Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just in from Washington

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Protects Consumers 

Washington--Food prices are already on the rise, but a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients could send costs skyrocketing by as much as 30 percent, without improving the safety of the food supply, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a recent op-ed on The

In their column, the lawmakers explain that climbing food prices are one of the many reasons they introduced the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, H.R. 4432. The Farm Bureau-supported bill will 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. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has issued an FBACT Action Alert to support H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The FBACT Action Alert can be found at this link:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Urges for Certainty in PILT Payments
Pushes federal government to meet obligations to states and counties

Washington – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has other Western Members of Congress in urging House leadership to fully fund the federal government’s obligations to counties with a high percentage of federal land.  They recently sent a letter to leadership pushing for full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.  PILT compensates local governments for the loss of income due to the presence of federal land in their state or county, since the federal government does not pay property taxes.  Full funding for PILT payments was extended in the Farm Bill but expires at the end of the current fiscal year.

“For almost 40 years, PILT payments have provided compensation to local governments to offset the loss of tax revenues that result from the presence of federal lands within their jurisdictions,” the letter states.  “PILT payments are distributed to 49 different states and nearly 2,000 counties throughout the nation.”

It continues, “In Fiscal Year 2013, the national average for PILT payments was 66 cents per acre. This figure pales in comparison to the amount of revenues that would be generated for states and local governments if economic development and value-based taxation was allowed to occur on these lands.  The federal government has an obligation to reimburse local governments for large quantities of federal lands found within their jurisdiction.”

The letter was signed by 51 Members of Congress.  Simpson, who is vice-chairman on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, has long supported permanent full funding of PILT.

Just in from Elmore County

Elmore County Farm Bureau and D&B help FFA

Mountain Home--Elmore County Farm Bureau President Paul Shrum went to work helping the Future Farmers of America class at Glenns Ferry. They needed tools and had a limited budget. He approached D&B Supply Manager Steve Wilson.

"I was approached a few weeks back by Paul Shrum. He wanted to purchased tools for the Glenns Ferry FFA class with a $800 dollar budget. As luck would have it the PBR was coming up soon and we were going to have a DEWALT sale. After some good times shopping, trading in some old tools and someextra help from our own donation budget, I was able to present Rick Hance (FFA teacher) with over $1200 dollars worth of tools and accessories. It was awesome working with both Paul Shrum of the Idaho Farm Bureau and Rick Hance to get the Glenns Ferry FFA class some much needed and appreciated tools."

Thank you to all FFA members and supporters in all communities, we appreciate you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Just in from Boise

Idaho Farm Bureau Expands Social Media Reach
Boise—The Idaho Farm Bureau added two new social media properties while re-launching their smartphone application this spring.
“Research has shown that people want their news media delivered on their time,” said Public Relations Director John Thompson. “People want to listen on their schedule, and they want content delivered to their smart phone.”
Earlier this month Idaho Farm Bureau built a new podcast site for their growing radio audience. The Farm Bureau’s Buzzsprout site went live late in March and features statewide agriculture news, feature stories and the latest news from Washington.
The Idaho Farm Bureau also launched a podcast site in Apple iTunes store, bringing Idaho agriculture to a worldwide audience. The new podcast dovetails with Iphone App also available in the Itunes store, and in the Droid store.
“Having our podcast in both sites has quadrupled our audience and the demand for our news product is very strong. We went from a respectable Idaho audience to a worldwide audience,” said State Media Manager Jake Putnam.
The new podcast sites are cutting new ground as the radio marketplace continues to change. Local programing, news and talk shows are disappearing while specialty podcasts and local radio programming are turning to the internet.
“Our listeners are finding us on itunes,Facebook,Twitter, Buzzsprout and the Farm Bureau website. The pace of change is dizzying. We’re inventing as we go and we’re finding listeners and our challenge is keeping up with demand,” added Putnam.
“We had to rebuild the app to handle radio operations, we added new graphics and streamlined it. It’s a classic, one-stop app, meaning that all our properties are there, in one place, on the smartphone,” added Putnam
The app carries Farm Bureaus award winning video reports, the daily blog and the podcast. You can also check out IFBF’s latest Tweets, along with the latest photos posted on Flickr. There’s also new feature in the app called Buzzfeed.
“Buzzfeed has a search engine that searches the internet for anything mentioning the Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho potatoes, crops, cattle and dairy. “It’s amazing to see all the things written about us from around the country,” said Thompson.
The Idaho Farm Bureau’s innovation is also expanding to traditional airwaves. The new Farm Bureau podcast is available to local radio stations across Idaho.
“Local radio stations can download our radio content from the IFBF website, free of charge. We recognize there’s a lack of agricultural based programming on the local airwaves, we’re addressing that demand. I see it as filling a void and we’re doing it for free,” said Putnam.
You can download the latest podcasts here:
IFBF podcast:
Idaho Farm Bureau website:

