Monday, October 20, 2014

Just in from Boise

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson awarded Friends of Farm Bureau Award

Boise--Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson was awarded his 8th consecutive Friend of Farm Bureau Award this morning in Boise.

Idaho Farm Bureau Executive Director Rick Keller and Legislative Director Russ Hendricks awarded the Congressman the coveted award. "We appreciate all you do for the Farm Bureau," said Keller. 

"I've won the award through each term, I hope to keep that streak alive," said Congressman Simpson.

The "Friend of Farm Bureau' award is given at the end of each Congress to those members of Congress who were nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

The award is base on voting records on AFBF's priority issues established by the Board of Directors, number of bills that member has sponsored and co-sponsored,  specific leaderships role for Farm Bureau priority issues and how accessible and responsive that member is to Farm Bureau members and leaders. In addition, the state Farm Bureau lists any other specific reasons why that member should receive the bill.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Salmon-Challis Range Tour

Just in

USDA Invests $1.4 Billion to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure 

 WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $1.4 billion in USDA loan guarantees to improve the delivery of electric power to rural communities in 21 states.

 "With the help of investments such as these from USDA, rural electric utilities have delivered reliable and affordable electricity for nearly 80 years," Vilsack said. "Upgrading the electric grid will bring jobs and increased economic opportunities to rural communities."

 Today's announcement includes $106 million for smart grid technologies and $3 million for renewable energy programs and systems. The funding will help diversify energy portfolios and decrease our nation's reliance on carbon-based fuel sources, Vilsack noted. Smart grid helps rural electric utilities manage power use more effectively. For fiscal year (FY) 2014, USDA's Rural Utilities Service provided more than $186 million for smart grid technologies.

 USDA has worked with rural electric cooperatives since 1935 to provide electricity for rural consumers. Through the years, these investments have delivered new economic and social opportunities and have enhanced the quality of life in the nation's rural communities.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just in

Upper Midwest rail delays roll on, oil only partly to blame 

Washington—There’s more oil than anyone expected being shipped by rail from North Dakota, but that’s hardly the only reason farmers in the Upper Midwest are facing big delays in getting their wheat, soybean and corn crops to storage facilities and on to market. Coal, for one, is also competing with grain and oil for rail cars, locomotives and track space. Growing demands on intermodal transport—where freight is moved using multiple modes of transportation—has been an ongoing issue, and last year’s big grain crop and the harsh winter are all part of the problem.   

“With the continued backlog of rail cars in the Upper Midwest, coupled with elevators still holding some of last year’s grain crop, farmers in that region are legitimately concerned that this year’s record crop will create a grain storage crisis. This grain has got to move, and the only way to do it is by rail,” said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation transportation specialist.   

The one thing moving forward at a good clip is criticism of the rail industry. Farmers, Upper Midwest governors, the Surface Transportation Board and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have all put Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway on notice. While CP has a ways to go to earn back its farmer customers’ and the government’s trust, BNSF officials are doing their best to address the few things under the company’s control.  

“BNSF has invested more than $5 billion in new locomotives, and added new capacity and staff,” said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation transportation specialist. “They’ve also been communicating with Farm Bureau and other stakeholders about these concerns since the beginning of the delays a year ago.”  

While there is little the federal government can do to fix the backlog, the STB this spring started to require railways to report on fertilizer shipments, which were behind at the time, and are now doing the same for grain shipments.  

On Capitol Hill, Farm Bureau is backing the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2777), which would increase STB’s investigative authority to launch its own investigations before a complaint is filed, improve rate review timelines to make it easier for board members to communicate, improve alternative dispute resolution practices and more.  
In addition, one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), was joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in asking USDA to conduct an economic analysis of the rail service challenges agricultural shippers face. 
- See more at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just in

Keeping Sage Grouse off Endangered Species List: A Challenge

Twin Falls-The U.S. Secretary of the Interior says it will be a challenge keeping sage grouse off the endangered species list, but not unsolvable.

Sally Jewell visited Idaho's best sage grouse habitat south of Twin Falls and heard reports from ranchers, biologists and agency personal on what they’re doing to save grouse habitat.

