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Christmas Trees & the tariff crossfires

October 31, 2011 --

Why Christmas trees were caught in the crossfire
By Kurt Kipp,
Daily Digger,
Association of Oregon Nurseries

Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Read, international trade reporter at The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.), takes a look at the possible causes and the impact of the recently resolved U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute, which resulted in high tariffs on U.S.-grown Christmas trees and other products. According to Read, politics may explain why Christmas trees and certain other goods got entangled in a trucking dispute:

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Mexico Lifts 20% Tariff on California Wine

October 30, 2011 --

Mexico Lifts 20 Percent Tariff on California Wine
By The Wine Institute

SAN FRANCISCO – Mexico eliminated retaliatory tariffs on 99 U.S. products, including a 20 percent tariff on U.S. wines, following U.S. approval of a Mexican trucking company’s permit to cross into the U.S. U.S. wine exports to Mexico had been subject to the retaliatory tariff resulting from a U.S./Mexico trade dispute regarding the safety of Mexican trucks in the U.S. In 2009, Mexico imposed the 20 percent tariff when the U.S. cancelled the permit program for Mexican trucks.

The 20 percent tariff was the second retaliation imposed by Mexico on U.S. wine imports in seven years. The first concerned a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute over the Byrd Steel Dumping Amendment, which the U.S. repealed in 2007.

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Oregon bats may be endangered

October 29, 2011 --

Oregon’s bats are in trouble
By Oregon Department of Fish And Wildlife

SALEM, Ore.—While black bats are winging their way to center stage on Halloween decorations and greeting cards, Oregon’s real bats aren’t doing so well: disease and habitat loss are threatening their survival. In fact, eight of Oregon’s 15 bats species are identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as in need of help. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists say that there are a number of things people can do to help the state’s only winged mammal—from building bat houses to watching bats to learning about them to protecting their habitats to keeping them safe in winter.

“The most important thing people can do at this time of year is to avoid disturbing bats. They are especially vulnerable in the winter when they are hibernating,” said Andrea Hanson, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, ODFW Strategy Species Coordinator.

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Local Food Bill aims to be included in Farm Bill

October 28, 2011 --

Local and Regional Food Bill Prepared for Inclusion in New Farm Bill
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Washington, D.C. October 27, 2011 – Today Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine announced that next week they will introduce the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, a comprehensive bill intended for inclusion in the 2012 Farm Bill.

This legislation will help farmers and ranchers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. It will also assist consumers by improving access to healthy food. Of utmost importance, the bill will provide secure farm bill funding for critically important programs that support family farms, expand new farming opportunities and rural jobs, and invest in the local agriculture economy.

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Gypsy moth vanish. Breaks Oregon record. — New beetle threat looms

October 27, 2011 --

Traps yield zero gypsy moths but 34 Japanese beetles
By Oregon Department of Agriculture

For Oregon, it’s all quiet on the gypsy moth front. For the first time since wide-scale trapping began back in the 1980s, not a single gypsy moth was detected this summer. Last year, only one gypsy moth was caught in Oregon and only six in 2009. In contrast to 25 years ago when more than 19,000 of the plant-eating insect pests were trapped in Lane County alone, it’s easy to wonder if the gypsy moth remains a threat to the state’s agriculture and forest habitat.

It’s way too early to end the vigilance.

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New wolf pack activty in NE Oregon area

October 26, 2011 --

New wolf pack in Snake River Unit; Walla Walla wolf collared
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Photo courtesy of ODFW-

LA GRANDE, Ore.—A new wolf pack is using the Snake River wildlife management unit of northeast Oregon, which borders Idaho and includes the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wilderness.

ODFW surveyed the area last week, after receiving reports and trail camera photographs from hunters indicating wolves were in the area. Tracks from at least five different wolves were documented on Thursday. Though the photographs provided to ODFW indicate that at least one pup was produced in this area, the new pack will not be considered a “breeding pair” unless two or more pups are documented in December.

ODFW encourages hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to report wolf sightings using the online reporting system or by phone. “These public wolf reports from Oregon’s outdoor enthusiasts really help us target our survey efforts and make the best use of limited resources.” said Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf program coordinator.

