Agriculture

Agriculture
12:23 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Why Boise Owns A 7 Square-Mile Farm (Hint: It's For Your Poop)

Ben Nydegger on one of five biosolids "bunkers" at Boise's 20 Miles South Farm.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Do you ever wonder where your poop goes when you flush the toilet? If you live in Boise, it ends up somewhere a little out of the ordinary. It goes to a place called 20 Mile South Farm, so named because it's 20 miles south of Boise.

“Everybody who flushes the toilet contributes to this fertilizer right here,” Says Ben Nydegger, Boise's biosolids program manager.

Biosolids is the industry term for the stuff he’s standing next to. It’s a dark-brown pile about three-feet-tall and roughly twice the area of an Olympic swimming pool.

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Ranching
9:36 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Drought And Climate Change Put One Of Idaho's Oldest Industries In Danger

Logan Alder, 25, plans to take over his family ranch near Malad, Idaho.
Credit Julie Rose / For Boise State Public Radio

In a couple of weeks, Logan Alder will marry his girlfriend and move into a small house on the family ranch in Malad, Idaho. In another year, he’ll have an agriculture degree from Utah State University. But right now, he’s just a 25-year-old kid, knee-deep in muck.

Mud regularly builds up on the bottom of this large watering trough in a field where Alder’s keeping some of his 500 cattle. Usually a spigot keeps the trough full so muck can’t build up as easily. But lately, the well underneath is running so low the spigot merely sputters.

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Agriculture
6:27 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Small Tract Of Northwest Wine-Growing Soil Attracting Big Outside Investment

Gewurztraminer grapes at Kiona Vineyards on Red Mountain. The winery founders were some of the very first to try growing wine grapes in the small southeast Washington appellation.

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 6:39 pm

Wine harvest is underway in a small growing region in southeast Washington called Red Mountain. The dusty wedge of earth has been attracting an increasing amount of investment from winemakers from Napa, Canada and even Italy.

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Reader's Corner
6:00 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Imagining A Post-Antibiotic Future With Maryn McKenna

Antibiotics are ubiquitous in modern human life. Along with their well-known medical applications, they also are routinely used in agriculture, including our increasingly industrial production of meat.

But as resistant strains of bacteria continue to emerge, health authorities around the world are growing alarmed at the increasing impotence of antibiotics to fight disease. In fact, they worry we are on the verge of a total breakdown in the overall usefulness of these drugs. It’s a scenario of horrifying scope to those who understand the implications for human health.

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Agriculture
10:18 am
Thu August 28, 2014

USDA Launches New Dairy Insurance Program

Credit CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says dairy farmers can begin signing up Sept. 2 for a new program that replaces old subsidies.

The program is a kind of insurance that pays farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed prices shrink to a certain level. It replaces a program that paid farmers when milk prices sank too low.

Dairy farmers have struggled in recent years even with good milk prices. Feed costs have risen because of demand for corn from the ethanol industry and recent droughts.

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Agriculture
11:25 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Idaho Ag Group Says It Never Meant To Deny Access To Dairies

Credit MHall209 / Flickr Creative Commons

 This post was updated at 11:20 a.m. Aug. 27, 2014.

The Idaho dairy industry group that sent a letter to its members urging them to deny media tours and on-farm interviews now says it never meant to deny access.

Tuesday, after the Associated Press reported the letter was sent to 500 dairies, a public relations firm followed up with this statement from United Dairymen of Idaho CEO Karianne Fallow:

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Environment
4:32 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Shifting Climate Has North Dakota Farmers Swapping Wheat For Corn

Dan Selvig says wetter conditions helped convince his family to shift their plantings to corn.
John Ydstie NPR

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 9:29 am

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt.

But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that's a big benefit for farmers.

When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.

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Wildfires
5:13 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Northwest Cattle Ranchers Struggling With Wildfires

File photo of cattle receiving fresh water and feed after being stressed by fire.

Northwest cattle ranchers are struggling to get their herds out of the way of raging wildfires. Some herds have been lost, others badly injured.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Idaho Wheat Growers Impacted By Washington Export Terminal Shutdown

Northwest farmers' wheat is getting stalled at the Port of Vancouver once it leaves their local grain elevator.
Credit Daimon Eklund / Flickr Creative Commons

The Northwest wheat harvest is in full swing, but the export of grain has all but stopped at the Port of Vancouver, Wash. The shipments have been blocked because Washington state inspectors have stopped checking grain for export at the port because they don't want to cross a picket line in a labor dispute.

