Monday, September 15, 2014

75th Anniversary Proclamation

Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a proclamation Friday observing the Idaho Farm Bureau's 75th Anniversary at the Idaho Statehouse Rotunda.

"This year, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation," said the Governor. For seven decades the organization has served as "The Voice of Idaho Agriculture."

Today marks the 75th year of Farm Bureau in Idaho.The organization was formed on this date back in September 1939 and was founded and is still run by its 70,000 member families.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just in

Farm Bureau urges Congress to bring common sense to Endangered Species Act 

 Washington–Cost-benefit analyses from regulatory agencies that enforce the Endangered Species Act is a must, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Since current rules account only for government expenditures, Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach said the often oppressive cost of ESA enforcement on the private sector gets ignored.

 “If over-zealous enforcement of federal laws, such as the ESA, were to hinder, disrupt or further burden our farmers and ranchers, we will not be able to sustainably raise the crops and livestock necessary to feed the 7 billion people currently on our planet, much less the 9 billion projected by 2050,” Veach said.

 Veach spoke before the House Committee on Natural Resources in support of the Common Sense in Species Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 4319). The bill would require federal agencies to show full economic justification before placing any land under the protection of a critical habitat designation, which often severely restricts farming and ranching in the affected area.

 In Arkansas, the proposed critical habitat for Neosho Mucket and Rabbitsfoot mussels would cover nearly 42 percent of the state’s watershed and approximately 770 waterway miles. Ninety percent of those waterways pass through private land. Veach called this regulatory overreach “irresponsible.” Veach is not alone in calling for more accurate accounting in ESA enforcement.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock recently estimated the cost of the habitat designation in Arkansas alone was five times that calculated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the 12 states included in the designation of these two aquatic species. Many Arkansas farmers already operate under some of the most significant regulatory constraints in the country. All are proud, committed stewards of the land, Veach said.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

House joins farmers in stand against EPA overreach 

Washington—More than just a clear rejection of the overreach that lies in EPA’s proposed “waters of the U.S.” rule, House passage on Sept. 9 of the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078) “is an unmistakable signal that the tide is turning against those who ignore the constitutional separation of powers in the United States,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “We will ditch this rule.”    

Farmers, ranchers and many others are opposed to the rule because it could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes. Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.    

The WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) would do the following three things: Prevent the agencies from using the rule as a basis for future administrative actions that would undermine the federal-state partnership or usurp Congress’ express authority to change the scope of the Clean Water Act through a redefinition of “waters of the United States”; prevent the agencies from developing guidance that would expand the scope of waters covered by the CWA; and prevent the agencies from implementing the interpretive rule.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Just in

Blink and you might miss them: Lawmakers return briefly to Capitol Hill

Washington—Congressional lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C., this week, but not for long. The House plans 12 legislative days before adjourning for the November election, while the Senate hopes to adjourn by Sept. 23. 

   With little time to waste, House lawmakers are expected this week to take up a bill that would prohibit EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from developing, finalizing, adopting, implementing, applying, administering, or enforcing the proposed "waters of the U.S.” rule.    

Farmers, ranchers and many others are opposed to the rule because it could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes. Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.    

The Farm Bureau-supported Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (H.R. 5078) would do the following three things: Prevent the agencies from using the rule as a basis for future administrative actions that would undermine the federal-state partnership or usurp Congress’ express authority to change the scope of the Clean Water Act through a redefinition of “waters of the United States”; prevent the agencies from developing guidance that would expand the scope of waters covered by the CWA; and prevent the agencies from implementing the interpretive rule.     

Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) will likely offer the Agricultural Conservation Flexibility Act (H.R. 5071) as an amendment to Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014. Ribble and Schrader’s measure, also backed by farmers and ranchers, clarifies that all soil and water conservation activities fall under the Clean Water Act Section 404(f)(1) exemption for normal farming, ranching, and silviculture activities.   
Whether the House bills will be taken up in the Senate remains very much up in the air. One issue that will almost certainly be addressed in both chambers is the federal government’s budget.  With mid-term elections looming, neither Republicans nor Democrats have any interest in dealing with even the remote possibility of another government shutdown. Over the August recess, Republican and Democratic leaders agreed on a plan to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government going through December, when lawmakers will return to wrap up their second session of the 113th Congress. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Just in

USDA Provides $328 Million to Conserve Wetlands and Farmland, Boost Economy

WASHINGTON–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that $328 million in conservation funding is being invested to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The USDA initiative will benefit wildlife and promote outdoor recreation and related sectors of the economy.
"Conservation easements help farmers and ranchers protect valuable agricultural lands from development, restore lands that are best suited for grazing, and return wetlands to their natural conditions," Vilsack said. "These easements are making a dramatic and positive impact for our food supply, rural communities and species habitat."
The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical wetlands and encourage producers to keep lands in farming and ranching. Approximately 380 projects nationwide were selected to protect and restore 32,000 acres of prime farmland, 45,000 acres of grasslands and 52,000 acres of wetlands. A summary ofACEP funding provided to each state can be found online.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just in

