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Country Life

Gardening • CL2 Dairy • CL4 Go Green • CL4

Section CL • • Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Raspberry growers favor stronger state commission

The New family operates a 160-acre tree farm. (Courtesy photo)

Local family wins state tree farming award Raspberries in the field look great, but the 2018 market for them is bleak.

September vote will see about keeping National Council By Calvin Bratt

  WHATCOM — ­ Amid turmoil about a poor 2018 market for raspberries, commercial growers have given a thumbs-up on proposed changes to strengthen their state commission.    The June vote needed to be positive in two ways

to pass, and it was, reports Henry Bierlink, executive director of the Lynden-based Washington Red Raspberry Commission.    The Washington State Department of Agriculture conducted the referendum on changes to the laws that guide the grower commission. Its board of directors had developed the ideas.    The outcome was 65 percent favorable on a pervote basis and 96 percent supportive by volume of production of the growers. That means large growers were proportionately more in support.    These changes are ap-

proved:    • Authority to allow the WRRC board to set the annual assessment rate at the end of each harvest (by Oct. 31) rather than have the current pre-set rate of one-half cent per pound every year.    • Authority to allow the WRRC board to set the assessment rate at whatever level is felt to be needed within the range of zero to 2 cents per pound.    • Changing the requirement that all assessments are collected by Oct. 15 of a year. Instead, payments can be spread out from DecemSee Vote on CL3

Nourse farm in Snohomish County has July 21 open house   WHATCOM — The New family of Bellingham, owners of Nourse Tree Farm LLC in Snohomish County, was named 2018 Tree Farmer of the Year at the Washington Farm and Forestry Association’s annual meeting.    The New family received American Tree Farm System certification of their 160-acre tree farm last year, although they have actively managed their forestland for seven years and have owned it for 75 years.    “To be honest, I was quite surprised to hear that

I was receiving the Tree Farmer of the Year award,” said David New. “I thought there were people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have.”   David credits the Washington State University Extension Forestry program and the Washington Farm Forestry Association with helping the family develop a forest management plan and fulfill their stewardship goals.    In conjunction with the Snohomish Conservation District, the New family restored over 30 acres of fish habitat by planting conifers in the riparian area and reengineering the stream. One of the stream’s side channels had led into a grassy field, which resulted in the death of a number of spawning salmon.    “One of our many

goals is restoring fish habitat,” said Ryan Williams, program integration manager at the Snohomish Conservation District. “We’re here to help landowners improve the stewardship of their land.”    Because of these restoration efforts, the Nourse Tree Farm has served as an outdoor classroom for school groups and WSU Extension classes. The New family also donates firewood to a local church that distributes it to members in need.   “The New family’s commitment to be good stewards of their forestland and their desire to educate their community and share their story is why they deserve the Tree Farmer of the Year award,” said Jenny See Tree farm on CL3

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To Market, to Market

Dakota Stranik brings her Enterprise Road produce to the Lynden Farmers Market. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Lynden event is thriving now on Saturdays By Calvin Bratt

  LYNDEN ­ — Twenty vendors had their canopies set up and were selling a diversity of crafts and produce in the fourth week of the Lynden Farmers Market, now on Saturdays.   Perfect weather was also gracing the day July 7, helping draw in visitors.    This was the line-up:    • Rabble & Roost, Dakota Stranik, of Ferndale, produce, fruit, eggs and meat    • The Flower Guys, brothers Stephen and Jonathan Wright with their grandmother JoAnn Wright, fresh cut flowers    • Anytime Toffee, Tara Wright, of Ferndale    • Slanted Sun Farm, of

Everson, all kinds of certified organic produce.   • The Little Things, Marlona Reid, artistically crafted soaps, lotions, lip balms and shampoos    • Nature’s Treasures by Claudia, creations from all recycled materials    • Bee’s Choice Honey, Russ Deptuch, Ferndale, honey    • Farm to Table and Table to Soul, decorative sayings on signs    • Nooksack Blueberries, Jim Stanton, of Nooksack, many varieties of blueberries    • Soul Sisters Baking, Jenna and Lacey, of Bellingham, baked goodies   • Original Designs, Gary Phillips, of Lynden, handcrafted wood items    • Bob Porter, graphic artist and cartoonist, of Ferndale    • Silver Creek Farm, onions, leeks, salad greens    • Made by Heart, needle felting, yarning, quilting    • Tea Tree Soap Co., of

Blaine, handmade herbal and vegetable soaps   • Misty Mountain Farms, Robert Vitali, Deming, all sorts of garden produce    • Wildrye Farms, of Bellingham, responsibly grown seasonal flowers   • Timbergreen Toys and Jewelry    • Threads by Teresa, clothing and accessories   • Kinder Creatures, decorative kids’ stuff    The market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday in Centennial Park at Fourth and Grover streets.


