Monday, June 30, 2008

Grazing Response Index Workshop

Fairfield--The Idaho Farm Bureau will sponsor a workshop on July 8th with one of the world's foremost authorities on range conservation and preservation at Camas High School in Fairfield, Idaho.

Dr. Roy Roath of Colorado State University pioneered and developed the Grazing Response Index. The GRI was developed to assess the effects of grazing during the year and aid rangeland planning the next. The index looks closely at plant health in evaluating the impacts of grazing including the frequency of defoliation, intensity of defoliation, and recovery.

Idaho Farm Bureau Range Specialist Wally Butler says effective and precise monitorining of grazing land is a must in modern day ranching operations. "It's very user friendly, and better yet it's a good way to get everyone on the same page."

"Most Forest lands require monitoring and its a requirement in the permit process, this is very important, yet once you know what's required and how to do it, its relatively easy to do," said Butler, he adds, "The workshop is free and open to the public and we hope to get a lot of people out see Dr. Roath."If you want more information on the workshop you can email Wally Butler at

Commodity Watch

Corn Prices Still Climbing
Chicago--Corn reached an all time high with the fear that more rain and flooding in the Midwest could hurt crops, and also because of a demand for commodities by investors to be used as a hedge against inflation. Northeast Missouri endured more than 8 inches of rain over the past week with more storms in the forecast.

Corn for December delivery is up as much as 1.4 percent to a record $7.9925 a bushel and in after-hours trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices gained 33 percent this month, becoming the best performer in the UBS Bloomberg CMCI index of 26 commodities.
Corn has doubled in the past year on high demand for livestock feed and grain-based ethanol. Global reserves are forecast to fall to a 24-year low by Aug. 31.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Potato News

University of Idaho Scientists Evaluate Organic Potato Varieties for Performance

TWIN FALLS—To help Idaho potato growers meet the market demand for organic spuds, two University of Idaho agricultural scientists are evaluating seven varieties of potatoes under organic production methods in a one-acre field outside of Kimberly.

“There’s a lot of interest and a lot of curiosity by growers,” said Nora Olsen, University of Idaho Extension potato specialist. “A lot of people are wondering, ‘OK, if I were to jump into this, how would it work?”Olsen and Extension soil specialist Amber Moore are digging up answers in order to make science-based information available to Idaho producers.

This year, they planted two varieties of processing potatoes—Alturas and the late blight-resistant Defender—alongside four fresh-market potatoes—Yukon Gold, Dark Red Norland, Norkotah and Norkotah-8—and Idaho’s mainstay Russet Burbank.They will monitor the potatoes closely for pest problems and treat damaging levels of Colorado potato beetles with the organically approved pesticide Spinosad.

Before planting, they fertilized some of their experimental plots with dairy manure and others with dairy compost and will add fish emulsion—and possibly humic acid—during the growing season. “Two of the biggest challenges that organic farmers face are controlling weed pressure and effectively managing plant nutrients,” Moore said.The scientists expect to cultivate at least four times for weeds, including one early-season pass that proved necessary for volunteer alfalfa.

The field—undergoing transition to full organic status—had been in alfalfa the past two years.“It’s a new challenge for us and we’re learning,” said Olsen of the Idaho Potato Commission-supported project.

“There are a lot of potatoes grown in this area and consequently there will be plenty of potato pests. We could have all of the same problems that neighboring conventional growers do, and we’ll need to deal with those problems in a modified way.”

Olsen and Moore say that making sure their potatoes get the nitrogen they need during the vine-ripening and tuber-bulking stages could be the biggest challenge the scientists face. Conventional growers typically apply pre-determined levels of nitrogen fertilizer at planting, then follow up with precisely measured supplementary applications through their sprinkler systems during the growing season.

But much of the nitrogen in manure and compost must be converted by soil microbes into a form plants can use—a slower and less predictable process.Moore will take numerous samples of soils and plant tissue this summer to determine when nitrogen is becoming available to the plants and whether it’s available at sufficient rates. She and Olsen will also compare the potato varieties to see which perform best under organic production methods: some may produce larger canopies and shade weeds more effectively, while others stand up better to insects or diseases, tolerate more competition from weeds or use fertilizers more efficiently.

They will also track costs, yields and crop quality and compare their crops with conventionally grown potatoes to help Idaho’s increasingly interested growers assess the pros and cons of organic production.According to Margaret Misner, organic program manager for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idaho growers are producing 1,176 acres of organic potatoes in 2008, compared with 495 acres in 2007 and 157 acres in 2006.

