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E. Oregon, Idaho crops look good as summer approaches

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Capital Press

Crop and field conditions in much of Idaho and eastern Oregon look good headed into the key summer growing season.

Milder spring conditions compared to the cold, wet 2017 got many crops — and some weeds and pests — off to a strong start this year. Several farmers like what they see and are optimistic.

“We are ahead of last year. The crops look good,” said Galen Lee of Sunnyside Farm in New Plymouth, Idaho. The farm grows sugar beets, peppermint, asparagus, alfalfa hay and corn. Sunnyside also has a beef herd and a dairy.

Lee said he has seen some weeds in spots, “but the crops are taking off.”

Getting necessary spraying done was one challenge given southwest Idaho’s considerable wind recently, he said.

April was drier than usual in the area, and Lee started irrigating earlier than is typical. This year’s water supply is good, he said.

Malheur County Onion Growers Association President Paul Skeen, who farms near Nyssa, Ore., said onions in the area “have had a really good spring.”

“Things were planted on time, we had good moisture, and the crop looks as good as it has ever looked,” Skeen said. “There are some problems occasionally in a field or two, but for the most part the crop looks excellent.”

The current onion crop’s condition outshines the usual for this time of year and is much better than that of a year ago, he said.

Following last year’s heavy winter and wet spring, onions in eastern Oregon got off to a late start and then endured lots of heat as the 2017 growing season unfolded. Skeen said yields were lower, though onion quality was excellent.

“At this stage, we are looking like we are going to have excellent quality this year, too,” he said.

Skeen is not concerned any more than usual about weeds, weather or pests.

“It’s part of growing onions,” he said. “But the fields are pretty clean and Mother Nature has been, for the most part, pretty good to us.”

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service on May 29 reported that in southwest Idaho, onions were almost completely emerged and continued to appear in good condition.

In north central Idaho, Robert Blair of Blair Farms, in Kendrick, says fields and crops look good.

“We have had good moisture so far this year. Conditions for growing so far have been very good,” he said.

Seeding in the region is probably “99 percent done” except for some legumes, alfalfa and grass seeding left to do at higher elevations, Blair said.

Winter wheat is “looking good and heading out,” meaning the kernel-containing wheat heads are emerging, he said.

North central Idaho got another dose of rain May 31 and early June 1 — good for crops but possibly increasing risk for diseases like rust in wheat and blight in chickpeas, Blair said. “I’m going to be monitoring that.”

Weather and growing conditions, a mixed bag last year, are good so far, Blair said.

“Right now, we are having ideal growing conditions,” he said. “It has been a little on the cool side, but the moisture we have received here has been really good … keeping the moisture level really good from what’s evaporating out.”

Blair said that a year ago, “we had a couple straight weeks of high-70- to mid-80-degree days the end of May and the first week of June, and a cloudburst rainstorm the first week of June. And that was the last rain we had last year through the growing season.” High heat followed, and spring crops such as spring wheat and legumes did not fare well. Yields were off by at least 15 percent in places, he said.

Ideally, this June will bring some timely rains and will not get won’t get too hot, he said. Highs around 80 and lows in the 50s are good, he said. He plans to watch closely around mid-month for weed issues.

“If you get those timely rains in June, it makes farming that much easier,” Blair said.

Drought declared in fourth Oregon county

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Drought continues to spread across vast portions of southern and Eastern Oregon, with Lake County the latest to receive an emergency declaration from Gov. Kate Brown.

“Forecasts are predicting severe drought and wildfire conditions for much of Oregon,” Brown said in a statement. “The conditions in Lake County are already concerning, and I’m directing state agencies to prioritize assistance in the area to help minimize the impacts drought conditions could have on the local economy.”

Drought has also been declared in Klamath, Grant and Harney counties. Racquel Rancier, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Water Resources Department, said no other applications are currently pending.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners requested drought relief in March, citing below average precipitation and inconsistent water storage, ranging from 51 percent of normal at Cottonwood Reservoir to 114 percent of normal at Drews Reservoir.

Approximately 45,000 acres of irrigated farmland were expected to run out of stored water between April and May, and 147,000 outlying acres were also expected to run out of water around the same time, according to the county’s drought resolution.

“Many longtime Lake County farmers and ranchers have commented that they have not seen water conditions this severe since 2015,” the county resolution states.

As of May 30, snowpack has entirely melted in the Lake County and Goose Lake basins. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly all of southern and Eastern Oregon in some stage of drought, from abnormally dry to severe conditions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center also forecasts Oregon will be hotter and drier than normal for the next three months, exacerbating drought statewide.

“The Lake County Board of Commissioners determines that extraordinary measures must be taken to alleviate suffering of people and livestock and to protect or mitigate economic loss, and to be responsive to the threat of wildfires,” the resolution continues.

The governor’s drought declaration gives water managers some increased flexibility to assist producers on the ground, such as emergency water use permits, water exchanges, substitutions and in-stream leases.

First Columbia River Treaty talks ‘very productive’

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The first two days of negotiating updates to the Columbia River Treaty were “very productive,” U.S. negotiators say.

The talks were May 29-30 in Washington, D.C.

Some provisions of the treaty, adopted in 1964 for cooperative development and operation of water resources in the Columbia River Basin, are set to expire in 2024.

Negotiators spoke during a conference call May 31 following the first round of negotiations to modernize the treaty between the U.S. and Canada.

Media were advised to identify speakers only as “senior U.S. government officials.”

“We’re in the beginning stages and right now we’re just reaffirming cooperation,” one official said. “We’re just laying out what our future objectives are at this point.”

Negotiators are relying on a 2013 regional recommendation developed by the Bonneville Power Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after years of consulting federal agencies, states, tribes and “extensive” stakeholder engagement.

“This is our guide, this is our foundation,” the official said.

U.S. objectives include continued careful management of flood risk; ensuring a reliable and economical power supply and better addressing ecosystem concerns.

Both the U.S. and Canadian governments have brought up mitigating any impacts associated with climate change, an official said.

