Q. Recently I have noticed signs at the grocery store, stating only service animals are allowed in the store. Why are stores posting these signs?
A. Public health agencies prohibit animals in public places where food is sold, served or consumed. One of the common routes for pathogenic bacteria to cause illness in humans is the fecal oral route. Since animal fur, hair, skin and saliva can become contaminated with fecal organisms, transmission can occur anytime people pet, touch, or are licked by animals. For this reason, animals are excluded from places where food is handled.
Service animals are typically dogs, trained to perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability. Examples include guide dogs for the blind, a dog trained to pull a wheelchair, or a seizure-alert dog. Federal law allows service animals to go wherever the person they're trained to assist goes, which includes into grocery stores. Service animals are highly trained, and are there to provide a service to the owner. Service animals are not pets.
In recent years, grocery stores have seen an increase in the number of animals being brought into the stores. Many are pets and not service animals. There is a significant risk for all consumers when pets are present around food, especially when they are riding in grocery carts and around unpackaged foods.
Q. It has been cold and windy lately. Are bees even flying in this weather?
A. Honey bees, which are those used by commercial farms, do not like rain and temperatures below 50 degrees, but they will maintain some activity for hive health. They also do not need the entire day to be warm, but rather periods of warmth are enough to increase hive activity. Unlike honey bees, native bees can be active in cooler temperatures, so you may still see them active in your yard.
Q. What are the six most important agriculture commodities in the state of Washington?
A. In 2015 the WSDA ran a study on the top-10 commodities in Washington. The report shows the top 10 in order of value of production. The top six of these are: apples at $2.40 billion, milk at $1.14 billion, cattle and calves $858 million, potatoes at $772 million, wheat at $600 million and in sixth was hay at $499 million. Of the top six commodities, milk and hay value declined the most with the value of apples increasing the most.
To submit a question, please call 509-735-3551.