Just in from Washington

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Protects Consumers 

Washington--Food prices are already on the rise, but a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients could send costs skyrocketing by as much as 30 percent, without improving the safety of the food supply, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a recent op-ed on The In their column, the lawmakers explain that climbing food prices are one of the many reasons they introduced the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, H.R. 4432. The Farm Bureau-supported bill will 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. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has issued an FBACT Action Alert to support H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The FBACT Action Alert can be found at this link:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Just in from Washington

GMO Labeling Bill Introduced

Washington--"Our farmers and ranchers are encouraged by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) for introducing H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement Wednesday. 

The measure makes it clear that the Food and Drug Administration should be the nation's foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just in from Washington

House Committee Holds Hearing on ESA Reform Proposals

Washington--On Tuesday the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on four bills designed to update, improve and modernize the 41-year-old Endangered Species Act. The proposals outline the starting point for the committee's planned legislative efforts on the ESA. Moving forward with these simple, narrowly focused proposals would help bring needed transparency for significant federal ESA decisions that could affect farmers and ranchers. 

The bills, introduced by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), focus on the need to make ESA decisions more transparent, including strengthening state/local involvement in listing decisions and use of state data, transparency on litigation costs and payment of attorney's fees and ensuring attorney fees are reasonable.

Farm Bureau supports efforts to amend and reform the ESA and encourages Congress to advance legislation to accommodate the needs of both threatened and endangered species and humans with complete respect for private property rights within the framework of the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just in

Payette County holds Candidate Forum

Payette--Payette County Farm Bureau held a candidate forum earlier this week. With the May primaries just weeks away the 2014 political season is heating up. 

Six House and Senate candidates showed up from the two county district.

"We invited the candidates that are running for legislative positions," said Mike Shoemaker, Payette County Farm Bureau Vice President. We wanted those running in this district to come and present their platform and answer questions from voters so we could get acquainted with the candidates. Farm Bureau invited all members from Payette and Washington counties.

Payette County Farm Bureau told the candidates to expect between 5 and 50 people at the event and easily exceeded the number as word spread through the district.

"I was impressed with candidates, all have educated themselves on issues important to farmers and the Bureau, the gave the kind of answers that we find encouraging," added Shoemaker.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just in

American Farm Bureau’s Stallman Calls for Tax Changes

WASHINGTON–Farmers and ranchers need tax certainty to thrive in a modern economy, and making permanent deductions that expired in 2013 is a good first step, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the House Ways and Means Committee today.
“One of the major goals of tax reform should be to provide stable, predictable rules for businesses so that they can grow and create jobs,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes that Congress should end its practice of extending important business tax provisions for one or two years at a time. This practice makes it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity.”
Stallman addressed the committee as part of a hearing addressing the economic disruption caused by the end of a series of tax deductions over the past several years. Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently introduced a discussion draft of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in an effort to stimulate discussion of how the tax code could be simpler and fairer, while at the same time aiding economic growth, job creation and wages.
In written testimony submitted to the Committee, Stallman called for extensions of several now-expired deductions to benefit the economy as a whole, including:

·       Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000 instead of depreciating them over several years;
·       Bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment;
·       Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit: a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities;
·       A $1.00 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels;
·       The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit and
·       A provision encouraging donations of conservations casements.

Stallman reiterated the importance of Section 179’s immediate expensing to farming. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business,” he said. “In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced. This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

“Smart business planning that anticipates and budgets for annual capital improvements proves challenging for farmers and ranchers because they operate on tight profit margins. The immediate expensing provided by Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to cash flow purchases that otherwise might be delayed or incur debt expense that impact profitability.”

