Ag Today Friday, February 19, 2016

Ag Today

Friday, February 19, 2016


Fresno Bee

Valley parents, activists ask state to look at interaction of pesticides as health hazard

By Barbara Anderson

ORANGE COVE – Parents and community activists say a new report shows fumigants widely used in the central San Joaquin Valley may pose a greater health risk when applied together, and on Thursday they urged the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to increase buffer zones around schools to protect children.

“Today, unfortunately, regulators are not taking into account the interactive effects of these fumigants,” said Angel Garcia, a community organizer with El Quinto Sol de America, a Lindsay-based nonprofit working to improve the lives of farmworkers and their families.

Fumigant pesticides are gases that are applied to the soil to kill diseases and pests. In the Valley, they are used on such crops as strawberries, tomatoes, tree nuts and stone fruits.

Farmers have relied on a combination of fumigants in large part because one such pesticide, methyl bromide, was banned several years ago. The three fumigants commonly used today are chloropicrin, Telone and metam sodium.

In 2013, Fresno County farmers used nearly 2.2 million pounds of Telone, 1.5 million pounds of metam sodium and nearly 104,000 pounds of chloropicrin, according to the state. It’s unknown if Fresno County growers used the most of the three fumigants, but in 2013 Fresno County had the highest use of all pesticides.

Stace Leoni, deputy agriculture commissioner in Fresno County and manager of the pesticide enforcement program, said agriculture chemicals, used correctly, are beneficial.

“And that’s what we do; we make sure they use them correctly,” Leoni said.

But Garcia said a report released Wednesday by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles Sustainable Technology & Policy Program raises concerns about an increased cancer risk from exposure to fumigants when used in combination. The report also noted that other risks may increase, including developmental, reproductive and neurotoxic issues, Garcia said.

Children are especially vulnerable and need protection from pesticides, Garcia said. He and parents who gathered in Orange Cove urged the state to increase a quarter-mile buffer zone around schools to a mile buffer.

The UCLA study recommended the state test pesticides that are sold as part of a mixture for interactive toxic effects before approving their use, require evaluation of products that are not used as a mixture but are used in combination or sequentially with other pesticides to determine interactive effects, and consider interactive effects in performing risk assessments and establishing regulations.

Researchers did not recommend a wider buffer zone around schools, but a map of Ventura County included in the report shows that pesticides appear to drift for over a mile.

Virginia Zaunbrecher, program and outreach director at the Sustainable Technology and Policy Program, said: “In general, a buffer zone is going to decrease exposure, but it’s not going to eliminate exposure.”

Charlotte Fadipe, a Department of Pesticide Regulation spokeswoman, said in an email that the agency is aware of the UCLA study and the issues raised, adding that its recommendations will be reviewed.

“DPR has the most protective and robust pesticide program in the country,” Fadipe said. “We use good, sound science to make our regulations, and California has more protections for workers than in any other state and in some other countries.”

Claudia Angulo, who hosted the Orange Cove event at her home, said the state should “put more emphasis on children’s health.”

Angulo, 37, said her family lives near two fields that are treated with pesticides. She worries about her four children’s health. Her 18-year-old daughter has breathing problems and her 7-year-old daughter has asthma.

In January, Angulo agreed to have hair tested from her son Isaac Angulo, 9, for a French journalist who arranged for testing of children who lived in agricultural areas in California, Hawaii and France.

El Quinto Sol de America handled Isaac’s testing, Garcia said. In October, Angulo got the results: The test found 50 pesticides in her son’s hair.

Angulo said she expected the test would find some pesticides, but “I was concerned and upset.”

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter,




$8 wine might be a tough sell this year: California forecast

By Jeff Daniels

California’s wine industry is experiencing challenging times, with growers in the Central Valley coping with the lack of water, excess supply on the low-end segment and more competition from overseas producers.

The state’s total harvest was down 7 percent last year from the prior year, and some premium vintners from Napa Valley report going into 2016 with supply constraints and feeling the impact of a strong U.S. dollar and weakness in China.

“What we see right now is the under-$9 segment struggling and the above-$9 segment doing pretty well,” said Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division based in Saint Helena, California. “Our prediction is we’ll start to see additional market share taken from domestic producers.”

