News Feeds (RSS) ARTICLE Heat, smoke not expected to diminish Oregon potato harvest Potato farmers across Oregon are expecting solid yields and quality, despite intense heat and wildfire smoke during the growing season. Wed, 19 Sep 2018 16:50:38 -0400 George Plaven <p>Months of intense heat and smoky skies are not expected to diminish Oregon&#x2019;s potato crop, with farmers across the state predicting average to above-average yields heading into the bulk of harvest.</p><p>Bill Brewer, CEO of the Oregon Potato Commission, said the overall impact of wildfire smoke is yet to be determined in spuds, but he has not heard of any major setbacks or problems with quality.</p><p>Hot weather can be hard on certain potato varieties, such as Russet Burbank &#x2014; the gold standard for french fries &#x2014; though in general, Brewer said he anticipates a roughly average harvest statewide and good quality potatoes.</p><p>&#x201c;The higher heat during the summertime has been a bit of an issue, only on select varieties,&#x201d; Brewer said. &#x201c;So far, I have not heard any other negatives about other growing conditions.&#x201d;</p><p>About 70 percent of Oregon potatoes are grown in the Columbia Basin around Hermiston and Boardman. Potatoes ranked as the seventh-most valuable agricultural commodity in the state in 2017, raking in $176.9 million.</p><p>Marty Myers, general manager of Threemile Canyon Farms near Boardman, said the growing season got off to a good start with warm weather early in the spring. Crews began harvesting early season potatoes on July 10, and Myers said yields have generally been very good.</p><p>Threemile Canyon Farms grows 9,000 acres of mostly conventional and some organic russets, all for local food processors. Myers said it is still too early to tell if triple-digit heat and smoke in July and August has impacted full season potatoes. Harvest just began Sept. 12, and will likely run through Oct. 20-25.</p><p>&#x201c;Early season was very warm, and things looked pretty good,&#x201d; Myers said. &#x201c;Then summer heat comes in like it does every year and knocks us back a little bit. ... We always know it&#x2019;s going to get hot over the summer, and at periods we&#x2019;re going to have smoke.&#x201d;</p><p>Brewer said he believes the smoke does have an effect on potato production, blocking sunlight needed by the plants and possibly altering taste, but more research is needed to back up anecdotal evidence.</p><p>Dan Chin, who runs Chin Family Farms Organic outside Merrill in the Klamath Basin, said they were socked in by smoke from wildfires raging in southern Oregon and northern California for a solid month and a half.</p><p>&#x201c;A lot of times, you couldn&#x2019;t see more than a couple of miles, or a mile,&#x201d; Chin said. &#x201c;It was pretty intense.&#x201d;</p><p>However, Chin theorizes the smoke actually helped his potatoes this year by lowering the heat and causing the plants to put more energy into the tubers. He started harvesting Sept. 12, and said both size and quality are looking good. </p><p>&#x201c;Just looking at it last year and this year, we&#x2019;re seeing a little trend that the smoke didn&#x2019;t really hurt our sizing and yield as much as we thought it might,&#x201d; Chin said. &#x201c;As far as our crop is concerned, we&#x2019;re pretty happy with it.&#x201d;</p><p>That being said, Chin said they definitely do not want smoke every year, which makes it harder for employees to work outside.</p><p>Mark Ward, chairman of the Oregon Potato Commission, farms 160 acres of potatoes on the north edge of Baker City. He is targeting Sept. 24 to begin harvest, and like others, expects to see solid yields.</p><p>Ward exclusively supplies potatoes to Simplot for making french fries. He said this summer&#x2019;s heat, including five days of triple-digit temperatures, may increase the likelihood of sugar ends, a defect in potatoes that results in unappealing brown ends. </p><p>&#x201c;We won&#x2019;t know that until we deliver some potatoes,&#x201d; Ward said. &#x201c;If you were managing your water properly, you should be OK.&#x201d;</p><p>The Baker Valley also experienced 10 days of smoke so thick the surrounding Elkhorn Mountains couldn&#x2019;t be seen, Ward said, which may affect potato yields, though he does not see it being a tremendous problem.</p><p>&#x201c;Just what I&#x2019;ve seen doing our little hand-digs, they look good,&#x201d; Ward said.</p> 2018-09-19 16:50 -04:00 2018-09-19 15:50 -05:00 ARTICLE Trustee to take over management of troubled dairies Greg te Velde will lose control of his three dairies, including Lost Valley Farm in Oregon, after a bankruptcy judge ruled he will appoint a trustee for the operations. Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:28:45 -0400 George Plaven <p>A bankruptcy judge in California will appoint a trustee to operate Lost Valley Farm, Oregon&#x2019;s second-largest dairy, after finding owner Greg te Velde is &#x201c;unwilling, or unable to comply with his duties as a fiduciary.&#x201d;</p><p>The ruling, handed down Sept. 12, states te Velde has continued his long-standing pattern of drug use and gambling while owing creditors $160 million &#x2014; including $68 million to Rabobank, a Netherlands-based agricultural lender.