Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dairy News

Michael Phelps used chocolate milk to recover during the Olympics--photo courtesy of Marco Pakoeningrat

Scientists say Milk helps exercise recovery

London--Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps drank chocolate milk after each event at the 2008 Olympic games. Studies just released show that drinking milk can help muscles recover faster after exercise according to the August edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Researchers found that the proteins and carbohydrates found in milk helped repair exercise-induced muscle damage faster than any other supplement, including water or popular sport drinks.

In tests 24 healthy Brittish male athletes drank semi-skimmed milk, a milk-based carbohydrate-protein shake, water and a sports drink after working out. The study found that the athletes that chose chocolate milk recovered faster with less muscle soreness.

“This study supports the growing volume of literature which suggests that milk is a powerful post exercise recovery aid,” said Dr Judith Bryans, a registered nutritionist and director of The Dairy Council in the UK.

This is'nt the first study to look at the benefits of milk consumption; A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism studied a group of cyclists that worked out until they literally dropped, they then rested four hours before cycling again to exhaustion.

During rest they drank either chocolate milk, which has an optimal ratio of 4:1 for carbohydrates to protein, an isotonic sports drink or high protein sport drinks. The research showed that the carbohydrates and protein ratio in milk worked better together, because carbs replace energy while protein rebuilds muscle.

Scientists think that chocolate milk is better for recovery than plain milk because of those extra sugars. Also cyclists that had chocolate milk rode 50 per cent longer than those who drank the protein drink. At the Beijing Olympic Games chocolate milk was used by high profile athletes like gold-medalist Michael Phelps and Boise's Kristen Armstrong.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cattle News

Putnam photo

IDAHO CONTINUES BOVINE TB TESTS

Boise--The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is testing cattle for bovine tuberculosis in Idaho after learning some registered Holstein bulls were shipped to the state from an infected herd in California.

So far, there are no cases of bovine TB in Idaho according to Idaho State Veterinarian Dr. Bill Barton.

Barton says the testing started last month on dairy herds that had been exposed to the hundreds of California bulls that were sent to Idaho.

“We’ve identified approximately 30 to 35 thousand head of dairy cattle that need to be tested. At this point we have finished up approximately somewhere between 12 and 14 thousand of those.”

Dr Barton says all of the tests administered so far in the Magic and Treasure valleys have come back negative for bovine TB. The testing involves any animals exposed to bulls that came from the California facility after 2003, the last time that the herd was free of bovine tuberculosis.

“So since 2003 we have imported a little over one thousand dairy bulls from that facility. The last imports occurred back in February of this year," said Barton. He adds that most of the bulls imported into Idaho already completed their breeding cycle and were slaughtered.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Scholarships Awarded

The University of Idaho Administration Building, Photo by Rachel Y.
Gooding Farm Bureau Awards Schoarships to College-bound Members

Gooding--The Gooding County Farm Bureau has presented scholarships to two area students. The recipients also had their applications forwarded to the state level for additional consideration.Jaxon Koyle, son of Dennis and Shannon Koyle of Gooding, received a $1,000 educational scholarship to study in a non-agriculture related field. Koyle intends to further his interests by majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Utah State University.

Matt Luth, son of Ken and Terri Luth of Buhl, receive a $1,000 educational scholarship for study in an agriculture-related field. He will major in Dairy Science at the University of Idaho.

Farm Bureau educational scholarships are available to graduating seniors or students who are already attending an institution of higher education. The scholarships are awarded to Idaho Farm Bureau family members at county and state levels in both agriculture related and non-agriculture related fields.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fire Management on the Range

A new rangefire burns in Nevada near Elk Mountain, but does not appear to threaten the burned areas of the 07 Murphy Complex fire. Wally Butler photo
Muphy Complex Fire a Year Later

Twin Falls—A year ago this week BLM crews started the long process of rehabilitating more than six hundred thousand acres of scorched earth across Southern Idaho and they’re still at it.

Yesterday the BLM and ranchers revisited the fire scene and the range has made a remarkable comeback in just a year.

"The large areas are recovering very well," said Idaho Farm Bureau Range Specialist Wally Butler. "Some were drill seeded and the drill rows are evident. Much has been left to recover naturally and nearly all plants have produced seed indicating that the range was in excellent condition and plant vigor is high. That's a compliment to both the ranchers and range managers on the ground.

State BLM Director Thomas H. Dyer says the agency has learned a lot over the past 13 months and the agency will change the way they attack fires across 5 million acres of sage covered rangeland from now on. They want to address the intensity of the fire and a new policy will affect 12 different land-use plans and four different field offices from Murphy to Idaho Falls.

The BLM knows their goal is easier said than done: to stop the cycle of wildfires that happen every year because of fast-burning fuels that block native and fire-resistant plants from growing back.

Ranchers want to get their cattle back on the range saying if they don’t the range could suffer another catastrophic fuel load and another fire. The BLM is studying those suggestions while balancing a fragile rehabilitation plan.

On tour of the site yesterday the BLM recommends that the agency increases hazardous fuels treatments from a current average of about 25,000 acres to 154,000 acres each year for the next 10 years.

"Most areas I observed had an abundant population of seedling sagebrush plants that should help alleviate future concerns about wildlife needs," said Butler. "Although the fire burned large patches of sagebrush, there's still a mosaic of sagebrush on most of the area. Wildlife is highly mobile and will utilize those areas."

The BLM doesn't have enough funds to cover all the needed treatments, but some funding is coming in and the agency is making do with the funding they've secured.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Idaho Preferred Month


September: Idaho Preferred Month

Boise--Governor Butch Otter declared September “Idaho Preferred Month.” Idaho’s Department of Agriculture is celebrating the growing number of farmers, ranchers, gardeners that are passionate about selling fresh, delicious and high-quality produce with the proclaimation.
Idaho’s First Lady, Lori Otter had breakfast this morning at Chef Lou’s on 8th street and read the proclamation issued by the Governor. She also spoke with passion about becoming a locavore for a day. A locavore strives to eat foods produced or grown within 100 miles of their home. We caught up with the first lady at breakfast.


Tell us about Idaho Preferred?

Idaho Preferred products deals primarily with buying Idaho Products, it was developed in Idaho, grown in Idaho and often times we are starting to increase the amount of production and consumption in Idaho, so that’s our goal to have Idahoans eating locally grown products, locally grown food and to promote the Idaho Preferred Label.

