Monday, June 18, 2018

Congress considers Farm Bill this week


Washington--House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway finally get the House farm bill to the Senate this week, but it all depends on House Republican leaders going forward with plans to debate a pair of competing for immigration measures.

The House farm bill was defeated May 18 when a group of conservatives demanded that the House first act on immigration policy. Last week, GOP leaders reached a deal to hold votes this week on a bill negotiated with moderates and a second, favored by conservatives, that was developed by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

After the last of the immigration votes takes place, GOP leaders plan to ask the House to reconsider the farm bill and then hold a second vote to pass it, Conaway, R-Texas, said last week.

The Senate is expected to debate its version of the bill the week of June 25, sources say. That would allow House and Senate negotiators to begin work on a final version. “That would give us July, August, and part of September to get this thing done and ready to go to the president’s desk before it (the 2014 farm bill) expires,” Conaway said.

Friday, June 15, 2018

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program


Re-enrollment Continues Through June 22, Dairy producers urged to act now

WASHINGTON– U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the re-enrollment deadline for the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy will be extended until June 22, 2018. The new and improved program protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant. USDA has already issued more than $89 million for margins triggered in February, March, and April, and USDA offices are continuing to process remaining payments daily.

“Last week we re-opened enrollment to offer producers preoccupied with field work an additional opportunity to come into their local office to sign-up. We did get more than 500 new operations enrolled but want to continue to provide an opportunity for folks to participate before the next margin is announced,” said Secretary Perdue. “More than 21,000 American dairies have gone into our 2,200 FSA offices to sign-up for 2018 MPP coverage but I am certain we can do better with this extra week and a half.”

The re-enrollment deadline was previously extended through June 8, 2018. The deadline is being extended a second time to ensure that dairy producers are given every opportunity to make a calculated decision and enroll in the program if they choose. This will be the last opportunity for producers to take advantage of key adjustments Congress made to provisions of the MPP program under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to strengthen its support of dairy producers. USDA encourages producers contemplating enrollment to use the online web resource at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation.

The next margin under MPP, for May 2018, will be published on June 28, 2018. Therefore, all coverage elections on form CCC-782 and the $100 administrative fee, unless exempt, must be submitted to the County FSA Office no later than June 22, 2018. No registers will be utilized, so producers are encouraged to have their enrollment for 2018 completed by COB June 22, 2018.

All dairy operations must make new coverage elections for 2018 during the re-enrollment period, even if the operation was enrolled during the previous 2018 signup. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018. MPP payments will be sequestered at a rate of 6.6 percent.

To learn more about the Margin Protection Program for dairy, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency county office at offices.usda.gov or visit us on the Web at www.fsa.usda.gov.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Farm Bureau: Farmers Buoyed by Senate Farm Bill Vote


WASHINGTON– The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its farm bill on a near-unanimous vote, 20-1, sending the bill to the Senate floor for a debate by the end of the month. The following may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Farmers and ranchers welcome today’s markup and passage of the farm bill by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Low commodity prices, rising interest rates and an uncertain future for exports hang heavy over America’s farm and ranch land. But today’s vote means light on the horizon. We know that Congress is determined to see us continue to provide food security, fuel, and fiber for all Americans.

“We applaud the spirit of cooperation shown in today’s 20-1 vote and are eager to see that carry through on the floor of the Senate in the coming days. The American Farm Bureau Federation thanks Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for bringing this important legislation forward. Farmers and ranchers are counting on our lawmakers to come together and pass the farm bill soon, followed quickly by the President’s signature.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Water Supply Expected to Be Adequate



BOISE,– The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has released the sixth and final water supply outlook report for the 2018 water year.

As of June 1, the snow measuring sites in the Weiser, Owyhee, Salmon Falls and Oakley basins are melted out. On the other end of the spectrum, the Clearwater and Spokane basins have above normal snowpack for this time at 115% and 109 respectively. The Big Wood basin is at 57% of normal with the other central and southern Idaho basins at less than half of normal. The remaining basins have near normal snowpacks.

The majority of streams across the state have seen their snowmelt streamflow peak for the season. The May rain provided a boost in runoff for many rivers with the exceptions being in southern Idaho.

