Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Farm Bill Delays Cause Problems
AFBF Farm Policy Specialist Tara Smith says that waiting for the Obama administration to release new farm bill rules just means it's going to take even longer. Implementing the new farm bill and promoting trade practices that make agricultural goods competitive are top issues for farmers in 2009.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Central Idaho Digs Out
Cambridge--A weekend storm dumped more than three feet of snow on across central Idaho bringing city services and a busy holiday weekend to a screeching halt.
"It started snowing early Friday afternoon and didnt stop until Sunday," said Steve Ritter who was in town checking on his snowbound mother.
The storm thwarted travel throughout the busy Highway 95 area where State Highway Department crews worked around the clock to keep Idaho's main North-South route open for holiday travellors. City snow removal crews started catching up on clearing the streets in Cambridge on Sunday with warmer temperatures.
For updated reports on highway conditions, dial 511 or go to 511.idaho.gov on the Web.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
At least 5 inches of snow has blanketed Boise so far, garbage pickup has been cancelled, The Boise police is urging people to limit travel to emergencies only.
Southwest Idaho has five inches of new snow and its still snowing.
A Travellers Advisory is in effect with continued snow through this evening.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Jake Putnam photo
More Snow Expected
On State Highway 36, the stretch between Weston and Malad is also closed due to reduced visibility and drifting snow.
Dennis Hunsinger, of FEMA says it's not just the snow, its two feet of snow in SE Idaho and the quick thaw that worries the agency "We all live in an area prone to seasonal flooding and winter storms. There is no need to panic but there is a need - and a very real one - to be prepared just in case."
Monday a massive storm system ripped the Northwest, closing highways, airports and making life difficult for people attempting just to get out of the driveway and go to the store.
In that 72-hour kit, food, water, and prescription medications - enough for help to arrive, which may take hours or even days.
Hunsinger says the chance of a sustained power outage is very real in these times. "During a power outage, turn off all appliances, computers, and lights except for one to let you know when the power is back on."
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Idaho Falls--As Idaho Farmers head into the 2009 season the recession ranks as one of the biggest concerns this winter. While Fuel and fertilizer costs are down farmers have replaced that worry with financing in a tricky economic climate.
“Well Ag has always been a fairly risky, one of the more risky loans. I’m Hoping that they’ll look at agriculture favorably and work with most producers,” he said.
Hasslestrom grows wheat, barley and hay on 24 hundred acres near Winchester, Idaho not to mention a 110 head in his cow-calf operation. Like everyone else he’s had to face high input costs this year but he says the key now is marketing education, Survival depends on know what to do and developing a sense of timing.
“We’ve been preaching to help spread your risk by forward contracting and using the futures markets, trying to hedge some of your fertilizer costs and fuel costs and I think most producers now are pretty educated in that,” said Hasslestrom.
Producers have been watching the commodity market like a hawk this year, many have already bought next seasons fuel and fertilizers, many sold out before the market prices tanked. Now all eyes are on Washington with a new administration and a whole new set of concerns.
Hasslestrom wants to see the farm bill implemented and says rules need to be written now for the Conservation Security Program along with the new and renewable energy sections.
“We can’t afford a wait-and-see attitude,” said Hasslestrom. “Because there’s always a time lapse of getting people appointed, getting things on the ground. That’s just going to delay this maybe a year or two. Our biggest focus is to get this implemented.”
Hasslestrom says he does not have enough data or information to judge the pros and cons of the new ACRE program, but says transportation issues like improving Idaho roads and highways will be on his agenda this year along with improved rail service and lower fees possibly through federal legislation.
Hasslestrom knows there will be climate change legislation in Congress next year. “We just don’t want it to be too burdensome to agriculture. That agriculture can play a role in helping industry limit the cost that this is going to cost them with carbon offsets,” he said.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
December and the grip of winter is off to a fast start. A series of storms have blanketed the state. So far precipitation levels are lagging behind average, the snow so far this month has lacked water leaving a dry powder snow on the ground.
Minnick soundly defeated incumbent Congressman Bill Sali in the November election and will officially take office in January. At a December 4th speech at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting Minnick said he's trying to get appointed to the powerful House Agricultural Affairs committee as his first choice of assignments in Congress.
The former businessman and CEO knows agriculture inside and out having grown up on a wheat farm outside of Walla, Walla. Minnick called the special meeting of ag interests so he knows what issues are are on the minds of producers and the best ways to address them. The Farm Bureaus Dennis Tanikuni attended the meeting.
In terms of Bio-Tech Minnick thinks it's the future of agriculture and the best way to assure an adequate food supply. He'd like to review the approval process presently being used to approve bio-tech products. The shape of that approval process needs to be one that assures the public that bio-tech products are safe for consumption and the environment.
Minnick’s thinks there should be increased development of internal resources. That includes oil, and alternative sources. He feels that the government needs to assist in the development of those alternative sources through increased research and use of pilot projects to show the worthiness of a project (he specifically mentioned use of methane gas).
Other issues discussed include Dam Breaching, University Research funding, Estate Tax, Economy and the Detroit bailout.
