Campaign promotes fruits

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is using specialty crop grant funds to launch a culinary marketing campaign highlighting Oregon-grown and -processed fruit.

The campaign's centerpiece will be a privately funded cookbook through Arnica Publishing and Creative Services of Portland featuring Oregon's fruits and berries.

"We've seen a drop in production for several of our fruits and berries, and we'd like to turn that trend around," ODA Director Katy Coba said.

The marketing strategy includes fruit and berry promotions with national retail partners such as Costco, Fred Meyer, Safeway, New Seasons, Whole Foods and others.

The campaign will use $50,000 in federal specialty crop grant funds.

--Mitch Lies

EPA fines companies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited three companies for violating federal pesticide laws.

The J.R. Simplot Co. of Boise was fined $28,080 for producing pesticides in two unregistered facilities.

Simplot facilities in Grafton, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., previously were registered to produce pesticides and have since been registered, said Erin Halbert, a pesticide enforcement officer with EPA. But their registrations were inactive in 2008 when pesticides were produced at the facilities, Halbert said.

Facilities must be registered with EPA to produce, repackage or relabel pesticides.

Agricare of Amity, Ore., was cited $2,160 for a single case of producing a pesticide in an unregistered facility.

Northwest Agricultural Products of Pasco, Wash., was fined $1,280 for failing to submit yearly reports by deadline. Reports documenting the types and amounts of pesticides produced and distributed by a company are due March 1 of each year.

The company submitted its 2007 report on March 6 and its 2009 report on July 17, according to Halbert.

The companies have agreed to pay the settlements, Halbert said.

-- Mitch Lies

Tilth names new board members

Four new members have been elected to two-year terms on the 15-member board of Tilth Producers of Washington.

The 600-member, statewide, nonprofit organization promotes ecologically sound, economically viable and socially equitable farming practices to improve the health of communities and the natural environment.

The new board members are: James Haydu, director of communications and marketing, Pike Place Market Preservation Development Authority, Seattle; Cristina Alvarez Ruiz, Northwest Farm Credit Services and Alvarez Organic Farms, Yakima and Mabton; Taya Brown, student, WSU Organic Program, Pullman; and Gary Middleton, Middleton Organic Orchards, Eltopia.

-- Dan Wheat

Food-safety bill clears hurdle

Food-safety reform has cleared another hurdle in Congress despite opposition from small-scale and organic food groups who favor a two-track system that classifies them as lower-risk.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was approved by the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Nov. 18. The measure is expected to come to the full Senate for a vote sometime early next year.

The House passed its own version, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, in July.

Recalls in recent years of spinach, peanut butter and other food products are behind the push for a more rigorous food-safety system.

-- Dave Wilkins

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