The state’s reservoirs are in great shape. Some reservoirs in southern Idaho have already peaked for the season and are being drafted as irrigation demand exceeds inflows. A few are at or near full and have begun passing flows and the remaining reservoirs will complete their final fills soon.

Overall, precipitation since the water year started on October 1, 2017, varies across the state with watersheds ranging from 80 to 120% of average.

“The thing to remember is that overall, Idaho’s water users will have an adequate supply resulting from a combination of the 2017 snowfall that provided excellent reservoir carryover storage and streamflows that were above average all winter,” Abramovich said.

For information on specific basins, streams, and reservoirs, please view the full report online at June Water Supply Outlook Report.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Farm Bureau Hails District Court WOTUS Decision



WASHINGTON– The following statement about a recent federal district court ruling regarding the 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“A federal district court ruling in Georgia late last week has effectively suspended the flawed ‘Waters of the United States’ rule from taking effect in 11 more states that challenged its legality. The 2015 rule is now stayed in a total of 24 states. While the ruling was a clear validation of many concerns that Farm Bureau has expressed about the rule, we need to continue to work diligently to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to formally repeal the rule.

Duvall says the illegal rule is overbroad, vague and confusing.

"And and it goes far beyond the intent of Congress when it passed the Clean Water Act. This overreach and confusion have created a situation where farmers and ranchers would need to hire a team of lawyers and consultants to perform many ordinary farming practices on their land. EPA should ditch this rule for good and replace it with a proposal that offers both clean water and clear rules—one that is easy to interpret and allows farmers and ranchers to continue to feed, clothe and fuel our nation,” said DuVall.




Monday, June 11, 2018

Farm Bureau Files Brief Supporting Water Rule Opponents

WASHINGTON– The American Farm Bureau Federation, together with a broad coalition of other farm and business groups, today filed a brief in support of 13 states challenging the EPA’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule before a federal district court in North Dakota.

The brief explains how EPA repeatedly broke the law in writing a rule that would vastly expand its Clean Water Act regulatory authority to cover small and isolated land and water features.

According to the brief, the 2015 rule “reads the term navigable out of the [Clean Water Act] and asserts jurisdiction over remote and isolated features that bear no meaningful relationship to ‘navigable waters.’” The coalition also argues that the rule is unconstitutionally vague because it “gives malleable discretion to bureaucrats to determine which land features are jurisdictional ‘waters’ and which are not.”

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.

Background: This is one of several lawsuits in federal district courts challenging the 2015 waters of the United States rule. Most of these lawsuits, including the North Dakota case, were delayed while the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether the court of appeals or the district courts have the power to hear the suits. That issue was resolved in favor of the district courts in early 2018, and the North Dakota case was the first to resume.

The North Dakota court previously issued an order blocking implementation of the 2015 rule in the 13 states involved in the case. The Sixth Circuit also granted a nationwide stay of the rule, but that stay was lifted after the court was found to lack jurisdiction. Meanwhile, EPA has issued a separate new rule delaying application of the 2015 rule while the agency reconsiders the proper scope of “waters of the United States.” Unless and until the agency permanently repeals the 2015 rule, state, and private litigants will continue to pursue judicial relief invalidating the rule.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dairy Meetings Scheduled



DAIRY REVENUE PROTECTION MEETINGSMEETING DETAILS

Dr. John Newton and Charlie Garrison will be the presenters in three separate meetings being held across Idaho. The meetings will focus on the development of Dairy Revenue Protection created by Dr. Newton. This product will provide dairy producers similar insurance products as crop insurance, without any size or production limitations. In addition, John will provide producers his overview of national and international economic conditions of the dairy industry.

Charlie Garrison will walk producers through Washington D.C. policies covering both the 2018 Farm Bill discussions, trade, and immigration.

Since meals are being served at all the meetings, it is important that you RSVP. Please send your RSVP to bnaerebout@gmail.com.

