Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Capital Press Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:09:33 -0400 en http://EOR-CPwebvarnish.newscyclecloud.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Capital Press | Nation/World http://www.capitalpress.com Fire burns office, warehouse at Oregon mill http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171023/fire-burns-office-warehouse-at-oregon-mill http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171023/fire-burns-office-warehouse-at-oregon-mill#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:07:54 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029971 CRESWELL, Ore. (AP) — Fire damaged a mill in Creswell, Oregon.

The Register-Guard reports an office and warehouse at Creswell Forest Products caught fire Sunday night, sending flames high into the night sky. The fire also torched a 40- to 50-foot evergreen tree, but large stacks of lumber remained unscathed.

No one was in the building when the fire started.

South Lane Fire and Rescue said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. According to a neighbor, several teens recently tried to set the mill ablaze.

The mill is next to a newer residential neighborhood of both single-family houses and apartments.

]]>
UI economist sees greater profits in pasture than wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20171023/ui-economist-sees-greater-profits-in-pasture-than-wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/Profit/20171023/ui-economist-sees-greater-profits-in-pasture-than-wheat#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 08:24:35 -0400 John O’Connell http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029978 RIRIE, Idaho — Local farmer and rancher Boyd Foster has confirmed he’s better off financially to convert some pivots from wheat to grass.

Foster explained that good irrigated pasture is in extremely short supply, but there’s a glut of wheat weighing down the market, forcing grain prices well below production costs.

University of Idaho Extension economist Ben Eborn has reached the same conclusion, recently publishing an enterprise budget showing Eastern Idaho producers who raise irrigated pasture rather than wheat should stay in the black.

“Everybody in the cattle business, it’s one of their major concerns — finding pastures,” Foster said. “I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about some options like this.”

For this season, Foster planted 220 irrigated acres to tall fescue grass. He explained he got the idea from a nearby dairy that has converted almost entirely from alfalfa to fescue, which grows quickly, requiring less potash and phosphate than alfalfa, thrives on dairy lagoon water and can stand up to heavy grazing.

Foster averaged 3 tons per acre of baled forage from his single fescue cutting, and he plans to use the land as pasture for a 250-cow herd this fall and winter. Next season, however, he anticipates taking two cuttings, while also grazing the land in the spring and fall. He’s considering converting two additional pivots to grass next season. Grass inputs are lower than wheat, and there’s no need for tillage. For weed control, he mowed the tops of weeds before they could go to seed, and supplemented with herbicide spraying.

“It’s essential for my operation to have some flexibility for the cows,” Foster said.

McCammon rancher Jim Guthrie has been forced to decrease the size of his herd, unable to find sufficient pasture.

“Pasture is getting more and more elusive,” Guthrie said. “It doesn’t surprise me that they’re looking at those options.”

According to Eborn’s calculations, a grower yielding 6 animal unit months of grass — or roughly 3 tons per acre — on irrigated ground would have to rent his pasture for $29 per AUM to break even on 160 acres. In Eborn’s budget scenario, the rental is $35 per AUM, earning him $5,403 in net returns above operating expenses, not factoring in fixed costs. Eborn said yields were conservative to reflect high-elevation farm land productivity.

“It’s in the black at least,” Eborn said, adding he’s aware of several regional growers replacing grain with grass.

At his ranch in Bancroft, Steve White finished a long process of converting all of his irrigated grain and alfalfa to a blend of grasses this season. He uses the land for summer pasture, believing his calves gain more weight on it, and he notes there’s no risk of weather or hail damage.

“We figure we make more money with grass than we did even when grain was good,” White said.

]]>
Potlatch to buy Deltic, create 2 million-acre timber giant http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20171023/potlatch-to-buy-deltic-create-2-million-acre-timber-giant http://www.capitalpress.com/Idaho/20171023/potlatch-to-buy-deltic-create-2-million-acre-timber-giant#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:06:18 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029972 EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) — Potlatch is buying Deltic Timber Corp. in a stock deal, creating a company with nearly 2 million acres of woodlands in the South and Pacific Northwest.

Washington-based Potlatch and Arkansas-based Deltic Timber said Monday PotlatchDeltic Corp. would be valued at more than $4 billion, including $700 million in net debt. The combined company will have 1,500 employees.

The companies said their boards had already approved a deal, which now goes before shareholders. Deltic shareholders will receive 1.8 common shares of Potlatch for each share held. Current Potlatch shareholders would own two-thirds of the company when the transaction closes in the first half of 2018.

Potlatch Corp. has timberland in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Minnesota and Mississippi. Deltic operates primarily in Arkansas and Louisiana.

]]>
Utilities delayed effort to map power line risk to wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171023/utilities-delayed-effort-to-map-power-line-risk-to-wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171023/utilities-delayed-effort-to-map-power-line-risk-to-wildfires#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:01:36 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029973 SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Two days before the deadliest outbreak of wildfires in California history, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and other utilities won the latest in a long series of delays to map where power lines pose the greatest wildfire risk, a report said Sunday.

For nearly a decade California utilities have helped delay the mapping effort that critics said could have led to stronger power poles and better maintenance before the recent catastrophic fires, The Mercury News reported .

The causes of fires that killed at least 42 people and destroyed more than 8,000 structures in Northern California this month are under investigation. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is looking into whether the PG&E’s equipment sparked some of the blazes, the utility said last week.

The Public Utilities Commission has been working on the mapping and tighter regulations since high winds knocked down power lines and sparked disastrous fires in San Diego in 2007. Proposals in the works could be costly for utilities, telecommunication companies and internet providers, among others.

PG&E has been among utilities that have repeatedly sought delays, arguing in July that proposed regulations would “add unnecessary costs to construction and maintenance projects in rural areas.”

A 2015 state Senate subcommittee report said the commission’s efforts had been “bogged down” for six years and documented five scheduling delays from 2012 to 2015. It said PG&E and other utilities wouldn’t agree to stricter construction standards until maps were completed.

“The sad part is the future didn’t arrive before these fires,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-Redwood City, a critic of PG&E and the utilities commission. “It’s an outrageous example of negligence by a regulatory agency.”

The pace of the mapping project has been “frustratingly slow,” said Elizaveta Malashenko, the commission’s director of safety and enforcement.

The commission expects the process to be completed early next year. Tougher rules for areas under “elevated” or “extreme” fire risk could require keeping power lines farther from vegetation and using poles that can tolerate higher wind speeds.

PG&E spokesman Keith Stephens wouldn’t answer questions about the commission’s project. He said the utility is focused on customers affected by the fires.

The San Francisco based utility is not the only power company to chip away at the proposed regulations.

After a March 31 deadline passed this year, PG&E was joined by Southern California Edison Co. and PacifiCorp in complaining that highlighting vulnerable power infrastructure on the final map “could present public safety and security issues.”

]]>
Blistering temps bring fire warnings to Southern California http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171023/blistering-temps-bring-fire-warnings-to-southern-california http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171023/blistering-temps-bring-fire-warnings-to-southern-california#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:50:49 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029975 LOS ANGELES (AP) — The risk of wildfires will spike as triple-digit temperatures blanket parts of Southern California early this week.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says red flag warnings are in effect through Wednesday from Santa Barbara to San Diego as high winds and low humidity move through.

Cal Fire says extra firefighters are on duty with Santa Ana winds expected to top 50 mph.

The National Weather Service says temperatures in excess of 100 degrees could break records for late October in some areas.

The weather service has issued an excessive heat warning and says people should limit strenuous outdoor activity.

Temperatures aren’t supposed to cool significantly until Thursday.

]]>
Washington raspberry growers see red, feel blue http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20171023/washington-raspberry-growers-see-red-feel-blue http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20171023/washington-raspberry-growers-see-red-feel-blue#Comments Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:41:07 -0400 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029976 The Washington Red Raspberry Commission has committed $150,000 to further investigate whether growers are the victims of unfair trade practices and if so what they can do.

The market has worsened since the commission retained a law firm last spring to undertake a preliminary probe, the commission’s executive director, Henry Bierlink, said.

“The alarm bells started to ring last spring. We wanted to see what happened in the summer and fall. The answer is, it’s turned in the wrong direction,” he said. “There are more concerns rather than fewer.”

Washington leads the U.S. in red raspberries grown for processing. The farmers, most of whom are in Whatcom County, compete for domestic customers with berries from many countries, including Mexico, Serbia, Peru, China and Chile. Imported fruit makes up about half the processed red raspberries sold in the U.S., according to the National Processed Raspberry Council, a commodity checkoff program overseen by the USDA.

The average price of processed red raspberries dropped to 97 cents a pound in 2016 from $1.45 the year before, according to the USDA. The value of a record harvest in Washington last year was less than the previous year’s drought-diminished crop, according to the USDA. Figures aren’t available for this year, though prices are reportedly below the cost of production.

Lynden farmer Marty Maberry, who’s on the raspberry commission board, said U.S. growers have different labor costs, food-safety standards and environmental regulations than their foreign competitors. All are putting domestic farmers at a disadvantage, he said.

“The long-term potential could be shifting these labor-intensive crops out of the country,” he said. “We’re trying to get a conversation going. Are we OK with that?”