According the bank’s annual wine industry forecast, the fine-wine end of the market (over $20 a bottle) will see sales growth of 9 percent to 13 percent in 2016, a slight deceleration from the roughly 14 percent pace in 2015. The forecast is for bottle prices to rise 4 percent to 8 percent for the above-$10 category, while volume and price drops will be impacting the below-$8 bottle market.

“While demand for premium wine will increase this year, there are clouds on the horizon that should be considered,” the bank said. “We believe total and per-capita wine consumption in the U.S. will drop for the first time in more than 20 years due to emerging generational shifts in consumption patterns that we see accelerating in the near term.”

SVB’s forecast also looks for “tens of thousands of additional grape acres” to be permanently pulled from the California’s San Joaquin Valley, an agriculture region hit by the drought and where many grape growers have looked to convert some or all of their acreage to more lucrative nut production. The pullouts also reflect old vineyards that are no longer economically feasible due to the lack of production and the lack of demand because of low prices for certain varietals.

“If we can get back into supply and demand balance, the overall price of grapes down here should rise,” said Peter Vallis, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers, a group representing approximately 60 percent of the state’s total grape crush. “It should rise because right now the pricing … and market for grapes is relatively at production cost.”

Vallis insists that the drought hasn’t been the biggest factor affecting Valley grapes nearly as much as the weak price due to what some analysts have called as “a worldwide glut,” particularly of cheaper wines from New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Argentina. “The strong dollar does have an effect on the low end of the market but also has an effect on every end of the market.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s preliminary wine-grape crush report released last week said the state’s total crush was valued at $2.5 billion in 2015. By volume, the statewide grape crush was down 7 percent to 3.86 million tons but still was the fourth largest harvest on record.

“There’s plenty of wine,” said Gladys Horiuchi, a spokesperson for the Wine Institute in San Francisco. “And it’s extremely high quality.”

In 2015, the Napa region accounted for just 4 percent of the statewide wine production, but due to its premium prices it represented about 21 percent of California’s total crush value (revenue to growers). The state’s figures show the Napa Valley region’s 2015 tonnage fell by 29 percent from 2014. Unfavorable weather hurt the Napa harvest last year. Vintners say they are hopeful for a better crop this year but it’s too early to tell.

A lighter harvest in 2015 and strong demand for luxury segment wines is encouraging some Napa region vintners to raise prices this year.

“We held our pricing the last few years,” said Michael Honig, president of Honig Vineyard & Winery in Rutherford. “People seem to be somewhat receptive as long as you don’t become egregious and take huge markups.”

Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery in Rutherford, said her winery is feeling the effects of decreased harvest in 2014-2015. “We had two short years and we’ve really been trying to not increase pricing, but essentially what we’ve had to do is remove some of the ways we do business for by-the-glass (with restaurants) and things like that because we just don’t have enough wine to do it.”

Swain is optimistic about 2016. “Our business is very solid. It’s been continually growing, especially in the high-end segment.”

Honig said overall wine consumption has generally been going up but “kind of peaked a little now. People are going up-market so we’re seeing some interest in the higher-end wines.”

The bank’s forecast agrees, predicting a decline in U.S. per capita wine consumption after more than two decades of growth. “The decline is really the lower-priced segments,” said SVB’s McMillan, explaining that this reflects a generational shift from the mature and baby boomer consumers to “younger consumers (particularly drinking-age millennials) with a desire for better stuff.”

California vintners also see opportunity in the foreign market despite the challenges of the strong U.S. dollar that make the product more expensive in many key markets such as Canada.

“India is the one market I’m actually most excited about because there’s not as many people as China but over a billion people,” said Honig. “They are really drinking it as a beverage in India to enjoy and not just for toasting purposes.”

Swain said Japan remains a strong market for Napa wines and Canada remains significant, too, but is showing the impact from the exchange rate. As for China, she said it’s become tougher due to “these austerity measures in place where the government spending on items like wine has decreased a lot. I don’t know anybody who has seen dramatic growth there when they are going through traditional channels.”