The official declined to go into specific negotiating positions.

When asked by reporters whether the Trump administration had issued “marching orders” or expressed views on the treaty as a good deal or bad deal, the officials reiterated that they were relying on the regional recommendations.

Asked if Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement would affect negotiations, the official was not aware of any discussions to merge the issues.

“We have no information that suggests these discussions will be impacted at this point,” an official said.

Pacific Northwest tribes and First Nations tribes in Canada have expressed concerns that they don’t have a seat at negotiations, a reporter said.

The officials are “deeply grateful” for the tribes who contributed to the consensus outlined in the 2013 recommendation.

“We value the expertise and experience of the tribes, and the department has maintained regular contact and communications with the tribes,” an U.S. official said. “We will continue to consult with the tribes on a regular basis as negotiations proceed. We are working with the tribes to develop an engagement plan that allows for meaningful consultation throughout the negotiation process.”

The next round of negotiations will be Aug. 15-16 in British Columbia.

Controversial Oregon dairy retains bankruptcy protections

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

A controversial Oregon dairy won’t be forced to auction off its cattle and will instead seek to sell the animals together with the facility and land.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Fredrick Clement has decided against lifting bankruptcy protections for Lost Valley Farm of Boardman, Ore., effectively forestalling a liquidation sale sought by Rabobank, the dairy’s main creditor.

Rabobank sought to foreclose on the herd to repay some of the $67 million it had loaned to the dairy, but owner Greg te Velde filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, automatically protecting against such actions while he restructures debt.

His bankruptcy filing canceled a liquidation auction of Lost Valley Farm’s cattle in April, but Rabobank has since argued the dairy shouldn’t be shielded from foreclosure because it’s being mismanaged.

Rabobank argued that Columbia River Processing, a subsidiary of the Tillamook County Creamery Cooperative, had terminated its contract to buy milk from the dairy and would cease accepting it after May 31.

Patrick Criteser, Tillamook’s CEO, submitted a declaration the contract was terminated because the dairy wasn’t paying its debts and had violated quality standards more than 60 times by supplying milk with high bacteria levels.

The bank also claimed that Lost Valley Farm is out of compliance with its “confined animal feeding operation” permit, which regulates wastewater, despite a settlement with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Correcting wastewater management problems at the dairy will require expensive remediation, such as emptying and rebuilding manure lagoons, at a cost of nearly $400,000 that’s not in the company’s budget, according to Rabobank.

Te Velde’s “substance abuse problem” also weighs against his continued operation of the dairy, since his “half-baked, slapdash approach” to complying with wastewater regulations is “just the latest manifestation of his drug problem,” the bank said.

In court documents, te Velde disputed the contract with Columbia River Processing was terminated, saying that “my special counsel and I continue to assert there is a scheduled, valid, executory contract and we are prepared to litigate any act by CRP to discontinue receiving our milk product.”

It’s true that ODA has threatened to “hold a contempt hearing” due to alleged violations of the dairy’s wastewater settlement, but the facility will comply with regulations by spreading wastewater on a forage crop to increase open capacity in its manure lagoon, he said.

Te Velde also claimed he will soon begin work on lining another lagoon and upgrading a wastewater conveyance system but “there is no immediate danger of the lagoons overflowing.”

While acknowledging his drug problem, te Velde said he’s enrolled in a “recovery program” and will return to residential treatment for up to three months once his business operations are stabilized.

“It should be noted that while Rabobank has pointed out my substance abuse problem, it does not contend that I have cheated, lied or stolen,” he said.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney for Rabobank.

Riley Walter, an attorney representing te Velde, said he wouldn’t characterize the judge’s decision as a victory but simply a recognition that lifting bankruptcy protections now would be premature.

“It’s the way Chapter 11 should work,” Walter said. “The debtor is entitled to a reasonable breathing spell to get his house in order.”

Rising milk prices bode well for the dairy’s finances, as every $1 increase in price per hundredweight translates to a $130,000 boost in its monthly revenues, he said.

Te Velde’s request to hire a real estate broker to market the Lost Valley Farm property is still pending, but he continues to believe the operation is worth more if it’s not sold piecemeal, Walter said.

The broker would try to sell the property and cattle for $109 million, according to a court document.

“I don’t think it’s true he will sell at any price, but he will sell if he gets his price,” Walter said.

Ruling provides new rationale for blocking Oregon solar project

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The Oregon Court of Appeals has provided a new legal rationale for why an 80-acre solar power project on farmland in Jackson County was improperly approved.

Last year, the county government granted Origis Energy, the project’s developer, an exception to Oregon’s land use goal of preserving farmland, but the decision was reversed by the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals.

According to LUBA, the solar project didn’t qualify for the exception because it’s not dependent on a “unique resource” that would require converting farmland for industrial development.

It’s not unusual for farmland to be “flat, 80 acres in size and exposed to the sun” and the project’s proximity to an electrical substation in Medford also doesn’t justify the exception, LUBA’s ruling said.

Approving the project on this basis would undermine the purpose of “urban growth boundaries” by allowing development on farmland near cities, the ruling said.

The Oregon Court of Appeals has now disagreed with this interpretation of the state’s land use law but has still reversed the county’s approval of the project.

The relevant statute provides a list of “unique resources” that would justify converting farmland, including “geothermal wells, mineral or aggregate deposits, water reservoirs, natural features, or river or ocean ports.”

However, this list is “not a description of the entire group of possible advantageous locales” and the “locational attractor” does not have to be found exclusively on rural land, according to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Even so, the appellate court has concurred with LUBA that Jackson County improperly used the exception because a solar power project is not an “industrial development” under land use rules.

The county evaluated the project with criteria for such an “industrial development,” but an “energy facility” doesn’t fall into this category, according to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The county’s other justification for the project — conserving energy is encouraged by another Oregon land use goal — did not fare any better in the ruling.

The Oregon Court of Appeals sided with LUBA, finding that this goal simply means development should be “managed and controlled” to conserve energy.

