney general’s office with all other agriculture departments. Jones said a new attorney has been appointed, and pesticide cases are expected to be a top priority.

In the future, technology may offer new ways of tracking workers’ potential exposure and monitoring their blood for toxins. Some ideas are being tested in California and Washington state.

“It’s a problem of scope,” said Dr. Thomas Arcury, director of the Center for Worker Health at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Advanced testing “is a great idea, but it would be a fairly expensive proposition, and only a handful of labs can do this with any reliability.”

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Utah House measure aims to keep drones away from wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/utah-house-measure-aims-to-keep-drones-away-from-wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160203/utah-house-measure-aims-to-keep-drones-away-from-wildfires#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 09:24:15 -0500 HALLIE GOLDEN http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209950 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When a fire broke out last year near a Utah mountain lake, firefighters had to ground their airplanes and helicopters because a drone was buzzing nearby.

Fire crews can’t risk the unmanned aerial devices colliding with their planes and helicopters, so they pull out until the drones are gone, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

These increasingly frequent delays waste thousands of taxpayer dollars, risk wildfires spreading and could cause deadly crashes, he said.

A new proposal in the Utah Legislature aims to address the growing problem by creating a possible penalty of jail time for people who fly drones within 3 miles of a wildfire.

A House committee was scheduled to discuss the proposal Tuesday afternoon but the hearing was postponed.

Republican Rep. Kraig Powell of Heber City, the proposal’s sponsor, said he asked to postpone the meeting so he could get more input from interested parties. He said he may add exemptions for certain entities, such as public utility companies that need to use drones to see if the fire will impact gas lines.

Curry said he hopes lawmakers back the bill.

“I really hope it doesn’t take a major mishap and somebody to lose their life for the public to take it seriously,” Curry said.

As drones become increasingly popular, more people fly the devices near wildfires to take photographs or simply view them up close, Curry said.

In Utah, fire officials spotted one drone flying over a wildfire in 2014 and two last year, Curry said. He said he didn’t know of any crashing into a fire department aircraft.

Nationally, drones may have interfered with aircraft fighting more than a dozen wildfires last year, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In 2014, they interfered during just a handful of fires.

The California Legislature considered a similar proposal last year, but it died.

Critics say punishing drone hobbyists with jail time is too extreme.

There should be consequences if you put a pilot or anyone else in danger, but time behind bars may not be the right one, said Troy May, whose Ogden-based company, Digital Defense Surveillance, sells drones and offers training on their use.

May said he would like to see fire departments work with drone pilots to fight fires because the unmanned aircraft can be extremely valuable in spotting which direction flames are moving.

The state penalty would add another deterrent. During wildfires, the Federal Aviation Administration already can impose temporary restrictions on drone hobbyists, meaning they aren’t allowed to fly their aircraft within a certain area.

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Portland daily grain report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160203/portland-daily-grain-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160203/portland-daily-grain-report#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 09:21:14 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209951 Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 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 March wheat futures trended 3.50 to 3.75 cents per bushel higher compared to Tuesday’s closes.

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

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

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for February delivery were not well tested in early trading, but were indicated as 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

February 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 US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle trains during February trended lower compared to Tuesday’s noon bids.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast in 110 car shuttle

trains during February were lower in early trading.

All wheat bids in dollars per bushel

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

Ordinary protein

Feb NA

Mar NA

Apr NA

May NA

Aug NC NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb 6.1900-6.3400

Mar 6.2200-6.3400

Apr 6.2825-6.3325

May 6.2825-6.3325

Aug NC 5.5000-5.5650

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

Ordinary protein

Feb NA

Guaranteed maximum 10.5 pct protein

Feb 7.2900-7.7900

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

better)

Ordinary protein 5.3900-5.5200

11 pct protein 5.5900-5.6300

11.5 pct protein

Feb 5.6400-5.6900

Mar 5.5400-5.6900

Apr 5.6950-5.7450

May 5.6950-5.7450

12 pct protein 5.6800-5.7400

13 pct protein 5.7600-5.8400

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 5.7225-5.9725

14 pct protein

Feb 6.0425-6.2925

Mar 6.0925-6.2925

Apr 6.2550-6.3550

May 6.2550-6.3550

15 pct protein 6.2025-6.4525

16 pct protein 6.3625-6.6125

US 2 Yellow Corn

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 4.5350-4.5650

Mar 4.5350-4.5550

Apr 4.5450-4.5850

May 4.5450-4.5850

Jun 4.5550-4.5750

Jul 4.5550-4.5750

US 1 Yellow Soybeans

Shuttle trains-Delivered full coast Pacific Northwest-BN

Feb 9.9050-9.9750

Mar 9.7550-9.8550

Oct/Nov 9.6750-9.7250

US 2 Heavy White Oats 3.9200

Not well tested.