</p><p>In addition to Lost Valley Farm near Boardman, te Velde will lose control of his two dairies in California &#x2014; GJ te Velde Ranch in Tipton, and Pacific Rim Dairy in Corcoran &#x2014; with a combined total of 53,382 cattle.</p><p>When reached Friday, te Velde said he had no comment on the ruling.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Justice asked Judge Frederick Clement to appoint a trustee for all three of te Velde&#x2019;s dairies, citing his alleged drug use, gambling and lack of financial transparency. Since filing for bankruptcy, te Velde has continued to use methamphetamine two or three times per week and has gambled away $2,000 to $7,000 per month, according to court documents.</p><p>Te Velde has blamed his financial problems not on his lifestyle, but rather on market forces outside his control, such as low milk prices and construction cost overruns at Lost Valley. But creditors in court papers say they believe that &#x201c;darker forces have caused his insolvency, or if not the cause, preclude te Velde from effectively resolving his debt problems.&#x201d;</p><p>Te Velde also does not abide by the orders of the bankruptcy court, Clement stated in his ruling. For example, after declaring bankruptcy, te Velde borrowed $205,000 from Pasco Farms without court approval. Between May 8 and June 2, te Velde was authorized to personally withdraw $10,000, but instead took $38,420, explaining he was &#x201c;unaccustomed to personal bank accounts, took the cash he needed, and authorized his bookkeeper to pay his personal bills from the dairy accounts.&#x201d;</p><p>Lost Valley Farm opened in April 2017 after receiving a wastewater management permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Agriculture, which jointly manage the state&#x2019;s confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, program.</p><p>Almost immediately, the dairy began racking up permit violations, including 32 infractions related to waste storage between June 28, 2017 and May 9, 2018. The state attempted to revoke the permit in June, though a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled in August that Lost Valley Farm could stay in operation while te Velde and regulators worked out an agreement to get the dairy back in compliance.</p><p>Lost Valley is within the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area, established by DEQ in 1990 for elevated levels of groundwater nitrates. A spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture said regulators continue to inspect the facility routinely, and have conducted 11 inspections since June 1.</p><p>Meanwhile, te Velde also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April after Rabobank sought to sell the Lost Valley herd to repay debts. Lost Valley has 10,500 dry and milking cows, along with 4,000 replacement heifers. The dairy is permitted for up to 30,000 animals.</p> 2018-09-14 16:28 -04:00 2018-09-14 15:28 -05:00 ARTICLE Oregon&#x2019;s &#x2018;extreme drought&#x2019; triples in size Drought intensifies in Oregon and Washington Fri, 07 Sep 2018 17:37:28 -0400 Don JenkinsEO Media Group <p>Drought intensified in Oregon and Washington over the previous week, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week.</p><p>The percentage of Oregon gripped in &#x201c;extreme drought&#x201d; more than tripled to nearly 22 percent. In Washington, the percentage of the state in &#x201c;severe drought&#x201d; nearly tripled to 17 percent from 6.</p><p>A drier than normal winter and a warm and dry summer have caused problems in much of the West, according to a statement from the Drought Monitor.</p><p>&#x201c;This was most notable in Oregon, where the combination of a poor winter snowpack and a hot and dry summer have produced widespread poor pasture and range conditions and very low stream flows and livestock ponds, and required water hauling, supplemental hay and delayed forest harvesting, along with reduced livestock herds,&#x201d; according to the statement.</p><p>The Drought Monitor is a partnership between the USDA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The four categories of drought in order of severity are moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.</p><p>Oregon and Washington have both had dry and warm summers. Drought conditions are more widespread and severe in Oregon because Washington had a wetter winter, according to the Drought Monitor.</p><p>The portion of Oregon in some stage of drought remained steady at 93 percent, but more areas on both sides of the state went from severe to extreme drought.</p><p>Ranchers in southwestern Oregon reported there was not enough water in creeks to run irrigation pumps and that livestock was moved off pastures because of low springs and ponds, the USDA reported in a weekly crop report.</p><p>Milder temperatures eased some of the drought stress. The cooler but still dry weather benefited ripening wine grapes and tree fruit, according to USDA.</p><p>More than half of Washington fell into some stage of drought for the first time this year. The percentage of the state in drought increased to 54 percent from 46 percent. All of Western Washington is in drought. Drought is most severe in the South Puget Sound area and southwest Washington. The entire state is at least &#x201c;abnormally dry.&#x201d;</p><p>&#x201c;Those who have irrigation have been running day and night. Those without have stressed crops with reduced yield,&#x201d; according to USDA&#x2019;s crop report for Washington.