Wednesday, December 12, 2018

AFBF Endorses 2018 Farm Bill


Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation’s board of directors today voted unanimously to endorse final approval of the 2018 farm bill on the strength of its comprehensive provisions that support production agriculture, including measures related to risk management, crop insurance and programs that facilitate market development.

“This 2018 farm bill is a complete package – one that will serve all Americans,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farm and ranch families in particular will find a good degree of risk management support they need to help them weather the prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy that many of us are facing. Next year, we are going to face continued challenges across farm and ranch country, and this new farm bill gives us the tools we will need to weather this ongoing storm.”

Duvall said the AFBF board expressed its appreciation to House and Senate agricultural leaders – Senators Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow and Representatives Michael Conaway and Collin Peterson – for the months of hard work they invested in crafting the bill.

“We are thankful the Agriculture committees have stayed true to their mission to serve the American farmer and rancher and our nation’s consumers,” Duvall said. “We call on Congress to pass the final bill, and we encourage President Trump to sign it.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Farm Bureau Applauds New EPA Clean Water Rule


Washington--State Farm Bureau presidents from across the nation attended an event today at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to witness the signing of the proposed Clean Water Rule. The following statement regarding the new Clean Water Rule can be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants.

“We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common-sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.

“We appreciate the months of hard work that the administration, especially the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, invested in making sure the new Clean Water Rule was done right. Unlike the 2015 WOTUS rule, this new rule protects our resources, respects the law and provides greater clarity so the agencies and the public can identify regulated federal waterways. We will further analyze this new rule in the coming days and will suggest further refinements during the comment period.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

AFBF to Host 2019 Policy Roundtable Series


Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation and Informa Agribusiness Consulting are collaborating to host six economic and policy roundtables in 2019. The 2019 Policy Roundtable Series provides a forum for policy and agribusiness leaders to network and stay abreast of fast-moving economic and policy issues affecting agriculture and the agribusiness community.

“Informa’s policy roundtables have a rich tradition of bringing together policy and agribusiness leaders from around the world to review the challenges and opportunities for U.S. agriculture,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “We are excited to bring this roundtable series to American Farm Bureau Federation’s headquarters and to share our grassroots-developed policies.”

According to Joe Somers, vice president at Informa, “The series is dedicated to understanding and helping clients contend with policy changes that will shape the future of U.S. agriculture, trade, environmental and energy policies. The Roundtable offers clients the opportunity to stay informed of developments as they occur, and gain unique insight from and interact with top government and industry leaders on the many issues that emerge in this debate.”

The Policy Roundtable Series will bring together a unique combination of agricultural information in the areas of policy, marketing, legislation and consumer and environmental concerns. Sessions will include policy updates from AFBF and Informa Agribusiness Consulting experts as well as invited subject matter experts.

The Informa Agribusiness Consulting 2019 Policy Roundtable Series hosted by AFBF at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., will be held six times in 2019: Feb. 13, April 3, May 22, June 26, Sept. 18 and Oct. 30.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Farm Bureau delegates support aggressive action on wolves


BOISE – During their annual meeting Dec. 4-6, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members voted to support a more aggressive approach to controlling problem wolves during winter months, when it is easier to track them because of the snow.
 
The decision was made during IFBF’s 79th Annual Meeting, which was held at the Riverside Hotel in Boise.
 
Voting delegates from IFBF’s 37 county Farm Bureau organizations voted unanimously to support a mandate from the legislature to state fish and game officials to allow Wildlife Services to more aggressively control problem wolves during winter months.
 
Wildlife Services is a federal agency that partners with the state to solve conflicts between humans and animals.
 
According to WS, wolf kills of Idaho livestock hit a record 113 during fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30.
 
“In (fiscal 2019), we will have at least half again as many wolf depredations as we had (last year),” said Cascade cattle rancher Phil Davis, who has suffered about 70 wolf depredations on his property since the predators were re-introduced to Idaho in 1994-95.
 
“The wolf situation has gotten considerably worse year after year,” he said.
 
The voting delegates, all of whom are farmers and ranchers, also voted to support allowing Idaho Wolf Depredation Control Board funds, which are now used solely to support lethal control of problem wolves, to also be used to collar more wolves to facilitate control actions.
 