Just in

Crews repair Northside Canal just in time for 2014 season

Emmett--Gem County Agriculture came to a screeching halt last June when leaking water from the Northside canal above Highway 52 triggered a landslide onto the roadway outside of Emmett.

The Canal was immediately closed and repaired and last fall crews made large scale returns to prevent leaks and landslides that threatened to cut off 18-thousand acres of crop last summer.

"We drilled 80 hollow soil nails into the bank under the canal, they're 20 feet long. They filled them full of concrete and then hung mesh on the outside with rebar then sprayed about an eight inch wall of concrete to seal it up," said Mike Mitchell of Emmett Irrigation District.

 Water started flowing in the canal this week, and so far the repairs are working. "We shouldn't have any more slides in that area," added Mitchell.

Monday, April 7, 2014

March Snowpack numbers in

Snowpack continues to Improve

Boise--its been raining and snowing since the first week of February across Idaho and a cool spring is keeping snowpack in the mountains.With back to back months of above normal precipitation, thats completely changed the dire forecasts in January.

 March precipitation brought more rain in the lower elevations and snow to the high county and even a few storms in early April added more moisture to the pack. March precipitation levels were 170-190% of normal in the Spokane, Clearwater, Weiser, Payette and Henrys Fork basins. 

The least amount fell in the Little Lost basin, only 103% of normal while other southern Idaho basins were 120-140% above normal except for Goose Creek and the Upper Snake basins at 160%. Snowpacks are the highest at 145-160% of normal in the Upper Snake above Palisades and to 131% above American Falls. The Clearwater basin is 135% of average followed by the Bear and Henrys Fork at 125%. 

The lowest snowpacks remain in the Owyhee at 46% of normal, and 50-70% in the Bruneau, Little Wood and Weiser basins. 

Reservoirs are in good shape and are ready to capture the runoff from this year’s mountain snowpack. Some reservoirs will fill and some won’t. Streamflow forecasts mirror the snowpack with above average volumes forecast in the Upper Snake and Clearwater basins.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Just in

Bacon Prices Up, Eggs Too

Washington--Higher retail prices for several food items used to prepare breakfast, including bacon, eggs and bread, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation's latest Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.27, up $1.73 or about 3.5 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 increased, five decreased and one remained the same in average price.

"Several typical breakfast items increased in price, accounting for much of the modest increase in the marketbasket," said John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist. "The 3.5 percent increase shown by our survey tracks closely with Agriculture Department's forecast of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent food inflation for 2014," he said.

Friday, April 4, 2014

From Capitol Hill

Dairy Industry Up Against EU Geographic Indicators

Washington--Geographic indicators are a way of labeling products to tie them to particular places in an effort to enhance marketability. Through the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, the European Union is trying to get the United States to accept this approach. Dave Salmonsen, the American Farm Bureau Federation's trade specialist, explains how this would harm America's dairy farmers in Tuesday's Newsline.

More than 50 U.S. senators have written a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the use of geographic indicators. Farm Bureau is working to ensure the U.S. government is fully aware of the industry's concerns as negotiations move forward.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Pushes for Better Wildfire Budgeting
 Washington–Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today discussed funding for wildfire suppression with Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Tidwell testified on the Forest Service’s FY15 budget request before the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, on which Simpson serves.  They talked at length about Simpson’s legislation to end the practice of fire borrowing as a way to pay for wildfire suppression.

When Simpson questioned Chief Tidwell about perceived concerns about his proposal, Tidwell confirmed that it would not provide more discretionary funding, but would instead allow the agencies to budget better for both fire suppression and forest management.

“Really what we’re trying to do is to not decimate non-fire budgets with fire borrowing,” said Simpson. “We’re either going to pay for fires by taking the money from other budgets and try to repay them later, which doesn’t work, or we are going to find a better way to manage this account.”
Simpson thanked the Forest Service for the good work it did during fires in Ketchum last summer.  “There is absolutely no reason some of those homes should still be standing, except for the good work that your people did in protecting them,” he said.  But he also warned Chief Tidwell that unless his wildfire disaster funding proposal passed, the Forest Service would be in worse shape under the President’s budget request than it is now. 

