Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rate change



Theres change brewing on the Idaho range

Boise-The Idaho Department of Lands wants to modify the grazing rate charged to ranchers on Idaho Endowment Lands and rancher Cody Chandler wants ranchers to get involved and comment on the IDL website before September 1st.

From Capitol Hill



New Legislation Would Delay Log-book Device Requirements for Truck Drivers

Washington—A new bill on Capitol Hill will bring a much-needed delay to the problematic electronic logging device mandate for certain drivers, which is set to go into effect in December, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Farm Bureau-backed ELD Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 3282) delays the mandate for two years to allow drivers and truck companies to address a lot of unresolved issues.

“This delay is necessary to adequately account for costs, allay technology concerns, minimize impacts to livestock and other live animals under our members’ care and allow for the proper training to ensure uniform compliance and enforcement,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas).

Unless Congress acts, carriers and drivers who are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD rule must install and use ELDs by Dec. 18. While most farmers and ranchers should be exempt because they can claim covered farm vehicle status, drivers who haul livestock, live fish and insects are likely to fall under the requirements.

Drivers who have to use ELDs would be limited to current hours of service rules, which restrict a driver to only 14 “on duty” hours, with no more than 11 active driving hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, he must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours, which would be problematic when transporting livestock and other live animals.

The requirements imposed by the mandate would be harmful to both small business owners, who could be forced out of the marketplace, and livestock, which could suffer if they were no longer hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers and stockmen, Duvall wrote.

“Time spent on a truck can be stressful for cattle and other live animals. Unnecessary stops or multiple loads and unloads add additional stress resulting in potential livestock weight loss and increased animal sickness and death,” he said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eclipse 2017


This road north of Weiser is dead center in the eclipse path of the totality, its also on the Chandler ranch


Eclipse County Prepares for Worst

Weiser—As the eclipse nears, Washington County officials are bracing for the crush of people expected to gather under the path of eclipse totality. 

Next Monday the population of the county could triple and  beside that, their biggest fear is wildfire.

“The main thing we’re concerned with is the fire danger and our ability to fight fires. We worry about law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services to meet the needs of people. This is a hard thing to prepare for because we don't know whats going to happen,” said Washington County Commissioner Kirk Chandler.

Chandler says his office could see as many as a 100,000 visitors, another study predicted just 10-thousand. Nonetheless, Chandler says just 10-15-thousand visitors could grid lock tiny Washington County. One study shows that Weiser is the closest eclipse location in the path of totality for the 38-million people living in nearby metro areas Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“It’s frustrating because we don't have any idea how many people, we hear of new groups and more people everyday and we have to plan for that, we hope this week when people start showing up that we can get an idea and plan accordingly,” said Chandler.

After record snowfall and precipitation this spring, tall grass in Washington County is at record levels and in some places is over a foot high. Ranchers met with Commissioners last week. Some wanted to close roads to keep people from touching off wildfires on the range.

“We’ve considered that but most of those road access public lands and it would put the County at a huge liability to close off public lands. The Sheriff is meeting with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. The Forest Service is not closing any of their roads, we know people are getting maps and they intend to go there,” said Chandler.

Chandler says in Washington County landowners can post no trespassing signs on their land and protect it, but for the most part roads will be open as usual. Rancher, next door neighbor and son, Cody Chandler says his land is at ground zero. It is touted as the most optimal spot in the Pacific Northwest to view the eclipse.

“My biggest concern is the fact that ground on both sides of the road have fuel loads more than a foot high. This is where we graze our cattle, especially in the fall. A lot of this feed will get us through the middle of winter and there is a lot of fuel for fire. All it takes is a single car pulling off the road with a hot muffler touching off a range fire. I think if it happens, it would be just about unstoppable,” said Cody Chandler.

Chandler urges motorists to stay on the roadside and do not drive off gravel shoulder. If you see tall grass, don’t drive into it. 

