August 13, 2004 No. 74
THE CENTRAL PUGET SOUND GROWTH MANAGEMENT BOARD HAS OVERTURNED a land-use ordinance adopted last year by Pierce County to protect farmland in unincorporated areas east of Tacoma from urban growth. (Tacoma News Tribune, Aug. 11) The board said Pierce County failed to justify its plan to preserve about 5,000 acres of farmland and failed to involve the public in drafting the ordinance. The ordinance created a "rural farm" zone prohibiting intensive residential or commercial development. It applied to parcels of 2.5 acres or more in areas where 50 percent or more of the land contained prime agricultural soils.

CANADIAN BEEF PRODUCERS PLAN TO FILE A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CLAIM against the U.S. government in a bid to force the United States to reopen its northern border to live cattle. (AP/Seattle Times, Aug. 13) The claims would be submitted under the North American Free Trade Agreement. A spokesman for Canadian Cattle for Free Trade said the first five claims would seek $113 million in damages. The border has been closed to live cattle from Canada since May 2003, when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in an Alberta herd.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SAID THIS WEEK THAT IT WOULD ADD 1.3 million acres of farmland to the Conservation Reserve Program. About 800 acres will be added through a general signup, Aug. 30 through Sept. 24. The other 500,000 acres will target wetlands in non-floodplain areas to provide habitat for waterfowl in southern states. The department will also offer contract extensions to farmers already in the program. There are now 34.8 million acres enrolled in the program, including 1.4 million acres in Washington. The 2002 farm bill authorizes up to 39.2 million acres.

WHATCOM COUNTY HAS PURCHASED ITS FIRST DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS UNDER a farmland protection program adopted two years ago. (Bellingham Herald, Aug. 11) The county agreed this week to pay $480,000 for the development rights to a 40-acre dairy on Hemmi Road. The current owners will continue to own the land and operate the dairy. About half the money will come from the county's Conservation Futures property tax levy -- 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The other half will come from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. .

THE STATE'S 2004 APPLE CROP IS EXPECTED TO TOP 5.2 BILLION POUNDS, UP 16 percent from 2003, according to the Washington Agricultural Statistics Service. Nationwide, apple production is forecast to be 9.37 billion pounds, up 9 percent.

A PRIVATELY COMMISSIONED ECONOMIC ANALYSIS CONCLUDES THE IDAHO Power Co. could afford to install fish passage at the massive Hells Canyon hydropower complex on the Snake River without significantly affecting rates or shareholder dividends. (Greenwire, Aug. 13) The study, commissioned by two environmental groups and the Nez Perce tribe, also concludes the power company could afford measures to lower the river temperatures at the dams. The study says performing all the work would boost residential rates by about $1.50 per month.

THE BORDER PATROL NOW HAS AUTHORITY TO DEPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS apprehended within 100 miles of the Canadian or Mexican border without giving them an opportunity to plead their case before an immigration judge. (New York Times, Aug. 11) The new rule applies only to illegal immigrants who have been in the country for 14 days or less. The U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection said the rule does not target Mexican or Canadian immigrants, who will still have their cases heard in court. Instead, agents are expected to focus on immigrants from other countries, especially from Central America.

* 2004 Washington Farm Bureau. NewsWatch is a periodic update on news of interest to agriculture. Contact Dean Boyer, director of public relations, 1-800-331-3276 or, to receive NewsWatch by fax or e-mail.



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