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Oregon CAFOs can now operate under state water permits

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Confined animal feeding operations in Oregon can now work under state-issued water quality permits instead of the federal Clean Water Act permitting system.

As of Oct. 21, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has made available “water pollution control facilities” permits to livestock operations that don’t discharge runoff into surface waters.

These state permits won’t require CAFOs to file annual reports to farm regulators, thus reducing paperwork, and they won’t be subjected to public notice-and-comment requirements if they expand, said Wym Matthews, manager of ODA’s CAFO program.

“We don’t have to inform the public of changes on the farm,” he said.

Expansion plans at several Oregon dairies recently met with opposition from vegan and environmental groups, which used the public comment procedures to object to CAFOs as inhumane and unhealthy.

Livestock groups were concerned by the backlash because the public disclosures include maps and other data about CAFOs, which they fear will be exploited by animal rights activists.

State permits may be preferable for livestock operators who don’t want to be part of the federal Clean Water Act permitting system, but roughly 80 percent of the 522 CAFOs in Oregon are expected to remain federally permitted, Matthews said.

These CAFOs generally prefer to stick with the federal permits for legal reasons, he said.

Operating under a federal “national pollutant discharge elimination system” permit protects CAFOs from citizen lawsuits for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, he said. “You can’t get that with a state permit.”

Oregon began requiring all CAFOs to operate under the federal system in 2002 due to regulatory changes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

Federal court decisions have since held that EPA can’t require NPDES permits for operations that don’t actually discharge, which is why Oregon is making the state permits available, Matthews said.

However, once a CAFO is found to discharge into surface water, it must switch over to the federal permit system, he said.

Another major change that will affect both state and federal CAFO permits is that operations will be required to test soil samples every year to ensure the ground isn’t being overloaded with nutrients, Matthews said. Previously, such tests were required once every five years.

“The sampling basically validates the nutrient management system,” he said.

Dairies and other CAFOs are allowed to broadcast manure on fields as long as nitrogen and other nutrients are applied at rates that are taken up by crops and don’t enter the water.

Under the new testing requirement, CAFO operators must test at least 20 percent of their fields a year, and they must test different fields each year, Matthews said.

The ODA also has the option of requiring annual tests of all their fields, if it’s seen as necessary, he said.

OSU’s Strand Hall returns to its former glory

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Strand Hall, the home of the Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences for the past century,

reopens Tuesday in Corvallis after a $25 million restoration project.

Portland architect Doug Reimer said it was the most enjoyable project he’s worked on in his 30-plus year career.

The work included extensive seismic stability and accessibility improvements. The latter included making bathrooms and four entrances accessible to people using wheelchairs, and adding an elevator that reaches the fourth floor. An older elevator reached only the third floor. The dean’s office was moved from the first floor to the fourth floor. The building’s wiring, sprinkler system, fire alarms and heating and cooling systems were renovated or updated throughout.

“It was pretty antiquated,” said one of the project leaders, Kevin Cady of Hoffman Construction in Portland.

The work may have accomplished something else: Restored the College of Ag to its central place on campus, as was intended in a 1909 master plan developed by famed landscape designer John Charles Olmsted. He was the nephew and adopted son of Frederick Nelson Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park.

The younger Olmsted’s campus design had Strand Hall facing east and west into both of OSU’s “quads,” the rectangular spaces criss-crossed by sidewalks, lined with graceful trees and bordering the Memorial Union, Kerr Library and other notable buildings.

Strand, designed by John Benes, was built in three phases in 1909, 1911, and 1913. Over time, however, the “double fronted” look and grandeur of Strand Hall diminished, said Reimer, the renovation project architect.

“As you can imagine, 100 years of remodeling has a tendency to mess up the original idea that the architect had,” Reimer said.

As administrators over the decades tried to squeeze in more offices, workers made such changes as narrowing the hallways and dropped ceilings.