“Neither the text of the goal nor its guidelines ‘require’ the county to develop or facilitate the development of any particular land use, much less large solar power generation facilities,” the ruling said.

Capital Press was unable to reach attorneys for Origis Energy or the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association.

Though the ruling has blocked the project for now, it’s possible the developer will seek another pathway under land use law to gain approval for it, said Meriel Darzen, attorney for 1,000 Friends of Oregon, a conservation group that opposed the project.

However, the developer would need to re-apply to the county for permission and begin the process anew, she said. “They will have to start over if they want to try again.”

While it’s too early to say what legal precedent the ruling will have for other renewable energy projects, 1,000 Friends of Oregon is satisfied with the outcome, Darzen said.

“From our perspective, it’s a 100 percent victory,” she said.

Intermodal shipping facility plan moves ahead in Nyssa

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Malheur County Development Corp. recently signed an initial contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation, enabling the county to access up to 5 percent of $26 million earmarked for a long-planned intermodal, truck-to-rail loading facility north of Nyssa.

“That is a start, and it gets us on the map for intermodal movement,” Malheur County Economic Development Director Greg Smith said. “No doubt we are going to be making investments for years to come, but this gets us started.”

Called the Treasure Valley Reload Center in planning documents filed last December with the Oregon Transportation Commission, it’s viewed as benefiting farmers. Many of the area’s onion shippers, for example, pay to truck their products more than 200 miles to a Wallula, Wash., reload facility.

“It’s heaven-sent,” said Paul Skeen, president of the Malheur County Onion Growers Association. “That rail center is going to save our industry, I am hoping.”

Having multiple transportation modes available nearby will be a big benefit, he said. Truck availability has been tight partly because of new rules, he said.

“We are going to measure our success by how well this serves our local industry,” Smith said. “That rail center is going to save our industry, I am hoping.”

State funding is from Oregon Lottery-backed bonds. Malheur County must spend it on project-specific planning, engineering, construction and equipment, for example. The funding was part of the Oregon Legislature’s 2017 transportation package.

Smith said having initial state money in hand bodes well as the county competes for other funding sources, like discretionary grants through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program.

State Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said getting the initial funding is “very important” because it reflects the Oregon Department of Transportation’s finding that the project is meeting detailed requirements. It was one of four projects funded in 2017 using the state’s Connect Oregon program requiring projects move through a step-by-step process showing the project is properly managed and is progressing.

The state funding is “a huge vote for Oregon’s eastern edge,” he said.

Bentz said the reload facility would save significant expense for local onion growers while making eastern Oregon more competitive with onion-growing areas such as eastern Washington and parts of South America. The rail industry also stands to gain local cargo volume.

Smith said another milestone for the Treasure Valley Reload Center will be to submit a final proposal to the Oregon Department of Transportation for approval. That is due Sept. 27. Final engineering planning, construction budgeting and contractor hiring would follow the department’s final approval.

Construction could begin as soon as spring 2019, he said.

The facility will be designed to match demand with affordability requirements, yet accommodate expansion as needed later, Smith said.

The three-parcel, 400-acre site on the east side of Highway 201 includes a planned industrial park and room for connecting to a Union Pacific Railroad main line via easements for rail spurs and sidings.

Smith said the reload facility could consist of a tilt-up concrete structure with a truck staging area, and bays and cross docks set to enable incoming product to go directly onto rail cars or stored temporarily.

“We are designing the facility in such a way to where private industry could locate adjacent to our facility and be able to utilize rail service and/or temporary storage from their building into ours,” he said.

Planning also is under way for an intermodal shipping facility in the Millersburg-Albany area of Western Oregon.

Queener Farm Apple Club delivers diverse varieties, taste

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

A cool breeze blows between the rows of heirloom apple trees at Queener Farm in Scio, Ore., where Jeannie Berg plucks a small, unripened Almata apple to show its bright red flesh.

Almatas are just one of roughly 80 different apple varieties that Berg expects to pick from the orchard this year. Some, like Honeycrisp, are well known and popular. Others, like Calville Blanc d’hiver and Dumelow’s Seedling, are a bit more adventurous.

With such a diverse selection, Berg launched the Queener Farm Heirloom Apple Club in 2015, delivering boxes of unique, organically grown apples to members looking to broaden their palate.

“There are people who had no idea apples could taste this different,” Berg said.

For example, Berg described the Whitney crabapple, which she said is sweet with a distinctly vanilla flavor. On the other hand, there is the Alkmene apple, a juicy variety that Berg said tastes (and even sparkles) like lime soda.

The Heirloom Apple Club works on a community supported agriculture, or CSA, model. Members pay for apple boxes delivered every other week during the heart of the season, from roughly mid-July through October.

In turn, Berg said members are supporting the biodiversity of apples at Queener Farms, which has 2,000 heirloom trees — most of which are more than 20 and 30 years old.

“It is much more interesting and fun to both farm and market a wide variety of apples,” Berg said.

That biodiversity also poses an intellectual challenge on the farm, Berg said. Different varieties bloom and ripen at different times throughout the season, which means there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for pests, like codling moth, and fungal diseases prevalent across the Mid-Willamette Valley.

“We have all these variables in the orchard that are incredibly educational,” Berg said. “But the thing about them from a farm perspective is there is nothing about this farm that’s efficient.”

Berg, who took over farming at the 40-acre property in 2014, said she is also beginning to grow 700-800 new trees that will eventually be planted in the orchard.

“We feel that continuing to plant more orchard block is important,” Berg said. “Eventually as these trees get older, they’re not going to be as productive ... It’s sort of renewing over time.”

Along with the Heirloom Apple Club, Queener Farm offers U-pick days at the orchard and a Hard Cider Club featuring workshops taught by Zeb Dewar, of Baird & Dewar Farmhouse Cider.

Berg said the orchard at Queener Farm is “a laboratory like no other.”

“You may not love every apple in the box, but it’s never boring,” she said.