</p><p>Drought conditions are less severe in Idaho and California and were little changed from the week before.</p><p>Some 30 percent of Idaho is some stage of drought, mostly modest drought. Some 48 percent of California is in drought, again mostly moderate drought.</p><p>NOAA reported Thursday that this year&#x2019;s meteorological summer, June through August, in the U.S. was the fourth hottest on record, tying 1934. Records date back 124 years. The summer was the 20th wettest. The Great Plains and East Coast had above-average rainfall, according to NOAA.</p><p>Oregon had its ninth warmest and 24th driest meteorological summer, while Washington had its 13th warmest and 11th driest.</p> 2018-09-07 17:37 -04:00 2018-09-07 16:37 -05:00 ARTICLE USDA approves emergency grazing, cover crops in north-central Oregon USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced relief for farmers and ranchers affected by wildfires that burned earlier this summer in Wasco and Sherman counties. Thu, 06 Sep 2018 18:09:14 -0400 George Plaven <p>Help is on the way for farmers and ranchers in north-central Oregon who lost tens of thousands of acres of cropland in a series of large wildfires that swept through the region earlier this summer.</p><p>The USDA on Wednesday approved emergency grazing for affected ranchers on Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, land through Sept. 30. Officials with the Risk Management Agency will also allow summer fallow wheat growers to plant cover crops in burned areas to prevent soil erosion, without affecting their crop insurance.</p><p>The relief comes at the behest of Oregon congressional leaders, including Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Republican Rep. Greg Walden, whose district covers Wasco and Sherman counties where the fires raged in July and August.</p><p>USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the measures in a letter sent to Walden on Sept. 5. Perdue said the agency is compiling reported losses to determine if they will declare a federal disaster statewide.</p><p>According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland, Oregon has experienced 1,680 fires burning 762,959 acres in 2018. The 10-year average from 2006 to 2017 is 2,400 fires burning 733,019 acres, meaning this year&#x2019;s fires are fewer, but larger on average, than they were over the past decade.</p><p>In a statement, Walden said fires have not only impact forests and choked communities with smoke, but also devastated farmers and ranchers &#x2014; especially in Wasco and Sherman counties, where some producers lost some or nearly all of their crops.</p><p>&#x201c;I applaud Secretary Perdue&#x2019;s prompt approval of my request to get our farmers and ranchers the assistance they need to get back on their feet after these fires,&#x201d; Walden said.</p><p>Large fires in the region include the Substation fire, which started July 17 and torched 78,425 acres. The Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates the fire impacted 31,000 acres of cropland and standing wheat over 86 farms in both Wasco and Sherman counties. One farmer, 64-year-old John Ruby of Wasco County, also died while fighting the fire, digging a firebreak to protect his neighbor&#x2019;s property.</p><p>The Long Hollow fire started just nine days later, consuming another 33,451 acres south of Dufur. Finally, the South Valley fire started Aug. 1, adding another 20,026 acres. All three fires were either confirmed or likely human-caused.</p><p>A major concern now is preventing soil erosion on the blackened landscape. Farmers were encouraged to plant cover crops, but since wheat is normally grown in a summer fallow rotation, producers worried it would put them under &#x201c;continuous production&#x201d; under their crop insurance.</p><p>Perdue said the Risk Management Agency, which regulates crop insurance, will make changes to accommodate growing cover crops on affected acres for the 2020 crop year.</p><p>Additionally, ranchers who lost rangeland for their livestock will have the ability to graze animals on land enrolled in CRP, a program where the federal government pays farmers to take environmentally sensitive land out of agricultural production for 10-15 years.</p><p>Both Sens. Wyden and Merkley released statements saying they will continue to work toward helping farmers and ranchers recover from fires. The Oregon Farm Bureau thanked the senators in its statement, adding, &#x201c;The ability to plant cover crop and still be compliant with farm bill programs is critical.&#x201d;</p><p>Wes Jennings, farm program chief for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Oregon, encouraged any farmer or rancher affected by the wildfires to contact their local county FSA office to learn about what resources may be available.</p><p>&#x201c;Everybody is so diverse and unique in their operation, a program might fit one person and not fit another person,&#x201d; Jennings said.