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Country Life A9 • Wednesday, October 10, 2018 •


Five tips to make the most of autumn in the garden    After a hot, stressful summer for our yards and gardens here in the Pacific Northwest, autumn has graciously settled in, bringing cool temperatures, damp weather and colorful leaves. As you begin to wind down your gardening projects for the season, here are a few tips to make the most of autumn’s cooler weather.    First, now is the time to divide and transplant many of your spring- and summer-blooming perennials. Perennials like hostas should be divided every few years to keep them vigorous and healthy. In the next few weeks, take time to divide and replant any perennials that haven’t been tended to in the last few years.    While many perennials can be divided in the spring as well, doing so in autumn is less stressful since they are naturally going dormant for winter. Dividing in fall will also allow your plants to fill out evenly next spring rather than looking lopsided.    Second, take time to fill your pots with fresh winter pansies for the fall and winter months. Chances are that by now you’ve torn out whatever you planted for the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you have to move your empty pots inside for the winter or look at drab, empty pots until next spring.    Winter pansies are truly a workhorse of the plant kingdom. Unfazed by rain, wind or frost, pansies will bloom heavily until a hard freeze, then go dormant, blooming again once milder weather returns.    Whether you plant in pots or in the ground, I recommend fertilizing with a petunia fertilizer (ideal for pansies as well) two or three times after planting to get them established, then adding some slow-release plant food like Jack’s Classicote to feed through the winter and spring. Your biggest challenge with growing winter pansies is deciding when to pull them out. Since they’ll still be blooming in May, you might find it hard to pull them up in time to get your summer flowers planted!    Third, remember the moss you struggled with in your lawn last spring? Now that wetter weather has returned, moss will begin

Ag Advisory Committee meets today Renewed Ag Strategic Plan spells out issues to dig into By Calvin Bratt

By David Vos

to grow in your yard once again.    Discourage its spread and help your grass thrive this winter with an application of fast-acting lime. Spreading lime is inexpensive and easy and will keep your soil’s pH from becoming too acidic, in turn preventing moss growth and allowing the nitrogen in your lawn fertilizer to properly break down so your grass can fully utilize it.    Fourth, it’s not too late to plant shrubs, trees and perennials around your yard. Even though our daytime temperatures are beginning to drop, our soil temperatures are still relatively warm, allowing newly installed plants to get established before winter with minimal stress. Combine the ideal planting weather with fall plant sales at nurseries around the county and it’s hard to find a reason not to plant.    Finally, mid-autumn is a great time to plant springblooming bulbs like daffodils, tulips and more. If deer are a problem in your area, you’ll find daffodils to be a great deer-resistant option for early spring color.    Or if you’re hesitant to plant bulbs because of their ragged appearance after they finish blooming, plant bulbs in pots and bury them in your garden. Next spring, after the bulbs finish blooming, dig up the pots and move them to a corner of the yard where the bulbs can finish dying back for the year. Planting bulbs this way also ensures you won’t forget where you planted your bulbs when it comes time to fertilize or replant in the future.   October’s cooler weather brings with it a fresh beauty in the garden. Make the most of this autumn and enjoy all that it has to offer!    David Vos is general manager of Vander Giessen Nursery Inc. of Lynden.

   WHATCOM ­ — Over the summer, the County Council approved an update of the county’s Ag Strategic Plan, creating a fresh roadmap for the Agriculture Advisory Committee now to follow.    The group resumes its monthly meetings, after a summer recess, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the garden-level meeting room of the Civic Annex Building, 322 N. Commercial St., Bellingham. That is a late change of location.    Election of a chair and vice chair top the agenda for today, but the heart of new business is to begin to discuss and define agriculture viability in the county and also review immediate priorities, all based on the new Ag Strategic Plan.    Other agenda items are to set an AAC work plan for 2018-19 and to review the guidelines of the Purchase of Development Rights program regarding parcels with or without water rights. The Groundwork    The plan arose from the committee some 10 years ago, and its update was a project of earlier this year.   Still highest among the objectives carried over from 2011 is this: “to ensure a minimum of 100,000 acres of land are available for agricultural use to maintain the necessary land base to support an economically viable agricultural industry.”

