Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, November 13, 2015, Page 3, Image 3

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    November 13, 2015
Judge allows intervenors in lawsuit challenging GMO ban
Organic seed company, local group intervene in GMO lawsuit
Capital Press
An organic seed company and
an organization opposed to
genetic engineering will be al-
lowed to defend a prohibition
against biotech crops in Ore-
gon’s Josephine County.
Circuit Court Judge Michael
Newman ruled Nov. 4 that Sis-
kiyou Seeds and Oregonians
for Safe Farms and Families
can intervene in a lawsuit that
seeks to overturn the county’s
ban on genetically modified or-
The seed company should
not have to wait to defend the
ordinance until its crops are at
risk of cross-pollination from
GMO varieties, Newman said
at a hearing in Grants Pass, Ore.
The judge also allowed
OSFF, a group that campaigned
for the ordinance, to serve as
Siskiyou Seeds’ co-defendant.
The company and OSFF
argued that Josephine County’s
government won’t defend the
ban against genetically engi-
neered crops, so they should be
allowed to resist an attempt to
overturn it.
The intervenors claimed
that it would be prejudicial to
exclude them from the lawsuit
because the county doesn’t ap-
pear willing to challenge a state
law that pre-empts most local
governments from regulating
“This litigation won’t be
fully and fairly litigated by the
existing parties,” said Stepha-
nie Dolan, an attorney for the
The group cited court docu-
ments filed by Josephine Coun-
ty, which raised no “affirmative
defenses” of the ban on genet-
ically modified organisms and
did not question the legal stand-
ing of farmers who filed a case
to invalidate the ordinance.
Robert and Shelley Ann
White, who grew transgenic
sugar beets, filed a complaint
earlier this year seeking a dec-
laration that the ordinance was
pre-empted by a state statute
passed in 2013.
In its answer to the com-
plaint, Josephine County said it
“takes no position” on whether
the plaintiffs are entitled to a
declaration that the GMO ban is
Instead, the county joined
the plaintiffs in a request that a
judge decide whether the pro-
hibition is valid, noting that the
ordinance was passed by voters
and not the county.
“We have to follow the law.
What we want to know is what
law: the county law or the state
law,” said Wally Hicks, attorney
for Josephine County.
John DiLorenzo, attorney for
the farmers who filed the case,
said Siskiyou Seeds and OSFF
weren’t entitled to act as defen-
“It has to be more than an
interested person who wants the
laws enforced,” DiLorenzo said.
The U.S. Supreme Court
rejected a similar bid by an
anti-gay marriage group that
wanted to defend a California
initiative defining marriage as
between a man and a woman,
he said.
In that case, lawyers repre-
senting California decided the
statute was legally indefensible,
DiLorenzo said.
“I don’t know why the coun-
ty is not actively defending the
(GMO) ordinance. It may be
because it has come to the same
conclusion as California’s attor-
ney general did,” he said.
Don Tipping, owner of Sis-
kiyou Seeds, hasn’t shown “one
scintilla of evidence” that his
company was harmed by bio-
tech crops, DiLorenzo said.
The GMO ban would not
have prevented Tipping from
buying corn seed that contained
GMO traits, as occurred in the
past, he said.
Tipping’s decision to tear
out a field of Swiss chard due to
the proximity of a biotech sug-
ar beet crop did not amount to
harm either, he said.
“He dug it up himself with-
out any evidence of harm,”
DiLorenzo said. “His interest is
not real or probable. Rather, it
is hypothetical or speculative.”
Dolan countered that Tip-
ping suffered a real injury,
based on the economic damage
he would have sustained from
growing and harvesting a con-
taminated seed crop that was
“Given our narrow valleys
and the light pollen that can trav-
el for miles, they’re effectively
prohibiting non-GE farmers
from growing other crops such
as Swiss chard,” she said.
Litigation over the county
ordinance should not be rushed,
but instead the issue of wheth-
er state pre-emption is valid
should be fully vetted, she said.
“At this stage, the challenge
to the state seed law can begin,”
Dolan said. “The current parties
are not going to fully litigate the
constitutionality of state law.”
Wolf attacks calves
in Klamath County
Tracking collar data
shows OR-25 was
at the attack site
Capital Press
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Defect sorters work Gala apples on a Northern Fruit Co. packing line in East Wenatchee, Wash., Oct. 5. Smaller state and national crops
than a year ago should help wholesale prices improve throughout the season.
Apple crop continues to shrink
Less fruit bodes well for wholesale price potential
Capital Press
The Washington apple crop
continues to shrink in size and
national apple holdings are
down all of which bodes well
for wholesale prices.
Washington’s fresh crop is
now estimated at 116.2 mil-
lion, 40-pound boxes, down
about 1.5 percent from a
month ago and about 18 per-
cent from the final 2014 re-
cord season of 141.8 million
Washington apple mar-
keters have sold 19.6 million
boxes of apples compared
with 23.6 million a year ago
and that leaves 96.6 million
boxes to sell throughout the
year compared 118.2 million
a year ago, according to the
latest industry storage report.