Summer’s here — keep your garden looking great     Summer is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest, and with long days and warm weather, you’re likely finding yourself spending more time outside than in. As you enjoy evenings on your deck and weekends in the garden, here are a few tips to keep your plants looking their best.    First, July is the time to start keeping a close eye out for pests and disease in the garden. Up until now, you’ve enjoyed watching your spring-planted flowers grow, bloom and thrive, but with summer heat comes increased plant stress, and thus opportunities for insects and diseases to attack your prized possessions.    One of the most common diseases to affect plants is powdery mildew. This gray, dusty film coats plants’ leaves and, left unchecked, can severely damage or even kill plants. Mildew thrives in temperatures that are mild to warm and it likes damp or humid conditions — exactly some of the weather we’ve had lately — so it’s time to spray for it. Control mildew’s spread with Bonide Bon-Neem or neem oil, an organic spray safe to use on just about anything. In addition to mildew control, a neem oil-based spray will kill several types of harmful pests such as aphids, so it’s a useful tool to add to your plant-care arsenal.    Another issue to watch out for this time of year is budworm on your petunias, geraniums and calibrachoa (or million bells). This small

By David Vos

green or tan caterpillar has a voracious appetite for flower buds and blooms and can quickly decimate your plants, leaving them devoid of flowers.   Thankfully, budworm is easy to kill with the right product. As soon as you see any bites taken out of your flowers (or in mid-July, preventatively), spray your plants with Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, an insecticide which contains a bacteria-derived compound that affects the nervous system of budworms, causing them to stop eating and starve. This compound poses no risk to humans, and as an organic insecticide Captain Jack’s is both safe to use and incredibly effective. Even heavily damaged plants will recover from budworm damage with fresh new blooms in just a couple of weeks’ time.    Now, with spring’s color riot of blooming bulbs, shrubs and trees in the rearview mirror, your landscaping might need some extra color for summer. Panicle hydrangeas are great additions to any yard and grow well in partial shade or full sun — and they bloom from

early July until mid-autumn! Unlike traditional mophead hydrangeas with their blue, purple or pink ball-shaped flowers, panicle hydrangeas have cone-shaped blooms in hues of white, green or pink (or a combination thereof) and their colors are unaffected by soil type.    If you’re looking for a panicle hydrangea to add a burst of color to your yard this summer, “Pinky Winky” has been one of my favorites in recent years, with blossoms that take on a unique two-toned coloration of pink and white. “Fire Light” starts white and quickly turns to a rich pomegranate pink that lasts until early autumn. And one of the most popular varieties among gardeners is “Limelight,” with stunning chartreuse blooms. All of these varieties are very easy to grow, even for the lessexperienced gardener, and add loads of flowers to the garden throughout summer.    Finally, if you love perennials and your garden needs a strong bloomer for mid to late summer, consider perennial hibiscus. With tropical-looking hibiscus flowers measuring eight to nine inches across, this plant is sure to wow. And since perennial hibiscus are hardy to minus-30 degrees F, there’s little question that they’ll survive our winters.    Enjoy the beauty of our Pacific Northwest summer and make the most of this season in the garden!    David Vos is general manager of VanderGiessen Nursery Inc. of Lynden.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018 • • CL3

Vote: Referendum on national council this fall Continued from CL1

Some local raspberry fields are not being picked at all this summer.

ber into June, better reflecting the cash-flow needs of both farmers and processors.    On the second point of assessment rate, the current WRRC board of directors made this claim pre-vote in May: “The commission is committed to ensuring the sum of all federal and state assessments does not exceed 2 cents.”    The state referendum is against the backdrop of another upcoming September vote on the continued existence of the National Processed Raspberry Council that was created in 2013. A petition was signed by over 10 percent of raspberry

growers to trigger this confidence referendum.    The NPRC collects a penny-per-pound assessment on raspberries put into the U.S. market.   The national council leads the way for the entire industry — both domestic growers of raspberries as well as importers — on health research studies relating to red raspberries. Currently, 14 studies are going, addressing cardiovascular function, diabetes, bone health and more.    The NPRC will also soon launch a health research database at that will house published health studies related to red raspberries.