Walt Minnick asked the Milk Producers and Farm Bureau to set up more meetings in the future so theres and open dialogue on key agriculture issues as they develop. He assured producers that he will make the time to discuss issues in the coming months.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Rep. Wendy Jaquet gave up her role as House Minority Leader to take a slot on the Joint Finance and Appropriations (budget) Committee. Rep. Jaquet had served as Minority Leader for 10 years.
The Magic Valley gained some considerable power with six Magic Valley legislators being named to the JFAC (budget). This includes both Chairs of the committee. Members of the committee from the Magic Valley include: Senator Dean Cameron (Co-Chair), Senator Bert Brackett, Rep. Maxine Bell (Co-Chair), Rep. Fred Wood, Rep. Jim Patrick and Rep. Wendy Jaquet.
House Agricultural Affairs committee remains the same on the Republican side however both Rep. Jacquet and Rep. Durst on the minority side have departed and Rep. Killen has joined the committee.
House Minority Leadership changes include Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, the former House caucus chair elected minority leader. Former Assistant Minority Leader George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, opted to step down from his leadership post. The new House Assistant Minority Leader is Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, and Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, is the new House minority caucus chair.
Changes among Senate Democrats, Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, continues as minority leader, while Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, steps up from caucus chair to assistant leader. Former Assistant Minority Leader David Langhorst left the Senate for an unsuccessful run for Ada County commissioner. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, is the new Senate minority caucus chair.
The House Health and Welfare committee has been expanded from 12 to 16 members.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Idaho Hammered By First Major Winter Storm
Thus far, McCall has 9 inches of new snow, Bogus Basin has six inches and Boise reported 3 inches of snow and snowfall continues.
The storm has kept emergency responders busy across Idaho with numerous slideoffs from Payette to Elmore County to Twin Falls County and beyond, too many to count according to one dispatcher. A light snow started falling around just after 10 p.m. Saturday but didn't amount to much until just after 9-am and it has not let up.
Bill Bradley to Deliver Keynote Address to AFBF Annual Convention
WASHINGTON-Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley will deliver the keynote address to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 90th annual convention set for Jan. 11-14, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas.
“Bill Bradley is a respected bipartisan statesman who is well known for his ability to bring people together to solve problems,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a Columbus, Texas rice and cattle producer. “Senator Bradley’s comments will be particularly well suited for Farm Bureau’s annual convention in January because a new president and a new Congress will be coming into office. He will provide valuable insights on what the new president must do to achieve public policy success.”
In his presentations, Bradley explores the complex state of politics today, shedding light on foreign and domestic policy, the economy, the role of the United States in a global society, and the ever changing face of America.
Bradley, a Democrat, represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997. He currently is managing director of Allen & Company LLC. In 2000, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.
Prior to serving in the Senate, he was an Olympic gold medalist in 1964 and a professional basketball player with the New York Knicks from 1967 to 1977 during which time they won two National Basketball Association championships. In 1982, Bradley was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
More than 5,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation will gather in San Antonio to learn more about the forces shaping agriculture today and participate in a grassroots policy setting process that will guide Farm Bureau through 2009.
“Farm Bureau members will certainly enjoy being in San Antonio in January with the historic River Walk and world renowned Tejano culture,” Stallman said. “I particularly look forward to welcoming my Farm Bureau friends from across the country to my home state of Texas.”
The convention begins Sunday morning, Jan. 11 with the opening presidential address by Stallman. The annual Young Farmer and Rancher competitions, scheduled for Jan. 11 and Monday, Jan. 12, are just one of the highlights on the agenda. Another important feature on Sunday is the annual Farm Bureau Women’s luncheon and business session, which is open to all women attendees, as well as delegates to the Farm Bureau’s Women’s Business session. Advanced tickets are required to attend.
Farm Bureau members can register for the 90th AFBF convention through their state Farm Bureaus.
Former U.S. President, the late Ronald Reagan once said government’s view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
In the most recent example of our federal government validating Reagan’s deft assessment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a proposal to tax livestock in an attempt to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The announcement, which left livestock operators scratching their heads in wonderment, would amount to a yearly tax of $175 on every dairy cow, $87.50 for every head of beef cattle and $20 per hog.
In our opinion, a new tax at these proposed levels would gobble up the entire yearly profit margin of most if not all Idaho farms and ranches while accomplishing absolutely no net reduction in greenhouse gases.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, any farm or ranch with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs emits more than 100 tons of carbon equivalent per year and thus would need to obtain a Clean Air Act Title V Permit under the proposed rules. Farms with more than 500 acres of crops may also be subject to the regulation if it comes to fruition.
According to the 2007 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Survey, dairy operations with more than 30 cows comprise 98.8 percent of milk production, beef cattle operations with more than 50 head comprise 89.4 percent of the beef inventory and hog operations with over 500 head comprise 96.8 percent of the U.S. hog inventory.
It will be extremely difficult for small farms to pass these costs along to the consumer and is likely to speed up the trend of small farms being swallowed by large farms. Large livestock and crop producers have volume on their side and if these regulations gain approval they’ll have to find creative ways to pass their costs along. The only other alternative is going out of business. This means consumers will pay more for beef, pork and milk.
