Economy

Agriculture
2:50 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Idaho Farmers Sue Monsanto Over Genetically Modified Wheat

Credit JayneAndd / Flickr Creative Commons

Farmers in Idaho have filed a potentially class action lawsuit against seed giant Monsanto after genetically engineered wheat was found in an eastern Oregon field.

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Transportation
8:18 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Fueling Up For 84 Cents Per 'eGallon'

Credit tinatinatinatinatina / Flickr

Imagine paying 84 cents per gallon for your commute, compared to today's statewide average of $3.80 in Idaho for a gallon of gas. 84 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent is how much the U.S. Department of Energy figures it costs to recharge an electric car in Idaho. The agency's assistant secretary David Danielson announced an online cost comparison calculator Tuesday for what he calls the "e-Gallon."

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Electric Cars
8:07 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Low Cost Leases Electrify Plug-In Car Sales On West Coast

Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A couple years ago, Democratic politicians at the state and national levels set heady goals for battery powered cars. For example, here's President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union speech.

"With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015," he said.

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Agriculture
2:30 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Monsanto To Open New Wheat Technology Center In Idaho

Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio/StateImpact Idaho

Seed and herbicide maker Monsanto Co. plans to hire 24 people at a new center in southern Idaho where its scientists will study ways to boost wheat production.

The Capital Press reports St. Louis-based Monsanto has gotten the go-ahead from the Idaho Wheat Commission for the Wheat Technology Center in Filer.

Monsanto told Idaho officials in an e-mail this represents a "compelling opportunity... to apply our technology expertise in a global crop that can benefit from innovation."

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Agriculture
9:29 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Careful Wheat Farmers, Seed Purveyors Say Mistakes Still Happen

Dana Herron sells seeds in Connell, Wash.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

There’s been a lot of speculation but few answers so far about how genetically modified wheat ended up in an Oregon field. Northwest farmers and seed purveyors say they go to great lengths to keep each variety of grain distinct, tracked and pure. And yet they concede, mistakes can still happen.

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Agriculture
8:03 am
Mon June 3, 2013

How Scientists Test For Genetically Modified Wheat

Credit JayneAndd / Flickr Creative Commons

The European Union and Korea have said they will test U.S. shipments of wheat for genetic modification. That’s after last week's report that an unapproved strain of GM wheat developed by Monsanto was found on an Oregon farm.

There isn’t a commercially available test on the market that can identify genetically modified wheat. Scientists use a method called the polymerase chain reaction.

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Liquor
7:44 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Liquor Privatization In Washington, One Year Later

Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Over the weekend, the state of Washington marked the one year anniversary of grocers, big box stores and other private retailers being able to sell liquor in Washington state.

The voter approved privatization initiative has sent prices unexpectedly higher, and led to significant increases in sales at Idaho stores near the Washington border.  In Washington, government is collecting more tax revenue than anticipated.

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Agriculture
8:01 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Updated: Japan, South Korea Halt Some U.S. Wheat Purchases

Credit flickr/jonny boy

Japan has temporarily suspended white winter wheat purchases from the Pacific Northwest.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture announced the move in response to a report that U.S. regulators found genetically modified wheat on an Oregon farm.

Reuters reports South Korea has also suspended U.S. wheat imports.

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Farming
8:44 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Discovery Of Genetically Modified Wheat Could Jeopardize Northwest Exports

Oregon State University and the USDA say they've confirmed wheat growing in eastern Oregon was genetically modified. That's lead to concerns that consumers in Asia and Europe won't want to buy wheat from the region
Credit flickr/jonny boy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that an Oregon field is contaminated with a genetically modified strain of wheat. Northwest growers are concerned the finding could hurt this year’s export sales.

About ten years ago Monsanto field tested a wheat variety that was resident to the herbicide Roundup in 16 states. But it was never approved for commercial use.

Now the USDA is investigating why that genetically modified wheat appeared in Oregon this spring.

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Economic Development
6:02 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Why Senator Crapo Hopes Chobani Will Soon Be On School Menus

Sen. Crapo likes blueberry yogurt, but he won't say it's his favorite.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo toured the Chobani yogurt plant in Twin Falls Tuesday. Along with Chobani executives and agricultural leaders, Crapo hopes that soon school children in Idaho and around the country will be eating more Greek yogurt.

Crapo says the USDA may add Chobani yogurt as an option on school menus. He says the department is considering a pilot program in four states that would bring the protein-rich dairy product to kids this fall. This could mean more Chobani jobs in Idaho.