</p> 2018-09-06 18:09 -04:00 2018-09-06 17:09 -05:00 ARTICLE Umatilla County OKs agricultural burning (for a few days) PENDLETON &#x2014; Umatilla County farmers can burn fields until Saturday. The county board of commissioners approved a temporary lift to agricultural burning effective noon Wednesday.The county board of commissioners discussed the ban Tuesday during a meeting with department heads. Commissioners George Murdock and Larry Givens said farmers asked if the county could lift the ban. Gina Miller, county code enforcement director and liaison to the smoke management program, reiterated that... Wed, 05 Sep 2018 14:48:46 -0400 <p>PENDLETON &#x2014; Umatilla County farmers can burn fields until Saturday. The county board of commissioners approved a temporary lift to agricultural burning effective noon Wednesday.</p><p>The county board of commissioners discussed the ban Tuesday during a meeting with department heads. Commissioners George Murdock and Larry Givens said farmers asked if the county could lift the ban. Gina Miller, county code enforcement director and liaison to the smoke management program, reiterated that point Wednesday morning during the board&#x2019;s regular meeting. </p><p>&#x201c;We&#x2019;ve had several requests from local farmers who need to get some fields taken care of to get their new crops in the ground by mid-September,&#x201d; Miller said.</p><p>Other local jurisdictions have not lifted their burn bans, she said, and the county&#x2019;s ban on ag burning would again go into effect Saturday due to the Pendleton Round-Up, then lift again after Round-Up. The temporary removal of the ban allows local farmers a few days to burn fields, she said.</p><p>The county board approved the plan. </p><p>Miller said burn day protocol still is in effect. Farmers and other residents who want to burn have to check the county website for daily burn determinations at <a href=""></a> or call the county burn line at 541-278-6397. You also can find burn day determinations on Facebook at <a href="">Umatilla County Smoke Management</a>.</p><p>The county&#x2019;s non-ag burn ban remains in effect. The county usually allows non-ag burning to resume in October.</p> 2018-09-05 14:48 -04:00 2018-09-05 13:48 -05:00 ARTICLE Lawsuit against Westland Irrigation District dismissed A lawsuit against the Westland Irrigation District by several patrons has been dismissed. Tue, 04 Sep 2018 18:14:16 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group <p>A judge has rejected several Umatilla Basin farmers&#x2019; allegations that they&#x2019;ve been cheated out of water, ruling that the Westland Irrigation District properly allocated water.</p><p>At the conclusion of an Aug. 30 hearing in Hermiston, Baker County Circuit Court Judge Greg Baxter dismissed a lawsuit filed against the district by the plaintiffs, ELH LLC, Oregon Hereford Ranch LLC, Paul Gelissen, Maurice and Lucy Ziemer, Craig and Cynthia Parks and Richard and Kristine Carpenter. Baxter presided over the case because judges in Umatilla County had recused themselves.</p><p>&#x201c;It validates the way they&#x2019;ve been distributing water,&#x201d; said Nicole Hancock, the irrigation district&#x2019;s attorney.</p><p>Mike Haglund, attorney for the plaintiffs, said his clients plan to appeal the decision, which essentially holds that Oregon&#x2019;s &#x201c;prior appropriations&#x201d; water rights doctrine doesn&#x2019;t apply to irrigation districts.</p><p>&#x201c;We think he&#x2019;s dead wrong on his legal conclusion,&#x201d; Haglund said.</p><p>The complaint filed against Westland Irrigation District in 2016 claimed that smaller growers with senior water rights had been deprived of water to benefit larger operations with junior rights.</p><p>However, the judge found the district&#x2019;s system of distributing water was lawful and that the plaintiffs&#x2019; claims were regardless time-barred by the statute of limitations, said Hancock.</p><p>&#x201c;The judge made a very solid factual legal ruling,&#x201d; Hancock said, adding that she&#x2019;s confident the decision would survive a potential appeal. &#x201c;The plaintiffs never had a viable claim that could gain any traction.&#x201d;</p><p>The irrigation district wants to rebuild its relationship with the plaintiffs and do its best to represent the interests of all patrons, she said.</p><p>Haglund, the plaintiffs&#x2019; attorney, said the irrigation district pushed water to all the acres it served on a equal basis, which meant that senior water rights owners were forced to stop irrigating instead of having a longer season.</p><p>According to the plaintiffs, the district had consistently ignored and failed to account for the &#x201c;priority dates&#x201d; of senior water rights holders when distributing water from the Umatilla River and the McKay Reservoir.</p><p>Instead, the district&#x2019;s policy has been to distribute as much water to the maximum acreage possible while disregarding the &#x201c;first in time, first in right&#x201d; principle of Oregon water law, the plaintiffs claimed.</p><p>The plaintiffs requested that the judge nullify contracts that allow a &#x201c;select group of farmers&#x201d; to use water they allegedly have no right to divert.</p><p>The irrigation district called these claims &#x201c;frivolous&#x201d; and argued the plaintiffs ignored case law that recognizes irrigation districts are &#x201c;created for the purpose of sharing resources and risk.&#x201d;</p><p>Plaintiffs in the case have never been deprived of water while junior water rights holders continued to irrigate, and they wrongly claim that irrigation districts lack discretion over when and how water is allocated, the district said.