In addition, the proposed rules would be ineffective because of the global nature of greenhouse gases. If regulations put U.S. farms out of business, demand for meat and milk doesn’t disappear. The production of those commodities just crosses borders and
there’s plenty of evidence to bear this out. The bottom line here is while these proposed regulations would put plenty of farms out of business, they won’t reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.
As our economy has evolved to take advantage of production efficiencies, currency values and many other factors, corporations have become multinational in order to maximize profits. This economic trend dictates that solutions to limiting greenhouse gases must be globally negotiated.
In our opinion, it doesn’t make sense to remove livestock in Idaho if they are going to be replaced by livestock in China.
Friday, December 19, 2008
A documentary film, press releases and a website outlining the dispute coupled with an impassioned word of mouth campaign brought in $66,000 in just 7 months. But the fight is far from over; an education campaign continues to tell public land owners about the court victories that secured their water rights.
Since the spring of '08, envelopes filled with checks and words of encouragement have quietly filtered in from farmers, ranchers and county Farm Bureaus in Idaho and throughout the nation.
The following organizations donated $1,000 or more to the cause: Illinois Farm Bureau, Canyon County Farm Bureau, Ada County Farm Bureau, Idaho County Farm Bureau, Bonner County Farm Bureau, Kootenai Shoshone County Farm Bureau, Owyhee, Valley-Adams and Twin Falls county Farm Bureaus, Texas Farm Bureau, Idaho Farm Bureau, and the Ag and Environmental Research Foundation.
"The generosity of the grassroot organizations warms the heart. Its obvious that they could see the sacrifice by the families and the importance of the cause," said the documentaries writer Jake Putnam. "We just want to thank all the folks that gave money and believe in the cause and urge them to tell their neighbors, share the DVD and visit the website, we want to retire this debt once and for all."
“It's just a concerted effort to get that water back out of the private hands and into the hands of the federal government, it was just going after and as far as I’m concerned extortion type tactics to steal a private property right from individuals,” said Lowry.
“It’s time that we help these families because they helped us,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. “We want to pass the hat for these ranchers. What they did took a lot of courage and their example will continue to protect our way of life.”
How to get involved:
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Washington--In the 11th hour of the last term as U.S. President, George W. Bush announced new guest worker rules designed to lessen the bureaucratic burden on employers that hire foreign farm workers.
The changes apply to the H-2A, guest worker program that allows farmers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis for field jobs they cannot fill with Americans.
A Labor Department spokesman said that the final rules would be made public and published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, which means they'd take effect two days before Barack Obama is sworn in as president Jan. 20.
According to the Department of Labor there are some 75,000 foreign guest workers that get visas annually under the H-2A program. The program is similar to the H-1B visa program used by the high-tech industry, designed to aid employers who are unable to find U.S. workers for specialized tasks.
Most farmers ignore the program because of red tape and delays that could cost farmers precious harvesting time. In California, the 5,000 H-2A workers are a fraction of the peak agriculture work force of 450,000, according to the California Farm Bureau.
Here’s clip of the radio show:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
AMERICAN FARM BUREAU MEMBERSHIP ON THE RISE
WASHINGTON–Farm Bureau’s national membership rose to 6,243,286 member families in 2008, marking 48 consecutive years of membership growth. State Farm Bureaus overall reported a total 9,689 more member families this year than in 2007.
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said this year’s membership growth is especially remarkable given the economic challenges facing the nation. He credited strong programs of advocacy and services offered by state Farm Bureaus for the organization’s national membership growth.
“Dedicated Farm Bureau members and their elected leaders at the county and state levels are the force behind our membership growth,” Stallman said. “Farm Bureau is a true, grassroots organization and this membership accomplishment sets a positive tone as AFBF heads into its 90th anniversary year. We’ve certainly come a long way from early 1919 when farmers from 12 states met with the goal of forming a national organization to represent all of American agriculture.”
Texas Farm Bureau had the single largest gain of 17,424 members, bringing its membership to 422,159. Other states organizations with significant growth included Kentucky, which grew by 8,440 members to 470,934; Tennessee, which grew by 7,051 members to 636,078; Alabama, which gained 6,765 members to 440,465; and North Carolina, which grew by 6,079 members to 498,834.
Tennessee Farm Bureau remains the largest in the nation. Delaware Farm Bureau had the single largest percentage membership gain, growing 29.5 percent to 4,344 member families. Rounding out the top five by percentage of growth were Massachusetts (6.7 percent), West Virginia (6.7 percent), Maryland (6.5 percent) and Utah (5 percent). The Northeast had the largest percentage of growth, 2.5 percent.
Fourteen state Farm Bureaus have earned Navigator Awards for exceptional membership growth: Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.
Thirty-four state Farm Bureaus achieved 2008 membership quota: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Vilsack Nominated to Head USDA
Washington--President-elect Barack Obama wants former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to head the United States Department of Agriculture according to Washington insiders.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Vilsack’s confirmation should go smoothly in January. Vilsack will be the fifth secretary of agriculture from Iowa, and the first since 1940 when Henry Wallace served as USDA chief in the Roosevelt administration. This will also be the first time that both the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman and USDA secretary are Iowans.
