The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon


Farm Bureau on Senate immigration bill

June 28, 2013 --

By American Farm Bureau Federationfarm-bureua-usa

“The Senate’s passage of a balanced immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision is welcomed by America’s farmers and ranchers. A comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation is long overdue. We commend the Senate for addressing this very important issue, which will help ensure the continued success of agriculture in our nation.

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Record Ag sales in 2012

June 27, 2013 --

New statistics show record high sales in 2012 with 25 counties showing an increase
By Oregon Dept of Agriculture

Marion County remains the runaway leader, three eastern Oregon counties are next on the list, and 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties have reported an increase in agricultural sales in 2012 according to statistics compiled by Oregon State University. Many counties reported dramatic growth last year buoyed by high prices and good yields. The latest figures continue to emphasize the importance of agriculture to both the local and state economy.

Oregon’s total agricultural sales for 2012 is up nearly 3.4 percent at more than $5.48 billion– another record high for the state. Eleven counties recorded double digit increases this past year.

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Pot uses 1% of USA Power

June 26, 2013 --

Pot Uses 1% of USA Power

Lighting, fans, dehumidifiers, climate control – indoor marijuana production consumes 1% of the nation’s energy supply, enough to service two million homes. In Snohomish County, law enforcement reported theft of electricity in the tens of thousands of dollars by growers trying to avoid detection. Now, with the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington State, there is a push, especially by growers in the eastern part of the state, to move the operation outdoors to reduce energy consumption. The state Liquor Control Board will make that decision as they issue grower licenses. A spokesman for a cannabis security company seems confident that the greenhouse operations can be made secure.

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Ag Lobbying tops $130 Million

June 25, 2013 --

Food and Agribusiness Lobbying Expensescapitol-congress

According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, lobbyist disclosure filings in Congress reported lobbying expenses by food and agribusiness companies and trade associations and producer groups totaled $137,853,745 in 2012, up from $131,031,173 reported in 2011. Monsanto was the leading spender in agribusiness lobbying with more than $5.9 million in 2012. The American Farm Bureau Federation reported lobbying expenses of almost $5.7 million last year among farm groups. The AFBF Washington lobby spent nearly $2.5 million with the remaining $3.2 million for 13 additional state Farm Bureau affiliates including Oregon. AFBF expense reports cover activities and salaries of 23 registered lobbyists.

In comparison, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent over $136 billion in 2012 and General Electric spent $21.1 billion in lobbying efforts.

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When Oregon native plants become invasive

June 24, 2013 --

By Daily Digger
Oregon Association of Nurseries

Can a native also be considered invasive?

(photo: Eastern Oregon grassland with encroaching Western juniper. Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Agriculture).

Dan Hillburn, administrator of the Oregon Department of Agriculture Plant Division, blogged on Saturday about the dilemma posed by Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) choking out grassland habitat in Eastern Oregon.

As he explains, these trees are native, but the Native Americans used to burn them in order to keep the space open. Now that this no longer occurs, the junipers are gradually taking over and causing a whole host of problems, including degraded wildlife habitat. The junipers also hog the area’s scarce water. Consequently, there’s been some call to declare the tree a noxious weed. But Hillburn dismisses that possibility, given that that the Western juniper is native to the area it is supposedly invading. (Now there’s a paradox.)

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iPhone app helps farmers manage insects

June 21, 2013 --
Spotted wing drosophila (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)
The invasive spotted wing drosophila is a major new fruit pest. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

Growers can now easily identify and manage insects while in the field using smart phones and tablets with a new online tool developed by Oregon State University and partners.

Last year, if a grower found a glob of frothy, white foam smeared on a patch of young alfalfa hay, one option was to comb through 600-plus pages in a three-ring binder to identify the culprit as a meadow spittlebug.

Now, growers can check the revamped Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook website

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Increased metal theft provokes new laws

June 20, 2013 --

By Christine Souza
California Farm Bureau

With theft of metals from farms and ranches remaining a chronic problem, farm groups and law enforcement organizations support several bills intended to tighten regulations and make resale of metal more difficult for thieves.In recent years, California farmers and ranchers have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to replace stolen metal, such as copper wiring from irrigation pumps, steel irrigation pipes and much more.

Photo/Cecilia Parsons. Fresno County Sheriff’s Department Ag Crimes Task Force Detective Kirby Alstrom looks over a bin of copper wire sold to recycler Bruno’s Iron and Metal in Fresno. Copper wire is a target of thieves who strip it from agricultural irrigation pumps and street lights. Law requires recycling companies to photograph and fingerprint sellers of non-ferrous metals.

Stanislaus County almond grower Grant Davis, who is also president of GDI Insurance Agency in Turlock, has been a victim of metal theft in the past and said the problem is not going away.

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Research of Farming Use for Drones

June 19, 2013 --

Research of Farming Use for Dronesdrones2
By Oregon Family Farm  Association

Oregon State University plans on using unmanned aerial vehicles to research their use in monitoring and treating crops. OSU will use the drones to assess the health of the school’s potato crop and that of a commercial potato grower, both located near Hermiston, OR. Drones are the latest innovation in “precision agriculture,” which uses global positioning systems, sensors and iPads to more accurately monitor fields. Data generated by those technologies can be analyzed by farmers to determine watering needs, infestations or diseases. The Federal Aviation Administration is set to establish guidelines for using such aircraft by September 2015. Farmers will likely hire a company to provide the service due to the complexity of flying the drones. According to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the industry is expected to produce 21,000 jobs in the year following FAA’s approval.

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Blue Diamond closes Oregon Hazelnut farm

June 18, 2013 --

Blue Diamond Ending Salem Hazelnut Operationhazelnuts
By Natural Resource News Note,

Blue Diamond Growers is discontinuing the hazelnut operation at its packing plant in Salem and will put the plant up for sale. That will leave Oregon with four major hazelnut packers along with some smaller ones. The cooperative has referred hazelnut farmers to another packer who can accept the crop. The company cited lack of growth in volume of in-shell hazelnuts, high price of hazelnuts paid to farmers in recent years and the challenge of adding value with shelled hazelnuts due to the dominance of Turkish exports which determined prices. Blue Diamond will now focus its business on almonds.

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Ashland eyes property tax for watershed

June 17, 2013 --

Ashland Considers Tax Increase for Watershed ThinningAshland
By Natural Resource News Note,

Ashland city officials may raise property taxes to help fund the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project. The goal of AFR is to thin wildfire fuels on 7,600 acres of U.S. Forest Service land above Ashland, which includes portions of the city’s watershed. The project was launched in 2010 with unexpected federal economic stimulus funds totaling $6.5 million. About $1 million is available for AFR from the sale of timber recently helicopter-logged from the watershed. However, $4 million is needed to complete the work.

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