The policy that encourages that also supports the continued existence of the WDCB, which gets about $400,000 a year from the state, $100,000 from cattlemen and $100,000 from sportsmen to support Wildlife Service’s lethal wolf control actions.
 
The wolf board currently has a sunset date of June 30, 2019. The policy supported by Farm Bureau delegates would keep the board’s funding level at least at its current amount.
 
During the 2018 Idaho Legislature, a proposal was floated that would have reduced the amount of state funding for the board from $400,000 to $200,000 a year.
 
During hours of debate, the delegates also took action on dozens of proposed and existing policies dealing with a wide array of issues important to farmers, including water, brand inspections for horses, noxious weeds and grazing.
 
During the convention, Rep. Russ Fulcher, Idaho’s newly elected Republican congressman, told Farm Bureau members he supports the work they do and invited them to visit him in Washington, D.C.
 
Fulcher grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Meridian and stayed involved with it until it was sold in 2005.
 
“I’m with you,” said Fulcher, who applauded IFBF members for the work they do protecting agriculture. “Folks, you are the real deal and when I say I’m with you, I mean it.”
 
The convention drew hundreds of Farm Bureau members and their families from every part of the state.
 
IFBF President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley, thanked Farm Bureau members for each doing their part to help the organization remain strong and he asked them to encourage other people to become active in the group.
 
“What a great organization Farm Bureau is. There’s nothing else like it. We are the voice of Idaho agriculture,” he said. “Let’s make it stronger by engaging others, inviting them in and becoming even stronger as we go forward.”
 
During the event, Tom Mosman of Craigmont, Matt Dorsey of Caldwell and Fred Burmester of Downey were elected by delegates to serve on IFBF’s Board of Directors.
 
Neil Durrant of Ada County received IFBF’s Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award, and Luke Pearce of Payette County was awarded the organization’s Young Farmer and Rancher Achiever in Agriculture Award.
 
The Excellence award spotlights a young Farm Bureau member who is an agricultural enthusiast but has not received a majority of their income in the past three year from a production agriculture enterprise they own, while the Achiever award is given to a young farmer or rancher who has excelled in their farming operation and honed their leadership abilities.
 
Kelsey Broadie of Butte County, the recently elected president of Lost Rivers Farm Bureau, won the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet, which allows producers to hone their public speaking and problem-solving skills during a competition meant to simulate a committee meeting rather than a debate.
 
The participants discuss a pre-selected topic and are judged on constructive criticism, cooperation and communication.
 
Broadie, Durrant and Pearce all won a Polaris recreational vehicle and will compete in their respective categories during American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting next month, with a chance to win a Ford pickup truck.
 
IFBF’s Women’s Leadership Committee presented Women of the Year awards to Wendy Swore of Bannock County, Pam Kelly of Butte County, Lola Fitzpatrick of Minidoka County, Janeal Walton of Gem County and Naomi Wood of Bonner County.

WAKE ISLAND



Joe Goicoechea of Boise fought at Wake and was a POW for the duration of the war. Goicoechea passed away in January of 2017. Jake Putnam photo
The Battle for Wake Island, A Veteran's Story
By Jake Putnam

Boise-Almost two years ago, Boise lost a brave son. Joe Goicoechea passed away, and the Wake Island survivor took with him memories of that great battle and the brave men that fought beside him. He never joined the Marines, he just had some ROTC and National Guard training but fought with the leatherneck's shoulder to shoulder on Wake Island back in 1941. 


The Boise native manned a machinegun fending off elite Japanese marines for two weeks from December 8th till the 23rd. During those frantic days, he was wounded, captured and held as a prisoner of war.

While the attack on Pearl was a clear-cut victory for the Japanese; the invaders were stopped dead in their tracks for the first time in the Pacific Theatre by U.S Marines and the MK construction workers on the windswept, coral island.

 Goicoechea readily volunteered for action and fought fiercely with the Marines when the invasion came this week 76 years ago, and a week after Pearl Harbor. To this day the memory of the epic battle is fading away. The families of the workers still observe December 8th, the invasion of Wake,  and still remember the 98 laborers, cat skinners, carpenters, ironworkers cut down in cold blood by the Japanese.