Feds study options for managing dams on Columbia, Snake rivers

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Three agencies are considering 13 options as they develop a draft environmental impact statement for operating the federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The options range from making no changes to current operations to breaching dams on the lower Snake River.

The study also includes maintaining current barge navigation on the rivers and providing the authorized irrigation water supply for the Columbia Basin Project.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon in 2016 ruled that federal government plans for operating facilities violated the Endangered Species Act. He ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration to study new alternatives to protect threatened and endangered fish.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the environmental impact statement must address long-term operations of the 14 federal dams in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana.

The agencies held an update webinar and conference call May 30 to discuss their progress.

The agencies will evaluate the impacts of the alternatives on resources and include potential variations due to climate change, said Lydia Grimm, BPA senior policy adviser.

Among the alternatives under study is one that requires no action, meaning it would maintain current dam operations.

Another alternative would weigh the benefits and tradeoffs of removing the lower Snake River dams, Grimm said.

Environmental groups claim breaching the dams would benefit the fish, while farmers argue it would make the river unusable for transporting wheat downstream to market and transporting supplies upriver.

Navigation is an authorized purpose for the system. The study objective is to maintain navigation, not change or improve it, said Rebecca Weiss, of the corps.

The agencies will use what they learn in the studies to shape a preferred alternative, Grimm said.

“We want to make sure we’re ... getting to the right combination and have the complete answer,” she said.

They will provide another update in the fall.

Some alternatives may not create the needed benefits or could have greater impacts, so the agencies will also consider ways to mitigate them, Grimm said.

During the public scoping process, the agencies received comments on the importance of the river system for agriculture and irrigation, which is being studied, said Sonjoa Kokos, bureau ecosystems analysis program manager.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft EIS in March 2020, she said.

A final EIS is slated for March 2021 with a record of decision set for September 2021.

The objectives of the EIS include improving the survival rates for protected adult and juvenile salmon, resident fish and lampreys and providing an “adequate, efficient, economical and reliable” power supply.

The agencies also want to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from power production and meet the authorized water supply obligations, Grimm said.

“There’s already authorization in the Columbia Basin Project for expanding irrigation for crops, agriculture and other purposes,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re looking at the water operations that will help fulfill that current authorized water supply.”

Online http://www.crso.info/

Low levels of toxins in Detroit Lake not a threat to livestock

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Low levels of cyanotoxins caused by blue-green algae in Detroit Lake near Salem, Ore., do not pose an immediate health risk to livestock, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

The city of Salem, which gets its drinking water from the reservoir, issued an advisory late Tuesday for young children and at-risk populations to avoid drinking tap water pending further testing. The advisory applies to children under the age of 6, pregnant and nursing women, those on dialysis or with preexisting liver conditions, and pets.

A spokeswoman for ODA said there is “no evidence this toxin is a risk to livestock, and is likely to be a pass-through.” The agency’s animal health team is continuing to gather information, she said.

The Santiam Water Control District, based in Stayton, Ore., serves 860 farmers and ranchers on approximately 17,000 acres, delivering water from the North Santiam River where Detroit Lake is impounded.

District Manager Brent Stevenson said he has been in contact with ODA about potential impacts to agriculture.

“My primary concern would be livestock that has access to the ditch,” he said.

However, given the low levels of toxins measured so far, Stevenson said he does not believe there is any need for irrigation restrictions.

Neighboring states’ legal pot means bigger busts in Utah

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Highway Patrol is seizing more marijuana on state highways and interstates since the drug has been legalized in a number of Western states.

John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for Utah, says drug busts within the state’s borders historically yielded only a few pounds per stop.

But he tells the Deseret News it is no longer unusual to intercept up to 100 pounds at a time as loads of marijuana make their way across the state from places like California and Oregon.

Huber says Utah law enforcement officers focus 90 percent of their anti-drug efforts on heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. But he says the boost in marijuana trafficking is “a disturbing trend.”

Easy entry into Oregon’s legal pot market means huge surplus

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -


Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to convince illicit pot growers to leave the black market.

That meant low barriers to entry that also targeted long-standing medical marijuana growers, whose product is not taxed. As a result, weed production boomed — with a bitter consequence.

Now, marijuana prices here are in freefall, and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before broad legalization say they are in peril of losing their now-legal businesses as the market adjusts.

Oregon regulators on Wednesday announced they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses in two weeks to address a severe backlog and ask state lawmakers to take up the issue next year.

Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California, where a similar regulatory structure could mean an oversupply on a much larger scale.

“For the way the program is set up, the state just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” Hilary Bricken, a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in marijuana business law, said of California. “Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.”

Oregon has nearly 1 million pounds of marijuana flower — commonly called bud — in its inventory, a staggering amount for a state with about 4 million people. Producers told The Associated Press wholesale prices fell more than 50 percent in the past year; a study by the state’s Office of Economic Analysis found the retail cost of a gram of marijuana fell from $14 in 2015 to $7 in 2017.

The oversupply can be traced largely to state lawmakers’ and regulators’ earliest decisions to shape the industry.

They were acutely aware of Oregon’s entrenched history of providing top-drawer pot to the black market nationwide, as well as a concentration of small farmers who had years of cultivation experience in the legal, but largely unregulated, medical pot program.

Getting those growers into the system was critical if a legitimate industry was to flourish, said Sen. Ginny Burdick, a Portland Democrat who co-chaired a committee created to implement the voter-approved legalization measure.

Lawmakers decided not to cap licenses; to allow businesses to apply for multiple licenses; and to implement relatively inexpensive licensing fees.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which issues licenses, announced Wednesday it will put aside applications for new licenses received after June 15 until a backlog of pending applications is cleared out. The decision comes after U.S. Attorney Billy Williams challenged state officials to address Oregon’s oversupply problem.

“In my view, and frankly in the view of those in the industry that I’ve heard from, it’s a failing of the state for not stepping back and taking a look at where this industry is at following legalization,” Williams told the AP in a phone interview.

But those in the industry supported the initial decisions that led to the oversupply, Burdick said.

“We really tried to focus on policies that would rein in the medical industry and snuff out the black market as much as possible,” Burdick said.

