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More than 90 percent of Idaho’s counties have either been declared natural disaster areas or are bordering national disaster areas, federal officials say today – an unprecedented situation driven by prolonged drought. The AP reports that Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Kootenai and Latah counties were the most recent regions to qualify as primary natural disaster areas. The designation means farmers and ranchers in those counties are eligible to apply for low-interest federal emergency loans. Also designated natural disaster areas are several contiguous counties in Washington and Montana along northern Idaho’s borders. Jeff Mitchell, of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, said it’s unprecedented for nearly all of the state to be designated a natural disaster area because of a drought.
Just yesterday, Clearwater County commissioners declared a state of emergency because the drought is killing wheat crops there, with nearly two-thirds of this year’s crop lost.
East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel, right, helps Summer Romney and Liam Nowles unload 400 pounds of flour at the district’s warehouse on Tuesday. Wheat from the East Valley Community Garden was ground into flour for use in school lunches. SR photo/Colin Mulvany
Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a nice, restful holiday weekend. We're back at it again to day, so let's go over some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. The city of Spokane Valley approved new rules regulating the attire of baristas. The rules are aimed at a coffee shop near City Hall that advertised topless Tuesdays and Thursdays, when baristas wore no more than G-strings and pasties. The crowd attending last week's council meeting was largely pleased by the decision, though a couple of people did testify against the new rules.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story following up on the wheat harvest from the East Valley Farm and Community Garden earlier this year. The farm, which supplies fresh produce to East Valley School District kitchens, had a good year for wheat. The district recently took delivery of 400 pounds of low-gluten flour. Also in East Valley, three new school board members were sworn in during the most recent school board meeting. A crowd turned out for the event. New board member Mike Novakovich was elected board president.
Lisa also has a story on Central Valley High School teacher Carolyn Schafer, who headed up an effort to ship 140 quilts to send t0 a co-worker's Army unit stationed in Afghanistan. Members of the community rallied to make enough quilts, which were shipped last week.
Farmers in Idaho have filed a federal lawsuit against seed giant Monsanto after genetically engineered wheat was found in an eastern Oregon field, the Associated Press reports. The farmers, represented by a Boise law firm, filed the federal lawsuit Friday contending that Monsanto's development of Roundup Ready wheat resulted in increased production costs and lowered prices because the genetically engineered wheat is likely to infiltrate the non-genetically engineered wheat supply; the discovery of the Roundup Ready wheat growing in Oregon in May prompted Japan to suspend some wheat imports. A handful of lawsuits have been filed in other courts around the country over the same issue; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
Total wheat production in the Northwest is projected to reach a 10-year high this year, according to the Washington Grain Alliance.
In the arid Ritzville area west of
And farmers in the region are earning decent prices for their wheat. Bids on Friday for soft white wheat were about $4.45 a bushel through AgVentures NW LLC, which manages the Odessa Union Warehouse Cooperative and Reardan Grain Growers.