Exporter Bids Portland Rail/Barge Jan 2015

Averages in Dollars per bushel

US 1 Soft White by Unit Trains and Barges 5.3100

US 1 Hard Red Winter (Ordinary protein) 5.4200

US 1 Hard Red Winter (11.5% protein) 5.6100

US 1 Dark Northern Spring (14% protein) 6.1500

Source: USDA Market News Service, Portland, OR

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Chinese company offers $43B to buy Syngenta http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/chinese-company-offers-43b-to-buy-syngenta http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/chinese-company-offers-43b-to-buy-syngenta#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 08:57:26 -0500 KELVIN CHANAP Business Writer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209952 HONG KONG (AP) — A Chinese state-owned chemical maker offered to buy Swiss pesticide giant Syngenta for $43 billion in what would be the biggest-ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese company.

Syngenta AG said Wednesday its board is recommending shareholders accept the offer from China National Chemical Corp., also known as ChemChina. Basel-based Syngenta said in a statement that ChemChina’s cash offer is worth the equivalent of 480 francs ($482) a share, including a special 5 franc dividend for shareholders if the deal goes through.

The deal is part of a global acquisition spree by Chinese companies, which are diversifying abroad to counter a slowdown at home while also seeking foreign expertise and technology. Last month Chinese home appliance maker Haier Group bought General Electric’s home appliance business while conglomerate Wanda Group acquired Hollywood movie studio Legendary Entertainment.

The Syngenta deal, if completed, would overtake CNOOC’s 2012 purchase of Canadian energy company Nexen as the biggest foreign acquisition by a Chinese company, according to Dealogic data.

Beijing-based ChemChina will keep existing Syngenta management in place following the deal, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It said it would also consider an initial public offering of the business “in the years to come.”

“We think it’s a very good deal for Syngenta and all the stakeholders will benefit from this transaction,” Syngenta Chairman Michael Demaré said in a video posted on the company’s website.

Last month, ChemChina bought German machinery maker KraussMaffei for about $1 billion and took a 12 percent stake in Swiss energy trader Mercuria. In March it bought Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli.

The Syngenta deal is also part of a shake-up of the global agricultural and chemical industry, which is being pressured by tumbling commodity prices that are forcing farmers to spend less on seeds, pesticides and equipment. The company reported Wednesday that net income for 2015 fell 17 percent to $1.3 billion as it struggled with low crop prices, instability in emerging markets and currency fluctuations.

For China, it’s an opportunity to beef up its expertise in the “ag-chem” industry as part of President Xi Jinping’s plan to modernize the country’s farms to keep up with demand from a rising consumer class.

“Our vision for Syngenta is all about growth,” ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin said in a video posted online. “We see big opportunities for the company to expand its presence in emerging markets and notably in China where there is rapid modernization driven by the need to increase grain productivity and increase food quality.”

Syngenta agreed to the takeover bid after spurning a $46.5 billion offer from agricultural giant Monsanto.

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Chipotle says criminal investigation widens, sales plunge http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/chipotle-says-criminal-investigation-widens-sales-plunge http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/chipotle-says-criminal-investigation-widens-sales-plunge#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 08:51:44 -0500 CANDICE CHOIAP Food Industry Writer http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209953 NEW YORK (AP) — The E. coli outbreak that was linked to Chipotle restaurants may be over, but the burrito chain’s indigestion continues.

As Chipotle reported continuing sales declines on Tuesday, the embattled chain also said the scope of a previously disclosed federal criminal investigation has widened beyond a single restaurant in California.

The Denver company says sales sank 36 percent at established locations in January. That follows a previously reported drop of 14.6 percent for the October-to-December period, which marked the first quarterly decline since Chipotle went public a decade ago.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. also said it has been served with another subpoena requiring it produce documents related to company-wide food safety dating back to the start of 2013. Previously, it had said it was served a subpoena in relation to a California restaurant, where there was a norovirus outbreak over the summer.

Montgomery Moran, co-CEO of Chipotle, said he believed investigators wanted to make sure “everything we did was on the up and up.” He also said he thinks that will be the ultimate conclusion at the end of the case.

A representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, which is conducting the investigation with the Food and Drug Administration, declined to comment.

Chipotle has been reeling since an E. coli outbreak linked to its restaurants came to light at the end of October. The outbreak sickened people in 11 states. Then in December, a norovirus outbreak at a Boston location heightened customer fears about the safety of the chain’s food. Sales at established locations dropped 30 percent that month.

