Anti-GMO measure goes down


Measure 2-89 supporters, from left, Vernon Huffman, Stephanie Hampton, Martha Perkins, Bret Diamond and George Hutchinson look over the early election results at the Old World Deli on Tuesday night. Voters soundly rejected the proposal to ban GMOs in Benton County.

After a hard-fought campaign marked by contentious public forums, dueling yard signs and vitriolic letters to the editor, Benton County voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure to ban genetically modified organisms on Tuesday.

Measure 2-89, also known as the Benton County Local Food System Ordinance, was getting less than a third of the vote in unofficial returns Tuesday night, with 16,556 no votes to 6,270 yes votes.

Monroe-area farmer Debbie Crocker, who emerged as the face of the opposition during the run-up to the election, was at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Corvallis with about 20 other Measure 2-89 opponents when the first election returns were announced.

“I guess the voters read it and understood it was a poorly written measure,” she said in a phone interview.

Crocker, whose family grows genetically modified sugarbeets and a number of other crops on about 2,000 acres in south Benton County, expressed relief that the election was over, but she added that she expected the issue to be back on the ballot at some point.

“It’s probably something that will come up again,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who have a lot of passion about it.”

A few blocks to the south at the Old World Deli, more than a dozen 2-89 supporters were expressing their disappointment at the defeat but vowing to try again.

“We went down pretty big,” acknowledged Stephanie Hampton, a spokeswoman for Benton Food Freedom, the political action committee promoting the ballot measure.

But she also said the campaign had scored a victory by starting a “community conversation” about the importance of safeguarding the local food system and vowed that the group would put a new and improved version of its anti-GMO ordinance on the ballot as early as next year.

“We will be rewriting it because we think our local food system is an important thing,” she said. “Now that the conversation has been started and people are aware of the issues, we can go forward from here.”

Measure 2-89 sought to outlaw the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in Benton County and would have required all GMO crops to be harvested, removed or destroyed within 90 days of passage. It also aimed to establish rights for “natural communities” such as soil and plants and would have limited the use of patented seed lines by barring the enforcement of patent rights on seeds.

Supporters argued the ordinance was needed to protect organic crops from contamination by GMOs and to defend the local food system against domination by large agribusiness and chemical corporations.

Detractors countered that M2-89 would create financial hardship for conventional farmers who want to grow GMOs, such as the Roundup Ready sugarbeets produced in the area, as well as those who choose to plant patented seeds. They also pointed to language in the measure they said would have shut down non-food-related research involving genetic engineering at Oregon State University and local biotech companies.

Supporters of 2-89 insisted it was never their intent to prohibit laboratory research, and Hampton said Tuesday the revised measure would include “clarifying language” to that effect.

The measure was also dogged by questions regarding its legality. If approved by voters, it would have directly contravened a 2013 state law that bars local jurisdictions from regulating agricultural production. The authors of 2-89 tried to get around that statute by asserting a fundamental local right to self-governance.

A similar tactic has been used in nearly 200 local jurisdictions in 10 states to enact ordinances aimed at protecting citizens from a variety of corporate activities ranging from fracking to factory farming, but the “community rights” approach has not yet been definitively upheld in court.

Benton Food Freedom, the pro-Measure 2-89 political action committee, was heavily outspent by the measure’s opponents.

As of Tuesday morning, campaign finance records filed with the state showed Benton Food Freedom had spent $22,758.87 during the campaign, compared to $131,897.96 by Benton County Citizens Opposed to Measure 2-89.

The “no on 2-89” forces also had support from two more broad-based political action committees, FirstVote PAC and the Oregon Farm Bureau PAC. Both registered in opposition to the Benton County ballot measure and reported spending a combined $45,050 this election cycle, though it wasn’t immediately clear how much of that money went to fight the Benton County measure.

Read the original article on the Corvallis Gazette-Times here.

NEWS RELEASE: One of the Best Fields for New College Graduates? Agriculture.

One of the Best Fields for New College Graduates? Agriculture.

Nearly 60,000 High-Skilled Agriculture Job Openings Expected Annually in U.S., Yet Only 35,000 Graduates Available to Fill Them

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new report showing tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States. According to an employment outlook report released today by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually.