Visalia Times-Delta

Farmers coping with low walnut prices

By David Castellon

No doubt about it, 2014 was a great years for Valley walnut growers, as years rising prices paid for their harvests topped $2 a pound for higher-quality nuts.

Things have changed and those high prices aren’t expected to last. Walnut growers haven’t been told how much they’ll get for the nuts they sold last year, but some experts estimate that top prices may be no higher than 75 to 80 cents per pound.

Walnuts were California’s seventh top-selling agricultural commodity in 2014.

“We figured those prices were going to slip. We knew it couldn’t hold at $2 a pound,” said Frank Paredez, who grows walnuts between Farmersville and Exeter.

Those declining prices are the result of a “perfect storm” of events coming together last year that affected walnut pricing, including China becoming a bigger player in the nut-growing industry and U.S. growers becoming victims of their own success, said Sam Sciacca, a longtime walnut grower and owner of Moody Walnut Dryer.

For years, walnuts have been one of the more stable and valuable agricultural commodities in the Central Valley — where about 90 percent of U.S. walnuts are grown. As a result, over the past decade, farmers have planted more trees trees to expand their acreage, while others replaced other crops with walnuts in hopes of better returns.

New walnut trees generally take at least five years to mature enough to be commercially productive. So many trees reached maturity in the last year or two that they’re elevating the supply of commercial walnuts in the state to the point that prices are dropping, Sciacca said.

In addition, China, normally a major buyer of U.S. walnuts, is expanding its own walnut industry and competing with growers here. A strengthening U.S. dollar compared to the euro, is also hurting prices.

“As a result of that, Europeans can’t get as much for their money” when buying U.S. walnuts, compared to just a few years ago, so walnut demand there has taken a hit, Sciacca said.

“The export market is not what it used to be,” he said, noting that the U.S. walnut industry has had to cut its selling prices to foreign buyers to remain competitive.

Jim Simons, who grows walnuts east of Visalia, said the decline in prices hasn’t caught growers off guard.

“I think everybody’s realistic in the business. There’s a lot of new planting” here and growers are aware what’s going on in the export market, he said.

But Simons said he’s not worried that prices will remain severely low for long. He sees the lower prices for exported walnuts being an opportunity to develop new customers who are bolstering walnut sales now and may stick around when prices level out to a better level.

Sciacca said losses in walnut sales to China are being partially offset with increased sales to India. He has also heard that the lower nut prices are helping improve sales momentum for other overseas markets.

As for what this means for next year, isn’t clear.

For one thing, 2015 was a “bumper” year for walnut growers, with heavier-than-average production per tree that was estimated generate a record 575,000 tons of nuts, according to industry estimates.

Of that amount, about 65,000 tons came from Tulare County, the third highest walnut-producing county in the state, the California Walnut Board reports.

The industry was left with about 60,000 tons of unsold walnuts from last year — 20,000 tons more than average — which will have to be sold this year with the new nuts, Sciacca said.

Sciacca said, despite tons of excess nuts, he believes prices for the next Valley walnut harvest — August to mid-December — should be better.

A “bumper” harvest tends to be followed by less productive years, which should help reduce the glut of walnuts on the market and help elevate prices.

“I know pricing has been miserable, to a point,” Sciacca told a group of walnut grower during a customer appreciation luncheon Wednesday at his drying business. “I feel we’re are going to go into a better season next year.”

He doesn’t believe prices will return to $2.10 a pound any time soon, however.



Wall Street Journal

Energy Prices Steer Farmers Away From Manure Power

Despite U.S. encouragement, development of farm waste-to-energy systems wanes

By David Kesmodel

Wisconsin dairy farmer Art Thelen was full of optimism a decade ago when he joined a growing group of U.S. farmers investing in technology that turns livestock manure into electricity.

The systems promised to curb air pollution from agriculture, generate extra revenue and—in no small feat—curtail odors that waft for miles in much of farm country.

“It was a great idea, and when it worked well, it was wonderful,” Mr. Thelen said.

Now the 61-year-old is among a group of farmers who recently have shut down their manure-to-energy systems—known as anaerobic digesters—or scrapped plans to build them because of the prolonged slump in natural-gas prices and higher-than-expected maintenance costs that made the systems less economical.