There’s a movement across the country where people are visiting farmers markets, mater of fact in Idaho you cant go into any community without running into a farmers market, tell us how these programs tie into each other?

The local farmers market is history repeating itself. If you look back in Idaho History, when farmers had surplus they put these markets together and sold the produce locally to their neighbors. Now it’s coming around again in Idaho. In our small communities folks are planting large gardens; even large farms are coming in and selling fresh produce to the local community. The upside is that people know where there food is coming from and they’re supporting the local economy, and more importantly they’re supporting their local agriculture community. It’s a natural evolution to where we are today in part because people want to eat healthier and there’s a need. People will find that niche and start to provide those types of services. Idaho Preferred is designed to do that and farmers markets have been an integral part.

This administration is dedicating a month to Idaho Preferred, your thoughts?

It’s our history and if you look at Idaho and everything we are based on, in terms of tradition and culture can be traced back to our roots, that’s agriculture. A huge amount of the state’s economy is agriculture based, as fast as we are growing its something we need to remember, that it’s the basis of our economy, even to this point. The more that we can promote Idaho on a local, national and international level the more Idahoans will benefit from that. The more we can promote Idaho Preferred specialty items the more it opens and expand markets. People will eat locally, eat seasonally and in turn appreciate the agricultural community that we have the luxury of enjoying.

There’s a new buzz word in Idaho Agriculture, locavore?

As you know, a carnivore is something that eats meat; locavore means that you eat all your foods locally; fresh vegetables, seasonal items like fruit. It’s just knowing what the agricultural community in your area is providing and then doing your best to buy those local products to fill in that locavore diet.

Our farmers have worked hard for this year’s harvest, your thoughts?

Harvest season is always a special time, whether you’re a farmer or just enjoying the fruits of their labor. Having grown up on a farm, harvest time is always a special time for families, a special time in the community. A goal has been set, reached and hopefully it’s been a fruitful season, it’s a time of celebration. So being a locavore helps you celebrate with our farmers and it helps your family be healthy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

For Bill Mendenhall


Photo by Jake Putnam

Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee!

Latest Food Prices

FOOD PRICES UP, DESPITE EASING GAS PRICES

Washington--Retail food prices are up 6 percent nationally this year--triple the normal inflation rate of 2 percent. Grain demand is skyrocketing coupled with severe worldwide weather has battered crops and sent prices for rice, flour and other foodstuffs through the roof.

''Food prices tend to go up pretty quickly and they tend to stick on the way down,'' said Jim Sartwelle, an economist with the American Farm Bureau, which tracks retail food prices quarterly.

Sartwelle says retail prices for cereal, eggs, cheese and meat generally lag by a few and even longer for wheat, corn and soybeans -- the raw ingredients for much of the American food supply. Some food items will drop as commodities prices cool off; but others might not budge a cent and some may actually spike upwards.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Benewah County Resolutions Meeting

Bob Smathers photo
Benewah County held its annual August Resolution meeting. From left to right is Del Rust (president), Carole Rust, Keith Daman (back to the camera), Russ Lowry, and John Ferris.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Message from the President

Addressing Misconceptions About Agriculture
by Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Frank Priestley

Franklin--Farmers and ranchers need consumers of all ages to understand more about modern agriculture and how the food they eat is produced. Yet with over 100 activist groups using a combined annual budget of $500 million to constantly attack agriculture, we are often playing defense in spite of the fact that American consumers have access to the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply of anywhere on the planet.

Aside from the activists and their attempts to convince consumers the food supply is poisoned or that there is no need for animal agriculture, misconceptions originate and are perpetuated by dozens of different sources. American Farm Bureau Federation research shows misconceptions are commonly passed along through all forms of media including textbooks and children’s books, but more often through advertising, movies and the Internet.

Brown cows produce chocolate milk is a common misunderstanding people have. An AFBF employee found a passage in a college textbook stating that all erosion is caused by human activities. The writer and editors had apparently never heard of the Grand Canyon.

In an effort to address these common misconceptions about agriculture, a new teaching tool was developed that uses sound, science-based information to help educate people about how the food they eat is produced. “Addressing Misconceptions About Agriculture,” produced by the AFBF Foundation for Agriculture, sets the record straight on 35 topics ranging from DDT to global food issues and nutrition to organic food production.

The kit was designed for classroom use at the high school and college levels. Civic groups would also find it very useful. Two versions are available, the first lasts about 45 minutes and the second presentation is shorter. Both are available on CD-ROM with an 11-page lesson plan, background information and three sets of student cards. The kits can be ordered online at http://www.ageducate.org/ or by contacting the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation at 208-239-4292.

In addition, the AFBF Farm Facts book is now available in hard copy and CD. Farm Facts features 30 pages of charts and graphics about the role of agriculture in our everyday lives. Now with a new Farm Facts Instructor’s Guide for use in grades 7-12, teachers and others can access lesson plans to help teach this important information.

One more new teaching tool that is now available is a 12-page guide called “The Tree Farmer” by Chuck Leavell. It’s a children’s book about the importance of trees in our lives. Leavell is a former keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers and Eric Clapton.

Last, we have a 28-page guide to farmer’s markets designed to get children moving and engaged in the daily activities of a farmer or a farmer’s market manager. One of our jobs here at IFBF is to reach out to consumers and provide information about agriculture to anyone who is interested. If any of these resource materials are of interest, please feel free to contact us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Farm Technology Meeting in Kendrick

Kendrick--Robert Blair shows his Unmanned Aerial System to Jeff Burwell, State Conservationist (NRCS) and Treg Owings, Nez Perce County District Conservationist (NRCS). Blair says having an eye in the sky allows him to use less water fuel fertilizer and pesticides allowing him to farm more efficiently and economically. Bob Smathers photo

In Memory: Bill Mendenhall

Burley--It is with sadness we report the passing of Bill Mendenhall last evening. Bill succumbed to the affects of cancer in his home, surrounded by his family.

Bill was the president of Market Quest which joined the Idaho Farm Bureau in providing members market information and planning. Bill was also with AgriSource which marketed Idaho grain for our members here and in Mexico. Bill was the recipient of the Governors award for Excellence in Agriculture in 2007.


