Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, February 19, 2021, Page 8, Image 8

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Friday, February 19, 2021
U.S. potato industry looks to
regain overseas market share
Capital Press
The North American
potato industry might have
had a bit of an “overreaction”
when it reduced acreage at
the beginning of the COVID-
19 pandemic, according to
the marketing organization
for the industry.
Harvested acreage was
down 2.5% last year to about
914,000 acres, from 937,000
acres harvested in 2019.
Most of the decline was
in Washington and Idaho
potato acreage as proces-
sors reduced production, said
John Toaspern, chief market-
ing officer for Potatoes USA.
“It now appears that
demand for frozen (potato
products) has recovered
faster than they antici-
pated, so supplies are tight,”
Toaspern said.
dropped 6%, from 164,000
in 2019 to 154,000 in 2020.
Idaho acreage decreased
2.8% from 308,000 to
299,500 acres.
However, Oregon acreage
increased 4.7%, from nearly
43,000 acres
in 2019 to
45,000 acres
in 2020.
The U.S.
market share
because the
Union has been selling low-
priced product, Toaspern
said. The EU did not reduce
its acreage.
Shipping costs are also a
factor, he said.
Last year, the cost of ship-
ping EU potato products was
$829 per metric ton, com-
pared to the cost of shipping
U.S. products, $1,158 per
metric ton.
The National Potato
Council kept in close con-
tact with the Trump admin-
istration, and will continue
discussions with the Biden
administration, CEO Kam
Quarles said.
The council wants to
make sure surges in EU fry
products don’t undercut a
“weakened and recovering”
domestic market, Quarles
Due to the pandemic,
the industry lost some
gains made in recent years,
Toaspern said, but is about
even with its position five
years ago.
“While we would just
as soon not lost those sales,
we’re not in a terrible posi-
tion,” Toaspern said.
Frozen potato exports are
down 19% in the current mar-
keting year compared to the
same time last year. Dehy-
drated potatoes are down 3%
and fresh potatoes are down
3%, for a total decline of
12.5%, Toaspern said.
“That’s a lot, I’m not try-
ing to discount it, but it feels
like it could have been a lot
worse,” Toaspern said.
are likely to last for much of
2021, he said.
Toaspern predicts world
economic recovery will be
“slow and uneven.”
Competition from the EU
and China will be fierce, but
demand for U.S. potatoes will
fully recover during the 2022
marketing year, Toaspern
The industry wants to
ensure that the promise of
new trade agreements with
Mexico, Japan and China
results in “durable access”
for U.S. potatoes, Quarles
Quarles also expects a rul-
ing from Mexico’s Supreme
Court on access for U.S.
fresh potatoes in the first half
of 2021.
There is “little daylight”
between the outgoing and
the incoming administrations
on this issue, Quarles said.
“That consistent message
from the U.S. is a good thing.
We intend to keep the pres-
sure on until we get the reso-
lution that is rightfully ours.”
COVID-19 remains the
most immediate challenge
the potato industry faces
today, but it will not be the
last crisis, Quarles said.
“Hopefully the actions we
took during these past few
months will also be applied
toward whatever comes at
us in the future, with similar
productive results,” he said.
Toaspern and Quarles
spoke Jan. 27 during the
Washington Oregon Potato
Conference, held virtually.
WSU winter wheat breeder previews new varieties
Capital Press
Washington State University’s
winter wheat breeder, Arron Car-
ter, recently provided a sneak peek at
upcoming new varieties during a pre-
sentation for dryland farmers.
New varieties include:
• Devote (soft white winter wheat):
High-yielding cultivar for low-rain-
fall areas. Resistant to stripe rust, eye-
spot foot root, snow mold and Fusarium
crown rot. Good emergence, cold toler-
ance and end-use quality.
Carter developed Devote after notic-
ing WSU’s variety Otto performs well in
dry conditions, but doesn’t necessarily
respond to wetter years.
“Devote is one of those lines that will
do great in the worst of conditions but
if we get rain, it’s going to do great in
more favorable conditions as well,” Car-
ter said.
• Scorpio (hard red winter wheat):
High yield potential in Southern and
Eastern Washington. Excellent stripe rust
resistance. Tolerance to low pH soils.
Very good end-use quality and bread
mixing properties, good protein content.
Also resistant to Hessian fly.
“We often don’t talk about Hessian
fly in winter wheat, we usually think of
that as our spring wheat problem,” Carter
said. But the insect pest can also cause a
Matthew Weaver/Capital Press File
Washington State University winter wheat breeder Arron Carter offered a
preview of the latest varieties coming out of his program.
yield reduction in winter wheat.
That resistance will come in handy
when following winter wheat with spring
wheat, as Hessian fly can harbor in the
winter wheat stubble, Carter said.
• Piranha CL+ (soft white winter
wheat): High-yielding cultivar broadly
adapted to Washington rainfall zones.
Resistant to stripe rust, eyespot foot rot
and snow mold. Very good cold toler-
ance and emergence. Very good end-use
quality. Excellent tolerance to all applica-
tions of Beyond. Better performance in a
low-input system than Sockeye CL+.
• Sockeye CL+ (soft white winter
wheat): High-yielding cultivar broadly
adapted to Washington and Oregon rain-
fall zones. Resistant to stripe rust, eye-
spot foot rot and snow mold. Very good
cold tolerance and emergence. Excel-
lent end-use quality. Excellent tolerance
to applications of Beyond. Better perfor-
mance in high-input systems than Pira-
nha CL+.