USDA Announces Loan Guarantee to Help Innovative Company Turn Waste Into Renewable Jet Fuel

LAS VEGAS- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has closed on a loan guarantee to Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels, to build a biorefinery to produce jet fuel from municipal solid waste.
"This represents a huge step forward in the development of clean, renewable, job-creating American fuels," Vilsack said during a speech at the National Clean Energy Conference. "The nation is entering a new energy age that will make us more energy independent, cut carbon pollution and strengthen our economy, especially in rural communities where clean fuels will be produced."
USDA is awarding Fulcrum a $105 million Biorefinery Assistance Program loan guarantee through Bank of America, N.A. to construct a facility in McCarran, Nev., to convert municipal solid waste to biodiesel jet fuel. USDA Rural Development's loan guarantee represents less than half of the $266 million project cost. The plant is expected to produce 11 million gallons of fuel annually.
This is the first loan guarantee USDA has made for the production of bio jet fuel.
Fulcrum will produce synthesis gas from 147,000 tons of municipal solid waste and catalytically convert it to synthetic paraffinic kerosene/jet fuel through a proprietary technology. The plant will be the first of what the company expects to be several bio jet fuel plants throughout the country.
Last month, Cathay Pacific Airways announced that it is investing in Fulcrum Bioenergy Inc., the parent company of Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels, LLC, and has negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for 375 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over 10 years. This would represent about 2 percent of the airline's annual fuel consumption.
USDA awarded the first loan guarantee in 2009 to Sapphire Energy in New Mexico. Sapphire has already paid off its $54.5 million loan guarantee. The program's current portfolio includes Fremont Community Digester, located in Fremont, Mich., which received a $12.8 million loan in 2011 to convert food and agricultural waste to biogas that is used as fuel to generate electricity. INEOS New Plant Bioenergy, located in Vero Beach, Fla., received a $75 million loan in 2011 to produce cellulosic ethanol from woody biomass and municipal solid waste.
USDA is negotiating three additional loans for biorefineries in Iowa, North Carolina and Oregon. These loans would provide financing to produce renewable fuels from woody biomass, municipal solid waste and energy grasses such as switch grass, miscanthus and arundo donax. One of these ventures will retrofit an existing corn ethanol facility to produce cellulosic ethanol.
Biorefineries have broad economic and environmental implications. They lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce dependence on foreign oil, give businesses and consumers more energy options and create jobs.
Congress established the Biorefinery Assistance Program in the 2008 Farm Bill. It reauthorized and extended the program in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Bill expands the program to include bio-based renewable chemicals and bio-based product manufacturing. USDA staff are working on regulations to set forth upcoming application terms for additional loan guarantees under the program.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just in

USDA Designates 3 Counties in Idaho as Primary Natural Disaster Areas
With Assistance to Producers in Surrounding Areas

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated  as 
primary natural disaster areas in two separate designations. 

“Our hearts go out to those Idaho farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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 Illinois producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”
Designation #1
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Jerome and Twin Falls counties primary natural disaster areas due to excessive rain that occurred Aug. 3-7, 2014.
Farmers and ranchers in Cassia, Gooding, Minidoka, Elmore, Lincoln and Owyhee counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farmers and ranchers in Elko County in Nevada also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Designation #2
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Clearwater County as a primary natural disaster area due to high winds and hail that occurred Aug. 14, 2014.
Farmers and ranchers in Idaho, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce and Shoshone counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farmers and ranchers in Mineral and Missoula counties in Montana also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Sept. 3, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. 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. A fact sheet on EM loans can be found online at: Emergency Loan Fact SheetFSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just in from Washington

Livestock Producers Urged to Enroll in Disaster Assistance Program by Oct. 1

Congressionally Mandated Payment Reductions to Take Effect at Beginning of New Fiscal Year
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging producers who have suffered eligible disaster-related losses to act to secure assistance by Sept. 30, 2014, as congressionally mandated payment reductions will take place for producers who have not acted before that date. Livestock producers that have experienced grazing losses since October 2011 and may be eligible for benefits but have not yet contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office should do so as soon as possible.
The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires USDA to implement reductions of 7.3 percent to the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2014. However, producers seeking LFP support who have scheduled appointments with their local FSA office before Oct. 1, even if the appointment occurs after Oct.1, will not see reductions in the amount of disaster relief they receive.
USDA is encouraging producers to register, request an appointment or begin a Livestock Forage Disaster Program application with their county FSA office before Oct. 1, 2014, to lock in the current zero percent sequestration rate. As an additional aid to qualified producers applying for LFP, the Farm Service's Agency has developed an online registration that enables farmers and ranchers to put their names on an electronic list before the deadline to avoid reductions in their disaster assistance. This is an alternative to visiting or contacting the county office. To place a name on the Livestock Forage Disaster Program list online, visit is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website..
Producers who already contacted the county office and have an appointment scheduled need do nothing more.
"In just four months since disaster assistance enrollments began, we've processed 240,000 applications to help farmers and ranchers who suffered losses," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Eligible producers who have not yet contacted their local FSA office should stop by or call their local FSA office, or sign up online before Oct. 1 when congressionally mandated payment reductions take effect. This will ensure they receive as much financial assistance as possible."
The Livestock Indemnity Program, the Tree Assistance Program and the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program Frost Freeze payments will also be cut by 7.3 percent on Oct. 1, 2014. Unlike the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, applications for these programs must be fully completed by Sept. 30. FSA offices will prioritize these applications, but as the full application process can take several days or more to complete, producers are encouraged to begin the application process as soon as possible.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program compensates eligible livestock producers who suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire between Oct. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2014. Eligible livestock includes alpacas, beef cattle, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep or swine that have been or would have been grazing the eligible grazing land or pastureland. Producers forced to liquidate their livestock may also be eligible for program benefits.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just in