The commission successfully petitioned for relief in 2002 and 1985 from berries being dumped into the U.S. and driving prices below production costs. Those cases, however, involved just one other country. This time, red raspberries are coming into the U.S. from many countries, potentially complicating an anti-dumping claim.

The commission is also looking at the U.S. trade law that allows the president to impose tariffs to safeguard an industry threatened by an influx of imports. The law, however, has been rarely invoked, and for much larger industries.

The U.S. International Trade Commission is currently reviewing petitions from manufacturers of washing machines and solar technology. President George W. Bush used the law in 2002 to protect the steel industry. The World Trade Organization overturned the president’s order the following year.

The commission is looking at forming alliances with growers in other states, such as Florida tomato farmers, who also report suffering from a disparity in labor costs, especially compared to Mexico.

“The imports are gaining ground, and we’re losing it. NAFTA is not helping,” Bierlink said.

The red raspberry commission, a state body, must solicit proposals for legal services. Bierlink said he expects to have a firm retained by the middle of November.

]]>
National feeder and stocker cattle report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/national-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/national-feeder-and-stocker-cattle-report#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:47:20 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029982 NATIONAL FEEDER AND STOCKER CATTLE

(Federal-State Market News)

St. Joseph, Mo.

Oct. 20

This week Last week Last year

RECEIPTS: Auctions Direct Video/Internet 360,000 Head 287,700 Head 325,200 Head

Compared to Oct. 13: Steers and heifers sold very uneven from 4.00 lower to 4.00 higher as sales were all over the board and in between with some uneasiness over the amount of cattle on feed. With last month’s industry miss in the placement number, the industry was abuzz that there may be deja vu all over again. And sure enough, the COF and Marketing numbers were relatively close to industry expectations with a 105 and 103 put up by NASS.

However, industry analysts were amiss with the placement number coming in at 113 percent of a year ago.

Feedyards and ranchers were wanting to own the higher quality stock this week as evidenced by some pretty lofty prices reported in Nebraska and South Dakota.

On Wednesday at Bassett, Neb., a load of 703 lb yearling steers sold at 189.75 and two and a half loads of 907 lb steers at Hub City Livestock in Aberdeen, S.D., sold for 165.10.

The gavel fell on two loads of 423 lb reputation

unweaned steer calves on Thursday at Ogallala, Neb., at 235.00 while a load of 507 lbs Thin fleshed steers sold in Valentine, Neb., for 206.25.

The CME Live and Feeder Cattle contracts tumbled somewhat and the front two Live Cattle contracts settled 0.50 to 1.15 lower. The fed cattle contracts are being kept a little honest this month with the possibility of delivering fed cattle.

There have been 78 loads of fed cattle tendered for delivery, however the cattle for the most part have not been demanded when the cash fed cattle trade continues to trade near the October Live Cattle contract.

For the week, Boxed beef cutout values were firm to higher on mostly light to moderate demand and offerings. On the Choice side, the rib and loin primals had the highest gains while the chuck and round primals were steady to weak with the Choice Cutout closing at 199.86, just shy of the elusive 200.00 mark that was last seen on Aug. 10.

The strength of the rib primal upheld on Select while the chuck, round, and loin primals were steady to weak as the Select Cutout closed the week at 191.14.

73% and 81% fed ground beef were steady to firm while 50% beef trimmings ended the week higher.

NASS’s monthly Livestock Slaughter Report was released yesterday, with the average dressed weights in September for steers and heifers both higher than the previous month. The average dressed weight for a steer in September was 896 pounds, 12 pounds higher than August and 9 pounds lower than last year. The average dressed weight for a heifer in September was 819 pounds, 13 pounds heavier than last month and 5 pounds lighter than a year ago.

Last month’s cattle slaughter was 3 percent higher than September 2016, with a slaughter total of 2.70 million head. Auction volume this week included 36 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.

National Slaughter

Cattle Summary

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 20

Slaughter cattle sold mostly steady. Boxed Beef prices as of Friday afternoon averaged 195.50 up 1.36 from last Friday. The Choice/Select spread is 8.72. Slaughter cattle on a national basis for negotiated cash trades through Friday afternoon totaled about 63,896 head. Last week’s total head count was 129,165 head.

Midwest Direct Markets:

Live Basis: Steers and Heifers: Few 110.00-111.00.

Dressed Basis: Steers and Heifers Few 174.00-175.00.

South Plains Direct Markets:

Live Basis: Steers and Heifers Few 110.00-111.00.

Slaughter Cows and Bulls (Average Yielding Prices): Slaughter cows sold mostly 1.00-4.00 lower, few sales steady.

Slaughter bulls traded steady to 1.00 lower.

Cutter Cow Carcass Cut-Out Value Friday was 169.90 down 4.08 from last Friday.

NORTHWEST DIRECT CATTLE

(USDA Market News)

Moses Lake, Wash.

Oct. 20

Please Note: This report format will be discontinued. The last issue will be Oct. 27.

This Week Last Week Last Year

662 Head 352 Head 1450 Head

Compared to Oct. 13: Again current FOB trades not fully established for steers or heifers. Limited trades sold with a higher undertone.

Demand good this week as cattle futures opened the week higher. The feeder supply included 87 percent over 600 lbs and 32 percent heifers.

Unless otherwise stated prices are FOB weighting points with 2-3 percent shrink or equivalent and a 5-10 cent slide on calves and a 4-12 cent slide on yearlings from base weights. Current sales are up to 14 days delivery.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1: Current FOB Price: 800 lbs 147.94.

Current Delivered Price: 600 lbs 158.00; 875 lbs 148.00.

Delivered Price: 700 lbs 155.00 for Nov-Dec; 900 lbs 146.00 for Nov-Dec.

Feeder Heifers: Medium and Large 1: Current FOB Price: 850 lbs 135.94; Delivered Price: 850 lbs 139.00 for Nov-Dec.

]]>
National wool and sheep review http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/national-wool-and-sheep-review http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/national-wool-and-sheep-review#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:32:39 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029983 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

Oct. 20

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

NATIONAL SHEEP SUMMARY

(USDA Market News)

San Angelo, Texas

Oct. 20

Weekly Trends: Compared to last week slaughter lambs were steady to 2.00 lower. Slaughter ewes were mostly steady. Feeder lambs were mostly steady to 5.00 higher. At San Angelo, Texas, 5549 head sold. Equity Electronic Auction sold 335 slaughter lambs in North Dakota and 318 Slaughter lambs in Nebraska. Slaughter ewes and feeder lambs were not tested. 3800 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were steady to 4.00 lower; 2705 lamb carcasses sold with all weights no trend due to confidentiality. All sheep sold per hundred weight (CWT) unless otherwise specified.

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

San Angelo: Shorn and wooled 100-150 lbs 110.00-128.00.

Ft. Collins, Colo.: Wooled 110-155 lbs 128.00-137.00, few 167.00.

Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 1-2

San Angelo: 40-60 lbs 220.00-236.00, few 240.00-250.00; 60-70 lbs 190.00-212.00, few 218.00-228.00; 70-80 lbs 166.00-186.00, few 190.00; 80-90 lbs 150.00-160.00; 90-110 lbs 140.00-146.00, few 158.00.

Ft. Collins: 45-70 lbs 190.00-210.00; 74 lbs 179.00; 80-90 lbs 152.50-160.00; 95 lbs 148.00.

Direct Trading: (lambs fob with 3-4 percent shrink or equivalent) 3800: Slaughter Lambs shorn and wooled 116-171 lbs 129.67-163.36 (wtd avg 140.48).

Slaughter Ewes

San Angelo: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) no test; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 60.00-66.00; Utility and Good 1-3 (medium flesh) 70.00-80.00, few 84.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 60.00-70.00; Cull and Utility 1-2 (very thin) 50.00-56.00; Cull 1 (extremely thin) 30.00-40.00.

Ft. Collins: Good 3-5 (very fleshy) 62.50-75.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 57.50-71.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) no test; Cull 1 (extremely thin) no test.

Billings, Mont.: Good 3-4 (very fleshy) 49.00; Good 2-3 (fleshy) 51.00-58.00; Utility 1-2 (thin) 47.00-57.00; Cull 1 41.00-48.00.

Feeder Lambs: Medium and Large 1-2:

San Angelo: 50-60 lbs 170.00-178.00; 60-80 lbs 152.00-168.00; 80-95 lbs 140.00-150.00; 104 lbs 135.00.

Ft. Collins: 70-80 lbs 140.00-158.00; 80-90 lbs 141.00-147.00; 90-100 lbs 134.00-145.00.

Billings: 50-60 lbs 190.00-200.00; 60-70 lbs 179.00-192.00; 70-80 lbs 156.00-180.00; 80-90 lbs 145.00-159.00; 90-100 lbs 136.50-149.00; 100-110 lbs 122.00-136.00; 110-120 lbs 119.00-128.00; 120-125 lbs 113.50-122.50; 134 lbs 111.00.

Replacement Ewes: Medium and Large 1-2

San Angelo: Hair ewe lambs 55-65 lbs 220.00-242.00 cwt, 70-90 lbs 190.00-214.00 cwt, 90-95 lbs 160.00-162.00 cwt; baby tooth hair ewes 140.00 per head; mixed age hair ewes 80-130 lbs 84.00-120.00 cwt; yearling wool ewes 99 lbs 134.00 cwt; baby tooth wool ewes 103 lbs 118.00 cwt; solid mouth wool ewes 108 lbs 94.00 cwt.