In 2002, The Farm Bureau sold 25 carloads of wheat to millers in Sonora, Mexico, In Obregon the cars were stalled on this rail head, just a block away a semi truck was parked on the tracks, its driver went to lunch. Bill sat and waited for the cars to get moving, he was anxious to get the testing done by the Millers. Jake Putnam photo


Rick Keller and Bill Mendenhall look at the Mexican government's official certification of the grain. Putnam photo


The Idaho Farm Bureau team poses with the MUNSA MILLS team in OBREGON, MEXICO . Putnam photo

Bill Mendenhall personally oversaw the Munsa tests of the Idaho select wheat.--Putnam photo


Munsa Mills takes possesion of the 25 cars of wheat, Mendenhall translates for Idaho Farm Bureau Marketing Director Gary Fuhriman, Putnam photo.

Bill Mendenhall was too happy to be frustrated at the delay, he was singing, smiling and telling jokes during the two hour wait. He encouraged us all to come up on the grain car but we opted to stay on the ground. Putnam photo


Advocate for Agriculture at the Western Idaho State Fair

RICK WAITLEY-- PUTNAM PHOTO

IDAHO'S ADVOCATE FOR AGRICULTURE

Boise--Rick Waitley is an unabashed advocate for Idaho Agriculture. He and a small army of volunteers man the Ag Expo Tent at the Western Idaho Fair. The Farm Bureau News asked the Agriculture icon a few questions.
How long have you Advocated Agriculture at the Fair?

This is the 14th year of the Ag pavilion, 14th year here at the Ag pavilion. We alternate between Twin Falls and the Eastern Idaho State Fair, we will head to the Twin Falls county fair Monday and operate there from Wednesday to Labor day.

I notice all the volunteers wear shirts labeled Ag Advocate?

The whole concept of Advocate for Agriculture came to me a few years ago because I found that people were advocates for the spotted owl, advocates for timber, but we seemed to be in a reactionary mode instead of proactive. So we said lets find people that can be advocates for agriculture.

I also notice the kids and even parents are doing more than just looking in this tent, they're busy learning.

So when people come in here and complete the activity they get a sticker that says 'I'm an advocate for agriculture,' we think that’s a positive thing. We have prizes that we hand out, shirts we designed that says 'everything begins on a farm,' almost everything begins on a farm; and on the front it says advocate for agriculture.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ferris Wheel Sky


Ferris Wheel Sky, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
Boise--The Western Idaho State Fair is underway in Boise and is on track to break all time attendance records.

Idaho Dairy News

Putnam photo
INTERVIEW WITH DAIRYMAN JOHN ANDERSON

Boise--We caught up with dairyman John Anderson at the Western Idaho State Fair in Boise. Anderson is a member of the Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Rancher program and runs the massive Double A Dairy in Jerome. He had just heard that Idaho had surpassed New York in dairy production.

John, Whats your reaction to the news?

“We did know that it was coming fairly soon, I didn’t know it had happened until you told me today, but we knew it was soon to be, we are moving into the number 3 spot behind California and Wisconsin and I would expect that we will continue to increase production, as some point overtake Wisconsin and some of those smaller dairies as we add larger dairies in Idaho.”

The Nature of Idaho’s Dairy industry, its not just milk it’s a lot of by products, whey and cheese…

“Not only that, I think it’s the products that were used to keep the cows fed. Feed prices have doubled over the past couple of years, it’s a lot hay and corn that Dairies use, not only helps the dairy industry, but we are helping a lot of farmers as far as finding alternative crops that they can raise, in the area.”

And hay?

“Hay prices are at an all time high, this year we have never seen prices like this before. We in the dairy industry hope that dairy prices stay high enough that we can afford to pay those prices.”

Were you up in July?

“We were up in July, we shipped more milk in July than we have ever shipped, we were down a little bit in August, the heat starts to catch up with us in August, but we were up in production as well.”

Why the visit to the Western Idaho State Fair?

“Were here because this is our hobby, we mess around with registered cows, we enjoy the genetic part of the business, it also gives our kids something to do, and they get experience showing cows.’

What do you look for when showing cows?

“Its something the judges like to see in a dairy cow. You like to see a good balance of strength and dairy-ness, it’s the opposite that you would see in a beef cow. Roundness, you like to see sharpness over the shoulder, sharpness here through the rump. And then in a milk cow you like to see the udder blend into the body wall a cow that will carry that udder above the hock. As she gets older she maintains that above the hock. You like to see a cow with a nice deep, open rib. When I talk about an open rib, you’re looking right here you see a lot of space and then also depth of rib and all those things attribute to high milk production. Do you have enough strength through the chest, you want cows that will stick around and be profitable for a long time.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dairy News

Putnam photo
Idaho Passes New York, Now Third in US Milk Production

Boise--Idaho passed New York in milk production in July of 2008 according to the Daily Dairy Report.

“Idaho’s dairy production is up 8.74% on average over last year," said Deana Sessions of the United Dairymen of Idaho. "So we’re not surprised that Idaho now ranks 3rd in the nation for milk production. Idaho’s dairy producers are very efficient when it comes to producing a nutritious product that consumers enjoy in Idaho and across the nation as the majority of Idaho’s milk is exported out of the state to other areas of the country.”


Idaho was the No. 3 milk producing state in July, according to Daily Dairy Report unseating New York from a spot it had held for 36 years.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



Nampa--The director of the Idaho-Mexico Trade Office in Guadalajara, Mexico, says despite a tight economy there's still ample trade opportunities for Idaho producers in Mexico.



Armando Orellana, the director of the trade office spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Nampa on Monday and says promoting exports to Mexico means more jobs in Idaho. He highlighted three opportunities that are ripe for producers right now.


Orellana gave an overview of the Mexican economy and where Idaho products fit into it. For example, he said, while Mexicans are paying higher food and fuel prices, other sectors of the ecnomy, like construction are doing well.


Trade with Mexico has grown significantly since the country contracted for $43 million worth of Idaho goods in 1996.Last year, the state sold nearly $140 million in exported goods to Mexico, said Laura Johnson, a marketing manager with the state Department of Agriculture.


Exports of malt products to Mexico increased 28 percent from 2006 to 2007, from $32 million to $42 million, and vegetable exports increased 25 percent during the same period, according to the Idaho Department of Commerce.


Orellana says the state has done a lot to promote onions and potatoes. Processed food exports, such as canned vegetables and frozen appetizers, were up 31 percent and brought in $15 million last year.


Idaho’s dairy exports to Mexico increased by 63 percent, from $6.8 million in 2006 to $8.5 million last year, and Johnson said officials will be looking for ways to sell even more dairy products to Mexican consumers.