“During his tenure as Iowa’s governor, one of the nation’s top agriculture-producing states, Gov. Vilsack was an ardent supporter of furthering the use of renewable fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and wind, as well as an advocate for biotechnology. He has been a strong proponent of international trade and expanding our export markets. His understanding and experience with many of the pressing issues facing agriculture today will serve him well in his new position," said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.
Vilsack could face tough challenges at Ag because the Obama administration wants to overhaul subsidy programs, the President-elect singled out wasteful crop subsidy payments as a way of saving taxpayer dollars.
Vilsack endorsed Obama and campaigned for him but also attracted attention this past summer with a series of op-ed articles in newspapers that showed the need for a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
"By locking up carbon through clean technologies and generating less carbon through renewable energy sources, we create home-grown carbon credits direct from the family farm," Vilsack wrote in an Oct. 16 column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Those carbon credits are then sold on the open market "just as if they were soybeans or lean hogs," generating "a new revenue stream and creating a new 'cash crop' that just happens to help save the planet at the same time," he added.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Idaho Conservation League and Sierra Club sit on opposite corners of the block, yet the fox chooses to hunt on Farm Bureau Land, richer habitat here.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Richard and Morgan Brune, District 3 YF and R Farmers of the Year
Twin Falls--If you want to find Rick Brune between the months of March and November you'll find him in his tractor in the bean fields just outside of Eden. Wife Morgan often packs up the kids and a lunch for visits during the long harvest season.
“Our current farming operation consists of 290 acres located here in Eden," said Rick. "We also have 70 acres in Hazelton and that consists of mostly row crops, beans, hay. We have some corn previously and a lot of wheat this year, and we also help my father with his operation of 340 acres, when we are not busy here, we are busy over there.”
In Eden, they're fullfilling a lucrative seed contract, and its work that Rick loves. Seeds from Eden have to be good, he says.“These are a garden bean, we raise them for Harris brand seeds, they export a lot of them or put them into the packages and people end up raising them in the garden. Its been a good crop for us, and has been doing well in the past. The particular field did get hailed on this summer, its doing better than we thought though, we’re doing good.”
The Brunes have been involved in YF and R for five years enjoy meeting other young farmers, they compare notes on raising kids, farming and church.“And also the leadership roles that are available and the skills we can gain through that. We have both enjoyed the discussion meet and a couple of the other roles. We have really enjoyed the conferences and hang out with everybody and at the same time we get to learn some different skills.”
The unique interaction of a discussion meet brings people together, and along the way they've learned a lot about farming, marketing, finance and politics of the life they love.“We try to do more than what the big guys can do. Its going to be a challenge. Through it all the Brune's have met the challenge and look to a bright future.
MOST OF IDAHO BURIED IN SNOW
Boise--More than four inches of snow blanketed the Treasure Valley from a series of weekend storms and chilly temperatures. In the Southwest and Central Mountains more than 20 inches of snow fell in just 48 hours making travel on Idaho's highways a crapshoot, and its still snowing.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Allred was appointed Assistant Interior Secretary by Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. He says Interior has made significant policy changes that boosted populations since rejecting the sage grouse listing petition back in 2005. He thinks the sage grouse stands a better chance of survival off the list.
“The measures I've seen encourages me that we’re doing what we need to do,” said Allred. He told a wildfire conference in Reno that theres been considerable change the past few years. He credits a change in the way wildfires are fought and the flexibility to examine particular habitats and apply changes on the ground.
"You lose flexibility when you list that the ability to do what I'm going to call sort of 'out of the box' things to improve (habitat, …that) is severely restricted," he said.
Idaho Farm Bureau’s range specialist Wally Butler attended the meetings in Reno and says the numbers are up and agrees with Allred.
“The birds are very adaptable, on the range you often have a ‘pre-fire’ monoculture, that’s an area fully stocked with sagebrush but it lacks diversity the grouse chicks need in development. A solid canopy limits development of the chicks…occasional fires burn in mosaics leaving islands of vegitation thats a better mix of habitat to meet growth stages of the chicks.”
Sage grouse populations are found in sagebrush plains across Idaho and throughout the west. Population counts reveal that populations have declined by half since the 80's and 90's. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there’s an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 sage grouse in the west.
Allred told the group that for the first time BLM firefighters made protection of grouse "leks" a priority second only to human life and structures when fighting wildfires, and they’ve seen positive results.
Allred thinks wildfires and invasive weeds are the biggest threat to sage grouse. Radical advocacy groups contend the problem is cattle, but Allred says research shows that grazing in areas overgrown with cheat grass reduces fire threats and benefits the habitat.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Rick and Morgan Brune have been involved in YF and R for the past five years and say they've enjoyed getting to know other Young Farmers and Ranchers because they can relate to how the other couples balance raising kids, farming and church.
“And also the leadership roles," said Rick. "They're available and the skills we can gain through that is priceless. We have both enjoyed the discussion meet and a couple of the other roles. We have really enjoyed the conferences and hang out with everybody and at the same time we get to learn some different skills.”
The rough and tumble world of farming taught the Brunes to adapt and try new things.
“This year we decided to start homeschooling our oldest," said Morgan. "So that’s been a whole new challenge just getting her schedule going."
“Its been a good challenge and we really enjoy the lifestyle of the farm and the flexibility it gives us and the education the kids get from it and friends and it’s a great life.”