“There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more important as we continue to develop solutions to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050.”

The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent, and 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services. The report also shows that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates in the United States.

Other highlights of the reportThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. include:

  • While most employers prefer to hire graduates of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment programs, graduates from these programs only fill about 60 percent of the expected annual openings. Even as enrollments in these programs increase and the job market becomes somewhat more competitive, good employment opportunities for the next five years are expected.
  • Growth in job opportunities will be uneven. Employers in some areas will struggle to find enough graduates to fill jobs. In a few areas, employers will find an oversupply of job seekers.
  • Expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agricultural science and business educators, crop advisors, and pest control specialists.
  • Job opportunities in STEM areas are expected to grow. Expect the strongest job market for plant scientists, food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resources scientists and engineers, precision agriculture specialists, and veterinarians.

The report, Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015–2020This is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website., is the eighth in a series of five-year projections initiated by USDA in 1980. The report was produced by Purdue University with grant support from NIFA.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Read the original news release on the USDA website here.

Oregon GMO critics, proponents agree on mediation system

A bill that would encourage mediation between farmers engaged in disputes over biotech, conventional and organic crops in Oregon is headed for a vote on the House floor.

Disputes over genetically modified crops would be mediated by Oregon farm regulators under legislation that has won support from biotech critics and proponents.

Mediators from the Oregon Department of Agriculture would help resolve coexistence conflicts among growers of biotech, conventional and organic crops as part of House Bill 2509, which is headed for a vote on the House floor.

A farmer who refuses to participate in such mediation and later loses a lawsuit in the dispute would be required to pay the opposing party’s costs and attorney fees.

In conflicts over infringing farm practices — such as unwanted cross-pollination between crops — ODA officials would also oversee the collection of samples to establish a “chain of custody.”

Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said if passed the legislation will cast a light on the number and type of such disputes, which are currently largely anecdotal.

“We feel this is highly preferable to any kind of mandates and practices that favor one type of crop over another,” Bushue said during an April 14 hearing before the House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water.

Committee Chair Brian Clem, D-Salem, said the proposal emerged from a work group on genetically modified organisms and has not met with any opposition from participants.

The bill was unanimously referred for a vote on the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation during the April 14 work session.

“It creates an incentive for people to mediate coexistence conflicts,” said Ivan Maluski, policy director for Friends of Family Farmers, which supports stricter regulation of genetically modified organisms.

While HB 2509 doesn’t provide for direct state regulation of genetically engineered crops, it would allow farmers to discuss their options before resorting to litigation, he said.

However, increased restrictions on GMOs are still on the table during the 2015 legislative session.

On April 21, lawmakers are scheduled to hold a possible work session on House Bill 2674, which would require ODA to establish “control areas” for biotech crops in which they’d be subject to regulations, like isolation distances.

Biotech crops growing outside control areas would be considered “an infestation subject to eradication” under HB 2674, which would also impose fees on GMOs to compensate farmers who are negatively affected by them.

The House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water approved several other bills during its most recent work session:

  • House Bill 2277, which expands the authority of drainage districts in Oregon’s Multnomah County to conduct flood control.
  • House Bill 2633, under which the Department of Land Conservation and Develop will develop best practices for local governments to minimize development in areas prone to natural disasters.
  • House Bill 3531, which directs the Oregon Department of Agriculture to develop a marketing plan for value-added ag products from the state.

Read the original article on Capital Press here.

Wilbur-Ellis given OK to fly Oregon-made ag drone


The AgDrone, shown in flight, is manufactured by a Wilsonville, Ore., company. It uses dual cameras to collect field data and map crop problems. Wilbur-Ellis, an ag services company, won permission from the FAA to use the drone commercially.

HoneyComb, the drone manufacturing company based in Wilsonville, was started by three young entrepreneurs from small Oregon towns.


Wilbur-Ellis, one of the country’s prominent ag service and supply companies, has received FAA approval for commercial use of a drone manufactured in Oregon.

The company will fly the AgDrone, made by HoneyComb Corp. of Wilsonville, 20 miles south of Portland. The company, started by three young entrepreneurs from small Oregon towns, makes a battery-powered winged drone equipped with visual and spectral-imagery cameras that can map fields and spot crop problems.

