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Valley Farmer Spring Edition


A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • March 25, 2014


Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

2 - Daily Sun News

Working their way to the top by Laura Gjovaag

YAKIMA – Earning the Inspiration Award at the Small Farms Conference presented by the Center for Latino Farmers in February is just another stepping stone on a long journey that Pedro and Carmen Rodriguez have taken in their lives. The couple was honored for years of work that led to the establishment of PC Rodriguez Farms about two years ago. But even though they now own their own farm, the weather the last two years has limited their growth. “Both years we were hit by hailstorms,” Pedro Rodriguez said. “The storms damaged a significant part of the crops.” And so, despite being honored for their work, they both know there is still much to be done. The couple, who have lived in Sunnyside for the past 30 years, said the process of moving from field workers to farm owners was long and exhausting, but worth it. After years of working

for others and then being in a partnership, Rodriguez said he can take pride in his own farm. “The farm owners were always complaining about not making any money,” said Rodriguez. “But they were driving nice cars. I thought, if I can make money for other people, I can make money for myself.” Rodriguez said his goal in life is to make certain his children have the opportunity to attend college. see “Working” next page

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Pedro Rodriguez addresses the crowd of small farmers, explaining how he plans to give his children a better future just as his own father did for him.

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Carmen and Pedro Rodriguez earned the Inspiration Award at the Small Farms Conference presented by the Center for Latino Farmers in February. The couple worked their way up from field work to owning their own farm.

Advertiser's Index Ace Hardware - Sunnyside_____________ 29 All West Select Sires__________________ 24 Benton REA_________________________ 21 Bleyhl Country Store___________________ 5 Bleyhl Petroleum_____________________ 22 Blueline Manufacturing________________ 30 Bos Refrigeration_____________________ 20 Central Machinery Sales Inc.____________ 26 Cliff’s Septic Service __________________ 25 Columbia Bank______________________ 14 Columbia River Steel & Construction______ 8 Commercial Tire_____________________ 20 Dairy Farmers of Washington___________ 16 Daritech Inc.________________________ 13 Davis Pumps_________________________ 4 Deon R. Herndon, ARA________________ 11 Droplet Irrigation_____________________ 23 Empire Heavy Equipment Repair________ 19 Golden West Seed Co.__________________ 9 Husch & Husch______________________ 10 Ideal Lumber & Hardware Supply Inc.____ 11 Irrigation Specialists__________________ 11 K&U Auto Parts______________________ 27 Les Schwab Tire Centers_______________ 17 Lower Valley Credit Union_______________ 2 Lower Valley Machine Shop Inc.__________ 4 Marchant Home Furnishings____________ 18

Merit Resource Services_______________ 24 Mountain States Construction Co._______ 26 Mountain View Equipment Company______ 3 Newhouse & Associates_______________ 13 Owens Cycle, Inc._____________________ 9 Owens Cycle, Inc.____________________ 26 Pacific Steel & Recycling_______________ 28 Papa Murphy’s______________________ 27 Port of Sunnyside_____________________ 7 R.E. Powell Distributing Co._____________ 30 R.H. Smith Distributing Co., Inc._________ 20 Sage Bluff Alpacas____________________ 11 Sartin State Farm Insurance____________ 24 Speck Motors_______________________ 15 SS Equipment_______________________ 14 Sunnyside Community Hospital__________ 6 Sunnyside New Holland, LLC____________ 12 Sunnyside Physical & Sports Therapy_____ 15 Sunnyside Physical Therapy Services______ 4 Sunnyside Tire Factory________________ 31 Tom Denchel’s Ford Country____________ 28 Toppenish Livestock Commission________ 30 Valmont Northwest Inc._______________ 32 Van Belle Excavating___________________ 9 Western Stockmen’s__________________ 19 Wilbur Ellis__________________________ 18 Yakima Valley Fair & Rodeo_____________ 27

Ag’s About Growing! Teresa Kollmar Photography

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Working continued from page 2

“I want to give them a brighter future,” he said. His own father was a field worker who managed to provide enough to get his son some education. “Not a lot, but enough that I can run the farm,” he said. Rodriguez said his father showed him that hard work and a little bit of brains are enough to get ahead in the world. “He always said ‘I don’t want nothing from anybody else.’ He worked for what he got,” said Rodriguez. “I’m the same way. I don’t want a handout, I want to work.” He said that he and his wife have made their own way in the world without help from their families. “Whatever we have, we created,” he said. “Just the two of us.” And if the weather cooperates, this year will be a good one for the farm. All of which leads to why Rodriguez deserves an award for being inspiring. “I want to show my kids that nothing is impossible,” he said. “I may not achieve all my dreams, but I’m going to get part of them.” ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Daily Sun News - 3

WIC program expanded to include more dairy, healthy foods for infants, children WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U. S. Department of Agriculture has finalized changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to further improve the nutrition and health of the nation’s low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children. The changes – which increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy – are based on the latest nutrition science. The recent changes mark the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980. “The updates to the WIC food package make pivotal improvements to the program and better meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers and their young children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The foods provided by the WIC program, along with education that focuses on the critical role of breast-

feeding and proper nutrition, help to ensure that every American child has the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong.” Along with a more than 30 percent increase in the dollar amount for children’s fruits and vegetables purchases, the changes also: • expand whole grain options available to participants, • provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute for children and women, • allow parents of older infants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred infant food if they choose, and; • give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants.   The revisions reflect public comments submitted in response to the first major changes in more than 30 years. The revisions were published as interim requirements in December 2007, which updated regulations governing WIC foods to align them more

closely with updated nutrition science. The changes also reflect the recommendations of the National Academies Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the federal government’s benchmarks for healthy eating and nutrition. WIC provides low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children, up to age five, with nutritious, supplemental foods. The program also provides nutrition and breastfeeding education and referrals to health and social services. More than 8.5 million participants receive WIC benefits each month.  Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified changes to the WIC food packages as a contributing factor in the decline in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many states. More information about the changes and the WIC program can be found at

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

4 - Daily Sun News

Keeping pollinators healthy should be everyone’s BEESness by Jennie McGhan

Beekeepers continue to worry about their colonies as scientists and entomologists study what is causing colonies to disappear. What was believed to be colony collapse disorder is much more complex, according to Washington State University Island County Extension Services Director Dr. Tim Lawrence. He is considered an expert on the state’s bees. “The problem is multi-faceted,” Lawrence said. There are studies that show there are several suspects that are causing bee populations to decline. The Varroa mite, pesticides and lack of nutrition are among the factors that are suspected to cause the disappearance of bees. The bees impacted by these factors include the wild pollinators, according to Lawrence. He said, “The biggest factor is the Varroa mite.” The Varroa mite is a parasite that attacks worker bees. It sucks hymolymph once it has attached itself to a bee. That makes the bee more susceptible to viruses that can spread throughout a colony.