Nationally, there are 117.3
million, 42-pound boxes in
storage, a 19 percent decrease
from record inventories a year
ago, according to the U.S. Ap-
ple Association.
“That’s very good for
pricing. Things are certainly
looking a lot better than at this
“It takes buyers a while to realize there are fewer apples around
and that they have to pay more for them. So with this (storage)
report, we will see prices strengthen.”
Desmond O’Rourke,
retired Washington State University agricultural economist and industry observer
time last year,” said Desmond
O’Rourke, a retired Washing-
ton State University agricul-
tural economist and industry
Small size and quality
problems caused by exces-
sive heat in June has caused
the crop to shrink since a
125.2-million-box Aug. 1
forecast, O’Rourke said.
Storability because of
lesser quality from the June
heat could be an issue, other-
wise prices should continue
to strengthen throughout the
season, he said.
Last year’s crop stood at
155 million boxes last Dec. 1
causing prices to tumble to $9
a box for Reds which hadn’t
been seen in years and was far
below breakeven. Companies
shrunk the crop by increasing
cullage and even dumping
good apples.
Final sales of 2014 Red
Delicious and quality have
kept wholesale prices from
rising, but prices have been
holding steady and will in-
crease when the old crop is
gone, O’Rourke said.
Red Delicious is down
one-third in volume from a
year ago as are Braeburn and
Cameo. Golden Delicious is
down 26 percent.
The total Red Delicious
crop is estimated at 26.3 mil-
lion compared to 39.5 percent
last Nov. 1.
“That will create a prob-
lem for the export market
because prices will be high-
er and that will slow over-
all export sales,” O’Rourke
The average Red Delicious
asking price for extra-fan-
cy grade, size 88, was $16
to $18.69 per box on Nov. 9,
according to USDA Market
News. Size 100 and smaller
was $14 to $16.90.
Gala was $26 to $28.90
for 88s and $18 to $22.90 for
100s and smaller.
“It takes buyers a while to
realize there are fewer apples
around and that they have to
pay more for them. So with
this (storage) report, we will
see prices strengthen,” O’Ro-
urke said.
Harvest is basically done
in Washington, New York and
Michigan, the top three pro-
ducing states.
Next to Red Delicious the
top varieties in millions of
boxes are: Gala, 18.4 down
from 22.5 a year ago; Gran-
ny Smith, 15.9 up from 14.3;
Fuji, 12.5 down from 15.0;
Golden Delicious, 7.6 down
from 10.3; Honeycrisp, 5.21
up from 4.3.
Courtesy of ODF
OR-25, a yearling male in the
Imnaha Pack, is shown after
being radio-collared on May 20,
2014. It has split from that pack
and is now in Klamath County,
where it recently attacked three
calves, killing one.
ODFW’s depredation report:
Act protection applies to wolves
east of Oregon Highways 395,
78 and 95, roughly the eastern
one-third of the state. Federal
ESA jurisdiction covers the rest
of the state west of the highways.
Investigation of the Klamath
County attacks began when an
unidentified livestock produc-
er reported finding an injured
350-pound heifer in the pasture
Oct. 31, the carcass of a dead
calf Nov. 1 and another injured
calf Nov. 2. The injured calves
had severe bite wounds and
“massive tissue damage” to
their hind legs, according to an
ODFW report.
Of the carcass, “very little
remained of the dead calf for
examination,” ODFW report-
ed. The department confirmed
a wolf was responsible for all
OR-25 is believed to be
alone. The department has
no evidence he has a mate or
pups, said Michelle Dennehy,
ODFW spokeswoman.
A calf was killed and eat-
en in Klamath County and two
others were badly mauled in
the first confirmed wolf attacks
on livestock outside Northeast
showed a wolf designated OR-
25 was at the attack site five
times between Oct. 28 and
Nov. 2. The calves were at-
tacked in a 100-acre pasture on
private land in the upper Wil-
liamson River area, according
to Oregon Department of Fish
and Wildlife.
OR-25 is a male wolf that
dispersed from the Imnaha Pack
and traveled through the Colum-
bia Basin, southern Blue Moun-
tains and northern and central
Cascades. He’s been in the
Sprague wildlife management
area of Klamath County since
May, according to ODFW.
In August, the department
designated the region an Area
of Known Wolf Activity and
encouraged livestock owners to
take defensive measures, part
of the process required under
the Oregon wolf plan. The wolf
wears a GPS tracking collar
that emits a location signal to
a computer at regular intervals.
The livestock attack comes
as the ODFW Commission
voted Nov. 9 to remove gray
wolves from the state endan-
gered species list.
The wolf and the Klamath
County attack site are physical-
ly outside the state endangered
species jurisdiction.
State Endangered Species