Idaho Senators Risch and Crapo were at the first part of the tour for a sit down meeting in Rogerson. Just last year Senator Risch grilled Jewell during her 2013 confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

“Are you still in agreement that this is the best way to pursue how we do what all of us want to do, and that is preserve, protect and rehabilitate the greater sage grouse?  Are we still singing off the same sheet of music?” asked Risch.

The tone of Tuesdays sit down meeting was positive.

“We do have time and we do have knowledge and we have partnerships that we didn’t have a decade or two decades ago so I think that is very encouraging,” Jewell said. “But we also have increasing risk with a longer, hotter wildfire season.”

Biologist briefed the Secretary on the massive wildfires that swept the area two years ago, they said there’s been habitat loss due to the fires, development and invasive species on the range.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just in

Semi-Finalists Named in First National Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Washington-–The American Farm Bureau Federation together with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas today announced the 10 national semi-finalists of the first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being developed in rural regions of the United States.
AFBF President Bob Stallman made the announcement at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The semi-finalist businesses, chosen from more than 200 applicants, will advance to the next phase of the challenge. They include:
  • Pulaski Grow (Pulaski, Virginia), an aquaponics facility to provide local youth with job training. Team lead: Lee Spiegel;
  • ScoutPro (Lone Tree, Iowa), software to assist farmers with crop maintenance. Team lead: Michael Koenig;
  • Shelf Life (Arlington, Tennessee), a hydroponic growing system for small producers. Team lead: Glenn Cunningham; and
  • StopFlood Appliance Systems (Inkom, Idaho), a product to prevent floods caused by washing machine hose failures. Team lead: Brent Singley.
“The outstanding group of entrepreneurs selected as semi-finalists reflects the depth and diversity of rural business ideas in cultivation across the nation,” Stallman said. “They are proof that great business ideas can be generated anywhere.”
After a series of virtual team interviews, judges will choose four finalists to continue in the challenge. The four challenge finalists will each win $15,000. They will pitch their business ideas to a team of judges at the AFBF 96th Annual Convention in January in hopes of winning the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award for an additional $15,000, and the Peoples’ Choice Award for $10,000 more, totaling prize money of up to $40,000 to implement their ideas. The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is a key component of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative, a joint effort between AFBF and Georgetown McDonough.
“Rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges and more limited options when exploring new business ideas. But just as in Silicon Valley, great ideas combined with the proper support and funding can be transformational,” said Jeff Reid, founding director, StartupHoyas at Georgetown.
The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is a joint program of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas. The Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative is directly tied to AFBF’s mission of building strong and prosperous agricultural communities.
For more information about the challenge or the semi-finalists, contact Cyndie Sirekis or Brynn Boyer at

Just in

Farm Bureau on Latest Harvest Projections from USDA

WASHINGTON – The Agriculture Department’s much-anticipated October report on agricultural supply and demand for the 2014-2015 marketing year delivered few surprises today, the American Farm Bureau Federation said.

With planting numbers rolled into the latest USDA report, projections are honing in on the final harvest numbers.

“We’re seeing corn and soybean yields round out to what we have anticipated for this year’s bumper crop,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Corn yield expectations are up to 174.2 bushels per acre and soybeans are at 47.1 bushels per acre. Both numbers are slightly higher than last month’s estimate, but remain well within anticipated ranges. Estimates on harvested acres of corn, now at 83.1 million, are down several hundred thousand acres from last month. With harvest expectations totaling 14.475 billion bushels of corn, the industry is certain to see the record crop expected.

According to Anderson, the interesting numbers from this month’s report came from the world wheat projections, where ending stocks came in lower than expected.

“The good news here,” Anderson said, “is that global demand for grain is holding strong, making this latest report on a record harvest season as positive as it can be at this point.”