Construction of new U.S. farm digesters has slowed sharply over the past two years, marking a challenge for the Obama administration, which is pushing the technology as a way to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Agriculture accounts for 36% of human-related emissions of methane—a potent heat-trapping gas—in the U.S., making it the biggest source, according to the White House.

Some big meatpackers that have supported development of digesters have become more cautious, too. Perdue Farms Inc., among the largest U.S. chicken processors, has pledged to contribute poultry waste to a planned Maryland biogas project, but the company has rejected several other manure-to-energy proposals.

“With today’s fossil-fuel prices,” many such projects “can’t stand on their own,” said Mike Phillips, director of special projects for Perdue AgriBusiness.

Digesters are oxygen-free tanks in which microorganisms break down waste and capture methane that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere. The biogas from digesters, mostly composed of methane, can be burned to produce electricity or cleaned and pressurized for transport in natural-gas pipelines. The digestion process also yields products like fertilizer that farmers can use or sell. And by diverting waste from open-air lagoons, digesters limit the potential for spills that can pollute waterways.

About 260 digester projects were active or under construction on U.S. farms as of May 2015, according to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency from voluntary sources. Only six new projects became operational or were under construction in 2014, down from an average of about 30 a year from 2008 to 2013.

The Obama administration’s plan to reduce methane emissions relies on farmers voluntarily using digesters, though some federal grants and loans help pay for the systems. A “biogas opportunities road map” issued in 2014 by the Agriculture and Energy departments and the EPA projected that broad adoption of the systems could produce energy to power 1 million U.S. homes, up from about 70,000 at the time. Last year, the USDA announced a goal to support the installation of 500 new farm digesters by 2025.

But installing and operating digesters has become tougher for farmers. Buying the systems can cost millions of dollars, which farmers typically fund through long-term sales agreements with utilities. Manure from a typical 1,000-cow dairy farm can produce enough electricity to power about 250 homes, said Melissa VanOrnum, vice president of marketing at DVO Inc., a digester provider.

Some utilities, including in Wisconsin, are paying less for manure-generated electricity amid a national slump in power prices driven by cheap natural gas. Wind and solar power also have gotten less pricey, making them more attractive than manure biogas for utilities seeking to meet state renewable-fuel standards.

Nevertheless, installations are expected to pick up in New York, California and a few other states thanks to state government financial incentives, Ms. VanOrnum said.

Smithfield Foods Inc., a subsidiary of China’s WH Group Ltd. and the world’s largest pork processor, has pursued biogas projects since the 1990s and remains optimistic about their potential, despite having to shut several operations because they weren’t as efficient as expected, Smithfield officials said. The company has a handful of existing projects and two pending.

“We want to do everything we can to promote the use of swine manure as an energy source, but there are hurdles to it and we’re trying to work through them,” said Kraig Westerbeek, Smithfield’s vice president for environment and support services.

For biogas-system designers like DVO, markets overseas help make up for the slowdown in the U.S. Germany has more than 8,000 digesters, thanks to a law guaranteeing renewable-energy producers above-market rates for their power for years. China, France and Denmark also encourage the use of farm digesters.

Wisconsin, the second-biggest dairy producer after California, long has led the U.S. in farm digesters. But farmers’ interest has waned, in part because some contracts with utilities reached last decade to promote digester installation are nearing expiration and new terms aren’t as good.

Wisconsin utilities including Alliant Energy Corp. have received state approval to pay around 3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from manure, down from 8 to 9 cents guaranteed to some farmers last decade.

Alliant is exploring further digester partnerships and “we view them as playing an important role environmentally,” a spokesman said. But “digesters are more complicated and expensive to maintain” than wind and solar programs.

Mr. Thelen, who runs Wild Rose Dairy near La Farge, Wis., said he and partner Dairyland Power Cooperative decided to halt their digester project about a year ago. One big challenge: maintenance costs for the generator, due in part to corrosion by a chemical common in biogas, he said.

“It got to the point where the electricity was way too high-priced coming out of the digester to be sold on the main line [and compete] with cheaper stuff like solar and windmill towers,” Mr. Thelen said.



