April 4, 2002    No. 42

News from the Washington State Farm Bureau


A 16-MEMBER COMMITTEE CHARGED WITH FINDING WAYS TO IMPLEMENT watershed plans across the state met for the first time in Olympia Tuesday. (The Olympian, April 3) Watershed plans are being developed in 40 of the state’s 62 river drainage areas, and the committee will look at possible sources of funding and recommend changes in state law and regulations to put the plans into effect. The committee is to submit a report to the governor and state lawmakers in time for the 2003 legislative session.


THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS BEGAN SPILLING WATER OVER LOWER GRANITE DAM Wednesday to help flush juvenile salmon and steelhead downriver. (Spokesman-Review, April 3) Last year, the Corps barged migrating fish around the dam and used all available water to generate electricity. According to the Corps, this year’s snow pack is about average, so it expects to spill water over most Snake and Columbia river dams. The one exception is Lower Monumental Dam, where the Corps will be repairing concrete erosion caused by past spills.


SNOKIST GROWERS, A YAKIMA-BASED FRUIT-PACKING COOPERATIVE, WILL STOP offering employers medical and dental benefits June 1 because of rising heath-care costs. (Yakima Herald-Republic, April 3) The company said it would increase wages by $1 an hour to help workers afford their own health coverage. About 200 Snokist employees are currently enrolled in the company’s health-care program.


THE OLYMPIA FARMERS MARKET – ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE NORTHWEST – opened today, although it may be awhile before many of the vegetables that are usually sold in April are available because of cold weather. (The Olympian, April 4) Last year, the Olympia Farmers Market registered $3.1 million in sales, down from $3.3 million in 2000. Growers pay 6 percent of their sales to the market; while vendors that sell meat, fish and other processed goods pay 7 percent.


YAKIMA COUNTY PLANNERS SAID LAST WEEK THEY WOULD ALLOW DAIRYMAN Art Mensonides to move from Grandview to Mabton if he meets a list of conditions designed to lessen the environmental impact. (Yakima Herald-Republic, March 30) Mensonides, who plans to increase his dairy herd from 2,800 cows to 4,400 within three years, would be required to begin a dust-control program, pave part of a road, and take steps to minimize manure odors, flies and glare from outside lighting. He would also have to set up a system to deal with complaints.  


A U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE LAST WEEK ORDERED THE U.S. FISH & WILDLIFE SERVICE to reconsider a decision not to list westslope cutthroat trout under the Endangered Species Act. (Spokesman-Review, April 4) Judge Emmet Sullivan said the Fish & Wildlife decision two years ago against listing the fish, which was challenged by environmental groups, contained inconsistencies that needed to be addressed, including the effect of interbreeding with rainbow trout. The historic range for westslope cutthroat, one of 11 subspecies, includes much of the inland Northwest, and is the state fish in Idaho and Montana.


MONSANTO CO. AND PIONEER HI-BRED INTERNATIONAL HAVE SETTLED NEARLY a dozen lawsuits over biotech patents that could lower grower costs and increase the variety of seeds available to farmers. (Reuters/Planet Ark, April 4) The agreement will allow Pioneer to sell Roundup Ready soybeans and corn seed in competition with Monsanto.


Ó 2002 Washington Farm Bureau. NewsWatch is a daily update on news of interest to agriculture. Contact Dean Boyer, director of public relations, 1-800-331-3276 or dboyer@wsfb.com, to receive NewsWatch by fax or e

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