Lawmakers also quickly backtracked on a rule requiring marijuana businesses have a majority ownership by someone with Oregon residency after entrepreneurs complained it was hard to secure startup money. That change opened the door to out-of-state companies with deep pockets that could begin consolidating the industry.

The state has granted 1,001 producer licenses and has another 950 in process as of last week. State officials worry if they cut off licensing entirely or turn away those already in the application process, they’ll get sued or encourage illegal trade.

Some of the same parameters are taking shape in California, equally known for black-market pot from its Emerald Triangle region.

The rules now in effect there place caps only on certain, medium-sized growing licenses. In some cases, companies have acquired dozens of growing licenses, which can be operated on the same or adjoining parcels. The growers association is suing to block those rules, fearing they will open the way for vast farms that will drive out smaller cultivators.

Beau Whitney, senior economist at national cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, said he’s seeing California prices fall.

In contrast, Washington knew oversupply could draw federal attention and was more conservative about licensing. As the market matured, its regulators eased growing limits, but the state never experienced an oversupply crisis.

Colorado has no caps on licenses, but strict rules designed to limit oversupply allow the state to curtail a growers’ farm size based on past crop yields, existing inventory, sales deals and other factors.

In Oregon, cannabis retail chains are emerging to take advantage of the shake-up.

A company called Nectar has 13 stores around the state — with three more on tap — and says on its website it is buying up for-sale dispensaries too. Canada-based Golden Leaf Holdings bought the successful Oregon startup Chalice and has six stores around Portland, with another slated to open.

William Simpson, Chalice’s founder and Golden Leaf Holdings CEO, is expanding into Northern California, Nevada and Canada. Simpson welcomes criticism that he’s dumbing down cannabis the same way Starbucks brought coffee to a mass market.

“If you take Chalice like Starbucks, it’s a known quantity, it’s a brand that people know and trust,” he said.

Amy Margolis, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Association, says that capping licenses would only spur even more consolidation in the long-term. The state is currently working on a study that should provide data and more insight into what lies ahead.

“I don’t think that everything in this state is motivated by struggle and failure,” she said. “I’m very interested to see ... how this market settles itself and (in) being able to do that from a little less of a reactionary place.”

For now, Oregon’s smaller marijuana businesses are trying to stay afloat.

A newly formed group will launch an ad campaign this fall to tell Oregonians why they should pay more for mom-and-pop cannabis. Adam Smith, who founded the Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance, believes 70 percent of Oregon’s small growers and retailers will go out of business if consumers don’t respond.

“We could turn around in three to four years and realize that 10 to 12 major companies own a majority of the Oregon industry and that none of it is really based here anymore,” he said. “The Oregon brand is really all about authenticity. It’s about people with their hands in the dirt, making something they love as well as they can. How do we save that?”


Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle, Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles and Kathleen Foody in Denver contributed to this report.

Tensions run high as Klamath Project irrigators, tribes try to balance water

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Driving along mostly empty county roads near the small town of Malin, Ore., Paul Crawford stops to survey his stunted wheat and alfalfa fields, which are soaking in the relief of a rare and much-needed spring thunderstorm.

Crawford grabs a shovel and digs into the soil, finding moisture reaching an inch or so deep. It may not be much, but it is more than he expected from the previous night’s rain, and enough to turn some of the wilted plants a healthier shade of green.

“That makes me feel good,” said Crawford, who along with roughly 2,000 other irrigators within the Klamath Project has had little to feel good about on the farm this year.

As of late May, farmers and ranchers still do not have a water allocation, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the project, is pleading for patience as regulators juggle limited supplies of surface water to protect endangered fish.

The Klamath Tribes also filed a lawsuit May 24 against the bureau, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, seeking an injunction forcing the agencies to provide more water in Upper Klamath Lake to ensure the survival of shortnose and Lost River suckers. The two species, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, were once a mainstay of the tribes’ diet.

Even before the lawsuit was filed, tensions were already high in the basin, with growers wondering when they will be able to water their crops — if it isn’t too late already. Some are now comparing this year to the irrigation shutoff of 2001, when thousands of protesters formed a bucket brigade to carry water to the A Canal.

Agriculture is a $557 million industry in the Klamath Basin, but without steady, reliable access to water, irrigators say it is impossible to run their farms and ranches.

Crawford, 29, is a graduate of Lost River High School. He purchased his first 40 acres in the basin after returning to Oregon from the Army in 2011. Seven years later, he said uncertainty for farmers is “through the roof.”

“It’s been kind of a nightmare dealing with this,” Crawford said. “It’s extremely difficult to make any plans when, on a year-to-year basis, we don’t know if we’re in operation or not.”

The Klamath Project is a massive feat of engineering consisting of six dams, 185 miles of canals and 490 miles of lateral ditches. It spans roughly 200,000 acres of farmland, including 18 irrigation districts, across a flat, wide basin surrounded by juniper-dotted hillsides.

The Bureau of Reclamation is in charge of regulating the project, diverting water from Upper Klamath Lake into the A Canal above the Link River Dam. The bureau is also required to manage lake levels to protect endangered suckers, while at the same time sending enough water down the Klamath River for endangered coho salmon.

It is a delicate balancing act, made no easier this year by drought conditions plaguing the basin. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a drought emergency in Klamath County in March.

To make matters more complicated, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the bureau in 2017 to release additional “dilution flows” downriver to flush away a deadly parasite called C. shasta, harming salmon populations. The Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes of northern California are plaintiffs in that case, supported by commercial fishing and environmental groups.

Dilution flows are triggered by the amount of C. shasta spores in the Klamath River, and may be required until 80 percent of threatened coho have finished migrating to the Pacific Ocean — usually between June 1 and 15.

The litany of watering restrictions is making it all but impossible for irrigators to plan for the season, said Scott White, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, or KWUA, which represents 1,200 family farms and ranches.

“That has been the real crisis,” White said. “Farmers have to be able to plan.”