“But it still had really good bones,” Reimer said. The characteristics uncovered and restored included high ceilings, generous corridors and tall windows, which let in a lot of natural daylight, he said.

The work reconnects with Olmsted’s campus vision, Reimer said.

“Dreamers and master planners, take heart,” he said, “because sometimes it takes 106 years to come true.”

In an OSU news release, ag college Dean Dan Arp said the work restored Strand “beyond its former glory.”

The two-year, $24.9 million project was paid for by a combination of state bonds and a state Energy Loan Program.

The reopening ceremony is at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the building’s West Portico entrance, looking out upon the Memorial Union quad.

Jeld-Wen president says company committed to Klamath Falls

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore (AP) — Although the administrative headquarters of Jeld-Wen moved to Charlotte, N.C., the company’s CEO and President Kirk Hachigian said Klamath Falls remains the “nucleus” of the $3.5 billion company.

The window and door manufacturer, initially owned and operated by the late Richard “Dick” Wendt and later purchased by Canadian investment firm Onex sells products worldwide in 20 countries.

Despite the company’s reach, Hachigian expressed a deep commitment to the company’s roots in Klamath Falls.

“We’re not leaving Klamath Falls,” Hachigian declared.

In a wide-ranging interview with Herald and News on Hachigian made clear the company’s intentions to keep much of the operations in Klamath County and Oregon.

Hachigian took the helm of the company in March 2014, succeeding former CEO Philip Orsino.

He spoke about the company’s history and strategic goals, as well as the company’s launch of an expanded customer support center in Klamath Falls.

The expanded customer support center will handle questions such as warranties or purchasing decisions, Hachigian said, and is representative of the company’s continuing commitment to the Klamath Basin.

Also, Jeld-Wen has added 20 engineers to its research and development laboratory in Klamath Falls. The company employs roughly 1,000 employees in the city.

“We still have the bulk of our production, manufacturing, engineering, customer service, customer care, accounts receivable, accounts payable, most of those functions are still all out of Klamath Falls,” Hachigian said.

Jeld-Wen purchases Ponderosa pine from surrounding forests to manufacture its doors here. Hachigian noted the company is highly efficient in its process.

“One-hundred percent of the log is used for construction purposes,” he said. “Nothing is wasted.”

Jeld-Wen facilities are also located in Chiloquin, Bend, Stayton and Portland, with 2,000 employees total in Oregon; 10,000 in North America and 20,000 worldwide.

“They have different operations in each of those facilities,” Hachigian said. “Some of them are windows, some of them are doors, some of them are mills.”

A need for efficiency and struggles during the recession led the company to relocate its administrative headquarters to Charlotte in 2013, which houses approximately 100 to 150 staff.

He noted the company fell on hard times during the recent recession.

“They took on a lot of investments and ancillary businesses,” Hachigian said. “They invested in timber lands, they invested in some different resorts and golf courses.

“We all know what happened in the banking crisis of 2007, 2008, 2009, and so the business had too much debt. It wasn’t able to survive the downturn. There were a lot of financial stresses on the organization.”

Onex, a Canadian private investment firm, bought the company in 2011, and invested about $800 million in Jeld-Wen.

“The business has made a remarkable turnaround over the last five years,” Hachigian said.

“Our sales today are about where they were pre-crisis. Our profitability today has been restored to about where it was pre-crisis.”

Hachigian emphasized the shift in headquarters to North Carolina doesn’t mean a loss of commitment to Klamath Falls.

“It’s still the epicenter of all the innovation globally for Jeld-Wen and it’s still a very, very important cultural and functional part of the organization,” he said.

Hachigian said the East Coast location puts the headquarters close to key Jeld-Wen operations as well as a much larger airport.

“Klamath Falls is a difficult location to service a global enterprise,” Hachigian said. “In Klamath Falls, it’s just difficult to get to most of the country. You have to have private transportation.”