THE COUPLE ALSO THINKS ITS IMPORTANT TO BRING THE FAMILY INTO FARM, SO THEY CAN LEARN ABOUT WORK AND THE FREEDOM AND BEAUTY OF THE CRAFT:
“They are getting to the age where they can go along a lot more, some of our equipment we have seats that they can sit in; trouble is a lot of time I spend here, 15 miles from the other farm, and its not very when they say ‘Im tired and I want to go home’ you can’t run them back. Helping Dad out I try to get them in the tractor a lot more than our own farm.”
AND WHEN THE CROPS ARE IN THEY START WORKING ON DISCUSSION MEETS, YF AND R AND THEIR LEADERSHIP WORK:
“Really beneficial, Morgan’s participated the last 3years and done well and, I participated for two years and enjoyed meeting people, you got to know their ideas and we have been a lot more involved in the region because we all get together and help each other between Twin Falls and Jerome County,
THE UNIQUE INTERACTION OF A DISCUSSION MEET BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER, AND THE BRUNEES HAVE LEARNED A LOT ABOUT FARMING, MARKETING, FINANCE AND THE FARM LIFE AND THEY’VE GAINED WISDOM ABOUT THE WORLD AND ALL ITS SUBTLTIES WITH AN EYE ON THE FUTURE:
“we try to keep a real good landlord relationship, take the kids along and have a good relationship so they feel like a part of the farm, do more than what the big guys can do. Its going to be a challenge. I think there needs to be a change in the federal laws and make it easier to hand it down to somebody that wants the farm.”
Fundamental restructuring is necessary for the Big Three domestic auto companies to be competitive and relevant in the future, and on December 2, they presented to Congress their plans for restructuring and stated that without a large amount of government financial assistance they would not survive through the end of the year. While the plans included laudable goals, too few details were provided as to how the companies will actually achieve the restructuring and the savings they have promised.
Instead of allowing the companies to be restructured through the processes outlined in law and emerge more competitive, H.R. 7321 would put government bureaucrats in charge of determining how these companies would operate in the future. In addition, the bill does not require any concessions by labor groups, even though high labor costs are a significant factor contributing to the Big Three’s financial woes.
“Like many Idahoans, I am very concerned about the sharp increase in unemployment that we’ve experienced in recent weeks,” Simpson said. “To help auto workers and their families, as well as those employed by companies that support the auto industry, the Big Three must become competitive again. But this bill does nothing to guarantee that the necessary restructuring will occur. Instead, it essentially nationalizes these private companies. This is a move I cannot support.”
Instead, Congressman Simpson supports the GOP Alternative for the Auto Industry, which allows the Big Three to become competitive again without risking taxpayer dollars. Under the GOP Plan, which provides temporary government insurance instead of a taxpayer-funded bailout, the Big Three must lock in the restructuring they have promised in a matter of weeks, not months or years. Congress should instead establish firm benchmarks and a tight timeline for restructuring. For example, such benchmarks will require that by March 31, 2009 each company should reach an agreement whereby:
The companies’ creditors agree to a framework to reduce each company’s indebtedness by at least 1/3.
The UAW holds to concessions already made and further:
Concedes the elimination of Supplemental Unemployment Benefits;
Concedes elimination of the Jobs Bank Program;
Agrees to either reduce company retiree health care obligations or otherwise convert a portion of such obligations into equity; and
Agrees to reduce wages and benefits to the levels paid by non-Big Three manufacturers.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
SWORES NAMED YF&R DISTRICT 1 FARMERS OF THE YEAR
Chubbuck--Mike and Wendy Swore are Farm Ambassadors in Ada County, come fall they open up their farm to Ada County 4th graders. This past year every 4th grader in School District 24 spent time learning about agriculture.
The Swores have been involved in the Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher program for eight years not to mention the Bannock County Farm Bureau and the Women's Committee.
“We have a lot of fun with that activity and now that I’m the Bannock County YF and R chair and so what we do with the field trips right now, is that we have the harvest for all program and we ask all these kids that come to the farm to bring a can, we have about a thousand cans for the food bank this year,” said Wendy Swore.
Mike says the concept is simple, showing a 4th grader a farm photograph is worthe a thousand words, but showing them in person, a million.
“You have to plant the seed early, show them even if it’s a little blimp, a little seed a plant, let them know it’s a good family life. Everyone used to come from a farm, and said it was a good place tocome from. Its nice to have some of these kids that have never been out to come and see what its like a bit.”
The Swores have tapped into the publics thirst for fresh food, consumers want to know where their food comes from.
"You just cant beat eating fresh, locally grown, its fresh its healthy. A lot of people have lost the knowledge of how to cook fresh food, when it comes from a card board box the know how to cook it but its staring to come back. There are classes and interest in it and how to do some old fashioned home cooking,” said Wendy.
Sometimes its a lot of work but at the endo of the day Mike says its worth it."It makes me feel good enjoyable and I have a lot of fun doing it.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Steve Ritter Video
BAGLEYS NAMED DISTRICT 2 YF&R FAMILY OF THE YEAR
Victor--Stephen and Heather Bagley of Victor have their his hands in just about everything in Teton County, that's because to make money in a tough Ag and Tourist economy you have to wear many hats just to make a living.