The company was featured in a January 2014 article in the Capital Press.

Wilbur-Ellis spokeswoman Sandar Gharib said the company doesn’t have immediate plans for widespread drone use, but is testing the technology. In a prepared statement, technology Vice President Mike Wilbur said the company has an “overall mission to explore the role that emerging technologies can play in precision farming.”

Ben Howard, HoneyComb’s software engineer and one of the original three partners, said Wilbur-Ellis bought one drone and will use it first in South Dakota.

“It’s good validation to have a big company like Wilbur-Ellis pick it up,” Howard said. “To have their stamp of approval really helps.”

In the past year, HoneyComb has moved from start-up space at Portland State University to a manufacturing and office site in Wilsonville, and it how has 16 employees.

The drone costs $15,000, and the company provides one year of data processing for $6,000. The latest model has a Kevlar exo-skeleton. It comes with a carrying case and is intended to be tossed in the back of a pickup, taken to a field and launched. According to HoneyComb, its sensors feed into a cloud-based processing system and generate plant stress or other maps within minutes.

Howard said Wilbur-Ellis will use the AgDrone to scout fields and generate chemical prescription maps based on plant health. Applicators will be able to target only the sections of fields that need attention.

Using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to collect field data has been a top topic for the past couple years. Critics have raised questions about privacy, air traffic safety and security, in part fueled by the military use of drones to locate and destroy enemies. The FAA is still plowing through procedures for civilian use.

Approval by the FAA comes with restrictions. Operators can’t fly the drone at night and must keep it within visual range. It must stay below 400 feet altitude, can’t exceed 100 mph and can’t be flown within five miles of an airport.

The application was supported by the Small UAV Coalition and opposed by the Air Line Pilots Association and the National Agricultural Aviation Association.

Read the original article on Capital Press here.

Linn-Benton Women for Agriculture Scholarship Committee is taking scholarship applications for 2015-2016!

The Linn-Benton Women for Agriculture Scholarship Committee is now taking scholarship applications for the 2015-2016 school year!

This scholarship is open to both men and women, who are pursuing a degree in any agricultural field.

Criteria are:
1.) Student must be pursuing a degree in an agricultural field
2.) Student must have resided in Linn or Benton counties a minimum of 2 years during their high school career
3.) Students must have sophomore status in college by fall of 2015

**Attendance of an agricultural college outside of Oregon will be considered if above criteria is met

Applications must be received by April 15, 2015.  Download one here.

Please contact Mandi Mack for more information at  Applications must be received by April 15, 2015.

Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance promotes water efficient landscapes in Southern Oregon


TWCA® teams up with Mountain Meadows and the City of Ashland to reduce water footprint
Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance® is teaming up with the City of Ashland and Mountain Meadows of Ashland on a pilot project aimed at reducing outdoor water consumption in the region. TWCA® qualified grass can reduce water consumption by up to 30% while providing all the benefits of turfgrass. One of the goals of the Mountain Meadows project is to preserve common space for gatherings and social events and the best ground cover to fulfill this need is turfgrass.

The Mountain Meadows Owner Association (MMOA) is a 55 + community in Ashland, Oregon consisting of 226 houses and condominiums built over a 27 acre area. It is owned and run by the resident owners through an elected Board of Directors. The area is well landscaped with trees, plants and lawns. Lawns are located throughout the community in parkways, front and back yards, and in a large park where outdoor events and celebrations are held. Included in this landscaping is 66,000 sq. ft. of lawn, which is expensive to irrigate. In 2013, the Board of Directors decided to reduce the amount of irrigation water being used, which would also assist in reducing costs due to the rising cost of water. A task force chaired by Gideon Wizansky was established to study and implement these goals. Driving this study is the fact that Mountain Meadows is one of the largest water users in the Ashland utility district with up to 60% of that consumption outdoor use.