Last May Orellana accompanied Governor Otter and Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould at a packed seminar in Culican sponsored by the Idaho Bean Commission. More than 50 Mexican bean farmers and industry representatives attended to learn about the benefits of using Idaho certified bean seed to increase their yields.


Mexico has long been one of Idaho’s top 10 export markets and is the state’s second-largest export market for agricultural products. Last year, Idaho companies sent more than $136.8 million dollars in products to Mexico, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year.


“The Mexican market offers great opportunities for Idaho companies,” Governor Otter said. “The success we experienced on the mission highlights the importance of personal relationships and face-to-face communication in business. The contacts made during the mission will support Idaho jobs and help bring greater stability and diversity to our economy.”



Bees doing Better


Jake Putnam photo
BEES MAKING A COMEBACK IN THE TREASURE VALLEY
(Boise) Bees in the Treasure Valley are doing much better in 2008 according to local beekeepers, although hornets have virtually disappeared.

Two years ago Idaho beekeepers started noticing growing bee mortality rates, other states reported that bees just disappeared and didn't return to their hives. The condition was called Colony Collapse Disorder and could be caused by pesticides, drought, disease or malnutrition. Researchers are still investigating.

Beekeeper Jack Knox respects honeybees."These guys have taught me an awful lot," Knox told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "They know a lot of stuff that we don't. If mankind was as organized as bees are, we wouldn't have racial tensions. We wouldn't have wars."

Knox is spreading the word about bees, trying to fight bee mortality with bee awareness. He visits visits local schools to teach children about bees, their honey and backyard ecosystems, he hopes the awareness will someday save the bee.

Häagen-Dazs icecream is spearheading a program that funds research they worry that continued CCD could cause food disruptions which could affect the ingredients in ice cream. They say bees help produce more than 100 kinds of crops in the U.S. everything from almonds, apples and strawberries and they're soliciting donations from their stores nationwide.

Researchers are faced with more questions than answers they want to know what happened to the bees that left the hives. In some cases up to 90 percent of the adult hive departed. All that's left behind is a live queen and juvenile bees, called brood.

Although CCD hasn't impacted Idaho as much as other states, the industry is faces additional pressures from the loss of bees. Beekeepers have lost 2.5 million colonies compared with 5 million in the1940s, according to USDA.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Transportation

Union Pacific Railroad, near Downey,Idaho--Putnam photo
AFBF Backs Legislation Eliminating Freight Rail Antitrust Exemptions

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 15, 2008 – The American Farm Bureau Federation sent letters to members of the House and Senate, urging them to sign on as co-sponsors of legislation that would eliminate antitrust exemptions for the freight rail industry.

Senate Bill 772 and House Resolution 1650 are companion bills that would make obsolete antitrust exemptions that protect freight railroads from competition and therefore keep rail rates artificially and unfairly high.

“American agriculture depends on the railroad system, especially given the high costs of shipping commodities via truck. Like those in several other industries, agricultural producers are frequently captive rail customers and experience both unreliable service and exorbitantly high rates from the railroads,” stressed AFBF President Bob Stallman in separate letters to House members and senators who have not already signed on as co-sponsors.

Stallman said passage of the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act is vital before the 110th Congress completes its business this year.

“Farmers all across America rely on reasonably priced rail service to deliver their crops to market. Freight railroads must be opened to fair and open competition so that prices for shipping agriculture commodities via rail can be fair and reasonable,” Stallman said.

Antitrust exemptions granted to the freight rail industry allow rail companies to charge farmers and ranchers and other captive shippers exorbitantly high rates to ship agricultural products. Removing these exemptions is expected to force railroads to compete for business and to reduce the rates charged to captive shippers.
Robert Blair explains precision Agriculture at his Kendrick farm, Bob Smathers photo

High Costs Force Farmers to Try Precision Agriculture
By Sean Ellis, Publications editor for the Idaho Farm Bureau

Kendrick--Faced with a relentless rise in input costs, more farmers are considering using precision agriculture technology as a way to trim expenses, keep yields up and, ultimately, remain profitable.

“To remain profitable in this day and age, farmers will have to cut costs on the input side as they have no control over output prices,” says Kendrick farmer Robert Blair, owner of PineCreek Precision.

Blair, a national leader in the field, defines precision agriculture as simply the utilization of available technology to increase profits and production while decreasing costs and the use of inputs. That can mean anything from using global positioning technology to control farm equipment and cut down on overlap, variable rate applicators to reduce inputs, or even unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor how a farm field is faring and adjust accordingly.

One of the most exciting aspects of precision agriculture technology is that it enables producers to maximize their inputs, says Travis Jones, executive director of the Idaho Grain Producers Association. “With input costs so expensive ... that kind of technology could really benefit some producers,” he says.

Farmers who think precision agriculture is only for the big farms or high-value crops that can afford to utilize it need to revamp their thinking, Blair says. “With margins as tight as they are in agriculture now, a lot of growers are just avoiding the inevitable,” he says. “I think over time you’ll see more and more growers increase their use of technology,” says Idaho Potato Commission CEO Frank Muir. “Growers looking 20 years down the road realize to survive they need to be as cost-efficient as they can.”

For most farmers, precision agriculture means GPS on a tractor. But the technology and equipment available to farmers is increasing rapidly and precision ag now means much more than just basic GPS technology. “There are so many different things we can do with this technology it’s not even funny,” Blair says. Using satellite to guide farm equipment can reduce overlap in the field by about 5 percent, saving on fertilizer, seeds and chemicals, not to mention fuel.

Variable rate application technology can save on fertilizer and chemicals by enabling more of it to be applied in productive areas of the field and not wasted in less productive areas. Fertilizer and chemicals are applied where needed, not uniformly over the entire field. Example: because shallow, lower yielding soils cannot utilize as much fertilizer as the deeper and higher yielding soils, uniform application over an entire field can result in wasted product and crop damage.

For weeds, variable rate applicators put chemicals where the weeds are. Since weeds tend to grow in patches, it makes sense to spray the patches and not the entire field. “In areas where there needs to be more, the applicator turns on; in areas where there doesn’t, it shuts off,” says Bob Smathers, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation field manager for north Idaho.

Blair uses an unmanned aerial vehicle similar to a military drone plane to map and analyze his field. The high-resolution pictures he gets from the CropCam are stitched together into a large seamless mosaic image of the field, which helps him tie together everything that’s being done on the ground. “Having the image ties everything together,” he says, noting that with the UAV, he can be proactive and make quick decisions for that crop year. “Timing during the growing season is important.”