“What we have done, our operation mainly consists of a dairy farm and we run a lot of beef cattle. But in the past 10 years we have had to switch that operation to survive.” Heather works in Driggs as an ER nurse. And besides the farm the Bagley's are working a new livestock operation: elk
“We actually put in a bull with our young heifers and if they get bred they get bred but we had some pretty good success breeding our young heifers too.” Steve says is not much different than his regular livestock operation...and they're changing with the times.
“We’ve changed it from strictly agriculture to more of recreation type business to raise elk, trail rides and pack trips in the national forests around us but we still maintain our agriculture base because that’s a lot of our whole operation.”
If there's money to made in Victor, you'll find the Bagleys. “We still maintain, well we are still down to about 500 acres of hay and we sell that mainly in the horse hay market in Jackson or to our own animals.
Teton County has undergone explosive growth in the past five years, the Bagleys looked for opportunity and found it.
“A lot of us say the best crop we have here in Victor and the Teton Valley are houses, unless you look at the economy right now, whats happened is that we have had a big change from agriculture to more of a residential area.
The Bagleys thought that in order to maintain the operation, they needed to take advantange of the things coming in that might not be agricultural but still need it's tools and machinery.
"So we have a gravel pit with a lot of trucking and excavation work on the side, its turned out to be a good business. It fits the niches that we need to fall into when we don’t have other agricultural work to do,” said Bagley.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Steve Ritter video
DAVE AND BETSY DIXON NAMED YF&R FAMILY OF THE YEAR
Greenleaf--Dave and Betsy Dixon were named YFandR family of the year. The Dixons farm with Dixons parents, Dan and Bonnie Dixon on 950 acres just outside of Greenleaf.
"We raise seed crops, peas and beans sweet corn seeds and sugar beets and wheat and corn," said Dixon. Betsy is just as busy, three growing kids is a full time job.
"Daniel is seven, Grace is five and Anna is two next week and they love life on the farm. Just the freedom to run and to see Dad come and go, and that’s a big bonus for us. Our son Daniel has spent hours on the sugar beet digger, the kids love the beet harvest especially because they get to go see Dad and you just cant do that in the city. You can see Dad whenever you want or need him,"said Betsy.
The Dixon's say that Farm Bureau fills an optimistic void in agriculture.
"There's so much opportunity ahead of us that I feel that Farm Bureau has embraced and YF and R is a piece of that puzzle and that is pretty upbeat for tomorrow. I think Farm Bureau has done a good job in that," said Dave Dixon.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation posted photos today of the 2008 Annual meeting on it's Flickr site.
"We opened the site back in October," said Idaho Farm Bureau Media Manager Jake Putnam. "We think it's important that we archive our history and give our members an added benefit."
Members are welcome to download their photo and paste them in their scrapbooks. "We are still labeling and tagging photos but members are welcome to comment on the photos."
Idaho Farm Bureau Video of the event can be seen on YouTube:
OWYHEE COUNTY FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT TIM LOWRY GIVES THANKS AT ANNUAL BANQUET
BOISE--It started as nightmare for Tim Lowry and Paul Nettleton. Nearly a decade ago the Bureau of Land Management hauled the two Owyhee County ranchers into state court to determine who owned the water rights on grazing allotments utilized by the ranches since the late 1800’s. The U.S. Grazing Service, which eventually became the BLM, was not established until 1934. This turned out to be a key factor in the court decision.Eventually, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled for the ranchers nullifying the attack on state water rights by the BLM.
While the fight was successful, the legal defense of the ranchers cost a small fortune and they were denied reimbursement of legal fees.The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation kicked off a fundraising effort by producing a 16 minute documentary telling the ranchers’ story. The two families won victories against an army of federal lawyers and against long odds. The outcome of the case benefits every Western Farmer and Rancher, every ATV owner, every hunter and set a precedent that protects stock water rights throughout the West.
Read more and get involved: http://luranchingandjoycelivestockcov.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Minnink Going After Agriculture Committee Appointment
Boise--Congressman-elect Walt Minnick Addressed the Annual Banquet on Wednesday night. The Democrat upset incumbent 1st District Congressman Bill Sali last month. Minnick thanked the Farm Bureau for their support and told members that he's working hard for an appointment to the powerful Agriculture committee.
"We're a district that has some fabulous grain-growing country in the central part of the district, we have diary, irrigated farming, a whole variety of crops, and we grow a lot of cattle; so the Ag committee interests me," said Minnick
Minnick declared himself a Blue-dog democratic and vowed that fiscal conservatism will be a theme during his first term. Minnick says he will get along with other members of the congressional delegation and will work hard to act as a bridge to the Democrat-controlled House.
Minnick stayed till the end of banquet and answered questions from Farm Bureau members eager to share hardships and concerns of the current economic climate.
David Callister and Congressman-elect Walt Minnick talk issues after the banquet.
Boise--Bill Mendenhall was awarded the 2008 President Cup at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting December 5th. The award recognizes lifetime achievement of Farm Bureau members to the organization and Idaho Agriculture.
Bill Mendenhall helped market Idaho grain, and also conducted marketing seminars that helped farmers wisely cope with volitile commodity markets and make strategic marketing decisions.