Today's numbers

Closing Grains and Livestock Futures

July corn closed at $7.53 and 3/4, up 23 and 3/4 cents
July soybeans closed at $15.74 and 1/4, up 36 and 3/4 cents
July soybean meal closed at $421.20, up $11.00
July wheat closed at $9.24, up 22 and 1/4 cents
June live cattle closed at $98.00, down 5 cents
July lean hogs closed at $73.25, down 65 cents
August crude oil closed at $139.64, up $5.09

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eye on Agriculture

New, Healthy Barley Taking Hold in Northern Idaho

Lewiston— Governor Butch Otter and Idaho Ag Director Celia Gould ushered Idaho into the lucrative healthy food market with a new variety of high-fiber barley produced by BGLife Barley. North Idaho producers started planting the barley last year and have expanded acerage for the new grain thats touted as the next generation of food for a diet-conscious America.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter talks soluble fiber at the BGLife News conference in Lewiston, Idaho. (Photo Bob Smathers)

BGLife says the barley is high in soluble fiber and heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The companies new Heart Balance Cereal says it’s product is 100 percent whole grain barley cereal and provides a superior nutritional profile and a high concentration of beta-glucan soluble fiber."

"I look at this as becoming another great value-added product from Idaho," Otter told a group of about 35 people Tuesday, The Lewiston Tribune reported. "We're constantly pushing the envelope on value-added products," said Idaho Governor Butch Otter who kicked off an introductory news conference.

The company says it plans to expand beyond the breakfast market and will soon be used in everything from muffins to pizza crust. "Idaho will have the opportunity to lead the world to a healthier lifestyle," Otter said. "We need it and we need it bad."

Farmer Sam White of Genesee said at least 10 farmers in the area are growing the new barley."The barley yielded as well as the field barley, and it didn't cost any more to grow," he said. "The seed (cost) was fairly nominal, so the growers' costs were fairly similar, but they got a premium on the product."

“The opportunities look tremendous for this new type of food barley, both for export as well as for largely untapped domestic markets,” said Governor Otter. “From my vantage point, BGLife Barley is a tremendous win for regional farmers who have new value-added markets, and for our consumers, particularly those with heart and diabetic risk factors.” (Bob Smathers photo)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Farm Bureau National PR Conference

Point Clear--It's been warm and humid, but not Idaho hot here in Alabama. We had great speakers at today's conference including Don Wambles the director of the Alabama Farmers Market who told us about all the positives in Alabama's direct marketing campaigns. Their Buy Fresh, Buy Local program continues to grow and is raising the awareness of where food comes from and who grows it. They're successful in bridging the gap between the consumer and farmer.

Renowned marketer, food news hound, Kevin Coupe of the talked to us about new consumer technology in the constantly changing marketplace. Coupe's insight was astute and facinating, check out his website:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

American Farm Bureau PR Convention in Point Clear, Alabama

Point Clear--The American Farm Bureau is sponsoring a Convention of all the state Farm Bureau Public Relation Divisions. It's a chance to see what other Farm Bureaus are doing and we have the chance to see how others handle day to day public relation issues.

Steve Ritter and Jake Putnam from the Boise office are attending along with John Thompson and Sean Ellis from the Pocatello office.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Idaho Beef Council News

Idaho Beef Council Appoints Traci O’Donnell Executive Director

Boise--The Idaho Beef Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Traci O’Donnell as its new Executive Director. As Executive Director, O’Donnell is responsible for leading the operational and strategic efforts of the Idaho Beef Council and reports to its eight member Board of Directors.

"We’re thrilled to bring Traci on to lead the Idaho Beef Council. Her depth of knowledge and experience in food marketing is impressive," said Kim Brackett, Chairman of the Board, “and we look forward to working with her as the Idaho beef industry expands on a regional and national scale."

O’Donnell brings to the position more than 15 years of business experience in corporate and agency environments. Most recently, she was the Director of Business Development for Stoltz Group, an integrated marketing communications firm. Previously, she held marketing management positions with leading food manufacturers including Unilever/Best Foods, PepsiCo and Simplot Foods where she was responsible for managing all marketing elements for the foodservice channel including strategic planning, new product development, promotional strategy and communications. O’Donnell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Cal State Fullerton.