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Pesticides, said Lawrence, are another factor. “One chemical by itself doesn’t cause a problem, but combining chemicals can.” He said the use of surfactants with pesticides further stresses the bees. Lawrence said the way in which the bees might be saved is by providing more nutrition for them. “Plant more flowers,” he said. This is important because it can help the pollinators’ natural processes, including see “Pollinators” next page

photo courtesy of Michael Bush/ WSU Yakima Extension Office

The garden hyacinth, a bulb flower, is one of many plants local gardeners can use to help local bee populations.



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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 5

Pollinators continued from page 4

broad leaf plants, it eliminates even the plants that are natural to the habitat. Farmers, too, may be able to help the state’s bee populations. Lawrence said researchers are looking at how bees might be stimulated, which can benefit the crops. For example, old literature directs farmers to eliminate dandelions from orchards. “For all we know the dandelions may stimulate the bees, causing the queen to produce more,” said Lawrence. “It’s important to re-think practices so that we can effectively use pollinators and create an environment that is friendly to them,” he said. What does this all mean for beekeepers? Ron Moore of Moore & Girls Aviary in Grandview said beekeepers across the nation are affected in some way by colony collapse disorder. He said beekeepers are becoming creative in an effort to maintain healthy colonies. Moore mentioned the efforts of Eric Olson, who is a beekeeper in Yakima. Olson has found placing his hives in a cold storage facility, a controlled environment, is a successful way to keep his colony thriving through the winter months. Moore said the Varroa mite has had a large impact on local bees, as well. That being said, there are some bee-

providing the bees with healthier immune systems. “Pesticides can compound problems by compromising the immune system…it has a sub-lethal effect,” said Lawrence. Flowers, however, provide bees with pollen and nectar during different times of the year. That provides the bees with nutrition that builds the immune system, and triggers a detoxification process. “Beekeepers provide nutrition such as sugar syrup, but that doesn’t help them to detoxify,” said Lawrence. “The natural habitat can help provide the natural response that triggers the detoxification process,” he said. Lawrence said it is important for people to plant flowers because farmers only rely on bees during specific times throughout the year. Flowers that are planted in home gardens help supplement the bees when farmers do not need them. “As silly as it sounds, it is important to provide the bees with more habitat,” he said, noting that even programs like the noxious weed program causes a decline in the habitat bees need for survival. Lawrence said there may be a broad leaf plant, for example, that is considered a noxious weed. Via the eradication program, chemicals are used to kill the plant, but because the chemical is intended for

keepers who use medications produced by chemical companies to kill the mites. Moore said that can become problematic because “…although we have found bees to be tolerant of most treatments, the mites develop resistance.” He said he prefers using organic treatments to keep the Varroa mite from infecting his hives. Using organic methods is even more important to Moore because medications produced by chemical companies can create problems with honey contracts. “The medication can be used on the bees, but not on the honey equipment,” said Moore. He said chemical companies also find it cost-prohibitive to develop new medications that the mites are not resistant to. “For me, the latest trial involves when I change my queens,” said Moore. He said the Varroa mite feeds off young bees and changing his queens when they are producing fewer larvae reduces the food source for the mites. Moore, however, said pesticides are his biggest concern and a concern in the Yakima Valley. He said he is mindful of where and when pesticides are being used to keep his bees healthy.

photo courtesy of Michael Bush/ WSU Yakima Extension Office

Honey bees seek the nectar from a variety of plants. The grape hyacinth blooms in the early spring, providing bees with the nutrition needed before agricultural crops are in bloom.

DSN 2014 SPRING FARMER ISSUE * ½ page horizontal full color

Have you heard?

‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

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6 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

Cherry thinner

Julia Hart/Daily Sun News

Jeff Ross of Foothills Irrigation calls this gadget a spider pole. He said the tool was developed for the cherry industry in order to help with cherry thinning. Made of plastic, the fingers at the top of the pole help with the thinning, which allows the cherries to get more sunshine and increase color and size during the growing process. He said the pole can extend up to 8-feet for use in the orchards. The spider pole was one of the many new tools showcased at the 2014 Ag Show held in Yakima this past January.



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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 7

Congratulations to everyone on your support of our local Ag Economy!


t the Port of Sunnyside we are supporters of all economic growth. Whether that growth is happening on Port of Sunnyside property, or down

the road in a neighboring community we salute you. Over the past 50 years the Port of Sunnyside has always encouraged new businesses and

welcomed expansion of existing ones. We all must work together to make the Lower Valley the hub of business in Yakima County.

Here are a few of the many businesses we want to recognize:

Seneca Foods has started construction on a 223,800 square foot warehouse on South Hill Rd. in Sunnyside.

Johnson Foods is building a new larger state-of-the-art freezer facility on Blaine Avenue.

Valley Processing is expanding capacity with a new Zero Cold Freezer off of Loretta Street in Sunnyside.

Bleyhl recently completed their new headquarters for their Agronomy Division on Wine Country Road near corporate headquaters in Grandview.

Darigold continues to improve with new receiving bays under construction and more improvements planned.