For Preston area farmer Daryl Geddes, his use of precision agriculture can be summarized in three steps: First is using GPS technology to control steering and cut down on overlap, which saves on fuel and seed costs. Second, using variable rate application to control inputs such as fertilizer and chemicals. Third is using yield mapping to quantify the results. Keeping records and mapping yields are important parts of precision agriculture, he adds. “We’re basically trying to obtain data about our farms so we can make management decisions,” says Geddes, who both uses and sells precision agriculture equipment. “In agriculture, we have to do a better job of controlling our inputs and quantifying what they do for us.”

The Geddes use technology that not only variably applies chemicals and fertilizer, but also monitors the yields in every part of their fields. This way, they can tell if they’re wasting fertilizer or chemicals in any parts or need to use more in certain areas. “I want to maximize every dollar’s worth of input,” says Bill Geddes, Daryl Geddes’ son. “I’m not just interested in yields; I’m interested in how much I make off every acre.”

One initial hurdle that prevents some farmers from trying precision ag is that they are not sure the savings will be worth the initial cost.

Blair says precision agriculture has saved him about $160,000 since 2006: records he had because of precision agriculture enabled him to qualify for the Conservation Security Program ($40,000); having a yield monitor on his combine saved him $70,000; and verifying elk-deer damage enabled him to collect $50,000 for wildlife depredation. And that total didn’t include savings on other things such as seed costs, fuel, labor, wear and tear on machinery and fertilizer.
“I can’t afford to throw that away,” Blair says. “It’s paid for itself in ways I’d never dreamt of.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Endangered Species Act

Photo courtesy of Kevin Bacher
Interior Department to Modify The Endangered Species Act

Washington--The US Department of the Interior is proposing changes in the federal government’s responsibilities in the Endangered Species Act.

The new rule streamlines the consultation process by allowing other documents to enter into consultation. The new regulations reduce government reviews by scientists that were mandatory whenever federal agencies propose dams or highways or other project that could threaten endangered species.

If approved the rule changes represent the biggest overhaul of endangered species regulations since 1986.

The US Department of Interior said in a statement released Friday that the changes correspond with findings by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and reflect the administration's position that "it is not possible to draw a direct causal link between greenhouse gas emissions and distant observations of impacts affecting species ... such as polar bears."

"We need a regulatory framework ... that is consistent with the ESA and will address new challenges such as climate change," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

Federal agencies still have to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before they take action that could affect an endangered species and that can be done now through written request or even an informal conversation between the agencies.

“ESA consultations in the 21st century address increasingly complex issues. We need a regulatory framework to guide those consultations that is consistent with the ESA and will address new challenges such as climate change,” said Kempthorne.

In May of 2008, Kempthorne listed the polar bear as threatened under the ESA, but said, “the ESA was not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy or regulate green house gas emissions.”

Dale Hall, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service explained, “We are not being good stewards of our resources when we pursue consultation in situations where the potential effects to a species are either unlikely, incapable of being meaningfully evaluated, wholly beneficial, or pose only a remote risk of causing jeopardy to the species or its habitat.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Today In Idaho History

August 16, 1962 President Kennedy Signs Mann Creek Reclaimation
From President Kennedy's diary:
9:50 - 9:55 a.m.President Kennedy signs S. 405 authorizing construction on the Mann Creek Federal Reclamation Project in Idaho.

Statement by President Kennedy Upon Signing Bill Authorizing the Mann Creek Federal Reclamation Project, Idaho. August 16, 1962

"I AM pleased to approve S. 405, "To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the Mann Creek Federal Reclamation Project, Idaho. I understand that the main objective of this project is to conserve spring run-off, which is now lost, and thereby provide a more reliable source of irrigation water. This water conservation not only will permit diversification in crops for which there is a ready market, but also will help prevent the damage that can occur from spring floods. In doing these things the project strengthens the economic base of a community and thereby benefits the Nation as a whole as well as the State of Idaho. "

Friday, August 15, 2008

Farm Energy News

Photo courtesy of John Arnold
Commissioners Approve Wind Energy Farm

Idaho Falls--Bingham County Commissioners approved construction of a 150-turbine wind farm on 20,000 acres along Wolverine Canyon outside of Idaho Falls.

Ridgeline Energy won the confidence of county commissioners with a unanimous vote but disappointed opponents who say the 490-foot turbines will ruin the scenic southeastern Idaho canyon, a popular recreation area south of Idaho Falls.

Ridgeline corporate officials say the project will produce enough electricity to light Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls and Burley combined that's more than 300,000 homes.

The commissioners said the project had been carefully examined by the county's planning and zoning board, which recommended approval last month.

Ridgeline Energy officials will start talks with Northwest utility companies for sale of the clean, renewable wind-generated electricity and the decision is a plus for rancher Peggy Stolworthy who owns the 9,000 acres where the turbines would be located. She says royalty payments will help her keep cattle on the land.

The United States ranks second in wind power just after Germany. According to the latest figures US wind power capacity reached 18,302 MW, that's enough to power 4.9 million households.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Statehouse Dome Door Ajar


Statehouse Dome Door Ajar, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
Construction continues at the Idaho Statehouse, the guys working inside the Dome have left the door open to let the summer air inside, perfect for drying paint and plaster.

Boise Office News

Putnam photo
NEW PARKING LOT COMPLETED
Boise--Pavers and landscapers have finished the long awaited Boise parking lot at the Boise offices at 500 W. Washington, just a block from the Statehouse.
The old house next door was torn down last spring to make room for additional meeting parking at the Boise Farm Bureau headquarters. The parking lot was built to city code and includes improved drainage capabilities and landscaping.

August 13th in Idaho History

Butch Cassidy and the Bank of Montpelier
By Jake Putnam

Pistol whipped bank teller Bud Mackintosh testified in court that the number 13 was the cause of it all. “It was the 13th day of the month; after the 13th deposit of $13.00 at 3:13.” Mackintosh knew a thing or two about luck because he was robbed on the 13th day of August in 1896.

It was the most infamous bank robbery in Idaho history and it was masterminded by Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch in Montpelier, Idaho.

On a hot, cloudless August afternoon at 833 Washington Street in Montpelier; three strangers on horseback rode through dusty streets. That day only dogs and merchants stirred in the heat. Most everyone in Bear Lake County was putting up hay when the cowboys tied their horses to a hitching post near the bank.