“Keep hot exhaust pipes and anything that can ignite wildfire away from the tall grass. We will have visitors that have never been around brown grass. A cigarette butt or anything like that could ignite this grass in an instant and it’s our worst fear,” added Chandler.

Commissioner Chandler says his ranch is bordered by two county roads and says he's been burned out in the past because of careless motorists. With all the threats at home and in the county they’re taking no chances next week.

“We’re setting up an Incident Command Center that starts this Friday. We’ll set up HAM radios in case the cell towers get over loaded and we’ll be in touch with the Idaho Command Center. We declared a disaster in our county due to the eclipse way back on the 19th of June just as a precaution,” said Kirk Chandler.

Washington County suffered through a four-month disaster when buildings started collapsing under the weight of deep snow starting last January. The County had 228 buildings collapse and it took out $2.4 million dollars in County assessed value. Their command center operated all winter from the snow and into June with spring flooding.

“We have an idea of what to do, but a fire is much more complex for the Country.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

USDA Supply and Demand Estimates report

USDA says Wheat, Corn yields up this year



Washington-Farmers hoping for a good crop report last Thursday had their hopes dashed by the USDA’s predictions of strong wheat and corn yields. So much that the report dropped the futures market on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“This is a pretty big shock to the market,” said John Newton, the director for market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Market watchers expected the new forecasts in USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report to push yield estimates down for both crops, Newton said, but it was the opposite.

The new USDA report – the forecast for this year’s corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton – is predicting the average corn yield at 169.5 bushels per acre. That slightly below the August prediction, but up sharply from market expectations of about 166 bushels, Newton said.

“We’re right on the trend line in terms of yield, but that puts us above the trade expectations,” USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson said today about the new corn numbers.

The report pegged total corn production at 14.2 billion bushels, a 102 million bushel decrease from the July projection. If achieved, that would represent a 7 percent drop from last year, but still the third highest yield and production on record for the US.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service interviewed more than 21,000 farmers in the largest farming states that make up 75 percent of US. production.

“It’s just completely bearish news across the board for corn and soybeans at a time when farm income and commodity prices are already so low,” Newton said. The reports sent commodity prices in a tailspin. September corn finished the day 15 cents lower; September soybeans dropped 32 cents.

Thursday’s reports also projected a one percent decrease in wheat production from July estimates. Yet yields could make up for the cut back in wheat production. This month’s WASDE is based on pre-Aug. 1 data, so the situation could still change, according to a Farm Bureau analysis released today.

“With the 2017/18 crop still in the ground, a significant amount of uncertainty remains,” the AFBF report stressed. “Given that many fields are far from maturity, these yields and production numbers are subject to revision in the coming months.”

USDA’s Johansson agreed, saying: “We still have a month of weather to push the soybean numbers around a little bit.”

For now, though, the situation is grim.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty left, but I certainly think that a lot of folks were hoping to see yields come down a little bit and provide an opportunity to lock in some more favorable prices for some of that new crop,” Newton said. “That’s certainly not the case after Thursday’s report.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farm Bureau Scholarship Winner


Beth Carter of the Ada County Farm Bureau presents Ross Blattner of Kuna a Farm Bureau state scholarship. Blattner will attend the University of Idaho this fall with hopes of earning an Ag Systems Management degree. 

Analysis

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle takes the floor at the AFBF House of Delegates
AFBF Policy Analysis Versus Policy Development

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation has a long and proud history of carefully evaluating the economics of policy proposals in order to understand potential pitfalls and other unintended consequences. At the same time AFBF has, since its inception, had a well-defined process for determining the organization’s policy positions. Each year the organization’s delegate body of farmer and rancher members deliberates and responds to challenges facing agriculture.

Following the Delegates work, the AFBF Board of Directors interprets and gives direction to AFBF staff to proceed with advocacy actions to communicate the message from farmers and ranchers to leaders in all branches of government.