USDA Announces First Quarter Sugar Feedstock Flexibility Program 

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Credit Corporation today announced that it does not expect to purchase sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program in fiscal year 2015. CCC is required to announce quarterly estimates of sugar to be purchased for the Feedstock Flexibility Program in a given crop year. USDA also announced fiscal year 2015 raw and refined sugar tariff-rate quotas.
Feedstock Flexibility Program
Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. Upon loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral sugar to USDA to satisfy the loan.
The Feedstock Flexibility Program was reauthorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill as an option to avoid sugar forfeitures. USDA's Aug. 12, 2014, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report ( projects a domestic fiscal year 2015 ending sugar stocks-to-use ratio of 6.9 percent. USDA has determined that sugar loan collateral forfeitures are unlikely.
The department will closely monitor stocks, consumption, imports, and all sugar market and program variables on an ongoing basis, and will continue to administer the sugar program as transparently as possible using the latest available data.
Sugar Tariff Rate Quotas
USDA is establishing the fiscal year 2015 traffic rate quota for raw cane sugar at 1,231,497 short tons raw value (1,117,195 metric tons raw value*), the minimum to which the United States is committed under the World Trade Organization Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. Pursuant to additional U.S. note 5 to chapter 17 of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule and section 359k of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, as amended, USDA published this decision in the Federal Register.
Raw cane sugar under this TRQ must be accompanied by a certificate of quota eligibility and may enter the United States until Sept. 30, 2015. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will allocate this TRQ among supplying countries and customs areas.
USDA is also establishing the fiscal year 2015 refined sugar TRQ at 139,993 short tons raw value (127,000 metric tons raw value). Of this quantity, 117,568 short tons raw value (106,656 metric tons raw value) is reserved for the importation of specialty sugars as defined by the USTR. The total refined sugar TRQ includes the 24,251 short tons raw value (22,000 metric tons raw value) minimum to which the United States is committed under the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, of which 1,825 short tons raw value (1,656 metric tons raw value) is reserved for specialty sugar.
Because the specialty sugar TRQ is first-come, first-served, tranches are needed to allow for orderly marketing throughout the year. The fiscal year 2015 specialty sugar TRQ will be opened in five tranches. The first, totaling 1,825 short tons raw value (1,656 metric tons raw value), will open Oct. 10, 2014. All specialty sugars are eligible for entry under this tranche. The second will open on Oct. 24, 2014, and be equal to 42,825 short tons raw value (38,850 metric tons raw value). The remaining three tranches will each be equal to 24,306 short tons raw value (22,050 metric tons raw value), with the third opening on Jan. 9, 2015; the fourth on April 10, 2015; and the fifth on July 10, 2015. The second, third, fourth, and fifth tranches will be reserved for organic sugar and other specialty sugars not currently produced commercially in the United States or reasonably available from domestic sources.
The USTR will allocate the refined TRQ, other than the amount reserved for specialty sugar, among supplying countries and customs areas.
* Conversion factor: 1 metric ton = 1.10231125 short tons.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The President's OP-ED

Gubernatorial Candidate Lacks Rural Perspective
By Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley
The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation does not endorse candidates for statewide offices. However, statements posted on Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate A.J. Balukoff’s website are reasons for rural voters to be concerned.
We believe Idaho voters should be aware of and informed about the candidate’s position on wolves, monument designations and several others. The following statement is one example:
“I think that was more about election-year politics than an attempt to create informed public policy. First of all, we don't need to spend $400,000 a year on another state board or bureaucracy to manage wolves—especially not when our state faces so many other critical needs, like public schools. That responsibility should fall within the state Department of Fish and Game, as does the management of all big game and other predators, like mountain lions, bears, and coyotes, in Idaho. Taking politically motivated steps that appear to threaten the viability of the wolf population solves no problem and creates two problems: first, it's the best way to encourage the federal government to step in and list the wolf as an endangered species again, removing state control; and second, it contributes to the negative "brand" our state government has been creating for Idaho among people across our country, nurturing the perception that we oppose conservation of a keystone species like the wolf.