After the hearing, Simpson reiterated the importance of managing these accounts in a way that doesn’t rob non-fire accounts each year. “We need to be able to manage federal lands. In order to manage them, we need to stop using funding intended for land management to fight fires. This is a devastating cycle and is destroying our forests. I’m hopeful my bill will pass so Congress can write a reasonable and responsible wildfire fighting budget.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Just in

AFBF Responds to EPA's Proposed Rule on 'Waters of the U.S.'

Washington--The American Farm Farm Bureau weighed in on the EPA's proposed rule on 'waters of the US.'
"The results of our review are dismaying," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule on "waters of the U.S," which was released March 25. "Clean Water Act jurisdiction over farmlands amounts to nothing less than federal veto power over a farmer's ability to farm," Stallman said in a statement.

"The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners," explained Stallman. "Under EPA's proposed new rule, waters-even ditches-are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest 'navigable' waters. Indeed, so-called 'waters' are regulated even if they aren't wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn't much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated."

The American Farm Bureau Federation is dedicated to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

YF&R News

Pioneer Equipment Delivers New Tractor to the Littles

Newdale--Pioneer Equipment of Rexburg delivered a new Case IH Farmall 65A Tractor this past week to Dwight and Jamie Little of Newdale.

The Littles won the tractor after making it to the AFBF National Achiever Finals last January. They also pocketed a $3,000 cash prize from STIHL along with a chainsaw and merchandise.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled and exhibited superior leadership abilities.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Just in

Simpson Takes On EPA Over Idaho Water

Washington-Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson hosted leaders of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation in two hearings before the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss Fiscal Year 2015 budget issues.  Simpson chairs the subcommittee and oversees the budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. 

Regarding the navigable waters rule, Simpson said, “It is stunning to me that the Administration claims this proposed rule is supported by science, but that’s hard to believe when you look at the sequence of events.” After the hearing, Simpson said, “The Obama Administration clearly wants to use its regulatory agenda to control every drop of water in the country. This is completely unacceptable and an infringement on state rights.”

In the Bureau of Reclamation hearing, Simpson talked about maintaining aging water infrastructure with flat budgets, future year planning, and BOR's work with the Corps to study the possibility of increasing water storage at the Ririe Reservoir in Bonneville County, Idaho. “It would seem we—the executive branch and legislative branch together—have some tough decisions to make,” said Simpson.  “Either we reevaluate the number and breadth of actions we promise to deliver or, if these really are strong national priorities compared to national priorities in other policy areas, we figure out a way to better reflect that in Reclamation’s budget.”

In the Army Corps hearing, Simpson also expressed concern that the Administration has not been following congressional direction in implementing the civil works program. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Just in

NOAA Expects Moderate Flood Risk, Continued Droughts 

Washington-Rivers in half the U.S. are at a minor to moderate risk of exceeding flood levels between April and June and drought conditions are expected to continue in California and the southwestern portion of the country, according to a report released on Thursday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The area of the highest threat of flooding is the southern Great Lakes region due to above-average snowpack and a deep layer of frozen ground. But below-average temperatures over the winter also resulted in river ice formation and ice jams further south than normal, NOAA's Spring Outlook said. Moderate spring flooding is predicted in parts of southern Wisconsin, southern Michigan, portions of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. There is less of a risk of moderate flooding from eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota and areas in western South Dakota. 

Drought conditions are expected to continue or intensify in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, southeast Colorado, western Oklahoma and western Texas because of below-average rain or snow over the winter and the onset of the dry season in April, the report said. Drought improvement is likely in Washington and southeast Idaho, extreme northern and coastal Oregon, western and central Nebraska and Kansas, central Oklahoma and the Midwest. Drought is not expected in the eastern U.S. in the next three months.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just in from Washington

Proposed Power Plant Rules Threaten Energy Affordability

Washington--EPA's recently proposed greenhouse gas regulations greatly jeopardize the availability of an affordable and reliable supply of energy, without which farmers and ranchers cannot produce the food, fuel and fiber every American relies on, according to Farm Bureau.

Among agriculture's biggest concerns about the agency's proposed standard for new power plants are the significant costs for utilities in complying with these planned rules. Utility companies can and will pass these costs on to their customers, who will then pass the costs down the line. That's not an option for farmers and ranchers.

