June 14, 2004 No. 60
THE WASHINGTON STATE FRUIT COMMISSION ESTIMATES THAT NORTHWEST growers lost about 2,000 acres of cherries because of heavy rains last week. (Tri-City Herald, June 10) Washington and Oregon together grow about 45,000 acres of cherries. Some mid-Columbia growers were reporting losses of 7 percent to 10 percent. The industry still expects to ship about 11 million boxes this season.

REP. GEORGE NETHERCUTT, R-WASH., IS ASKING THE U.S. INTERNATIONAL TRADE Commission to investigate Peruvian asparagus imports, which now enter the Unites States duty-free under the Andean Trade Preferences Act. (AP/Seattle Times, June 10) Peru is the leading competitor for American asparagus growers. Washington is the second largest asparagus-producing state. However, asparagus acreage has fallen from a high of 32,000 acres in 1991, when the Andean Trade Preferences Act went into effect, to about 13,000 acres this year. The Andean Trade Preferences Act was supposed to encourage Peruvian farmers to grow asparagus and other food crops instead of coca plants for cocaine.

SCIENTISTS HAVE MAPPED THE GENETIC CODE OF THE PATHOGEN THAT CAUSES sudden oak death, which has killed tens of thousands of native oaks in California and Oregon. (San Francisco Chronicle, June 10) Researchers hope that decoding the genome for the pathogen will lead to early diagnoses of the disease and a way to halt the fatal infection. Scientists at the Genome Institute, operated by the University of California, also have mapped the genetic code for a related pathogen that kills soybeans, and are working on a third pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.

INDIAN TRIBES IN THE COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN WANT THE BONNEVILLE POWER Administration to drop plans to reduce the amount of water sent over hydroelectric dams in July and August. (Greenwire, June 14) BPA says reducing spill even moderately would generate up to $31 million in additional revenues, while killing or harming fewer than 1,000 juvenile salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act. That's one-tenth of 1 percent of the expected run. The tribes contend that reducing spill may violate their treaty rights to fish for salmon, the ESA and a federal salmon treaty with Canada.

THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE HAS DECLARED MORE THAN 31,000 ACRES of land adjacent to 359 miles of river and streams in Wyoming and Colorado as critical habitat for the Preble's mouse - which a new study by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science contends has never existed. (Greenwire, June 14) The study suggests Preble's mouse is genetically identical to another common mouse species, the common Bear Lodge jumping meadow mouse. Fish and Wildlife, which listed the Preble's mouse as endangered in 1998, now says it will consider whether to de-list the species based on new scientific evidence.

THE NUMBER OF FARMS IN WASHINGTON OPERATED PRINCIPALLY BY WOMEN increased nearly 5 percent, to 5,632, according to the recently released Census of Agriculture. (Yakima Herald-Republic, June 14) One reason, according to Washington Farm Bureau Vice President Robyn Meenach, is that wives often outlive their husbands, and many widows wind up as the principal operator, or consider themselves the principal operator even if they lease their land to another grower. Other reasons: more men taking off-farm jobs to supplement farm income and women in general entering fields traditionally associated with men.

Newsw atch 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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