With Congress moving past the opening days of debate on the next farm bill, AFBF economists will once again take up the challenge of analyzing the effects of various policy alternatives. Two recent analysis pieces look at two specific commodities – cotton and dairy – that are facing challenges in terms of the federal safety nets (Are MPP Dairy Improvements on the Way? and Cotton Coming Back in Title I?). These commodities have been subjected to considerable discussion by Farm Bureau members, as well as by AFBF’s Board of Directors.

The Congressional Budget Office’s June 2017 Baseline for Farm Programs reveals that both of these commodities, under the current Farm Bill, have very limited safety net support: 2017 to 2027 budget outlays for dairy are estimated at $839 million and for cotton these outlays are estimated at $874 million. Based on these CBO projections, program payments for cotton and dairy represent 1.5 percent and 0.18 percent of the of the farm value of these commodities, respectively.

This means that in order to provide additional support in the near term, as is being proposed in the Senate Ag appropriations measure, resources will need to found and likely to also require finding 60 votes when the measure comes to the Senate floor. These political realities point to why the analysis has been done and critical to helping Farm Bureau, from the grassroots members to leadership, evaluate and determine our position and advocating from that decision.

To state it another way, the purpose of economic analysis is to help inform the membership and the leadership of Farm Bureau on the potential effects of these proposals on farmers and ranchers. It is not a Farm Bureau policy position, which is the purview of the membership and the Board. Analysis can help inform that process, but will never – should never – replace it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cricket infestation

Crickets invade Southwest Idaho

Weiser-Washington County rancher Cody Chandler says he's not only running cattle on his ranch but millions of Mormon crickets on the range north of Mann Creek reservoir.

“When they graze on the range they strip the wheat grass of everything, including the seeds,” said Chandler. “In the aftermath the wheat grass is gone and next year we won’t be able to get enough feed off it, so we might have to feed hay and that’ll cost us a lot of cash.”

Mormon crickets have hit parts of Southwest Idaho hard, especially in Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties. But there are also scattered damage reports coming in from Gem and Elmore County according to the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

Washington County Ranchers face the creepy Mormon cricket every 4-5 years. Chandler says the destruction is very fire-like in that they move in paths where they’ll take out a 10 yard swath and the rest of the field is fine. They lay eggs as they go and have turned some roadways into stinky, bug slicks. A few years ago crickets caused car wrecks on Highway 95 where they crossed the road by the millions.

Mann Creek Camp ground north of Weiser is gearing up for the eclipse and will have a full house during that weekend. The prime facility is not only in the path of totality for the eclipse but also for Mormon crickets.

“There’s a lot of crickets but it’s manageable,” said Forest Service Host Dean Kessler. “It was worse a few days ago, they’re back near the creek in the Northwest corner. We’re going to try and bait them away from the campsites, but the numbers are declining.”

Cody Chandler says that the infestation is bad. “This years infestation is worse than 2013. They’re bigger this year, about 3 inches long and where they’re bunched up, there’s an odor.”

The bugs are named after Mormon pioneers who moved west in the late 1840’s and suffered an infestation during their first crop. The pioneers saw firsthand the devastating effect on pastures, gardens and grain fields.

Localized cricket infestations happen every year in Idaho, different cycles in different places according to Lloyd Knight of the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

The USDA says that spreading bait is the best way of killing crickets. Since the crickets are cannibals, they’ll kill other crickets and eat them when they run short of food.

Chandler said that he first noticed the crickets two weeks ago when he was riding his range north of Weiser. He said the crickets showed up over night but says they’re thinning out right now and should be gone in a week or two, but the bugs have destroyed prime range land.

“The crickets are the biggest I’ve seen, they’re all over three inches and jet black. I can’t get over the smell. They baited them up over the hill by air. I rode over there and it smelled like dead cattle,” said Chandler.

A USDA website says the crickets do the most damage to alfalfa and wheat fields and says farmers can curb crop damage by baiting insects. The State Department of Agriculture is passing out carbaryl bait to farms 5 acres or larger for free.