About the Idaho Beef Council:
The Idaho Beef Council was created in 1967 by the Idaho legislature as a marketing organization for the Idaho beef industry, and to support a national beef marketing effort. As a qualified state beef council under the Beef Promotion and Research Act, the Idaho Beef Council is responsible for collecting the national $1-per-head checkoff on all cattle marketed in Idaho and distributing funds to state and national programs for the promotion of beef. Checkoff dollars are used to enhance the attributes of beef and the beef industry as viewed by consumers and increase beef demand through programs of promotion, research and education.

Dairy News

Boise--The Idaho Dairy Products Commission has three new board members on the United Dairymen of Idaho board of directors.

The Department of Agriculture conducts elections in the three districts each year covering the state. Ballots were sent out to eligible producers earlier this month.

Following are the names of producers elected to serve in each of the three districts. Those elected serve three-year terms.

District I - Tom Dorsey, Caldwell (Ada, Adams, Benewah, Boise, Bonner, Boundary, Canyon Clearwater, Elmore, Gem, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, Shoshone, Valley, and Washington counties)

District II -Dan Crane, Kimberly(Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls counties).

District III -Gale Moser, Preston (Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, Oneida, Power, and Teton counties).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sad but True

Local Effect of Crop Flood Damage in Midwest
Pocatello--President Bush is set to visit flood-ravaged lands in the Midwest Thursday. While the damage is thousands of miles away from East Idaho, there will be some impact here at home.
Some Americans are becoming disheartened as our economic climate is becoming worse. Endless fields of crops in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest are submerged beneath flood waters that have surged over levies.

More than a million acres of corn in Iowa alone are now ruined.
John Thompson, Idaho Farm Bureau: "It's a big gamble to be a farmer; there's so many things that can go wrong."

Record fuel costs have already caused food prices to rise, on average, about 5%. Now corn is up by $1.50 a bushel.

However, much of the corn grown in Iowa is used to feed livestock, not humans. That means there will be higher costs to feed cows, many farmers will liquidate and sell some of their herd, and meat prices will fluctuate.

Thompson: "You'll see meat prices drop, then with supply and demand, they'll go back up - there should be a spike over summer."

In the last few decades, the number of cattle in Idaho has jumped from under 200,000 to about 500,000. Corn production here to feed some of that cattle has spiked as well, as Idaho now grows about 300,000 acres of corn.

John Thompson of the Idaho Farm Bureau says farmers haven't seen this much volatility in more than 30 years.

Thompson: "Wheat prices have set all-time highs. That's been a big plus for Idaho farmers; however, everything they're buying is costing more."

But despite record prices of fuel and transporting food, fertilizers and supplies for farmers - on top of the far-reaching effects of these disasters - Thompson says this:
"One of the things I've learned about farmers over the years - don't ever count them out."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Food Prices

Midwest Flooding Means Higher Food Prices

By Vanessa Brown
BOISE - It probably won't be the next trip to the grocery store, but in time Idaho consumers will likely feel the effects of the midwest floods. "Any type of disaster whether it be Katrina down in New Orleans or the floods now, it effects all of us. It effects all 50 states," said grocery shopper Frank Dega.

The price of corn jumped 22% this month as fears over crops damaged by the incessant rain grew. The country is now seeing record highs, up about 90% from a year ago."About a million acres of corn is still under water. Right now corn is going for $7 a bushel. Last year in comparison, $4 a bushel," said Jake Putnam with the Idaho Farm Bureau.Putnam said consumers could see the biggest impact during harvest time in the fall.

That's because corn effects just about everything Americans eat. It's in cereal. It feeds the chickens that produce eggs, the cows that produce milk, and of course meat. "You're going to see a spike in these feed prices. Once you see a spike in feed prices, meat across the board will go up," he said. Prior to the flooding, the U.S. Agriculture Department predicted food prices would rise 5% this year.

It seems the hits just keep coming."Now with the corn, it's going to go up even more. I'm retired and anything that effects the economy, effects me and it effects everybody else too," Dega said.He grew up in the midwest. his friends and family members farm the very fields now under water. Dega feels the pain on both ends of the country and many consumers do too.

The Future of US Agriculture

Cole, Drake and Chad Hungate, the Future of Idaho Agriculture, Photo: Steve Ritter

FSA's Rural Youth Loans
Caldwell—Want to see the future of Idaho Agriculture? Head to Caldwell and visit the Three Brothers Cattle Ranch and what you find will enlighten and encourage you.

The U.S. Department of Agricultures Farm Service Agency makes operating loans to farm kids 10-20 years old to start up and operate income producing agriculture projects.

