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For probably 10 years now, Sherman County law enforcement have dealt with calls about a herd of feral cows. “I call them feral because they just roam the canyons. They’re everywhere,” said Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey. “When I say feral—I mean mean. I’m scared of them.”

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Area livestock producers suffering losses of animals or feed due to this winter’s storms may be eligible for the USDA’s livestock indemnity  and feed loss assistance programs, according to Lissa Biehn, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director in Wasc…

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In the wake of a man’s death last summer while fighting fire on agricultural land, and the fines his employer incurred because of it, farmers need more clarification on firefighting rules, an official said.

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Bilateral trade negotiations have begun with Japan, the top importer of the soft white wheat grown in the mid-Columbia, wheat growers in Wasco and Sherman counties heard Feb. 4.

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The “Greenhouses for Good” project at The Dalles High School delivered its first bulk donation of lettuce to the local Oregon Food Bank last week.

The project began in the spring of 2018 and incorporates engineering, horticulture, and community service.

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A second and final round of trade mitigation payments meant to assist farmers suffering from damage due to “unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations” has been announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and farmers in Wasco and Hood River counties are encouraged to apply by the Jan. 15 deadline.

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A grant request to build a second deep well in Mosier, moving a heavy agricultural user out of a depleting aquifer currently being used by the town, was declined at this time. The Oregon Water Resources Commission told the grant seekers to come back with more information for reconsideration in the next funding cycle.

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Wasco County farmers and ranchers may be eligible for federal assistance to repair fencing destroyed by the summer’s wildfires, a local agency announced. The Wasco/Hood River County Farm Service Agency said farmers and ranchers have until Nov. 30 to contact the local FSA office and request assistance through the Emergency Conservation Program.

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A task force of local ranchers and farmers from Wasco and Sherman counties will help decide how $27,000 in a wildfire relief fund should be distributed. Ken Polehn, president of the Wasco County Farm Bureau, said the funds will be used for losses not compensated by insurance or other public and private relief funds.

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the addition of commodities to the trade mitigation package aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.

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Eight members of the Wolf Plan Stakeholder work group met last week in The Dalles with ODFW staff to discuss methods of controlling the growing population.

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Agricultural producers have new resources available to them to prepare for and recover from impacts of natural disasters on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new website, farmers.gov.

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Dufur Gap Road rancher Mike Filbin is relieved that U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was successful in his bid to have the federal government allow emergency grazing on some preserve lands. The South Valley Fire came within 15 feet of destroying Filbin’s home and outbuildings last week.

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Providing health care to migrant farm workers not only meets a critical need but acknowledges the important contribution these families make to the local economy, says Jon Soffer, a nurse practitioner with Mid-Columbia Medical Center. “I think it’s critical for us to give back to this community by improving their health because they are a cornerstone of the industry,” he said.

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Three members of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation are on the move to get federal assistance for farmers in Sherman and Wasco counties who have sustained damage from recent wildfires. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has written a letter asking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to allow emergency grazing of livestock on Conservation Reserve Program ground. He also asks that farmers be given flexibility to plant cover crops for soil stabilization without being placed in the continuous production category with the Risk Management Agency and having their crop insurance adversely affected.

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Wheat fields burnt in the Substation Fire — 79,121 acres in Wasco and Sherman County — are now at risk of both wind and water erosion, according to soil and water conservationists with the United States Department of Agriculture personnel in The Dalles. “Both wind and water can be a problem,” said Clinton Whitten, who works on soil issues with farmers in both counties.

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Christa Rude, right, and Willow Ziegenhagen, 8, of Zion Farms, serve customers purchasing lettuce Saturday at The Dalles Farmers Market in City Park.

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Jamie McLeod-Skinner toured Orchard View farm near The Dalles last week, learning about cherry production from owner Bob Bailey. “We were talking about everything from business opportunities to the pressure on the industry — how the federal government can either help or get out of the way,” said the Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District seat.

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The volume of cherries is down this year due to cold spring weather that kept bees from coming out of their hives and pollinating flowers, but orchardists still expect a good return in the marketplace. “Our crop is lighter than last year, but we expect to do alright financially unless we get a rain storm, or there is a problem with trade,” said Ken Polehn, a cherry grower who is president of the Wasco County Farm Bureau.

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The first capture of the western cherry fruit fly occurred at the Oregon State University (OSU) Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center (MCAREC) station in Hood River May 20, one day later than the OSU model predicted, according to Ashley Thompson, Assistant Professor of Horticulture at OSU.

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The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled farmland dwellings can be rebuilt even if they were demolished more than five years ago, reversing a previous legal decision. Preservationists call the ruling ‘devastating’ to farmland.

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Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, joined U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, during the final stop on his “Farm Bill listening tour” in Yakima June 30. The U.S. Farm Bill is comprehensive legislation that sets federal government policies related to agriculture, ranging from farming, to trade and subsidies, to nutrition.

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The first thing viewers noticed while watching the U.S. Olympic team march through the Parade of Nations at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics opening ceremony was their battery-powered heated parkas, designed by Ralph Lauren and created by a family-owned company in New Jersey. Each piece of clothing included in the U.S.’s Olympic uniform has a similar American story to tell: jeans made by a non-profit company in Texas, hats and base layers from a business run by a brother-sister duo in Los Angeles, gloves made in New York; and one of those stories is right here in Wasco county. Imperial Stock Ranch, owned and operated by the Carver family, provided wool for the sweater, hat and other knit pieces worn by the U.S. Olympic team in the opening and closing ceremonies.

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Ken Bailey, a third-geneation cherry grower in The Dalles, has been appointed to the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Commission, a 12-member group charged with protecting family farmlands.

