Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wolf Delisting

Jim Hayden addresses Boundary County Farm Bureau members on Wolf populations--Smathers photo
Idaho Fish and Game Official Talks on Wolves at Boundary County Banquet
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 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.

Bonner County Annual Meeting

Bonner County Farm Bureau members listen to board member Peggy Rickabaugh (Bonner County Womens chair) speaking on the women’s committee activities over the past year.
Bob Smathers photo

Boundary County Farm Bureau News

Bob Smathers photo

Boundary County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Boundary County--Farm Bureau County President welcomed more than 40 members to the annual meeting held this past week. Daniel reported on Board accomplishments the past year and previewed the annual convention in Boise in December. Daniel also congratulated Walt Dinning, the Boundary County Insurance agent for being one of the most productive if not the most productive agent in the state at generating new memberships.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

American Farm Bureau on the Elections

Washington--American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman discusses President-elect Obama's challenge when the new president takes office January 20th.

Candidate Obama met with the American Farm Bureau on the heated campaign trail and emphasized his support of the new farm bill. “I would have liked to have seen some additional reforms in the bill, but on balance the bill did a lot more good than bad because it dramatically increased the funding to fight hunger, it increased funding for conservation, and it provided farmers with stability in an increasingly volatile market,” Obama said.

“Rural America stands at a crossroads. Now more than ever we need a strong agricultural sector. We rely on the farmers of America to produce safe, plentiful food at a reasonable price. And even with the increase in food prices, Americans only spend 10 percent of their income on food which is the lowest of any country in the world,” Obama said. “America is also looking to agriculture to help make us energy independent.”

Ag News

Dr. Norman Borlaug
The Man Who Fed the World’ Named Ag Book of the Year

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture presented its second annual “Book of the Year” award to Leon Hesser for The Man Who Fed the World, his biography of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and Foundation board member, presented the award to Hesser. “In The Man Who Fed the World, Leon Hesser tells the story of Dr. Norman Borlaug and the green revolution sparked by his research,” Gilbert said. “This book takes us back to the days after World War II when one-third of the world’s 1.6 billion people were on the verge of starvation. Sadly, we as a nation of plenty, have forgotten this fact,” she said.

The Man Who Fed the World is one of 200 “Accurate Ag Books” recommended for children, teenagers and adults by the Foundation.

“This engaging story about the life and work of Norman Borlaug makes a strong case for modern agriculture and the remarkable changes that the green revolution brought to the world,” Gilbert said.

Borlaug introduced simple technologies such as corn hybrids and short-strawed, disease-resistant wheat to farmers in developing countries. Substantial yield increases helped avert a brewing global food crisis. In 1970, Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to preventing hunger and famine in developing countries.

The Book of the Year award was presented to Hesser at the National Farm-City Week Luncheon in Birmingham, Ala., hosted by the National Farm-City Council. The luncheon also featured a lively discussion on “Combating Hunger in America” with a panel of distinguished leaders from industry, academia and non-profit organizations.

Alpharma Inc., Animal Health is the sole sponsor of this year’s Book of the Year Program. The Foundation is developing a curriculum and essay contest on the book for high school students, to be piloted in several states in 2009.

National Farm-City Week is the week leading up to and including Thanksgiving, Nov. 21-27. It is a nationally designated observance of the interdependence among agriculture, the people who grow the food and the people who eat it. Farm-City events and celebrations will take place in communities around the nation during this week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Financial News

Dow Closes Up 370 Points
New York--The Dow Jones closed up 370 points. The S.&P. was up 6.2 percent. Wall Street rallied over the government's plan to bail out Citigroup, a move intended to ease investor uncertainty about the financial sector. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose about 6.2 percent.

Dairy News

Milk Production Up

Gooding--Idaho milk production increased by 6 million pounds from September to October, up 6.2 percent from a year ago according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average milk production per cow held steady to 2007 numbers, but the average number of milk cows in production rose to 554,000, up 32,000 from October 2007.

The 23 major milk-producing states saw milk production rise by 1.5 percent from October 2007, to 14.4 billion pounds, thanks to a 105,000-cow increase to 8.46 million. September milk production came in at 14 billion pounds, up by 1.8 percent from a year earlier.

Benewah County Annual Banquet

Dick Harwood reports on legislative issues--Bob Smathers photo


Saint Maries--The Benewah County Farm Bureau reports a full house at their annual banquet Friday November 7th.

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation CEO Rick Keller gave banquet goers food for thought with a talk about the founding fathers.

Dick Harwood gave a report on key legislative issues from the 2008 Legislature and previewed an interesting 2009 session.

Smathers photo
Keith Damon farms Kentucky Blue Grass seed, he reported on his Washington D.C. trip.
Damon and wife Penny were selected to represent District 5 on the Idaho Farm Bureau D.C. tour last February.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gem County Annual Banquet

Gem County Farm Bureau President Tracy Walton addresses the banquet crowd--Ritter photo
Gem County Banquet Draws Record Crowd
by Steve Ritter

Emmett--A Capaicity crowd of 90 gathered at the 4th street gardens in Emmett for the annual Gem County Farm Bureau banquet.