Before white settlers arrived in the basin, the Klamath Tribes were the indigenous peoples of the region and lived off the land by hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.

After a series of hostile and bloody confrontations, the tribes signed the Treaty of 1864, ceding land to the U.S. government in exchange for reserved land where they could continue to exercise their cultural traditions.

In 1954, Congress terminated federal recognition for the Klamath Tribes, taking 1.8 million acres of reservation land. The tribes regained their legal status in 1986, and over the years the courts have repeatedly affirmed the tribes’ treaty rights, including “time immemorial” water rights.

Don Gentry, chairman of the Klamath tribal council, said clean water is crucial for the survival of the shortnose and Lost River suckers, which were listed as endangered in 1988.

The tribes voluntarily suspended fishing for suckers to avoid wiping out the species. In 1968 more than 10,000 fish were caught. By 1985, the take had dropped to 687 fish. Today, just two fish are caught every year for ceremonial purposes.

“I think it’s important for people to understand, just as agriculture is important to some people in the community for their subsistence, their lifestyle, their economic value and their purpose and place, those fish are that important to us,” Gentry said.

Gentry tells one story in particular about fishing with his 4-year-old grandson. They caught a Lost River sucker, which the boy had not seen before. Gentry explained why the fish was important, and why they had to put it back in the river instead of keeping it.

“I told him the whole story about our history, and that they’re endangered,” Gentry said. “He looked up at me, and he says, ‘Grandpa, I can’t wait until we can catch and eat those fish again.’”

White, of the KWUA, said the tribes’ recent lawsuit could have devastating impacts on communities and the local economy.

When the Klamath Project was built, homesteads were awarded via lotteries to veterans returning from World War I and World War II. Some of that land has remained in the same families going on three and four generations.

Uncertainty around water is now starting to take its toll on those farms and ranches, White said.

“There’s already auctions occurring,” White said. “That’s something I lose sleep over at night, is what the future of this community might look like if we start losing family farms and ranches.”

Scott Seus, owner of Seus Family Farms in Tulelake, Calif., is a third-generation farmer in the basin. His grandfather, Ed, was a World War II veteran who drew the original homestead in 1947. His father, Monte, is semi-retired but still helps in the fields, where they grow onions, garlic, alfalfa, horseradish, spearmint and grains.

Nobody wants to be the generation that loses the family farm. That is the reality in the Klamath Basin, Seus said, and not because of poor farming practices, but due to factors beyond their control.

“We’re being progressive and creative, and doing everything right,” Seus said. “The reason we may lose the farms here is out of our hands.”

Gary Derry, a farmer and president of the Shasta View Irrigation District in Malin, said water anxiety has forced him to reduce the acreage under tillage at his farm from 700 to just 30.

“By the same token, your costs are elevated,” Derry said. “It’s a double hit.”

But perhaps the biggest loss of all, farmers say, is seeing the next generation of farmers fleeing the basin for greener pastures. Mike Byrne, a basin rancher, said both of his kids have already left, and they aren’t coming back.

“You talk about societal destruction, and the heritage of the people here,” Byrne said. “We’ve got a heritage, too.”

Finding solutions

It appeared the basin was on the cusp of a long-term water solution with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which was signed in 2010 though by the end of 2015 it had failed to pass Congress.

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the state’s lone Republican congressman whose district includes the Klamath Basin, gets defensive when talking about the KBRA. The deal was hung up in the House of Representatives over language to remove four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River in California — the J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate dams.

The total price tag for the KBRA would have been $1 billion, according to reports. Ultimately, Walden said it never had the votes.

“This is a reality in Washington, D.C., that can be very frustrating,” he said.

Meanwhile, the dams, owned by PacifiCorp, may be removed anyway through a separate deal, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

As for another basin water agreement, White said he fears they have re-entered an “era of litigation.”

For now, White said farmers are solely focused on surviving this year before they look ahead.

“There’s people who are hurting out there,” he said.

Walden, along with Oregon’s two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, did help to pass $10.3 million in emergency drought funding that will pay for farmers to pump emergency groundwater and supplemental wells, or leave land idle in 2018. Walden said that money should be getting to the farmers soon.

Skeletal framework

Alan Mikkelsen, deputy commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation and senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has visited the Klamath Basin eight times since July 2017 in hopes of spurring a new long-term agreement.

Mikkelsen recently released what he described as a “skeletal framework” for a deal, identifying the need for self-sustaining fish populations, sustainable agriculture and a supportive regulatory environment.

Walden, Wyden and Merkley each praised the work by Mikkelsen, but it remains unclear how or when sides will begin negotiating again.

Gentry, the Klamath tribal chairman, said there is not much flexibility given declining fish populations in Upper Klamath Lake.

“They are on a trajectory to extinction,” Gentry said. “We already feel compromised.”

White said the fate of fish is a problem that agriculture cares about, and wants to find a solution. To that end, farmers have taken 40,000 acres out of production, supported removal of the Chiloquin Dam in 2008 and lined canals to improve water efficiency.

“That’s largely been our biggest frustration, is we’ve consistently done this or that for the sake of the fishery, and they continue to come after the Klamath Project,” White said.

Gone Fishing

Tracey Liskey, owner of Liskey Farms in Klamath Falls, Ore., also touted the early success and potential of a rearing facility for young sucker fish to stabilize populations in Upper Klamath Lake. The locals call the effort “Gone Fishing.”

The problem, Liskey said, is not with older fish but younger fish that are not surviving past their first year of life. Gone Fishing, operated by aquaculturist Ron Barnes and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, takes naturally born suckers and raises them for two years before tagging and releasing them back in the wild.

The first group of around 2,500 suckers was released in March, with Mikkelsen on hand for the occasion. Liskey said agriculture is fully supportive of the project, and hopes to see it expand.

“We are trying our damnedest to make sure the fish don’t (go extinct),” Liskey said. “It is to my benefit that these things survive.”

While irrigators continue to wait for water, Liskey said emotions are quickly reaching their boiling point.