"Bill touched just about everyone in this room at one time or another," Farm Bureau President Frank Priestly told the crowd, "We miss and grieve for him." Trish Mendenhall thanked Farm Bureau member on behalf of her husband who passed away in August. "Bill loved the opportunities Farm Bureau gave him, You enriched his life and he greatly appreciated that and all of you."she said.
After a touching video presentation, Bill Mendenhall recieved a standing five minute ovation from friends that miss him very much.
Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau's House of Delegates opened this morning at Red Lion Downtowner.
The policies and programs of Farm Bureau are developed from grassroots recommendations originating at the community and county Farm Bureau levels. From these recommendations, tentative policy resolutions are prepared and submitted to the IFBF House of Delegates for action at its annual meeting each December.
The House of Delegates is made up of representatives elected by members of the county Farm Bureaus. Resolutions on state matters become IFBF policy. Matters of national interest are forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration.
Steve Ritter photo
Women Leadership Committee Names Women of the Year
Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau's Womens Leadership Committee named four Women of the year Tuesday night at the Red Lion Riverside in Boise.
(l to r) Stacie Ballard of Gooding, Karen Brady of Virginia, Rema Griffeth of Rexburg, Rhonda Blair of Kendrick
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
"The purpose of the YF and R Achiever program is to provide young farm members with additional opportunities for becoming active members of the Farm Bureau family," said YF and R Director Kendell Keller. "The YF and R program can be successful only if given the strong and active support of county leaders and we have that in Idaho Farm Bureau. "
Boise--Idaho Fish and Game is seeking a revenue increase using a new approach called "differential fee schedule," according to Fish and Game Director Cal Groen who addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Committee on Tuesday
"These differential fees would help us keep prices lower for more general licenses and permits," Groen told legislative committee members at the Doubletree Riverside.
Under this proposal, "high-quality" hunting and fishing opportunities would cost more than general opportunities. For example, hunting for trophy bull elk would cost more than hunting for an antlerless elk.
The proposed fee increases is less for Idaho residents than non-residents. Groen said that a resident combination license would increase 11 percent, to $35.25, while a nonresident one would increase 20 percent to $238.25.
If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would raise almost $7 million annually. Eighty percent would help us catch up with inflation pressures from things such as fuel and fish food costs, and state requirements such as wages and health care. The other 20 percent would go to on-the-ground projects that benefit hunters and anglers. See the Proposed Program Expansion link on the right.
Director Groen answered member questions and was warmly recieved.
Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley says Idaho Farmers face tough times ahead, but will prevail through the economic downturn in the economy.
Priestley told Farm Bureau members that keeping an eye on the bottomline, embracing change and farming smarter with technological innovations will keep Idaho Farmers in the game.
"In the year ahead farmers will continue to see strong cash reciepts, but gas prices and fertilizer costs are expected to rise again in February and the American Farm Bureau says the Farm sector could see a down-turn in 2009," said Priestley.
Priestley says that according to Federal statistics, American agriculture is in the best financial shape its every been in. Priestley says is just a mater of staying on top of changes, and thinking ahead.
"Instead of cursing change, we're embracing it," said Priestley. He says the organization is reaching out and telling the farmers story. Priestly says the Farm Bureau is looking forward to working with new Obama administration and letting them know where Farmers stand on the issues.
Discussion Meet a Huge Success
Boise--Four Young Farmer and Ranchers qualified for the discussion meet final at the Doubletree Riverside in Boise. Emily Ward, James Williams, Caroline Anderson, and Cade Davis beat out a talented field to make the finals.
But it was James Williams who took home the ATV grand prize. Armed with extensive research and razor sharp speaking skills, edged out one of the most competitive fields in recent years.
The strength of Farm Bureau is largely in its ability to involve members in analyzing their agricultural problems and deciding on solutions that best meet their needs. The Discussion Meet provides an opportunity for greater participation on the part of young, active farmers and ranchers and helps them develop a greater command of basic discussion skills.
The three fundamentals of general discussion are constructive criticism, cooperation and communication. The contestant's responsibility is to exchange ideas and information in an effort to solve a problem
The final discussion centered on improving transportation infa-structure in Idaho. Emily Ward delivered solid opening remarks:
The first order of business at the annual convention is the Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet. In the meet the young farmers polished their speaking and leadership skills not only to better their craft but the chance to win a new ATV and a trip to the National Convention in San Antonio.
In the Clearwater room Tanner Wing and Emily Ward, Cade Davis and Hidee Beddes talked about Farm perception and how to improve the image of farmers and the organization. "We can become united with the community, we can tell people what Farm Bureau is all about, but its up to us to tell the story, Perception is everything and we need to educate the community,"said Hidee Beddes of Jefferson County.
"We can change perception of agriculture through Farm Bureau," said Emily Wing. "If we can show farmers what Farm Bureau can do, we can rid misconceptions," said Cade Davis.
Steve Bagley from Victor competes in the discussion meet
Monday, December 1, 2008
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman on the Obama picks.
Chicago--President-elect Barack Obama officially introduced the members of his national security team today, including former Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state and Robert Gates, who will be remain as defense secretary.
Obama also announced that retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones -- a former top commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Europe -- would be his national security adviser.