By 1939 the U.S. Navy started building an airport and submarine base on the island and MK Contractors from across Idaho were brought in to help bolster Island defenses. MK bosses sent the call across the Gem State for laborers, ironworkers, and heavy equipment operators.

“There was a lot of recruiting in Idaho and the west because MK had offices here,” said Goicoechea, of Boise. With the Depression still lingering good paying jobs were hard to find.

“They offered us $120 per month and we thought we were millionaires,” said Goicoechea. “We didn’t have to pay taxes, we got room and board all we had to bring was our personal gear and we had the chance to learn a trade but none of us bargained for a fight against the Japs.”

The MK’ers dug revetments, runways, and fortifications with urgency. Goicoechea and his high school buddies worked long hours. “I learned a trade there and I loved it, I learned how to be an ironworker, most everyone was older than me. I was just 19, most of the guys were as old as my dad, but had worked all the big projects of the time like Boulder Dam.”

The 1,146 Construction workers took orders from MK’s Dan Teters while the 449 Marines got their marching orders from Major James Devereux. Major Paul Putnam took charge of the Marine Fighter Squadron. Captain Harry Wilson commanded the 71 sailors but overall command of the Island fell under Commander Winfield Cunningham.

Wake was important because our heavy bombers could easily strike the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands. For the Japanese, a base on Wake made Hawaii and the West Coast vulnerable. The Pentagon wanted to set up a defensible picket line in the Pacific to keep the Japanese from striking range.

On Sundays workers played in a softball league, went to church and visited the camp library but for the most part, there were few distractions on the island. They lived in barracks and ate at the company mess hall; many sent paychecks home.

“Late that summer the Marines came in and started putting up the 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and they asked for volunteers to take instruction on the guns so evenings after dinner, I did that and I’d go over there and practice on the .50 caliber machine gun”. Goicoechea and his Boise buddies took ROTC and even spent weekends in the Idaho National Guard. Abruptly the practice sessions ended on December 6th.

“I was on Peale working on a bomb-proof generator next to the Pan-Am offices and we heard that Pearl had been hit but we didn’t give it much thought,” said Joe Goicoechea."But across the lagoon, the alarm sounded after the radio shack picked up a dispatch from Pearl saying that Hickam Field had been bombed."


Minutes later the Marines sounded general quarters across the three small atoll islands. The Marines took up arms in full battle gear and the construction volunteers followed. They didn't have to wait long.

“Then about 10 or 15 minutes to Noon,” recalled J.O. Young from Nampa. “We thought we saw our planes coming in. We ran outside looking toward the airstrip and could see the bombers coming in and then the strip started to explode and the planes were flying right toward us. As they come close above the roar of the engines we could hear a steady "tut-tut" and realized that they were machine-gunning us.”

36 Japanese Mitsubishi Nell bombers roared across Wake in three distinct V-formations. “They came in with the sun and you couldn’t see them, the sun was so bright and the white sand we could barely see them until they were right on top of us and they leveled Wake. The fighters came in so low I could see their faces and the big red meatball on the side of the plane. Those pilots just played hell with us,” said Goicoechea.

The twin-engine bombers dropped fragmentation bombs spewing razor-sharp shrapnel and coral everywhere, buildings burned, cars, trucks equipment burned and in seconds scores were wounded, smoke billowed and confusion reigned. Survivors remembered the smell of burning oil and blood.

On Peale, not far from Goicoechea, the bombers blew up the Pan Am Building killing 10  workers. Enemy fighters strafed equipment, trucks, and anything that moved. The three and five-inch guns emplacements were favorite targets for the Zeros and the bombers but survived. The marines were unscathed by the attack, they rallied, manned guns and fought back.

“As the smoke cleared after the first wave I could see we suffered quite a few casualties,” said Goicoechea. “Our hospital was hit and quite a few were killed there. That was the day I got knocked around a bit.” Goicoechea ran to a gun emplacement and was helping the Marines load the 5-inch guns when an explosion nearby knocked him and a Marine corporal Ken Marvin off their feet. Both survived, suffered shrapnel wounds from the coral and though bloodied they kept on fighting.