Butch Cassidy, Elzy Lay and Bob Meeks spent weeks scouting the bank from Cokeville just east of Bear Lake across the Wyoming state line. For cover the three outlaws worked on the Emelle ranch operated by the wife of a prominent Montpelier jeweler.

She recalled later in court that the cowboys ran cattle at the ranch for about two weeks, and were the best ranch hands she’d ever had but were always heavily armed. She added that they made frequent trips into Cokeville and Montpelier at all hours of the day and night.

Later in court it all made sense, Cassidy was a detail man, his trips to town were recon missions for the bank job and in no time he learned that with the last cutting of the hay in Bear Lake County, farmers paid back loans to the bank and the cash drawers were full. That the Sheriff made rounds out in the county in the afternoons and that Thursday was one of the slowest days of the week. The outlaws also scouted escape routes and places to cache relay horses for the getaway.

Friends across the border in Star Valley said that Cassidy and the boys had wintered there after getting out of prison on January 20th. They said Cassidy was making an honest living working as a cowboy on nearby ranches. They described Cassidy as tough and hardened yet still kind despite two years in the Wyoming state pen.

In stories handed down many Star Valley residents recalled Cassidy living at the Morgan place in Auburn and when the worst part of winter hit and things got tough somehow Cassidy came up with a side of beef for starving families. Many a resident said that Cassidy was a loyal friend who prided himself on keeping promises.

Pearl Davis added that Cassidy loved music and went to the dances Saturday nights that winter at the Rock Church in Auburn. He often sat with his back against the wall so he could see people coming through the front door. Elzy Lay and Bob Meeks would listen to her father’s fiddle and watch the people dance. She said no one was more fun-loving and fond of practical jokes.

But Butch Cassidy had a dark side; stealing was his business and god help anyone that stepped in his way. He stood about 5 feet 10 and stocky, he had close- set, hazel eyes and weighed in at a slim 155 pounds. He was quick on his feet, always packed a six-shooter and it’s said he could drive nails at the pull of a trigger.

Cassidy’s horsemanship was legendary, his ability to meticulously plan and execute robberies unmatched. He also had the ability to vanish for months at a time and he had shrewd public relations skills. Borrowing from Robin Hood, he robbed rich ranchers, railroads and banks and gave generously to widows, friends, and children.

It was Cassidy’s promises that had painted him into a corner in August of 1896, his promise to go straight clashed with the promise to help a friend. Former Wild Bunch member Matt Warner was in an Ogden jail on murder charges and asked Cassidy for help. Butch promised the best lawyer money could buy; it was the least he could do to keep a friend from the gallows.

Cassidy had also made a promise to Wyoming Governor Bill Richards. Richards pardoned the outlaw and released him early from prison on a promise that he’d do his outlawing out of state and that’s what landed him in Montpelier, just a short ride from the border. He needed at least $3,000 to help pay for Warner’s attorneys.

The two weeks at the Emelle place flew past and on the 12th of August The Wild Bunch pulled up stakes and drew their pay, they spent the rest of that day cashing supplies and fresh horses outside of town. That night they camped in nearby Montpelier Canyon.

On August 13th they rode up to a saloon on Washington Street next to the bank while Butch kept a close eye on the bank. When he saw the banker out front talking to two men he saw his chance, knowing that there was just one employee in the cage and another at a desk. He told Bob Meeks to get the horses ready and gun down anyone that looked like trouble and then he and Elzy sprang into action.

Bank President G. C. Gray was out front talking city politics to Montpelier City Councilmen Bill Perkins and Ed Hoover when two men hit the boardwalk with guns drawn and bandana's over their faces. The outlaws quietly forced them inside the small bank building. Gray recalled later that the clock on the wall read 3:13.

Inside, Elzy Lay forced the stenographer, Bank President Gray, Perkins and Hoover against the wall at gunpoint while Cassidy jumped in the cage with a gunny sack in hand and emptied the cash drawers of silver and gold. Butch ordered McIntosh to give up the rest of the bills in the safe, when he protested cracked him on the head with the butt of his gun, bloodied and dazed McIntosh gave up the money.

Just inside the vault Cassidy found a fully loaded Winchester that McIntosh kept for situations like this, he took it as he backed out of the bank. The outlaw warned everyone there to stay quiet and not move for ten minutes. The bloodied McIntosh was seething but kept his head, as he looked out the window to the street he studied the face of the man holding the horses. In just 5 minutes the daring daylight robbery was over, the outlaws disappeared into a cloud of dust on Washington Street.

When it was safe Bank President G.C. Gray ran from the building yelling “Robbery, Robbery” Deputy Sheriff Fred Cruikshank was first on the scene but there wasn’t a horse in sight so he took off on a bicycle. City prosecutor John A. Bagley grabbed his horse and followed the Deputy. They closed in the outlaws just enough to determine their direction.

Bear Lake County Sheriff Jeff Davis got a posse together and in less than an hour were tracking the outlaws when they closed in on a narrow canyon then the posse fizzled out, they didn’t want ride into an ambush and many turned for home. But Sheriff Davis and Deputy Cruikshank drove on for another week until the trail went cold.

Back in Montpelier the investigation continued. Mrs. Emelle came forward and said three cowboys, George Ingerfield, Willie McGinnis and Marty Mackensie had worked for her and disappeared after the robbery, the outlaws had all used alias.

The robbery made national news and as word spread all they had was Bud McIntosh’s description of the man in the street. An artist was brought in, posters made and within a month they had an identity.

Henry Robert ‘Bob’ Meeks was arrested by the Lincoln County Sheriffs office in Wyoming and transported to the Bear Lake County Jail where for the next year he stood trial and was convicted for the crime. A jury of peers gave him 35 years in the Idaho Penitentiary for his part of the crime; he arrived at the Idaho State Penitentiary September 7th, 1897 but escaped seven years later.

Butch Cassidy and Ezra 'Elzy ' Lay were never identified by witnesses and never arrested for the robbery. Lay was later arrested for a train robbery in New Mexico and was in prison until 1906 when he turned his life around and died in Glendale, California in 1933. Cassidy continued his outlaw ways until disappearing in South America, some say he died in a shootout in San Vicente, others say he died in Spokane under an assumed name in the 30’s.

