‘Dam’ critical: Legislators tour Ice Harbor facility

In September, agricultural stakeholders joined state legislators on a tour of Ice Harbor Dam to talk about why the lower Snake River dams are a critical part of the state’s transportation and utility infrastructure. The Washington Association of Wheat Growers was one of the sponsors of the tour. During the boat ride up the Snake…

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Different crops, same issues

Farmers in the Skagit Valley may be producing crops unthinkable in Eastern Washington, but they face many of the same pressures as dryland wheat farmers do. At stop after stop, producers on last month’s legislative food and farm tour discussed issues such as farmland preservation, labor, the cost of inputs, the need for research funding,…

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Battle between farmers, foodies

National agriculture policy expert Ray Starling sees a growing battle between those involved in the agricultural industry and those who say the food system is broken and want to reform it. “You’ve got the folks actually involved in the industry on one side,” he explained. “On the other side, mostly they are populated with people…

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Diamond-S Farms, Whitman County

Diamond-S Farms in Colton, Wash., was homesteaded by Art Schultheis’ great-great-grandfather in 1874. After working for and with his parents in the 1980s and 90s, Schultheis and his wife, Sue, took over the farm in 1995, and they are now getting ready to hand the reins over to their own son, Kyle, who joined the…

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Double Z Farms, Lincoln County

In Lincoln County, Tom Zwainz and his son, Joel, are the fourth and fifth generations to farm the family’s land, some of which dates back to the 1860s. They grow mostly wheat and canola now, but they’ve grown malt barley, peas and chickpeas in the past. Joel’s path back to the farm wasn’t direct, although…

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Anthony J Smith Farms, Benton County

Tony Smith is the third generation to farm his family’s land in Benton County’s Horse Heaven Hills. Smith’s grandparents, saloon and boarding house operators from Montana, headed west in the 1930s, intending to settle down in the Pendleton, Ore., area. Instead, the family ended up buying land in Washington and starting a farm that is…

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Kelley Brothers, Grant County

For five generations, Chuck Erickson’s family has been farming north of Hartline, Wash., in Grant County, but they haven’t always grown wheat. “Originally, we were orchardists. At the homestead where I live, there were 18 acres of assorted fruit trees. They had to bucket water to the trees by hand,” explained Erickson. “Eventually, my great-great-great-grandmother…

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FSA program audit uncovers error

wheat field

In early August, some Eastern Washington producers learned they had been mistakenly enrolled in a conservation practice they didn’t qualify for, and their contracts were being cancelled. But along with the bad news was some good news — the state Farm Service Agency (FSA) office already had a solution in place. According to Jon Wyss,…

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Harvest 2022

Every year, as June rolls into July, excitement starts to build across Eastern Washington for thousands of wheat farmers and their families who are stewards of more than 2 million acres of land. Nearly all of Washington’s wheat farms are family owned and operated, and they are often passed down from generation to generation with…

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DNR mapping potential solar farm sites

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in the final stages of mapping their Eastern Washington properties for potential solar farm development. Lessees who might be impacted have been notified by postcard. According to Dever Haffner-Ratliffe, DNR’s Clean Energy Program manager, the goal of the mapping project is to identify properties that are…

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