Monday, October 13, 2014

Just in

President Obama Designates San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Los Angeles - President Obama will use his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish 346,177 acres of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California as a national monument, permanently protecting the popular outdoor recreation destination to increase access and outdoor opportunities for the area's residents. 
This monument designation builds on more than a decade of public support from business, tourism, environmental justice, conservation, academic and cultural preservation communities and on the leadership from members of Congress. For many residents of Los Angeles County -- one of the most disadvantaged counties in the country when it comes to access to parks and open space for minorities and children--the San Gabriel Mountains provide the only available large-scale open space. In addition to permanently protecting this land, the monument designation will create new opportunities for the Forest Service and local communities to work together to increase access and enhance outdoor opportunities.
Building on the monument designation, leading philanthropies are also announcing commitments to help jump-start public involvement and restoration of high-priority projects in Los Angeles County and the new San Gabriel National Monument. The National Forest Foundation announced that they will commit $3 million for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Fund to respond to community priorities and support restoration and stewardship of the new national monument. In addition, the Hewlett, Wyss, Packard, and California Community foundations, the California Endowment, and the Resources Legacy Fund are working to establish a $500,000 San Gabriel Partnership Fund to support recreation and habitat improvement projects in the monument and surrounding communities. Secretary Vilsack and the Forest Service are also stepping up by investing more than a million dollars in additional education staff and maintenance work on the monument's trails and picnic areas.
More than 15 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provides 70 percent of the open space for Angele├▒os and 30 percent of their drinking water. The 346,177 acre site contains high-quality wilderness areas, habitat for rare and endangered animals like the California condor, and a rich array of cultural and historical features.
Today's action builds on steps the Administration has taken over the past five and a half years to expand access to millions of acres for recreation, make historic investments in restoring critical landscapes through the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, and permanently protect areas significant to our Nation's rich history and natural heritage. All of these efforts support an annual outdoor economy that includes approximately 9 million jobs and $1 trillion in economic activity, according to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The new monument area overlays about half of the Angeles National Forest, which hosts more than 4 million visits each year. Based on 2012 data, the U.S. Forest Service estimates that the Angeles National Forest alone contributes more than $39 million to the local economy each year.
Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents to protect unique natural and historic features in America, including the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Alaska's Admiralty Island National Monument. President Obama has previously used his authority under the Antiquities Act to create or expand 12 other National Monuments across the country, including the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the south-central Pacific Ocean last month - the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off limits to commercial resource extraction. With this designation, President Obama has now protected more than 260 million acres of land and water, nearly three times more than any other President since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906.
About the San Gabriel Monument & Southern California Community:
The peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains frame the Los Angeles skyline and offer hundreds of miles of hiking, mountain biking, motorized, and equestrian trails as well as campgrounds to the area's diverse residents. In addition to providing drinking water, the San Gabriels' rivers support rare populations of native fish, while the vegetation found in the monument supports native wildlife and insect species, including pollinators important to farmers. The area is also rich in cultural and scientific history. More than 600 archeologically and culturally significant sites are found within the new monument, such as the Aliso-Arrastre Special Interest Area, which features rock art and cupules that exemplify more than 8,000 years of Native American history. The new monument is also home to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where Edwin Hubble discovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way and Albert Michelson provided the first modern measurement of the speed of light.
Improving public access and recreational opportunities within the monument will help address the region's public health challenges. Studies have shown that increasing recreational access to public lands translates to higher levels of youth activity and lower youth obesity rates. National monuments also play an important role in supporting local economies. A recent study by the independent and nonpartisan research group, Headwaters EconomicsThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. analyzing the impacts of over a dozen monuments found that, without exception, local economies grew following the monument's designation.
The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service and will be the eighth national monument under Forest Service management. There are more than 100 national monuments across the country managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Just in

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador awarded Friend of Farm Bureau Award this morning in Boise. Executive Rick Keller along with Russ Hendricks and Dennis Tanikuni. Labrador supported key legislation on Capitol Hill during the past year that benefited Idaho Farmers.

Just in

Idaho Senator Risch recieves the Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture award this morning in Boise. IFBF Executive Rick Keller and Russ Hendricks presented the award for the Senators support of Ag issues on Capitol Hill.  

Just in

AFBF unveils online grassroots biotech toolkit

Washington—The American Farm Bureau Federation’s recently launched biotech toolkit is a guide for farmers and ranchers who want to share the many positives about biotechnology with policymakers, community members and others.  Accessible at, this free online resource includes an overview of biotechnology; an explanation of biotechnology’s benefits to consumers, the environment, farmers, the U.S. economy, and more; links to credible sources for biotech information; and avenues for getting active on social media.  

“From Capitol Hill to the tiniest town in California, there is a lot of misinformation out there about biotechnology,” said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation biotechnology specialist. “Whether meeting with community leaders or government officials and their staff, AFBF’s new toolkit offers farmers and ranchers the resources to set the record straight.”