If creation of a wolf control board qualifies as “election-year politics,” we’re not sure what wouldn’t qualify. In fact, the wolf control board was the product of a consensus reached by the livestock industry, legislators, Fish and Game biologists and experts from Wildlife Services, a federal agency charged with resolving wildlife interactions that threaten public health and safety, agricultural, property, and natural resources. The bill passed in the Idaho House by a vote of 49-16 and in the State Senate by a vote of 28-6. We would like to think that a competent gubernatorial candidate would know the difference between election year politics and actual problems.
The reason this money ($400,000) is needed to help manage wolves is because the federal government, (US Fish and Wildlife Service) pulled its wolf management money out of Idaho. Matching funds will be contributed by the livestock industry through increased brand renewal fees and by hunting and fishing license dollars. When the feds, who are responsible for reintroducing wolves in the first place, pulled their management funding, a large void was created. This isn’t a problem that the livestock industry should have to step in and solve. But in light of the fact that no one else was going to do it, hundreds of hardworking ranch families from across the state will make sacrifices to help manage a problem brought about by no fault of their own. We would like think that a competent gubernatorial candidate would know more about wolves in Idaho. 
The first thing we hope he can come to understand is that wolves are taking a toll on rural Idaho. Since 2009 wolves have killed about 400 cattle and 800 sheep in Idaho. Only about one in nine livestock depredations by wolves are actually confirmed. In other words, the numbers of confirmed kills are not a true reflection of actual wolf kills. Research conducted by the University of Montana has shown a correlation between wolf predation and lower weight gain in calves. Hunting outfitter businesses have suffered from lack of interest from out of state hunters due to wolves and declining elk herds. Hundreds of dogs and horses have also met an unfortunate fate due to the reintroduction of this predator. One dog was snatched out of a backyard near Troy when children played nearby. 
To us the wellbeing of rural Idaho families is more important than any negative “brand” that may or may not exist among people across the country with regard to how Idaho manages wolves. We would like to think that a competent gubernatorial candidate would care more about Idaho residents than the perceptions of people who live someplace else.
With regard to wolf conservation and sustaining a viable population in Idaho, no true stakeholder in this mess wants to see wolves back on the Endangered Species List and the federal red tape that would bring. Once again, we would expect a competent candidate to know this without playing into the hysteria and misinformation from animal rights extremists about Idaho seeking to exterminate wolves.
The wolf population in Idaho has grown far beyond expectations. The fact that wolf hunting success has increased every year since hunting began is a strong indicator that the population exceeds the official count. The fact that wolf populations in neighboring states continue to grow and expand their territories is further evidence that no one has a good handle on how many wolves we truly have in Idaho. It also disproves statements we hear about wolf populations reaching a plateau or declining. 
It’s shortsighted and unfortunate that Candidate Balukoff has chosen this topic as a platform for his campaign. We strongly encourage Idaho voters to study his positions on other wildlife, natural resources and agricultural topics before casting ballots this November.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Just in

Just-released EPA Maps Show Extent of WOTUS Overreach

Washington—Nationwide water and wetland maps assembled by the Environmental Protection Agency paint an astonishing picture of EPA’s plan to “control a huge amount of private property across the country,” according to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science Committee, which released the agency’s maps today.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Smith said that while the agency claims it has not yet used these maps to regulate, considering they were created just days after the agency released its sweeping “waters of the U.S.” proposal, it’s clear these maps were drafted with the purpose of regulation in mind.

In light of the ongoing rulemaking and the obvious questions these maps raise, Smith said EPA should: provide all documents and communications related to EPA’s contract with INDUS Corporation to create these maps; enter these and other previously undisclosed maps into the official rulemaking docket for public review; and keep the public comment period open for at least 60 days after the maps entry in the official rulemaking docket to provide adequate time for public comment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just in

Enrollment for New Dairy Farm Risk Management Program to Begin Sept. 2

USDA Launches New Web Tool to Help Producers Manage Unforeseen Economic Challenges
WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that starting Sept. 2, 2014, farmers can enroll in the new dairy Margin Protection Program. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also launched a new Web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the Margin Protection Program that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, Smartphone, tablet or any other platform, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We've made tremendous progress in implementing new risk management programs since the Farm Bill was signed over six months ago," said Vilsack. "This new program is another example of this Administration's commitment to provide effective safety net programs that allow farmers and ranchers to manage economic risks beyond their control. And the supplemental Web tool will empower the nation's 46,000 dairy producers to make decisions that make sense for them."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just in

Record Sugar Beet Crop Expected
Boise--Sugar Beet farmers say this years crop could top last year's record yield--but with higher sugar content.
Eight weeks of above 90, sometimes 100-degree heat, along with plentiful water helped. Amalgamated Sugar will start early harvest the week of September 9th, a full week ahead of schedule. The early season will start because processing last seasons crop dragged on till April, that caused beet quality to deteriorate.
Last season farmers had to replant in the Magic Valley yet recorded an average yield of 36.3 tons per acre. But sugar content averaged 15.87 percent, the lowest level in more than two decades. Sugar content should  be at least equal to the five-year average of 17 percent this year, but ideal conditions could drive it higher. Amalgamated intends to conduct its first sugar level testing next week.
The company’s crop size is estimated at 178,000 acres, thats down 4,000 acres from last season.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just in

Wheat harvest delayed

Boise--While most of the north wheat harvest is in, farmers are struggling in the east to get the crop in because of rain.