The outlaws got away with a thousand dollars in gold and silver coins and $6,100 in greenbacks. After the robbery Wyoming Attorney Douglas Preston was paid $3,000 in cash from an undisclosed third party to defend Matt Warner. The outlaw was convicted on manslaughter charges and served 4 years in jail. The Bank of Montpelier continued business until it failed in the mid 1920’s, the building still stands on Washington Street.

Sources: “The Outlaw Trail, Charles Kelly, Bonanza Books, 1938, “A History of Star Valley,” Forrest Kennington, Vally Graphics, Salt Lake, 1989. “A History of the Hub”, Allgara West, Gateway, 1998.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Motorists Staying Home Driving Less

Jake Putnam photo

Gas Prices Falling

Washington--Oil prices are in a free fall, down $33 per barrel from a July 11 high of $147.27. Meanwhile, the national average of a gallon of gasoline has dropped 30% in the past three weeks.

While gas prices are as low as $3.81 nationwide, gas prices remain high in Idaho with motorists paying $3.97 in Pocatello, $3.82 in Coeur d’ Alene and a whopping $4.11 in Fruitland.

Analysts don't know how far prices will drop but one thing is for sure, there’s widespread change amongst the nation’s drivers--from driving fewer miles to buying compact and hybrids cars.

"Consumers have seen the high prices and they're becoming wary,"says Tancred Lidderdale, senior economist for the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Energy Dept. The shift is starting to show up at the marketplace where truck and SUV sales are plummeting.

Field Burning Back on the Palouse

Steve Ritter photo
Field Burning Underway in Northern Idaho.

COEUR D'ALENE--Farmers burned a 140 acre bluegrass field on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation and another field further south on the Nez Perce Reservation while field burning is scheduled to begin across the Palouse on Sept. 2.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved field burning and lifted the burn ban late in July after a year-long ban. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals abruptly stopped field burning last year after the court ruled in January 2007 that EPA air quality rules initially did not allow burning. Blue grass farmers and advocates groups worked out a new set of rules approved by state officials earlier this year. The EPA in turn studied the plan and says it meets the federal Clean Air Act.

The new program requires growers to register their fields, pay a $2 per acre fee, and obtain approval from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality before burning. DEQ started accepting registrations on August 1st. Farmers need register at least 30 days prior to the proposed burning. Growers also have to complete field burning training within the past five years.

Burning old hay or straw bales is not allowed and violators could face fines. Farmers must use approved field ignition devises like reburn machines or propane flamers. Burning is limited to weekdays during daylight hours only. Burning on weekends or holidays is prohibited.

Idaho bluegrass farmers traditionally set their fields on fire to clear crop residue and recharge the soil after harvest for the next growing season.

New burning rules transferred oversight of field burning from the Idaho Department of Agriculture to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Field burning won't be allowed when air quality approaches or exceeds 75 percent of the national standards for particulates, a level that can affect people with breathing problems.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Corn Crop News

Photo by Lori Parsons

Despite Floods, Corn Crop 2nd Biggest Ever

WASHINGTON —Farmers are on track to harvest the second largest corn crop and fourth largest soybean crop in US history.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says perfect weather in the Midwest helped farmers recover from June flooding and crop production across the board is up. Plentiful supply should mean lower prices for corn and soybeans, which in turn could provide some relief to dairy and meat producers who use the grains for feed.

Corn fell more than 35 percent from record highs of almost $8, reached after the floods drenched major corn-growing states such as Iowa and Illinois.

The USDA says farmers will harvest 12.3 billion bushels of corn, thats up more than 570 million bushels from last month's estimate of 11.7 billion. That's down 6 percent from last year's record crop of 13.1 billion bushels, but 17 percent above the 2006 harvest.

Average corn prices this year are expected to drop to $4.90 to $5.90 per bushel, down 60 cents from last month's forecast of $5.50 to $6.50.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Adams and Valley County Annual Banquet

Representative Mike Moyle(R-Star) addresses the Valley/Adams County Farm Bureau Annual Banquet, Russ Hendricks photo

Valley/Adams County Hold Successful First Banquet

New Meadows--Valley and Adams County held their first annual Banquet at the Meadows Valley Golf Course on Friday, August 8. More than 40 members showed up for the event in their very first year!

Members dined on a delicious dinner of ribs, baked beans, garlic potatoes and cheesecake specially catered by Ernie’s Steakhouse.

Representative Mike Moyle, the House Majority Leader, was the featured speaker for the evening. He discussed everything from transportation and open primaries to conservation easements and property taxes.

Valley/Adams County President Dave Veselka also took the opportunity to congratulate Representative Ken Roberts for winning the 2007-2008 Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture Award.

Governor's Trail Ride

Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney and Idaho Governor Butch Otter get ready to saddle up. Photo by Wally Butler

Idaho Governor Butch Otter joined Governor Jim Gibbons of Nevada, on the Governors annual backcountry trail ride. The governors were joined by staff and state agency officials from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Otter and Gibbons discussed natural resource issues and latest developments with the wolf issue. The Governors annual summer trail ride is way for federal agency representatives, ranchers, conservationists and other stakeholders find common ground on western policy issues. This years trip showcased the scenic Lemhi Valley. The Idaho Farm Bureau’s Wally Butler served as the state's head wrangler and snapped a few photos.

Dairy News

Photo by Michael, aka WiscDoc

BRIEFLY…

· HERD RETIREMENT BIDS tentatively accepted for 209 operations out of 609 submitted. Plans are to remove 25,474 cows and 358 bred heifers in weeks ahead. Cattle represent 440 million pounds of milk potential. Average milk per cow was 17,272 pounds. Average herd size, 122 cows.

· CLASS III PRICE for June was $20.25 per hundredweight. That price was $2.07 higher than May and 8 cents above a year ago. Class I mover for August is $18.47, down $2.31 from July and down $3.29 from last August.

· SLOW GROWTH IN MILK, predicts USDA, citing feed price impact. Agency expects 2008 Class III price average of around $18.25 and $18 next year. All milk price just over $19 this year, about the same level in 2009.

· Milk-Feed Ratio for June hit an all-time low of 1.78.