Farmers are calling for those inspections to resume after harvesting about 40 percent of Washington's wheat. Washington Wheat Growers Association President Nicole Berg farms 21,000 acres near the Tri-Cities.

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Agriculture
6:24 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Hot Weather A Mixed Blessing For Farmers

File photo of workers harvesting watermelons at Bellinger Farms in Hermiston, Oregon.

This summer's hot, dry weather has been a mixed blessing for Northwest farmers.

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Agriculture
6:19 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Northwest Farmers Worried About Visa Backup For Legal Migrant Workers

File photo of workers at a berry farm outside of Eltopia, Washington.

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 8:03 pm

A breakdown in a U.S. State Department computer system that processes foreign worker visas has sowed major worries at some Northwest orchards.

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Agriculture
9:44 am
Mon July 28, 2014

USDA Approves Emergency Grazing In Eastern Idaho

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved emergency haying and grazing on land normally used for the Conservation Reserve Program in parts of eastern Idaho.

Officials in Bingham, Bonneville, Fremont, Madison and Power counties requested the emergency access because of drought and crop damage. The USDA's Farm Service Agency in Idaho announced Monday that the requests were approved.

The emergency haying is allowed through the end of August, and participants must leave at least half of each field unhayed for wildlife. The hay can't be sold.

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Agriculture
2:44 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Twin Falls Haystack Bursts Into Flames; Will Burn For A Week

Hay, like this field, can spontaneously burst into flames if not stacked with care.
Credit Nikos Koutoulas / Flickr

Firefighters say nearly $100,000 of alfalfa went up in flames Thursday after a large stack spontaneously combusted in Twin Falls.

Rock Creek Fire District spokesman Taylor Hunsaker says the stack, which was made of 480 tons of hay, will burn for almost a week.

Craig Giles, who grew the alfalfa, says he hired a custom operator to bale it. He says the bales were stacked with enough distance between them to allow moisture and heat to escape.

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Water
7:02 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Farmers Urge EPA To 'Ditch' Proposed Clean Water Act Revisions

Angela Bailey farms decorative trees and shrubs near Gresham, Oregon.

Water is a common and often contentious issue in the West. But now, farmers across the country are also riled up because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to revise the 1972 Clean Water Act.

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Policy
12:04 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Why Idaho May Have Trouble Defending Its 'Ag-Gag' Law

Credit jennie-o / Flickr Creative Commons

On Wednesday a federal judge hears arguments on Idaho’s new “ag gag” law, which creates stiff punishments for people who surreptitiously video or photograph agricultural operations.

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Agriculture
6:27 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Northwest Wheat Harvest Could Be Down This Summer

Farmers in Oregon, Idaho and Washington are expected to harvest less wheat this summer. The weather forecast has a lot to do with it.

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Policy
2:24 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Dairymen Denied Joining Idaho's Ag-Gag Lawsuit

Credit MHall209 / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has denied a request by the Idaho Dairymen's Association to join Idaho in defending the recently passed law criminalizing surreptitious recording at agriculture facilities.

The Times-News reports that U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill shot down the request Monday. Winmill said in his ruling that the state can represent the dairymen's interests without the group getting involved.

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Agriculture
7:35 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

New Organic Fertilizer Less Smelly, More Popular With Farm Workers

Alan Schreiber is an organic and research farmer. He’s testing a new better-smelling organic liquid fertilizer at his farm near Eltopia, Washington.

When you think organic, you probably visualize fresh, sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables. But what makes that delicious organic produce grow?

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Agriculture
11:42 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Idaho Milk Processing Company To Pay $170,000 Fine

Credit Michael_McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

A south-central Idaho milk processing company has agreed to pay a $170,000 fine for dumping wastewater with acidity levels high enough to damage Jerome's wastewater treatment plant.

The Times-News reports that the Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement with Idaho Milk Products in a statement on Monday.

The agency says the company between March 2009 and July 2012 exceeded its acidity limit 138 times.

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Agriculture
4:07 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Washington's Third-Largest Cherry Crop Queued-Up This Season

File photo

Northwest sweet cherry growers say this season they'll likely pick their third-largest haul ever -- 20 million boxes.

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