MEETING DATES

June 7, 2018
Pocatello, Idaho
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Idaho Farm Bureau 275 Tierra Vista Dr. 
Pocatello, ID 83201


June 7, 2018
Twin Falls, Idaho
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
IDA Office Building Auditorium
195 River Vista Place Twin Falls, Idaho 83301

June 8, 2018
Boise, Idaho
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Executive Board Room 2nd Floor,
Boise Center West Boise, Idaho 83702

Bill Helps Protect Farmers and Ranchers From High Health Care


Washington--Recently introduced House legislation addresses one of farmers and ranchers’ major concerns related to health insurance—cost. The Health Insurance Premium Reduction Act (H.R. 5963) would protect farmers, ranchers, and other small business owners from exorbitant health care costs by delaying the health insurance tax until after 2020, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The HIT has increased health insurance costs by imposing a levy on the net premiums of health insurance companies, which is passed on to consumers. During 2014, $8 billion of excise taxes were levied, and $11 billion was collected in 2015 and 2016 each.

The tax is on hold through 2019 but since the cost of the HIT increases each year, Americans will face an even higher HIT impact in 2020, AFBF President Zippy Duvall noted in a letter urging House members to support the measure.

“This delay is needed to provide stability to small business owners and middle-income families so they can continue health care coverage,” Duvall wrote.

The Health Insurance Premium Reduction Act was introduced by Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pruitt signs Memorandum allowing Idaho wastewater oversight



Boise—Scott Pruitt, Head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, signed a memorandum on Tuesday giving Idaho cities and businesses wastewater oversight from Federal pollution discharge programs.

At the signing ceremony at the Statehouse, Pruitt and Idaho Governor Butch Otter spoke of the importance of the agreement.

“EPA’s approval of Idaho’s Pollutant Discharge Elimination System exemplifies cooperative federalism,” said Pruitt. “Idaho has worked closely with us and local stakeholders to develop a program that’ll protect Idaho’s water resources and ensure permitting decisions. This really is something that we should celebrate. This is something that we should recognize, and this is how Federal and local partnerships work."

The document allows the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to begin issuing and enforcing discharge permits for businesses and municipalities. Idaho is one of four states where getting a permit for disposing wastewater requires a permit with the federal government instead of the state.

“We’ve been working on this for 20 years,” said Idaho Governor Butch Otter. “It wasn’t until we took the bull by the horns and the Legislature passed a bill allowing our Department of Environmental Quality to move forward establishing primacy over Idaho’s water. Its a great day for Idaho and a good for Idaho to make its own decisions about Idaho issues.”

Pruitt says its all about a new decision-making process.

“Water quality issues decided in Utah are different than water quality issues decided in Idaho. This is how it should happen between states and the federal government, working together to improve air and water quality at the local level, as opposed to this top-down federal bureaucratic approach we have seen over the years,” said Pruitt.

The Idaho Legislature in 2014 directed the DEQ to get EPA authorization for a state-operated pollutant discharge permitting program. With today's signing, agreements are official and on the books.

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle attended the memorandum signing, he stressed that Idahoans should control Idaho Water.

“This is what it's all about. We established legislation in the State back in 2014 over primacy in water and today that goal was accomplished. We never gave up and this signing is great.” said Searle.

The Idaho Discharge Elimination Program will need at least 29 positions at the state DEQ office and an annual budget of $3 million. Idaho taxpayers would fund at least $2 million of the budget, with larger industries, cities, and permittees making up at least $1 million.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monsanto acquisition closes on Thursday

St Louis—Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto finally closes this Thursday. And the worldwide brand name Monsanto will soon be known as Bayer.

The two companies have until August before they can start integrating the two corporations according to Bayer.

“We’re extremely proud of all we’ve accomplished as Monsanto, and are eager to continue to accelerate innovation in agriculture as we look forward to a future under Bayer,” Monsanto spokesperson Christi Dixon said.

But Dixon said Monsanto will continue as Monsanto for a while.

”There will be no branding changes at closing on Thursday," she said. "Monsanto will operate independently from Bayer for an interim period while Bayer completes the sale of some of its businesses to BASF. During this time, it will be business as usual for us, including our company name.”

Bayer Crop Science President Liam Condon was asked by reporters what brand name would go forward.

“We simply had a strong belief that the Bayer brand has very strong positive recognition,” said Condon.

The Justice Department approved the acquisition last week but with conditions, for instance, Bayer had to sell $9 billion in key assets to BASF. Bayer also had to sell its cotton, canola, soybean, and vegetable seed businesses and also its Liberty brand of herbicides along with its digital agriculture business and its Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment franchise.