National Public Radio

Is Organic More Nutritious? New Study Adds To The Evidence

By Allison Aubrey

It’s often a split-second decision.

You’re in the produce aisle, and those organic apples on display look nice. You like the idea of organic — but they’re a few bucks extra. Ditto for the organic milk and meat. Do you splurge? Or do you ask yourself: What am I really getting from organic?

Scientists have been trying to answer this question. And the results of a huge new meta-analysis published this week in the British Journal of Nutrition adds to the evidence that organic production can boost key nutrients in foods.

The study finds that organic dairy and meat contain about 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids. The increase is the result of animals foraging on grasses rich in omega-3s, which then end up in dairy and meats. The findings are based on data pooled from more than 200 studies, and research in the U.S. has pointed to similar benefits.

“Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function,” writes study co-author Chris Seal, a professor of food and human nutrition at Newcastle University in the U.K. “So we think it’s important for nutrition,” Seal told us. That said, organic meat and dairy contain far lower concentrations of omega-3s than what are found in fish such as salmon.

The findings are part of a growing body of evidence documenting how farming methods can influence the nutritional content of foods.

Another large meta-analysis published in 2014, also in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic crops — ranging from carrots and broccoli to apples and blueberries — have substantially higher concentrations of a range of antioxidants and other potentially beneficial compounds. That review included data from more than 300 studies.

For instance, organic crops had about 50 percent more anthocyanins and flavonols compared with conventional crops. Anthocyanins are compounds that give fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, their blue, purple and red hues.

Consumption of these compounds is linked to a variety of benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. Flavonol compounds — found widely in fruits and vegetables — have also been shown to protect cells from damage, which can help fend off disease.

So, what explains these boosts in antioxidant and other beneficial compounds in organic crops? Well, as Seal explains, it comes down to stress.

Organic crops tend to be exposed to higher levels of stress — including insect attacks, Seal says. And in response, they form compounds to help combat the stress.

For example, if a carrot fly lands on a carrot and starts to chew on it, what options does the plant have?

If it’s a conventionally grown carrot, a pesticide can be applied to repel the pest.

But in organic agriculture, that carrot has to fend for itself a bit more. So, Seal explains, the carrot produces compounds known as polyacetylenes, which taste bitter to the carrot fly.

These polyacetylene compounds may help drive the fly away — and, serendipitously, this compound may benefit us as well.

Research in animals suggests polyacetylene compounds may play a role in reducing inflammation and cancer risk, but it’s unclear how much must be eaten to benefit human health.

Current research aims to address this question, but the answer is difficult to suss out, given that our diets are so complex and our bodies may not absorb all the nutrients we eat. In fact, broadly speaking, this is the challenge in trying to isolate the benefits of micronutrients in our diet.

Another difference between organic and conventional crops is the way plants get nitrogen. Conventional crops are given steady doses of nitrogen from synthetic fertilizer. In organic systems, which rely heavily on crop rotation and composting, there’s typically less nitrogen available.

As a result, organic crops tend to grow more slowly, and produce more of what scientists call secondary plant metabolites. These compounds also may be health-promoting when we eat them.

A study of tomatoes conducted at the University of California, Davis back in 2008 found that organic tomatoes have almost double the concentration of a beneficial flavonoid known as quercetin, compared with conventional tomatoes grown on an adjacent field.

The 2014 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition pointed to other differences in organic crops as well, including lower levels of pesticide residues on produce and lower concentrations of the metal cadmium, which is naturally occurring in soil.

And these findings — according to Carlo Leifert, a professor of agriculture at Newcastle and co-author of the latest study — suggest there are indeed benefits to buying and eating organic. “Taken together, the studies on crops, meat and milk suggest that a switch to organic fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products would provide significantly higher amounts of dietary antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids,” Leifert wrote in a release about the new papers.

But plenty of skeptics remain. “Such small changes are unlikely to represent any nutritional or health benefit,” writes Ian Givens, a professor of nutrition at the University of Reading. In a statement on the new findings, Givens points out that switching from conventional milk to organic milk would increase omega-3 intake by only very small margins.

And an analysis by researchers at Stanford University published several years ago concluded there was no good evidence that organic fruits and vegetables were more nutritious overall.