“The pounded us all afternoon and then high-tailed it home, that's the way it was for the next two weeks, every afternoon,” recalled Goicoechea. 


Before each raid, a few battered American Wildcat fighters met the enemy and proved they were up for the task, they fearlessly tangled with enemy fighters and bombers. A few enemy aircraft were shot down and transports were strafed. 

  At 3-am on December 11, the Japanese invasion task force moved in for the kill. Offshore a light Japanese cruiser, six destroyers, two troop carriers along with two armed merchant ships made a run for Wake's beaches under the cover of darkness.

Marine gunners stalked them to 4,500 yards then opened up with spotlights and the 5-inch naval guns. Their aim was deadly blasting a Japanese destroyer in half with a ball of fire and it sunk so fast that there were no survivors. The defenders also damaged a cruiser and sunk three destroyers. The force turned tail; it was the first retreat of in the Pacific and the first U.S. victory of the young war. “We were mad as hell and all we wanted to do was fight,” recalled Goicoechea.

For two and a half weeks the outmanned Americans fought back and had turned the tide but they were low on ammo and needed medical supplies. The air raids continued. At 2:15 am on December 23 the Marines spotted another Japanese assault force. Wake radioed Pearl: "Enemy apparently landing." It was the final showdown on Wake.

The Marines, assisted by construction volunteers opened up on Japanese Patrol Craft 33 and their 5-inch gun hit the powder magazine of a landing ship the explosion turned night into day and fighting intensified and gave hope to the defenders.

Over on Wilkes Island, a company of 100 Japanese landed and overran a gun position at Battery F. Just a dozen Marines fixed bayonets and counterattacked. They drove the surprised enemy back toward a skirmish line held by 24 Marines; who counterattacked into the enemy flank, causing the Japanese to panic. The 37 U.S. Marines completely gutted the elite Japanese company, killing 94 and capturing two.

Everywhere the fighting was desperate; a Japanese marine charged Cpl. Alvie Reed with a bayonet both fell on the battlefield. A few feet away Platoon Sergeant Edwin Hassig shot a charging enemy soldier between the eyes at point-blank range.

On the main island of Wake, more Japanese troops charged ashore. With no infantry in reserve, the Marine aviators and construction workers fought where they stood; "This is as far as we go," yelled Major Putnam to his airmen, and they met a platoon of enemy Japanese marines with raised hands.

On other parts of the atoll, the U.S. Marines had turned the tide and controlled their sectors only to learn that the command post had surrendered. As noon broke under a blazing sun, the Japanese captured all 16-hundred people on the island.

In two weeks the island’s brave fighter squadron shot down 21 aircraft, damaged 51 others. Island defenders sunk four warships and damaged eight others, and killed more than 850 Japanese sailors and more than 200 soldiers of the landing force.

“It’s always an argument over who talked to Hawaii that day recalled,” Goicoechea, “Commander Cunningham or Major Devereux, I think Devereux told Cunningham he was the commander of the Island and it was up to him to make the decision to surrender, but I thought we had ‘em that day.”

The captured Americans were marched to the airstrip with bayonets at their backs and forced to their knees in long rows. They were stripped naked in the hot sun, eye to eye with Japanese machine-gunners for two days and nights.


"We got sunburned that first afternoon and at night it was freezing cold, we got burned again and the nights were pure hell, we had no cover at all, no way to get out of the sun and no way to get out of the wind at night," said Goicoechea.

On Christmas day Goicoechea said the Japanese allowed them to bury the dead and moved out of the sun and wind. The marines and construction workers were marched to the north end of the island and jammed into their battle-damaged barracks. In January they were shipped off to Japan and China as slave laborers. But the Japanese kept 98 construction workers behind to fortify the Island.

By 1943 the Pacific war by-passed Wake. It had no strategic value and it was cut off and used for target practice by the U.S. Pacific fleet. The USS Yorktown arrived offshore on October 5th, 1943 and during a two-day exercise dropped 340 tons of bombs on the atoll. The group’s cruisers and destroyers blasted the island with 3,198 eight-inch and five-inch projectiles. The raid flattened the island and 31 Japanese planes were destroyed on the ground.

