Agriculture

Courtesy of Kiley Riffell

As much as one-third of our food supply depends on pollinators like insects and birds that fertilize plants when they fly between blossoms.

David Cravioto

Even as the summer berry season gets underway, some of the workers who pick those berries have been battling with a Skagit County farm in court. They’ve challenged Sakuma Brothers Farms over its new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

People in Seattle are familiar with the H-1B visa program that brings high-tech employees from abroad, but another, more obscure foreign worker program has churned up a lot of controversy in the state recently.

Bellamy Pailthorp

After a tumultuous year in which berry pickers at a Skagit County farm went on repeated strikes, a new group appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee is set to start tackling farm labor issues. 

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Wild mushrooms are going gangbusters this year in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to just the right weather conditions, and foragers are rejoicing after last year’s shortage

Among them is James Nowak, an amateur mycologist who spends most of his days working with mushrooms. When he’s not out in a forest hunting for mushrooms, he grows them in his lab in Seattle or processes them for sale to restaurants and home cooks.

chasedekker photo / Flickr

  The charismatic black and white killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a call to de-list resident orcas. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of discriminating against farmers who are women, Hispanic, Native American and African American. Numerous lawsuits have cost the government several billion dollars. The latest legal settlement is for women and Hispanic farmers who can prove they were discriminated against in the 1980s and ‘90s. But some of these farmers say the deal to make amends for discrimination is itself discriminatory.

Northwest wild mushrooms are in short supply this year. That’s had a big impact on the region’s lucrative mushroom hunting industry. It’s also changed what’s on fall restaurant menus in the Northwest and across the nation.

At Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle this autumn customers are often coming home to their families without the coveted mushroom Primo Pizza. The Northwest’s bleak mushroom crop means sometimes the stores cut back on the number of pies, or don’t have them at all.

According to a new study out of Washington State University, farmers of genetically engineered crops are dramatically increasing their use of herbicides. Researchers say farmers are spraying more in response the rise of so-called “superweeds.”

The new study analyzes 16 years of federal data on the nation’s corn, soybean and cotton fields. It finds growers with crops engineered to be herbicide resistant are now putting millions more pounds of weed killer on their fields than farmers who grow the non-modified variety.

U.S. apple processors paying double for fruit

Sep 28, 2012

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. apple processors are paying nearly double what they did just two years ago to make sauce and juice.

Bad weather pummeled other apple growing regions of the world. And a worker shortage is slowing down the harvest in the Northwest.

Apple crops in New York, Michigan, Canada and Europe are down from bad weather. And China, the world’s largest apple producer, is keeping more fruit at home for its growing middle class. That means the price of processing-apples has gone up at least $100 a ton from just two years ago.

When the economy began its steep decline in 2008, almost everything related to housing hit the skids, including the lawn and garden industry. But one sector escaped the pinch: food gardening.

In fact, food gardening sales nationwide have spiked 20 percent since then, and they've stayed there. While many households started growing food to be more budget-conscious, some are deciding vegetables and fruits can be beautiful, too.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University's pioneering programs in organic and sustainable agriculture received a $5 million donation on Friday.

Agriculture is a tremendous force in shaping the Idaho economy, according to John Hammel, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho. Hammel told state budget writers Wednesday that the industry’s strength comes from its diversity.

“It is tremendously diverse, with over 150 commodities grown statewide, and has a growing livestock sector, which is led by dairy production. This diversity minimizes the impact to Idaho from a downturn in any particular agricultural sector,” says Hammel.

Police in eastern Washington are trying to figure out who has been intentionally torching haystacks near the tiny town of Mattawa.

Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones says in the last two weeks two fires burned three major haystacks to the ground. Jones says he doubts local kids have been setting the fires.

Andrea Parrish / Flickr

Across the Northwest, apple growers are having a hard time bringing in their harvest because of a worker shortage. The result may mean certain lower-priced varieties of apples don’t get picked at all.

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