  Among the many resources the site offers are one-pagers focusing on the numerous benefits of biotechnology that can be accessed anytime online or printed off to share to at a community event, town hall gathering or a meeting with a lawmaker or candidate in any city or in any town.  
Social media, too, is a key part of outreach.  

“One of the most pervasive sources of misinformation on biotechnology is social media,” noted Walmsley. “This biotech toolkit offers guidance on who to follow on Twitter and which messages should be shared to raise awareness and answer questions.”  

The walls against biotechnology were built over time, and we can’t wait any longer to start chipping away at them, especially as many voters, state legislators, candidates and congressional lawmakers are now being asked to take a position on GMO labeling and other biotechnology-related issues, warned Walmsley.  

“People have valid questions about where their food comes from, how it’s grown and why it’s grown that way. Unfortunately, the answers all too often come from those with anti-biotech agenda who are having an increasingly negative influence on policymaking and making people afraid of their food,” he said.  

Early next year, Congress could consider a bill similar to the Farm Bureau-supported Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration is the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.  

“Now is the time to lay the groundwork for passage of this legislation by sharing the information provided in this toolkit with congressional lawmakers. By the time the bill is on the House and Senate floors, lawmakers will already have had an earful from their anti-biotech constituents,” Walmsley said.

- See more at:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just in

SBA, EPA at odds on proposed Clean Water Act rule

Ditch the Rule-2Oct. 3, 2014—It’s not all smooth sailing for the Obama administration as the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy is urging EPA to sink its proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the SBA warned the rule would hurt small businesses, a concern shared by farmers and ranchers and many others across the country.  

“The SBA’s frankness may surprise some, but it does not surprise us. The EPA has been heedless and cavalier in its disregard for the American farmers who would be most affected by this unworkable proposal,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.   

The SBA also took issue with EPA’s failure to conduct a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel prior to releasing the rule for comment and said because of this, the rule should be withdrawn. The SBA directed EPA to conduct an SBA Review Panel prior to re-proposing the rule.   
While farmers and ranchers have been focused on the proposed rule’s direct impacts on their livelihoods, Stallman said Farm Bureau agrees with SBA’s findings that EPA did not do all it was obligated to under law before the rule was made public.   

“Once again, we say it: It’s time to ditch this rule,” Stallman said.   
To help Farm Bureau members and others across the country express the need for EPA to “Ditch the Rule,” Farm Bureau launched a website at . Focused on topics and analysis related to the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule, the easy-to-navigate site includes several sections: Take Action, Go Social, Find Answers and Get Resources. Visitors may also sign up to learn more, comment on the proposed rule and send tweets using the hashtag #DitchTheRule.     

The comment period on the proposed rule ends on Oct. 20. You can submit your comments here:  
- See more at:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Just in

Congressional Delegates To Receive Friend of Farm Bureau Award                    
POCATELLO – All four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation have earned the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Friend of Farm Bureau Award for their efforts during the 113th Congress.
Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, along with Representatives Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador will receive awards in the coming weeks at various locations.

The Friend of Farm Bureau award is given at the end of each Congress to those members of Congress who were nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

This award is based upon voting records on AFBF’s priority issues established by the Board of Directors, number of bills that a member has sponsored and co-sponsored, specific leadership role for Farm Bureau on priority issues, and how accessible and responsive that member is to Farm Bureau members and leaders.

“The members of our congressional delegation understand the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy and to our nation’s security,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. “It’s a pleasure to work with these fine gentlemen.”

Just in

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers
Changes Increase Eligibility and Financing Options for Hard Working Families

WASHINGTON – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.”

The microloan changes announced today will allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access an additional $15,000 in loans using a simplified application process with up to seven years to repay. Microloans are part of USDA’s continued commitment to small and midsized farming operations.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just in