"Farmers and ranchers are price takers and not price makers, so they lack the ability of many other sectors of recouping their costs by passing them on to customers," Farm Bureau wrote in comments to the agency. "Higher energy costs for farmers and ranchers mean higher farm input costs."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Memorium: Betty DeVeny

Long time Farm Bureau Advocate Betty DeVeny of Riggins passed away last week. This was one of the last interviews we did the Iron Lady of Riggins on May 29th, 2009: 

I’m Betty DeVeny from District 5, and when I worked for the Forest Service I could belong to the Farm Bureau but couldn’t be active. So when I retired in ’86, then I became more active in Farm Bureau, as near as we can figure I was county secretary starting about 1987 while Bill was President. And then we decided it was 2001 when I became County President.

Your thoughts on being named District 5 Woman of the Year?
I tried my best to get out of it, several years ago Phylis Fleener asked me to do it but she was more easily convinced, because I really don’t want to, this year three of them ganged up on me and said you do not have any choice.

Your involvement over the years is legendary in Idaho County but also in Farm Bureau--
It’s important, especially for policy development, that’s the main emphasis of our county, that’s one of the main reasons we participate and the influence we can have on the legislature, locally, state and national.

Being a woman in ranching and in Farm Bureau, did that present any problems?

It was never even noticeable because we’ve had several women that are active in out County Farm bureau and not even in the women’s committee. Our women’s committee is a one person committee, I mean she’s super but we don’t have a big women’s committee, we don’t do a lot of that sort of thing.

You never brushed elbows with the old boy network?

No, I guess if I did I ignored them. I never did have any trouble.
What kind of reach does Farm Bureau have?
It’s really kind of hard to measure because there are a lot of things that might have happened but didn’t that would have been detrimental to agriculture were it not for Farm Bureau. I don’t always agree with all of their emphasis on all of their issues, but it’s the best we got.

Where is Farm Bureau headed?

I hope we are headed in the right direction, but its going to take people participating and that’s one of the hardest things, is to get people to participate because they have to participate if they are going to change anything.

How important is involvement in these times?

I think it’s very important and I think we need to try and get the younger people because some of us are starting to get kind of old and worn out. I know that’s a problem in our county. We try to get younger members but its hard for them because of demands on their time.

One person has a voice in Farm Bureau and that voice can stretch all the way to Washington, can you articulate that?

I’m not sure that I can, because I think that’s one of our biggest problems, getting them to understand what the capabilities are, I don’t know how to suggest ways to go about it. We have a young YF and R person and we are trying to bring him along and let him know what the opportunities are.

When Betty DeVaney calls the Idaho County Commissioners they usually call back?

They always do!

What’s it like here in the high country?

Just like anywhere else, we have lived here since 1950, it’s just the way it is.
Well that’s true, even when we go anywhere, I was telling my sister. It’s not always when you can go on a business trip and have a scenic drive because it doesn’t matter if you’re going to McCall direction or Grangeville its scenic.

If you could change Farm Bureau what would it be?
I don’t want to change it.

Tell us about the family:
You will meet three of them today, Janet is our oldest, and then Brian is next, he’s the one that pretty much runs things. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be running cows. Our next boy we lost in 2007 and our youngest is Mike and he is here today. He is a computer programmer with Saint Lukes, but he comes up very much to help us. He comes up to help brand he came up for this, he’s a major contribution in keeping things going.

Just in

Ag Producers' Confidence Remains Slightly Positive

Washington--Overall agriculture producer confidence remains unchanged since last March despite a drop in producers' feelings about their current situation, according to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agriculture Confidence Index. Producers' overall confidence remained somewhat positive at 106.9, up slightly from 105.5 last December and unchanged from March 2013. The value of 100 is considered neutral. Values above 100 indicate optimism, whereas values below signify pessimism.

The DTN/PF Agriculture Confidence Index, which surveyed 500 producers between March 1 and 10, measures the sentiments of agriculture producers on their overall impressions of the agriculture sector. Farmers are also asked to rate current and long-term input prices and net farm income to gauge their attitudes toward the present situation and future expectations.