There are echoes of this finding in the newer meta-analysis studies. Although organic crops had higher levels of antioxidants, they did not consistently contain higher levels of vitamins. For instance, as we’ve reported, vitamin E levels didn’t vary much between organic and conventional crops. And protein levels were lower in organic crops such as wheat.

Given the big picture, lots of experts say that, from a health perspective, what you eat matters more than whether you choose organic or conventional.

And at a time when most Americans don’t eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, perhaps the more important step is to add them to your diet — no matter what farming methods were used to grow them.

But if you like the environmental benefits of organic agriculture, these studies point to potential nutritional benefits as well, at least when it comes to maximizing the antioxidants and micronutrients you get from foods.



Associated Press

Oregon lawmakers approve landmark minimum wage increase

By Kristena Hansen

SALEM, ORE. – Oregon lawmakers have approved landmark legislation that propels the state’s minimum wage for all workers to the highest rank in the U.S., and does so through an unparalleled tiered system based on geography.

The state House of Representatives on Thursday passed Senate Bill 1532, which now heads to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who said in a statement she will sign it into law.

“I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures,” Brown said.

The move makes Oregon a trailblazer in the broader debate about minimum wage unfolding nationwide as the federal threshold remains unchanged from Great Recession levels.

Oregon now joins 14 other states that have raised their rates over the past two years. Another dozen or so are considering taking up the issue this year, either through legislative action or ballot initiative, as issues of wage inequality and middle-class incomes have climbed to the forefront of presidential campaigns by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.

The bill was crafted as a compromise between what unions, businesses and farmers want and as an attempt to thwart more aggressive proposals that could go before voters in November. Those two proposals call for a statewide minimum of $13.50 or $15, and would be phased in over half the time. Labor unions have not yet indicated whether they’ll follow through with ballot initiatives.

Oregon follows moves in states such as Massachusetts, California and Vermont that recently boosted statewide minimums above $10. That stands in stark contrast to more conservative states such as Idaho, which has blocked previous efforts to raise its minimum beyond the federal level, and Arizona, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would block state funding to municipalities that set a local minimum wage.

Oregon’s new plan imposes a series of gradual increases over six years. By 2022, the state’s current $9.25 an hour minimum – already one of the highest in the nation – would climb to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities.

Those minimums dethrone Massachusetts – where the statewide rate will climb to $11 an hour next year – from the top spot, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that tracks wage laws across the nation.

While there are varying approaches to raising the minimum wage, the three-tiered regional system is uniquely Oregon’s.

States have targeted wage hikes for only government employees or certain industries, as seen recently in New York for fast-food workers, while others allow local jurisdictions to set their own rates above the state threshold, prompting recent hikes in cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles.

Oregon, however, has made the unprecedented move to be the first state without a one-size-fits-all statewide minimum.

“Oregon has always been at the forefront of new ideas in the country. We were the first to actually have a minimum wage,” said Rep. Paul Holvey, a Democrat from Eugene. “Trust me, we’re not solving all the problems, but we are making a substantial dent in it by pushing up from the bottom some wage equality … from the huge disparity we have in incomes.”

The state is deeply divided between west and east by economic, cultural and political differences. The goal of the tiered approach is to balance the needs of the more urban west-where living costs have soared in rapidly growing Portland-and struggling farming communities in the east.

Division over the minimum wage – currently at $7.25 in federal law – is also often split along party lines and pits low-wage workers against business groups, as has been seen in Oregon this year. Republicans, the minority party in the Oregon Statehouse, have opposed the increase.

The President of Oregon Farm Bureau said Thursday’s vote shows Democrats don’t value family agriculture.

“This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries. Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business,” said Barry Bushue, President of Oregon Farm Bureau.

David Cooper, an economic analyst the Economic Policy Institute, said wage increases have never lead to widespread damaging effects, but he also expressed hesitation about Oregon’s regional approach.

“I think any time you create these sorts of somewhat arbitrary geographic districts, that’s when you can create opportunities for some sort of economic disruption,” he said. “I would prefer the whole state got to the same wage level but at a slower pace by region so that everyone is held to the same standard.”