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Washington’s apple crop is forecast to be a bit smaller this year because of the cool spring. The Washington State Tree Fruit Association on Monday projected the 2022 Washington state fresh apple crop will total 108.7 million forty-pound boxes. That’s an 11.1% decrease from 2021’s 122.3 million boxes. The estimate shows that five popular apple varieties make up the majority of the harvest. Gala leads production at 20%, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp are each projected at 14%, followed by Granny Smith at 13.4%, and Fuji at 12.7% of total production. Cosmic Crisp, which is grown only in Washington state, is 4.6% of the harvest, up from 3.2% last year.

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The impacts of climate change have been felt throughout the Northeastern U.S. with rising sea levels, heavy precipitation and storm surges causing flooding and coastal erosion. This summer has brought another extreme: a severe drought that has made lawns crispy and has farmers begging for steady rain. The heavy, short rainfall brought by the occasional thunderstorm tends to run off, not soak into the ground. Water supplies are low or dry. Many communities are restricting nonessential outdoor water use. Fire departments are combatting more brush fires and crops are growing poorly. Farmers in the region say this summer's harsh weather has made their jobs more challenging.

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In 2017, New Zealand passed a groundbreaking law granting personhood status to the Whanganui River. The law declares that the river is a living whole, from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements. Five years after the law was passed, The Associated Press followed the 290-kilometer (180-mile) river upstream to find out what its status means to those whose lives are entwined with its waters. For many, its enhanced standing has come to reflect a wider rebirth of Māori culture and a chance to reverse generations of discrimination against Māori and degradation of the river.

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Federal regulators who want to enforce new vessel speed rules to help protect rare whales can expect some pushback from ship operators. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the new proposed rules last month. They are designed to protect the last remaining North Atlantic right whales. The rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the East Coast, and require more vessels to comply. The agency is holding a series of informational meetings on the new rules, including one scheduled for Aug. 16. Some shipping and maritime groups said they are concerned that the rules could make their jobs more difficult or less safe.

An unprecedented drought is afflicting nearly half of Europe. It is damaging agriculture, forcing water restrictions, causing wildfires and threatening aquatic species. Water levels are falling on major rivers such as the Danube, the Rhine and the Po, endangering shipping. There hasn't been significant rainfall for almost two months in the continent's western, central and southern regions. Britain on Friday declared a drought across southern and central England amid one of the driest summers on record. Human-caused global warming is exacerbating conditions as hotter temperatures speed up evaporation and reduced snowfall limits fresh water supplies for irrigation. One French farmer has already started using his stores of winter fodder for his dairy cows as the grass turns brown.

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One of the last working dairy farms on Ukrainian-controlled territory in the eastern Donbas region is doing everything it can to stay afloat in a place where neither workers nor animals are safe from war. Only around 200 head of cattle remain of the nearly 1,300 kept at the farm before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Managers say the 8,000-acre (3,200-hectare) farm is producing two tons of milk a day compared to 11 tons daily before the war. Cultivating the wheat that also made up a significant proportion of the KramAgroSvit farm’s revenues comes with risks. A worker driving a combine harvester hit two land mines and is in critical condition.

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Tyler Huntley went 16 of 18 for 110 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and the Baltimore Ravens extended their record streak of preseason victories to 21 with a 23-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. Rookie quarterback Malik Willis ran for a touchdown for the Titans, but Huntley put Baltimore ahead to stay with a 14-yard scoring strike to Shemar Bridges in the final minute of the second quarter. Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry were among the standouts who didn’t play.

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The 4th Congressional District in Washington state is a land of snow-capped volcanic peaks and lush irrigated apple orchards. It’s also home to one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and then won his next election. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, and is one of only two to beat back GOP challengers this year. Newhouse was the leading vote-getter in the race for his seat in the Aug. 2 Washington primary election, despite withering criticism from Trump and a Trump-backed challenger.  U.S. Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. - who like Newhouse ran in a top-two open primary - also prevailed two months ago.

A federal court ruling this week has thrown into doubt the future of a valuable commercial salmon fishery in Southeast Alaska. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle sided with the nonprofit Wild Fish Conservancy in determining that the National Marine Fisheries Service improperly approved the troll fishery for king salmon, also known as Chinook, in 2019. The court said the agency failed to fully weigh the fishery's effect on the endangered killer whales that depend on Chinook for food. The conservation group said the decision is a “bombshell," while the Alaska Trollers Association said it would “to fight to preserve our fishery and our way of life.”

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A Georgia dairy farm has been fined after a release of food waste caused a fish kill. It's a rare instance of government getting involved with a practice that counties can’t regulate despite chronic complaints from residents. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division fined McAvoy Farms, also known as Mar Leta Farms, $5,000 after nearly 1,700 fish died in the Little River in Wilkes County on June 16. The state found that 1.2 million gallons of sludge and other food byproducts overflowed a lagoon and into a creek over a six-week period. Farmers accept the byproducts as what’s called a soil amendment, which can be used in place of traditional fertilizer. Critics call it industrial waste.