Hachigian said many of Jeld-Wen’s major customers are located approximately within 500 or 1,000 miles of Charlotte, providing efficiencies in company travel. Jeld-Wen owns one aircraft compared to five since moving the administrative headquarters to Charlotte.

During the last nine months, Jeld-Wen has acquired four companies globally — two of them located in the United States, one in Australia and one in Europe.

Hachigian said recent acquisitions by the company, which are some of the first in at least five years, are a sign of the company’s prosperity and return to profitability.

“You can’t make those acquisitions if you’re not healthy yourself,” he said. “It’s a sign of confidence from the investors in our company that they’re willing to give us that kind of cash to go spend on acquisitions, and I think it’s a sign that we have an optimistic view of the economy as we go forward.”

Moving forward, Hachigian sees the possibility of Jeld-Wen becoming a publicly traded company. No timeline has been set for an initial public offering on the stock market, however.

“The company is doing better than it has ever done historically,” Hachigian said.

Thinning planned to battle beetles in Central Oregon

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Sap dripping from lodgepole pines this year came as the first sign of an insect invasion mounting in the Newberry Volcano caldera.

By next year, trees killed by the mountain pine beetle should stick out from healthy trees — because of their telltale red needles.

“We are just starting to get a new beetle outbreak,” Amy Tinderholt, recreation team leader for the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest, said Thursday.

Hoping to curb the outbreak before it leaves widespread dead and potentially dangerous trees standing in campgrounds around Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the national forest plans to thin out lodgepole stands there. The caldera is home to Paulina and East lakes.

The “Shield Insect and Disease Project” would cover 2,938 acres in the caldera about 20 miles east of La Pine, according to the national forest.

Along with mountain pine beetle, the project would target gall rust, a fungal disease found in pines. The earliest the thinning and other work would occur is next fall, said Anne Trapanese, National Environmental Policy Act planner with the Bend-Fort Rock District.

Cutting trees, mowing brush and burning scrap is planned in and around nine campgrounds, as well as along the road up Paulina Peak and the roads leading in and out of the caldera from the east and west, she said. The road coming from the west is paved while the road coming from the east is not.

Clearing brush and small trees in 250-foot buffers along the roads would provide safer evacuation routes in the event of a wildfire, according to the national forest. But the main problem is the beetle.

“We have a forest health issue that we want to do something about,” Trapanese said.

Native to forests in the Northwest, the mountain pine beetle attacks pines by swarm, said Andy Eglitis, entomologist with the Deschutes National Forest. Oozing sap is how lodgepole pines try to combat the beetle, but with 500 or more of the insects on one tree they can kill it in a couple of days. The larvae of the mountain pine beetle do the most damage by eating the cambium, the living part of a tree under the bark.

Adult beetles can fly up to 10 miles and are about the size of a match head or grain of rice, about three-eighths of an inch long. “These guys are pretty small,” he said.

Mountain pine beetle outbreaks have hit Central Oregon before, Eglitis said, notably around La Pine and Crescent in the late 1970s until the late 1980s and along the Cascade Lakes Highway in the mid-1990s to late 2000s.

There are also records of huge outbreaks in Central Oregon in the 1840s and 1910s, Eglitis said. “It’s always been here.”

An outbreak leaves large stands of dead trees, which pose a falling hazard in places people frequent, like campgrounds, and could fuel a wildfire. The project aims to prevent these dangers.

“It is really about trying to make the area safe for visitation,” Eglitis said.

The beetles often go after the largest lodgepoles, Eglitis said, as the trees become more susceptible to attack as they get older.

Deschutes National Forest officials have yet to determine the details of what size of trees to cut in the caldera. U.S. Forest Service rules prohibit the cutting of trees larger than 21 inches in diameter at breast height, the standard measure of a tree’s size, in forests on the east side of the Central Oregon Cascades.

Wilderness advocates want more protections for Crater Lake

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

Wilderness advocates delivered more than 30,000 petitions to Sen. Ron Wyden’s Portland office Tuesday in support of designating Crater Lake and the surrounding area as protected wilderness.