Just ask the Three Brothers, otherwise known as the Hungate Boys, 11-year old Paul; 12-year old Drake and 9-year old Cole the brothers took out a loan to start their own cattle operation and they’re old hands at the farming and ranching game. Last year they started the Three Brothers Chicken Ranch after success there, they sold out now they’re moving on to bigger and better things.

‘It all started when we trapped gophers for all the farmers and made about a thousand dollars, then my grandpa gave us 10 laying chickens and we started our chicken ranch,” said Cole Hungate who loves to talk ranching.

“We got the loan from FSA and we borrowed $5,000. I bought 4 cows with it and had $200 to spare so I used that to registers a brand and to cover feed,” said Drake Hungate. “We got really good interest and locked it in at 3.2-percent.”

Interest rates are determined based on the cost of money to the Federal Government and is locked in when the loan is made.

The FSA’s John Lejardi says the Farm Service Agency is the USDA’s principal agency charged with promoting a stable and abundant American food supply, and points out that this program gives the next farming generation a foot-up when their turn comes. Simply put, Rural Youth Loans is vital investment in future of U.S. agriculture.

The FSA stresses that the project should be small and are targeted toward kids involved in 4-H and FFA projects and they must be closely supervised by a 4-H supervisor and they must produce enough income to pay off the loan and more importantly give the kids practical business and education experience.

“These boys are prime examples of kids that participate in the program,” said Mike Anderson FSA Loan Officer. All the 4-H and FFA kids really need to see what the Hungates have done so they can get it done too.”

Chad Hungate is still too young for a loan but he turns 10 in November and vows to be first in line for a loan.

“I’m leaning how to take care of cattle, when to feed ‘em, how much they’re selling for, and when to buy and when they calve,” said Chad.

“They have the knowledge of the cattle business at 11 and 12 that takes years to learn and I feel like they’ll go a long ways with ranching and gain additional knowledge with raising cattle and going through the learning experience at a young age,” adds Anderson.

Chad says he’s ready to start a cattle operation of his own. “After I pay off the loan with the money the calves bring I’m gonna buy some more calves.” Anderson says that Chad at 9 fully understands the ranching game thanks to the program.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just in from Washington

Washington--Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced that he has secured $1 million for the Idaho Meth Project, in the Fiscal Year 2009 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill.

“Governor and First Lady Otter brought this project to my attention last year and I was immediately sold on its importance to Idaho and its potential for keeping our state’s kids off meth,” said Simpson. “The sad reality is that meth continues to rob too many Idahoans of their money, their futures, and their lives. I am hoping this infusion of federal funding will help the Idaho Meth Project impact the lives of more Idahoans in a positive way and turn them away from the life-sapping scourge of methamphetamine.”

“The Governor and I appreciate all the hard work Congressman Simpson is doing to help educate Idahoans about the dangers of methamphetamine,” said First Lady Lori Otter. “Every single day the Meth Project is positively influencing the lives of our state’s children while fighting the devastating impacts of meth. I’m pleased Congressman Simpson secured this critical funding for this extremely necessary project.”

Idaho Young Farmers and Ranchers voted unanimously to throw support behind the Idaho Meth Project with fundraising activities earlier this year. Megan Ronk of the Meth Project told YF and R members at their Burley meeting in January: “The nature of meth amphetamine in Idaho is that it tends to be rural and isolated. People can do this drug under the darkness of night and no one’s asking questions. Idahoans are not seeing what’s going on; that’s why rural communities in the state have been so plagued by this drug,” said Ronk.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Corn Prices Up

Photo courtesy of Sarah of West Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines--The flooding in Iowa could affect food prices across the board. It's estimated one million acres of corn has been lost in Iowa and flooding in other Midwestern states could impact beef and ethanol prices.

Farmers say the loss of corn is straining existing supplies and could drive corn up to record highs in the fall. The floods sent corn prices soaring past $7 a bushel, that's up from $4 last year. Prices reached record levels almost every day last week and since the flooding corn prices are up twenty percent.

Return to the Murphy Complex Fire

Rancher Bert Brackett shows a photo of the scorched range, that's in sharp contrast to the range this spring. (Wally Butler photo)

Castleford--The Society for Range Management toured last year's Murphy Complex fire on Saturday to asess the damage and recovery of the range. The range has made a remarkable come back thanks to a massive rehab project and a wet winter and spring.
Brackett showed the group a section of grazed range that was burned over, but not permanently damaged.

Last summer on July 16th there were 22 different fire starts in the area that led to 720-thousand acres going up in smoke. This past year crews drill seeded more than 70-thousand acres of burnt range while more than 260-thousand acres were aerial seeded with sage brush seed.