Ft. Collins: No test.

Billings: Baby tooth to solid mouth 145 lbs 58.00-63.00 cwt; solid to broken mouth 130-170 lbs 47.00-52.00 cwt.

Sheep and lamb slaughter under federal inspection for the week to date totaled 36,000 compared to 37,000 last week and 38,000 last year.

]]>
West Coast grain price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/west-coast-grain-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/west-coast-grain-price-report#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:20:09 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029984 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

Oct. 19

Pacific Northwest Market Summary: Cash wheat bids for October delivery ended the reporting week on Thursday, Oct. 19, were higher compared to week ago noon bids for October delivery.

December wheat futures ended the reporting week on Thursday, Oct. 19, higher as follows compared to week ago closes: Chicago wheat futures were 2.25 cents higher at 4.3275, Kansas City wheat futures were three cents higher at 4.2925 and Minneapolis wheat futures trended 4.50 cents higher at 6.1575. Chicago December corn futures trended steady at 3.49 and November soybean futures closed 5.50 cents lower at 9.8650.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat delivered to Portland in unit trains or barges during October for ordinary protein trended four to 22.25 cents per bushel higher compared to week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.2775-5.35. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

White club wheat premiums were zero to five cents per bushel over soft white wheat bids this week and last week.

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat any protein for October delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.52-4.8025 and bids for White Club Wheat were 4.82-5.0525.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat ordinary protein were as follows: November 5.3275-5.38, December 5.3275-5.41, January 5.40-5.45 and February 5.40-5.4325.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: November 4.6025-4.8025, December 4.7025-4.85, January 4.95-5.0075 and February 4.9575-5.0075.

Bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein during October trended four to 22.25 cents per bushel higher than week ago prices for the same delivery period from 5.2775-5.35. Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

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

One year ago bids for US 1 Soft White Wheat guaranteed maximum 10.5 percent protein for October delivery by unit trains and barges to Portland were 4.8025-4.8525 and bids for White Club Wheat were also 4.8025-5.1025.

Forward month bids for soft white wheat guaranteed 10.5 percent proteins were as follows: November 5.3275-5.38, December 5.3275-5.41, January

5.40-5.49 and February 5.40-5.4325.

One year ago, forward month bids for soft white wheat for any protein were as follows: November 4.6025-4.8525, December 4.7025-4.8525, January and February 4.9575-5.0575.

Bids for 11.5 percent protein US 1 Hard Red Winter Wheat for October delivery were three to 63.00 cents per bushel higher compared to week ago noon bids for the same delivery period.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

This week, bids were as follows: October 5.8925-5.9425, November and December 5.6925-5.9425, January 5.6725-5.9725 and February 5.9225-5.9725.

Bids for non-guaranteed 14.0 percent protein US 1 Dark Northern Spring Wheat for Portland delivery during October were 9.50 to 24.50 cents per bushel higher than week ago noon bids for the same delivery period.

Some exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. This week, bids for non-guaranteed 14 percent protein were as follows: October 7.4575-7.5075, November and December 7.2575-7.5075, January 7.2950-7.6450 and February 7.5450-7.6450.

Coarse feeding grains: Bids for US 2 Yellow Corn delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for October delivery were not available as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery. Forward month corn bids were as follows: November not available, December 4.20-4.27, January 4.2275-4.3075, February 4.2975-4.3475 and March 4.3275-4.3475.

Bids for US 1 Yellow Soybeans delivered full coast Pacific Northwest - BN shuttle trains for October delivery were not available as most exporters were not issuing bids for nearby delivery.

Forward month soybean bids were as follows: November 10.4950-10.5650, December 10.56-10.63 and January 10.54-10.63.

Bids for US 2 Heavy White Oats for October delivery trended steady at 3.12 per bushel.

Pacific Northwest Export News: There were 20 grain vessels in Columbia River ports on Thursday, Oct. 19, with five docked compared to 13 last week with four docked. There were no new confirmed export sales this week from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the USDA.

CALIFORNIA GRAINS

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 19

Paid by feed manufacturers and other users, delivered plant or receiving station. All prices are offers for prompt shipment unless otherwise stated. Due to limited availability, prices were not available with the exception of the following categories.

BARLEY US No 2 (46 lbs. per bushel)

FOB: Solano County NA

Colusa County NA

Tehema County NA

Rail: Any Origin – via BNSF and U.P.

Central Valley NA

Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

Tulare County NA

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa 9.75 Del

Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

Glenn County NA

CORN US No 2 Yellow

FOB Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turloc NA

Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

Turlock/Tulare 8.07

Rail: Single Car Units via BNSF

LA-Chino Valley 8.27

Truck Petaluma-Santa Rosa NA

Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock 8.37

8.25 Del

Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties 8.37

Glenn County NA

Hanford County NA

Kern County NA

SORGHUM US No 2 Yellow (Milo)

Rail LA-Chino Valley

via BNSF 8.73

Truck: Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock 8.50 Del

Turlock County NA

Glenn County NA

Kings-Tulare-Fresno NA

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

Truck Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

TRITICALE

Petaluma NA

Truck Modesto-Oakdale-Turlock NA

Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

WHEAT US No 2 or better-Hard Red Winter

(Domestic Values for Flour Milling)

FOB Kern NA

Fresno NA

Merced NA

Truck (California Origin)

LA 12% Protein NA

LA 13% Protein NA

LA 14% Protein NA

Colusa County NA

Rail-Truck (Out of State Origin)

LA Guaranteed 12% Protein NA

LA Guaranteed 13% Protein NA

LA Guarantted 14% Protein NA

WHEAT US Durum Wheat

FOB Imperial County NA

Truck Imperial Valley NA

Kern County NA

Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties 10.30

WHEAT Any Class for Feed

FOB Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties NA

Kern County NA

Merced County NA

Rail-Truck LA-Chino Valley

(11-1/2-12-1/2% protein) NA

13% protein NA

Truck Glenn County NA

Stockton-Modesto-

Oakdale-Turlock NA

Kings-Tulare-

Fresno Counties 9.30

Fresno NA

Merced County NA

Kern County NA

Colusa County NA

]]>
California shell egg price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/california-shell-egg-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/california-shell-egg-price-report#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:43:43 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029986 Shell egg marketer’s benchmark price for negotiated egg sales of USDA Grade A and Grade AA in cartons, cents per dozen. This price does not reflect discounts or other contract terms.

DAILY CALIFORNIA SHELL EGGS

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 20

Benchmark prices are unchanged. Asking prices for next week are 7 cents lower for Jumbo, 16 cents lower for Extra Large and Large and 7 cents lower for Medium and Small. The undertone is mostly steady. Offerings are in a tight to short position for Jumbo, mostly moderate to occasionally heavy for Extra Large and Large and moderate to closely balanced for Medium. Demand is light to mostly moderate. Trucking operations continue to ask for premiums when scheduling loads to the Southwest as back hauls are currently limited in availability. Market activity is slow to moderate. Small benchmark price $1.05.

Size Range Size Range

Jumbo 173 Extra large 164

Large 154 Medium 125

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 160-173 Extra large 150-154

Large 139-148 Medium 106-117

]]>
Fluid milk and cream review — West http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/fluid-milk-and-cream-review-x2014-west http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/fluid-milk-and-cream-review-x2014-west#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:34:19 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029987 FLUID MILK AND CREAM REVIEW – WEST

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 19

In California, farm milk production is higher, partly due to favorable climatic conditions. Many plants are running close to full schedules.

Milk supplies are enough to fulfill contractual needs. Nonetheless, spot sales are limited. Class 1 intakes by schools and the retail sector are steady. In Arizona, increased milk output is prevalent this week.

Class I requests are increasing in some parts of the state. Processing plants are working at or near full capacity.

In Arizona, irrigation water availability has been declining. Topsoil and subsoil moistures are respectively 76 percent and 75 percent adequate.

New Mexico milk production is flat to lower compared to the previous week. Recent rains have contributed to dropping farm milk production in some areas.

Class I and II sales are steady while demand for Class III is steady to slightly increasing. Milk supplies are sufficient to meet all processing obligations.

Milk production in the Pacific Northwest is steady and holding to seasonal patterns. Cool, wet weather has kept intakes rather flat and at levels that are expected for this time of year. Production is in good balance with processing needs and manufacturers say milk is readily flowing into cheese vats.

In the mountain states of Idaho, Colorado and Utah, milk supplies have tightened somewhat, but industry contacts say there is still an abundance of milk for processing. Most of the loads are staying within the region and not moving to surrounding states.

Manufacturers are ramping up for the stronger seasonal holiday demand. This has helped bring milk production into better balance with processing needs.

The western condensed skim market is stable and loads are moving as planned. Cream continues to move well in the West. Many handlers are working on finalizing their 2018 cream contracts. Cream demand for Class II, III and VI is steady to strong.

Supplies are starting to tighten in some areas, but remain plentiful in others. Some reports suggest that the ice cream season is over.

However, a few processors state that their sales are still active. Cream multiples for all classes are 1.06-1.28. According to the DMN National Retail Report-Dairy for the week of Oct. 13-19, the national weighted average advertised price for one gallon of milk is $2.96, down $0.01 from last week, but $0.41 higher from a year ago.