City of Ashland (COA) Conservation Specialist and TWCA member Julie Smitherman has been working with MMOA to reduce water consumption. One of the approaches is a Lawn Replacement rebate to replace hard to irrigate, hard to maintain areas of turf with more water efficient landscaping.
“Julie approached us about working with Mountain Meadows in the fall of 2014,” says TWCA Program Administrator, Jack Karlin, “she set up the initial meeting with Mountain Meadows and has really just done a ton of the legwork to make this project happen.”

Local contractor Bill Bumgardner, owner of Bumgardners Landscape and past Chair of the Southern Oregon Landscapers Association (SOLA) will be doing all of the site preparation in advance of the seeding. The TWCA is donating approximately 1000 square feet of water efficient grass seed to the Mountain Meadow community for this pilot project. Focused on demonstrating the overall turf quality of water efficient grasses to the entire community the grass will be a spring plant 20th April 2015. If this pilot project is successful Mountain Meadows plans on replacing all their turf with TWCA qualified grass in the fall of 2016.

Read the original press release here.

Feds promote artificial turf as safe despite health concerns

Lead levels high enough to potentially harm children have been found in artificial turf used at thousands of schools, playgrounds and day-care centers across the country, yet two federal agencies continue to promote the surfacing as safe, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Lead levels high enough to potentially harm children have been found in artificial turf used at thousands of schools, playgrounds and day-care centers across the country, yet two federal agencies continue to promote the surfacing as safe, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The growing use of turf fields layered with rubber crumbs has raised health concerns centered mostly on whether players face increased risk of injury, skin infection or cancer. The U.S. has more than 11,000 artificial turf fields, which can cost $1 million to replace.

But largely overlooked has been the possible harm to young children from ingesting lead in turf materials, and the federal government’s role in encouraging their use despite doing admittedly limited research on their health safety.

Lead is a well-known children’s hazard that over time can cause lost intelligence, developmental delays, and damage to organs and the nervous system.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, charged with protecting children from lead in consumer products, has promoted turf-and-rubber fields for nearly seven years with a website headline declaring them “OK to install, OK to play on.” A news release says, “Young children are not at risk from exposure to lead in these fields,” even though the commission found potentially hazardous lead levels in some turf fibers and did not test any rubber crumbs, which are made from recycled tires that contain roughly 30 hazardous substances including lead.

The commission has acknowledged shortcomings in its 2008 study, which spokesman Scott Wolfson says “was just a handful of fields and was not representative of the full scope of fields across the country.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has promoted the use of rubber crumbs in athletic fields and on playground surfaces since 1995 to help create markets for recycled car and truck tires.But the EPA didn’t investigate the potential toxicity until 2008 and now says in a statement that “more testing needs to be done” to determine the materials’ safety.

“We’re using your children as part of the poison squad,” said Bruce Lanphear, a leading researcher on lead poisoning at Simon Fraser University in Canada, who suggests a moratorium on installing artificial-turf fields until their safety is proved.

The health threat is substantial enough that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists artificial turf as one of seven sources of children’s lead exposure along with well-known items such as paint, water and toys.

The CDC in 2008 said communities should test recreational areas with turf fibers made from nylon, and they should bar children younger than 6 from the areas if the lead level exceeded the federal limit for lead in soil in children’s play areas.

But some communities have refused to test their fields, fearing that a high lead level would generate lawsuits or force them to replace and remove a field, which costs about $1 million, according to a 2011 New Jersey state report.

“If you’re exposing children to some potentially harmful compounds, whether it’s organic compounds or metals, you’d think you’d want to know so you can take some action instead of putting your hands over your eyes and saying, ‘I don’t see a problem,’ ” Shalat said.


Industry groups have touted the federal endorsements, which have helped vastly expand the nation’s use of artificial turf. It now blankets more than 11,000 fields, from NFL stadiums to elementary-school plots, and millions more square feet at resorts, office parks and playgrounds, according to the Synthetic Turf Council.

“There is tremendous growth in all sectors of the industry,” the council says, calling turf a durable, year-round playing surface that needs no watering, pesticides or fertilizers.

The council says turf materials are safe for people of all ages who may absorb particulates through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact. Government and academic studies “all have concluded” that a turf-and-rubber field “does not pose a human health risk to people of all ages,” the council says in a PowerPoint presentation.