Now, Chipotle is pushing to move past its troubles and win back customers. The company has announced a series of new food safety measures, such as blanching onions before chopping them and stepped up testing of ingredients. And this week, it noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the E. coli outbreak to be over.

Co-CEO Steve Ellse said Tuesday the company was “pleased to have this behind us.”

As such, Chipotle executives said they plan to launch the company’s biggest marketing effort ever next week. It will encompass outdoor, print and radio advertising.

On Monday, the company also plans to open stores at 3 p.m., rather than the usual 11 a.m., so workers can participate in a company-wide meeting on food safety.

For the period ending Dec. 31, Chipotle opened 79 new restaurants, bringing its total to 2,010 locations. The new locations helped make up for the sales declines at existing locations.

Total revenue fell 7 percent to $997.5 million in the period. Analysts expected $1.01 billion, according to FactSet.

Profit fell 44 percent to $67.9 million, or $2.17 per share. Analysts expected $1.86 per share.

Shares of Chipotle fell 8 percent to $436 in after-hours trading. The stock is down more than 30 percent since the end of October.

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EasyJet owner launches ultra-low budget grocery in UK http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/easyjet-owner-launches-ultra-low-budget-grocery-in-uk http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/easyjet-owner-launches-ultra-low-budget-grocery-in-uk#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 08:38:22 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209954 LONDON (AP) — The founder of budget airline EasyJet has stepped into Britain’s grocery aisle.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou has opened a discount grocery in northwest London, called EasyFood, offering canned sardines, soups and pasta for a mere 25 pence (36 cents) — for a limited time only. Prices will go up on the “limited and basic” range after a month.

No fresh produce will be offered at the store, whose motto is “No expensive brands. Just food honestly priced.”

Haji-Ioannou described the store as an effort to fill a gap in the market — serving the “unwaged and low waged.” The store will operate in the space a niche below Aldi and Lidl, the European budget supermarket operators.

Haji-Ioannou says he drew on his experience in distributing food for free in Greece and Cyprus.

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Haggen core store auction pushed back to Feb. 11 http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/haggen-core-store-auction-pushed-back-to-feb-11 http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160203/haggen-core-store-auction-pushed-back-to-feb-11#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 08:22:44 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209955 BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The fate of grocery chain Haggen has been delayed for a few days, as the auction to sell its remaining 33 stores in Washington and Oregon has been pushed back to Feb. 11.

The Bellingham Herald reports that court documents filed Tuesday show the auction has been moved from Feb. 5 to Feb. 11. The filing does not give a reason for the change.

The auction will be held in a law office in New York City as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed earlier this year after purchasing nearly 150 stores from Albertsons and Safeway.

The Bellingham-based company failed to convert the stores, many of which have been auctioned.

Whether the name disappears will be up to buyers who could keep the brand, which is well-known in the Pacific Northwest.

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Sierra water content at 130 percent of average http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20160202/sierra-snowpack-at-130-percent-of-average http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20160202/sierra-snowpack-at-130-percent-of-average#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:02:21 -0500 Tim Hearden http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209959 SACRAMENTO — The season’s second manual snow survey in the Sierra Nevada on Feb. 2 found a snowpack water content of 130 percent of normal for this time of year, state officials said.

Frank Gehrke, the California Department of Water Resources’ snow surveys chief, and his team found a snow water equivalent of 25.4 inches — well above the average of 19.5 inches for the February survey — on a snow course 90 miles east of Sacramento.

The results were a marked contrast to February 2015, when Gehrke found just 2.5 inches of snow water content at the same testing station. Both the depth and water content this year were the highest since 2005, when a depth of 77.1 inches and a water content of 29.9 inches were recorded, state officials said.

However, while precipitation levels have improved this year, that doesn’t mean the drought is over, Gehrke and other officials caution.

“Keep in mind these are snapshots in time and limited sampling,” Gehrke told reporters, adding it’s “probably more useful” to look at electronic readings that show California’s snowpack was at 114 percent of normal levels as of Feb. 2 statewide.

“That’s certainly an encouraging start” to the winter, he said. “Clearly we want to see this keep coming.”

Each year, the DWR conducts five manual snow surveys with media present at the Phillips Station plot, whose elevation is 6,800 feet. Additional surveys will be held around the beginning of March, April and May.

The survey comes as the State Water Resources Control Board announced that Californians have reduced their water use by 25.5 percent since June, continuing to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate despite a decline in the statewide water-savings rate during the last three months of 2015.