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The birds no longer sing. The cows die. And if the people in this northern Myanmar forest complain, they too face the threat of death from militias. This forest is the source of key metallic elements known as rare earths, often called the vitamins of the modern world. Rare earths turn up in everything from hard drives to elevators, and are vital to the fast-growing field of green energy. But an AP investigation found their cost is environmental destruction, the theft of land and the funneling of money to brutal militias. The AP tied rare earths from Myanmar to the supply chains of 78 companies. Nearly all who responded said they took environmental protection and human rights seriously.

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The birds no longer sing. The cows die. And if the people in this northern Myanmar forest complain, they too face the threat of death from militias. This forest is the source of key metallic elements known as rare earths, often called the vitamins of the modern world. Rare earths turn up in everything from hard drives to elevators, and are vital to the fast-growing field of green energy. But an AP investigation found their cost is environmental destruction, the theft of land and the funneling of money to brutal militias. The AP tied rare earths from Myanmar to the supply chains of 78 companies. Nearly all who responded said they took environmental protection and human rights seriously.

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The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are central arms of California's water system. But they are becoming too salty to use for some farmers and cities that rely on them as the state's punishing drought drags on. In dry times, less fresh water flows from the mountains through California's rivers and into an estuary known as the Delta. That means saltier water from the Pacific Ocean is able to push further into the system, which supplies water to millions of people and acres of farmland. The Delta's challenges foreshadow the risks to come for key water supplies from drought and sea level rise made worse by climate change.

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Authorities say a buffalo charged and seriously injured a Kansas sheriff’s deputy one day before the animal’s owner was found gored to death. Ellsworth County Sheriff Murray Marston said in a news release that the buffalo had wandered onto a state highway and the deputy was trying to get the animal back in a pasture when it charged. A deputy from a neighboring county “put down" the animal. Then, Monday morning, dispatchers got a call from a woman who said that she had found her nephew, 56-year-old Scott Schroeder, of rural Bushton, dead in a pen and that she thought a buffalo had killed him.

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Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint are the leading candidates in a Democratic U.S. House primary that could make either of them the first female member of the state's congressional delegation. Gray has the backing of the centrist lane of the party, with endorsements from two former governors and a campaign donation from retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. Balint has been endorsed by an all-star list of progressive leaders, including the state’s other U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, and the founders of Vermont’s famously progressive ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is expected to cruise to victory in November in deep-blue Vermont.

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Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn have left Ukrainian ports. The movement Friday is the latest sign that a negotiated deal to export grain trapped since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago is slowly moving forward. But major hurdles lie ahead to get food to the countries that need it most. While the shipments have raised hopes of easing a global food crisis, experts say much of the grain that Ukraine is trying to export is used for animal feed, not for people to eat. And the cargoes are not expected to have a significant impact on the global price of corn, wheat and soybeans.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited Russia for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They discussed a grain deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N., prospects for talks on ending hostilities in Ukraine, the situation in Syria and growing economic ties between Moscow and Ankara. Last month, Turkey and the U.N. helped broker agreements between Russia and Ukraine for Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in its Black Sea ports since Moscow sent troops into the country. In a statement issued after Friday's talks that lasted four hours, Putin and Erdogan emphasized “the necessity of a complete fulfillment of the package deal reached in Istanbul.”

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The first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal has passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading on to Lebanon. Ukraine says 17 other vessels at its ports are loaded with grain and waiting permission to leave. There was no word yet, however, on when they could depart. Authorities said a joint civilian inspection team spent three hours Wednesday checking the cargo and crew on the ship Razoni. The wartime deal aimed to ease food security around the globe by creating a safe corridor across the Black Sea.

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The deal reached last week by Senate Democrats would provide $20 billion for climate-friendly agricultural practices. Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change and experts say there's plenty of opportunity to reduce the sector's emissions. If the measures in the bill are enacted, most of the money will go through existing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs that already help farmers implement environmentally-friendly practices. The bill also funds research and efforts to improve cattle feed to reduce the amount of methane they produce. Cows are a major source of climate-warming methane.

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The Rio Grande went dry in Albuquerque last week for the first time in four decades. With it went critical habitat of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow, a shimmery, pinky-sized fish native to North America's fifth-longest river. Summer storms have made the river wet again but experts warn the drying this far north is a sign of an increasingly fragile water supply, and that current conservation measures may not be enough to save the minnow and still provide water to nearby farms, backyards and parks.

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Mention global warming and farming infrequently enters the conversation. However, as Jeff Rowe notes in his Associated Press review of George Monbiot's “Regenesis,” the author says much commercial field farming and most raising of animals for meat is ravaging the Earth, ruining soils, expelling carbon and methane in fearsome quantities and polluting rivers and lakes. One solution: We all can eat far less meat. But leading farmers such as California’s A.G. Kawamura say it’s not necessary to become a vegetarian to save the soil – innovative farmers already are making great progress in discovering farming practices that heal the Earth and produce more food.

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