Officials hearing about bleak 2018 market situation Long-term efforts good, but immediate help is sought, they are told By Calvin Bratt

An industry perspective    This is the picture presented in a June 2018 po-

sition statement from the Washington Red Raspberry Commission:   Washington raspberry growers are asking federal and state representatives to address inequities causing rapid growth in imported berries and threatening the future of a valuable domestic farm product.    In short, local growers believe that illegally “dumped” foreign imports may be entering the U.S. and driving down raspberry prices. What is happening?   American consumers are eating more foreigngrown fruit than U.S. grown, but they may be unaware of the threat this poses to their health and safety as well as the environment. Fifty-three percent of fruit now comes from foreign producers. Washington’s red raspberry growers, producing about two-thirds of the nation’s volume of frozen and processed raspberries, are particularly hard hit. Continually falling prices combined with rising labor, regulatory and other production costs leave them uncertain of the future of their farms. Why is this happening?    U.S. farmers, including Washington red raspberry growers and processors, are very efficient. But the low cost of foreign producers and failings in current trade and commerce laws are causing a massive increase in imported berries. For example, Mexican berries not suitable for the fresh market in the U.S. increasingly are sold at below production

Tree farm: National winner selected next spring Continued from CL1

Knoth, co-chair of the Washington Tree Farm Program. “Their management approach, which incorporates sustainable harvests, wildlife enhancement and recreation, fulfills the spirt of being an American Tree Farm System-certified tree farmer.”    On July 21, 2018, the public is able to come to an open house and tour of the Nourse Tree Farm. It is at 1130 Stanwood-Bryant Rd., about 1.5 miles east of Interstate 5 from Exit 212 (Stanwood/Camano Island). It is the first place on the right at the bottom of the hill if you are coming from the freeway. Look for the State Tree Farmer of the Year sign.    More details are available on the Washington Tree Farm Program’s Events webpage (http://watreefarm. org/events/).    A video featuring the New family and the Nourse Tree Farm is available on the Washington Tree Farm Program’s Youtube Channel at y87xvu34.    The Washington Tree Farm Program administers the certification of over 400,000 acres of forestland under the American Tree Farm System, a program of the American Forest Foundation. ATFS is the largest and oldest sustainable woodland system in the United States, internationally recognized, meeting

strict third-party certification standards. As part of the certification process, each state participating in the ATFS recognizes one of its members as Tree Farmer of the Year.    A national winner will be selected by the American

Forest Foundation at its annual leadership conference in spring 2019.    Whatcom County has a chapter of the Washington Farm Forestry Association, with a slate of officers including Don Assink as current president.

costs for the frozen and processed markets, pricing out the Washington farmers.    Our farmers pay 20 to 30 times more for labor and, with an increasing shortage of labor and activists’ pressure, are likely to pay more. Foreign farmers do not have anywhere near the same environmental, worker safety, food safety and other protections that add substantial costs to American farmers.

American production of frozen and processed raspberries comes from Whatcom and Skagit county farms. The trade problems threaten a significant portion of one of the remaining vital farming areas left in the Puget Sound region. What does this mean for consumers?

How does this impact Washington’s family berry farmers?   Northwest Washington is home to the largest concentration of family raspberry and blueberry growers in the nation. Raspberry farms of approximately 10,000 acres produce about 70 million pounds of berries. The mechanical harvesters plus highly automated processing facilities used by most of the 100 farms increases safety by minimizing human exposure. Most fruit is used for the frozen U.S. retail market, the food service industry and as ingredients for a wide variety of products. About two-thirds of the

  Consumers are buying imported food without sufficient awareness of the increased safety and health risks as well as how their decisions negatively impact the environment and worker pay and protections. Farmers are working to address this gap in knowledge and when consumer information improves, they will ask where our legislative leaders stand on this.    The safety and health See Market on CL4

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   WHATCOM — Raspberry growers are shaking the bushes to get the word out about their market plight this year.    Representatives of the Washington Red Raspberry Commission were due to speak to the County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday, July 10, at the invitation of council member Satpal Sidhu, who has a background in berry processing himself.    County leaders will be challenged on ways they can help with the problem, states the commission’s July newsletter, released Monday. “We trust everyone’s efforts will result in better times ahead.”    Also, state Sen. Doug Ericksen recently met with growers and brought the state director of the USDA Farm Service Agency to Lynden to explore ideas for short-term help. One possible option being explored is to build on a recent sale of raspberry puree to the USDA institutional program. Discussions continue along that line.    It’s time for the big commercial raspberry industry, with about 9,500 acres in production in dominant Whatcom County, to