In December the statewide conservation rate was 18.3 percent, down from 20.4 percent in November, compared to the same months in 2013, the water board stated. Officials noted the winter months offer fewer opportunities to conserve water, as its consumption is already at its lowest.

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Weatherman: Warmer, wetter spring and summer ahead http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20160202/weatherman-warmer-wetter-spring-and-summer-ahead http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20160202/weatherman-warmer-wetter-spring-and-summer-ahead#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 16:56:07 -0500 Matw Weaver http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209960 SPOKANE — Pacific Northwest farmers will see warmer and wetter weather in the months ahead, meteorologist Art Douglas predicts.

Temperatures in February and March will run slightly above normal in the region, Douglas said, which means winterkill in wheat will not be a problem.

Douglas, a fixture at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum for decades, offered his annual forecast on Feb. 2. He is a professor emeritus at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

Spring rains will primarily occur in the Southwestern U.S., but moisture will also be slightly above normal in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington and in the Idaho panhandle.

The Pacific Northwest will be “very warm” in May, but still have moisture, he said.

California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona will also be wetter than normal in May.

The Pacific Northwest will be warmer than normal in the summer. Douglas said, but also have adequate moisture.

“You guys are in really good shape this spring and summer,” he told farmers in the audience.

July will be wet, which could cause problems with harvest, Douglas warned.

The weather will dry out in August as an enormous ridge of high pressure develops across the U.S.

Douglas also said it will be the first hot summer for the Corn Belt in four years, which could impact corn and soybean production, depending on the timing.

The El Niño condition that has been pumping storms across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast will end this spring, he said. The planet will then enter a temperature pattern similar to 1976 through 1997, which means drier conditions in the Pacific Northwest, especially during the winter, due to more high pressure ridges along the West Coast.

“The entire period will end up with precipitation anywhere from 5 to 10 percent below normal, which may not sound like a lot, but when you start compounding it in terms of the effect on groundwater, runoff, reservoirs and lakes, it becomes a problem,” Douglas said.

“It’s encouraging,” farmer Raymond DeRuwe of Dayton, Wash., said of Douglas’ forecast for this year. “Moisture is yield. Every inch of moisture is worth eight bushels of wheat (per acre).”

Kevin Lyle of Connell, Wash., was pleased to hear about the moisture in the spring. It could make for a better crop than in recent years, he said.

But rain during harvest could increase sprout damage concerns, Lyle said. Farmers receive lower prices at country elevators when their grain has sprout damage,.

“Hopefully it’s not too wet into summer (during) harvest, is the main thing,” he said.

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Sustainability program boosts wheat yields http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20160202/sustainability-program-boosts-wheat-yields http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20160202/sustainability-program-boosts-wheat-yields#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 12:20:57 -0500 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209968 IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Throughout the first six years of an Eastern Idaho sustainable farming program, participants’ irrigated spring wheat yields have beaten their district’s average by 11 percent, equal to more than 860,000 additional bushels, organizers say.

And the program has achieved those gains despite significant reductions in farming inputs.

Irrigated winter wheat raised under the program, for example, beat the district average by 9 percent for nitrogen-use efficiency, 12 percent for land-use efficiency, 20 percent for reducing soil loss, 14 percent for building soil carbon and 16 percent for energy-use efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions and water-use efficiency.

The program — which involves Thresher Artisan Wheat, Syngenta, the Nature Conservancy, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and General Mills — aims to help growers identify opportunities to improve their operations.

Participants enter data on all facets of crop production into Syngenta’s AgriEdge software to see how their individual farm reports compare with program-wide data and district and state results.

The program now has enough years of data to begin setting benchmark standards based on participants’ numbers — making it the first U.S. sustainability program to progress to that stage. The program should help General Mills meet its goal of utilizing only sustainably sourced wheat by 2020.

The software also contains farm planning tools and can be used to produce reports showing how production practices such as timing of fungicide applications, seeding rate, variety choice and planting date affect yield.

“We’re able to get a picture of where we are and what we’re doing in relationship with other producers in our area, which gives us a clearer picture of where we can make improvements,” said Terry Wilcox, a participant from Rexburg, Idaho. “We’re looking harder at all of our inputs.”

Growers who participate for three years are given a laptop computer, and the data can be used to produce reports for processors including J.R. Simplot, McCain Foods, Lamb Weston and Miller-Coors.

Throughout the program’s duration, it’s assessed 25 growers with 96,010 acres of wheat, 42,336 acres of potatoes, 10,058 acres of sugar beets and 7,606 acres of barley. Eight of the original growers are still participating, and Thresher intends to host small grower meetings at its grain elevators this year to recruit new growers and share data from the project.