For the latest DTN editorial, weather and market information, visit

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Just in

Julie Borlaug: PR on Biotech Crops Falls Short

Des Moines--Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of renowned crop scientist Norman Borlaug, told the Des Moines Register that proponents of modern agriculture, led by supporters of genetic modification technology, need to do better in communicating with the public about the work of farmers and why seeds that boost yields and are resistant to drought, among other threats, are needed. "If we all step back and reconstruct what we want to tell people, what our messaging is and make it a little more personal and a little more comprehensible to people who are so far removed from agriculture, I think we would start winning the day," she said.

A celebration honoring the 100th birthday of Norman Borlaug in Washington, D.C., this week will include the unveiling of his statue in the U.S. Capitol. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Praises Mexico’s Final Rule to Allow Potato Trade

Washington–Idaho Congressman Simpson is pleased the Mexican government published its final rule allowing the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States. 

“Since the Market Access Agreement was signed by the U.S. and Mexico in 2003, I have consistently urged the USTR, USDA and White House to sustain efforts encouraging Mexico to meet its commitment and allow full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes,” said Simpson. “I am pleased the Mexican government has issued its final rule allowing full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes.”

In 2003, the United States and Mexico signed a market access agreement that allowed for the shipment of U.S. fresh potatoes into a 26-kilometer area along the border of Mexico.  The agreement called for increased access to the five northern Mexican states in 2004 and for consideration of full access by 2005. However, Mexico has continued to limits shipments of U.S. potatoes to areas within 26 kilometers of the border. In 2012, the Mexican government started its rulemaking process to allow of the expansion U.S. fresh potato trade between the two countries.   

Friday, March 21, 2014

EPA Formally Proposes New Worker Protection Standard Rule

Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to revise the worker protection standard rule governing handling and application of pesticides. EPA announced last month that it would formally propose the rule. Proposed revisions to the WPS rule have been extensively discussed for years among EPA and outside stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, worker advocates and others. 

The principal changes EPA is proposing include shortening the grace period during which pesticide applicators must be trained; expanded training requirements; expanded record-keeping requirements; age restrictions on certain duties; changes to the 'immediate family' exemption; and more frequent training requirements. 

AFBF will be submitting comments on the rule (current deadline is June 17).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Just in

Wyoming Welder Faces Fine for Building Pond on His Property

Casper--Andy Johnson built a stock pond on his eight-acre Wyoming farm and is now being harangued by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is threatening him with civil and criminal penalties up to and including $75,000 a day in fines. Johnson says he followed state rules when constructing the stock pond in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer's Office to prove it.

EPA officials claim Johnson violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, and that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says the stock pond he built-a man-made pond designed to attract wildlife-is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations. The story has generated a fair amount of media attention.

"Expanded EPA jurisdiction is going to mean headaches like this for farmers and ranchers everywhere," said Don Parrish, senior director of congressional relations at AFBF.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just in

Dr. Joe Guenthner of the University of Idaho will discuss how biotech foods fit into global markets.

UI Expert to Speak on Biotech Crops                      
Ponderay – Bonner County Farm Bureau is hosting a seminar on Biotech Crops for Farmers and Consumers at 7 p.m. on March 27th at the Holiday Inn Express in Ponderay.

Dr. Joe Guenthner, professor emeritus of the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture, will speak and field questions on how biotech foods fit into a global market, how biotech products are brought to market, and whether biotech foods should be labeled.

Guenthner was raised on a family potato farm in Wisconsin.  After earning a BS degree in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin, Joe grew potatoes with his brothers during the 1970s.  

He continued his education with degrees in agricultural economics -- an MS at Montana State University and a PhD at Washington State University.  He was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge in England.

As a University of Idaho professor Guenthner has taught courses in price analysis, ag policy and marketing. His research and extension efforts focused on potato industry economics. 

The Holiday Inn Express is located at 477326 Highway 95 N 

Just in

Water Rights Bill Prohibits Federal Takings

Washington--The House of Representatives last week approved Farm Bureau-supported legislation (H.R. 3189) that recognizes states' long-standing authority to confer water rights and retains the position that the federal government will respect those lawfully acquired rights. 

"The Water Rights Protection Act does not expand rights for individuals at the expense of any federal agency, nor does it in any way limit or constrain existing rights held by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management," noted Ryan Yates, American Farm Bureau Federation water rights specialist.