This year five senior farm families were honored as the "Gems" of Gem County Agriculture. The Gem County Farm Bureau selected Walt Howard (deceased) Bruce & Carrie Walton, Homer& Louise Nesbitt, Warren Elwood and Lowell&Nettie Hall for the honor.

Ed and Wally Howard and sister Helen (standing in for walt), Carrie & Bruce Walton, Homer & Louise Nesbitt, Warren Elwood, and Nettie & Lowell Hall--Ritter Photo

The group of graying farmers represents more than 240 years of agriculture in Gem County. Homer Nesbitt who is 82, lives in the same house he was born in. Lowell and Nettie Hall have been farming together for 59 years. Bruce Walton and Lowell Hall are still ful- time, active farmers and both are in their 80's. Walt Howard was a Gem pioneer who touched hundreds of lives in his 90+ years of farming on the Emmett bench, And Warren Elwood has been a jack of all trades in the valley since 1958.

Madison County Banquet

Madison County held their annual banquet this past week and Dennis Brower reports a full house in attendance. Diana Richmond above, addresses the crowd after reciveing the coveted Woman of the Year Award.

Madison Farm Bureau members get caught-up after harvest while at the head table in the background; the Board drew tickets for door prices. (Dennis Brower photos)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Environment

The White House--photo by Jake Putnam

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush wants to relax endangered species rules and regulations before President-elect Obama takes office January 20th.

In October The Interior Department rushed to complete the new rules over the objections of lawmakers and environmentalists who argued that they would weaken conservation laws.

The rules must be published the Friday before President-elect Obama is sworn into Office in January, Otherwise the new President can undo them with just a signature.

Critics have complained that federal wildlife scientists in some endangered species cases failed to use all the science available allowing the federal agency in charge of building, authorizing and funding a project to determine if it’s likely to harm endangered wildlife and plants.

Under current rules wildlife biologists must sign off on these decisions before a project can go forward, at times delaying projects indefinately and running up costs while claiming to protect species.

"If the new rules go into effect before the Obama Administration takes office, they’ll be hard to reverse because the administration would have to restart the rule-making process," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. But a Democrat controlled Congress could reverse the rules through the Congressional Review Act — a law that reviews new federal rules and regulations.

The Bush administration was vocal of its intentions to scrap the parts of the endangered species act. When the proposal was first announced in August, the public was given a month to comment and then doubled after Democratic lawmakers pressed for more time.

If successful, the Bush administration will do what Congressional Republicans couldn’t do in decades: ending endless environmental reviews that critics blame for delays and cost overuns on many projects.

Property Rights Advocate groups like the The Pacific Legal Foundation wants the new rules approved ASAP. "Litigious activists have used the Endangered Species Act to fight projects," Reed Hopper, the foundation's principal attorney, said "The administration's current proposal is a step toward curbing these abuses."
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
$1.5 Billion Will Go to State and County Governments Over 5 Years in Full Compensation for Payments in Lieu of Taxes

WASHINGTON– Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that more than $1.5 billion will be distributed through 2012 to local governments that qualify for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides compensation for taxes that could not be levied on federal lands in their jurisdictions.

Under new authorization for the PILT program, $138.7 million in supplemental payments for fiscal year 2008 will soon be distributed to about 1,850 county and other local governments. The Department of the Interior is scheduled to officially announce and distribute each state’s supplemental 2008 PILT funding by the third week in November. In June of 2008, $228.5 million in 2008 PILT payments were distributed to these jurisdictions. The combined payments – $367.2 million – will provide these governments their first full PILT entitlement payments since 1994.

“I am extremely pleased that these communities, which provide important assistance in supporting federal lands, will be receiving their full compensation,” Kempthorne said. “We appreciate their help and recognize that these local governments provide essential services to communities across the country, including education, transportation, firefighting and emergency response. These payments will help to fund these critical programs.”

Eligibility for PILT payments is reserved for local governments (usually counties) that contain National Forests, National Parks, Bureau of Land Management public lands, and lands dedicated to water resource development projects.

By law, the payments are calculated using a mandated formula, based on the number of acres of federal entitlement land, the population within each county or jurisdiction, and adjusted for revenue sharing payments.

Revenue payments are federal payments made to local governments under programs other than PILT during the previous year. Payments are made under the Refuge Revenue Sharing Fund, the National Forest Fund, the Taylor Grazing Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Power Act, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. Sections 6904 and 6905 provide additional payments for additions to the National Park System and National Forest Wilderness areas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Idaho News

State Workers Plan Furloughs
BOISE—A slowing Idaho economy is forcing some Idaho State Government agencies to implement cost- saving measures over the holidays.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture and the Attorney Generals Office will furlough their staffs for two days without pay between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Governor Butch Otter says the furloughs are a viable solution in times of budget cuts and declining revenues. The Governor told the Spokesman Revue that taking a few days off without pay is much better than laying employees off.

"They're taking two days out of the year where there's precious little activity," said Otter. The Agriculture Department told its 325 workers to take the Friday after Thanksgiving off and the day after Christmas off without pay. The furlough vacations will save the agencies several thousands of dollars.

According to the Budget Office the average employee cost the state $155.00 a day; with 300 employees, an agency can save the state more than $46, 500.

Meanwhile Governor Otter is looking at the second budget cut of the year because of declining tax revenues.

Latah County News

Latah County President Mark Harris addresses the Banquet crowd.
(Bob Smathers photo)

Moscow--The Latah County Farm Bureau held their annual harvest banquet with more than 40 members sitting down together November 14.

Special guests included Paul Wheelock, the District 5 Agency manager and insurance agent Jack Kid. Also in attendence, District 5 YF&R chairs, Drew Brammer and Markita. Markita is also the collegiate president at UI.

Drew Brammer District 5 YF and R chairman and wife Markita. (Smathers photo)

Ray Poe from the Farm Bureau home office in Pocatello addressed the meeting along with State Board member Louie Kins. Kins gave the group a summary of the State board meeting. Mark Harris, the Latah County President reviewed the year and talked about the coming season.
Bob Smathers reports that the food was excellent

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Steve Ritter photo, Bean seed harvest near Burley
Idaho bean seed to Mexico?
For the past seven years the Idaho Bean Commission has promoted bean seed to farmers in Mexico. In August Mexican dry bean industry officials came to Idaho to see plots of Peruano yellow dry beans, a popular favorite in the state of Sinaloa .

"They were really interested and we're very interested and they gave us some great management ideas,” said University of Idaho Foundation Seed Manager Kathy Stewart- Williams. Stewart-Williams says researchers harvested custom bean seed from Mexican seed stock last year at the U of I.

“While the seed was free from absolutely all bacterial diseases or any of those concerns it was definitely susceptible to bean common mosaic virus,” said Stewart-Williams.

U of I researchers went to work with the help of US plant breeders and came up bean seed with mosaic resistance in it. Stewart-Williams says a relationship was built and years of work in Mexico are paying off with the Peruano project.
"And the interest on both sides, both in Idaho and Sinaloa is so positive that I think we’re going to get there,” she said.

Getting there could mean another export market for Idaho dry bean seed growers. Idaho bean seed exports in 2006 increased 125 percent in value over 2005 while the 2007 stats show a further increase of nearly one quarter to 1.78 million dollars worth of sales.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Annual Meeting December 4-6, Boise, Idaho

Lt. Col. Michael Ramsdell
BOISE – The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s 69th Annual Meeting is slated for December 2-4 at the Doubletree Riverside Hotel in Boise. Retired CIA agent Michael Ramsdell will deliver the keynote address at the banquet.

Ramsdell is no stranger to Idaho, he was born and raised in Bear River, Utah and received his undergraduate degree from Utah State University. He did post graduate studies at the University of Utah, and graduated from the Russian Language Institute in Washington, D.C.

Ramsdell was commissioned an officer in the Military Intelligence Corps where his career specialty was in Russian/Soviet counterintelligence, that career path took him on on missions throughout Europe, Russia, Scandinavia and to Asia.

Lt. Colonel Ramsdell served with U.S. and NATO militaries, various U.S. intelligence agencies, and the U.S. Department of State. He had the opportunity to work in support of the first Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit.

His last foreign assignment was for a six-year period in Moscow and Gorky, Russia. He currently lives in northern Utah with his wife, Bonnie with their two cats, Koshka and Wolfy. He's active in racquetball, tennis, and skiing and also serves in the sunday school of his local church.

His national bestseller, A Train to Potevka, is his first book.

Idaho Farm Bureau members will also have the opportunity to attend workshops on financial planning, farm safety, current legislative issues and developing leadership. In addition, Paul Kjellander, from the Idaho Office of Energy will give a presentation on Idaho’s Energy and a panel discussion on Idaho water topics will include Norm Semanko, director of the Idaho Water User’s Association, Dave Tuthill, director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources and
Representative Bert Stephensen.

For more information on this year’s convention contact your county Farm Bureau office, or your Farm Bureau regional manager or call 208-333-7090.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gem County News

Steve Ritter video


Emmett--D.W. Elwood is a long time Gem County Farmer, He's been farming hay and grain outside of Emmett since 1958. He was named a Gem County Gem in 2008, this is his story.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

By Jake Putnam

Marsing--The drive from Nampa on Highway 55 south to Sunnyslope winds through onion fields then neat rows of sugar beets and rolling hills under a big sky. When the flat land breaks and falls away you’ve arrived as rows and rows of neat vineyards unfolds just above the mighty Snake River.

The lush vineyards hug the north slopes of the canyon walls and stretch as far east as Buhl; this is Idaho’s wine country and its more Napa than Nampa. At last count more than 15 wineries thrive in Snake River Wine Region with 46 distinct vineyards covering 1,107 acres.

Most vineyards are open to the public and wine tasting rooms offer enthusiasts a taste of wine, picnics not to mention special events such as concerts, wine dinners, and even weddings.

“We have some of the most beautiful vineyards in the in the country and people ask where we’re located and I tell them out near Marsing they haven’t heard of Marsing or how to get here,” said Ron Bitner of Bitner Vineyards.

Idaho Farmers have always known about the unique diversity of Canyon Counties farm land. In fact farmers grow everything from carrots, onions and sugar to mint. According to the Canyon County Farm Bureau there are more different types of crops grown here than any other county in the United States.

That diversity comes from plentiful irrigation water and volcanic soil that gives the land richness unique in the entire world; it transformed this land from desert sage to lush cash crops.

Elevations are 2-to 3-thousand feet higher than California’s famed Napa Valley and this change in elevation combined with the ash laden soils, warm days, cool nights translates into grape sweetness that’s found only south of Nampa.

Idaho’s Wine country is gaining favor with Northwestern travelers and wine connoisseurs but is still undiscovered by Idahoans as close as Boise. Ron Bitner has a message for Ada County residents in search of a fantastic adventure and it’s right next door.

“So my message is that you’re 45 minutes away from having a taste of Tuscany, Southern Germany or Australia,” said Bitner. “I’ve been to all of those places and we have the same view, the same quality of grapes. People need to come out and discover what they have here in Idaho.”

The arid climate adds up to concentrated fruit flavors and naturally high acidity that means greater sweetness in the grape and altitude is a distinct advantage. The lowest winery sits at 1800 ft above sea level the highest topping the 2300 foot mark. A warmer climate the past decade has tempered harsh Idaho winters and the vineyards are thriving on mild winters.

The Snake River Valley is the latest designated American Viticultural Areas, When a US winery wants to tell you the geographic pedigree of its wine, it uses a tag on its label and these areas have become a Mecca for wine tourists seeking different wines, tastes and viticultural experiences. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms granted the petition last year and that’s led to a jump in wine tourism.

Idaho entrepreneur Patty Johnson started a company called Snake River Cuisine Tours featuring trips to the wineries by bus. The start-up business is booming because there’s an interest and curiosity in Idaho’s Wine Country.

“It all started when we brought in a bunch of food editors in a few years ago. We wanted to show them a good time and everything we had available, we had Idaho cheeses and food products grown in Idaho and when we got to the vineyards they were surprised and sold, it was a great time. We had people that wanted to continue and it’s worked,” said Johnson.

Johnson says the wine industry is still inventing itself. “Idaho is a new frontier, the wines are coming along, I would compare it more to Walla Walla and it’s a do-able model, more so than Napa.” She says people love to taste wine, socialize and learn as they go.

“I show them wines that are special, that can’t be bought in stores and they like it. They get the background on the wine and the winemaker, its all part of the experience,” said Johnson.

Gina Davis graduated from the University of Idaho a few years ago but already has her own label; she’s the assistant winemaker for Koenig Distillery and Winery and just opened the Davis Creek Cellars tasting room this past summer in downtown Marsing.

Davis says the industry is growing because of diversity within the Snake River viticultural area. She points out that growers use open canopies over the wine, drip irrigation and aggressive pruning that stress the vine, producing fewer but tastier grapes. She says these are all unique factors that add up to future that she wants to be part of.

“We’re seeing more people coming by,” said Davis. “There was a time when you could hit all the wineries in an afternoon, now one has to pick and choose. That means many return trips and more tourism dollars.” To keep up Davis produces six varieties of wine with new releases of handcrafted wines every few months.

From Baker County to Buhl the Snake River Appellation has been known also for its cool nights and unique cool climate wines like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.

Now there’s a new diversity and a shift to the red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. What was once barren hillsides are now lush vineyards, and there’s a new ‘Field of Dreams mantra,’ build it and they will come.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Food Prices Up

Photo by Phil Thuma

Washington--Thanksgiving dinner will cost more in 2008 based on survey results from the American Farm Bureau. A turkey dinner for 10 with all the trimmings will cost $44.61, that’s up $2.35 from a year ago.

The shopping list included turkey, bread 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, enough to serve a family of 10.

Shoppers this year were asked to identify the best in-store prices, excluding coupons at their local super markets. Price lists from volunteers in 38 states was compiled by the Farm Bureau which in turn calculated prices of miscellaneous items necessary for dinner including eggs and pantry staples.

Based on shoppers’ price information, the Farm Bureau found that the cost of a 16-pound turkey was $19.09 or about $1.19 per pound that's an increase of nine cents per pound over 2007 numbers.

In fact, the cost of turkey is the biggest price hike in the cost of the 2008 Thanksgiving dinner.“Food prices rode the energy price roller coaster up during the first half of 2008, and as the year winds down, energy prices have moderated somewhat but food prices have not come down,” said Jim Sartwelle, an American Farm Bureau economist. “Despite that, the components of this classic Thanksgiving dinner cost less compared to 1988 when the effects of inflation are removed. Even at these slightly higher prices, the cost per person for this special meal remains lower than what Americans pay for most ‘value meals’ at fast-food outlets.”

Sartwelle said despite recent retail price increases, American consumers have enjoyed stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation. This year’s average cost of $44.61 is equivalent to $20.65 in 20-year inflation-adjusted dollars. The real dollar cost of the Thanksgiving dinner has declined more than 8 percent since 1988, according to Sartwelle.

The Farm Bureau survey is unscientific, but prices reflect actual trends across the nation.It was first conducted in 1986 when the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for a family of 10 was $28.74.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ada County Annual Banquet

Cowboy Poet Gerald Marchant addresses the Ada County Farm Bureau--Putnam photo

Kuna--Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke welcomed more than 135 hungry Farm Bureau members at Kuna's swanky Peregrine Steak & Spirits resturant for the organizations annual banquet.

Former Farm Bureau Public Affairs director Greg Nelson owns Peregrine Stakehouse and put on a tasty spread of roast beef , salmon, potatoes with all the fix'ins. Eager members completely filled the resturant and overflowed into the adjoining lounge.

After a delicious dinner members settled in for business with President Sonke awarding the coveted Friend of Agriculture award to Rep. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian. Sonke told the crowd that Hagedorn was a tried and true supporter of agriculture and drew applause from the grateful crowd.

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian was honored with the 'Friend of Agriculture Award--Putnam photo
Cowboy Poet Gerald Marchant then took the floor and delivered doses of sagebrush wisom and thoughtful humor. President Don Sonke says this banquet was one of the best in recent years as happy members saddled-up for home.

Ada County Farm Bureau members listen to Cowboy Poet Gerald Marchant--Putnam photo
Idaho Potato Crop down, Quality Up
Boise--Idaho's potato crop is down 12 percent compared to last year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to a USDA report released Monday, the 2008 harvest is the smallest crop in more than 19 years.

The Department of Agriculture says farmers planted 305,000 acres of potatoes this year, adding up to 11.5 billion pounds, compared with 13 billion pounds in 2007. Final numbers on this year's output won't be available until 2009.

According to state statistics, many Idaho farmers switched to wheat because of a favorable market and low input costs.

One bright spot in the report was the pound per acre statistic. The USDAS says Idaho farmers produced 378,000 pounds of potatoes per acre this year, that's up over last years total.

Jerry Wright, president and CEO of United Potato Growers of Idaho told the Idaho State Journal that the number is higher than anyone anticipated because of excellent growing conditions and the best potato farmers in the world.

Despite the downward trend in numbers there’s still plenty of potatoes to keep up with demand while market prices remain steady.

Ada County Annual Banquet

Gerald Marchant--photo by Jake Putnam


Kuna--Please join the Ada County Farm Bureau at Peregrine Steak & Spirits in Kuna; located in Creekside Plaza. A no host full service bar will open at 6:15pm at the Creekside Lounge and the Prime Rib or Salmon dinner begins at 7:00pm.

Cowboy Poet Gerald Marchant is the scheduled entertainment. His humor and insight will serve as a relaxing evening. Please come and join us for some humor, conversation, and renewing old and new friendships.

Franklin County News

Susan Priestley with Lorraine Povey, Franklin County Farm Bureau Woman of the Year 2008-2009 Photo: Cache

Franklin County Annual Banquet, Huge Success
Preston--The Franklin County Farm Bureau held their Annual Banquet on November 6th, at the Robinson Building in Preston, Idaho.

President Dan Garner, welcomed a crowd of more than 200 members. Food was catered by Brent Sharp of Western Dutch Oven Cooking of Cub River.

One of the highlights of the evening was the “Seasons of Agriculture in Idaho” Photo Contest sponsored by the Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee. Grand Prize was $100. First Place in each age division was $50. Money was also awarded for second and third places.

This year there was added excitement because all the winning photos will be published in a 2009 calendar. Ann Moedl presented the awards to Connie Adair, First place in the 21 & over, Shera Adair, First and Third place in the 13 to 20, Bailey Ransom, Second in the under 12, and Oakley Ransom, Third in the under 12.

Sharon Bergquist honored Brinn Cook their Fanklin County Junior Miss Scholarship winner and the State Jr. Miss First Runner up.Larin Crossley, a teacher at Preston High School was presented the Friends in Agriculture Service Award by Richard Free, County Vice-President.

Susan Priestley honored Lorraine Povey who was chosen as Franklin County Farm Bureau Woman of the Year 2008-2009 for Franklin County and will now go on to compete in the State competition.

Read about the banquet and an excellent story in the Cache Valley News:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Input Costs--2009

Diesel Prices Continue to Fall

Caldwell--Idaho Farmers made it through the highest input costs on record in 2008 and as luck would have it, diesel prices fell just as the last harvest machinery cleared the fields.

"The drop in diesel came too late for us, we used all we had and we're buying for next year, said David Dixon of Wilder. “We usually buy half our supply in January but if it stays down, we'll buy it all for next year.”

Farmers are lining up diesel tanker deliveries said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Fank Priestley, “they're taking advantage of these low prices why they can.This might be the only chance to cut costs in 2009," he said.

Oil dropped to near $60 a barrel last week, but the market is hovering at $70 a barrel. Despite the fluctuating market prices the AAA projects lower diesel prices with a national average of $3.26 per gallon by the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

The Wall, Photo by Jake Putnam, Vietnam Memorial Washington, DC.

U.S. President Woodrow first declared an Armistice Day back on November 12, 1919. The United States Congress passed a resolution seven years later requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. An Act approved in 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

In 1953, a Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in WWI. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during WWII. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into "All" Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953 to honor veterans. With the help of then-U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law in 1954. Congress amended this act later that year, replacing "Armistice" with Veterans, and it has been known as Veterans Day since. Source: Wikipedia

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Light of the World

The light of the world, by Jake Putnam
Wet weather and spectacular sunsets have dominated the Treasure Valley the past week. Warm temperatures in they valley has kept the snow high on the mountains.

David Dixon in Canyon County says farming is marginal in wet fields but they're pushing to get down nonetheless.

Election Wrap Editorial

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Suarez

Social Networking, The Genie is Out of the Bottle
By Jake Putnam

Boise--The American public will remember election day 2008 as the year voters got their voice back. For the first time social media helped decide a presidential election outright. And for the first time Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and countless blogs not only got the vote out in record numbers but raised unprecedented billions of dollars, a feat unimaginable just four years ago.

In many instances social networking by clever candidates by-passed biased media, talk radio and even political machines. This new age saw an unprecedented level of public participation. Suddenly a Boise blogger can post a poltical story on multiple blog sites raising the buzz level of an issue from molehill into a mountain in a mater of hours.

Up to the closure of the polls last Tuesday the online community worked at breakneck pace. Blog posts were produced by the thousands, twitter feeds came in at breakneck speed, a few ambitious hacks made last-ditch YouTube videos urging people to vote and news websites like KTVB's award winning site along with CNN pulled out all stops to facilitate interactivity and social participation.

In the 2008 campaign voters and politicians had an unprecedented conversation with their lawmakers through the feedback features on countless blog sites and the social networking sphere. But it's also a double edged sword, politicians like Sara Palin (fairly or unfairly) was subject to the slings and arrows of public scrutiny.

The losers in this revolution are the traditional gate holders of power, the political parties, the machines, the money changers. A room full of idealistic bloggers can raise more money, do more damage in an hour than a party organization can do in a month.

In the end voters turned out in record numbers, campaigns raised record amounts of money and politics in America has changed forever. The candidate that gets there first, embraces emerging technologies, and mobilizes volunteers first can overcome biased media, traditional party tags and machines that once held them back.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

President Priestley's Editorial

Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley--Putnam photo

California Water Crisis Signals Warning for Other States
By Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley

A drought that’s lasted only two years is creating serious problems in this nation’s most populous state. And other Western states, including Idaho, had better take notice of the simple fact that if we don’t increase water storage we are putting our food supply and our economy in jeopardy.

If the drought in California continues until spring, water officials there are planning to ration municipal water deliveries and dry up as much as 200,000 acres of farm land. Compounding California’s problem is a recent federal court ruling that limits pumping of water out of the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta in order to protect an endangered fish, the smelt. Sound familiar?

To sum up California’s problem, the state ranks number one in population with over 37 million people and number one in value of agricultural output at $36.6 billion in 2007. At the present time, there’s not enough water to supply both of those demands. So water managers’ options include first, pray for rain and make plans to dry up farm land, and second ration water to cities and encourage people to conserve, by limiting lawn watering and other activities.

Idaho citizens, lawmakers and water managers should have a clear understanding of this situation and what it means. In times of severe shortages, the municipalities will get their water first. Even though farmers may own the rights to use that water, the cities won’t get shorted in order to irrigate crops. And just because Idaho isn’t dealing with drought at the present time, we do live in a desert and should be making proactive plans to deal with it.

From Idaho agriculture’s perspective, we like the idea of building more dams and increasing the size of existing dams to help accommodate future growth much better than drying up farm land. Taking farms out of production stifles economic activity and puts a lot of people out of work. It also increases the cost of food and increases the amount of imported food, which can compromise food safety.

Our easiest fix is to do a much better job of recharging a massive aquifer that stretches along the Snake River Plain roughly from Ashton to Mountain Home. In high water years, thousands of acre feet of excess water flows down the Snake River and out to the Pacific. Much of this water could be channeled into canals and allowed to percolate down into the aquifer.

It seems like a simple, proactive solution to a problem Idaho is sure to face sooner or later. However, finding solutions to Idaho water issues is anything but simple.

In 2006 several state legislators and agriculture groups got behind an aquifer recharge proposal. But the legislation was devoured by an Idaho Power public relations campaign. The utility claimed if excess spring flows were diverted from the river there wouldn’t be enough water to generate power and rates would increase. Although it lacked logic – the water in question was excess and would have flown over spillways and not through turbines anyway – Idaho Power’s lobbying machine convinced 21 state senators to vote against the measure and it died.

California has grown to the point where only two years of drought can put the state in a rationing situation. That’s a strong indication that California waited too long before addressing its lack of water storage capacity. Idaho has the opportunity to solve this problem before it becomes a crisis. Let’s not follow California’s example.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Capitol Hill Agriculture

US Capitol, Jake Putnam photo


Washington--The 111th Congress will have a new look in January with a Democrat-majority in both the House and Senate. But the leadership in both chambers, including the chairmen of the House and Senate agriculture committees remain the same.

President-elect Obama has started the search for a new Secretary of Agriculture with names like Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm and the National Farmers Union President Tom Buis to succeed Secretary Ed Schafer.

Once Congress gets back to work and takes care of the countless housekeeping issues they’ll have to deal with a troubled economy says American Farm Bureau’s Mark Maslyn.

“Keep in mind the death tax goes into full repeal 2010 and then it comes back to life in 2011. I think they will try to keep the current law where it is,” said Maslyn. He says the new Congress and President Obama will also look at alternative energies and environmental concerns.

"I think energy will continue to be hot. It’s important to agriculture and it’s important to the economy in the country," Maslyn adds. "Whether its climate change or whether it’s clean water or air quality you’re going to see a continued debate in that area as well as a more aggressive regulatory environment in the new administration.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cleared outoffice space and told staffers to accommodate a transition team representing the Obama Administration USDA Secretary Ed Schafer said today.

October: A dry month

A surprise early season snow-storm nearly cancelled 7th grade football pactice at Hillside JHS October 8th. Jake Putnam Photo


Boise—October basked in summer-like temperatures and lack of rain but many will remember the wild winter storm that blanketed the state with deep snow three weeks ago. But the flurries did little to help a late-summer precipitation slump.

Ron Abromovich of the NRCS Snow Survey says rainfall around the state last month was scant, about half the normal amount in some western basins. But there were a few dust-busting wet spots across the Snake River Plain.

“One was the Oakley basin,” said Abromovich. “Other ones were over in the Henry’s Fork area and Little Lost basin where they were 108 percent, 143 percent in the Mud Lake area.”

Central Idaho got a foot of snow in the mountains on election day, with Bald Mountain in Sun Valley reporting just under a foot of snow at the top of chairlift 3. Despite the storm Abromovich says it’s a mixed bag for reservoir carryover.

“The upper Snake especially, it’s much better than a year ago but a few other reservoirs like Oakley, Salmon Falls and Magic it’s less this year than a year ago. The Boise and Payette basin are in pretty good shape along with Dworshak Reservoir.”

Abromovich says if most basins get a normal or above normal snowpack followed by spring rains there should be a normal supply of water next summer.

“The basins that have the greatest need for a good snowpack this year are Little Lost basin and Salmon Falls, both at about 120 percent of average to insure a good supply.”

And there’s good news in the long range forecasts, No El Nino. No La Nina. The long range forecast calls for normal or slightly above normal precipitation in the Pacific Northwest this winter with slightly colder temperatures.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Financial News

Dow Down 400 Points for a Second Day

New York--Wall Street shares dropped for a second day on Thursday, with weak sales reports from retailers. Worries about the economy and weak spending sent the major stock exchanges down more than 4 percent Thursday, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which tumbled more than 443 points. The Standand & Poor's 500-stock index fell 5 percent.

Election impact on Agriculure

Farm Bureau Disappointed by Passage of Prop 2 in California

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 5, 2008 – The American Farm Bureau Federation today expressed disappointment in the passage of California’s Proposition 2, a ballot initiative that phases out the use of modern housing methods in the production of eggs, pork and veal. Passage of the measure will cause more of these products to be produced outside the state of California and is likely to have serious impacts for consumers and California’s egg producers.

“The result points out the lack of understanding that people who voted for Proposition 2 have of agriculture, and it highlights the need for all of America’s farm and ranch families to focus on engaging consumers to communicate their knowledge of and commitment to animal care,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
“The realities of modern, family-owned and -operated agriculture and the professional dedication of our farm families are largely not understood by America’s consumers. As an industry, we must help non-farmers understand our industry," Stallman adds.

The success of this measure and other such anti-animal agriculture initiatives will likely trigger increased food imports from countries that do not have food safety laws equivalent to those in the United States, AFBF believes.

“If eggs and other food products produced by California farmers are displaced by production from other nations, we believe that Proposition 2 will have serious implications for food safety,” Stallman said.

Stallman said passage of Proposition 2 points out the continued need for farm and ranch families to “talk to neighbors, lawmakers, business leaders—essentially anyone who will listen—to help them acquire a realistic picture of modern agriculture.”

“While caring for their animals is the clear number one priority for America’s livestock producers, it is also clear that correcting misinformation from those opposed to modern farming is a close second,” Stallman said.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dairy News

Bovine TB Testing Wrapping Up
Boise—Cattlemen have nearly completed bovine tuberculosis testing of herds across Idaho. State veterinarian Dr Bill Barton says more than 35 thousand head of cattle from five different dairy herds were tested in the Magic Valley recently with no evidence of the disease in any of the animals. The tests were conducted after some bulls were imported from California where the disease was found.

“In CaliforniaSeven animals were confirmed to have bovine TB,” said Barton. “California has since tested about 258 thousand head. They’re going to continue testing another 240-thousand head.”
Barton says testing in Idaho continues but the majority of the livestock have already been injected with a small amount of the tuberculin into the skin near the tail head. After 72 hours that injection is evaluated and if there’s a positive response a blood sample is taken.

“We still have a few smaller herds within the Treasure Valley to do,” Barton said. “We should be able to complete that testing and be done with the trace outs from the California herds within the next two weeks.”

Barton says producers have been eager to get the tests done and drew praise from state and federal officials that conducted the tests. Barton says it’ll be awhile before he can put a dollar figure on the testing program but suffice it to say its been time consuming and expensive, but with no disease reported anywhere in Idaho.

Teton County Annual Banquet

Dennis Brower photo


Driggs--The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's Joel Benson explains member benefits at the Teton County Annual Banquet.

Susan Allen presented Laverta Hansen with the Teton County Farm Bureau Woman of the Year Award at the Banquet. She is seen here with husband Jack, The Hansens are long time members of Teton County Farm Bureau. (Brower photo)

Input Costs

Ritter at the pump, photo by Jake Putnam


COEUR D'ALENE – North Idaho gas prices have reached a 3-year low, dipping below the $2-a-gallon mark for regular unleaded.

Seven gas stations in the Coeur d'Alene metro area dropped below the $2 mark over the weekend and have stayed at $1.99, these are the lowest prices in the state and the lowest since the fall of 2005 according to AAA Idaho.

The prices are good news to farmers, some are buying and storing gas, others are waiting to see if diesel prices will do the same.

Nationwide surveys Sunday showed Kansas City had the lowest average price per gallon at $1.95, while the national average was reported at $2.41

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Idaho Farm Bureau News

Munsa Mills, Obregon, Sonora, Mexico--Jake Putnam photo

Farm Bureau Trade Delegation Back From Mexico

Pocatello--A Farm Bureau Trade delegation is back in Pocatello after a successful trip to Mexico last week. Gary Fuhriman, Ray Poe and Scott Mallory of Agri-source spent the week visiting Mexican millers, promoting Idaho wheat and introducing Mallory to buyers.

Jake Putnam talked to Gary Fuhriman on Monday:

Tell us about your recent trade trip to Mexico?
For a number of years we have been working with Mexican flour Millers and we try and get down there at least once a year, sometimes more to visit with them, let them know that Idaho likes working with them.

Why now, why November?
Our main purpose this time for the meeting was the passing of Bill Mendenhall who had worked directly with the Millers. We took a gentleman down from Agri-Source by the name of Scott Mallory. He'll be the contact point for Agri-source now, he's no stranger, he's worked side by side with Bill for 30 years and is very knowledgeable of the industry and knows what's going on.

Tell us more about Mr. Mallory?
We took Scott Mallory down and he was well received by the millers in Mexico. They were saddened by the passing of Bill Mendenhall who had done business with them for the past decade. He was a good friend to them and worked hard continuing their relationship with Idaho. They were all very complimentary of Idaho and the quality of our wheat and we were very pleased with that. They told us that if they could they would buy all their wheat from Idaho because of the consistant quality we have. But there's no way Idaho can supply all the wheat they need, but it comes down the price and whether Idaho can compete with Canada and the Midwest; that remains to be seen.

The Mexicans can buy wheat anywhere, why Idaho?
Munsa owns 3 mills on the West Coast. Cost is important to them as well as quality and the consistency of the wheat is foremost on their mind. Our wheat has worked out very well with them because it blends well with their wheat.
What about other grains?
We also met with some new companies that were interested in importing barley for consumption and animal food. They want a shipment sent down there sto they can check it out, they're very curious about our barley. They're also interested in importing Idaho seeds everything from grass and alfalfa seed as well as alfalfa hay.

Do you foresee a time when Idaho will have an edge?
We're there and overall very pleased with the trip and the fact that everyone welcomed us with open arms. We're thankful that we have strong relationships with these companies. One company said they loved dealing with us because they feel that they can do business on a person to person level.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Parma beet dump--Putnam photo


Nampa- Amalgamated Sugar Companies' three factories should finish slicing beets in February, a full month earlier than previous years because the 2008 harvest is much smaller than previous years.

Idaho's 2008 sugar beet crop will go down as the smallest harvest in 24 years according to Amalgamated Sugar in Nampa.

Farmers planted just under 131,000 acres of beets, but so far farmers have harvested just 116,000 acres according to government statistics.

Last year growers harvested 34.4 tons an acre. This year that it's just 30 tons per acres because of a late frost in the spring that forced many farmers to replant.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Boise in full, fall color

Boise in full, fall color, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Boise is finally in full color with a few chilly mornings and a weekend storm that's exploded in yellow, orange and gold. Almost all the harvests are in and now farmers are concentrating on marketing, inputs and the worrisome year ahead.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bob Smathers photo
Louie Kins presents Eric Anderson with the Friend of Ag Award.


Priest Lake--The Bonner County Farm Bureau presented Idaho State Representative Eric Anderson the coveted “Friend of Agriculture Award”. Farm Bureau District 5 Representative Louis Kins presented Anderson with the award. Idaho Farm Bureau grants Friends of Agriculture Awards to Idaho lawmakers who’s voting record is supportive of agriculture and other natural resource related industries.

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 ...