Bradford Warner, vice president of marketing with Thresher’s parent company, Agspring, believes the program demonstrates great progress is possible when growers are left to find their own ways to cut costs and increase output, rather than imposing specific mandates.

“We can’t leave it up to the regulators to define sustainability,” Warner said. “Sustainability is not just about the environment. It’s about economic sustainability. There’s no good to talk about outcomes if they don’t represent the bottom line of the growers.”

The sustainability program also worked with Utah crop researcher Bill Marek to study variable-rate irrigation. Based on an analysis of 50 variable-rate pivots encompassing 5,500 acres, Marek calculated variable-rate technology resulted in a 1.6 percent power and water efficiency improvement.

Marek calculated that with 86 percent of the pivots in his study, variable-rate technology paid for itself within the first year.

In a couple of years, once growers dial in their variable-rate prescriptions, Marek anticipates their efficiency gains will peak at 5 percent, translating into a per-pivot savings of 60,000 acre-feet of water and 4,000 kilowatt-hours of power.

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Pyle takes job at Portland lobbying firm http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20160202/pyle-takes-job-at-portland-lobbying-firm http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20160202/pyle-takes-job-at-portland-lobbying-firm#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 10:08:06 -0500 Eric Mortenson http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209974 Retirement didn’t last long for Paulette Pyle.

The longtime legislative advocate and grass-roots organizer for Oregonians for Food and Shelter has been hired by Gallatin Public Affairs, a Portland-based lobbying group. The company announced Pyle’s hiring Feb. 1.

Pyle spent 35 years with OFS before announcing her retirement in 2015. In November, she was named the Oregon Agri-Business Council’s 2015 Ag Connection of the Year Award and was feted at the group’s annual Denim & Diamonds awards dinner and auction.

In announcing Pyle’s hiring, Gallatin President Dan Lavey said her passion for the people and places of the rural Northwest is unmatched.

“She is a relentless advocate for America’s natural resource communities. Everyone wants Paulette on their side,” Lavey said in a prepared statement.

Pyle will divide her time between Gallatin’s Oregon and Idaho offices, the company said in a news release.

“My heart and love is with farmers, ranchers, loggers, foresters, fishermen and anyone who makes a living from the land in the Pacific Northwest,” Pyle said in a prepared statement.

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Hawaii beekeepers discuss keeping bees healthy at conference http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160202/hawaii-beekeepers-discuss-keeping-bees-healthy-at-conference http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160202/hawaii-beekeepers-discuss-keeping-bees-healthy-at-conference#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 08:53:16 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209978 WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Maui County beekeepers have been exploring ways to keep bees healthy as the county remains one of the few places untouched by an invasive species known to attack the insects.

Beekeepers gathered at the Maui Bee Conference over the weekend to discuss how to keep the bee population thriving, The Maui News reported.

“This is a very unique environment for bees to thrive,” said Lauren Rusert, apiary section chief for the state Department of Agriculture. “Hawaii has a great opportunity to start fresh and not be on the chemical treadmill,” she added, explaining that some pests on the Mainland have become resistant to certain chemicals.

Experts at the conference acknowledged the threat of the varroa mite, which feeds on bee larvae and lays eggs inside the hive. Maui County has not been affected by the invasive species, which made its way to Oahu in 2007 and the Big Island in 2008.

Rusert said keeping the varroa mite out of Maui County can be achieved by staying aware and alerting agricultural officials to possible threats.

The Department of Agriculture is trying to find a solution to the pest problem in Hilo. Scientists have been using semen samples to breed a “varroa sensitive hygiene” bee that can better fight off varroa mite. Rusert said “it’s not the silver bullet,” but it will help beekeepers in the area to produce stronger, more resistant hives.

In Maui County, there are 55 beekeepers registered with the state and nearly 600 hives. Hawaii’s honeybees produce the second-highest amount of honey per hive at 93 pounds, according to the Department of Agriculture. Hawaii beekeepers also provide 25 percent of queen bees on the Mainland and 75 percent of those used in Canada.

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ADM misses 4Q profit forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160202/adm-misses-4q-profit-forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160202/adm-misses-4q-profit-forecasts#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 08:46:28 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209980 DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Archer Daniels Midland Co. on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter profit of $718 million.

On a per-share basis, the Decatur, Illinois-based company said it had net income of $1.19. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 61 cents per share.

The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of four analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 62 cents per share.

The agribusiness giant posted revenue of $16.45 billion in the period.

For the year, the company reported profit of $1.85 billion, or $2.98 per share. Revenue was reported as $67.7 billion.