Eastern farmers went from harvest mode to salvage mode to save the crop, they worked to dry out the crop but the storms continued.

“We got 6 inches of rain in the past three weeks, when has that ever happened? Not in my lifetime,” said farmer Bryan Searle of Shelly. “We harvested one field when the rains came, we started the next and it rained, then we held off a couple days to dry out. Then it rained again, then we waited and started cutting again and then it started raining, we still don’t have all the wheat in,” added Searle.

The Wheat Commission's Blaine Jacobsen says harvest is mixed at best.“We've had quite a range in our harvest this year. We’ve had rain in Southern Idaho the first three weeks in August and thats been the divide. Wheat harvested prior to the rain is some of the best quality we’ve produced, a falling number of 4-500 and a test weights of 62-64.

I would say that two-thirds of our winter wheat was harvested prior to the rain. The wheat still in the field when the rains came, needs to be looked at and we’re encouraging the growers to bin each of their fields separately because its almost a field by field situation. Summer storms would come through and hit one field and not the next one.

Wheat that remains standing, we think is still in pretty good shape. Some of the wheat was beaten down and we’re seeing more sprout damage in the fallen wheat than standing wheat. It's still too early to assess the 2014 harvest because so much eastern wheat is still in wet fields.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Just in

New Report Shows Budget Impact of Rising Firefighting Costs

Secretary Vilsack Renews Call to Better Protect Public Forests from Wildfire Threats
WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new report showing that as the cost of fighting forest fires has rapidly increased over the last 20 years, the budgets for other forest programs, including those that can help prevent and mitigate fire damage, have substantially shrunk. The Forest Service's firefighting appropriation has rapidly risen as a proportion of the Forest Service's overall budget, increasing from 16 percent in 1995 to 42 percent today, forcing cuts in other budget areas.
"Climate change, drought, fuel buildup and insects and disease are increasing the severity of catastrophic wildfire in America's forests," Vilsack said. "In order to protect the public, the portion of the Forest Service budget dedicated to combatting fire has drastically increased from what it was 20 years ago. This has led to substantial cuts in other areas of the Forest Service budget, including efforts to keep forests healthy, reduce fire risk, and strengthen local economies."
Vilsack noted that on top of the budget reductions outlined in the new report, the Forest Service's non-fire program budgets are affected by "fire borrowing." Funds spent on fire suppression have exceeded the allocated amount in all but four years since 2000. In these cases, the shortfall is covered through transferring, or "borrowing" additional funds from Forest Service programs that have already been cut over the last 20 years. Secretary Vilsack renewed his request to Congress to allow an existing disaster fund to provide resources to fight catastrophic fires in years when Forest Service and Department of Interior fire costs exceed the amount Congress has budgeted, rather than forcing borrowing from non-fire programs.
"Bipartisan proposals to fund catastrophic fire like other natural disasters could help ensure that efforts to make forests more healthy and resilient and support local tourism economies aren't impacted as significantly as they have been in recent years," Vilsack said. "These proposals don't increase the deficit, they just budget smarter by allowing existing natural disaster funding to be used in cases of catastrophic wildfire."
Today's report shows the extent to which many Forest Service program budgets have been cut even before borrowing occurs to accommodate for the rapid rise in firefighting costs in the past 20 years.

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Presidents Op-Ed

    Whose Land is it?
     By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

    Americans, and especially Idahoans, love and cherish public lands. We take it for granted that they will always be there for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, we all are incrementally being shut out of “our” public lands by the federal “managers.”

    A few decades ago there was undeniably far more timber harvesting and livestock grazing on federally managed public lands. However, recreation is also being systematically shut down.  Nearly everyone who hikes, bikes, camps, hunts or rides motorized vehicles has seen roads closed and areas restricted. The federal agencies are concentrating more people and activities on fewer acres; then imposing additional limitations when their own policies cause greater impacts. Restrictions increase every year.

    Federal management is severely curtailing our outdoor opportunities. But what can be done about it? The best remedy would be to reclaim state management of public lands. This is the way it was supposed to work, but the feds have simply taken over where they were not authorized to do so. State management would solve many of the problems we face on public lands today, including burning up thousands of acres annually.