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Plants utilize soil nutrients as they grow and farmers need to replenish those nutrients before planting next year’s crops again in the same place. Cover crops, also called green manures, are non-crop plants that provide an on-farm solution to incorporating nutrients into the soil.

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Hugo Lutz of Sunny Dale Farm, The Dalles, holds up a pair of onions at The Dalles Farmer's Market Saturday, July 22.

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The bottom of the cherry market has fallen out with a bountiful harvest across the Northwest, which means that smaller fruit cannot be sold. That bad news has been delivered by Jeff Heater, field man for The Dalles Fruit Company, to about 25 cherry growers in Wasco and Hood River counties who process crops at the packing plant, located in Dallesport.

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Wheat harvest is now underway in Wasco County. Above, a combine harvests a field of dryland wheat at Kortge Wheat & Cattle, working in a field south of U.S. 197 just south of The Dalles.

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Cherry harvest is underway in the Columbia River Gorge and there are plenty of pickers despite worries that President Donald Trump’s focus on border security would cause laborers from Mexico and Central America to stay home. “For the most part, all of my growers say they’ve got plenty of people — they’re even turning workers away,” said Jeff Heater, field man for The Dalles Fruit Company, which runs a packing plant in Dallesport.

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Azure Farms, Inc., and the Sherman County Court appear close to reaching an agreement about how to keep noxious weed seeds from spreading to neighboring properties and beyond.

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The cherry fruit fly emerged in orchards this week, and all trees, whether in a backyard or commercial orchard, are required to use an insecticide to battle this insect. Lynn Long, Oregon State University Extension horticulturist, announced the emergence of the cherry industry’s chief pest Wednesday, May 24.

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Sherman County residents expressed anger Wednesday not only about Azure Farms, Inc., violating local and state weed control laws, but urging a social media uprising against enforcement action.

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Ecclesia of Sinai, which owns the land used by Azure Farms, Inc., is using Old Testament verses as grounds to not recognize the authority of Sherman County to enforce removal of noxious weeds on about 2,000 acres in and around Moro. David Stelzer, president of Azure, which is headquartered in Dufur, said Ecclesia is his company’s landlord, a separate entity from the organic farming operation.

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The negative side of having snow on the ground for a record number of days is the emergence of snow mold, a fungus that thrives in a cold, dark environment. Harsh weather also encouraged the growth of another fungal disease, stripe rust, which is airborne and so spreads easily.

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When Sherman County farmer Darren Padget recently visited U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s office in Washington, D.C., to complain about a more than 400 percent increase in his family’s health insurance premium, he didn’t expect to have that information shared in a House floor speech.

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After a long and difficult winter, this mama cow celebrates the arrival of her healthy new calf with a wash behind the ears.

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The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is concerned that two bills in the Legislature to regulate “dairy emissions,” or cow flatulence, are setting the stage for rules that will adversely affect ranchers throughout the state.

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It’s hardly surprising that properties along von Borstel Road in Sherman County would be inhabited by von Borstels, but it is notable that so many members of the family remain in agriculture at a time when small farms are on the decline.

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Elio Andrade maneuvers an old sprayer into position at Omeg Orchards on Knob Hill Road during a soil workshop’s field demonstration hosted by the Oregon State University Extension Service in The Dalles last week. The sprayer, no longer used, has been modified to apply lime suspended in liquid along the tree rows, one of the soil improvement techniques adopted by Mike Omeg, who grows five varieties of sweet cherries. Additional demonstrations involved machines used for chipping pruned limbs and branches, and mowers that throw cuttings to the side under trees, where they will return nutrients to the soil.

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to begin the legal process of rolling back federal jurisdiction over small waterways, including some stock ponds and irrigation ditches. “I think this is the direction we need,” said Keith Nantz, a Maupin rancher who chairs the Political Action Committee of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.

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There’s only one thing that area farmers know for certain about the upcoming growing season — nothing is going to be predictable this year. “It would be nice to have a crystal ball so we would know for sure what was going to happen but we don’t have that luxury,” said Steve Sugg, a Dufur cherry grower.

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Tim Dahle, a local farmer who helped pioneer pedestrian orchards in Oregon, will be featured in the 2017 SAIF calendar for his growing techniques that eliminate the need for ladders, one of the leading causes of workplace injuries.

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Instead of trying to market their product based on price, Muirhead Canning Company focuses on quality. “We're selling directly to the consumer. We're selling based on quality, not price or volume. Our product tastes better — we compete with the home canner,” Russel Laughmiller, who purchased the cannery in 2006, explained.

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Farmers in Wasco County are on the move to educate people in large urban centers of Oregon, which usually carry the vote, about how devastating passage of Measure 97 would be to food production. In Oregon, agriculture is the second largest industry, supporting more than 326,000 full- or part-time jobs and producing commodities valued at about $5.4 billion per year. So the overall economic loss could be great if the proposed new tax of 2.5 percent on gross receipts — before expenditures are deducted — of corporations with sales over $25 million goes into play.

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PENDLETON (AP) — Umatilla County authorities say a 27-year-old man has died in a farming accident near Helix after being pinned between a water truck and a semitrailer. The East Oregonian reports that Guy Simer, of Tygh Valley, died at the scene of the Saturday incident. Sixty-eight-year-old James Harris, of Pendleton, suffered broken bones and was taken to a hospital.

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It’s a bit ironic: Classes,-not-so-much-by-the-book, are being offered in The Dalles Library. Each Tuesday morning a focused group gathers at The Dalles Wasco County Library to take advantage of a no-cost English as a Second Language (ESL) class presented by Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (GICW).

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