The weighted average regional price in the Southwest is $3.69, with a price range of $1.89-$5.99. The weighted average regional price in the Northwest is $1.99, with no reported price range.

]]>
Western hay price report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/western-hay-price-report http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/western-hay-price-report#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:27:25 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029988 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)

Oct. 20

This week FOB Last week Last year

3100 Tons 8500 Tons 4100 Tons

Compared to Oct. 13: Alfalfa steady in a light test. Most export hay reported has the grower paying for the tarping. Trade slow this week. Demand remains good for higher testing Alfalfa. Retail/Feedstore not tested this week.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square

Premium Export 1500 166.67

Good 750 130.00

Rain Damage 500 115.00

Fair Export 350 122.14

OREGON AREA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 20

Compared to Oct. 13: Prices trended generally steady in a limited test. Sporadic rain showers and thunderstorms in hay growing areas has hindered haying process. Retail/Stable type hay remains the largest demanded hay. Demand for organic hay increased this week.

This week FOB Last week Last year

4513 Tons 3249 Tons 8465 Tons

Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson, Wasco Counties

Tons Price

Alfalfa Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 64 222.81

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 38 242.89

Orchard Grass Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 74 235.41

Good/Premium 102 223.28

Meadow Grass Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 50 210.00 Orchard/Timothy Small Square

Good Retail/Stable 53 175.00

Eastern Oregon

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 27 182.41

Mixed Grass Small Square

Utility 300 45.00

Harney County

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme Export 500 170.00

Klamath Basin

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme 20 220.00

Fair Organic 300 230.00

Small Square

Good/Prem Rain Dam 50 180.00

Retail/Stable 26 170.00

Orchard Grass Small Square

Prem Retail/Stable 100 250.00

Lake County

Alfalfa Large Square

Supreme 555 216.89

Premium/Supreme 500 190.00

Premium Export 600 180.00

Good 100 150.00

Small Square

Supreme Organic 81 265.00

Prem/Supr Org 28 250.00

Premium 60 185.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Small Square

Premium 20 185.00

Good/Premium 370 172.70

Oat Small Square

Premium 25 125.00

Triticale Large Square

Good/Premium 290 110.00

IDAHO HAY

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 20

This week FOB Last week Last year

12,500 Tons 9700 Tons 2200 Tons

Compared to Oct.13: Alfalfa firm to 5.00 higher. Trade moderate to active. Demand remains good especially for next spring 2018 delivery. Retail/Feedstore steady.

Tons Price

Alfalfa Mid Square

Prem/Supr Contr 1800 170.00

Tarped 3000 142.50

Prem Retail/Stable 200 155.00

Tarped 1000 150.00

Good Export 2000 127.50

Fair/Good 4500 102.50

CALIFORNIA HAY

(USDA Market News)

Oct. 20

This week FOB Last week Last year

10,306 Tons 9232 Tons 5560 Tons

Compared to Oct.13: All classes traded steady with moderate demand. Alfalfa fields continued to be irrigated, cut and baled. Sorghum fields were being harvested. Corn silage continued to be harvested. Cotton was being harvested for lint and seed. Black-eyed beans continued to be harvested.

REGION 1: NORTHERN INTERMOUNTAIN

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

Tons Price

Alfalfa Supreme Contr 1280 207.81

Very High Test 1030 233.50

Premium Contr 340 190.00

Retail/Stable 25 220.00

Good Contr 400 180.00

Orchard Grass Prem Retail/Stable 50 295.00

REGION 2: SACRAMENTO VALLEY

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

Alfalfa Supreme 25 260.00

Alfalfa/Orchard Mix Prem 25 260.00

Alfalfa/Grass Mix Premium 106 205.00

REGION 3: NORTHERN SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

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

Alfalfa Supreme Del 150 299.00

Del Contracted 1830 286.15

Del Very High Test 330 298.03

Prem Del Contr 340 265.00

Good Del Contr 400 245.00

Region 4: Central San Joaquin Valley

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

Rice Straw Good Del 1000 120.00

REGION 5: SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

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

Alfalfa Supreme 25 230.00

REGION 6: SOUTHEAST CALIFORNIA

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

Alfalfa Premium 525 175.95

Retail/Stable 350 201.43

Good 650 156.15

Fair 1350 121.48

Bermuda Grass Prem Retail/Stable 75 190.00

]]>
Selected Western livestock auctions http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/selected-western-livestock-auctions http://www.capitalpress.com/Markets/20171020/selected-western-livestock-auctions#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:54:07 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029989 Oregon

LEBANON

(Lebanon Auction Yard)

Oct. 19

Total receipts: 740

Butcher Cows: Conventional: Top Cow, $79.00; Top 10 Cows, $74.22; Top 50 Cows, $71.31; Top 100 Cows, $68.87; Organic: Top Cow, $71.00; Top 10, $63.29; Avg. All Organic: $52.36.

Bulls: Conventional: Top Bull, $86.00; Avg. All Bulls, $78.67.

Feeder Steers: 400-500 lbs $125.00-$161.00; 500-600 lbs $90.00-$160.00; 600-700 lbs $82.50-$147.00

Feeder Heifers: 400-500 lbs $70.00-$172.50; 500-600 lbs: $100.00-$153.50

WOODBURN

(Woodburn Livestock Exchange)

Oct. 17

Total Receipts: 574, 555 Cattle

Top 10 Slaughter Cows: A/P 74.16 cwt

Top 50 Slaughter Cows: A/P 71.00 cwt

Top 100 Slaughter Cows: A/P 68.89 cwt

Back To The Country Cows: 70.00 cwt

Certified Cows: 80.00-140.00 cwt

Top Certified Organic Cattle: NT

All Slaughter Bulls: 68.00-87.50 cwt

Top 10 Slaughter Cows A/P: 74.16 cwt

Top 50 Slaughter Cows A/P: 71.00 cwt

Top 100 Slaughter Cows A/P: 68.89 cwt

Back To The Country Cows: 70.00 cwt

Certified Cows: 80.00-140.00 cwt

Top Certified Organic Cattle: NT

All Slaughter Bulls: 68.00-87.50 cwt

Top Beef Heifers: 200-300 lbs NT; 300-400 lbs 130.00-141.00 cwt; 400-500 lbs 130.00-143.00 cwt; 500-600 lbs 120.00-130.00 cwt; 600-700 lbs 100.00-120.50 cwt; 700-800 lbs 100.00-117.50 cwt; 800-900 lbs 90.00-103.00 cwt

Cow/Calf Pair: NT

Bred Cows: 700.00-950.00 HD

Day Old Beef Cross Calves: 140.00-150.00 HD

Day Old Dairy Calves: 7.50-65.00 HD

Block Hogs: 57.00-62.00 cwt

Feeder Pigs: 32.50-87.50 HD

Sows: 2.00-15.00 cwt

Weaner Pigs: 32.50-65.00 HD

Lambs 40-70 lbs 125.00-152.50 cwt; 75-150 lbs 120.00-140.00 cwt

Thin Ewes: 70.00-123.00 cwt

Fleshy Ewes: 50.00-70.00 cwt

Ewe/Lamb Pairs: NT

Goats: 10-39 lbs 10.00-42.50 HD; 40-69 lbs 16.00-100.00 HD;70-79 lbs 67.50-150.00 HD; 80-89 lbs 80.00-160.00 HD; 90-99 lbs 95.00-175.00 HD; 100-199 lbs 95.00-225.00 HD; 200-300 lbs NT

Washington

TOPPENISH

(Toppenish Livestock Auction)

Oct. 19

Receipts: 2000

Compared to Oct. 12: Stocker and feeder cattle weak to 3.00 lower. Trade active with moderate to good demand. Slaughter cows and bulls steady to weak. Trade active with moderate to good demand. Slaughter cows 70 percent, slaughter bulls 10 percent, and feeders 20 percent of the supply. The feeder supply included 69 percent steers and 31 percent heifers. Near 42 percent of the run weighed over 600 lbs. Replacement Cows: Pre-tested for pregnancy, and age.

Feeder Steers: Medium and Large 1-2: 400-500 lbs 164.00-165.00; 500-600 lbs 146.00-150.00; 500-600 lbs 158.50, Thin Fleshed; 600-700 lbs 146.00-152.00, Calves; 700-800 lbs 144.75-152.00; 800-900 lbs 135.00-140.00. Small and Medium 1-2: 500-600 lbs 129.50.

Feeder Holstein Steers: Medium and Large 2-3: 300-400 lbs 130.00.

Feeder Bulls: Medium and Large 1-2: 400-500 lbs 145.50; 500-600 lbs 147.00.

Feeder Heifers: Medium and Large 1-2: 300-400 lbs 153.00; 400-500 lbs 141.00-146.00; 500-600 lbs 131.00-140.00; 600-700 lbs 135.00-139.00, Calves. Large 1-2: 900-1000 lbs 116.00. Large 2-3: 1000-1100 lbs 88.00. Small and Medium 1-2: 500-600 lbs 129.00.