Port Commissioners Jim Grubenhoff, Arnold Martin, Jeff Matson

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

8 - Daily Sun News

From admin to alpacas…a city girl’s migration to the country by Jennifer Ely

Could I trade my 30-minute commute to the office for a 30-second commute to the barn? Happily! John and I were content suburbanites seven years ago when we fell in love with alpacas and alpaca people. Once smitten, we purchased and remodeled the family farm in Prosser and began our alpaca adventure. We’re still smiling! Raised for their luxurious fleece, we learned that alpacas are the perfect livestock for small acreage and novice farmers like us. Alpacas are intelligent, eco-friendly and easy keepers. Softer, stronger and warmer than wool, alpaca fiber is similar in feel and value to fine cashmere. We decided to not only raise and sell alpacas, but also to promote our growing national fiber industry by offering luxurious alpaca fashions and accessories. We do so through open farm events and off-farm venues, such as our joint ventures with local wineries and Bill’s Berry Farm. Daily husbandry is a joy. Alpacas are just plain fun to be around…curious and gentle…and uniquely styled in their 22 natural colors and two varieties… huacaya and suri. Retirees, young families and singles find alpacas a perfect fit for a rural lifestyle. see “Alpacas” next page

photo courtesy of Jennifer Ely

John and Jennifer Ely enjoy raising alpacas and mentoring those new to the industry.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 9

New state ag director tells Latino farmers his door is always open by Laura Gjovaag

YAKIMA – Don “Bud” Hover told a group of Latino farmers at the Small Farms Conference in Yakima how his own grandfather came to live in the Yakima Valley after losing everything in the Dust Bowl. “You folks are the next chapter,” he said. “Without the farmworker, agriculture does not exist. You are working your way up the same way my grandfather did.” Hover is the director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. He was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last April and said he hopes to help Washington farmers succeed. Hover himself is a farmer now, after a career that included playing middle linebacker in the NFL for two years. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in agriculture education/forest and range management from WSU and a Master’s degree in public administration from The Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington. In 1980 Hover became the co-owner and manager of the Sunny M Ranch in Winthrop, and since then served two terms as Okanogan County commissioner, until January 2013.

Hover told the farmers at the conference that his experiences as a farmer have helped him to understand the issues faced by small farms in the state. “Farming is tough,” he said. “One thundercloud and you can lose everything. It’s a tough business, it takes tough State people, it gets into your Washington Department of Agriblood.” culture Director Don He said that 90 percent of the farms in “Bud” Hover the state are considered small. And he knows that a lot of farmers are not able to make it on their farming income alone. “A lot of folks are farming and also have outside jobs,” he said. Hover told the farmers that 39 percent of the state economy is farming. “We are easy to overlook,” he said. “But we are the backbone of this state. We are a powerful force.”

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Alpacas continued from page 8

At Sage Bluff Alpacas we welcome visitors daily by appointment, as well as during open farm events. We offer tours, refreshments, fiber arts demonstrations, beautiful retail and the opportunity to learn about alpacas. Mentoring first time alpaca owners has become our niche. It’s a privilege to share our knowledge with new breeders who quickly become good friends. How can we sell these animals we’ve raised and love and know by name? When they go to good homes - to families who will succeed in our business and have a blast doing it - then it’s

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a joy. We are supported by active national and regional organizations, as well as a highly evolved, closely knit alpaca community. (Excuse the pun!) As Chamber members, we are avid supporters of the Prosser community and the Yakima Valley’s growing agri-tourism. To learn more about alpacas, contact myself or my husband John at Sage Bluff Alpacas in Prosser, 509-786-4507, or visit our web site:

1707 N. 1st Street • Yakima, WA 98901 Offers good on new and unregistered units purchased between 3/1/14-4/30/14. *On select models. See your dealer for details. Rates as low as 2.99% for 36 months. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. Fixed APR of 2.99%, 6.99%, or 9.99% will be assigned based on credit approval criteria. Other financing offers are available. See your local dealer for details. Minimum Amount Financed $1,500; Maximum Amount Financed $50,000. Other qualifications and restrictions may apply. Financing promotions void where prohibited. Offer effective on all new and unused 2008-2014 Polaris ATV, RANGER, and RZR models purchased from a participating Polaris dealer between 3/1/2014 and 4/30/2014. Offer subject to change without notice. Warning: The Polaris RANGER® and RZR® are not intended for on-road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver's license to operate. Passengers must be at least 12 years old and tall enough to grasp the hand holds and plant feet firmly on the floor. All SxS drivers should take a safety training course. Contact ROHVA at or (949) 255-2560 for additional information. Drivers and passengers should always wear helmets, eye protection, protective clothing, and seat belts. Always use cab nets or doors (as equipped). Be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Never drive on public roads or paved surfaces. Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Riding and alcohol/drugs don't mix. Check local laws before riding on trails. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. Polaris adult models are for riders 16 and older. For your safety, always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing, and be sure to take a safety training course. For safety and training information in the U.S., call the SVIA at (800) 887-2887. You may also contact your Polaris dealer or call Polaris at (800) 342-3764. ©2014 Polaris Industries Inc.

‑ Jennifer Ely and her husband John own and operate Sage Bluff Alpacas in Prosser.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

10 - Daily Sun News

Now’s the time to get pasture weeds under control With green starting to show in pastures, livestock producers are thinking about weed control. Now is the ideal time to control troublesome pasture weeds, says Dr. David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas. Not only are some weeds toxic to cattle, but also weeds adversely affect livestock operations in many ways. Weeds compete with desirable pasture grasses and legumes for nutrients. Some are unpalatable; livestock will not eat them so less feed is available in the pasture, says Dr. Fernandez. Some weeds cause injuries or pain if they have

thorns. “Weed control can be an effective way to increase production by improving forage availability,” says Dr. Fernandez. Mowing, grazing, improving soil fertility and herbicide spraying are some of the ways to control weeds. Mowing should be done in the boot stage before flowers emerge. Weeds can flower and set seed very quickly. Once the seeds develop, mowing just spreads them further into pastures. Some weeds are both palatable and nutritious early in the growth, and livestock will readily graze them. To control weeds by grazing, subdivide weedy pastures, and place a high concentration of animals on one pad-

dock, advises Dr. Fernandez. The animals will eat or trample the weeds. The grass can recover once the animals are moved to the next paddock. Grazing should not be used to control weeds toxic to livestock, warns Dr. Fernandez. Weeds can outcompete more desirable species under conditions of low fertility. Some common weeds respond well to late winter/early spring herbicide treatment, including buttercup, the first weed to emerge, wild garlic or wild onion and thistles. Spraying now for buttercup will prevent pastures from turning yellow with flowers this spring. Thistles are best treated in the rosette stage before the flower stalk begins to grow.