Idaho Governor Buth Otter was praised for quick action last summer. Shortly after the fire, Otter signed an Executive Order creating the Rangeland Rehabilitation Committee and the Disaster Emergency Fund that continues to work the scorched range today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rangeland Workshop Set for July 8th

Fairfield--The Idaho Farm Bureau is sponsoring a workshop with one of the world's foremost authorities on range conservation and preservation, July 8th at the Fairfield Ranger Station in Fairfield, Idaho.

Dr. Roy Roath of Colorado State University pioneered and developed the Grazing Response Index. The GRI was developed to assess the effects of grazing during the year and aid rangeland planning the next. The index looks closely at plant health in evaluating the impacts of grazing including the frequency of defoliation, intensity of defoliation, and recovery.

"A set of indicators that I use consistently are those that relate to assessment of the plant responses after grazing, said Roy Roath. "We know that plant responses to defoliation are based on frequency of defoliation, intensity of defoliation, and opportunity of the plants to grow or to regrow. If this is how plants respond then we're able to use them in monitoring how plants respond. If the plants arn't responding, then we can adjust the defoliation events so that the results are better."

Idaho Farm Bureau Range Specialist Wally Butler says effective and precise monitorining of grazing land is a must in modern day ranching operations. "It's very user friendly, and better yet it's a good way to get everyone on the same page."

"Most Forest lands require monitoring and its a requirement in the permit process, this is very important, yet once you know what's required and how to do it, its relatively easy to do," said Butler, he adds, "The workshop is free and open to the public and we hope to get a lot of people out see Dr. Roath."

If you want more information on the workshop you can email Wally Butler at .

The Economy

Washington--Inflation shot up in May at the fastest pace in six months, pushed higher by soaring costs for gasoline and other types of energy.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Friday that consumer prices rose by 0.6% last month, the biggest one-month increase since last November, as gasoline costs surged by 5.7%. Food prices, which have also been rising sharply, were up 0.3% as the cost of beef and bakery products showed big increases.

Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, edged up a more moderate 0.2% in May. But even there, core prices are up 2.3% over the past 12 months, above the Federal Reserve's comfort zone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

President Priestley's Editorial

Coalition Unfairly Targets Ethanol Industry
By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President

A swarm of angry lobbyists recently launched an erroneous smear campaign blaming ethanol for increasing food prices, threatening crucial ecosystems and being bad for the economy, among other evils.

It’s a typical self-serving, emotion-based public relations campaign that we take issue with on several fronts. But before we address some of the deception this group is peddling, let’s establish a few simple, but indisputable facts. First, crude oil prices are up 43 percent since January, which has nothing to do with ethanol. Second, if Congress agreed to lift the 51-cent per gallon fuel blender subsidy and the renewable fuel mandate requiring ethanol blending with gasoline, the price of corn would drop by only 77 cents per bushel. And third, the days of $2.50 per bushel corn aren’t coming back.

Our question is did ethanol production create these problems, or could it be that some businesses got a little too comfy on cheap corn?

The Food Before Fuel Campaign, a partnership of more than 20 environmental, retail, hunger, Hispanic, agricultural and food industry groups alleges the U.S. government’s ethanol policies “have increased our reliance on food as an energy source,” and urges lawmakers to “address how to develop alternative fuels that do not pit our energy needs against affordable food and environmental sustainability.”

It strikes us as unfortunate and self-serving that livestock producer groups are teaming with environmentalists and food industry groups, to attempt to smother a booming, job producing rural industry and a significant business opportunity for the very people that supply their raw products – farmers.

The deeper you delve into the Food Before Fuel Campaign’s press materials the thinner and more devious the tactics become. The assertion that using corn to make fuel “damages our world,” pegged our truth-o-meter. It seems odd that livestock producer and food industry groups that depend on corn in order to exist are making the argument that increasing corn production threatens environmental sustainability. Do arguments that squishy really pass for effective lobbying with these groups? Further, are producer check off dollars being used to fund distribution of this drivel?

Getting back to a place where the truth matters, we know there are several contributors to our rapidly changing economy. Ethanol production has increased demand for corn stimulating prices for all grains that were in the tank for a long time prior.

Drought and crop failure in Australia and other wheat exporting countries has pushed prices.

We mentioned record setting crude oil prices above, but according to CNBC, aggregate energy prices increased 63 percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. Diesel fuel prices have doubled in the last year, drastically increasing the cost of transporting food.