In protecting privately held water rights, prohibiting federal takings and upholding state water law, the bill would prohibit agencies within USDA and the Department of the Interior from imposing conditions through the permit process that would require the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew the federal permit for the use of land. It also would prohibit the secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from requiring water users to acquire rights for the United States rather than for the water users themselves. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Just in

Snarled Rail Traffic Affecting Agriculture

Washington--"Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries," a Wall Street Journal article published Thursday, detailed how shippers of all kinds of goods are coping with recent delays and losses. Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, pointed out in the article that continued rail capacity problems could hurt U.S. competitiveness in the world arena.

"Our reliability as a trading partner comes into question anytime we can't provide the most cost-competitive price in a predictable and timely manner," he said.

Monday, March 17, 2014

This weeks podcast

In this weeks podcast the farmers appearing in the documentary film meet the press. In the photo above Academy Award winning Director James Moll interviews one of the farmers in the production.

Just in

Farmers, Ranchers Cheer Passage of Water Rights Bill

Washington--The House of Representatives on Thursday approved H.R. 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act, on a 238-174 vote. The bill, introduced by Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), reaffirms longstanding federal and state laws and maintains the balance of individual and agency water rights that have existed for over a century and been repeatedly affirmed in statute and court rulings.

Farm Bureau worked hard to help get the bill passed and was successful in urging lawmakers to not support several amendments that would have been detrimental to agriculture.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Votes to Protect Water Rights from Federal Overreach
House passes legislation preventing agencies from hijacking water rights through land use permitting

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported legislation passed by the House of Representatives to protect water rights against overreach by the federal government.  Simpson is a cosponsor of H.R. 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act, which prohibits agencies from requiring the transfer of privately-held water rights to the federal government in order to obtain a permit to use federal land.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 238-174.

In a number of recent cases, the U.S. Forest Service has attempted to circumvent state water law by requiring those applying for a permit from the agency to turn over their privately-held water rights to the federal government.  H.R. 3189 would protect both privately-held water rights and state water laws by prohibiting federal water takings.  Simpson included a similar provision in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY14 when he chaired the subcommittee.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate blocked that language from the final bill.

“The Forest Service has no authority to force someone to hand state-issued and privately-held water-rights to the federal government,” said Simpson.  “In Idaho, threatening water rights is basically an attack on our way of life, and I won’t stand for the federal government trying to hijack water rights as a condition for issuing a permit.  If there was ever an argument for the supremacy of state water law, this is it, and I am pleased that the House has made this point by passing H.R. 3189.”

H.R. 3189 is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just in

Sheep Shearing time

Emmett--Two-thousand sheep move slowly down the road near Letha, Idaho on  there way to the shearing sheds of Soulen Livestock.

They will be sheared of their wool before heading to spring range where they will lamb in April.  

Our cameras will be there later in the week to capture the shearing process.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Just in

Ruling Issued on Commercial Use of Drones 

Washington--An administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board has ruled the Federal Aviation Administration cannot fine drone operators who use small drones for commercial use. This ruling allows the use of drones that fly below 400 feet and prevents the FAA from enforcing its policy notices that restrict the use of drones because the notices were not written within the federal rulemaking process. The FAA has not announced if it will appeal the decision. 

AFBF supports the use of drones for commercial purposes (i.e., agriculture, forestry and other natural resource use), and is initiating conversations with drone companies and the FAA to allow farmers and ranchers to use drones in their operations.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

County news

Gem County Hold Market Seminar for Members

Gem County--Farm Bureau marketing consultant Clark Johnston meets with Gem County farmers Monday morning.

Johnston focused on marketing, risk management, but also the futures market. Johnston says last year Brazil and China were aggressive buyers in the world wheat market.

 "China has a lot of mouths to feed and we're in a good place right now with our exports off the west coast." Johnston added they're going to be a good market for years to come for Idaho Wheat.

Just in

House Approves Bill to Ensure Reliable, Affordable Energy

Washington--The House on Thursday passed the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826), which would provide a more reasonable path forward than EPA's pending greenhouse gas regulations while also protecting U.S. jobs, economic growth and international competitiveness, according to the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, of which the American Farm Bureau Federation is a member. 

The bill addresses some of farmers' and ranchers' concerns about a number of new GHG regulations directed at the electric power sector.  By law, these regulations are supposed to be flexible and take into account cost and commercial availability.  In practice, however, EPA's proposed rules have been the exact opposite.