USDA Invests Nearly $118 Million to Support America's Specialty Crop Producers

MIAMI– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced nearly $118 million in grants to strengthen markets for specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. The grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture. The Secretary made the announcement in Florida.
"Specialty crop grants provide a major boost to the rural economies," said Secretary Vilsack. "Today's announcement is another example of how USDA is implementing the Farm Bill to deliver critical tools producers need to successfully grow, process and market high-quality products."
Sales of specialty crops total nearly $65 billion per year, making them a critical part of the U.S. economy. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture'sAgricultural Marketing Service (AMS), will provide $66 million to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and programs to increase demand. In addition, USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is awarding $51.8 million in grants through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative(SCRI). SCRI supports the specialty crop sector by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops.
All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. Territories were awarded Specialty Crop Block Grants that will fund a total of 838 projects. The project also educates the public about consumption of specialty crops to improve nutrition and publicizes the availability of specialty crops at local markets.
"These Specialty Crop Block Grants support hundreds of projects that address issues ranging from food safety to research needs to increased access to fruits and vegetables, all benefiting specialty crop producers and consumers across the country," said AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo. "With additional funding from the 2014 Farm Bill, we are able to do even more to help specialty crop growers increase profitability and sustainability."
Through SCRI, USDA is awarding $51.8 million to fund research and extension projects for specialty crop production. The grants fund a wide variety of efforts, including research to improve crop characteristics, identifying and addressing threats from pests and diseases, improving production and profitability, developing new production innovations and technologies, and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Range Tour

Ranchers Open lines of Communication with Forest Service on the Salmon/Challis

Mackay--Custer and Lemhi Counties held a range tour of the Double Springs allotment on the Yankee Fork District of the Salmon/Challis National Forest.

The ranchers wanted to show fellow ranchers and the Forest Service the condition of their allotments. The US Forest Service asked the permit holders to move cattle off the land 30 days early, on short notice. That move drastically impacted rancher Troy Olson who says that he's out tens of thousands of dollars. 

"It's been a communication problem. I think it's been the transfer of long term employees within the agency. We’ve addressed the problem with them and it seems like shortly thereafter we have somebody new to deal with. There’s no continuity, we never have the same people to deal with, so every issue has to be re-addressed, then readdressed and readdressed," said Olson.

"The range shows the effect of drought and damage around riparian areas," said range expert Wally Butler.

"Overall, despite the drought, I think its in pretty good shape," said Butler. "Theres probably room for improvement and that would be great, but its mostly a water distribution problem. Cattle tend to bunch up around available water and thats the problem here."

Butler says giving the cattle more areas to drink, adding pipelines could solve problems on that stretch of rangeland.

Katie Wood of the Forest Service went on the tour and visited a spring that was declared an archeological site. Ranchers put up an electric fence at their expense to protect the site, water in the area is scarce, they want to put in a pipeline to spread the cattle out to protect the riparian area but also want the Forest Service to pitch in and help. Wood said their budgets are spread thin.

"Its a zero-sum game, I have little staff and little money. When I look at all the projects that people come to me with on this allotment or others or other projects that I have going on, we can't always do it all," said Wood.

The Forest Service noted each and every problem and took part in lively but positive discussions.

"We've spent the day working on the positives and building communication," said Butler. "The overall purpose for having this tour is to heighten and awareness level for the agencies and the ranchers are going through. The whole idea with this tour was to develop a line of communication, I think we did it."

Forty-five fellow ranchers showed up to support fellow ranchers. They visited four sites and at the end of the day asked the Forest Service to listen, be mindful of economic impacts and short deadlines imposed on Ranchers.

"We're trying to improve the Range for future use and continued use," said RJ Hoffman. "I feel it probably cost me somewhere between $12-15 thousand in feed loss to go home early, but we're trying to improve the Range and we want that consideration."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Just in

USDA Designates Eight Counties in Idaho as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

BOISE – Aaron Johnson, Acting State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Idaho, announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated eight counties in Idaho as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages caused by excessive rain, flash flooding and hail that occurred from July 25, 2014, through Sept. 1, 2014.  Those counties are:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Idaho producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.  Those counties are:
Twin Falls
In order to receive an agricultural disaster designation FSA County Executive Directors meet with local leaders to access damages to crops and submit a report to the FSA State Executive Director (SED). After meeting with the state emergency board the SED sends a recommendation of approval to Secretary Vilsack.

In September, Mr. Johnson submitted requests for three other counties with the following results: On September 3, 2014, Jerome and Twin Falls counties received designations due to excessive rain that occurred Aug. 3-7, 2014 and Clearwater County was designated due to high winds and hail that occurred Aug. 14, 2014. This qualified Idaho counties contiguous to these three primary counties as well as those counties in neighboring states that border a county with a primary designation. You can view a map that shows all counties in Idaho that have current disaster designations at .
Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
“During 2014 Idaho has had disaster declarations for everything from drought to hail and too much moisture,” said Johnson. “We want producers to know that FSA is doing all they can to help Idaho’s farmers and ranchers when these natural disasters impact their operations.”

