Washington Farm Bureau Newswatch

June 4, 2004 No. 57

SENECA FOODS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT IT WILL CLOSE ITS 70-YEAR-OLD asparagus cannery in Dayton after this season. (Seattle Times, June 4) Seneca, which canned asparagus for the Green Giant label, said it would shift operations to canneries in Peru. Canneries in Peru pay about $7 per day, compared to Washington's minimum wage of $7.16 per hour. The move will eliminate about 50 year-round jobs at the plant, plus another 1,000 seasonal jobs at the cannery. The Washington Asparagus Commission said it would also eliminate about 2,000 seasonal jobs in asparagus fields across southeastern Washington. Seneca's Dayton cannery canned about half Washington's $30 million asparagus crop. Last year, Seneca and Del Monte closed down canneries in Walla Walla and Toppenish, respectively, leaving the Dayton facility the last remaining asparagus cannery in the state.

THE ROZA IRRIGATION DISTRICT HAS FILED SUIT IN YAKIMA COUNTY SUPERIOR Court seeking to have about 200 water rights, including water rights for the city of Roslyn, junior to the Yakima Irrigation Project so farmers have access to water this summer. (Yakima Herald-Republic, June 3) A shortage is expected this summer because of a dry winter, with junior water right holders within the irrigation project, including the Roza district, receiving only 70 percent of a full supply. In addition to Roslyn, some summer cabin owners, nonprofit camps, and other water-right holders north of Yakima outside the irrigation project boundaries would be affected by the lawsuit. Judge Pro Tem Walter Stauffacher has scheduled a hearing June 10.

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE EDWARD SHEA SAID THIS WEEK HE WOULD APPROVE AN agreement to restructure the Washington Apple Commission, following last year's ruling that mandating fees for domestic marketing programs violated growers' constitutional guarantee to free speech. (Wenatchee World, June 2) The commission has been restructured as a state agency. State law allows the commission to conduct domestic promotions. However, the judge declined to rule whether that would violate the original court agreement.

A U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE RULED THIS WEEK THAT THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE Service cannot ignore citizen petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act simply because they already are on the agency's "candidate list." (Greenwire, June 4) Fish and Wildlife contends the candidate list is used to identify species that warrant listing, but for which the agency has neither time, staff or funds to formally list for protection. However, the court said telling petitioners that a species is already on the candidate list does not satisfy the agency's obligation to answer petitions within 90 days. If petitioners provide sufficient evidence, the agency must make a listing decision within 12 months. The court ruling applies to 279 species on the candidate list.

THE SPRING CHINOOK RUN ON THE UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER IS TURNING OUT TO be about half what state and federal fishery experts predicted, but still about 30 percent above the 10-year average. (NW Fishletter, June 2) Harvest managers had predicted a spring run close to 360,000. Instead, only 170,000 salmon had been counted at Bonneville Dam by the end of May. Managers now expect the run to top out at 190,000.

A PLAN TO REMOVE GRIZZLY BEARS FROM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST IN Yellowstone National Park could free up money for grizzly restoration efforts in the North cascades, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Wenatchee World, June 3) The agency plans to designate the Yellowstone bears, which have been making a comeback, a "distinct population," which would allow them to be taken off the Endangered Species List.



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