The proposed boundaries for the Crater Lake Wilderness would make the national park into a 500,000-acre corridor of protected area.

That’s 2 1/2 times the size of the current park.

Wilderness designations are used to limit human activity, and can even include bans on motorized vehicles.  

Environment Oregon state director Rikki Seguin said she wants Wyden, D-Ore., to submit a bill on Crater Lake to Congress this year.

“The only way you can designate land as wilderness is by going through Congress,” said Seguin. “And that’s going to take a champ like Sen. Ron Wyden stepping up to the plate and introducing a bill.” 

Wyden visited Crater Lake this summer as part of his seven wonders of Oregon tour.  

After the trip, he drafted a bill to boost the outdoor recreation economy in the state.  

Wyden’s office says he would consider the wilderness protection proposed in the petitions.

Miners sue Oregon over dredging ban

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Miners are asking the federal government to intervene and prevent Oregon from shutting down certain types of mining in wild salmon rivers like the Rogue.

The Mail Tribune reports that a consortium of mining interests filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the state’s five-year ban on most suction dredging. The group says federal mining laws trump state restrictions on federal lands.

The legislature passed a bill in 2013 that placed restrictions on dredging. It was designed to end at the end of 2015, giving lawmakers time to devise permanent rules. They never did.

If a lawmaker introduces legislation that would keep dredging restrictions on the table, it may be allowed to continue without a problem.

The suction dredging ban is set to begin in January. In-stream work usually begins in mid-June.

Oregon woman faces livestock theft charges

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

A Wasco County, Oregon, woman has a Nov. 2 court appearance set on charges she allegedly stole four cows.

Elizabeth Ann Turner is charged with four counts of first-degree theft involving cows belonging to Aaron Turner.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office describes the case as a civil dispute that degenerated into a criminal allegation. Other news accounts indicated a family dispute is at the heart of the charges. The county indictment does not spell out the relationship between Elizabeth Turner and Aaron Turner.

The alleged thefts happened on or about Oct. 5, according to the indictment.

Elizabeth Turner was in the news in September after wildfires scorched pasture and rangeland in much of Eastern Oregon and livestock owners ranchers were looking for feed or grazing land. According to a Capital Press account, Turner offered temporary grazing on 1,200 acres of dry pasture for displaced livestock, saying it could hold 50 to 100 cow-calf pairs for two months.

Ranchers oppose Malheur County monument designation

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

ONTARIO, Ore. — An effort by conservation groups to have a large chunk of Malheur County set aside as a national monument or wilderness area has riled up ranchers and farmers in the area.

They have joined forces with a group of concerned citizens and elected officials who are fighting the Owyhee Canyonlands Conservation Proposal, which would encompass 2.5 million acres.

Malheur County Cattlemen’s Association President Chris Christensen said locking up that much area would eliminate a large amount of grazing land and devastate Oregon’s No. 1 cattle producing county.

“If this thing comes to pass, it would have a devastating effect on the ranching community and agriculture in Malheur County,” he said. “Anybody involved in agriculture in Malheur County isn’t going to be in favor of this thing.”

Christensen said a large chunk of that 2.5 million acres is grazed.

According to Sergio Arispe, a livestock and rangeland agent at Oregon State University’s Malheur County Extension office, locking up that much land would eliminate about 33 percent of the county’s total grazing land.

A monument designation “would destroy the community and the business of agriculture as it’s being done in this area right now,” Christensen said.

Oregon Natural Desert Association, which is leading the monument effort, says it would protect 2.5 million acres of wild lands and hundreds of miles of wild and scenic rivers. According to the group’s web site, the proposal would “allow working farms and ranches to continue to operate.”

But Jordan Valley rancher Bob Skinner, former president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, said area residents believe the opposite would happen.

The majority of that 2.5 million acres is grazed, he said.