Slaughter Cows:

Boners: 1400-2000 lbs Avg Dressing 67.00-72.00; High Dressing 74.00; Low Dressing 62.00-67.00

Lean: 1300-1900 lbs Avg Dressing 65.00-71.00; High Dressing 72.50-76.00; Low Dressing 60.00-65.00

Lean: 900-1400 lbs Avg Dressing 55.00-60.00; Low Dressing 49.00-55.00

Slaughter Bulls:g

Yield Grade 1-2 1400-2300 lbs Avg Dressing 87.00-93.50; High Dressing 94.50-97.00; Low Dressing 79.00-87.00

Bred Heifers (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: 850-900 lbs. 925.00 3-6 mos; 900-950 lbs. 840.00 3-6 mos.

Bred Cows (Per Head): Medium and Large 1-2: Young (3-4 yrs. old) 1200-1250 lbs. 1160.00 3-6 mos; Mid-Aged 1200-1300 lbs. 900.00-1085.00 3-6 mos.

Feeder Cows: Large 1-2: 1000-1100 lbs 81.75, Young.

Please Note: The USDA LPGMN price report is reflective of the majority of classes and grades of livestock offered for sale. There may be instances where some sales do not fit within reporting guidelines and therefore will not be included in the report.

]]>
Cider-makers forage for old wild apple flavor http://www.capitalpress.com/Orchards/20171020/cider-makers-forage-for-old-wild-apple-flavor http://www.capitalpress.com/Orchards/20171020/cider-makers-forage-for-old-wild-apple-flavor#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:38:55 -0400 LISA RATHKE http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029990 ROCHESTER, Vt. (AP) — With a vigorous shake of a tree limb, small wild apples rain down onto a plastic tarp at an old farmstead in Vermont.

David Dolginow, co-founder of Shacksbury Cider, and a colleague then collect the yellow-skinned fruit in milk crates. In their quest for the best apples to make hard cider, they’ve hunted for heritage wild apples on mountain roadsides, in the thickets of old pastures, and in backyards — with the homeowners’ permission of course — through its Lost Apple Project.

“In the search for the pinot noir of apples, we’ll go far and wide,” Dolginow said.

As the craft cider industry continues its yearslong resurgence and not enough commercial cider apples available, some cider-makers are foraging old wild apples that have links to the country’s early cider making past. Of the estimated 700 craft cider-makers in the United States, at least two dozen are using foraged wild apples in at least one of their ciders, said Michelle McGrath, executive director of the United States Association of Cider Makers.

“It’s a growing trend,” that started in the last couple of years, she said.

What cider-makers are seeking are tannins and acidity in the wild apples which are no good to eat, but add complexity to cider. They taste so bittersweet or sharp, they’re called the “spitters” in the cider world.

“This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider,” according to the family-owned Aaron Burr Cidery, in Wurtsboro, New York, which uses its own cider apples as well as locally grown and foraged wild apples to produce what it calls “true cider.”

Wild apple cider is unfiltered so in general it’s a little cloudy and the taste is diverse. It tends to be more floral, have a tartness and leave a drying sensation in the mouth, said Andy Brennan of Aaron Burr Cidery.

Wildcraft Cider Works in Eugene, Oregon, not only harvests wild apples itself from farms and old orchards, it also has an annual community apple drive where residents bring in their backyard fruit and get cider or juice in return. Wildcraft then produces a batch of community drive cider.

Last year, about 46,000 pounds of fruit came in, “which was amazing. So that was really exciting,” said Amy Marx of Wildcraft.

The goal for Shacksbury, which sells its ciders around the country, and its specialty ciders through its cider club, is to find the best wild apples and propagate their own trees from the wild ones. It has a registry for landowners to notify them of the flavors and number of trees. On a recent day, someone dropped off several paper grocery bags full of apples for Shacksbury to try, with a guess at what variety they were — Baldwin.

From its samplings, it produces a Lost and Found cider and fermentations named after the areas where the apples we’re harvested as well as some single varietals.

“It’s already not a great way to make money — shaking wild trees — but you know it’s a labor of love and it’s interesting,” said Colin Davis, co-founder.

]]>
Algal bloom warnings posted at 3 more Utah water bodies http://www.capitalpress.com/Outdoors/20171020/algal-bloom-warnings-posted-at-3-more-utah-water-bodies http://www.capitalpress.com/Outdoors/20171020/algal-bloom-warnings-posted-at-3-more-utah-water-bodies#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:23:31 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029991 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is advising beachgoers that three more Utah reservoirs have outbreaks of harmful algal blooms.

The Deseret News reports that warnings went up at Rockport, Echo and Deer Creek reservoirs on Tuesday, joining six other Utah water bodies that are suffering from the blue-green algae.

The algal blooms can contain toxins that can cause serious illness in people and animals. They are a byproduct of excess nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. One source of those nutrients is wastewater discharge.

Nutrient pollution can also be caused by urban runoff and agricultural activities.

Utah Lake has suffered from outbreaks over the past several years, including a 2016 infestation that covered most its surface.

]]>
California fires cause $1B in damage, burn 7,000 buildings http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171020/california-fires-cause-1b-in-damage-burn-7000-buildings http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171020/california-fires-cause-1b-in-damage-burn-7000-buildings#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:14:28 -0400 JANIE HAR and MICHAEL R. BLOOD http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029992 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The wildfires that have devastated Northern California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property, officials said Thursday, as authorities increased the count of homes and other buildings destroyed to nearly 7,000.

Both numbers were expected to rise as crews continued assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed 42 people, a total that makes it the deadliest series of fires in state history.

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the preliminary dollar valuation of losses came from claims filed with the eight largest insurance companies in the affected areas and did not include uninsured property.

The loss total was expected to climb “probably dramatically so,” Jones told reporters, making it likely the fires also would become the costliest in California’s history.

The initial insurance total covered 4,177 partial residential losses, 5,449 total residential losses, 35 rental and condominium losses, 601 commercial property losses, more than 3,000 vehicle losses, 150 farm or agricultural equipment losses, and 39 boats. Those figures included some fire losses in Southern California — several dozen structures were destroyed or damaged in an Orange County fire — though most were from the northern part of the state, agency officials said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s estimate of homes and structures destroyed was boosted to 6,900 from 5,700 as fire crews returned to hard-hit neighborhoods and assessed remote and rural areas they could not get to earlier, spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

He said most of the newly counted destroyed buildings burned on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 — when the wildfires broke out in wine country north of San Francisco and other nearby areas.

“The estimates are in structures and are mostly homes, but also includes commercial structures and outbuildings like barns and sheds,” Berlant said.

Twenty-two of the 42 deaths in California’s October fires happened in a Sonoma County wildfire, making it the third-deadliest in California history. A 1933 Los Angeles fire that killed 29 people was the deadliest, followed by the 1991 Oakland Hills fire killed 25.

When adjusted for inflation, the Oakland Hills fire is believed the costliest fire in California history at $2.8 billion. It destroyed about half as many homes and other buildings as the current series of fires.

California Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday issued an executive order to speed up recovery efforts as fire authorities say they’ve stopped the progress of wildfires.

More than 15,000 people remain evacuated Thursday, down from a high of 100,000 last Saturday.

Brown’s order also allowed disrupted wineries to relocate tasting rooms and suspended state fees for mobile home parks and manufactured homes.

The order extends the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies until April 2018 and expedites hiring of personnel for emergency and recovery operations.

In Los Angeles County, authorities said a charred body was found on Mount Wilson, where crews were trying to surround a smoldering wildfire in steep terrain.

The male body discovered late Wednesday was recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to identify it, Sheriff’s Sgt. Vincent Plair said.

California firefighters were also battling a blaze that sent smoke billowing into the college beach town of Santa Cruz.

The wildfire in steep and rugged terrain had grown to nearly half a square mile and the number of houses threatened by the fire had doubled to 300.

Several firefighters suffered minor injuries.

———

Blood reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers John Antczak and Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.

]]>
Oregon&#x2019;s Congressional Push To Get EPA To Clean Up Polluted Portland Harbor http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171020/oregons-congressional-push-to-get-epa-to-clean-up-polluted-portland-harbor http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20171020/oregons-congressional-push-to-get-epa-to-clean-up-polluted-portland-harbor#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:03:17 -0400 Cassandra ProfitaOPB via http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029993 Oregon’s six Democrats and its sole Republican in Congress sent a letter Monday urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with cleanup plans for the Portland Harbor polluted Superfund site.

In their letter, they reminded the agency that hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested in the plans to clean up the Portland Harbor Superfund site.

The 10-mile stretch of Portland’s Willamette River remains highly contaminated from decades of industrial use, they wrote. And now it’s time to move toward the actual cleanup.

The delegation called on the EPA to dedicate enough funding to the Superfund program to ensure the clean-up happens as quickly as possible. And the seven federal lawmakers asked for flexibility for the dozens of parties responsible for covering the cost.

The letter underscored the extensive efforts already undertaken: The Oregon Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown dedicated $8 million this year to help jump-start the cleanup and the city of Portland is working with companies and other entities to move quickly to clean up one of the most high-priority spots in the cleanup area.

“Every year the Portland harbor goes without cleanup action, our region loses opportunities in the form of tax revenue, jobs, and property value,” the lawmakers wrote. “In addition, the longer we delay cleanup, the longer the documented environmental and public health risks at this site go unaddressed.”

Last week, Brown alerted the public to a secret agreement between the EPA and some of the parties responsible for the cleanup costs.