The CL+ indicates Clearfield wheat
varieties. The Clearfield system allows
farmers to spray wheat with Beyond
Washington wildfire bill
needs money to catch on
ance com-
w h i c h
didn’t go
far in the
Hilary Franz L e g i s l a -
ing insurance policies
remains an option.
Electricity can spark
wildfires, which can
also burn up transmis-
sion lines and substa-
tions, justifying a util-
ity tax to fund the bill,
Franz said.
Democrats also are
again considering a car-
bon tax, a potential
source of a large amount
of money for govern-
ment programs.
HB 1168 blames an
increase in extremely
damaging wildfires on
climate change and past
fire suppression.
The bill calls for “sci-
entifically informed land-
scape-level treatments
designed to restore forest
ecosystem and watershed
In deciding which
communities to focus on,
the Department of Natu-
ral Resources may rely
on two advisory com-
mittees for recommen-
dations, according to HB
The advisory com-
mittees must must use
“environmental justice or
equity focused tools” to
identify “highly impacted
communities,” as defined
in state law, and use
that as a factor in their
The Department of
Health recently scored
every census tract to cat-
egorize “highly impacted
were based on fac-
tors such as education,
income, air pollution and
Wildfires were not an
“environmental dispar-
ity” considered in map-
ping the state.
No part of north-cen-
tral or northeast Wash-
ington, the region hard-
est hit by wildfires, is
rated a highly impacted
Kretz said priority
should be given to areas
that are at the great-
est risk from fire and
Capital Press
ington Lands Commis-
sioner Hilary Franz said
Feb. 11 that she expects
lawmakers will tap more
than one source of money
to fund a two-year, $125
million plan to reduce
the risk of wildfires.
Franz said a hand-
ful of candidates have
emerged, including a car-
bon tax, utility tax and
an insurance tax. Legis-
lators also could dip into
general taxes or borrow
“It’s likely you’re
ones,” Franz said in an
interview. “My num-
ber one job is to get this
across the finish line.”
The plan, detailed in
House Bill 1168, calls
for spending more on
hand crews, firefighting
equipment and training,
educating rural residents
and thinning forests.
The bill is meant to
prepare to fight wildfires,
but not the cover emer-
gency costs that accu-
mulate every wildfire
Franz advocates that
the Legislature appropri-
ate $125 million every
two years to make cat-
astrophic wildfires less
HB 1168 has received
bipartisan support, pass-
ing the House Commit-
tee on Rural Develop-
ment, Agriculture and
Natural Resources last
The legislation, how-
ever, has yet to go
through budget commit-
tees. The bill doesn’t
propose new taxes.
“Now the hard discus-
sions will start on where
the funding comes from,”
said Rep. Joel Kretz,
R-Okanogan County.
Kretz’s district covers
north-central and north-
east Washington and has
been particularly plagued
by wildfires.
“If it were up to me,
I’d take it all out of the
general fund,” he said
Thursday. “I think it
should be a statewide
In previous sessions,
Franz has proposed a $5
tax on home and property
insurance policies. Insur-
Oregon bill aims to boost homebuilding in Idaho border region
Capital Press
A bill in the Oregon Leg-
islature would allow some
near the Idaho border to be
rezoned for 2-acre residen-
tial lots.
The change would allow
more houses to be built in
that part of Oregon, said
Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale.
He said Malheur County,
Ore., in 2020 issued build-
ing permits for 23 homes,
to the 153
that neigh-
boring Pay-
ette County,
I d a h o ,
Sen. Lynn
75% of the
workers at
the Snake River Correc-
tional Institution in Ontario,
Ore., live in Idaho, he said.
Boise-based Intermoun-
tain Multiple Listing Service
reported that the median
price of a Payette County
home in January 2021 was
$305,000, up 27.5% from
$239,175 in January 2020.
Senate Bill 16 would
apply Oregon’s exclu-
sive farm use zoning law
uniquely in the region that
borders growing southwest
SB 16 would apply only
to unproductive farmland.
“It doesn’t have to grow
a crop,” said Findley, who
comes from an agricultural
background. “It could grow
a house.”
The bill also would pro-
tect a neighboring farm’s
right to continue farming. It
aims to “put some more peo-
ple back in Oregon to live
here” without taking farm-
land out of production, he
For example, a pro-
ducer could sell unfarmable
ground and “make some use
out of it,” Findley said. “It’s
almost impossible to do that
The bill allows the con-
version of land zoned
for exclusive farm use to
rural residential, subject to
SB 16’s text says the bill
applies to the established
Eastern Oregon Border Eco-
nomic Development Region.
The region encompasses an
area from Jamieson south to
Adrian and within about 20
miles of the Idaho border.
A county that has estab-
lished a review board could
rezone exclusive farm use
ground for development of
2-acre lots for single-family
Land used for farming
in the previous three years
would not be eligible. High-
value farmland, with soils in
the state’s top three quality
classes, and land that is “via-
ble for reasonably obtaining
a profit for a farm use” also
could not be rezoned.
Rezoning could not
involve more than 200 acres,
or force a significant change
in practices on surround-
ing farm or forest lands. It
would require a deed restric-
tion that protects neighbor-
ing farming, forestry and
rangeland practices.
(10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Central Time)
Ed Senz 503-580-8950
Terry Ross 503-278-2912
(10 a.m.-11:50 a.m. Central Time)
Ken Pietrok 503-932-8165
• Using hay quality samples to fi ne tune
fertility recommendations
Frank Prantl 541-570-9579
Jim Parsons 503-580-9425
• Economic returns to steam technology
• Controlling leaf loss during harvesting
Michael Rascon 541-954-7593
• How far can the genetics of alfalfa
improve quality
Troy Rodakowski 503-586-9714
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