“The bait works as long as you can get the crickets to stop and eat. When they're moving they’ll crawl right over it. But if they stop and eat, you got ‘em,” said Kessler.

Chandler says the crickets are finally in decline.

“I’ve counted up to 50 per square yard when they first came out, but they’re dying off now and you’ll only see about five per square yard,” said Chandler.

The crickets have moved away from the Chandler ranch house, but they’re still on the move three miles north. For now the rancher and his family are breathing sighs of relief.

“I hate those stinky bugs,” said Chandler.











Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sage Grouse ruling



Sage Grouse ruling will re-open the Western Range

Washington--Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants the Bureau of Land Management to look at different ways to open up more sage-grouse habitat to grazing, oil and gas development.

Show Season





Rupert--It's fair season across Idaho and its a busy time for farm families. The Nalder family out of Rupert is in the thick of showing livestock. Three members of the Nalder family showed prized pigs at the Minidoka County this past week and they all brought home ribbons!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hay market prices on the rise



Drought Deepens, Ripples Hay Market

Washington—The Northern Plains continues to have very dry conditions and over the last month has progressively worsened on the drought monitor.

Last week, it was estimated that as much as 30 percent of the High Plains region, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas are experiencing moderate to severe drought.  Montana has also been greatly impacted with as much as 50 percent of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, and almost 25 percent in the extreme drought category.

Not only are these drought conditions impacting corn, soybean, and spring wheat conditions, this intensity is also reflected in the pasture and range conditions released weekly by USDA NASS. Over 50 percent of the pasture and range is in critical conditions, rating poor and very poor, in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Inadequate pastures have led to cattle moving south much earlier and at lighter weights than are typically seen. Cattle on Feed for June showed large increases in the year over year figures in categories under 800 pounds. Cattle placed under 600 pounds were up 30 percent compared to 2016. In addition, USDA had announced multiple initiatives allowing for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands and there have been reports of roadside baling.

One of the signposts of inadequate pasture conditions is supplemental feeding, and although some cattle have moved, other livestock may still require additional feed supplies. Other hay prices have risen dramatically in the Dakotas and surrounding states. Average other hay prices from January through June are 15 percent and 16 percent higher than last year in Montana and North Dakota, respectively. South Dakota, although year-to-date is below year ago levels, has seen other hay prices increase 22 percent in the month of June. Minnesota other hay prices are up 25 percent in June.

Hay prices will likely increase in surrounding states as the drought continues and deepens. Similar to droughts seen in the Midwest and the Southern Plains, this drought will likely have a lasting effect. Because of the short growing season in the Northern Plains and lower cuttings per acre, the implications are likely to affect stocks going into the next winter and over a much larger footprint than the drought area as supplies are drawn from other areas of the country. The High Plains corridor is typically the highest producing other hay states in the country. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana all fall within the top 10 all hay producing states in a typical year.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tax Reform



Tax Reform Crucial for America’s Farmers, Ranchers

Washington—Congressional leaders and administration officials have released a statement on tax reform that addresses many issues of importance to America’s farm and ranch families.

The following statement about that action may be attributed to Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation:

“America’s farmers and ranchers are encouraged to see that key congressional leaders and the administration understand how important tax reform is to all Americans. Fixing our tax system now is crucial to creating economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other family-owned businesses. This is especially important as farmers continue to face down tough economic challenges.”

“This move sets the stage for Congress to put tax reform on its agenda. Not only will reform strengthen our economy, but by addressing key issues like overall tax rates, capital gains taxes and enhanced expensing, it will be good for farms and other businesses.”

“Our farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges and it is important to recognize this creates special circumstances in regard to taxes. We look forward to working with Congress to move tax reform forward and do it in a way that benefits farm and ranch families and all Americans.”

Rate change

Theres change brewing on the Idaho range Boise-The Idaho Department of Lands wants to modify the grazing rate charged to ranchers on Ida...