Director continued from page 9

He described how Washington farms are second only to California in the variety of crops produced. He also noted that Washington is No. 1 in 11 different commodities, including apples. “We never get the attention or credit we are due,” he said. Hover, who has two children, tied farming into his family history and his hopes for his family’s future. He told how his ancestors came to the United States in the 1700s and moved west with the wagon trains. His grandfather was a

North Dakota farmer and coal miner until he lost everything in the Dust Bowl and moved further west. “He heard there was work in the Yakima Valley, so he came here,” Hover said. “He started out as a laborer and worked until he got land, the same as farmers now are doing.” His grandfather’s land in Zillah is still owned by his cousins. “Back when my grandfather came to the valley, there was discrimination against the newcomers,” said Hover. “I

know you probably face that here, even worse than he did. He fought through it. We need you. We need you and your children to be the next generation of farmers.” Hover said he hopes to leave his farm to his children, and he hopes the farmers at the conference can do the same for their children. “What I want to do as (state ag) director is help you to succeed,” he said. Hover also introduced the community liaison for the Department of Agricul-

ture, Ignacio Marquez, to the group. Marquez, who is based in Yakima, is available to help farmers throughout the state. His office can be reached at 509-249-6970 or by email at “My door is always open,” said Hover. “I have people on the ground to serve you. If that’s not happening, I want to hear about it. Let me know.” ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 11

Learning to love lentils

Wine grapes confab

Whether using them for a warm bowl of soup or to make a cool scoop of ice cream, lentils have an array of purpose and options for pretty much every taste bud. Besides its flexibility as an ingredient, lentils have major health benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup of lentils provides more than 60 percent of daily dietary fiber. In addition, just one cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein. Lentils, a cousin of the bean that features lens-shaped seeds growing in


a pod, are also a significant crop for Washington state’s farm economy. The USDA notes that 62,000 acres of lentils were grown in Washington in 2013. Last year, 93 million pounds of lentils were harvested in this state. The health and economic benefits of lentils in Washington state are celebrated each August at the National Lentil Festival in Pullman. One of the attractions, besides a national lentil royalty, is the opportunity to try lentil ice cream. For more information on the National Lentil Festival visit

DEON R HERNDON, ARA Accredited Rural Appraiser Rural Real Estate Appraiser Deon R. Herndon, ARA

photo courtesy of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers

Visitors to the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers’ annual meeting, convention and trade show learn more about the industry at one of the event’s more than 160 booths last month. Students from Yakima Valley Community College’s viticulture and enology program were among the more than 40 volunteers providing information to members of the wine industry. A record-breaking 2,500 industry stakeholders attended the annual event held at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

12 - Daily Sun News

Port of Sunnyside invests in automated irrigation system by Jennie McGhan

The Port of Sunnyside this past winter installed an automated irrigation system to create more flexibility when irrigating its spray fields. Gary Holwegner is the sprayfield manager for the port. He said the automated system helps the Port of Sunnyside adhere to requirements in its wastewater permit as it adds capacity to its wastewater treatment facility. “In the past we used handoperated irrigation valves,” said Holwegner. That means an employee had to manually turn on irrigation to its different fields at different intervals throughout the day. Irrigation was limited to operation hours with the system. With automation, the irrigation can be rotated continuously throughout a 24-hour period. Holwegner said irrigating the port’s alfalfa fields can also be

completed in more frequent, shorter intervals. “That will slow the potential for leaching nitrates into the groundwater,” he said. Shorter intervals means less water will be applied during each cycle, giving the soil and alfalfa time to absorb it. The automated system is run by a central computer. That computer sends a signal to each of the irrigation valves located throughout the spray fields, Holwegner said. “About 10,000 feet of cable was installed in the fields to operate the system,” he said. Holwegner said the irrigation pumps deliver approximately 2,800 gallons of water per minute. A flow meter measures the water delivery and a computerized variable frequency drive monitors the water pressure. If the water pressure exceeds a set limit an irrigation pump is automatically slowed to adjust the see “Port” next page

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Port of Sunnyside Sprayfield Manager Gary Holwegner looks at the newly installed computer that controls the port’s automated irrigation system.


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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Approximately 10,000 feet of cable was this past winter installed at the Port of Sunnyside spray fields, enabling the port to automate its irrigation system. Sprayfield Manager Gary Holwegner noted these cables were to be encased in a box.

Daily Sun News - 13

The GreenLine Pump line offers a full range of pump sizes and horsepower to meet your requirements. We can accommodate your pump needs with anything from a half horsepower pump to move fifty gallons per minute in our 118 series, to two hundred horsepower to move five thousand gallons per minute in our 250 series. Purchase a GreenLine Pump at a much lower cost than similar pumps on the market. With GreenLine Pumps, we can ensure you performance and reliability for years to come.

Port continued from page 12

pressure. That doesn’t mean Holwegner and the staff at the Port of Sunnyside do not need to monitor the system. He said there will still be a need to check the water pressure at the valves. They will need to determine if there is a blockage in the line or a sprinkler head

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

14 - Daily Sun News

photo courtesy of Rob Nalle of Simplicity Homes

A series of seven-man bunk houses provide seasonal housing for Mercer Ranch in the Horse Heaven Hills, south of Sunnyside.

Modern labor housing durable and offers low maintenance by Julia Hart

Proving adequate housing for seasonal farm labor is a complicated matter, according to labor housing expert Rob Nalle of Redmond, Ore. Farming operations want to ensure

a quality and trained labor force returns year after year, so in many cases the bonus of having clean and healthy places to live during the growing and harvest season can be a real plus, Nalle explained. A sales associate with Simplicity

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their seasonal help, housing companies, such as Simplicity Homes, are finding a growing niche in the farm labor housing markets. “Our homes meet the H2A regulations, which requires farm labor see “Housing” next page

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 15

Housing continued from page 14

housing to meet federal health and safety standards,” Nalle explained. Some companies specializing in housing units offer self-contained modular, pre-manufactured housing options, he said. “Even though the housing units are for temporary occupation, we build the stick structures for use season after season,” Nalle said. Examples of the barrack-style housing units are currently being used by large farming operations such as Mercer Farmers in the Bickleton area and on the Royal Slope, Nalle said. He said the size of the housing units can range in size from a 7-man bunk house to a 16-man bunk house, complemented with common buildings complete with showers, laundry and cooking facilities. Nalle said more of the countertop spaces in the common buildings are made of stainless steel while fiber cement walls can be added for durability. “The units are designed not only to be durable, but to also offer low maintence for the residents and the property owners,” Nalle said.