</p> 2018-09-04 18:14 -04:00 2018-09-04 17:14 -05:00 ARTICLE Judge backs Lost Valley dairy&#x2019;s wastewater remedies Court rejects Oregon Department of Agriculture&#x2019;s request to halt wastewater production. Thu, 30 Aug 2018 17:48:38 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group <p>PORTLAND &#x2014; A judge has sided with a troubled Boardman dairy&#x2019;s remedies for violating a settlement deal over wastewater management.</p><p>Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Skye agreed on Aug. 30 to a proposal by Lost Valley Farm to increase storage space in its manure lagoons by recycling its wastewater.</p><p>The Oregon Department of Agriculture had requested that the facility be required to scrape manure from dairy barns rather than wash it away, which the agency argued would be accomplished more simply and quickly.</p><p>&#x201c;We think it&#x2019;s achievable on a short timeline,&#x201d; said Nina Englander, an attorney representing Oregon&#x2019;s farm regulators.</p><p>Elizabeth Howard, the dairy&#x2019;s attorney, argued that scraping barns would create manure piles with the potential for further water quality problems.</p><p>&#x201c;There are a lot of opportunities there for incidental discharges,&#x201d; she said. &#x201c;We don&#x2019;t want to be going backwards. We don&#x2019;t want to be having more discharges.&#x201d;</p><p>A week earlier, the judge found the dairy&#x2019;s owner, Greg te Velde, in contempt of court for violating a judgment requiring the facility to maintain at least 75 acre feet of manure storage capacity at the site.</p><p>However, Skye did not agree to ODA&#x2019;s request to sanction the dairy by halting all wastewater production, effectively putting it out of business.</p><p>Aside from allowing the dairy to recycle wastewater, the judge also agreed with its proposal to install multiple flow meters to measure wastewater production.</p><p>The dairy will also be required to install a weather station at the site, among other conditions.</p><p>The judge warned te Velde that the consequences would be harsher if the wastewater recycling doesn&#x2019;t create enough storage in manure lagoons, results in leaks or causes other issues.</p><p>&#x201c;If I allow it to do it your way, I&#x2019;m probably going to be harder on you,&#x201d; she said.</p><p>The dairy has until Oct. 5 to switch to recycling wastewater and to have a plan for installing flow meters. </p><p>It must also have at least 75 acre-feet of storage capacity in its lagoons by Nov. 6 or face the possibility of a reduction in its herd size.</p><p>&#x201c;We can&#x2019;t just allow this to go out of compliance all winter,&#x201d; Skye said.</p><p>The ODA had wanted the dairy to stop producing all wastewater if it doesn&#x2019;t live up to the remedies, since the agency is &#x201c;at the end of its rope.&#x201d;</p><p>&#x201c;A big hammer has historically been necessary to get any movement,&#x201d; said Englander.</p><p>However, the judge said she preferred to scale down the herd size so the dairy could demonstrate its methods are effective at improving wastewater management.</p><p>Lost Valley Farm has repeatedly been cited by ODA for spills and other violations of its &#x201c;confined animal feeding operation&#x201d; permit since it began operating in April 2017.</p><p>The agency fined the dairy more than $10,000 and sought a temporary restraining order to shut the facility down, resulting in the settlement deal over wastewater in March.</p><p>The ODA then sought a contempt of court order for te Velde, arguing he had willfully disregarded the agreement.</p> 2018-08-30 17:48 -04:00 2018-08-30 16:48 -05:00 ARTICLE Calendar contest draws on Oregon&#x2019;s bounty A pair of local students were among the 13 winners of the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation annual calendar art contest.Elizabeth Finch of Heppner Elementary School and Andrew Kubishta of Helix Elementary School, who are both entering fifth grade, were recognized during an Aug. 26 reception at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. The artwork of the two local winners were among more than 2,000 entries submitted in the statewide contest.With more than 200... Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:35:18 -0400 Tammy Malgesini <p>A pair of local students were among the 13 winners of the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation annual calendar art contest.</p><p>Elizabeth Finch of Heppner Elementary School and Andrew Kubishta of Helix Elementary School, who are both entering fifth grade, were recognized during an Aug. 26 reception at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. The artwork of the two local winners were among more than 2,000 entries submitted in the statewide contest.</p><p>With more than 200 agriculture-related commodities across the state, students had a wide variety of subjects to choose from. In addition to having their artwork included in the calender, the winners also received a $50 award and a certificate. The artwork is on display through Monday at the fairgrounds in Salem.</p><p>Although unable to attend the reception, Kubishta was honored for his entry depicting luscious blueberries. Using crayon, pencil and colored pencils, his artwork also features bold and colorful lettering with the words &#x201c;Oregon Grown.&#x201d;</p><p>Drawing on her creativity and familiar sites in Morrow County, Finch&#x2019;s submission features a horse herding cattle.