    A short history lesson may be helpful. Many of the thirteen original colonies had vast “territories” that they controlled to the west. To pay down the Revolutionary War debt, these new states agreed that they would cede their territories to the federal government for the sole purpose of creating new states that would become part of the new nation. The proceeds from the sale of the land to settlers would be used to pay off the debt.

    Later, as the U.S. acquired other territories through the Louisiana Purchase and later acquisitions, the covenant continued. New states that were admitted to the Union disclaimed the title to the “public” lands within their borders to the federal government with the agreement that the land would be disposed of (sold) to new settlers. Under this contract, state relinquishment of title was a legally necessary step; otherwise there would be a clouded title when the land was sold.

    This is why our Idaho Constitution states: “the people of the state of Idaho do agree and declare that we forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof . . . and until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be subject to the disposition (sale) of the United States.” 

    However, we agreed to disclaim title only, not management nor jurisdiction. The federal government never expected to manage the land, just hold the title until the land was disposed of. This promise to dispose of the land was eventually kept with all states east of Colorado, but not with the western states, even though the contract with all states is the same.

    Furthermore, the purpose of the US Constitution is to limit the authority of the federal government to specifically enumerated items. Other than for those limited purposes, the federal government is only authorized to exercise jurisdiction over a few specifically mentioned places, such as military bases. All other areas within state boundaries are to be managed under the jurisdiction of the states.

    Therefore, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from exercising management authority on public lands within states, even if we had agreed to relinquish management or legislative authority over the land, which we didn’t, it would not be valid.

    By every measure, the 2.4 million acres of Idaho’s state managed lands are more productive, healthier and better managed than the 32 million acres of federally managed lands. Wouldn’t it be far better for recreation and resource decisions to be made here locally than back in DC by some bureaucrat who has never set foot in Idaho?

    Idaho is great in spite of its poorly managed federal “public” lands, not because of them. State management of all public lands in Idaho would not only provide better opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, but would be a tremendous boon to our economy, restoring good paying, resource based jobs. We can have both. 

    The Idaho Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau both have clear policy supporting the states’ right to manage the public lands within their borders. As Utah and other western states work to reclaim state management of their public lands, Idaho must strongly support these efforts. “Our” public lands are not truly ours until we reclaim our right to manage the public lands within our borders.

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Just in

    USDA Reminds Idaho Producers of Important Procedures for Filing Crop Insurance Claims

    SPOKANE— The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency reminds Idaho producers affected by recent excessive rain and hail related crop damage of important procedures for claiming losses under the federal crop insurance program.  All producers should refer to their crop insurance policies for complete details on providing notice of damage or loss.

    In general, producers must give notice within 72 hours of the initial discovery of damage or loss of production of a planted crop, but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period. Additional provisions and timelines apply to crops insured with revenue protection. In the event there is no damage or loss of production for those who elect revenue coverage, producers must give notice no later than 45 days after the latest date the harvest price is released for any crop in the unit where there may be a revenue loss.

    Losses may be reported by telephone or in person to a crop insurance agent within 72 hours, but must be confirmed in writing within 15 days. It is important that producers do not dispose of the crops without contacting their insurance agent. Producers must get written consent from their insurance company before destroying any of the insured crop that is not harvested or put to another use, putting the acreage to another use, or abandoning any portion of the insured crop. Timely notices of damage and loss adjustment are extremely important for all crops.

    For more information on duties in the event of damage, loss, abandonment, destruction, or alternative use of the crop or acreage, producers should refer to their individual crop insurance policies and contact their crop insurance agents.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Just in

    Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report

    WASHINGTON-Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families, also known as the Cost of Raising a Child. The report shows that a middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about $245,340 for food, housing, childcare and education, and other child-rearing expenses up to age 18. Costs associated with pregnancy or expenses occurred after age 18, such as higher education, are not included.
    While this represents an overall 1.8 percent increase from 2012, the percentages spent on each expenditure category remain the same. As in the past, the costs by location are lower in the urban South ($230,610) and rural ($193,590) regions of the country. Families in the urban Northeast incurred the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).
    "In today's economy, it's important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future," said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. "In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments."
    The report, issued annually, is based on data from the federal government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures. For the year 2013, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,800 to $14,970, depending on the age of the child.
    The report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), notes that family income affects child-rearing costs. A family earning less than $61,530 per year can expect to spend a total of $176,550 (in 2013 dollars) on a child from birth up to age 18. Middle-income** parents with an income between $61,530 and $106,540 can expect to spend $245,340; and a family earning more than $106,540 can expect to spend $407,820.
    "Food is among the top three expenses in raising children," said CNPP Executive Director Angela Tagtow. "Parents have the challenge of providing food that is not only healthful and delicious, but also affordable. We have great resources such as that features tips to help families serve nutritious and affordable meals. I encourage parents to check out our Healthy Eating On a Budget resources, 10-Tips Nutrition Seriesrecipes, and MyPlate Kids' Place, which features digital games for kids to get engaged themselves in healthy eating."
    In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) to raise a child until the age of 18. Housing was the largest child-rearing expense both then and now. Health care expenses for a child have doubled as a percentage of total child-rearing costs during that time. In addition, some common current-day costs, such as child care, were negligible in 1960.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Just in from Washington

    American Farm Bureau to court: Stop EPA privacy abuses

    Privacy-small Washington—The Environmental Protection Agency’s public release of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information violates basic tenets of federal law, the American Farm Bureau Federation told a Minnesota federal court late Friday.   