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Just in

Nation's Ag Co-ops Set Record for Annual Sales and Income

WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the nation's farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set a new sales record in 2013, with total business volume of more than $246 billion. That surpasses the previous record, set in 2012, by $8 billion, a 4 percent gain. U.S. co-ops also enjoyed robust job growth over the previous year.
This third consecutive year of record sales by ag cooperatives reflects increased sales in the overall farm economy in 2013. U.S. crop production and livestock sales both increased 6 percent in 2013, while production input (farm supply) sales increased 2 percent.
"These sales and net income records for ag cooperatives, combined with strong gains in employees for 2013, underscore the strength and productivity of the nation's farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives. These co-ops play a vital and growing role in the nation's economy," Vilsack said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Just in

Idaho Spud harvest underway 

Boise--Will Idaho's wet August that plagued the grain crop, impact potato size?

Farmers are digging  Norkotahs and early digs indicate “a very high-quality crop but size profile is still to be determined,” Muir said. “We're waiting on more information before I comment on the actual size of the crop. We don’t know that yet. But all indications are it is going to be a very good-quality crop.” 

USDA's preliminary numbers show acreage is up but those numbers are in dispute.

“It depends on who you talk to,” said Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission, in an interview with The Produce News Sept. 4. “If you go to the USDA numbers, we are up a few thousand acres versus a year ago. I think that is probably the more accurate.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Just in

EPA Must Withdraw Irregular, Biased Rulemaking
Farm Bureau and Waters Coalition Say

WASHINGTON– Recent statements by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the latest Clean Water Act rulemaking violate basic open-government requirements, a group of 63 business and agriculture organizations told the EPA and Congress. The resulting failure to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act is so egregious, the Waters Access Coalition said, the agency should withdraw the rule altogether.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, together with the other 62 members of the coalition, deplored a series of misrepresentations made by the EPA following release of the proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which is the agency’s own interpretation of the 1970s-era Clean Water Act.

Among other things, the EPA and other agencies:

·        Issued a series of agency blog posts that provide new interpretations of the proposed rule’s language;
·        Revealed new reports that detail national challenges with defining the term “ordinary high water mark,” which is the most critical term for defining “tributary” under the proposed rule;
·        Distributed comments from the Science Advisory Board that exposed serious problems  with the scientific justifications for the rule put forth by the EPA;
·        Released U.S. Geological Survey maps that show a massive expansion of territory covered under the EPA proposals, despite the EPA’s earlier and vehement statements to the contrary, and
·        Failed to conduct meaningful consultations with farmers, businesses and others most severely affected by the proposed rule, ignoring both timeliness and transparency in government.

“These are serious transgressions of principles of open government,” said Don Parrish, AFBF senior director of regulatory relations. “The EPA should withdraw this rule and have meaningful discussions with representatives of the farm families that stand to suffer most under this proposal.”

Op-Ed from the FSA

Op Ed from Aaron Johnson, Acting Director of the Farm Service Agency in Idaho

Boise--As the Acting State Executive Director of USDA Farm Service Agency in Idaho, I have traveled around this great state and have personally seen the resilience of our farmers and ranchers. I have watched them rebuild from natural disasters and bounce back from the harsh blows dealt by Mother Nature.

The USDA Farm Service Agency plays an active role in aiding producers during hardships such as these. We do a good job of caring for the constituents we serve. However, we all should do a better job of preparing for disasters when they strike, especially the ones that put our families at serious risk.

This September is National Preparedness Month and the Farm Service Agency is participating in America’s PrepareAthon by sharing helpful tips to educate the local community on the importance of being prepared for emergencies. The National Day of Action is September 30, 2014. The event, hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, is a month-long effort to encourage households, businesses, and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.

It is important that you be prepared in the event of an emergency that may force you to be self-reliant for three or more days. Situations such as lost electricity, contaminated water supplies, or roads cut off so you cannot get to the supermarket – these are things you may rarely think about. There may even be a time when you have no access to police, fire, or rescue. What do you do in those situations?

Our focus during this month is turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As few as 39 percent of individuals reported having an adequate household emergency plan.