But the council mischaracterizes some studies and ignores scientists’ warnings about children possibly ingesting lead in turf fibers and rubber crumbs.

The council quotes a supposed statement in a 2002 EPA report saying that children who play for years on turf-and-rubber fields face only minimal increased cancer risk. The statement actually is from a Rubber Manufacturers Association report and is not in the EPA report. Council spokeswoman Terrie Ward said the inaccuracy was “an honest mistake.”

Only a few studies have investigated the possible harm to young children from ingesting turf fibers or rubber crumbs, which can be as small as a pencil tip or as large as a wood chip. The studies analyzed a small number of turf materials.

A widely cited study by California officials in 2007 did not consider health effects of children ingesting rubber crumbs or turf fibers. The study analyzed three playground surfaces made of crumbs fused into a solid rubberized surface and found negligible risk from children ingesting rubber dust that might get on their hands or from swallowing a rubber chunk once in their lifetimes.

“Research consistently supports the safety of recycled crumb rubber,” said Mark Oldfield, a spokesman for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. Nonetheless, the department is planning a new study on health effects of artificial turf and crumb rubber that will look at children ingesting crumb material chronically.

Connecticut state toxicologist Gary Ginsberg says turf materials would not be a “major source of lead” for young children given the limited amount of time they spend on a field or playground.

Others are worried. The Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection in January stopped giving communities money to build playgrounds and fields with crumb rubber. “There are no large-scale, national studies on the possible health issues associated with inhalation, ingestion or contact,” the department said. “Research to date has been inconclusive, contradictory or limited in scope.”

CDC: ‘No safe lead level’ in children

At least 10 studies since 2007 — including those by the safety commission and the EPA — have found potentially harmful lead levels in turf fibers and in rubber crumbs, USA TODAY found.

Researchers flagged fibers and crumbs that exceeded the federal hazard level of 400 parts per million (ppm) of lead in soil where children play. The limit aims to protect children if they ingest lead-contaminated soil — either by swallowing soil directly or by putting dirty hands and toys in their mouths.

But some scientists say that the limit, established in 2000, is too high and ignores recent research showing, as the CDC now says, that “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”

“Every turf field has to be analyzed in detail to be sure it doesn’t have a problem,” said Paul Lioy, a professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

California has set a much lower standard for lead in soil: 80 ppm.

When the Los Angeles school district in 2008 tested turf-and-rubber play areas in its preschool facilities, it used 60 ppm as a safety level. After two play areas recorded lead readings in the low 60s, the district removed the turf-and-rubber surfaces from all 54 preschools and replaced them with solid rubber or asphalt at a total cost of several hundred thousand dollars.

“Because of the physical development of younger children, lead has a greater propensity to be absorbed,” said Robert Laughton, the school district’s environmental health and safety director. “They’re the most at-risk population we have.”

Artificial turf at a Nevada day care had 8,800 ppm of lead — 22 times the federal soil hazard level, according to a 2010 study led by a scientist at the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In 2008, New Jersey health officials found lead levels eight to 10 times the federal level in both school athletic fields and in turf marketed for residential use.

Turf-and-rubber fields typically contain about 200,000 pounds of rubber crumbs, made from thousands of former car and truck tires that may have varying levels of hazardous substances. A single field can have “substantial variability” in its materials and in the “concentrations of contaminants,” the EPA wrote in a 2009 study, listing 32 potential contaminants including arsenic, benzene, mercury and toluene.

“You pick up rubber off a field and you don’t know what that piece of rubber came from,” said health advocate David Brown, Connecticut’s former head of environmental epidemiology and occupational health. “It’s not a manufactured item. It’s a waste. There isn’t quality control.”

Lead in rubber crumbs under scrutiny

The presence of lead in turf or rubber crumb does not automatically endanger children. Health damage depends on how much lead children absorb into their bloodstream after ingestion. And absorption depends on whether the lead is tightly bound to the turf or crumb — or easily extracted during digestion.

The EPA’s 2009 study said that more than 90% of the lead in rubber crumbs tested was “tightly bound” to the rubber and “unavailable for absorption.” The results “do not point to a concern” about artificial turf-and-rubber crumb harming human health, the agency said.

