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agriculture

Farmers in Idaho say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beef, potatoes, apples, cheese and other products are languishing in storage because of problems at West Coast ports.

Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends.

A slowdown at Western ports is now aggravating farmers across the Northwest.

"Product of Mexico" — it's a label you see on fruit and vegetable stickers in supermarkets across the U.S.

It's also the name of an investigative series appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times.

These Dairy Robots Let Cows Choose When They’re Milked

Nov 26, 2014
Sarah Eden Wallace

If anyone should be a traditional farmer, it would be Alan Mesman. His family has been farming for six generations near La Conner, Washington. But last year, Mesman became the second of six farmers in the state who are trying a new tool that’s helped them cut labor costs and reduce the workload.

Robots.

Northwest cranberry farmers are struggling from a North American oversupply of the fruit.

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets.

An arctic air mass has swept into the Northwest. Cold air and snow are expected from central Washington through central Oregon and even into Idaho’s central Panhandle.

The Chinese government approved market access to Northwest apples Wednesday after a two-year market closure.

Flickr Photo/pquan (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with giant pumpkin grower Joel Holland, of Sumner, about the nearly 1,600 lb pumpkin he'll be entering in the Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers' 13th annual weigh-off at Central Market Shoreline this Saturday.

Genetically modified wheat has been found at a university research center in Montana. That news Friday came as a federal investigation into a similar case in Oregon concludes with few answers.

Flickr Photo/Cheryl Hammond (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Val Dumond, author of "Doin' the Puyallup," about how the Washington State Fair has changed in the last 114 years.

For years there's been a battle raging between Idaho ranchers and the federal government over whether ranchers should be able to fight wildfires.

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

People usually go to Skagit Valley for tulips and berries. But here’s a little known fact: The region also grows grains. Grains used to be grown mainly as cover crop and often shipped out of state. These days Skagit Valley is seeing a grain revival, thanks to a local researcher.

If your experience with whole grain bread takes you back to the hard brick loaves of the '70s, Stephen Jones at the Bread Lab wants to change that.

Too Many Apples, Too Few Hands In Washington

Aug 12, 2014
Flickr Photo/Andrea Parrish-Geyer (CC-BY-NC-ND)

 

Ross Reynolds talks with Karen Lewis, who is trying to come up with a better way to harvest apples when there's not enough people to pick them. Lewis is a tree fruit specialist at the Washington State University.

Northwest cattle ranchers are struggling to get their herds out of the way of raging wildfires. Some herds have been lost, others badly injured.

Osprey nests are a common sight near rivers, lakes and bays in the Northwest. If you look closely with binoculars, you might notice some of these large raptors like to line their nests with discarded baling twine or fishing line. The problem is it can kill them.

As legal pot growing operations spring to life from urban King County to remote corners of Washington state, an ongoing debate has developed within this new farming community.

Why People Travel The World To Work On Farms

Aug 1, 2014
KUOW Photo/Matthew Streib

Ross Reynolds talks with Sarah Potenza, executive director of the U.S. branch of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, about how young people are taking unpaid internships on organic farms.

This summer's hot, dry weather has been a mixed blessing for Northwest farmers.

Let me guess how you feel about your urine: Get that smelly stuff away from me as fast as possible?

A small group of environmentalists in Vermont isn't as squeamish. Instead of flushing their pee down the drain, they're collecting it with special toilets that separate No. 1 and No. 2.

Then they're pooling the urine of the 170 volunteers in the pilot project (a quart or so, per person, daily) and eventually giving it to a farmer, who's putting it on her hay fields in place of synthetic fertilizer. The goal is to collect 6,000 gallons this year.

A breakdown in a U.S. State Department computer system that processes foreign worker visas has sowed major worries at some Northwest orchards.

Screenshot by Keva Andersen

The subject headline of producer Matthew Streib's email was irresistibly public radio: "There is fresh raw Nigerian pygmy goat's milk in the fridge." 

Typically we hear about free doughnuts on the filing cabinet near Ross Reynold's desk, so we asked Matthew to explain.

From Ubrlocal's Facebook page

Ross Reynolds talks with Kamal Patel, co-founder of Ubrlocal, a marketplace for Seattle gardeners and farmers to share their wares.

4-H Teaches Poultry Prowess To Urban Kids

Jul 21, 2014
KUOW Photo/Matthew Streib

Ross Reynolds discussed the 4-H Club's program to teach kids responsibility and life skills by raising poultry. Despite its reputation as a rural organization, 4-H has been reaching urban kids as well. This year's junior poultry showmanship winner at the King County Fair was 10-year-old Katie Moen of Ballard with her Silkie bantam.

What Climate Change Could Mean For Your Grape Juice

Jun 23, 2014

PROSSER, Wash. -- The sun beats down as researcher Markus Keller leans in to inspect his experimental vineyard.

“As you can see here, there’s a lot of flowers forming on the different shoots,” Keller says.

The grape leaves hang down like a curtain over the rows of vines. This year’s crop looks to be strong.

For connoisseurs of fine grape jellies and juices, this is a reason to rejoice. For collectors of fine wines? Not so much.

These are Concord grapes -- which make up 99 percent of the variety that go in to juice and jelly production, Keller says.

Farmers in Oregon, Idaho and Washington are expected to harvest less wheat this summer. The weather forecast has a lot to do with it.

It seems that everybody, going back at least to Thomas Jefferson, loves small family farms.

Yet those beloved small farms are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Big farms are taking over.

According to the latest census of American agriculture, released this year, there are two million farms in America. But just four percent of those farms account for two-thirds of all agricultural production.

Imagine if a gallon of milk cost $3 in your town, but 100 miles away it cost $100, or even $200.

Something similar is happening right now in California with water that farmers use to irrigate their crops. Some farmers are paying 50 or even 100 times more for that water than others who live just an hour's drive away.

The situation is provoking debate about whether water in California should move more freely, so that it can be sold to the highest bidder.

When you think organic, you probably visualize fresh, sweet-smelling fruits and vegetables. But what makes that delicious organic produce grow?

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