Commander Sakaibara thought that that the task force offshore would send landing craft and worried that the 98 workers would rise up and fight; so he issued an executive order.

When Wake fell to U.S. Forces in September of 1945 Commander Sakaibara claimed that the American raid of ’43 killed the civilian construction workers but his own men confessed to the execution. He was hung after the War Crimes Tribunals on Guam in June of 1947.

The families of the 98 didn’t know of the execution until January 1946. With the help of Senator Larry Craig, Joe Goicoechea was awarded the Purple Heart five decades after he took up arms for his country.

World War II magazine, Idaho Press-Tribune, J.O. Young, Joe Goicoechea, MK survivor, Marine Corps Association, Leatherneck Magazine contributed to this story.

PAYMENT DUE 12- 20-18 FOR NAMPA & MERIDIAN IRRIGATION TAXES



Nampa--Officials with Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District, the valley’s largest irrigation district, are alerting more than 41,000 Treasure Valley property owners with property inside the District’s boundaries that payments for 2018 irrigation taxes are due on December 20.

Property owners have the option of paying the taxes in full or in two parts, but at least the first-half payment of the 2018 assessment must be hand delivered or postmarked by December 20. Second-half payments must be made by June 20, 2019 for residents who choose to make two payments.

Property owners can also pay online by using NMID’s secure online bill payment option on the District website at www.nmid.org and selecting the “Online Payments” tab at the top left side of the website page. Online payments must be made prior to midnight December 19 rather than December 20, NMID officials said.

If the tax bill is not paid on time, then a 2 percent penalty and interest at an annual rate of 12 percent will be added to their 2018 tax bill.

Idaho law requires that tax liens be filed each year against the property if the assessments are not paid in full by June 20 of the following year. The District is currently moving forward with tax deed action against properties in Ada and Canyon counties for which tax levies have gone unpaid for three years. Tax deed action can eventually lead to property being sold at a tax auction if the owner refuses to pay the assessments, officials cautioned.

Property owners who owe tax assessments from previous years will find their past due tax assessment information included in this year’s notice. A list of individuals owing back taxes will be available on the District’s website in January.

People with questions about their assessment payment or the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District should call the District office at 466-7861. More information about the District is also available at its website: www.nmid.org.



Thursday, December 6, 2018

Updated End of Year Farm Economic Outlook



Washington--The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations. Year-over-year growth in the gross domestic product has been positive for 36 consecutive quarters, unemployment is the lowest in nearly 50 years and inflation remains mostly flat (U.S. GDP Growth Continues Impressive Run). While the U.S. economy roars along, the farm economy continues to struggle. USDA’s most recent Farm Sector Income Forecast revealed that net farm income in 2018, a broad measure of farm profitability, is projected at $66.3 billion, down 12 percent from prior-year levels. After adjusting for inflation, net farm income in 2018 is projected to be at the third lowest level in more than two decades.

A variety of factors influence net farm income. Lower commodity prices drive profitability down, but higher yields can somewhat offset the effect of lower commodity prices. Higher costs obviously reduce profitability. Today’s article reviews the end-of-year projections for cash receipts, expenses and net farm income in 2018.
Cash Receipts Flat in 2018

Driven by higher cash-related farm income, ad hoc disaster assistance and trade-based market facilitation program payments, as well as higher-than-anticipated crop yields and record production of many livestock-related products such as milk, pork, and beef, gross agricultural cash receipts in 2018, are projected at $423 billion, up 1.5 percent, or $6.3 billion, from prior-year levels. If realized, this total would be $10 billion below the 10-year average and $47.5 billion below 2013’s record high. When adjusted for inflation, gross cash receipts are down 0.8 percent, $22 billion below the 10-year average and nearly $80 billion less than the record $501 billion in 2014.

A majority, or 47 percent, of gross cash receipts in 2018 come from crop production. Cash receipts for crops in 2018 are projected at $199.2 billion, up 1.5 percent, or nearly $3 billion, from 2017 and in line with the 10-year average. Nearly 42 percent of cash receipts are projected to come from livestock and livestock product production. Cash receipts in livestock are projected at $175.6 billion in 2018, down 0.2 percent, or $400 million, from 2017 levels. This is slightly higher than the 10-year average of $169.5 billion. When adjusted for inflation, however, cash receipts for both crops and livestock are down from prior-year levels at -0.8 percent and -2.5 percent, respectively.