“There are cattle everywhere out there,” Skinner said. “If you take cattle out of (this) economy, you have decimated the economy. It would change our way of life. Not only farmers and ranchers, but everybody around here is up in arms about it.”

Malheur County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Linda Rowe, who opposes the monument proposal, said that 2.5 million acres would equal 43 percent of the county.

If the county’s economically vital cattle industry was devastated by it, a lot of hay, corn and other grains wouldn’t be grown here, she said.

“It would impact agriculture in Malheur County as a whole,” Rowe said.

Local elected officials and members of Oregon’s congressional delegation are holding a town hall meeting on the issue from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Adrian High School gymnasium.

ONDA and other regional and national conservation groups and businesses are gathering signatures to back their effort. According to ONDA’s web site, “a variety of legislative and administrative options (are) being considered to permanently protect this place.”

According to a news release from Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, it is anticipated the groups are planning to ask President Barack Obama to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate the land as a national monument, wilderness area or national conservation area.

Black bear roaming yards near Portland euthanized

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

ZIGZAG, Ore. (AP) — A black bear roaming people’s yards and going through garbage cans has been trapped and euthanized.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the bear was killed Tuesday.

KPTV-TV reports state officials took action in part because some residents had come face-to-face with the animal in the town of Zigzag, about 45 miles southeast of Portland.

BLM tracks down online impersonator

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has tracked down an agency employee who impersonated a retired BLM heavy equipment operator online, but will not identify the person.

Greg Allum, an Eastern Oregon resident once employed by BLM, recently informed Capital Press that his name was used to post comments on an article about the arson convictions of two Oregon ranchers.

Allum denied making the comments about Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son who were recently sentenced to five years in prison for setting fires on BLM property near Diamond, Ore.

The comments referred to the Hammonds as “clowns” and defended the actions of BLM in pursuing criminal charges against them.

After checking the Internet Protocol address used to make the comments, Capital Press found that they were posted from a computer that belongs to the BLM.

The agency has identified the BLM employee who made the comments but cannot divulge any information about the person’s name, location, position or possible disciplinary actions, said Michael Campbell, a public information officer for BLM.

The employee’s actions violated the BLM’s “robust social media policy,” under which only authorized officials can represent the agency on social media sites, Campbell said.

If a BLM makes comments using a personal account, they must provide a disclaimer stating that their views don’t reflect the positions of the agency, he said.

When asked if the BLM employee or another agency official apologized to Allum, Campbell said the agency would have no record of any personal contact between an agency employee and the retired worker.

Greg Allum said he has no comment on the BLM’s response to inquiries from Capital Press.

Malheur County farmers say they would love to be part of Idaho

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

ONTARIO, Ore. — A recent effort to create a forum where people can discuss the idea of eastern Oregon and Washington counties joining Idaho was welcomed by farmers in Oregon’s Malheur County.

If any county in the two states is a good fit for Idaho, it’s Malheur County, farmers and agribusiness owners in that county told Capital Press.

“I guarantee you we’d be all for it,” said Kay Riley, manager of Snake River Produce, an onion shipping-packing facility in Nyssa, Ore., a few hundred yards from Idaho. “We don’t have anything in common with the western part of Oregon.”

Farmers in this area grow the same crops, are in the same time zone and many of the Oregon farmers have Idaho cell phone numbers.

Malheur County farmers and ranchers are more conservative and identify more politically with their Idaho counterparts, said Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce, an onion shipper-packer in Nyssa.

“Everything about Malheur County is more identified with Idaho,” he said. “I wish I knew how to actually make this happen. I wouldn’t mind trying to help.”

The major crops grown in this area — onions, sugar beets, mint, seed — are grown by farmers on both sides of the border and the industries are closely linked.

An onion processing facility in Parma, Idaho, for example, uses onions from farmers in both states and sugar beets grown in Malheur County end up at a processing facility in Nampa, Idaho.