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16 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

Is California a glimpse into our future? by Don C. Brunell

It’s not often we get a chance to peer into the future to see the consequences of our actions. California has given us that opportunity. Before the rains returned to California last month, the news was full of dramatic stories about the drought there. Mother Jones magazine warned, “California’s Drought Could Be the Worst in 500 Years.” President Obama flew to California and called for shared sacrifice. As TIME magazine reported, “He then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the hospitality of some of the state’s top water hogs: desert golf courses.” The truth is the situation in California is more about water policy than water supply. Despite President Obama’s suggestion, the drought is not linked to global warming. In fact, as the New York Times noted, “…the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter….” Historically, rainfall in the state’s agricultural region fluctuates, with periods of above-average rainfall followed by periods of below average rainfall. In 1897, the Central Valley got 13.6 inches of rain, but only 4.6 inches the following year. In 1958, the region got more than 23 inches of rain; the next year, less than 8 inches. The same “feast and famine” pattern is evident throughout the 125-year record. Because of that, state and federal officials constructed an extensive reservoir and canal system designed to withstand five years of drought. The system has been so successful it has encouraged farmers to put more arid land into production and allowed water-hungry cities to create lavish gardens and exclusive golf courses. The result: a slimmer safety margin when rain is scarce. Then in 2007, everything changed. In May of that year, a Federal District Court judge ordered the state to allocate more water to protecting the Delta smelt - a three-inch fish on the Endangered Species List. Since then, tens of billions of gallons of water has been flushed down the rivers into the ocean - enough to flood three million acres of farmland a foot deep. The result? Less water held in reservoirs to use in times of drought. According to the House Natural Resource Committee, chaired by Pasco’s Doc Hastings (R-WA), “This manmade drought cost thousands of farm workers their jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in certain communities, and fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland.” The House recently voted 229-191 to reallocate California’s water sup-

plies. President Obama has vowed to veto the measure. Why should we care? Because the same thing could happen here. Activists are waging an aggressive campaign to tear out dams on the Columbia River system to benefit salmon, even though the rivers have recently seen record-breaking fish runs. Now, to aid the salmon, the Obama administration wants to change the Columbia River Treaty with Canada to release more water over the dams. That will reduce the amount of water

held in reservoirs, which will limit water for irrigation, reduce electricity production, resulting in higher prices, and reduce our ability to prevent deadly flooding – one of the main reasons the dams were built. The vision of free-flowing rivers is appealing – but at what cost? If we release more water from reservoirs, how will we sustain ourselves during dry spells? What happens to the 670,000 acres of Eastern Washington farmland that depend on irrigation? What happens to the 82,000 agricul-

ture-related jobs and $1.5 billion in wages? How will we replace the 75 percent of our electricity that is generated by hydropower? If environmental activists and the Obama administration get their way, we will be setting ourselves up for a situation much like what California faces today - higher food prices, shortages, layoffs and economic disaster. ‑ Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, and former president of the Association of Washington Business.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014


Daily Sun News - 17

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

18 - Daily Sun News

Now is the time for solar power in Washington state by Laura Gjovaag

With unusually generous incentives in place for the next few years, Washington state is definitely a place where farmers should be considering installing solar power. In addition to a federal tax credit that is valued at 30 percent of the total cost of a system, Washington also has a sales tax exemption and production incentives for solar power. The federal credit expires in 2016, but some of the state incentives will last until 2020. Eugene Wilkie of Solar Xcel said Washington state’s incentives are unique in the nation. He noted that Germany, which is farther north than most of Washington state, is producing the most solar energy in the world thanks to incentives. “Solar is set to take off in Washington,” he said. “It is a very good time to get into it.” The sales tax exemption allows those who undertake small solar

installations to not pay any tax at all while installations that produce more than 10 kilowatts can be reimbursed for 75 percent of the taxes. The incentive for smaller systems is in place until 2018, while the reimbursement incentive is active until 2020. Washington also has a production incentive that will expire in 2020. Until then, producers of solar power will be paid for every kilowatt hour produced, whether or not it is used at the source or see “Solar” next page

Eugene Wilkie of Solar Xcel is enthusiastic about the future of solar power in Washington state, thanks to the benefits offered for installing systems. With prices continuing to drop and current tax credits offered to farmers for installing systems, Wilkie believes the Yakima Valley area has the potential to be a major solar producer in the near future. Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Water outlook good for growers Due to two-to-three times the normal mountain snowfall in recent weeks, the snowpack has reached normal levels. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which notes well above average precipitation along with cooler than normal temperatures brought much needed relief to not only the mountain snowpack in Washington state, but also soil moisture in the valleys. Forecasts for spring and summer runoff have increased considerably

over the last month as well. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can also lead to problems such as traffic jams, high avalanche danger, localized flooding and landslides. Short term weather forecasts indicate a higher probability of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. Long term predictions from the Climate Prediction Center also indicate a chance of above normal temperatures but uncertainty on precipitation.

Solar continued from page 18

goes into the grid. The amount of the premium varies from utility to utility, but is capped at $5,000 a year. Washington also has net metering in place, which will not expire. Net metering allows a solar producer to “bank” kilowatt hours. For every kWh sent to the grid, the solar producer gets credit for one kWh used when solar is not being generated. For summer months when solar production is high, net metering can almost erase winter heating bills. Wilkie said that solar makes sense for local farms thanks to incentives. He said

his company has been installing systems in the Yakima area almost as fast as they can sign people up for them. With panels expected to last up to 50 years, installations can continue to provide benefits for customers long after most of the state’s incentives expire. “You are still going to be getting that energy even if you aren’t getting cash back,” said Wilkie. “But right now is a good time to start, because there is that possibility of getting money back.” ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email