“People are frustrated,” he said. “Somebody is going to blow their lid and do something they’re not supposed to.”

Dan Keppen, a former executive for the KWUA and now director of the Family Farm Alliance in Klamath Falls, remembers the protests in 2001. He said the demonstrations then were creative, effective and peaceful, but he worries about possible violence this year — especially if they attract “extreme activists” from the far left or right.

Keppen urged basin residents to stick together, and focus on efforts to remove the fish from the endangered species list once and for all.

“Right now, we have the attention of the Department of the Interior,” Keppen said. “We have to take advantage of that attention to come up with another plan that recovers these fish and protects our communities.”

Authorities charge rural fire district employee with theft

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a fire district employee in rural southern Oregon after she submitted a letter of resignation that outlined thefts from the agency.

The Herald and News reports 51-year-old Tina Young was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated first-degree theft following her letter to the board of the Bonanza Rural Fire Protection District.

In the letter last week, Young says she had personal financial difficulties that led to “some decisions that today leave me feeling guilty, ashamed, sorry and scared.”

Young says she mishandled funds, altered financial reports and destroyed financial records.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office says the amount stolen has not been determined.

The district says it found more than $76,000 of questionable checking transactions since Young began work as its secretary and treasurer in 2013.

Some Salem residents advised to avoid drinking tap water

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — City officials in Salem are advising some residents to avoid drinking tap water after tests found low levels of toxic algae.

The Statesman Journal reports the City of Salem issued the warning Tuesday for children, infants and other vulnerable people.

The advisory applies to City of Salem, City of Turner, Suburban East Salem Water District and Orchard Heights Water Association.

Authorities say boiling the water does not remove the toxins and can increase the toxin levels. Most filters also do not remove the toxins.

People should use bottled water for drinking, making infant formula, ice or food preparation until the advisory is lifted.

The advisory comes after the Oregon Health Authority detected toxic blue-green algae in Detroit Lake, which is the source of the city’s water.

Officials say they are working to lower the levels as quickly as possible.

Senate committee passes $145.1B agriculture appropriations bill

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a $145.1 billion agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019.

The proposal passed unanimously out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 11. It details $121.8 billion in mandatory program funding and $23.3 billion in discretionary spending, which is $710 million less than 2018 levels but $6.1 billion more than President Donald Trump’s budget request.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, said the bill provides “significant resources for rural Americans and Oregonians,” highlighting increased funding for rural broadband, organic farming programs and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, or ARS.

The USDA operates three ARS locations in Oregon — one in Corvallis, one in Pendleton and one in Burns. Research projects focus on a variety of crops, from apples and pears to wheat alfalfa.

Dan Long, director of the Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center north of Pendleton, said the station’s budget annual budget has remained flat at $1.9 million for the last three or four funding cycles.

The station currently supports five scientists on staff, including an agronomist, soil physicist, soil chemist, hydrologist and soil microbiologist. If one was to retire, Long said he would not be able to fill the vacancy due to inflationary costs.

“We’ve been able to survive through attrition,” Long said.

Long said he is not sure where the additional $100 million would be directed, but is pleased to see lawmakers mulling such a large increase for the ARS, which is more than the service has seen in past years.

“It certainly is a great signal that Congress sees the work that ARS is doing is important to the viability of the nation, the nation’s food supply and protection of its resources.”

Funding for rural broadband internet would also receive a $425 million increase in 2019, building on the previous fiscal year’s investment of $600 million. Farmers and ranchers are becoming increasingly reliant on dependable broadband service as they adopt more precision agriculture technology, such as real-time soil moisture monitors and GPS tractors, into their operations.

Organic farming is another focus in the Senate appropriations bill, with several programs in line for a funding increase in 2019. The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program would receive $37 million, up $2 million from last year.

The National Organic Program would get $15 million, up $3 million from 2018, and the Organic Transitions Program — which helps farmers transition their land from conventional to organic farming, a process that takes three years before certification in Oregon — would receive $6 million, up $1 million over the previous year.

The appropriations bill also prohibits the federal government from interfering with industrial hemp research and development. Both Sen. Merkley and fellow Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden are pushing to legalize industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which Oregon began regulating in 2016. The program now has 382 registered hemp growers and 119 registered handlers.

“This (appropriations) bill takes a much-needed step toward those rural Oregon goals I’ve long worked to achieve,” Wyden said in a written statement.

The bill now heads for a full Senate vote. The House Appropriations Committee already approved its version of the agriculture appropriations bill on May 16 by a 31-20 vote.

Sale exceeded expectations

Langlois News from The World Newspaper -

The Langlois Lions club would like to thank the following for the wonderful support with donations of time, enthusiasm, wonderful plants, and hard work for our recent Mary Hildebrand Memorial Plant sale: Loretta Hillman, Janet Hubel, Lori Kent, Catherine Kadlubowski,…

Two earn Eagle Scout rank

Langlois News from The World Newspaper -

BANDON - Skyler Hammons and Timothy Merriam, both members of Bandon’s Boy Scout Troop No. 313, will receive the rank of Eagle Scout, Scouting’s highest rank, at a special ceremony at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 2, at the South Coast…

Dairy strives to keep improving

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Jeff Wendler, livestock operations manager of Threemile Canyon Farms, looks across the sprawling dairy and crop operation near Boardman, Ore., and still feels awe.

Robotics, digital tracking, in vitro fertilization and methane digesters that convert waste into electricity are all part of the operation.

“It’s a good place to be, and it just keeps getting better,” Wendler said. “You’ll see that in time, we’ll be able to learn more, gather even more information and improve on top of what we’re doing.”

Anne Struthers, the director of communications, explained that Threemile Farms began in 1999 under the Offutt family, the sixth-generation owners of R.D. Offutt Co. Marty Myers, the general manager and western business manager, runs day-to-day operations at Threemile Canyon and is part owner with the Offutts, who are headquartered in Fargo, N.D.

They operate the farm and dairy on 93,000 acres in Boardman, milking 25,000 cows. They sell the conventional milk to cheese manufacturers and organic milk to retailers.