"I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security," Obama told reporters during a morning news conference in Chicago.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
By Bob Smathers
Bonners Ferry--Jim Hayden from the Panhandle office of Idaho Fish and Game spoke to about 60 people at the Boundary County Farm Bureau annual banquet in Bonners Ferry on November 20. His topic was wolf population and wolf management. Jim said that wolf populations since their introduction by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been quite impressive.
Thirty five wolves were introduced into Idaho in the 1995/1996 time period and the numbers in 2007 stood at around 732 statewide. This number was reported in the January 15, 2007 report. With growth rates of around 25% per year, the numbers could be in the 800 to 900 range when counts come out again in mid January, 2008.
“In the Panhandle region, there were 6 documented wolf packs in 2007 and in 2008 that number has grown to 15 packs” says Mr. Hayden. He also said that there are only 4 collared wolves out of 130 wolves in the Panhandle and that has made it difficult to get a good handle on population. Estimates on wolf numbers in the Panhandle region last year were around 30 to 40 wolves and officials are confident that those numbers could be in the 130 range in the 2009 report.
“Some of what could be inflating these Panhandle numbers are wolves from Canada and Montana that are moving in.” said Hayden. He went on to say that a wolf for every 10 square miles of habitat is considered optimal and that given this “rule of thumb”, the panhandle region could support substantially higher numbers than 130 wolves that are here now.
Mr. Hayden also talked about wolf depredation on livestock and other animals and indicated that there are probably 7 to 8 times more animals killed by wolves than are documented. “It is impossible to investigate every loss reported by ranchers because not all kills can even be found and even if they are, the kills are often too old to document the cause,” says Hayden.
He indicated that there are compensation programs for ranchers through Defenders of Wildlife for confirmed and probable losses. Confirmed wolf kills are reimbursed at 100% of loss and probable wolf kills are reimbursed at 50% of loss. For those losses that are probable, livestock owners can get additional compensation from the office of species conversation to cover some or all of the remaining 50 percent, but their budget is only $100,000. “On average, the office of Species Conservation is paying out about $.30 on the dollar” says Hayden. He also indicated that Defenders of Wildlife money could disappear at any time.
There have been 124 wolves killed so far in 2008. Eighty of these confirmed kills were done by wildlife services, 13 by ranchers under the 10J rule and 31 were from other means like road kills etc. Five years ago, the confirmed wolf mortality was 15 animals. Mr. Hayden said there are higher numbers of wolves being taken out now, but the population is substantially higher too.
“Idaho Fish and Game needs to manage wolves and soon” says Hayden.
Once wolves are delisted, they will be managed according to wildlife conflicts and ungulate impacts. Idaho Fish and game will shoot for somewhere between 518 and 732 wolves. Hunting seasons will not stop until quotas are reached and controlled hunts will be used if necessary. There could possibly be trapping allowed. Poisons will not be allowed to control wolves and neither will aerial hunting be allowed. Aerial means could be used by state game officials for state population control in areas where livestock conflicts are high and/or where ungulate populations are suffering.
Jim Hayden is hopeful that delisting will occur in 2009. He anticipates a delisting announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in mid-December followed by a 30 day comment period, then delisting occurring in January. In summary, he said that Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming acknowledge that wolves are here to stay and we are going to have to manage them.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thanksgiving Dinner Up This Year
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 15, 2007 – Menu items for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings will cost more this year, but remain affordable, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
According to AFBF’s 22nd annual informal survey of the prices of basic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, the average cost of this year’s dinner for 10 is $42.26, a $4.16 price increase from last year’s average of $38.10.“Americans are blessed to have an abundant variety of home-grown food that is produced with pride by our hardworking farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
“During the holiday season, especially as we celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family, it’s appropriate to reflect on and give thanks for this bounty.”The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.
The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $17.63 or roughly $1.10 per pound, reflects an increase of 12 cents per pound, or a total of $1.93 per turkey compared to 2006. This is the largest contributor to the overall increase in the cost of the 2007 Thanksgiving dinner.“The inventory of birds in cold storage is relatively small this year. This has helped drive up the average retail turkey price,” said Jim Sartwelle, an AFBF economist.
“The tremendous increase in energy costs for transportation and processing over the past year also is a key factor behind higher retail prices at the grocery store.”Other items showing a price increase this year included: a gallon of whole milk, $3.88; a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.13; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.08; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.08; a 12-oz. package of brown-n-serve rolls, $1.89; a half-pint of whipping cream, $1.56; and a 12-oz. package of fresh cranberries, $2.20.A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased in price by 66 cents to $3.29.
“All of the dairy products included in the survey increased significantly in price over the past year due to skyrocketing world demand,” Sartwelle said.Items that decreased slightly in price this year were: a 14-oz. package of cube stuffing, $2.40; and a relish tray of carrots and celery, 66 cents. A pound of green peas remained the same in price at $1.46.
Sartwelle said on average, American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years, particularly when you adjust for inflation. The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $20 for the past 17 years.“Consumers can enjoy a wholesome, home-cooked turkey dinner for just over $4 per person – less than a typical fast-food meal. That’s an amazing deal, any way you slice it,” Sartwelle said.
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