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Daily Sun News - 19

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

20 - Daily Sun News

Passage of farm bill provides farmers security by Laura Gjovaag

After two years of wrangling, the Agriculture Act of 2014, better known as the farm bill, passed through the United States Congress and was signed by the President this past February. The act is an important piece of legislation for agriculture in particular, but it affects every person in the country in some way. Juan Garcia, the national administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, spoke at the Small Farms Conference in Yakima in February and told his audience, “If you eat, you are involved in agriculture.” His speech was a reminder that farming is still the backbone of the nation’s economy, and the farm bill is important to the stability of agriculture. Originally conceived as a way to help farmers during the Great Depression, the first farm bill created crop subsidies and the precursor to the food stamp program. Both programs are still in modern versions of the farm bill and tend to be highly controversial. The farm bill requires updating every five years. It covers a variety of topics, but mostly focuses on agriculture and food policies. Because of the topic, the bill can impact everything from food

safety and environmental concerns to international trade. The most recent update was due in 2012, but did not happen because of disagreements on how much funding certain programs should receive. Congress extended the previous bill for a year, until the end of 2013. However, until the new bill was passed, businesses hesitated to invest in the future due to uncertainty of what the new bill would offer. Garcia noted that, regardless of the content of the new bill, the fact that it is in place provides security for farmers. He praised Congress for finalizing the act, saying that it provides additional support for farming communities and a safety net for new or minority farmers. Garcia said the new version of the farm bill also supports farmers markets and attempts to develop new and emerging markets for American produce. He pointed out that Washington state depends on exports. The new bill also contains provisions for micro-loans, which have been successfully applied to farming, according to Garcia. He also said that farmers will be able to afford more crop insurance, helping them through bouts of bad weather. The increases in crop insurance were paired with cuts to some farm subsi-

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Juan Garcia, the national administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, speaks at the Small Farms Conference in Yakima in February. In addition to speaking about the farm bill, Garcia also listened to comments from farmers to take back to the president.

dies, which will alter the way farmers do business. The farm bill will cost the nation about $956.4 billion over the next de-

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 21

Getting into tight places

Beef production expected to be on the rise in 2014 Expectations for U.S. beef production in 2014 are higher than previous estimates, according to the USDA’s last forecast of 2013. The United States Department of Agriculture World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) forecast increased beef exports, cattle prices and beef production estimates over its November predictions. The December forecast increases total red meat and beef production in 2014 by less than 1 percent each compared to the previous month’s forecasts. According to the report, the increase is a result of higher than expected cattle and hog carcass weights and higher cattle slaughter.

The beef production forecast predicts that imports will remain consistent with earlier predictions. Demand will likely keep cattle prices strong going into 2014. Shrinking supplies will make each head more valuable with expected prices next year higher. The USDA specifically focuses on fed cattle prices, which have remained above $130 per hundredweight while beef prices hover above $200. High beef prices will depend on consumer demand this year as per capita consumption increased from November estimates, but could remain 6 percent lower than 2013 projections. Benton REA

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Julia Hart/Daily Sun News

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

22 - Daily Sun News

Leadership transition underway for Roza by John Fannin

After nearly 40 years with the Roza Irrigation District – the last 12 as manager – Tom Monroe retired at the end of January. “I’m really looking forward to starting my next journey in life,” says Monroe, who started his Roza career on the maintenance crew. That next journey, he notes, includes time with family and his two grandchildren, as well as travel plans for the Oregon Coast, Montana and Las Vegas for a NASCAR event. As for the journey he just completed with Roza, Monroe looks back with fondness and pride for the accomplishments made. Those accomplishments include the district’s commitment to piping its irrigation laterals to increase efficiencies. Monroe says the progress was accomplished in large part because of the Roza Irrigation board of directors. “The board has been very progressive in making improvements to the system,” he said. That mix of vision with a steady hand made the Roza managerial post attractive to Scott Revell, who took over the job on a full-time basis in February. Revell was actually hired last Septem-

ber, and spent four months working with Monroe to ensure a smooth transition last month. Previously the manager of the Kennewick Irrigation District, Revell said the Roza position is appealing because of the longevity of its managers and board members. Revell during that four-month transition learned the Roza district literally from the ground up, as he spent five days out with a ditch rider. “I had to learn the geography of the system,” he said. Though Roza’s district is three times larger than Kennewick’s in terms of area served, Revell says he appreciates how Roza is more rural than the 23,000 customers his former employer served. While Monroe rose through the ranks to become Roza’s manager, Revell’s career path is notably different in that he started as a municipal planner for the cities of Kennewick and Hood River, Ore., as well as for Walla Walla County and Richland before going to work for the Kennewick Irrigation District seven years ago. Revell says he made the change from city planning to irrigation districts because of the pressure and evening demands of working for municipalities. While with the Kennewick district, Revell was a representative to the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan developed to in-

crease water storage. Now that he’s with Roza, Revell is in position to help see the integrated plan develop. “There’s tremendous momentum,” he says of state and federal interest in funding the plan, which will also help restore fish habitat. Revell is encouraged by the fact state officials want to convey to Washington D.C. just how much irrigators have been spending over the past 30 years to maintain and improve their delivery systems. “It’s important to be able to tell the story that users have been spending money on the system,” he says, estimating in the Roza District alone there has been $40 million of user money spent on water conservation projects. “I don’t know if we’ve done a good a job of tooting our own horn.” He says there won’t be many changes in Roza’s operations with the change in management. Revell says his approach is to trust staff in carrying out their responsibilities. “I believe in giving good, clear directions and letting people do their jobs,” he said. - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 23

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

24 - Daily Sun News

New farm bill helps WSU support Washington state agriculture Reprinted from the WSU News – written by Glynda Becker

PULLMAN – Consistent, increased funding for Washington State University’s research on tree fruit, clean energy, vegetables and other specialty crops, as well as increased support for the National Clean Plant Network, are just several vital components of the farm bill signed by President Obama last month that will strengthen WSU’s ability to support and stimulate the state’s food and wine industries. The bill also lifts previous restrictions on growing industrial hemp, allowing states where it is legal to grow it for research purposes. Lawmakers in Olympia are considering legislation to study the viability of an industrial hemp industry in the state. “The farm bill allows WSU to continue building Washington’s agriculture and clean energy economy,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “It supports our traditional mainstay crops and creates opportunities to explore the possibilities of new, emerging crops. “I appreciate President Obama’s signing the bill and the work of Congress in its de-

velopment,” he said. “I thank the members of the Washington state delegation who supported these efforts.” Key ag initiatives The bill stabilizes or increases opportunities for several initiatives where WSU competes for federal funds to support Washington’s $40 billion agriculture industry: • Increased funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which helps fund large projects addressing complex agricultural problems for some of Washington’s signature crops, including tree fruit. • Increased funding for the National Clean Plant Network, which supports Clean Plant Center Northwest based at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. • Increased funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants, which benefit producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery crops – all key components of Washington’s agricultural industry. • Reauthorized funding for the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, with a focus on reducing the costs of producing sugars from cellulosic biomass – a primary element of WSU’s work in