</p><p>&#x201c;I chose the scene because it is one of the commodities of Heppner,&#x201d; she said. &#x201c;A lot of people have cattle.&#x201d;</p><p>Sue Gibbs, Finch&#x2019;s teacher, also attended the reception. This was the first year she worked with students to enter the contest. The activity, Gibbs said, complimented &#x201c;Get Oregonized,&#x201d; AITC curriculum materials purchased by The Oregon Potato Commission for her classroom.</p><p>&#x201c;I enjoy using hands-on materials and the flexibility it gives me to teach the standards,&#x201d; she said. &#x201c;The students love the activities and learn so much about agriculture in our state.&#x201d;</p><p>The timing of the calendar contest, Gibbs said, was perfect because students were able to use what they learned over the course of the year to create an entry.</p><p>Jessica Jansen, AITC executive director, agreed that the calendar contest is a great project for both teachers and students. </p><p>&#x201c;It gives them an opportunity to teach and discuss about the bounty and beauty of Oregon agriculture and incorporate art in their classrooms,&#x201d; she said.</p><p>Sponsored annually by the foundation, the calendar contest celebrates Oregon&#x2019;s agricultural and natural resource goods. In addition to student artwork, the calendar includes facts about Oregon agriculture. Copies of the 2018-19 school-year calendar are free for teachers. The public can purchase one for $4 at</p><p>A nonprofit organization, AITC is dedicated to increasing knowledge of Oregon&#x2019;s agriculture, environmental and natural resources. It provides free educational resources to Oregon educators to support the integration of agricultural themes into academic subjects. For more information, visit</p><p>&#x2014;&#x2014;&#x2014;</p><p><em>Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at or 541-564-4539.</em></p> 2018-08-29 16:35 -04:00 2018-08-29 15:35 -05:00 ARTICLE Judge rules Lost Valley Farm can stay in operation Ruling finds dairy&#x2019;s owner violated agreement on wastewater management, but orders less-drastic remedies to bring it into compliance. Fri, 24 Aug 2018 17:55:28 -0400 Mateusz PerkowskiEO Media Group <p>A controversial Boardman dairy will not be shut down despite violating a settlement agreement with farm regulators over wastewater management.</p><p>Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Skye has asked attorneys for the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Lost Valley Farm to come up with less drastic remedies that will get the facility into regulatory compliance.</p><p>&#x201c;I&#x2019;m not inclined to order an immediate shutdown of wastewater,&#x201d; Skye said at a court hearing in Portland on Friday.</p><p>However, the judge did find that Greg te Velde, the dairy&#x2019;s owner, had willfully violated his deal with ODA to maintain enough wastewater storage capacity.</p><p>As a &#x201c;lifelong dairyman,&#x201d; te Velde &#x201c;should know what it takes to get his dairy into compliance&#x201d; with regulations, Skye said.</p><p>A follow-up hearing on remedies for the violation has been scheduled for Aug. 30.</p><p>Oregon farm regulators had asked a judge to order Lost Valley to stop generating wastewater, which would effectively shut down the facility.</p><p>During the court hearing, the former farm manager of Lost Valley Farm testified that he quit on moral grounds after being asked to unlawfully spread wastewater to a field.</p><p>Jedediah Aylett said he resigned his position from Lost Valley Farm because he was concerned the facility wasn&#x2019;t complying with its &#x201c;confined animal feeding operation&#x201d; permit.</p><p>The Oregon Department of Agriculture called Aylett as a witness against Greg te Velde, the dairy&#x2019;s owner, who is accused of contempt of court for violating a settlement deal with the agency.</p><p>&#x201c;The stuff he was doing wasn&#x2019;t legal, wasn&#x2019;t right,&#x201d; said Aylett during an Aug. 24 court hearing in Portland. &#x201c;I did not want to be involved.&#x201d;</p><p>According to Aylett, te Velde requested that he apply wastewater to a center pivot-irrigated field that was already saturated, risking contamination of groundwater with nitrogen.</p><p>&#x201c;He asked me to just pick a circle and he would take the fall for that circle if we over-applied,&#x201d; Aylett said.</p><p>Other witnesses defended the dairy&#x2019;s performance and refuted allegations by ODA, which wants to shut the facility down.</p><p>A retired Oregon State University animal science professor, Mike Gamroth, cast doubt on claims of excessive water usage at the dairy.</p><p>Since starting operations in 2017, the second-largest dairy in Oregon has been cited repeatedly for wastewater problems by ODA, which led to the lawsuit.</p><p>Under the settlement deal Lost Valley reached with ODA in March, the facility must limit its water usage to 65,000 gallons per day.</p><p>The agency now alleges that te Velde has committed contempt of court by exceeding the agreed-upon amount by up to 375,000 gallons per day, thereby contributing to wastewater management problems at the site.</p><p>To sanction the dairy, ODA is requesting that a judge order the facility to stop generating wastewater, which would effectively shut it down.