U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The White Bluffs bladderpod is a small flower facing some big issues.  It’s a short plant with bright yellow flowers and small inflated pods – hence its name.  At first glance, there’s nothing special about it.  It isn’t edible and doesn’t have any herbal use that we know of.   But the bladderpod is rare.  It appears to grow only in a 17 mile long strip of federal lands in the Columbia Basin.  Right now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife lists the bladderpod as “threatened.”  They would like to list it as “endangered.” 

Anna King

North America’s blueberry crop is so substantial this year that farmers say prices are dropping. That’s after about a decade of rapid expansion of new plantings. Correspondent Anna King has our story from the blueberry fields of southeast Washington.

Anna King

There’s been a lot of speculation but few answers so far about how genetically modified wheat ended up in an Oregon field.

Northwest Asparagus Comes A Tad Early

Apr 4, 2013

PASCO, Wash. – Northwest farmers are beginning to harvest the first asparagus of the year this week in southeast Washington. That’s a tad earlier than usual. And after last year's farm-labor shortage, growers across the region are keeping an eye on how many asparagus workers show up for the harvest.

At the Middleton farm stand near Pasco, Washington asparagus – both purple and green – is selling by the pound to passersby. Bins of fresh asparagus are brought here right off the fields. Workers come and go. At the helm is Laura Middleton.

Early Economic Recovery Leaves Rural Idaho Behind

Feb 25, 2013

New numbers out Monday show Idaho's rural areas experienced the post-recession years very differently from the state's cities. While places like Boise and Pocatello were on the mend, economic output in rural communities in Idaho declined.

At first glance, Idaho's rural counties appeared to be making an economic recovery with the rest of the state. But Idaho’s Department of Labor says when you take inflation into account, the output of goods and services from rural Idaho actually declined by $90 million in 2011.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A group of Northwest farmers plans to bring in thousands of legal Mexican guest workers to their fields and orchards this year. Last season many farmers were scrambling to pick their crops because of a worker shortage.

The federal H-2A guest worker program is so cumbersome and expensive, that most farmers haven’t wanted to use it. Employers have to pay for transportation, approved housing and usually more money than the going wage for workers already in the U.S.


Many Northwest growers are left out of the partial extension of the U.S. Farm Bill included in this week’s fiscal cliff legislation. The new law largely covers conventional agriculture and not the organics, specialty crops and conservation programs that our region’s farmers are known for.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of discriminating against farmers who are women, Hispanic, Native and African American. Numerous lawsuits have cost the government several billion dollars. The latest legal settlement is for women and Hispanic farmers who can prove they were discriminated against in the 1980s and ‘90s. But some of these farmers say the deal to make amends for discrimination is itself discriminatory.

Most of us may be enjoying the fall sunshine, but Northwest wheat farmers are instead wishing for a little rain. Correspondent Anna King caught up with one Northwest wheat grower in the vast Horse Heaven Hills near Prosser, Washington.


Farmers of genetically engineered crops are dramatically increasing their use of herbicides. That’s according to a new study out of Washington State University. Researchers say farmers are spraying more in response to the rise of so-called “superweeds.”