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Electric Cars
8:42 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Electric Car Sales Booming In Seattle And Portland, Not Idaho

Nissan Leaf.
Credit Nissan

The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. Wednesday's announcement runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.

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StateImpact Idaho
12:16 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Bottom Rung: Longtime Idaho Economist Stresses Education And Healthcare To Boost Wages

Idaho has the largest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the country. That’s been the jumping off point for StateImpact Idaho’s series examining wages; we’re calling it Bottom Rung.

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StateImpact Idaho
12:14 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Bottom Rung: The Politics Of Increasing Idaho’s Minimum Wage

Seth Harris is the acting director of the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Credit U.S. Department of Labor / Flickr Creative Commons

As in many states, Idaho’s minimum wage hasn’t changed since 2009, when the hourly minimum was boosted by the federal government.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found 31,000 hourly Idaho workers earned the minimum wage, $7.25, or less in 2012. That’s a 63 percent increase from 2011.

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StateImpact Idaho
9:33 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Bottom Rung: Why One Idaho Border Business Chose Washington

Tim Skubitz stands in front of his McDonalds in Newport, Washington. It's right across the street from Oldtown, Idaho.
Credit Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The border between Washington and Idaho is like a petri dish for what the minimum wage does to the economy. That’s where two extremes meet. Idaho has the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. While Washington’s is nearly $2 more.

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StateImpact Idaho
9:55 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Bottom Rung: Why Building A Strong Idaho Economy Takes Public Investment

Wells Fargo representative Josh Plummer talked to dozens of would-be call center workers at this week's job fair
Credit Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Bob Lokken, CEO of Boise-based WhiteCloud Analytics, is three years into building his new company. It designs software for health care professionals with the aim of allowing doctors and others to interrogate vast amounts of health care data. Lokken founded it after his previous company, ProClarity Corporation, was bought by Microsoft.

Recently, he showed me around the downtown office where software developers work intently behind large computer screens. I wasn’t there to talk about better health outcomes through guided data analysis; I was there to talk about Idaho’s workforce.

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StateImpact Idaho
10:41 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Bottom Rung: The Workforce Shift That’s Costing Idaho Good-Paying Jobs

A Steelhead Construction worker measures siding for a new home west of Boise.
Credit Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Not long ago, you could hear the buzz of power saws all over the Treasure Valley. It was punctuated by the steady rhythm of hammers and nail guns. More than 10,000 homes went up in Ada and Canyon counties in the two years before the recession hit. Then, the sound stopped.

“’08 and ’09 were really hard,” says Aaron Wright of Steelhead Construction. He founded the siding and remodeling company as Idaho’s housing boom took hold. At the peak, Wright employed more than 30 people. When the market crashed, he scaled back to three.

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StateImpact Idaho
6:03 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Bottom Rung: Gov. Otter Touts Idaho’s Low Wages To Attract Gun Companies

Credit Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is using Idaho’s low wages as a selling point. In a letter sent to out-of-state gun manufacturers last month to encourage them to relocate to Idaho, Otter touts the comparatively low cost of labor here.

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StateImpact Idaho
9:56 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Bottom Rung: Why An Influx Of Retirees To Idaho Is Creating More Low-Wage Jobs

Jordyn Skinner is a freshman at Boise State University. She also works part-time at Franco's Pizzeria.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

There’s a brand new pizza joint in southeast Boise. It’s nestled in a mini-strip mall with a gas station, dry cleaner and hair salon.

On a recent Friday evening, Franco’s Pizzeria was just starting to pick up. It’s a tiny place. The cash register is only a few steps away from the industrial pizza ovens. There are a handful of tables and stools inside for someone who just wants a quick slice.

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StateImpact Idaho
9:39 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Bottom Rung: Two Idaho Workers Talk About Life On Low Wages

John was an IT director 10 years ago. Now he spends his workdays behind the register of a Boise store.
Credit Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Wages are lower in Idaho than in nearly ever other state. That’s often chalked up to Idaho’s rural nature and low cost of living. But recently, the state has lost ground.

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Gun Industry
5:43 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

May Is Second Amendment Protection Month In Idaho

Credit Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has designated May as Second Amendment Protection Month.

His signed declaration cites Idaho's gun-friendly ranking with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Otter's declaration also seeks to "encourage business leaders who are looking for a new operation for their locations to become new corporate citizens in a state that will encourage their continued success."

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