Bayer announced that it would be moving employees of its Crop Science division from Research Triangle Park, N.C., to St. Louis, where Monsanto has its headquarters. Condon said that process will probably take about a year. Idaho operations will continue in Soda Springs according to corporate officials.

But Condon said that “after we’re allowed to integrate, I would not expect any immediate short-term changes. We can afford to go a bit slower here as long as our customers don’t have a negative experience.”

The deal is valued at $63 billion, according to Bayer, based on the company’s offer to Monsanto of $128/share. “Bayer expects a positive contribution to core earnings per share starting in 2019,” the company said.

Condon also addressed criticism from farm groups that say the Bayer-Monsanto union and others recently approved – the DowDuPont merger and ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta – could result in less competition and higher input prices for farmers.

“DOJ went out of its way to make sure all competition issues were addressed,” Condon said, adding that he believes there will be strong competition from BASF and FMC Corp., both of which are picking up numerous new assets because of the deal. New players with new technologies are also emerging, Condon said,

“Competition will remain very, very vigorous, and pricing to the customer won’t suffer,” Condon said.

Monday, June 4, 2018

University dedicates Farm Bureau Foyer to the Future


By Sean Ellis

MOSCOW– The University of Idaho christened its “Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Foyer to the Future” May 22 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by UI faculty and IFBF employees.

IFBF and Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Idaho each donated $50,000 toward a project that updated the two main entrances, or foyers, in the university’s E.J. Iddings Agricultural Sciences Building, which houses the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and is the most heavily trafficked area on campus.

One of the foyers is located outside of Room 106, which is the largest theater-style classroom on campus and used by the entire university.

While the classroom was renovated in 2014, the foyer was not and, according to UI officials, remained outdated compared to the updated classroom.

The second foyer is outside of the office of CALS Dean Michael Parrella and that renovation project was completed in January 2016.

Farm Bureau’s partnership with UI to upgrade the foyers was authorized by the IFBF and insurance company boards in 2015 and 2016 and called, University of Idaho “Inspiring Future Leaders in Idaho Agriculture.”

IFBF President Bryan Searle said Farm Bureau members recognize the important role UI plays in helping educate tomorrow’s leaders in the agricultural industry.

“Agriculture is the engine that pulls the economic train of Idaho,” he said. “Farm Bureau appreciates what the university does and was happy to help fund a project that will inspire future leaders in Idaho’s important agricultural industry.”

During the May 22 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the foyer outside of Room 106, Mary Kay McFadden, vice president for university advancement, said the foyers are utilized by all UI students.

“We just completed our commencement weekend and this place was hopping,” she said.

Besides providing an open and modernized space for students to congregate, the foyer updates include a commodities ticker featuring current agricultural markets and flat panel and interactive screens that include a directory, student club information and university news and events.

The foyer outside of Room 106 will include an antique tractor that will be renovated by UI students this fall.

Parrella said UI appreciates “the support of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation to invest in our mission and by doing so, create a space where students can envision their place in the future of Idaho agriculture.”

“Your investment to help renovate this often-used space will provide great return not only for students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences but also students from across campus who utilize the adjacent classroom,” he said.

Farm Bureau recognizes that UI’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is the largest and most influential agricultural educator in the state, said IFBF CEO, Rick Keller.

“Hundreds of our future leaders in agriculture and agribusiness will walk through that hall,” he said. “We want to let them know there is an organization out there that is fighting for agriculture.”

Keller also pointed out that IFBF’s roots include a partnership with UI’s county extension agents, who help inform people about current developments in the agricultural sector.

IFBF’s earliest documentation includes a newspaper article printed in 1918 about UI extension agents and 26 county Farm Bureaus teaming up to help fight a plague of destructive ground squirrels.

“The university’s county extension agents and Farm Bureau have developed together,” Keller said.

The ribbon cutting ceremony signifies the beginning of another century of University of Idaho and Idaho Farm Bureau Federation working together to better the lives of farmers and ranchers, he said.

McFadden acknowledged the close relationship that UI and Farm Bureau have had for the past century.

“You care about economic development and you care about education,” she said. “That’s exactly what the University of Idaho is about, too. That partnership that we share with you is made visible through this wonderful gift of yours to develop this gathering place.”

Congress considers Farm Bill this week

Washington--House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway finally get the House farm bill to the Senate this week, but it all depends on House Republic...