The absorption finding was contradicted by a 2008 study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology that found lead from rubber crumbs was “highly bioaccessible.”

“When people ingest this (crumb rubber), the gastrointestinal tract, the bile fluids, will get the lead out. That means it will be getting into the body, not just passing through,” said the study’s chief author, Jim Zhang, a Duke University environmental health professor.

Scientists and health officials havewarned also about older turf fibers. Many contain a lead-based pigment that adds vibrancy and colorfastness, and which could release lead particles as fibers get worn, cracked and abraded.

“Fibers deteriorate after five or six years. You’re going to get leaching,” Lioy said.

The CDC’s 2008 advisory says that as turf ages and weathers, “lead is released in dust that could then be ingested or inhaled.”

In California, after health advocates measured high lead levels in artificial turf at schools and public areas in 2008, the state attorney general sued manufacturers, which agreed to stop using lead-based pigments in turf. Manufacturers began using only lead-free pigments by the end of 2009, the turf council says.

“After our settlements, we think the industry has pretty much cleaned up,” said Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, which tested the turf. “But that leaves a lot of older fields out there.”

It is unclear how many recreational areas have older fibers with lead-based pigment. Turf companies and consultants say a turf field lasts 10 to 15 years. In 2009, before turf manufacturers phased out lead, the U.S. had approximately 4,500 turf fields.

Internal warning surfaces at EPA

Federal regulators began focusing on possible health damage from turf-and-rubber fields in 2008, at least a decade after their installation began. The EPA had been promoting the use of rubber crumbs for various applications since the early 1990s as a way to recycle millions of discarded automobile tires.

The agency didn’t consider toxicity until parents began calling its Denver office concerned about children coming home from sports practice covered in rubber crumbs, said Suzanne Wuerthele, a retired EPA toxicologist in Denver who raised concerns within the agency in 2007.

A 2008 memo by the Denver office noted the rubber’s potential harm, the inadequacy of research — including industry-touted studies — and suggested a “formal risk assessment of risks to children playing on tire crumb surfaces.”

The EPA study fell far short of that goal. The study is “very limited,” the EPA said when it was released, and “it is not possible to extend the results beyond the four study sites.”

The agency has said recently that the study was intended only to determine how to test crumb rubber, “not to determine the potential health risks of recycled tire crumb.”

In 2013, following a complaint by an environmental group, the EPA qualified the news release for its 2009 study with a note stating, “This news release is outdated.” Yet the note directs readers to a Web page that contains the same study.

“They need to stop promoting it and find out if it’s safe, or make a statement that we don’t know if it’s safe,” Wuerthele said, referring to recycled-rubber crumbs. “You just don’t put children on a finely ground surface that contains organics, fibers, latex and heavy metals, particularly lead.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission launched its probe in 2008 after New Jersey health officials found high lead levels in three artificial turf athletic fields and told the commission that more than 90% of the lead could be absorbed into a human bloodstream. “It’s a special concern for children who are already exposed to lead,” New Jersey state epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz said at the time. “This could add to their lead levels.”

The commission tested 26 turf fibers from four manufacturers and has neither conducted nor cited research on rubber crumbs.

By contrast, a 2007 commission investigation of possible lead poisoning from vinyl baby bibs tested 81 samples from 40 bibs. Although the average lead concentration in the bib samples was less than half the average lead concentration in the turf fibers, the commission warned about “potential risk of lead exposure from baby bibs.”

The turf study showed that two fibers would release potentially harmful amounts of lead into a child’s bloodstream — 9.9 micrograms and 6.6 micrograms.

“That’s a huge concern,” Lanphear, the lead expert said, noting that children can ingest lead from a range of sources such as household paint, dust and drinking water.

The Food and Drug Administration says children should ingest no more than 6 micrograms of lead a day from all sources — food and nonfood.

The commission says children can safely consume 15 micrograms per day of lead.

But the commission backtracked when the environmental group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility asked it to rescind the “OK to play on” headline. The commission added a note to the release acknowledging it never tested for toxic substances other than lead and advising readers to “read and interpret the following press release carefully.”

The commission did not change the headline because that might imply new research had been done, said Wolfson, the commission spokesman.