Officials have expressed concern that the agreement would delay the billion-dollar cleanup plan for Portland Harbor.

]]>
Oroville Dam repair costs will top $500 million http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171020/oroville-dam-repair-costs-will-top-500-million http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171020/oroville-dam-repair-costs-will-top-500-million#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:55:59 -0400 JONATHAN J. COOPER http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029994 OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — The costs to repair the nation’s tallest dam after a nearly catastrophic failure of the spillways will top $500 million, nearly double the original estimate of $275 million, a California Department of Water Resources official said Thursday.

The $500 million figure reflects only the work by the main construction contractor, Kiewit Corp., to repair the spillways at the 770-foot Oroville Dam, said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the state water agency. It excludes the costs of other contractors and the emergency response in the immediate aftermath of the spillway failure, which prompted fears of massive flooding. Nearly 200,000 were ordered to evacuate, but disaster was averted.

Construction crews are excavating unstable soil, replacing it with concrete and topping it with slabs of rebar-reinforced concrete that is anchored into the bedrock.

The project has required far more excavation and concrete than expected, said Jeff Petersen, a Kiewit vice president who is directing the project. The state has also revised plans to shore up the emergency spillway, doubling the amount of concrete it will require.

Barring a major storm or equipment failure, Kiewit’s 700 workers and subcontractors are on track to finish pouring concrete on the main spillway by Nov. 1, Petersen said. That will give the surface a month to cure and be ready for use in December.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but we’re ahead of schedule,” Petersen told reporters during a tour of the jobsite Thursday.

The cost for emergency response during the evacuation and its immediate aftermath is estimated between $140 million and $160 million, Mellon said.

State officials hope the Federal Emergency Management Agency will foot up to 75 percent of the repair bill, while the rest would likely be borne by State Water Project customers. FEMA has already reimbursed some costs for emergency response, but it’s unclear if the agency will fund the permanent repair work.

The trouble at Oroville Dam began in early February, when a massive crater opened up in the main spillway, a 3,000-foot concrete chute that releases water from Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir. Crews shut down the spillway to inspect just as a major storm dumped a torrent of rain in the Feather River basin. With the main spillway damaged, the lake quickly filled to capacity and water began flowing over a concrete weir that serves as an emergency spillway. It had never before been used.

The water eroded the barren hillside beneath the concrete, leading to fears the weir would collapse and release a 40-foot wall of water that would swamp communities and destroy levies for miles downstream.

Kiewit was hired in April to lead the repair work through Jan. 1, 2019. The company will rebuild the main spillway, place a 65-foot underground wall to stop erosion on the emergency spillway and lay concrete at least 10 feet thick between the cutoff wall the concrete weir that holds water in the lake. When the work is done next year, about a third of the 3,000-foot hillside will be lined in concrete — twice as much as originally planned.

Plans call for the entire main spillway to be demolished and reconstructed by 2019 with 2.5 feet of erosion-resistant, rebar-reinforced concrete on top of five to 13 feet of leveling concrete. About 1,200 feet of the 3,000-foot spillway will be fully reconstructed this year with the rest rebuilt next year.

Compared to the original 1960s design, the new spillway will have more rebar, stronger and thicker concrete, vinyl water stops inside of joints and a heartier drainage system — all with the concrete anchored into bedrock, Petersen said.

The scale of the project is massive, with more than 1 million cubic yards of concrete used between the main and emergency spillways. Two concrete plants were built on site. The main spillway is as wide as a 12-lane highway with sidewalls ranging from 22 feet to 30 feet tall.

Two deep crevices that were carved out by rushing water have been filled with up to 80 feet of concrete.

Mellon said the lake has been drained about 80 feet below its typical level for this time of year to provide extra storage for runoff. Since the dam was dedicated in 1969, the main spillway has only been used before Jan. 1 four times. In dryer years it’s never used at all.

“There’s a pretty significant chance we won’t even use the spillway this year,” she said.

]]>
Funding to trap Minnesota wolves preying on livestock extended http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20171020/funding-to-trap-minnesota-wolves-preying-on-livestock-extended http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20171020/funding-to-trap-minnesota-wolves-preying-on-livestock-extended#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:45:17 -0400 STEVE KARNOWSKI http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029995 Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that it has come up with money to trap wolves that prey on livestock through the end of the year, a week after federal money ran out for helping Minnesota farmers and ranchers control wolves.

Members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week, asking him to make emergency funding available. Signing the letter were Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, and Reps. Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, Tom Emmer and Tim Walz. They heard back late Wednesday that the agency has found the money.

“I wanted to let you all know that we have agreed to fund control activities for the remainder of the year,” Chris Needham, a USDA congressional relations specialist, wrote to them. “We are also providing the yearly funding for control efforts for the next year.”

In their letter, the lawmakers cited Minnesota’s growing wolf population, which rose to an estimated 2,900 last winter, an increase of 25 percent in one year.

The federal government provides trapping services for farmers and ranchers facing problem wolves, which remain classified as a threatened species in the western Great Lakes region even though their populations have rebounded. Courts have repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list, so it remains illegal for farmers and hunters to shoot them except to protect human life.

While Minnesota’s wolf population is up, there hasn’t been a surge in complaints about attacks, said Gary Nohrenberg, state director for USDA Wildlife Services. The 10-year average is about 175 complaints a year, he said. There were 157 last year, he said, and this year’s total will be a little below the average.

Federal trappers in Minnesota kill an average of 179 wolves annually. Last year they removed 183. This year they’ve killed 197 as of last week, he said. But he said the higher figure this year isn’t necessarily why the money ran out. Sometimes a wolf is relatively easy to trap, he said, but catching wolves that have learned they’re being targeted can require more work.

Predation has been a particular problem lately in Roseau and Kittson counties of northwestern Minnesota and Carlton and northern Pine counties in northeastern Minnesota, said Thom Petersen, director of government relations for the Minnesota Farmers Union, who worked with the delegation to pressure the USDA.

“Hopefully in the next day or two trappers will be back on the job,” he said.

Wolf advocates have urged an emphasis on nonlethal means of protecting livestock, saying the species’ recovery remains fragile. This week the Minnesota Department of Agriculture started taking applications for $120,000 in grants to help producers prevent wolf attacks without killing them. The money can be used for guard animals, fencing, lights, alarms and other measures for reducing conflicts.

]]>
EPA&#x2019;s new Northwest boss butted heads with agency http://www.capitalpress.com/Water/20171020/epas-new-northwest-boss-butted-heads-with-agency http://www.capitalpress.com/Water/20171020/epas-new-northwest-boss-butted-heads-with-agency#Comments Fri, 20 Oct 2017 09:27:55 -0400 Don Jenkins http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171029997 An Alaskan state official who contended with the Environmental Protection Agency as the manager of a city in the Aleutian Islands has been picked to be the agency’s new Northwest administrator.

The selection of Alaska commerce director Chris Hladick, announced Thursday by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, was welcomed by the head of a Washington farm group critical of the previous regional administrator, Dennis McLerran.

“What little we’ve heard about (Hladick) is that he’s a competent administrator,” said Gerald Baron, director of Save Family Farming. “We have big hopes given the very troubled relationship between the farm community as a whole and the Dennis McLerran era.”

Hladick will oversee Seattle-based Region 10, which takes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and about 270 tribes. Michelle Pirzadeh, who was deputy regional administrator under McLerran, has been acting director since January.

Farm groups in Washington were critical of the EPA under the Obama administration, accusing it of overreaching and favoring environmental organizations. Outrage over What’s Upstream, an EPA-funded lobbying campaign by a Puget Sound tribe to restrict farming near water in Washington, deepened the rift.

Washington Farm Bureau director of government relations Tom Davis said the organization has not met Hladick, but is optimistic that “his appointment is in line with the fair and balanced approach Secretary Pruitt has brought to EPA.”

“All that agriculture is asking for is a fair shake when it comes to regulatory activities,” he said.

In 2012, Hladlick signed a consent decree with the EPA on behalf of Unalaska, a city of 4,400 people and the setting for the Discovery Channel’s reality show “The Deadliest Catch.” The city admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a $340,000 fine and pledge to upgrade a sewer plant to settle a federal lawsuit alleging the city had polluted the bay.

At the time, Hladlick issued a written statement saying the improved plant will have benefits for years, but added that utility rates would probably double, and that “there is no evidence of actual damage to the environment or diminishment of any threatened species by our current waste water treatment system.”

The Bristol Bay Times reported the city spent more than $500,000 in legal fees, but avoided a threatened fine by the EPA of more than $150 million.

“Chris Hladick knows first-hand the overbearing nature of the previous administration’s EPA, helping lead a challenge against them while serving as city manager of Unalaska,” U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in a written statement. “I’m optimistic Chris can begin rebuilding a level of trust and confidence in the EPA that was steadily eroded over the previous eight years.”

Hladick was appointed the commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development in early 2015. He had been city manager of Unalaska, the state’s 11th largest city, for 14 years.

Previously, he had been city manager of Dillingham, Alaska, for seven years and before that worked in the public works department for Galen, Alaska, according to the Bristol Bay Times.

U.S. Sen Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said in a written statement that the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation had been “relentlessly pushing to have an Alaskan” appointed Region 10 administrator.