Dairying is Whatcom’s strongest farm sector. (File photo)    The Agriculture Advisory Committee wants the county to reaffirm this objective and to make it a standing goal of the council, according to a letter sent by chair Larry Davis and vice chair Dave Buys in May.    County policy makers should ask “filtering questions” as to whether a measure they are considering will help or hinder the plan as well as an economically viable ag sector and “a delicate balance” between ag viability and environmental objectives, the letter states.    It’s also key that the county keep up at least one staff position supporting the AAC and the Ag Strategic Plan, they say.   Ongoing Whatcom County programs that should continue are:    • the property tax reduction for having open space in agricultural use.    • the Purchase of Development Rights program as a voluntary tool for preservation of farmland.

to get going on these two highest priorities:    • designating agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance.    This is meant to be a strengthening action for designating farmlands, using language contained in a 2016 update of the county Comprehensive Plan.    This is part of the priority statement: “When applying (13 listed) criteria, the process should result in designating an amount of agricultural resource lands sufficient to maintain and enhance the economic viability of the agricultural industry in the county over the long term, and to retain agricultural support businesses, such as processors, farm suppliers and equipment maintenance and repair facilities.”    • reviewing Agricul-

Digging in    To start, the Ag Advisory Committee plans

ture zoning code to ensure that uses support and do not interfere with overall agricultural use of property and neighboring properties.    This goal seeks to protect against unhelpful land uses.    “There are many uses currently allowed within the Agriculture District through permitted, accessory, administrative approval and conditional-use permits. The AAC would like to review these uses to determine whether uses support and do not interfere with agricultural activities in this zone.” (Agriculture District zoning code is in Chapter 20.40 of the Whatcom County Code.)    Short- to medium-term priorities of the ACC, to be See Ag advisory on A10

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A10 • Wednesday, October 10, 2018 •


Big news really is Canada dairy concessions As trade is enhanced, milk price jumps    An 11th-hour agreement the last day of September between the U.S. and Canada will keep the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a three-country pact. It will be referred to as the U.S. Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA). But no end is in sight in the China trade war.    Mexico and the U.S. came to an agreement first in August, which pressured Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to match — with dairy issues the main obstacle in the way. Now in this new agreement Trudeau caught heat immediately from dairy farmers for his concessions, but he promised them “compensation” for their losses.    The new 16-year agreement mandates that the Canadian government eliminates its Class 7 milk pricing scheme within six months. That program has enabled Canada to sell surplus nonfat dry milk on the world market at bargain basement prices, thus hurting U.S. and European Union powder markets. American dairy producers will also receive increased access (3.6 percent) to Canada’s dairy market.    Details are still being analyzed, but at first glance the agreement appears to benefit U.S. dairy farmers. That is particularly true if the U.S. recaptures any markets for cheese and nonfat dry milk to Mexico that might have been lost during

By Lee Mielke

the dispute and if the agreement pressures China into concessions the Trump administration is seeking.    The increased access comes through tariff rate quotas (TRQs) that phase in over the course of 19 years, explains the Chicago-based FC Stone international financial-services company.    “For instance, it looks like the U.S. will be able to ship 2,084 MT (45.9 million pounds) of cheese to Canada tariff-free in the first year the agreement is in force, with half the cheese being for industrial use and half for retail. The Canadian government will oversee issuing import licenses to companies in Canada who wish to import U.S. dairy products at the zero percent tariff rate,” but FC Stone adds this warning: “It’s possible some of the import licenses will be allocated to entities in Canada who aren’t interested in importing product but will sit on their licenses to keep others from importing product.”    “Once the formal agreement is approved by Canada’s Prime Minister and Mexico’s President (likely in the next two months), it will have to undergo a 60-day review process by Congress and would likely be enacted