“share our story,” says the Lynden-based commission.    This is the newsletter’s summary: “We don’t need to tell growers how tough raspberry markets are this year. A deluge of imported raspberries has weakened the market for our fruit and left some growers without a place to pack their raspberries. We sympathize with the stress this creates for growers and are doing whatever we can to look for opportunities to help.   “Most solutions are longer term than what is needed right now and we will continue to work on them. Research, product development, marketing and fair trade programs are in place as they need to be. But short-term help is also needed.”    2018 will be the fourth straight year of falling prices for Whatcom County’s raspberries, according to a graph from the Washington Red Raspberry Commission.   The average price across three grades of fruit — for juice, straight pack, and high-grade IQF (Individual Quick Freeze) — has gone from $1.42 per pound in 2015 to 90.6 cents in 2016 and 78.5 cents in 2017.    The drop is expected to be extreme this year, with some fields not worth the cost of harvesting. Some growers relying on selling for juice concentrate do not have a buyer for their fruit.

   Meanwhile, right now there are two open seats representing Washington raspberry production on the national council that need nominees ASAP. The nomination period has been extended to July 15.   Applications forms are available by contacting NPRC executive director Tom Krugman at 360-3540948 or tkrugman@redrazz. org or USDA marketing specialist Hakim Fobia at 202720-4835 or hakim.fobia@    The state commission will then coordinate a grower survey to determine who the Washington industry wants as representatives on this board.

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Market: What can be done to improve raspberry market situation Continued from CL3

risks are established. The FDA reports imported food is five times more likely to have pesticide residues above allowable limits than domestic food. The Centers for Disease Control reports an increase in food-related illnesses at a pace consistent with the rise in foreigngrown food.    Mexican, Serbian, Chinese and other farm workers are paid as low as $5 per day in some countries, with a minimum wage of $11 per day typical. Few worker protections exist and photos from foreign farm fields show children of young ages applying pesticides without protection. Environmental damage from foreign farm operations is widespread while U.S. farmers work hard to comply with numerous protections.    Current labeling laws are not transparent about imported fruit. Canadian packagers can create a berry

mix and not reveal origin of the fruit except the berry with the highest percentage used. This does not give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions. What can federal legislators do?    We are asking our federal Congressional delegation to:    1. Improve import information. Insufficient data is available on imported fruit. This is unacceptable and irresponsible. Large loopholes exist that allow importers to circumvent existing trade laws designed to prevent the kind of dumping and illegal trade activity now occurring.    2. Improve consumer labels. Consumers want and deserve to know where their food is coming from. An Australian-style labeling system would support informed consumer decisions and support farmers who are growing the produce

these consumers want.    3. Simplify taking action on illegal trade. As it stands now, the cost of filing for trade action is too costly and burdensome. The return of the Byrd Amendment would enable smaller groups like our frozen and processed raspberry growers to bring attention to questionable or illegal trade practices. This would also reduce such action when those involved understand that action may be taken more easily.   4. Improve NAFTA. Farmers support free trade and fair trade. Current rules support the Mexican disposal of a fresh market by-product into the U..S market, threatening the future of our niche industry. Government leaders must understand we can’t have a system that supports unregulated foreign producers at the expense of regulated American farmers.    5. Broaden food safety laws. We have new regulations to protect consum-

ers. While farmers support reasonable regulations, it is also true that without stricter health, safety and environmental requirements on imported food the playing field is far from level. Farmers support legislation that would require retailers to accept the burden of selling products that do not meet acceptable health and safety standards when patterns of negligence are exposed. Retailers determine what is made accessible to consumers and need to be accountable for decisions that harm consumers.    6. Provide protection for farm workers. Farmers need workers and these workers need jobs. Some activists and groups seek to leverage the current shortage of workers for their political advantage. Efforts to remove overtime exemption for farm workers, restrict or eliminate guest workers, or further raise labor costs will simply mean these jobs will go to foreign farms where

they have far less pay, less protection and less access to the benefits American farmers provide. What can our state representatives and administration do?    1. Improved consumer labels and information. While this is best done nationally, Washington can lead the way by requiring improved labeling and consumer information. This will help consumers make informed decisions that protect their health, safety and the environment while helping ensure a more level playing field for Washington farmers.   2. Provide needed funding. The state can support Washington Red Raspberry Commission requests for funds such as for its plant breeding project. The state through its Department of Agriculture could also support the effort to inform consumers of the quality, health, safety and environ-