]]>
Apples top Washington crop, but varieties in &#x2018;turmoil&#x2019; http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20171019/apples-top-washington-crop-but-varieties-in-turmoil http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20171019/apples-top-washington-crop-but-varieties-in-turmoil#Comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 09:11:21 -0400 Dan Wheat http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171019885 OLYMPIA — Agricultural production in Washington dropped 1 percent to $10.6 billion in 2016 with apples as the top value commodity for the 12th year in a row, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Apples represented 22 percent of the total agricultural value at $2.39 billion, up 3 percent from 2015 but down 4 percent from the record high of $2.48 billion in 2012.

Those numbers belie the “terrific turmoil going on within the different varieties” in the industry, said Desmond O’Rourke, retired Washington State University agricultural economist and apple analyst in Pullman.

Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Cripps Pink and Gala, along with about a dozen proprietary varieties, are carrying the industry while Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonagold and Cameo tend to generate losses for growers but usually not for packing houses, O’Rourke said.

The proprietary, club or managed varieties are controlled by individual companies and are not open to all growers. Established club varieties including Jazz, Envy, Pacific Rose, Ambrosia, Kanzi, Kiku, Autumn Glory, Lady Alice, Pinata, Rave, Koru, Smitten and Opal each range from 50,000 to 2 million, 40-pound boxes annually in volume and are doing well while others are coming along, O’Rourke said.

“Honeycrisp is durable. No one figured it would get to 10 million boxes and still be selling at the price its selling,” he said.

Honeycrisp is estimated at 12.4 million boxes for 2017 and usually sells at $50 to $60 per box.

The industry is hopeful the new Cosmic Crisp apple will be a big money maker as it becomes established in 2020 and beyond.

The Oct. 13 report from the NASS Northwest regional office in Olympia lists milk in second place, after apples, at $1.1 billion, down 3 percent from 2015 and at its lowest value since 2010.

Potatoes moved up 5 percent and one place to third at a record high $813 million. Cattle and calves, valued at $704 million, fell one spot to fourth, down 17 percent.

Wheat completed the top five commodities at $657 million, up 9 percent.

The top five had a combined value of $5.68 billion, 53 percent of the total.

“The grain industry is still depressed because of global oversupply. So wheat growers are lucky to break even and I’m sure some of them aren’t,” O’Rourke said.

Livestock is also struggling in terms of prices, he said.

“The real strength of Washington agriculture is in high-value crops like hops, grapes, potatoes and cherries. Lentils and beans are on the upswing and berries continue to expand,” O’Rourke said.

Beside potatoes, hops and grapes reached record highs. Hops at $382 million, up 36 percent and grapes at $359 million, up 25 percent.

Other commodities outside the top 10 showed significant increases. Corn for grain production rose 43 percent to $98.9 million. Dry edible beans increased 78 percent to $82.6 million and lentils went up 54 percent to $26.6 million.

Four of the top 10 commodities declined in value from the previous year, including milk, cattle and calves, hay, and pears. Other notable commodities that declined in value in 2016 were eggs, down 65 percent to $117 million; blueberries, down 36 percent to $94.0 million; and red raspberries, down 24 percent to $67.6 million.

Washington is No. 1 in the nation in value of apples, pears, sweet cherries, Concord grapes, hops, spearmint oil, wrinkled seed peas and blueberries.

]]>
Another warm winter forecast for swath of the US http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20171019/another-warm-winter-forecast-for-swath-of-the-us http://www.capitalpress.com/Research/20171019/another-warm-winter-forecast-for-swath-of-the-us#Comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:21:01 -0400 SETH BORENSTEIN http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171019876 WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. forecasters say chances are good that much of the nation will have a warmer than normal winter. But it likely won’t be as toasty as the previous two winters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a warmer winter from California through the Midwest to Maine. Below-average temperatures are forecast for southern Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Tier states.

The report released Thursday predicts normal temperatures from Indiana to Idaho.

NOAA’s Mike Halpert says the southern U.S. is likely to be drier than normal, while the north from eastern Washington through the Great Lakes to upstate New York is likely to be wetter.

Halpert says the likely development of a La Nina weather event plays a role in the forecast.

]]>
California governor orders speedy recovery from wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171019/california-governor-orders-speedy-recovery-from-wildfires http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20171019/california-governor-orders-speedy-recovery-from-wildfires#Comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:17:31 -0400 JANIE HAR http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171019877 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order to speed up recovery as fire authorities say they’ve stopped the progress of wildfires that have killed at least 42 and destroyed thousands of homes in Northern California.

More people were allowed home and about 15,000 people remain evacuated Thursday, from a high of 100,000 on Saturday.

The wind-whipped fires that started Oct. 8 swept through parts of seven counties and is the deadliest and most destructive series of blazes in California history. The fires hit hard the wine country counties of Napa and Sonoma.

Brown issued an order Wednesday that allows disrupted wineries to relocate tasting rooms and suspends state fees for mobile home parks and manufactured homes.

The order extends the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies until April 2018 and expedites hiring of personnel for emergency and recovery operations.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said by Friday, crews should fully contain one of the wildfires that devastated Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa.

Other large fires will take longer, even with cooler temperatures and light rain forecast for Thursday.

“That rainfall will definitely be a welcome sight,” he said.

Meanwhile, crews continued to battle a blaze further south that broke out Monday night, sending smoke to the nearby college beach town of Santa Cruz and injuring seven firefighters.

It has grown to more than 300 acres and the number of houses under threat has doubled to 300. Seven firefighters sustained minor injuries, stymied by the steep and rugged terrain.

Northeast of Los Angeles, authorities say a charred body has been found on Mount Wilson, where crews working in steep terrain are trying to surround a smoldering wildfire.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Vincent Plair says the male body discovered late Wednesday was recovered by the coroner’s office, which will try to make an identification.

]]>
South Dakota man turns ranch into wildlife haven http://www.capitalpress.com/Outdoors/20171019/south-dakota-man-turns-ranch-into-wildlife-haven http://www.capitalpress.com/Outdoors/20171019/south-dakota-man-turns-ranch-into-wildlife-haven#Comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:13:47 -0400 NICK LOWREY Journal http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171019878 FORT PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — John Moisan is a hunter.

That fact becomes apparent when he looks out at the 640 acres of land he owns in Tripp County a few dozen miles south of Presho. Moisan sees the cuts and draws, the cattails and trees not as impediments to farming and cattle but as goldmines for pheasants, grouse and deer. Driving around his property in the back of a friend’s pickup, he points to the grass he’s planted as his proudest achievement, not the rows of sorghum that also thrive on his land.

Hunched over in an elevated box blind, surrounded by the early September sights, sounds and smells of a central South Dakota grassland, he pointed out where a friend killed a giant whitetail deer buck a year or two before. That hunter had been sitting in the same blind Moisan was in. That was beside the point though, he said, the fact is, that buck wouldn’t have been anywhere near the blind 15 years ago.

Back then, just about every square inch of the property had been covered in wheat stubble. From the soggiest draw to the windiest hill top, one plant had dominated the landscape. From time to time, a covey of prairie grouse could fly in to feed on the waste grain. A few mule deer also could be seen wandering through on occasion. But not much actually lived on the property, Moisan said.

When he first saw the property back in 2002, an eagle was giving the place a once over, too. Moisan took that as inspiration to buy the place and turn it into something special — a place to harbor and grow wild things. Having a place where he could hunt with his five children was one of the motivations that spurred his purchase of what he would come to call Eagle View Ranch.

“This is my way of giving back to nature,” Moisan told the Capital Journal .

Moisan grew up back in the soil bank days of the late 50s and early 60s, when pheasants were like locusts in their multitudes. Moisan lived with his mother and her parents on a small piece of ground near Watertown. His grandpa, an old market hunter who’d fought in World War I and spent World War II guiding military brass from the local air base on pheasant hunts, took him hunting when there was time.

Those were good days to be a budding hunter. Between 1958 and 1963, South Dakota’s pheasant population never fell below 7.5 million. Hunters annually took home between 2.2 and 3.2 million birds. Hunter success has never again reached such heights. So it is safe to say the young Moisan got plenty of hunting in before the soil bank era ended and the number of pheasants in South Dakota plunged from 10 million in 1963 to 5 million in 1964.

Moisan helped his grandparents and, in addition to developing his love for wildlife, he forged a deep connection to the land. He graduated high school and went on to college at the University of South Dakota where he joined the ROTC.

This was the early 1970s and the Vietnam War was still raging. Moisan became an artillery officer and served for a few years.

After his military career, Moisan returned to South Dakota and started working on a master’s degree. He spent a summer managing grasslands with the Corps of Engineers and learned a deeper respect for the land. His time working on the grassland also helped strengthen his desire to own some land.

Eventually, Moisan went to work for the State of South Dakota and moved to the Pierre area. He spent 30 years in state government. During that time, he raised five kids, trained many hunting dogs and developed many relationships with landowners all over the state who let his family and him hunt.

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, commercial pheasant hunting was becoming bigger business and finding private land to hunt was becoming harder and harder for Moisan to do. In 2002, his family came into some money.

The early 2000s were a transitional time in South Dakota agriculture. Corn was in the early stages of taking off as a major cash crop. Land values had yet to skyrocket in response to the ethanol boom and the rise in the price of corn that soon followed. Farm land was still reasonably affordable

At about that time, 640 acres of contiguous land in Tripp County came on the market. Nearly every square inch of the property was planted to wheat. There was just one small pasture to the northeast and it had routinely been grazed to the dirt.

