Agriculture

Environment
5:00 am
Mon July 7, 2014

UW Study: Urban Fumes Cause Pollinating Moths To Fly Like 'Stumbling Drunks'

A pollinating moth Manduca sexta, this one with a wing span of about 4 inches, feeds from a Sacred Dutura, or Datura wrightii, flower.
Courtesy of Kiley Riffell

As much as one-third of our food supply depends on pollinators like insects and birds that fertilize plants when they fly between blossoms.

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Workers' Rights
10:44 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Berry Pickers Battle Sakuma Bros. Farms In Court Over Housing Policy Change

Martin Barrera is hopeful that he'll be able to live in Sakuma's worker housing this summer along with his wife and three children
David Cravioto

Even as the summer berry season gets underway, some of the workers who pick those berries have been battling with a Skagit County farm in court. They’ve challenged Sakuma Brothers Farms over its new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. 

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Business
5:00 am
Mon June 9, 2014

What Is The Farm Guest Worker Program And Why Is It Controversial In Wash. State?

Berry pickers showed up in a Skagit County court as they brought a lawsuit against Sakuma Brothers Farms. They said the farm was trying to exclude them from work and instead bring in foreign guest workers under the H-2A program.
Ashley Gross KPLU

People in Seattle are familiar with the H-1B visa program that brings high-tech employees from abroad, but another, more obscure foreign worker program has churned up a lot of controversy in the state recently.

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Business
4:41 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Governor-Appointed Group To Tackle Farm Labor Issues In Wash. State

FILE - Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms are seen at work.
Bellamy Pailthorp

After a tumultuous year in which berry pickers at a Skagit County farm went on repeated strikes, a new group appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee is set to start tackling farm labor issues. 

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Foraging in the Northwest
5:02 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Happy Foragers Finding Bumper Crop of Wild Mushrooms

James Nowak reaching for a prime specimen of porcini in underbrush near Alpental ski area.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Wild mushrooms are going gangbusters this year in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to just the right weather conditions, and foragers are rejoicing after last year’s shortage

Among them is James Nowak, an amateur mycologist who spends most of his days working with mushrooms. When he’s not out in a forest hunting for mushrooms, he grows them in his lab in Seattle or processes them for sale to restaurants and home cooks.

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Endangered species
12:06 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Puget Sound Orcas to Remain Protected

chasedekker photo Flickr

  The charismatic black and white killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a call to de-list resident orcas. 

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agriculture
6:51 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Women, Hispanic farmers say discrimination continues in settlement

Hispanic and women farmers have been combined in the USDA's final settlement over discrimination in farm loans. Photo courtesy of HispanicFarmerJustice.com

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 10:18 am

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of discriminating against farmers who are women, Hispanic, Native American and African American. Numerous lawsuits have cost the government several billion dollars. The latest legal settlement is for women and Hispanic farmers who can prove they were discriminated against in the 1980s and ‘90s. But some of these farmers say the deal to make amends for discrimination is itself discriminatory.

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Food
7:16 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Northwest Wild Mushrooms In Short Supply

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service.

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:28 pm

Northwest wild mushrooms are in short supply this year. That’s had a big impact on the region’s lucrative mushroom hunting industry. It’s also changed what’s on fall restaurant menus in the Northwest and across the nation.

At Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle this autumn customers are often coming home to their families without the coveted mushroom Primo Pizza. The Northwest’s bleak mushroom crop means sometimes the stores cut back on the number of pies, or don’t have them at all.

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agriculture
4:32 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

WSU study: GMO crops need more herbicide to fend off 'superweeds'

Charles Benbrook is a researcher with Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. Photo courtesy of WSU

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 4:10 pm

According to a new study out of Washington State University, farmers of genetically engineered crops are dramatically increasing their use of herbicides. Researchers say farmers are spraying more in response the rise of so-called “superweeds.”

The new study analyzes 16 years of federal data on the nation’s corn, soybean and cotton fields. It finds growers with crops engineered to be herbicide resistant are now putting millions more pounds of weed killer on their fields than farmers who grow the non-modified variety.

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agriculture
3:56 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

U.S. apple processors paying double for fruit

Early Fuji apples about to be picked at Chiawana Orchards near Pasco, Washington. Photo by Anna King

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 3:33 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. apple processors are paying nearly double what they did just two years ago to make sauce and juice.

Bad weather pummeled other apple growing regions of the world. And a worker shortage is slowing down the harvest in the Northwest.

Apple crops in New York, Michigan, Canada and Europe are down from bad weather. And China, the world’s largest apple producer, is keeping more fruit at home for its growing middle class. That means the price of processing-apples has gone up at least $100 a ton from just two years ago.

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The Salt
6:18 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

Tired Of Mowing Your Lawn? Try Foodscaping It Instead

The lawn of Nashville yoga instructor James Alvarez is being taken over by buckwheat.
Blake Farmer Nashville Public Radio

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 7:14 pm

When the economy began its steep decline in 2008, almost everything related to housing hit the skids, including the lawn and garden industry. But one sector escaped the pinch: food gardening.

In fact, food gardening sales nationwide have spiked 20 percent since then, and they've stayed there. While many households started growing food to be more budget-conscious, some are deciding vegetables and fruits can be beautiful, too.

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agriculture
4:23 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

WSU gets $5 million donation for organic agriculture

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University's pioneering programs in organic and sustainable agriculture received a $5 million donation on Friday.

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Business
9:27 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Agriculture industry 'Tremendous Force' in Idaho economy

Agriculture is a tremendous force in shaping the Idaho economy, according to John Hammel, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho. Hammel told state budget writers Wednesday that the industry’s strength comes from its diversity.

“It is tremendously diverse, with over 150 commodities grown statewide, and has a growing livestock sector, which is led by dairy production. This diversity minimizes the impact to Idaho from a downturn in any particular agricultural sector,” says Hammel.

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Farming
3:04 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Fires destroy three major haystacks in Eastern Washington

Police in eastern Washington are trying to figure out who has been intentionally torching haystacks near the tiny town of Mattawa.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones says in the last two weeks two fires burned three major haystacks to the ground. Jones says he doubts local kids have been setting the fires.

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Agriculture
4:10 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Worker shortage may force apple growers to leave some fruit behind

Apples going in want of pickers in Washington state.
Andrea Parrish Flickr

Across the Northwest, apple growers are having a hard time bringing in their harvest because of a worker shortage. The result may mean certain lower-priced varieties of apples don’t get picked at all.

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