Milk price inches up 3 cents; tariff wars put dairy in turmoil    The June Federal Order Class III benchmark milk price crept up to its highest level in six months, but that doesn’t tell the real story.    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the June Class III milk price July 5 at $15.21 per hundredweight, up just 3 cents from May, but that is $1.23 below June 2017. It equates to $1.31 per gallon, down from $1.41 a year ago.    The dairy farm price recovery is quickly fading as current tariff wars have global trade trumped in turmoil. Over years, the U.S. dairy industry has become a major exporter, particularly to Mexico and China and, for the time being, those exports will begin adding to already bulging stockpiles of cheese and nonfat dry milk unless some agreements can be reached.    At the Global Dairy Trade auction held July 3,

By Lee Mielke

the weighted average of products offered dropped 5 percent, the biggest drop since March 7, 2017.    With the global market becoming a dumping ground for nonfat dry milk powder from Canada, the European Union and now India, it should come as no surprise that powdered products led the declines, followed by cheese and butter.

  U.S. dairy markets were mostly lower in the Fourth of July holidayshortened week, thanks to the GDT and global trade uncertainty.   Cheddar blocks closed that Friday, July 6, at $1.5425 per pound, down 1.25 cents on the week and a penny below a year ago. The barrels finished at $1.2450, down 14.5 cents on the week and 13 cents below a year ago, the lowest Chicago Mercantile Exchange price since July 30, 2009, and a whopping 29.75 cents below the blocks, a differential that is normally 3-5 cents.   Cheese demand is slipping, according to Midwestern producers’ reports to Dairy Market News, and there is growing concern over the markets. Some Western manufacturers are cutting output, but abundant milk supplies are

keeping cheese output active.   The bleeding butter price paused Friday at $2.17 per pound, but that was down 9.75 cents on the week, the lowest CME price since Feb. 22, 2018, and 41.5 cents below a year ago.   Dairy Market News says butter sales have softened according to some producers and cream has been available further into the summer this year than expected. Western butter stocks are heavy and more than enough to meet needs.    Tough times have returned to the dairy farm, although it can easily be argued that they never really left. It’s a serious situation right now. The Trump administration has said it will defend farmers in the tariff-trade war. That remains to be seen, as to how and when.    “The whole trade talk

thing has taken probably two to two and a half bucks off the price. These guys are just used as a pawn. It’s tough,” said Dan McBride, head of milk pricing and market programs for Darigold, on July 9.    The Northwest Dairy Association makes these price projections for the Class III price and Pacific Northwest blend price: Month Class PNW III Blend June $15.21 $15.40 (current) July $14.22 $14.60 Aug. $14.71 $14.40 Sept. $15.22 $14.80 Oct. $15.47 $14.90 Nov. $15.51 $15.05 Dec. $15.45 $15.10 Jan. $15.40 $15.20 Feb. $15.45 $15.25    Lee Mielke, of Lynden, is editor of the Mielke Market Weekly. Whatcom County has about 100 dairy farms.

mental difference between locally grown berries and foreign berries. What is the Washington Red Raspberry Commission doing about this?    We are working with the Washington, D.C.-based trade law firm King & Spalding to evaluate our options in pursuing potential violations of trade laws. We are also seeking support from our government leaders as outlined in this document.    Most importantly, we are seeking the support of consumers as we educate them about the significant differences between imported berries and locally grown berries from their own state. We believe as they understand the differences in health, safety, worker protections and the environment, their consumer decisions will be affected and they will also want to know why this unfair trade situation was allowed to develop.

Perdue says ag will be guarded against tariff retaliations   WASHINGTON, D.C. ­— President Donald Trump will protect American farmers from China’s trade retaliation, said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as trade war talk heated up in late June.    “There is no denying that the disruption in trade relations with China is unsettling to many in agriculture, but if the president succeeds in changing China’s behavior, America’s farmers will reap the benefits,” said Perdue, from the USDA Press office.    “In the meantime, the president has instructed me to craft a strategy to support our farmers in the face of retaliatory tariffs.”    Perdue paid a visit to Washington and Idaho July 2-4, with stops in Pullman, Colfax, Spokane and Richland.

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Country Life July 2018  
Country Life July 2018