sometime in 2019.”    The Oct. 2 Global Dairy Trade auction (GDT) was somewhat overshadowed by the new USMCA, but seemed to take the new agreement in stride. The GDT’s weighted average of products offered dropped 1.9 percent, after slipping 1.3 percent Sept. 18 and 0.7 percent on Sept. 4. Product was abundant as sellers brought 92.6 million pounds to the sale, up from 86.3 million in the last event and the highest total this year.    The declines were led by butter, down 5.9 percent, after it inched 0.1 percent lower in the last event. Anhydrous milkfat followed, down 4.4 percent, after a 0.6 percent loss last time. GDT cheddar was down 1.2 percent, following a 3.5 percent plunge, and skim milk power was off 0.3 percent, following a 1.1 percent decline.    FC Stone equates the GDT 80 percent butterfat butter price to $1.7772 per pound U.S. CME butter closed Friday at $2.29. GDT cheddar cheese equated to $1.5732 per pound and compares to Friday’s CME block cheddar at $1.65. GDT skim milk powder averaged 89.88 cents per pound and whole milk powder averaged $1.2489. CME Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Friday at 86 cents per pound.    USDA announced the September Federal Order Class III benchmark milk price Oct. 3 up $1.14, to $16.09 per hundredweight (cwt.). It is 27 cents below September 2017, but the highest Class III price since last November. It equates to $1.38 per gallon, up from $1.29 in August, but down from $1.41 a year ago. Un-

fortunately, Class III futures indicate that this may be the peak for the year.    The nine-month Class III average stands at $14.62, down from $16.12 a year ago but above the $14.38 of 2016.    The September Class IV price is $14.81, up 18 cents from August, but $1.05 below a year ago. The ninemonth average hit $13.95, down from $15.51 a year ago but above the $13.65 of 2016.    The California Department of Food and Agriculture is issuing its second to last 4b and 4b prices, as the newly approved Federal Order begins with the November price and will be announced by the USDA.    Cash dairy prices started October strong, then reversed. The block cheddar climbed to $1.7475 per pound Monday, the highest CME price since Nov. 1, 2017, but closed the first Friday of the month at $1.65, down 4 cents on the week and 11 cents below a year ago. The barrels finished at $1.3675, down 1.5 cents on the week, 37.75 cents below a year ago and 28.25 cents below the blocks. There were 21 train cars of block traded on the week, and 36 of barrel.   American-style cheese production is or has already increased, as heavier fourth -quarter orders are beginning to come in, according to Dairy Market News. Inventory is reported as tight.   Western cheese demand remains strong. Intakes from retail stores and restaurants have increased and contributed to higher block prices. Mozzarella de-

Ag advisory: Review of rural zones on list of things to do

mand by pizza manufacturers is very active and stocks are starting to tighten.    Cash butter climbed to $2.3350 per pound Tuesday, the highest level since Aug. 15, but closed Friday at $2.29, down 3 cents on the week and 5 cents below a year ago, with a hefty 50 train cars trading hands on the week at the CME.    Grade A nonfat dry milk inched up to 88 cents per pound Monday, but closed Friday at 86 cents, down 1.5 cents. Still, it is 3.5 cents above a year ago on six sales.    The spot dry whey market continued to reach new highs and closed Friday at 56.25 cents per pound, up 1.25 cents on the week.    The Northwest Dairy Association makes these price projections for the Class III price and Pacific Northwest blend price: Month Class PNW III Blend Sept. $16.09 $15.50 (current) Oct. $15.80 $16.05 Nov. $16.00 $16.00 Dec. $16.00 $15.95 Jan. $16.10 $15.65 Feb. $15.75 $15.65 March $15.80 $15.70 April $15.95 $15.80 May $15.95 $15.90    Lee Mielke, of Lynden, is editor of the Mielke Market Weekly. Whatcom County has about 100 dairy farms.

Continued from A9

addressed over the next one to five years, are to:    • review Rural zones for any additional protective measures. Work with the greater community to identify any new or changed zoning designations that may be needed in rural areas.    • gain a flexible policy framework. The AAC wants policy to allow for variable development actions that provide for the protection of best agricultural areas while supporting development at zoned densities. This may include a parcel reconfiguration tool as one development action option.    • pursuing a natural resources marketplace. Work with relevant groups on water issues, density credit program development and other planning-related incentive programs that could use the marketplace to compensate farmers for the services they provide. This idea arose initially from farmers’ comments that they would be willing to trade off their ability to develop their land in exchange for obtaining a legal right to water. We service what we sell!


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Wednesday, October 10, 2018 • • A11

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Country Life October 2018  

Take a look at our local agriculture!

Country Life October 2018  

Take a look at our local agriculture!