    The EPA surprised the farming and ranching community in early 2013 when it publicly released a massive database of personal information about tens of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers, ranchers and their families in 29 states. The information was distributed to three environmental groups that had filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The database included the names of farmers, ranchers and sometimes other family members, home addresses, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers and emails.      

    “The EPA is displaying a callous disregard for basic privacy rights,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “EPA believes that if information about you can be found somewhere on the Internet, or if you own a closely held family corporation, you have no interest in protecting your personal information. All citizens should be worried about that, not just farmers and ranchers.”     

    AFBF’s court filing argues that privacy interests are particularly strong for farming and ranching families, who typically have multiple generations living and working on the farm. The lawsuit cites a Freedom of Information Act exemption aimed at preventing federal agencies from publicly releasing personal information held in agency files.    

    “We wholeheartedly support government transparency, but we insist on protecting the privacy of farm and ranch families,” Stallman said.

    AFBF, joined by the National Pork Producers Council, filed the lawsuit last July to block EPA from responding to new FOIA requests seeking information about farmers and ranchers in six additional states. EPA agreed not to release further information pending the court’s decision in this lawsuit. AFBF’s latest filing asks the court for a permanent order preventing future disclosures of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information in response to similar requests.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Just in

    Farm Bureau on USDA Report: Worldwide Corn Yields Up; WheatToo

    WASHINGTON – The USDA’s latest report on agricultural supply and demand for the 2014-2015 marketing year suggests supplies will continue to be on the tight side for key U.S. crops despite record harvests, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.
    “The most interesting feature of today’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report is the projected corn yield of 167.4 bushels per acre,” Farm Bureau Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. “That is up from 165.3 bushels per acre a month ago, which pushes projected U.S. corn production to just over 14 billion bushels. That’s a record.”
    Increases in projected corn use largely offset the higher production, leaving stocks projections almost flat at just 7 million bushels above last month’s estimate, Anderson said.
    Prices are expected to trend upwards even so, since earlier forecasts had put production at about 170 bushels per acre. “Projected corn production of 14.032 billion bushels is still massive, but it is probably about 200 million bushels below what the market had expected,” he said.
    The bullish U.S. corn numbers were offset by less favorable world numbers for feed grains and wheat. Global feed grain production estimates, for example, rose by 4.9 million metric tons (MMT) over last month due not just to higher U.S. production, but higher EU corn production and higher barley production in the former Soviet zone, too. Projected global feed grain carryover for 2014-15 rose 2.7 MMT month over month.
    Projected global wheat production, meanwhile, rose 10.9 MMT to an expected record 716.1 MMT. Carryover is expected to rise 3.4 MMT as a result.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Just in

    Wheat prices still low
    Moscow--At Fleeners farm outside of Moscow the winter wheat crop is nearly harvested.The latest USDA supply and demand estimate projects higher production and stocks for U.S. and global wheat production. Wheat prices will stay low until more demand is found, market analysts say. The department raised projections for U.S. wheat supplies for the 2014-2015 crop year in its Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate, citing an increase in hard red winter wheat production forecasts, as well as smaller increases for soft red winter, hard red spring and durum.
    The USDA projected U.S. wheat ending stocks at 18.05 million metric tons, up from 17.97 million metric tons projected in July and 16.05 million metric tons in 2013. (Ritter photo)