ADM shares have decreased slightly more than 3 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has dropped 5 percent. The stock has decreased 24 percent in the last 12 months.

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Dow Chemical beats Street 4Q forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160202/dow-chemical-beats-street-4q-forecasts http://www.capitalpress.com/Business/20160202/dow-chemical-beats-street-4q-forecasts#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 08:43:55 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209981 MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) — Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter profit of $3.61 billion.

The Midland, Michigan-based company said it had profit of $2.94 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 93 cents per share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 70 cents per share.

The specialty chemicals maker posted revenue of $11.46 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $11.24 billion.

Dow Chemical shares have fallen 17 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has fallen 5 percent. The stock has fallen roughly 6 percent in the last 12 months.

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Hearing set for Arizona man arrested in Oregon standoff http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160202/hearing-set-for-arizona-man-arrested-in-oregon-standoff http://www.capitalpress.com/Nation_World/Nation/20160202/hearing-set-for-arizona-man-arrested-in-oregon-standoff#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 08:15:06 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209983 PHOENIX (AP) — A detention hearing is scheduled Tuesday in federal court in Phoenix for an Arizona man arrested in connection with the occupation of the Oregon wildlife refuge.

Jon Eric Ritzheimer of Peoria, Arizona, has been jailed since the FBI arrested him Jan. 26 after he went to the Peoria Police Department and surrendered.

Ritzheimer faces a federal felony charge in Oregon of conspiracy to impede federal officials in their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

He is among 11 people arrested in connection with the standoff that began Jan. 2 when a group opposed to federal land policy took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Some holdouts remain at the refuge near Burns, Oregon.

Ritzheimer returned to Arizona before he was arrested.

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National wool and sheep report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/national-wool-and-sheep-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/national-wool-and-sheep-report#Comments Mon, 1 Feb 2016 14:50:23 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209985 Wool prices in cents per pound and foreign currency per kilogram, sheep prices in dollars per hundredweight (cwt.) except some replacement animals on per head basis as indicated.

NATIONAL WOOL REVIEW

(USDA Market News)

Greeley, Colo.

Jan. 29

Domestic wool trading on a clean basis was at a standstill this week. There were no confirmed trades. Some spring shearing is starting to take place, and most of the wool will be marketed later in the spring.

Currently there is resistance due to the strong U.S. dollar, though prices remained relatively steady over the fall and winter months.

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

Domestic wool tags

No. 1 $.60-.70

No. 2 $.50-.60

No. 3 $.40-.50

NATIONAL SHEEP SUMMARY

(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Jan. 29

Compared to last week: Slaughter lambs were mostly steady, instances sharply higher at Ft. Collins, Colo. Slaughter ewes were steady to $20 lower, except at Ft. Collins $1-9 higher. Feeder lambs were mostly $7-12 lower, except at Ft. Collins steady to $6 higher.

At San Angelo, Texas, 3,921 head sold in a one-day sale. No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct slaughter ewes and feeder lambs were not tested. 4,400 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady to $2 lower. 9,200 head of formula sales had no trend reported due to confidentiality.

3,649 carcasses sold with 45 lbs and down $14.83 lower and over 45 lbs not reported due to confidentiality.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 2-3:

San Angelo: shorn and wooled 100-170 lbs. $125-148.

SLAUGHTER LAMBS Choice and Prime 1:

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs. $246-259; 60-70 lbs $232-248, few $250-258; 70-80 lbs. $220-232; 80-90 lbs. $192-210; 90-105 lbs. $178-182.

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

4,400 Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 135-167 lbs. $125- 155 (wtd avg $139.11).

SLAUGHTER EWES:

San Angelo: Good 2-3 (fleshy) $74-82.50; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) $86-91, high-yielding $92-98; Utility 1-2 (thin) $74-84; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) $60-70; Cull 1 (extremely thin) $50-58.

FEEDER LAMBS Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 60-70 lbs. $196-220; 70-80 lbs. $177-185.

REPLACEMENT EWES Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: mixed age hair ewes 100-130 lbs. $106-146 cwt.

NATIONAL WEEKLY LAMB CARCASS Choice and Prime 1-4:

Weight Wtd. avg.

45 lbs. Down $496.98

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 40,000 compared with 38,000 last week and 36,000 last year.