“I saw it as a fixer-upper farm,” Moisan said.

It was a tremendous opportunity, Moisan thought. He and a business partner offered $400 per acre and eventually paid $412.40. Today, the price per acre for farm ground can run up to $2,500. It didn’t take long for Moisan to be confronted by just how tough restoring the newly christened Eagle View Ranch would be.

For more than 100 years, the family that owned the land had abused it. Wheat was about the only thing they’d grown there. Just about everywhere a plow could hit had been tilled. This included the tops of hills and the bottoms draws, places prone to erosion and flooding.

After a century of tillage and erosion from wind and rain, there wasn’t much more than a few inches of topsoil left on most of the farm. Gravel was exposed on the tops of hills.

There were old oil filters, fan belts and all manner of broken tractor parts sprinkled liberally across the landscape. Crumbling barns and other buildings filled what had been a farmyard and there was very little water anywhere on the farm. There wasn’t much in the way of wildlife, either.

“It was a hell of a mess,” Moisan said.

He and his partner hadn’t had nearly enough money to buy the place outright. There was a mortgage to pay and a hefty property tax bill to consider as well, Moisan said. So he needed a renter to produce a crop to help pay the mortgage and taxes. The guy he found wasn’t that great a farmer and largely kept doing what the previous owners had done.

“I lost $30,000 one year,” Moisan said.

In 2004, Moisan turned to the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays landowners to take land out of production and turn it into wildlife habitat, especially when the land’s soil is highly erodible. He learned about a program contained in the program called CP38, which is better known as State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement or SAFE. The idea is to put the least-productive portions of farm fields to better use as wildlife habitat.

Moisan heard about the program at a Pheasants Forever banquet in Pierre. The Farm Service Agency office in Tripp County, though, wasn’t familiar with it. Still they worked with Moisan to enroll 130 acres into the program.

He planted 42 acres of trees, totaling about 66,000 individual plants. The rest of that first 130 acres was planted to grass. Moisan’s renter was not happy about the change. Farming around the trees was going to make things a bit more difficult and the renter didn’t much care if the newly planted CRP acres hadn’t actually been producing a profitable crop.

Moisan was forced to part ways with that first renter after just a few years.

Moisan’s goal for Eagle View Ranch was to create a haven for wildlife, while at the same time making enough money to break even on the property financially. The plan revolved around planting 30 percent of the property to native grasses and enrolling it into CRP, keeping 30 percent of the property as farm ground and another 30 percent would be pasture land. The remaining acres would be used for stock dams, drainage basins and a few more manicured acres around the small mobile home and few remaining barns that made up the farmyard.

Moisan said he based his plan on a master’s degree thesis written by Emmett Keyser. The thesis focused on pheasant habitat requirements. Keyser’s thesis found that a mix of about one-third crop, one-third undisturbed grass and one-third disturbed grass was ideal for pheasant production.

Making his plan a reality was a tall order. One that would require an experienced, forward-thinking farmer and a thorough understanding of federal, state and privately funded conservation programs.

Understanding the conservation programs came only after countless hours of study and practice. What Moisan discovered was that the people who manage federal conservation programs at the county level often interpret the programs differently from each other. The end result is that the USDA officers in Tripp County will enforce different rules than their counterparts in Hughes County even if they’re working with the same program.

A big part of navigating federal conservation programs, Moisan discovered, was knowing more about what was available than those at his local FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service offices.

“One thing about NRCS offices in the area is that they don’t actively tell people about the programs available to them,” Moisan said.

Still, he was able to get 30 percent of his land enrolled into CRP. Moisan also was able to get a new dam built with the help of a cost share between the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and himself.

The work isn’t over once the land is enrolled either, Moison said. He spends a lot of time working with the FSA and NRCS offices in Tripp County to figure out what he can and can’t do to improve wildlife habitat on his property.

“The biggest hurdle I’ve seen was what the NRCS and what the FSA told me I could plant was really far apart,” Moisan said.

Last summer, for example, Moisan devised a plan to mow some of his CRP in irregular strips. The idea was to confound pheasant nest predators such as foxes, skunks and coyotes, while at the same time allowing his renter to take some much needed hay and meeting management goals included in the CRP contract. Moisan’s plan wasn’t accepted because the contract requires that mowing take place in blocks of no less than 10 acres. So, he had to go back to the drawing board.

Though Moisan was able to enroll the acres he needed into CRP, the crop portion of Eagle View Ranch’s operations proved harder to turn profitable. In 2010, when another renter parted ways with Moisan, the landowner was forced to find another farmer, this time he hoped to find someone who shared his vision. Or at least one that understood it.

The man Moisan needed turned out to be Mick Rowe. Rowe farmed over 1,000 acres in and around Tripp County and had embraced the practice of no-till farming. The idea behind no-till farming is to leave plenty of crop residue in the ground after harvesting. That leaves more organic matter in the ground and helps moisture make its way into the ground. Leaving the roots and stems in the dirt also has the important effect of reducing soil erosion.

Rowe said he picked the idea up from Dwayne Beck, who runs the Dakota Lakes Research Farm south of Pierre. Beck has been at the forefront of a revolution of sorts in dry land farming. Farmers from Kansas to Canada have implemented no-till and other farming practices Beck has pioneered.

It can take a few years but, eventually, no-till farming and a good crop rotation plan leads to healthier soil that in turn leads to better yields, with reduced need for such things as fertilizer. The increased moisture retention also helps crops such as corn and sorghum weather central South Dakota’s often dry climate. Rowe said it took him six years to break even on Moisan’s land.

“There’s just no topsoil,” Rowe said. “It’s all been eroded away.”

Rowe also has embraced modern technology. He’s started using satellite imagery to help him plant more efficiently in the spring and to help identify where and how to use chemicals, which ends up reducing the amount needed and, by extension, the cost of the chemicals. That translates into more money in his pocket and Moisan’s pocket.

That’s critical, Moisan said, because even with land enrolled in the CRP program, there’s no way he could afford to keep his ranch without profitable farm ground.

“The way I’ve got it setup now, the land pays for itself,” Moisan said.

Precision doesn’t come without some sacrifice, though. Rowe said he’s invested many thousands of dollars in both hardware and software.

It didn’t take long after Moisan started planting trees and grass for wildlife to respond. When his land was a desert of wheat stubble most of the year, the only birds he saw there were some grouse that commuted in for dinner in the afternoon. They weren’t really huntable in that situation.

After planting trees and grass on his marginal cropland, it took about three years before Moisan started seeing a difference in the number of pheasants on his land. By 2008, Moisan said, his sons and friends were able to harvest hundreds of birds in a season.

“The pheasant and grouse crop just exploded,” Moisan said.

He started letting people who asked to hunt on Eagle View Ranch provided they cleaned up after themselves. Moisan said if people who asked to hunt had kids and dogs with them they’d be even more likely to get permission to hunt.

“You could sit on the deck, have breakfast and 60 to 70 pheasants would walk across the yard,” Moisan said of the pheasant population on his property.

For four years, the hunting was incredible, Moisan said. Then, in 2012, the pheasant population tanked. Only a few birds were killed on Eagle View Ranch that year. In 2013, Moisan said he stopped hunting the property.

The birds still haven’t come back, he said, even though the habitat on his property is some of the best around.

“I just don’t understand that,” Moisan said. “If the wildlife comes back, I’ve got a five-star hotel with a sign out that says vacancy.”

Still, he’s proud of what he’s done with Eagle View Ranch.

“My goal is pretty much achieved,” Moisan said. “To be able to take a piece of dirt that had been abused for 100 years and turn it into something special, is priceless.”

]]>
Where&#x2019;s the buzz? German study finds dramatic insect decline http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20171019/wheres-the-buzz-german-study-finds-dramatic-insect-decline http://www.capitalpress.com/Livestock/20171019/wheres-the-buzz-german-study-finds-dramatic-insect-decline#Comments Thu, 19 Oct 2017 10:55:49 -0400 http://www.capitalpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2017171019879

BERLIN (AP) — The number of flying insects in Germany has been dropping at an “alarming” rate that could signal serious trouble for ecosystems and food chains in the future, scientists say.

According to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers using funnel-shaped traps at 63 sites across western Germany recorded a 76 percent decline in bug volume from 1989 to 2016. The midsummer loss during the 27-year-period was as high as 82 percent.

“The widespread insect biomass decline is alarming, ever more so as all traps were placed in protected areas that are meant to preserve ecosystem functions and biodiversity,” the authors said.

The drop in airborne insects over Germany was higher than the global estimated insect decline of 58 percent between 1970 and 2012.

The researchers, led by Caspar Hallmann of Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, said it was unclear why the numbers in Germany have declined so sharply, but concluded that neither landscape nor climate change are likely to be the cause.

Instead, they speculated that intensive agriculture and pesticide use may be to blame. They called for further research into the possible reasons for the decline, noting that flying insects play an important role in pollinating plants and are a source of food for birds, mammals and amphibians.

“There is an urgent need to uncover the causes of this decline, its geographical extent, and to understand the ramifications of the decline for ecosystems and ecosystem services,” the researchers said.

]]>