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Just in

    Drones take center stage at IDEAg Dakotafest

    SCHAUMBURG, Illinois – Day 2 of the IDEAg Dakotafest show will focus on the latest technological break-through in agriculture: drones. The IDEAg Group is teaming up with Measure, A 32 Advisors Company, to discuss Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and their uses in the field, and to display a sophisticated device, the ScanEagle from Boeing/Insitu.
    Measure will begin Wednesday August 20th at 7:30 a.m. with a special session, A Game Changer if Managed Properly: Drones for Precision Agriculture, held at Mitchell Technical Institute. The session will discuss potential use cases for drones in agriculture and critical issues to be aware of when considering this technology, including when to operate, how to finance drones, and ensuring all regulatory requirements are met. Boeing/Insitu will join Measure on the panel.
    "We are pleased to be the drone sponsor for Dakotafest by IDEAg. Measure provides Drone as a Service for our clients; we're the general contractor who ensures that all aspects of drone use are handled, and that operational gains more than cover the cost. We look forward to sharing our insights with the industry but, more important, learning from farmers at Dakotafest," said Justin P. Oberman, President of Measure, A 32 Advisors Company.
    Later in the day, SDSU Extension will be partnering with Measure, for a presentation and demonstration of the future of unmanned aerial vehicles in agriculture. The 3 p.m. panel will focus on the almost limitless applications for agriculture drone use and how, within the next decade, farmers & ranchers will be able to monitor crops and cattle with precision, efficiency and at a fraction of the costs and time.
    “IDEAg is proud to have Measure as the Official Drone Sponsor at Dakotafest,” says Raymond Bianchi, Senior Director of Expositions & Events for IDEAg Group, “We think that their insights and information will be invaluable to our attendees on this important topic”
    In addition to presentations by Measure, A 32 Advisors Company, the South Dakota Farm Bureau will conduct demo flights as part of the drone education at Dakotafest.
    More information on IDEAg Dakotafest can be found at More information on Measure can be found at
    IDEAg Dakotafest is property of IDEAg Group, LLC. The group delivers an optimal experience to attendees, exhibitors and industry thought leaders in the agriculture market. Through its established farm show events and Feed & Grain Magazine, the IDEAg Group is dedicated to bringing interactive, content-rich, high-value events to the marketplace, connecting top-level producers to the providers across the country. The IDEAg Group offers interactive events, publications and media products that are produced “For Agriculture. By Agriculture”
    Other upcoming IDEAg shows include the Amarillo Farm & Ranch Show (Dec. 2-4) in Amarillo, Texas; and the Northern Illinois Farm Show (Jan. 7-8) in DeKalb, Illinois. Learn more at

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Just in

    USDA Announces Selection of Advisory Committee Members to Help Guide Management of Public Forests and Grasslands

    WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday announced the selection of 21 new members to the Planning Rule Federal Advisory Committee (FACA), which provides guidance and recommendations on management of America's national forests on Planning Rule implementation of the 2012 Planning Rule. The Planning Rule continues to guide stewards of national forests and grasslands in developing, revising or amending land management plans.
    "Members of the Planning Rule Advisory Committee help us strengthen ecological, social, economic and cultural sustainability objectives," said Vilsack. "The rule will allow the creation of management plans that will protect and restore National Forest System lands in order to sustain communities and protect natural resources."

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    Just in

    House approves significant Endangered Species Act improvements

    Washington—The House of Representatives earlier this month passed landmark legislation aimed at integrating commonsense transparency and accountability reforms into the Endangered Species Act. The Farm Bureau-supported 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act (H.R. 4315) would update and improve the processes and procedures that the ESA established 40 years ago so that they better serve the needs of the public and the people most affected by the law.

    “Thus far, agency coordination with farmers and ranchers is often lacking and at best inconsistent,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).  “Listing decisions are often made using outdated, insufficient or inaccurate data that is not always publicly available.”

    Too often, Stallman continued, ESA has been used to prevent farmers and ranchers from working their privately owned land, while little has been accomplished in the way of recovering imperiled species.   

    The 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act, which was expanded to include a series of bills related to ESA reform, addresses the problems Stallman noted in his letter by making ESA decisions more transparent and strengthening state and local involvement in ESA listing decisions and use of state data. The measure also provides transparency on ESA litigation costs and payment of attorney’s fees and makes ESA attorneys’ fee payments reasonable to ensure that scarce taxpayer dollars are prioritized.
    - See more at:

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Just in

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Provides Six-Month Update on Farm Bill Implementation Progress

    WASHINGTON— Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced continued progress on implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), which President Obama signed into law nearly six months ago on Feb. 7, 2014. The 2014 Farm Bill reforms agricultural policy, reduces the deficit, and helps grow America's economy.
    "I am pleased to report that we have made tremendous progress in the first six months since the Farm Bill was signed," Vilsack said. "Thousands of farmers and ranchers have received critical disaster assistance, innovative new conservation programs are up and running, new risk management programs for producers are available with more tools to come, the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research has been incorporated, and much more. Thanks to the hard work of thousands of USDA employees across the country, we are continuing to get new initiatives off the ground and make important reforms to existing programs that are helping to boost the country's economy."
    Since the Farm Bill was signed into law, USDA has made progress throughout all 12 titles of the 2014 Farm Bill.
    Among the first major Farm Bill initiatives to be implemented were disaster relief programs for livestock producers, many of whom have been waiting years for assistance. After the 2008 Farm Bill passed, it took over one year to set up disaster assistance programs. In 2014, it took under 10 weeks. As of July 31, 2014, approximately 165,000 claims have been processed totaling $1.85 billion disbursed through the Livestock Indemnity Program, Livestock Forage Disaster Program, and Tree Assistance Program.
    The 2014 Farm Bill established new risk management programs for producers, some of which USDA is in the process of developing and others that are in operation already. In May, USDA awarded $3 million to the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M to develop online tools and outreach training that will help farmers and ranchers determine which new risk management options can best protect their businesses. USDA also awarded $3 million to state Cooperative Extension services to provide in-person education to help producers make the most educated decisions regarding new Farm Bill programs.