“With the kind of agricultural industry they have over there, we’d take them in a heart beat,” said Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder.

If Idaho annexed Malheur County, it would make life easier for Oregon farmers who have to deal with tougher state regulations than Idaho growers do, said Paul Skeen, president of Malheur County Onion Growers Association.

“We would love to be in Idaho,” he said. “Idaho is an agriculture-friendly state and Idaho has a governor that is looking to help agriculture in any way possible.”

Oregon State University researcher Bill Buhrig, who has farmed in Malheur County all his life, said growers here have talked about joining Idaho for as long as he can remember.

While it’s a nice idea, the logistics of accomplishing that are formidable and incredibly complex, he said.

“There is absolutely no way that would ever happen, but it’s fun to talk about,” he said.

Idaho elected officials and representatives of the state’s congressional delegation said the effort has to originate on the Oregon side but they would be willing to help once it got going.

Ken Parsons, a retired farmer from La Grande, Ore., recently made news for creating a Yahoo forum where people can seriously discuss the idea of counties in eastern Oregon and Washington joining Idaho.

“I don’t have any of those answers but there are people out there with that knowledge,” Parsons said about the logistical hurdles. “I’m trying to get people sitting around this big internet table and start building a consensus on how to do it.”

Specialty crop grants will aid diverse Oregon producers

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

In Forest Grove, Ore., Pete Mulligan is betting the rising popularity of hard cider isn’t a foodie fad. He’s growing 100 varieties of apples, including old English and French cider varieties, to keep his own business juiced and to provide nursery trees for other cider makers.

Mulligan, founder of Bull Run Cider, said the industry needs to be taken seriously by others in Oregon agriculture.

So far, the reception has been cautious. When making a pitch to experienced orchardists to grow cider varieties, “Right away they want to know how much money am I going to make,” Mulligan said.

That’s understandable. “We know partnerships are not developed overnight,” he said. But Mulligan and others believe the cider infrastructure needs to grow quickly to take advantage of the market. Many cider makers buy juice or use conventional dessert apples due to a scarcity of the tart or bittersweet cider varieties, he said.

He said a $54,000 specialty crop grant from USDA may help the industry develop the foundation it needs. The grant, part of $2 million in funding administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, is one of 24 projects statewide intended to assist growers and processors of fruit, vegetables, nuts, nursery plants and other specialty crops.

In the case of the cider grant, the money will go to the Northwest Cider Association to connect cider manufacturers with orchardists and nurseries to ensure a steady supply of cider apples and “perry” pears. Perry is an alcoholic drink made from pears.

Sherrye Wyatt, executive director of the cider association, said the grant comes at a crucial time for the industry as cider makers plan expansion and need an assured supply of fruit.

“It’s critical that we’re not spinning our wheels, because the clock is turning,” she said. “People are having to plan out ahead.”

Wyatt said the cider industry benefits from the same atmosphere — starting with high-quality agricultural products — that led to the rapid expansion of craft beer manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest.

“The cradle of that is Portland,” she said. “Combine that with fruit, an innovative spirit and local, slow food.”

The cider association’s membership has grown from 17 to 70 in just the past couple years, Wyatt said.

Some of the other specialty crop projects to receive funding include:

• $66,800 to the Oregon Hops Commission, which will coordinate and update a study of how much seasonal farm labor specialty crop producers need.

• $61,239 to the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission for a campaign to get elders to eat more berries. Nutrition experts tout berries as healthy food that can help the body stave off various ailments.

• $79,186 to the Oregon Strawberry Commission for growth trials and taste tests of up to 10 new fresh market strawberry varieties. They will be grown at Unger Farms outside Portland, which is experienced in using the plasticulture production system,

• $100,000 to Oregon State University Extension to expand OSU’s Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship program. The grant will be used to improve the production and marketing skills of new and beginning specialty crop farmers and will include a series of four classes offered at Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus.


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