The value of the dollar is down in relation to other world currencies. That makes U.S. products more competitive abroad and increases demand for U.S. produced food and other products. However, imported food like bananas and coffee and imported energy are more expensive.

Labor is the biggest component of the food marketing dollar. For every dollar spent at the grocery store or restaurant, 40 cents pays for wages throughout the food chain. Farmers receive 20 to 25 percent of the food dollar.

China and India are consuming more meat, grain and energy as income levels have risen in recent years. Per capita consumption of meat in China doubled over the last decade. All of these factors are contributing to rising food prices in the U.S. The consumer price index for food and beverages showed a 4 percent increase in 2007 and is expected to increase 3.5 to 4.5 percent this year.

As you can see it’s a complicated situation that must be addressed on several fronts. Changing federal energy policies at this time will harm domestic ethanol producers and take profit away from family farms, but it won’t bring back cheap corn, reduce energy costs or make food less expensive.

Global Warming?

Boise's last snow storm: April 9th, 2008

Idaho Falls--The Farm Bureau's John Thompson woke up to an inch of snow at his home near Ririe on June 10th, he had questions about media reports of global warming. And the thought probably crossed Roy Pattens mind as well; the University of Idaho’s Parker Farm supervisor measured a 10th of an inch of snow on Tuesday, it was the first time in more than a century that a measureable amount of snow was recorded at the farm.

The Parker research Farm's records date back to 1900, according to Patten. Idaho Climatologist Russ Qualls, a University of Idaho professor of agricultural engineering, said Wednesday he reviewed weather records after watching the previous day’s snowstorm. Records from Moscow dating back to February 1893 showed June during the 20th century was snow free. Two reports of trace amounts of snow were reported on June 15, 1895, and June 5, 1899.Qualls, testified at the Statehouse earlier this year about climate change trends, said he regards the June snowstorm as more of a weather event than a sign of climate change.

Quallss analysis of climate change models developed by international experts suggested that during coming decades southern Idaho may be in for wetter conditions as weather patterns shift.Tuesday’s snowfall, however, probably was significant of not much more than an unusually cold airmass hugging the ground. The cold allowed the snow to stay frozen all the way down rather than melting above.“This was a weather event. With the issue of global warming, we’re looking at very small, gradual changes in temperature,” Qualls added. “I would not interpret this to be a sign one way or the other about global warming.”

If weather records reached a few hundred years further back, June snows would have been more likely, Qualls said. The Little Ice Age began in the 1500s and ended in the late 1800s, and since June is normally a wet month, colder temperatures could have made snows more probable.Patten measured the snowfall about 10 a.m. Even though the snow was falling heavily, the ground was warm enough that it melted quickly. The snow fell for several hours, from early morning until early afternoon in most areas.

The cold temperatures and white snow has cut into summer vacations, slowed crops but has saved millions of gallons of water needed during the late summer. Thompson has noticed a difference on his chicken farm, egg production is down.
Eastern and Northern Idaho are infamous for severe weather but according to Patten also varies widely by locale. “That’s the thing about the Palouse: There are a lot of microclimates,” Patten said, adding that it might have snowed nearby in June, but this is the first time enough has fallen to measure at the farm.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Statehouse Construction Update

Boise--Workers reconstruct and paint third floor window wells at the Idaho Statehouse on Wednesday. The project is under budget but running a bit behind according to reports from the site. That could put the completion date well into the the 2010 session, but workers told us that won't happen.

Gas Prices still Rising

Boise--Crude oil is up again according to a Department of Energy report just out today. The report says that oil is up more than $6 a barrel in New York because inventories declined more than expected. That's increased concern and could further strain stockpiles during the busy summer driving season.

"It's clear that refiners are using the inventories that they have on hand to meet demand,'' said Bill O'Grady, director of fundamental futures research at Wachovia Securities in St. Louis.

The AAA of Idaho reports that gasoline is now over the four-dollar per gallon mark statewide with some areas as high as four-dollars and ten-cents per gallon. The average price has spiked by thirty-five cents in the past month and seventy-four cents in the past year.

Corn Crop Plantings Down Wheat Up:USDA

Crop Production Prospects Reduced in USDA Reports

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2008—The U.S. corn crop will be greatly reduced in 2008, according to a report released by the World Agricultural Outlook Board.

“The report confirms what observers have known for the past couple of weeks,” said Terry Francl, senior economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

According to the board’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report, estimated corn yield for 2008 was reduced by 5 bushels per acre compared to the May report. Overall corn production for the year was reduced by 390 million bushels compared to the May estimate, for a total of 11.7 billion bushels.