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developing aviation jet fuel from woody biomass. WSU is co-lead, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of the Federal Aviation Administration’s newly designated Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment. Specialty crops, clean planting stock WSU scientists have competed for and been awarded more than $25 million since 2008 through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative. That investment in their research has led to major advances for Washington growers, from enhanced use of weather data to forecast pest outbreaks, to improved harvest mechanization, to breeding new apple and cherry varieties. WSU researchers also have developed control procedures for diseases and insects in grapes, hops, potatoes and tree fruits. In total, specialty crops represent a $3.2 billion industry in the state. During the same time period, Clean Plant Center Northwest has received more than $4 million from the National Clean Plant Network to provide pathogen-tested planting stock for the grape, tree fruit and hop industries. These industries, situated primarily in central Washington, rely on the Prosser-based center for high

quality, disease-free material to start their orchards, vineyards and hop yards. “The value of planting material free of known pathogens and pests has been demonstrated to far exceed the cost to growers of damage caused by these pests and pathogens,” said James Moyer, director of WSU’s Agricultural Research Center. Industrial hemp potential The new farm bill, which is in force until 2019, also loosens restrictions on growing industrial hemp for research and industrial purposes. Hemp is a version of Cannabis sativa L. that is low in THC, the key ingredient in recreational and medicinal cannabis. Hemp is one of the longest and most durable natural fibers. Its commercial uses include textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics, building materials and a feedstock for biofuels. “It is an exciting time to be in agricultural research in Washington,” said Moyer. “There are many details to be finalized and policies to be developed before any research on industrial hemp can be conducted; but, as always, we will work to align our research efforts with the economic needs and potential of our state.”

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 25

Equipment for all uses From the large equipment used to spray large acreages on circle farmland to minisized tractors, perfect for working small hobby farms, all were featured at the annual winter farm trade show in Yakima.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

26 - Daily Sun News

Corn fuel prices reflect corn crop estimates The USDA has boosted its estimate for domestic corn use of the 2013-2014 crop by 100 million bushels according to the most recent Feed Outlook report. The estimates are based on projected increases in ethanol production and grain exports for the new crop. The department now projects corn exports for the 2014 crop year at 1.5 billion bushels, up 50 million bushels from its last estimate, based on year-to-date sales. With the 2013 crop estimated at just under 14 billion bushels, more competitive prices have boosted U.S. market share of corn trade to 33 percent, compared with 18 percent in 20122013. USDA also raised its forecast of new-crop corn use for ethanol production by about the same amount, based on strengthening U.S. eth-

anol prices and production during October and November of last year. Estimates for feed and residual use are unchanged from December figures, but the 100-million-bushel increase in total corn use and the five-million-bushel increase in imports results in a 95-million-bushel decrease in ending stocks. However, ending stocks estimated at 1.8 billion bushels are more than double the 2013 estimates of 824 million bushels. The December report lowered the forecast U.S. corn price received by farmers for 2013-2014 by $0.05 on the low end of the range and $0.15 on the high end to a range of $4.05 to $4.75 per bushel. This puts the midpoint of the range at $4.40 per bushel, compared with a 2012-2013 seasonaverage price received by farmers of $6.89 per bushel.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 27

FDA phasing out antibiotics in food producing animals In an effort to help address potential anti-microbial resistance concerns in humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a new set of guidelines to extend veterinary oversight. The guidelines are also designed to phase out the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine in food producing animals for growth promotion purposes.

The new guidelines will be implemented over a three-year transition phase. Historically, certain antibiotics have been used in the feed or drinking water of food producing animals for production purposes. Some of these anti-microbials are also used to treat human infection, thus prompting concerns about the potential contribution of this practice affecting anti-microbial resistance.

The guidelines call for animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily revise the FDA-approved labels for these products to remove growth promotion labels. FDA also proposes to change Veterinary Feed Directive regulations to move the over-the-counter status of the remaining appropriate therapeutic uses to require veterinary oversight when used to treat, control or prevent health issues in animals. Bernadette Dunham, director for FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said the steps taken by FDA will promote the judicious use of important

anti-microbials to protect human health while ensuring sick and at-risk animals receive the care they need. “Implementing this strategy is an important step forward in addressing antimicrobial resistance,” said Dunham. “The FDA is leveraging the cooperation of the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily make these changes because we believe this approach is the fastest way to achieve our goal,” said Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

28 - Daily Sun News

On-farm assessments address pneumonia in beef cows Free, voluntary, on-farm assessments will continue through March to help beef cow-calf producers across the state reduce the risk a deadly respiratory disease poses to their herds. “These workshops have been developed to address pneumonia, also known as bovine respiratory disease complex – the number one killer in calves,” said Susan Kerr, veterinarian and Washington State University livestock and dairy specialist based at WSU Mount Vernon’s Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. In the United States the disease each year results in the death of more than 1 million animals and financial losses exceeding $700 million. Research shows feedlot cattle suffering from pneumonia are worth $23 to $150 less per animal than healthy cattle. “Reducing pneumonia cases will also reduce the need for antibiotics to treat the disease,” Kerr said. Efforts continue through March To schedule a risk assessment workshop, farmers can contact WSU

veterinary extension coordinator Sandy Poisson, or 509-335-8225. Timing of the assessments is key to helping farmers more productively and profitably manage their herds, Kerr said. “Just like there is a flu season for humans, fall and winter constitute the main pneumonia season for cattle,” she said. “During this time animals are closer together and more susceptible to seasonal stressors, such as transportation and weaning, which are associated with bovine respiratory disease,” Kerr said. “We’re teaching producers that one of the most successful ways to prevent bovine respiratory disease in weaned calves going to the next phase of production is to use pre-conditioning programs that include vaccinations, ration adjustments and a 45- to 60-day waiting period before weaned calves are shipped,” she said. Nationwide research, education initiative The workshops are part of the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex Coordinated Agriculture Project funded

by a $9.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The project integrates research, education and extension activities to develop costeffective ways to battle the disease. WSU is one of eight institutions – and the only one in the Pacific Northwest - included in the project. More information is at

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The WSU Beef Team was awarded some of the project funding specifically to produce educational materials to help producers reduce the prevalence of pneumonia in beef cow-calf herds, improve animal welfare and increase farm profitability. A second grant from the Western Center for Risk Management Education funded delivery of educational workshops and on-farm assessments.