Threemile Canyon employs 300 full-time workers year-round and up to 500 during planting and harvest, the busiest times of the year.

The cows, mostly Jerseys, are milked twice a day in three barns that have been constructed to cater to their comfort.

Once remodeling is finished next February, Threemile will have the ability to milk 38,000 cows — all done without a single person ushering them into place. The cows step up in an orderly fashion to take their turn on one of the carousels. Each steps into a stall where robot arms clean and stimulate their udders before employees attach milking units. After milking, each cow voluntarily leaves the carousel.

The animal welfare program is a point of pride for Wendler, who is also a veterinarian. He said a committee meets every month to discuss issues and watch videos. Committee members then train other employees in caring for the cows. An animal advocate from Evergreen State College, Mike Paros, who also is a veterinarian, comes once a month to train and address concerns. His phone number is listed on signs throughout the farm for anyone to contact him about any concerns.

An outside auditor also visits every four to six months to spend a week talking with employees and inspecting the operation. He gives a report card at the end.

“We are one of the few who have ever received 100 percent on an audit — maybe the only one,” Wendler said. He adds that the score is usually between 96 to 100, and that he has “absolutely zero tolerance for animal abuse.” Animal housing is built with comfort in mind with each cow having its own bed and fresh water and fresh feed.

“Everything the cow needs is provided,” he said. “The people who are going to survive in this industry are going in this direction.”

He is also proud of the “closed loop system” created at the dairy, as milk, methane, fertilizer, energy and feed are all produced, with waste in one area helping the production of something else.

“We are one of those few, true closed-loop systems,” he said, and he credited Myers for that. “It’s always been Marty’s plan, and it continues to be the company’s plan, to make that better.”

He boasts that everything, from cow behavior to water use, is analyzed, and decisions are made every day to improve the system.

Many of these improvements would be impossible for a small dairy, he said. Given its size, Threemile Canyon can employ staffs of full-time specialists who can, for example, sample blood, urine and feces to optimize the cows’ nutrition.

The dairy can also support management and send them around the country and the world to learn from other farms.

They follow up on what they learn, as happened when the farm built its first methane digester in 2009 as a demonstration project. As the manure is digested, it creates methane gas, which powers electrical generators.

A second, larger digester was added in 2012. It produces 37,700 megawatt-hours of electricity each year, making it the largest in the Western U.S., according to Pacific Power.

Tom Chavez, digester manager, said it provides green power to the grid over and above the energy required to run the dairy. Eighty percent of the manure produced at the dairy is processed by the digester.

Wendler added that not only is energy use monitored, but many other processes are documented throughout the farm looking for inefficiencies.

It is the only dairy that he knows of with its own in vitro fertilization laboratory. The lab is staffed by specialists employed especially for the process.

At this lab, the top 5 percent of animals are identified for their health and production. Their eggs are collected, fertilized and grown into embryos that are then placed into the lower 40 percent of animals. This way, the least productive animals are employed to produce the top cows.

Threemile has been doing this for three years, and the results are “mind-blowing,” with healthier, more efficient and more productive cows the result, Wendler said.

Threemile Canyon Farms

Started: 1999

Location: Boardman, Ore.

Size: 93,000 acres (39,500 of irrigated farmland; 9,000 acres of certified organic and 6,500 acres of potatoes)

Number of cows: 30,000

Number of cows milked: 25,000 (twice daily)

Products: Milk for cheese manufacturers, organic milk for retailers, potatoes, sweet corn, sweet peas, carrots, blueberries, onions, silage corn, grain corn and alfalfa hay.

Employees: 300, with up to 500 full-time during busy seasons

Modern-day cattle rustlers? 200 Nevada cows missing in year

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies and state agriculture officials are investigating the disappearance of as many as 200 cows in northern Nevada over the past year that may have been stolen by modern-day cattle rustlers across rangeland covering hundreds of square miles.

Investigators haven’t uncovered any proof that thieves took the animals, but authorities in Humboldt County say it would be an uncommonly large number of animals to have died on the range over the winter.

“This is unusual for our area,” Humboldt County Sheriff’s Lt. Sean Wilkin told The Associated Press, adding he’s not aware of any similar incidents in recent years.

Fifty cows or calves were reported missing in late March and early April when ranchers counted their herds as they moved them off their winter grazing range in Paradise Valley about 200 miles northeast of Reno and 50 miles south of the Oregon line. The animals belonging to the Ninety-Six Ranch are Hereford and black Angus mixes with “96” and the year of birth branded on the left hip.

The disappearance comes about a year after 150 cattle were reported missing in April 2017 on a series of ranches operated by Orovaco in northern Humboldt County farther east toward the Elko County line.

Wilkin said it is possible some of the cattle could have died on the range and their carcasses haven’t yet been discovered.

“It is a lot of land to check. We are talking hundreds of square miles,” he said.

But he thinks that is unlikely, giving the missing animals make up about 10 percent of the herds.

“I’m staying away from the words ‘stolen’ or ‘theft’ because we don’t have suspects or evidence of a crime,” Wilkin said. “However, it is likely the cattle are in fact missing. If they were taken, it would have taken multiple trucks to haul them away.”

Depending on the size of the animals, he estimated 30 to 50 would fit in a single tractor-trailer load.

“At this point, we haven’t received any tips that would produce any leads on this. So we are reaching out to the media in hope that helps develop something,” Wilkin said.

Doug Farris, the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s animal industry division administrator, issued a statement earlier this month confirming the cattle are missing and reminding ranchers they must report allegations of stolen cattle to the state’s livestock identification program or a state department enforcement marshal.

“If you suspect missing cattle on your operation, please contact us immediately,” he said.

But Farris said in an email to the AP that his agency has no evidence the cattle in Humboldt and Elko counties were stolen.

“We receive reports of missing livestock from all over the state, and there is no reason to believe these two reports are related. Most missing cattle show up on the ranch property or on a neighboring ranch property when more extensive gathering is done or when inclement weather sets in,” he said.


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