On the demand side, the 2008/2009 corn feed and residual estimate was reduced another 150 million bushels, and is now down to 1 billion bushels, a 16-percent drop from the previous year.

News regarding planting progress for various crops was released by the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in its Crop Production report. Planting progress for both corn and soybeans has lagged this year due to adverse weather conditions. To date, farmers have planted about 2 million fewer corn acres than they previously indicated they would.

Higher estimated wheat production is anticipated. The winter wheat crop is pegged at 1.8 billion bushels, “almost exactly what analysts predicted,” Francl said.

The winter wheat estimate resulted in a 2008/2009 total wheat production number that was 40 million bushels higher than the May estimate. However, that figure was almost entirely offset by estimated increased demand for wheat for feed use coupled with a likely increase in exports. As a result, ending stocks for wheat are estimated at 487 million bushels, up just 4 million.

The WASDE and Crop Production reports are available here:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

After the rain

After the rain, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

Unseasonable temperatures and storms continue to blow through the Treasure Valley. The good news is that there is plenty of irrigation water, but the season is almost 3 weeks behind schedule.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Farmers gear up

Jake Putnam is interviewed by KTVB on the passage of the Farm Bill

Boise--With record high fuel and rising food prices, the news media is showing a lot of interest in agriculture. The gasoline / rising food price issue continues to grab headlines with few positive stories. Idaho Farm Bureau board member Terry Jones says that reporters are not going to go away and farmers need to gear up and be ready to ‘light a candle, rather than curse the darkness.’

Jones is the newest member of the Farm Bureau’s speaker bureau and says more quotable, camera-ready spokesmen are needed in all of Idaho’s counties that can talk about why food prices are rising. Reporters are looking for farmers and ranchers that they can profile in their stories and hopefully bring understanding to the issues.

“Let’s set the story straight right now,” Jones said Tuesday. “First of all we’re the only business people in America that go to the market place with hat in hand. We don’t set prices, we’ve never set prices. We live with whatever price we get, yes we are getting good prices now but our inputs are going up almost as fast as prices,” he adds. “Again, this shows a disconnect between John Q. Public and producers; they don’t understand us. We've taken each other for granted and we need to get back in contact with our people and let then know the real story.”

If you’re a farmer and want to be a spokesman contact:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Diesel Watch

Diesel Watch, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

While gas is holding at the $3.99 mark diesel is inching toward the $5.00 a gallon mark in Canyon County.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Labrador Talks Immigration

Representative Raul Labrador speaks to the Farm Buearu's Dairy and Beef Committee on Tuesday.

Boise--Raul Labrador runs the largest Immigration Law Office in Idaho and says business is booming. Labrador also is a 1st term lawmaker that represents Eagle in the Idaho Legislature, and now wears a third hat—he’s on retainer from Idaho dairymen to help their migrant workforce.

“We have an office with three attorneys,” he told the Farm Bureau Dairy and Beef Committee on Tuesday in Boise. “We probably see about 10 people a day that have immigration issues. Not all of them are illegal but at least half of them have some sort of illegal status.”

Labradors numbers are backed up by a Mexican government report issued earlier this year that revealed that the majority of Mexicans now living in the United States — 6.2 million — are undocumented, according to the report, based on surveys of migrants and information from the government's National Population Council.

Labrador says changes need to be made in US immigration rules and regulations that would help millions become legal without wholesale changes to Immigration policy.

“I told the Dairy Industry that sometimes we hear about major pieces of legislation and immigration reform but there is something we can do without changing the whole system…it’s change the law that bars people from re-entering the US, take away that permanent ban, it would automatically help 25 percent of those people out there with immigration problems,” he said.

“Migrants that have have lived in the United States six months or less get a three year bar. If you lived in the United States one year or less you get a 10 year bar, and if you live in the United States more than one year and leave and return illegally you get that permanent bar," Labrador explained.

“I would bet you that 90 percent of the people that work for you are illegal because of these rules and because what do they do in the winter? They go home to visit their families. So I have been talking to the Senators, especially to Congressman Bill Sali saying we need to get rid of these rules, he said.”

The report claims that 68 percent of Mexicans who migrate or try to migrate to the United States do so with forged documents and 55 percent of them hire immigrant smugglers because they cannot cross the border legally. Experts say that removing some of the permanent bans would drastically curb document forgery and keep honest workers honest.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of immigration reform be build, if we change the laws to allow people to get a guest worker visa, or something like that they are still permanently bared if they left the United States and returned to the United States,” said Labrador

Labrador also called on the Federal Government to enforce the immigration laws on the books, because there cannot be a policy if there are no enforcement teeth.

