Photo by Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

A small ranch in southeastern Washington is the site of some big disputes playing out between environmental regulators and farmers.

The question: How much control can the government have over pollution from agricultural runoff?

As part of EarthFix and Investigate West’s series on the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Courtney Flatt takes a look at a court case that could determine how strictly the state regulates polluted rainwater runoff.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are raising because of the Heartland’s decimated yields. Correspondent Anna King has this report from central Washington’s grain country.

Wheat stubble, grain elevators and whole lot of wide open – that’s Connell, Washington.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are joining forces to track populations of feral pigs across the Northwest. These “hogs gone wild” can do massive damage to the landscape. And wildlife agents want to know where swine are on the move. They’re even launching a so-called “swine line” for people to call with sightings.


A company that ships Northwest produce to East Coast markets by rail plans an expansion that will benefit the region's wineries. Railex has reached an agreement with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to build a massive wine storage warehouse in southeast Washington.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

It’s not news that Washington is producing record amounts of blueberries this year. It happened last year. Next year will likely break another record and the year after that too. The real news is: Where is the fruit going, and why is it still so expensive? Correspondent Anna King explains.

Photo courtesy USDA

A recent discovery in an Idaho potato field has Northwest spud growers worried. Researchers this week reported that insects from the Twin Falls area tested positive for bacteria that cause “zebra chip disease.”

With lingering high unemployment and the endless talk of the down economy – it’s hard to believe that there are some industries putting help-wanted signs out by the dozens. But that’s the case in Northwest orchard country where there appears to be a dwindling supply of migrant workers for cherry picking. Cherry season started this past week, and as correspondent Anna King reports, farmers and shop-keeps alike are anxiously waiting for more workers to arrive.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

Barker Creek cuts through the semi-rural landscape of hobby farms and small towns on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. And like many small waterways in this region, Barker Creek has had problems with fecal coliform. Rain washes the bacteria from animal manure and leaky septic systems into nearby waterways.

In some watersheds, the contamination can get so bad that officials have to close shellfish beds and post signs warning people to stay away from the water. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports on one success story.

Since 1978, one eastern Washington county has out-produced all other wheat-growing counties in the U.S. But what to do with all the leftover straw? Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt explains a group of students at Washington State University has found a way to provide power from farmers’ scraps.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Cool weather and rain and can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.

And there’s another problem according to the Washington Fruit Commission's B.J. Thurlby. He says rain can spoil the fruit on the branch.