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Court ruling puts 50 million forest acres backwards to old rules

October 25, 2011 --

American Forest Resource Council

PORTLAND, OR – The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Wyoming Federal District Court Judge Clarence Bremmer’s 2007 ruling that the 2001 Clinton Roadless Rule was illegal. The ruling sets the stage for implementation of that Rule. The impact of today’s ruling means that over 50 million acres of federal forests will be  permanently set aside in an arbitrary one-size-fits-all policy of little-to-no management. The hands off approach to managing these lands over the past decade has left forests ripe for devastating fire and insect outbreaks such as those we have witnessed on the Fremont-Winema National Forest and around Diamond Lake on the Umpqua National Forest.

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Washignton Ag value 2nd highest on record

October 24, 2011 --

Washington’s 2010 Agricultural Value Second Highest on Record
Washington Farm Bureau
October 17, 2011 – 3:14pm

The value of Washington’s 2010 agricultural production reached $8.25 billion (including government payments), 13 percent above the 2009 revised figure of $7.30 billion. This is the second highest value on record-second only to 2007’s $8.35 billion.

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EPA backs off dust rule

October 23, 2011 --

— Groups Still Support Legislation to Prevent Future Threats
By National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) welcomed news from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson that the decision has been made to retain the current coarse particulate matter (dust) standard. This decision is subsequent to the onslaught of pressure from NCBA, PLC and several members of Congress to convince EPA not to regulate farm dust at levels twice as stringent as the current standard. According to Bill Donald, NCBA president and Montana rancher, the groups maintain that no science-based evidence exists that would justify the burdensome, costly regulation that would have resulted in farmers and ranchers being fined for working in dusty environments in rural America.

“This is refreshing news. The consequences of EPA regulating farm dust at levels twice as stringent as the current standard would have undoubtedly forced many farmers and ranchers into nonattainment, which would have resulted in enormous fines and would have jeopardized the future of many farms and ranches,” said Donald. “While we are pleased with Administrator Jackson’s decision to lean on common sense and science, this issue is far from resolved.”

Donald said the fact that family farmers and ranchers are subject to a federal dust standard in the first place is unreasonable. NCBA and PLC are still concerned that EPA could consider imposing unmanageable dust regulations on farmers and ranchers in the future. This is why NCBA and PLC continue to support legislation, Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, proposed by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.). NCBA and PLC were joined by 124 other organizations in a letter to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power supporting H.R. 1633, the dust prevention bill. This legislation would essentially exempt farmers and ranchers from the federal regulation of dust as long as it is regulated at the state or local levels of government.

John Falen, PLC president and Nevada rancher, said dust is a reality in rural America and a state approach makes much more sense than the “one-size-fits-all approach” by the distant federal government.

“The fact is there is no science showing that farm dust is a health risk at ambient levels. It’s amazing to think that one agency’s heavy hand could have such a wide-reaching and devastating impact on so many farming and ranching families across the country,” said Falen. “In the short-term, livestock producers have scored a victory but we all need to be aware that this issue could come back to in the future. We must rally together and support legislative action to prevent the future threat of unreasonable dust regulation.”

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Food fear lobby and World Food Day

October 22, 2011 --

Rethinking Food Day Priorities
By Ken
Corn Commentary
National Corn Growers Association

On Oct. 16, the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization did what it always does on its birthday, celebrate World Food Day by calling attention to the problem of world hunger. This year, it was marked in 150 countries with programs large and small.

Unfortunately, the food fear lobby here in the United States found they’d rather have their own party, with a different focus. The fact that it falls so close to the FAO’s World Food Day can lead the conspiracy theorists to wondering whether it really is an attempt to muddy the waters or take advantage of the marketing success of the earlier day. And so, the usual gang of suspects has designated Oct. 24 as “Food Day.” Apparently, people starving to death in a far-flung Third World country is not as important as making sure food snobs have better access to grass-fed steaks or getting rid of the toys in the McDonald Happy Meals.

Read the full article and discuss it »
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