“For almost 30 years we haven’t enforced the current immigration laws so we have over 12 million people here in the United States that are illegal,” stressed Labrador. “We really need to be serious about enforcing the law. You cannot have a guest worker program that allows people to receive forgiveness for their actions if we don’t also promise that we are no longer going to violate the law. There has to be real enforcement of the law," Labrador told the committee.

Labrador says hes walking an ethical tightrope at the statehouse, he told Farm Bureau members that he's had to recuse himself from immigration and dairy issues. "I'm going far beyond what's required, but it's best no not vote on any legislation where I might have a conflict," still he says theres so much work to do to help working families, and so much more work to do help Idaho's farmers.

Growers On the Watch for Encroaching Insects and Crop Diseases

Caldwell--When Treasure Valley agricultural producers—and potato growers statewide—fire up their computers, they can find messages alerting them to pest problems that are either arising or poised to arise in their growing regions.

Now in its eighth year, the Pacific Northwest Pest Alert Network, sends e-mail to its 526 subscribers and posts information on its Web site that helps farmers time their pest management treatments and minimize their pesticide use.

Jerry Neufeld, University of Idaho Extension educator in Canyon County and PNW Pest Alert coordinator, says annual surveys of the service’s subscribers indicate that they are increasing their field scouting, decreasing their pesticide sprays and using other integrated pest management methods in response to the information they’re getting through the pest network.

In 2007, 45 percent of Web site subscribers said they had scouted their fields more often to document pest levels before taking treatment actions; 29 percent had observed that a spray they applied was more effective because of better timing; 18 percent had used beneficial insects, pheromone traps, chemical rotations or other IPM strategies, and 8 percent had reduced the number of sprays applied to their crops.

“They’re documenting pest levels in their fields, based upon their own field scouting, before they apply a pesticide,” said Neufeld. “That’s very important to us, because one of our goals is to help them make informed decisions about when to spray.”

First launched in 2001 as the Treasure Valley Pest Alert, the Web site recorded slightly more than 32,000 visits in 2007. Not only do participants receive messages but they also report pest outbreaks, which are verified by University of Idaho or Oregon State University Extension faculty before being posted. In addition, the site offers extensive information on pests and pest management.Producers can subscribe to the service at any time.

“The more people who participate, the more successful we’ll be and the greater value we’ll have to the agriculture industry,” Neufeld noted.This year’s sponsors include the Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho Alfalfa and Clover Seed Commission, Malheur County Onion Growers Association, Idaho Onion Growers Association and the Idaho Sugar Beet Research Commission.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Co-chairman Gerald Marchant

Co-chairman Gerald Marchant, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

Marchant of Oakley gave a presentation to the Farm Bureau Dairy and Beef Committee on Beef Checkoff proposals on June 3rd.

Idaho FB President Frank Priestley listens

Frank Priestley listens to an immigration reform presentation from Immigration Attorney and specialist Raul Labrador at the Idaho Farm Bureau Dairy Committee meeting in Boise on June 3rd.

Farm Bureau Beef and Dairy Committee Discusses Policy and Immigration Reform

Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Beef and Dairy Committee headed by Terry Jones met under gray skies at the Boise Office.

Chairman Jones told members in opening remarks that the committee was there to help and would consider change to Farm Bureau policy if it helped the farmer's economic bottom line.

"Are our policies current with energy issues that are out there today, whether were talking water issues, power, fuel issues. Its time that we start looking at our issues on an annual basis with the current issues in mind," said Jones.

Over the next few months the committee will study the Farm Bill, monitor fuel prices and examine policies that need to be changed to keep up with the fuel input crisis as it develops. With commodity markets stable and strong across the board farmers are optimistic.

"All the sudden I'm handling a lot money, not keeping a lot but handling a lot. Is the company you're selling grain to or buying from on sound footing? Do we need policy to make sure the people we do business with are financially sound? Do they need to be certified so we have a safety net if they go under; when I put grain in storage, I want it there in six months," Terry Jones said.Jones added that farmers need to scrutinize buyers and suppliers more and farmers need more economic policy to safeguard them in uncertain economic times.

USDA Partners to Improve Rural Water Infrastructure

Six Projects in Idaho Will Improve Quality of Life and Build a Foundation for Rural Prosperity BOISE– Assistant to the Secretary for ...