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Selected Western hay price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/selected-western-hay-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/selected-western-hay-price-report#Comments Mon, 1 Feb 2016 14:47:09 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209986 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:

Grade RFV ADF TDN CP

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

WASHINGTON-OREGON HAY

(Columbia Basin)

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Jan. 29

This week FOB Last week Last year

7,980 7,660 2,350

Compared to Jan. 22: Good Alfalfa and export Alfalfa steady to weak. Trade remains slow to moderate. The world’s largest dairy exporter, cut its milk price forecast to a nine-year low as weak demand and oversupply continue to depress the global market. Demand remains light to moderate. Retail/Feedstore steady. Demand remains good.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square Good 4600 $135-147

Fair/Good 1000 $135

Alfalfa Small Square Premium 130 $260-265

Timothy Grass Mid Square Good 200 $110

Fair 1000 $120

Utility 900 $100-115

Timothy Grass Small Square Premium 150 $170

OREGON AREA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Portland, Ore.

Jan. 22

This week FOB Last week Last year

600 1,971 1,326

Compared to Jan. 22: Prices trended generally steady compared to week ago prices. The recent cold snap has increased sales. Many producers have decided to hold on to their hay for now, in hopes for higher prices. Snow has hit some of the hay producing areas. Many hay producers are sold out for the year.

Tons Price

CROOK, DESCHUTES, JEFFERSON, WASCO COUNTIES

Alfalfa Small Square Premium 5 $230

Good 14 $225

Orchard Grass Small Square Premium 12 $240

Good 60 $225

KLAMATH BASIN

Alfalfa Large Square Premium 25 $180

Small Square Premium 25 $180

LAKE COUNTY

Alfalfa Large Square Good/Prem. 224 $170.

Small Square Premium 120 $200 Good 60 $150

30 $175

Oat Large Square Good 25 $100

HARNEY COUNTY: No new sales confirmed.

EASTERN OREGON: No new sales confirmed.

IDAHO HAY

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Jan. 29

This week FOB Last week Last year

2,000 500 775

Compared to Jan. 22: Good and other grades of Alfalfa steady to weak. Trade volume drastically increased this week. Trade turned active this week as producers tied stacks together in order to get it sold. Demand remains moderate. The world’s largest dairy exporter cut its milk price forecast to a 9-year low as weak demand and oversupply continue to depress the global market.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square Supreme 250 $140

Prem./Sup. 300 $135

Fair/Good 17,825 $70-100

Fair 350 $90

Utility/Fair 300 $82

1500 $100

6500 $100

CALIFORNIA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Jan. 29

This week FOB Last week Last year

1,356 17,538 5,050

Compared to Jan. 22: All classes traded steady on a very thin test. Demand was very light. Region 6 still trying to do some winter haying which is moving as soon as it is put in a bale. According to U.S. Drought Monitor, another round of good precipitation fell across the West Coast as well, keeping the El Nino moisture train rolling from Northern California up to Washington.

Tons Price

REGION 1: NORTH INTERMOUNTAIN

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

Alfalfa Supreme 50 $320

Good 130 $150

REGION 2: Sacramento Valley

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

No new sales confirmed.

REGION 3: NORTHERN SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

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

Alfalfa Premium 25 $240

Fair/Good 50 $225

Fair 100 $90

25 $153

Rice Straw Fair 100 $55

Wheat Straw Good 50 $125

REGION 4: CENTRAL SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

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

Alfalfa Fair 200 $198

REGION 5: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

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

Alfalfa Premium 75 $260

Good/Prem. 75 $240

Forage Mix-Three Way Good 25 $250

REGION 6: SOUTHEAST CALIFORNIA

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

Alfalfa Premium 75 $150

226 $225-235

Fair 150 $125

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West Coast grain price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/west-coast-grain-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/west-coast-grain-price-report#Comments Mon, 1 Feb 2016 14:39:32 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209987 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.

PORTLAND GRAIN

(USDA Market News)

Portland

Jan. 28

PACIFIC NORTHWEST MARKET SUMMARY

Cash wheat bids for January delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday Jan. 28, mixed compared to last week’s noon bids for January delivery.

March wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, Jan. 28, lower as follows compared to the previous week’s closes: Chicago wheat futures were 2.75 cents lower at $4.7225, Kansas City wheat futures were 6.75 cents lower at $4.6475 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended five cents lower at $4.9525.

Chicago March corn futures trended 1.50 cents lower at $3.6550 and March soybean futures closed 8.50 cents lower at $8.7050.

Bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during January for ordinary protein were $5.30-5.3725, steady to 2.75 cents per bushel lower than Jan 21 bids for the same delivery period.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. There were no white club wheat premiums for this week or last week.

One year ago bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for January delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were not available and bids for White Club Wheat were also not available.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: February and March $5.30-5.3725.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: February $6.40-6.75, March $6.3525-6.80, April $6.3525-6.90 and August New Crop $5.9475-6.05.

Bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during January were $6.1225-6.45, steady to 12.75 cents per bushel lower compared to $6.25-6.45 last week for January delivery.

White club wheat premiums for guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein soft white wheat were 1 to 1.70 cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids for this week and last week. One year ago bids for U.S. 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for January delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were $7.0525-7.45 and bids for White Club Wheat were $9.0525-10.30.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: February $6.1225-6.45, March $6.1725-6.45, April $6.23-6.45 and August New Crop $5.50-5.5275.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: February and March $7.0525-7.45, April $7.1025-7.45 and August New Crop $5.5975-6.1475.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein U.S. 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for January delivery were 3.25 cents per bushel higher compared to Jan. 21 noon bids for January delivery. The most recebt bids were as follows: January $5.5975-5.6975, February $5.4975-5.6475, March $5.5975-5.6575 and April $5.6550-5.6850.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein U.S. 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during January were five cents per bushel lower than last week’s noon bids for the same delivery period. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. The most recent bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: January $6.25-6.2025, February and March $6.0525-6.2525, and April $6.2525-6.3025.

COARSE FEEDING GRAINS

Grains: Bids for U.S. 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for January delivery were 0.50 of a cent to 2.50 cents lower from $4.4950-4.5150 per bushel.

Forward month corn bids were as follows: February $4.4850-4.5150, March $4.4850-4.4950, April and May $4.4850-4.5250 and June $4.5125. Bids for U.S. 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for January delivery were $6.75 to 7.75 cents lower from $9.99-10.01 per bushel.

Forward month soybean bids were as follows: February $9.7775-9.8475, March $9.6775-9.7275, and October/November $9.50-9.60. Bids for U.S. 2 Heavy White Oats for January delivery trended steady at $3.92 per bushel.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPORT NEWS

There were 20 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, Jan. 28, with five docked compared to 18 last week with five docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation of the USDA.

CALIFORNIA GRAINS

(USDA Market News)

Portland

Jan. 21

Prices in dollars per cwt., bulk Inc.= including; Nom.= nominal; Ltd.= limited; Ind.= indicated; NYE=Not fully estimated.

GRAIN DELIVERED

Mode Destination Price per cwt.

BARLEY – U.S. No. 2 (46-lbs. per bushel)

FOB Solano County NA

Rail Los Angeles NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Madera County NA

Kern County NA

Glenn County NA

Colusa County NA

Solano County NA

CORN-U.S. No. 2 Yellow

FOB Turlock-Tulare $8.49

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

Rail Single Car Units via BNSF

Chino Valley-Los Angeles $8.92-8.96

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa $9-9.15

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock $8.79

Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties $8.79

SORGHUM-U.S. No. 2 Yellow

Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley

via BNSF Single $8.97

Truck Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

OATS-U.S. No. 1 White

Truck Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

OATS-U.S. No. 2 White

Truck Petaluma $12

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Rail Petaluma NA

WHEAT-U.S. No. 2 or better-Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)

Los Angeles 12 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 13 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 14 percent Protein NA

Truck/Rail Los Angeles 11-12 percent Protein

Los Angeles 12 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 13 percent Protein NA

Los Angeles 14 percent Protein NA

WHEAT-U.S. Durum Wheat

Truck Imperial County $10

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

WHEAT-Any Class for Feed

FOB Tulare NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno Counties $9.25

Colusa County NA

Truck/Rail Los Angeles-Chino Valley NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa $10.60

Stockton-Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

King-Tulare-Fresno Counties NA

Fresno NA

Merced County NA

Colusa County NA

Kern County NA

Prices paid to California farmers, seven-day reporting period ending Jan. 21:

BARLEY, U.S. No. 2, 48 lbs. per bushel

Glenn $9.25 Spot FOB Storage

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California shell egg price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/california-shell-egg-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20160201/california-shell-egg-price-report#Comments Mon, 1 Feb 2016 14:33:34 -0500 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209988 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade AA and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.

DAILY CALIFORNIA SHELL EGGS

(USDA Market News)

Des Moines, Iowa

Jan. 29

Benchmark prices are steady. Asking prices for next week are unchanged on all sizes. The undertone is lower to sharply lower. Retail demand is light to moderate with food service movement mostly moderate. Warehouse buying interest is hand to mouth as operators await market adjustments and bid sharply lower prices. Offerings are moderate. Supplies are light to moderate. Market activity is moderate. Small benchmark price $1.80.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 294 Extra large 288

Large 283 Medium 200

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

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 246-257 Extra large 214-226

Large 215-244 Medium 136-147

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