Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Foreign guestworker advertising rule may change

- A proposed rule change could save farmers nationwide, using H-2A foreign guestworkers, millions of dollars in advertising for domestic workers.

Apple prices increasing, marketers say

- Washington wholesale apple prices have been low but are moving up, marketers say, as the crop estimate remains small.

Yakima hotel transforms into farmworker housing

- A large Yakima hotel has been mostly converted into farmworker housing and owners foresee it meeting more need as use of foreign guestworkers continues to grow.

Advocate assesses election’s impact on labor reform

- A leader for agricultural labor reform says friends were lost but new opportunities were born as Democrats won the U.S. House. H-2A-visa changes could come in a Homeland Security appropriations bill and regulations.

Northwest pushing large pear crop

- Sales are lagging but prices are good as the Pacific Northwest pear industry is three months into packing and shipping a near record large fresh crop.

Use of H-2A guestworkers sets record

- Numbers of agricultural foreign guestworkers certified by the federal government grew 21 percent nationally and 34 percent in Washington state in 2018. Industry sources say its indicative of the shortage of domestic residen...

Washington pear packer starts using H-2B

- A Wenatchee Valley pear cooperative is the first tree fruit packer in Washington to use H-2B-visa foreign guestworkers. Needed, the co-op says, during September through December peak packing.

European apple moth strikes in B.C., and is probably here

- A European apple pest, introduced in imported rootstock 18 years ago, is killing apple trees in British Columbia and spreading into Washington.

Little Cherry Disease at epidemic levels

- A Washington State University plant virologist says Little Cherry Disease is “well into epidemic levels” in Central Washington and will eventually impact the crop. The president of the industry’s promot...

Cherry growers seek federal aid to help offset Chinese tariff losses

- The 2018 Northwest cherry crop final tally is 25.3 million, 20-pound boxes making it second largest crop. More federal export promotion dollars are being sought to partially recompense tariff losses.

Yakima reservoirs lower than normal

- Mountain water reservoirs serving the Yakima Basin are near their annual low and at 88.6 percent of normal caused by 46 percent of normal precipitation for the first 24 days of October. It maybe cause for concern for next y...

Harvest-assist machines join forces for faster apple picking

- A hybrid between Washington and Michigan apple harvest assist machines maybe on the market next year. It could be the final step before a robotic picker.

Yakima hotel transforms into farmworker housing

- A large Yakima hotel has been mostly converted into farmworker housing and owners foresee it meeting more need as use of foreign guestworkers continues to grow.

‘Non-failure emergency’ lifted at Priest Rapids Dam

- A local public utility district, working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has lifted a non-failure emergency condition at mid-Columbia hydroelectric dam. Drilling has relieved pressure and monitoring has been ...

Larson Orchard settles lawsuit with H-2A workers

- A Washington tree fruit company has agreed, in an out-of-court settlement, to pay lost wages and rehire 18 seasonal foreign guestworkers in 2019 whom went on strike in 2017.

USDA solicits apple bids as part of tariff mitigation plan

- As part of USDA’s retaliatory tariff mitigation, the department is accepting bids from U.S. apple growers on certain varieties of the 2018 crop.

Companies promote new apples at PMA Fresh Summit

- Chelan Fresh Marketing and Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers are among Washington companies promoting limited-volume, proprietary apple varieties at Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit in Florida.

Cosmic Crisp to get $10 million marketing push

- Specifics aren’t being revealed, but Washington State University and the firm it hired to help manage commercialization of its new’s Cosmic Crisp apple say they will spend $10 million in early promotions.

DACA applications cost legal immigrants $316.5 million, feds say

- DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) for 1.2 million people from 2015 through 2017 cost other immigrants $316.5 million during that time, says an immigration think tank, citing federal statistics.

Apples still top crop in Washington

- For more than a decade apples have been Washington’s top value agricultural commodity and that continued in 2017 at $2.43 billion of the state’s total $10.6 billion in farmgate value.

Part of Methow Valley under apple maggot quarantine

- The northern part of Okanogan County’s Methow Valley is being added to the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s apple maggot quarantine to try to slow spread of the pest that’s already in some c...

Apple crop estimate takes big drop

- Washington’s apple crop looks like it’s 10.8 percent smaller than estimated two months ago. Fruit set was lighter than first thought due to cool weather during bloom and pollination. The smaller crop should gi...

Washington ranchers struggle with fire recovery

- Twenty ranchers in northcentral Washington are worried about recovery from the state’s largest wildfire they say didn’t receive much public attention because it happened so fast.

Hay exporters worried about China

- While quality and prices have been good this season, West Coast hay exporters are concerned how long Chinese tariffs will damage sales.

WSU, Australia partner on ag robotics

- Washington State University and Australia’s University of Technology Sydney have formed a new Joint Center for Agricultural Robotics.

Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry likes USMCA

- The new USMCA is good for Pacific Northwest tree fruit in that it maintains duty free access and clarifies valid use of sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions, an industy leader says.

New hop farm touts German kiln, cooling

- The newest hop farm in the Yakima region of Washington is proud of a German system, efficient in heating, cooling and conditioning for quality hops.

Legislation delisting gray wolves passes House committee

- The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee has passed a bipartisan bill delisting gray wolves in the 48 contiguous states.

Tariff mitigation announced for almond growers

- Almond growers have until Jan. 15 to apply for 3 cents per pound in retaliatory tariff relief from USDA.

Judge puts grizzlies back under ESA, bans hunts

- A federal judge says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service errored in delisting Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears in 2017. He restores their listing and bans hunts.

Hop stocks up 16 percent from a year ago

- The supply of U.S. hops, mostly used for making beer, has been increasing for more than two years but the rate of increase maybe beginning to slow.

Apple Commission increases China promotions

- With China’s apple crop down 28 percent, the Washington Apple Commission sees an export opportunity despite tariffs.

Apple Commission to apply for tariff relief

- The Washington Apple Commission will apply for addtional export promotional dollars as part of the Trump administration’s tariff relief. Industry also says 2018 crop is picking short of expectations.

Trade war casualties add up for U.S. ag

- ---- summary to come....

Farmworkers reject UFW in long-fought election

- Farmworkers at California’s largest peach and stone fruit farm reject representation by the United Farm Workers Union by a 5 to 1 margin in ballots counted five years after they were voted.

Federal ag labor bill sits in wings

- A U.S. House bill to address farm labor shortages remains in doubt after failing to get a vote in July. Some groups continue to work for it. Others are not.

Oneonta Starr Ranch more than doubles organic apples

- By adding a new supplier to its organic program and getting more fruit from another, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, of Wenatchee, Wash., is more than doubling its inventory of organic apples this season.

New bill seeks to delist gray wolves

- Members of Congress from three states, including Washington, have introduced legislation to delist gray wolves as threatened or endangered in 48 states.