</p><p>During the court hearing, Gamroth &#x2014; a retired OSU professor with extensive experience in the dairy industry &#x2014; said he doubted ODA&#x2019;s estimates of water usage.</p><p>Gamroth testified that he doesn&#x2019;t see how hundreds of thousands of additional gallons could be used without a glaringly obvious &#x201c;Olympic size swimming pool&#x201d; of excess water at the facility.</p><p>&#x201c;I can&#x2019;t find where that water goes, I really can&#x2019;t,&#x201d; Gamroth said.</p><p>One factor that could figure into ODA&#x2019;s estimate is an inaccurate water meter that varies in its flow rate and total usage data, he said.</p><p>&#x201c;It&#x2019;s simply not realistic, and it&#x2019;s got to relate to that meter,&#x201d; he said.</p><p>State officials also based their estimate on the changing levels of water in manure lagoons, which are difficult to measure, Gamroth said.</p><p>A variation of just one inch in lagoon levels equates to 160,000 gallons of water, he said. &#x201c;I don&#x2019;t have confidence in those measurements, basically.&#x201d;</p><p>Gamroth said he has probably visited every dairy in Oregon and does not believe Lost Valley Farm&#x2019;s water usage is abnormally large.</p><p>&#x201c;I don&#x2019;t see any difference for a dairy of that size,&#x201d; he said.</p><p>Similar conditions exist at other dairies, for which they haven&#x2019;t been cited, Gamroth said.</p><p>&#x201c;I think it&#x2019;s a fairly clean dairy. Compliance issues are quite minor in most cases,&#x201d; he said.</p><p>Overflow problems have been &#x201c;minor,&#x201d; wastewater storage is no longer a problem and the facility poses no greater environmental risk than other dairies, Gamroth said.</p><p>During cross-examination by the state&#x2019;s attorney, Lisa DeFever, Gamroth acknowledged that he submitted a declaration in Lost Valley&#x2019;s bankruptcy proceedings in May stating that the facility used nearly an acre foot of water per day, or roughly 320,000 gallons.</p><p>DeFever said the dairy hasn&#x2019;t properly tested the nitrogen content of wastewater applied to fields, potentially causing groundwater contamination.</p><p>She also said the facility&#x2019;s manure storage problems will likely resume once summer is over, which will &#x201c;come back and bite us&#x201d; when the rainy season begins.</p><p>&#x201c;We will end up with them in the winter full and overflowing,&#x201d; DeFever said.</p> 2018-08-24 17:55 -04:00 2018-08-24 16:55 -05:00 ARTICLE It&#x2019;s about time: 14 historic Oregon farms honored 12 century, 2 sesquicentennial farms gain special recognition. Wed, 22 Aug 2018 21:56:00 -0400 Desiree BergstromEO Media Group <p>Founded in 1852, seven years before Oregon became a state, a farm in Saint Paul is continuing to build on its legacy as a family operation.</p><p>Mullen Farms is one of two sesquicentennial farms designated this year by the Oregon Century Farm and Ranch Program along with 12 century farms. The sesquicentennial award recognizes families who have continuously farmed some or all of their original family acreage for 150 years or more. Farms designated century farms have been in continuous operation 100 years.</p><p>&#x201c;We are definitely a family farm,&#x201d; said Jerry Mullen, great-great grandson of one of the farm&#x2019;s founders, Patrick Mullen.</p><p>Through the years, it has been important to every generation to keep the farm going and in the family, Mullen said. Mullen never knew his dad, who died when Mullen was two years old, but Mullen spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Charles S. Mullen Sr., who taught him about the farm.</p><p>On the property is a house where Mullen&#x2019;s grandfather was born and lived for 101 years.</p><p>&#x201c;It was important to my granddad especially that we kept the farm together,&#x201d; Mullen said. </p><p>Mullen recalled growing up on the farm mentioning how they had their own pigs, dairy and granary. &#x201c;I grew up with all that to self-sustain and then grow enough to make some cash,&#x201d; Mullen said.</p><p>Over time the farm has grown from 150 to 1,300 acres as the Mullen family has added other farms and land to the business. They now grow mainly seed crops and hazelnuts.</p><p>The other sesquicentennial farm honored this year is the Robinson Stillwell Taggart Farm in Dayton in Yamhill County. It was founded in 1844 when Benjamin and Elizabeth Robinson came to the Oregon territory on a wagon train.</p><p>The farm is still in the family, though pieces of it were sold off during the Depression.</p><p>&#x201c;(The farm) has been a source of pride for our family for generations,&#x201d; said John Taggart, current owner of the farm. </p><p>Also on the list are 12 newly designated century farms, including two from Umatilla County and one from Morrow County:</p><p>&#x2022; Howard-Allstott Ranch in Umatilla County was founded by William Howard in 1884, when the homestead claim was approved. The ranch was eventually passed down throughout the generations to Richard and Dorothy Howard Allstott, the great granddaughter of the founder.</p><p>&#x2022; The Rockwell-Doherty farm was founded in 1906 by Seth and Sarah Rockwell in Umatilla County near Pilot Rock. The farm has seen many different uses through the years, including fruit orchards, raising horses and growing irrigated wheat, pasture grass and alfalfa. Richard Doherty now runs it for the family.