You can start preparing with four important steps:
1.     Stay Informed: Information is available from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources. Access the website to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency.
2.     Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, visit the website. Work together with neighbors, colleagues, and others to build community resilience.
3.     Build a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies — water, nonperishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, and battery-powered radio on hand — for you and those in your care.
4.     Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes, and places of worship safer from risks and threats. Community leaders agree that the formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public, and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters.

We know all too often that emergency situations do not wait for us to get ready. They hit unexpectedly and with little or no time to prepare.
Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to take action and now is the time to plan so that your family, neighbors, and communities can be ready for any natural disaster that may arise.

For more information about the Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Just in from Washington

USDA Unveils Key New Programs to Help Farmers Manage Risk

WASHINGTON– U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled highly anticipated new programs to help farmers better manage risk, ushering in one of the most significant reforms to U.S. farm programs in decades.
Vilsack also announced that new tools are now available to help provide farmers the information they need to choose the new safety net program that is right for their business.
"The 2014 Farm Bill represented some of the largest farm policy reforms in decades. One of the Farm Bill's most significant reforms is finally taking effect," said Vilsack. "Farming is one of the riskiest businesses in the world. These new programs help ensure that risk can be effectively managed so that families don't lose farms that have been passed down through generations because of events beyond their control. But unlike the old direct payment program, which paid farmers in good years and bad, these new initiatives are based on market forces and include county – and individual – coverage options. These reforms provide a much more rational approach to helping farmers manage risk."
The new programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are cornerstones of the commodity farm safety net programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, legislation that ended direct payments. Both programs offer farmers protection when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices and/or revenues. Producers will have through early spring of 2015 to select which program works best for their businesses.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ditch the Rule

Private Property Rights at Risk

Call to action: 
On April 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published a proposed rule that will greatly expand federal regulatory authority to include virtually all water in the country. Private property rights are at risk.

This proposed rule is an effort by EPA and the Corps to go around the will of Congress and ignore Supreme Court decisions that have limited federal authority.  If this rule is finalized, essentially any area where any water flows at any time - even if just for a brief period - will be subject to federal regulation.

For years, Farm Bureau has successfully blocked legislation that would remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act. However, this rule will undo that success. This rule has been proposed by two federal agencies with no accountability to the citizens they intend to regulate. Farm Bureau opposes this rule and urges that it be withdrawn.

Click here to tell the EPA to ditch the proposed Waters Of The U.S. rule.  Ditch the rule!

Please take a moment to send a message to EPA, letting them know that this rule is unacceptable. Explain the harmful impacts of the rule, and how it would affect you as a landowner.

EPA is accepting comments on this proposed rule now, and the deadline to submit those comments is October 20, 2014.

Click on the image to the right, and tell the EPA to Ditch The Rule!


This rule will expand federal regulatory authority
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Proposed changes would increase the asserted scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction…”

This rule is against the will of Congress
Several legislative bills have been introduced to strike the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act, and Congress chose not to act.

This rule ignores the Supreme Court
The Court has upheld limits to federal water jurisdiction in previous decisions.

This rule infringes on private property rights
It will empower EPA and the Corps to regulate activities in and around virtually all water.  This authority will restrict the rights of landowners to use their property.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just in

American Farm Bureau releases videos on big-data risks, rewards 

WashingtonThe American Farm Bureau Federation has released a series of short educational videos to help farmers and ranchers understand the rewards and risks of data-analysis technologies sweeping the agricultural landscape.
“Modern data technology offers great benefits for America’s farmers and ranchers, but these new advantages don’t come without some risks,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said.     

From collecting weather data to analyzing nutrient applications and seed varieties, agricultural technology providers collect data that help farmers increase efficiency and yield higher profits. But many questions remain unanswered regarding who owns and controls this information once it is collected. Farm Bureau is leading the way in helping farmers get answers to these questions and secure their business data.    

Through a series of four new educational videos, Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations for AFBF, explains ownership of data, discusses key concerns for data use and provides guiding questions for farmers as they translate privacy agreements and terms-of-use contracts.    

“Farmers must understand the issues being raised now, before they sign an agreement with an ag tech provider,” Thatcher said. Ownership of data is often misunderstood, but this educational tool is an important introduction for farmers and ranchers considering signing on with ag tech providers.    
These videos are available at: