Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grain Producers Have New President

Near Idaho Falls, Putnam photo

Grain Producers Look Forward to 2009 Season

Idaho Falls--As Idaho Farmers head into the 2009 season the recession ranks as one of the biggest concerns this winter. While Fuel and fertilizer costs are down farmers have replaced that worry with financing in a tricky economic climate.

Eric Hasslestrom,President Idaho Grain Growers Association
Idaho grain growers have a new President, Eric Hasslestrom says some lenders are pulling back and demanding more collateral

“Well Ag has always been a fairly risky, one of the more risky loans. I’m Hoping that they’ll look at agriculture favorably and work with most producers,” he said.

Hasslestrom grows wheat, barley and hay on 24 hundred acres near Winchester, Idaho not to mention a 110 head in his cow-calf operation. Like everyone else he’s had to face high input costs this year but he says the key now is marketing education, Survival depends on know what to do and developing a sense of timing.

“We’ve been preaching to help spread your risk by forward contracting and using the futures markets, trying to hedge some of your fertilizer costs and fuel costs and I think most producers now are pretty educated in that,” said Hasslestrom.

Producers have been watching the commodity market like a hawk this year, many have already bought next seasons fuel and fertilizers, many sold out before the market prices tanked. Now all eyes are on Washington with a new administration and a whole new set of concerns.

Hasslestrom wants to see the farm bill implemented and says rules need to be written now for the Conservation Security Program along with the new and renewable energy sections.

“We can’t afford a wait-and-see attitude,” said Hasslestrom. “Because there’s always a time lapse of getting people appointed, getting things on the ground. That’s just going to delay this maybe a year or two. Our biggest focus is to get this implemented.”

Hasslestrom says he does not have enough data or information to judge the pros and cons of the new ACRE program, but says transportation issues like improving Idaho roads and highways will be on his agenda this year along with improved rail service and lower fees possibly through federal legislation.

Hasslestrom knows there will be climate change legislation in Congress next year. “We just don’t want it to be too burdensome to agriculture. That agriculture can play a role in helping industry limit the cost that this is going to cost them with carbon offsets,” he said.

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