</p><p>&#x2022; Brown Farm, in Morrow County, goes back to 1912 when Chris P. Brown, an immigrant from Denmark, purchased 350 acres to grow wheat in the Willow Creek drainage northwest of Heppner. His grandson and his grandson&#x2019;s wife, Chris E. and Kathy Brown, currently run the operation. </p><p>&#x2022; Sandoz farm was founded in 1880 in Wasco County by three brothers, Alphonse, Arnold and Charles Sandoz. They grew root vegetables, fruit trees and grapes. Ted, Charles Lee and Mary Sandoz are the third generation and operate a farmstand where they sell USDA beef and pork along with fruit, vegetables and other products.</p><p>The awards ceremony for the century and sesquicentennial farms will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Oregon State Fair picnic grove area.</p><p>The Oregon Century Farm and Ranch Program is administered by the Oregon Farm Bureau Foundation for Education. It is supported by a partnership among the Oregon Farm Bureau, the State Historic Preservation Office, OSU University Archives and by generous donations of Oregonians.</p><p>For information, contact Andr&#xe9;a Kuenzi, program coordinator, at 503-400-7884 or</p><p>The application deadline for 2019 is May 1.</p> 2018-08-22 21:56 -04:00 2018-08-22 20:56 -05:00 ARTICLE Northwest wheat to fight hunger in Yemen The U.S. Agency for International Development has purchased 200,000 tons of Northwest wheat that will be sent to Yemen, where citizens are facing the largest food security emergency in the world. Mon, 13 Aug 2018 09:51:41 -0400 George Plaven <p>Seven ships loaded with soft white wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest are bound for Yemen in the Middle East to feed millions of people on the brink of famine in the war-torn country.</p><p>The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, purchased roughly 200,000 tons of wheat &#x2014; enough to feed 7 million people in Yemen for two months &#x2014; and is working with the United Nations World Food Program to distribute the shipments.</p><p>Officials gathered for a press conference Friday outside the historic Albers Mill in Portland to announce the humanitarian mission. Stephen Anderson, Yemen country leader for the World Food Program, said the wheat will provide much-needed relief to the country, where nearly 18 million people require emergency food assistance, according to the UN.</p><p>&#x201c;We&#x2019;re doing our best to get food assistance to those people who need it most,&#x201d; Anderson said. &#x201c;The situation in Yemen unfortunately does not show signs of improvement right now.&#x201d;</p><p>Yemen has been mired in conflict since 2015 between the country&#x2019;s government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and Houthi separatists. The republic, which imports 90 percent of its food, is now suffering the world&#x2019;s largest food security emergency.</p><p>USAID has spent more than $550 million on emergency food assistance in Yemen since the beginning of fiscal year 2017, sending U.S. wheat, peas, vegetable oil and food vouchers to UN agencies and non-governmental organizations fighting hunger overseas.</p><p>Anderson, with the World Food Program, said the situation on the ground in Yemen is complex, but with support from U.S. farmers, they are getting aid to between 6-7 million people every month.</p><p>&#x201c;I think today we&#x2019;re forming a partnership to help fight hunger together,&#x201d; Anderson said.</p><p>Darren Padget, a wheat farmer in Grass Valley and a member of the Oregon Wheat Commission, was on hand for Friday&#x2019;s event. He said growers take pride in knowing they are helping to feed the world, especially in areas where food is scarce.</p><p>&#x201c;It&#x2019;s what we do, is feed people&#x201d; Padget said. &#x201c;To see it going to people who are truly in need, it makes you feel good, and gives you another reason to get up in the morning and go to work.&#x201d;</p><p>Oregon farmers grow up to 75 million bushels of mostly soft white wheat per year. About 85-90 percent of the crop is shipped overseas.</p><p>Rep. Mike McLane, Oregon House Republican Leader and a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, grew up surrounded by wheat fields in Condon. He said he is proud of U.S. humanitarian efforts and pleased that Oregon wheat is doing its part.</p><p>&#x201c;If you are blessed with bounty, you should share it,&#x201d; McLane said. &#x201c;And we here in Oregon are blessed with bounty.&#x201d;</p><p>Finally, Mohamed Alyajouri, a first-generation immigrant from Yemen, spoke about the need for emergency relief back in his home country, where many of his family members still remain.</p><p>Alyajouri, who works as a health care administrator for Oregon Health and Science University, came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. He is the first Yemeni-American elected to public office in Oregon, serving on the Portland Community College Board of Trustees. </p><p>Though Oregon is now home, Alyajouri said Yemen will forever be in his heart. He said he was &#x201c;overjoyed&#x201d; to hear local wheat was on its way to assist the Yemeni people.</p><p>&#x201c;I&#x2019;m excited for the future and opportunities to build many more bridges between Oregon and Yemen,&#x201d; he said.</p> 2018-08-13 09:51 -04:00 2018-08-13 08:51 -05:00