Higher Expenses Lead to Lower Net Farm Income

Total agricultural-related expenses in 2018 are projected at $369.1 billion, up $14.8 billion, or 4.2 percent, from prior-year levels. If realized, total expenses in 2018 would be at the highest level since 2014. After adjusting for agricultural inventory and home-consumption of farm products, net farm income in 2018 is projected at $66.3 billion. This total is slightly higher than USDA’s February and August net farm income projection – reflecting updated expectations for commodity prices and production as well as the distributions of ad hoc disaster program payments.

Net farm income in 2018 is projected to be 12.1 percent, or $9 billion, below 2017 levels. It remains nearly $20 billion below the 10-year average and $57.5 billion below the record high set in 2013 – a decline of 46 percent. After adjusting for inflation, net farm income in 2018 is projected to be down nearly $11 billion, or 14.1 percent, from 2017 levels. Inflation-adjusted net farm income in 2018 is at the third-lowest level over the last two decades – behind only 2002 and 2016.
Impact of Ad Hoc Disaster and Trade Aid Payments

One factor contributing to higher net farm income in 2018 (relative to earlier USDA projections) is the inclusion of ad hoc disaster and trade-related payments to farmers and ranchers. Previous Market Intel articles have reviewed the initial market facilitation program payments of $4.7 billion: Trade Aid Round One: A State Perspective and Trade Aid Round Two: A Per-Acre Perspective.

USDA projects ad hoc disaster payments in 2018 at $1.6 billion, up sharply from 2017’s $679 million. When excluding ad hoc disaster payments, net farm income in 2018 is projected at $64.7 billion, down $10 billion, or 13 percent, from prior-year levels, and the third lowest level over the last  decade, behind 2009 and 2016, Figure 2

.

Summary

The most recent farm income projections line up with earlier forecasts for a 12 percent drop in 2018. The decline in farm profitability reflects lower commodity cash receipts in some categories, i.e., soybeans and dairy, but also higher cash receipts in other categories such as corn or poultry.

The outlook going into 2019 remains uncertain. Planting intentions, supplies, domestic demand, and prices are all unknown. Global supply and demand also remain uncertain. Several bright spots, however, are on the horizon. First, a farm bill is very likely in the coming weeks – providing much-needed risk management certainty to farmers and ranchers in the years to come. Second, by all accounts, trade relationships could be on the verge of normalizing as the administration seeks to restore and improve access in key export markets.

These two developments, combined with regulatory relief and tax reform, give U.S. farmers and ranchers the certainty and some of the tools they need to compete with growers around the world – and ultimately turn around U.S. farm profitability.

Monday, December 3, 2018

BUILDING CONSENSUS TO ADDRESS WILDFIRE


By Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter

Boise--As the California wildfires reach containment, we must focus on the devastation of so much property and the tragic loss of so many lives. My prayers go out to those victims and their families, now irrevocably changed. Brave men and women serving as first responders, including fire crews from the Treasure Valley and Madison County, risked their lives to fight these catastrophic fires.

During my tenure, wildfires have been voracious, consuming millions of acres across the west. Perhaps the most alarming, the 2007 Murphy Complex Fire that ravaged 650,000 acres in Idaho and Nevada alone. These large-scale fires have become routine and that should be unacceptable to all of us.

Most of us know wildfire is a natural part of the landscape. Lightning strikes and other acts of nature cannot be prevented and instead can improve the health of the ecosystem. However, large, catastrophic fires, like the ones we are experiencing are not normal.

Through passive management, and active acts of obstruction, we have allowed our landscape to become a tinderbox. Our rangelands are overgrown with fine fuels, including large swaths of non-native grasses. Our forests are plagued by insects, disease, and overcrowding. There is plenty of blame to pass around, including unnecessary regulation and overzealous litigation.

Early in my administration, I decided to focus less on pointing fingers and more on how to tackle the problem. That required collaborative approaches, essential in a state where sixty-percent of the land is federally owned.