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

March 25, 2014

Daily Sun News - 29

Lots of information provided in the 2012 Census of Agriculture by Laura Gjovaag

Every five years a census is held of farms across the United States, with the results helping to determine where the government will invest in infrastructure and other programs. Results from the census are also available to researchers and the public, and are used in a variety of different ways by organizations both public and private, according to Chris Mertz, the regional director of United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. “This information is used all over,” he said. “It’s important data for all kinds of businesses. It can tell the government what kind of road is needed where. It’s information that benefits everyone.” The first census of agriculture was conducted in 1840 throughout 26 states and the District of Columbia. It now encompasses all 50 states, Puerto Rico and some outlying areas. In 1997, the National Agriculture Statistics Service took over the census from the Census Bureau and has been conducting it ever since. “What I do for a living, I count things,” said Mertz. “This is just collecting data. We just gather it.” The goal of the census is to get an accurate idea of the state of agriculture in the country. The census defines a farm as any place from which a minimum of $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold during the year of the census. The National Agriculture Statistics Service mailed out three million questionnaires in late 2012, and accepted responses through the mail, online, through telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews. The number of responses through the internet jumped from 4 percent in 2007 to more than 13 percent. The release of the 2012 data was delayed due to the government shutdown, but the preliminary data is now available on the USDA website at agcensus.usda. gov. The full census data will be available in May 2014. Some highlights of the 2012 census: Farms: numbers, acreage, size • In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms - down 4.3 percent from the last agricultural census in 2007. This continues a long-term trend of fewer farms. • Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States declined from 922 million acres to 915 million acres. This decline of less than 1 percent was the third smallest decline between censuses since 1950. • In 2012, the average farm size was 434 acres. This was a 3.8 percent increase over 2007, when the average farm was 418

acres. • Middle-sized farms declined in number between 2007 and 2012. The number of large (1,000 plus acres) and very small (1 to 9 acres) farms did not change signifi-

cantly in that time. Agricultural sales • In 2012, the market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products were each record highs.

• U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in agricultural products in 2012. This was 33 percent – $97.4 billion – more than agricultural sales in 2007. • Crop sales were $68.7 billion more in 2012 than 2007 (a 48 percent increase) and livestock sales were up $28.6 billion (a 19 percent increase). • In 2012, crop sales exceeded livestock sales for only the second time in census history; the other time was in 1974. • Per farm agricultural sales averaged $187,000 in 2012. This was an increase of more than $52,000 (or 39 percent) over 2007. • From 2007 to 2012, the percent of farms with sales and government paysee “Census” next page

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

30 - Daily Sun News

Census continued from page 29

ments of $1 million or more increased, but most farms in the United States are small – 75 percent had sales of less than $50,000 in 2012. United State farmers • In 2012, the average age of principal farm operators was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. The older age groups all increased in number between 2007 and 2012. • In 2012, the number of beginning farmers – on their current operation less than 10 years – was down 20 percent from 2007. Nearly 172,000 farmers were on their current operation less than 5 years. • 1.0 million operators considered farming their principal occupation in 2012. The number who identified something other than farming as their primary occupation was 9 percent lower in 2012 than 2007. • The census counted more minorityoperated farms in 2012 than in 2007. Hispanic principal operators increased by 21 percent. • In 2012, more than 90 percent of female farmers operated farms with sales less than $50,000. More than a third of Asian farmers operated farms with sales of $50,000 or more.

Organic dust cover Dust is a huge problem around dairies and in orchards, but Granite Construction has a solutions. “We’re not talking counter tops,” according to Jerry Walker, who displayed bins of various ground covers at the 2014 Ag Show held recently. Walker said farmers have a choice of recycled asphalt was well as rock, mined locally. The granite and rock mixtures are sold by the ton and are suitable for keeping down weeds and grasses between tree rows or on dairy driveways.

‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Julia Hart/Daily Sun News

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 31

USDA grants to help meet water challenges Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices, technologies and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. “Cutting edge research holds the key to tackling the complex challenges posed by prolonged drought and ensuring the future food security of our nation,” said Vilsack. “These grants will help arm America’s farmers and ranchers with the tools and strategies they need to adapt and succeed, and build on ongoing, cross-governmental efforts to provide relief to those impacted by severe drought,” he said. The grants build on USDA efforts to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate the impacts of drought, including implementation of the livestock disaster assistance programs provided through the 2014 Farm Bill and $40 million in additional conservation dollars. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has identified three critical topics that will be funded through this new

challenge area: 1) ensuring the water security of surface and ground water needed to produce agricultural goods and services; 2) improving nutrient management in agricultural landscapes focused on nitrogen and phosphorous; and 3) reducing impacts of chemicals and the presence and movement of environmental pathogens in the nation’s water supply. The agency’s approach will link social, economic and behavioral sciences with traditional biophysical sciences and engineering to address regional scale issues with shared hydrological processes, and meteorological and basin characteristics. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is expected to make $30 million available over the next five years for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative water challenge area, with the expectation that the new projects awarded this fiscal year would receive additional funding in the following four years. All additional funding is contingent on future congressional appropriations and achievement of project objectives and milestones. Building on its investment in water research, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will also fund projects through the National Integrated Water Quality Program, which addresses critical water resource issues, including water quality protection and water conservation. The

request for application for this program is expected to be released in the spring of 2014. The program supports research, education and extension projects and other programs that address critical water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urbanizing watersheds. These projects reflect the growing need to combine knowledge from biological and physical sciences with social and economic sciences to address complex water issues. The National Integrated Water Quality

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Valley Farmer –– Spring Edition March 25, 2014

32 - Daily Sun News

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Valley Farmer Spring Edition 2014