“They’re making broad claims that aren’t supported by the very limited information they have,” said Jeff Ruch, the environmental group’s executive director. Industry groups citing the commission “end up bordering on false advertising.”

Read the original article posted on KGW here.

Grass seed acreage stabilizes in Oregon


Photo: Grass seed is harvested in a Willamette Valley field.

After recovering from the recession, Oregon grass seed production is holding steady.

Oregon grass seed acreage available for harvest this summer is about the same as last year, indicating the industry has stabilized after some rough years during the recession.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service in Portland estimated farmers will harvest 125,000 acres of annual ryegrass, 109,000 acres of perennial ryegrass, 125,000 acres of turf type tall fescue, 16,000 acres of forage type tall fescue and 11,000 acres of K-31 and other types of tall fescue. The figures closely match 2014 harvest totals.

Oregon leads the nation in grass seed production, but the industry was hit hard by the recession starting in 2009. Grass seed demand often parallels development, as it is used for lawns, sports fields, parks and pastures.

In years past, Oregon farmers planted up to 190,000 acres in annual ryegrass alone. Industry officials don’t expect a return to those levels, as some grass seed fields have been replaced by permanent crops such as hazelnuts and blueberries.

Grass seed production is worth an estimated $411 million annually, ranking fifth among Oregon crops in 2013, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Read the original article on Capital Press here.

Sprague Pest Solutions Professionals Earn National and Company Recognition

Media Release

Sprague Pest Solutions Professionals
Earn National and Company Recognition

Tacoma, Wash. (March 12, 2015) – A quartet of Sprague Pest Solutions service professionals have earned recognition for their dedication and professional prowess in solving their clients’ pest management problems.

Technical Director Jeff Weier, National Accounts Manager Ray Mannello and Service Technician Jeremy Lesser were honored recently as Operations Manager, Salesman of the Year and Technician of the Year, respectively, at the Copesan annual meeting in St. Augustine, Florida. Copesan is a national pest management service provider that sells and service national commercial facilities.

Sprague also honored Adam Grendon, a service technician in the company’s Seattle, Wash., service center as Sprague Pest Solutions’ 2014 Technician of the Year recipient.

All four honorees bring extensive experience to their positions offer more than 60 years of combined pest management sales, service and technical know-how to bear on behalf of Sprague’s clients. Weier, one of the pest management industry’s foremost experts on stored product pest management, is no stranger to national recognition as he was named by Pest Control Technology magazine as a Crown Leadership Award winner in 2006.

“The recognition of Jeff Weier, Ray Mannello, Jeremy Lesser and Adam Grendon speaks volumes to the commitment each has to their profession, their clients and to the respect they have earned from their peers both inside Sprague and across the country,” says Alfie Treleven, CEO and president of Sprague Pest Solutions. “We are fortunate to have such talented, dedicated individuals on our team.”

Sprague Pest Solutions provides vital pest management and consulting services to leading food service and processing, healthcare, hospitality, education, agriculture, education and multi-family housing facilities in the Pacific Northwest and Inter-Mountain regions. It operates service centers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

# # #

About Sprague Pest Solutions
Founded in 1926, Sprague Pest Solutions ( is a fourth-generation, family-owned company. It is the 29th largest pest management company in the United States on the 2014 Pest Control Technology magazine Top 100 List, an annual compilation of the leading pest management companies in the U.S. and Canada. It is Copesan partner ( and specializes in providing preventive and remedial pest management services to clients in the highly regulated food processing and service industries.

Media Contacts:
Carrie Thibodeaux
Sprague Pest Solutions
253-405-2590 /

Jeff Fenner
B Communications
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Ag Co-op Internships Still Available with CHS Inc!


If you’re looking for an internship where you can apply what you’ve learned in the classroom and gain hands-on, relevant experience, consider CHS.

Choosing an internship with CHS gives you the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned while doing work that makes an immediate impact.
Each year more than 250 students join CHS in a variety of internships ranging from in-the-field sales and agronomy internships to in-office marketing, accounting internships and more. Many of interns return for a second year and land a full-time career in our growing organization.

College juniors and seniors interested in summer internships with CHS Inc. should apply online at by March 1.