That’s why I worked with the Idaho Legislature to provide seed money for Idaho’s first-ever Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs). Through a cooperative agreement between the State and BLM, ranchers are professionally trained to provide swift, initial attack on the BLM-managed ground. Today, the RFPAs protect 9.7 million acres of rangeland including high-value sage grouse habitat. As a result, landscapes remain intact, benefiting the ranchers, public land users, and Idaho’s abundant wildlife.

Early in 2014, I identified 1.8 million acres of national forest lands suitable for treatment due to insect infestations and disease. Using a self-funded program known as the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA), the Idaho Department of Lands assumes the lead role on treatment projects within high-risk areas. This increases the pace and scale of timber harvest but also vastly improves forest health and diminishes the risk of fire while providing an economic boost to our rural communities. By 2021 we expect to treat nearly 11,000 acres of Forest Service land, which will produce 70 million board feet of timber and bring in approximately $16.4 million in gross revenue.

These are just two examples of how Idahoans are working together with the federal government to develop home-grown approaches addressing this national problem. But we all must redouble our efforts to find more solutions. I’m encouraged by President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s approach and collaboration. Hopefully, this effort will help reduce catastrophic fires in the future and protect the people who live here and love the land.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Farm Bureau calls for final Farm Bill approval


Washington--The following statement regarding the House and Senate Ag Leaders’ announced “agreement in principle” on the 2018 Farm Bill conference report may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

"The 2018 farm bill emerging from the conference committee is good news for farmers amid a prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy. Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson made the bill a priority for this Congress, and all Americans—farmers and consumers—are better off for it.

“Continued access to risk management tools, assistance in foreign market development, and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the legislation are especially important for farmers and ranchers. These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face. Additionally, the bill continues to help low-income children, families, seniors and military veterans access the high-quality foods produced by farm families.

“Farmers and ranchers continue to face challenges outside of the farm bill. Every day we struggle to find the workers we need. Exports were once a backbone of U.S. agriculture, but we now face an uphill battle reclaiming our once robust market share. While the Administration is reviewing the cost and effectiveness of federal regulations, overregulation remains a burden that farmers and ranchers cannot afford, especially now. We urge Congress to continue working on these issues to maintain our nation’s food security and continue agriculture’s significant contributions to U.S. job creation and economic growth.

“The farm bill and ag policy broadly remain bipartisan matters and we encourage both houses of Congress to approve this bill once it is finalized by House and Senate Ag Leaders. We are thankful the Agriculture committees have stayed true to their mission to serve the American farmer and rancher and our nation's consumers, and we look forward to working with the next Congress on all the issues facing agriculture.”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

GOVERNOR FILLS VACANCY ON IDAHO FISH AND GAME COMMISSION


BOISE – Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of a new member to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, representing southwest Idaho on the seven-member panel.

The appointment of Tim Murphy, a former Idaho State Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director, is effective immediately and subject to confirmation by the Idaho State Senate. In addition to his tenure at the BLM, Murphy worked for a decade as the Director of Fire and Aviation at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Over the course of his career, Murphy has focused on seeking collaborative solutions to challenges affecting the management of wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, energy transmission, recreation and access to public lands.

“Among the challenges facing wildlife management in Idaho, I always keep a keen focus on the value of agricultural land to Idaho’s wildlife and open space,” said Murphy. “Hunting, fishing, trapping, and other wildlife-based recreation are key components of life in Idaho. I’m pleased to join the Department as a commissioner for the southwest region and look forward to opportunities to hear and address issues and needs important to Idahoans.”

Murphy is replacing former Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer and is serving out the remainder of Fischer’s unexpired term, ending June 30, 2022. Fischer was asked to resign in the wake of a series of inappropriate photographs and captions that circulated widely after a hunting trip to Africa.

“I’m grateful to Tim for stepping up once again and serving the public,” said Governor Otter. “For almost 40 years, Tim has shown a capacity for leadership and applying strategic thinking to natural resource management issues. I have no doubt that Tim’s addition to our Fish and Game Commission will enhance the commission and compliment the professionalism we expect in the management of this most precious resource.”

Tim and his wife Mary live in Boise and have three adult children.

AFBF Endorses 2018 Farm Bill

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation’s board of directors today voted unanimously to endorse final approval of the 2018 farm bi...