· CALIFORNIA WAS UP 2.3 percent in June milk. Among key states: Wisconsin (+1.6 percent); New York (+3.7); Idaho (+8.4); Pennsylvania (+1.9); and Minnesota (+2.2). Big gainers: Texas, +16.3 percent; New Mexico, +10.2.
U.S. average replacement cow price prices increased slightly in July. According to USDA’s quarterly summary, July dairy replacement prices increased $50/head from
April 2008, to average $1,990/head

Source: USDA quarterly agricultural prices report, MPI newsletter

Governor's Trail Ride

Friday, August 8, 2008

August Means Fairtime Across Idaho

video

Steve Ritter video

4-H Fair Season in Full Swing

(Emmett) Jordan Bryant is getting his livestock ready for the fair. " 4-H'ers have a bond," said another member "The fair is basically when I see and hang out with them the most. We may do different kinds of activities, but we all have the same goals."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fertilizer Prices UP


Fertilizer prices will impact Idaho Agriculture's bottomline--Jake Putnam photo

FERTILIZER PRICES, PROFITS AT ALL TIME HIGH

WINNIPEG-- Agrium the world's third-largest nitrogen producer says its second-quarter profits more than doubled because surging grain markets have spiked demand and prices for fertilizer.

Idaho farmer Terry Jones runs a dairy operation in Gem County, he also produces alfalfa feed for the operation, rising fertilizer costs have cuts into an already thin profit margin.

“I paid 63.5 cents a pound this past spring,” said Jones. It's a lot like gas - there has to be a point where this stops. With the way the markets are falling who will be able to take the risk next year?”

Agrium executives say rising prices have not slowed demand for their yield-boosting fertilizers. "This remains a story about food, as the world wants and needs more food production," Agrium Chief Executive Mike Wilson said.

Calgary-based Agrium's had sales receipts of $3.9 billion so far this year, that’s up from $2 billion last year.

Fertilizer makers, blenders and wholesalers will do very well in the next few years, said Steve Pinney, a vice president for operations at The Mosaic Co., a fertilizer seller based in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Terry Jones agrees saying when demand goes up so do corporate profits. “My fertilizer supplier out of Helena is quoting Nitrogen at the price of $1per pound. That’s 37-cents more than just a few months ago,” said Jones.

Nitrogen insiders say that the need for food isn’t going away. There’s only so much land out there and increasing crop yield means more fertilizer. Jones thinks he has a green solution.

“With fertilizer prices at this level it makes cow pies very valuable,” laughs Jones. “I was told at a meeting recently that a load of cow manure has $80 worth of nutrients in it; spreading cow manure might become popular again.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feed Supply Concerns

Marsh Valley, Near Virgina--Putnam Photo
CRP Emergency Haying and Grazing Plans Okayed

Washington--The nation’s hay supply problem is not going unnoticed on Capitol Hill. Midwestern congressmen sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on Tuesday urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release Conservation Reserve Program land for haying.

Senate Bill 3337 introduced by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) and H.R. 6533 introduced by Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) allow farmers and ranchers to take part in the Critical Feed Use program.

Last month the USDA released CRP acres to help ease demand on hay in the Midwest because of flooding. President George W. Bush declared parts of the midwest a disaster area because of spring flooding.

On June 27th, the National Wildlife Federation filed a lawsuit against the USDA because of the planned release of 24 million acres of CRP ground for emergency haying and grazing. Then U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour of Seattle granted the Wildlife Federation’s temporary restraining order that stopped emergency haying and grazing.

The Idaho Cattle Association with the Idaho Farm Bureau joined a coalition of America’s farmers and ranchers in filing an Amici Curiae brief in support of USDA’s plan for emergency haying and grazing. On July 24th, Judge Coughenour withdrew the restraining order and ruled that there’s no cap on eligible acres for haying and grazing and then okayed producer contracts that had already been approved.

As it now stands now the USDA is again taking haying and grazing applications. But farmers and ranchers must hurry because the haying period ends on September 30, 2008, while the grazing period ends on October 15th. Furthermore, producers that can document feed hardships can apply.

“The emergency release of CRP acres for grazing allowed many producers needed access to their CRP land, and helped reduce the demand for other sources of feed,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, many producers in disaster areas cannot make use of the grazing authority. Their CRP land may not have fencing or watering facilities that would make grazing practical, and the time and cost involved in creating this infrastructure would be excessive. For these producers, CRP is the most practicable way to stay in business.”

“This legislation allows farmers and ranchers to hay or graze CRP acres under USDA’s original Critical Feed Use criteria. It ensures that the program is carried out as originally intended,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “We’re urging Farm Bureau members to contact their representatives and senators while they are back home to urge them to support S. 3337 and H.R. 6533.”

In Idaho hay is going for as much $240 a ton, demand from out of state buyers could drive the price near the $300 mark by March, according to feed experts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Transportation

video

Idaho Transportation Department Director Pam Lowe in Emmett-Ritter video

Gov.Otter and ITD Launch Public Meetings on Transportation Funding

Emmett- Gov. "Butch" Otter and the Idaho Transportation Department launched a series of statewide to ask the public how best to pay for repairing, maintaining and improving the state's crumbling roads and bridges.

"This is too big a challenge to tackle all at once. It isn't even going to get resolved in a year or two, so the dollar figure we've been using is just a target - a goal," Gov. Otter said. "But without starting now to identify new revenue sources, enhance existing sources or some combination of the two, Idaho's highways will keep deteriorating. We need to act now."

One in five miles of state highway is in poor condition by engineering standards, and nearly half of the bridges on the state system are approaching their life expectancy of 50 years.

The solution will require innovative thinking and widespread collaboration, Idaho Transportation Department Director Pam Lowe said.

"This revenue storm has been building on the horizon for several years," Lowe said. "It is not a new challenge and it is not unique to Idaho. We need to share the problems and challenges with the public and learn what options make the most sense."

Several major factors are combining to widen the gap between available resources and transportation needs. The state fuel tax has not increased since 1996; the federal fuel tax has not changed since 1993; and base car registration fees dedicated to funding transportation have not changed since 1997.

At the same time the National Construction Cost Index has increased more than 69 percent between 1997 and 2006. The cost of asphalt rose from $175 per ton in December to more than $430 in June; it is expected to nearly double within the next month.

Confronted with burgeoning gas prices, Idaho drivers have wisely turned to more fuel efficient vehicles and are beginning to cut their amount of driving, further reducing transportation revenue.

Idaho's growth - fourth fastest in the nation - creates additional demand on the transportation system, yet is not keeping pace with rising construction and maintenance costs.

The issue goes beyond transportation budgets, Lowe emphasized. Without a strong transportation system, Idaho's economic competitiveness will suffer. And without highway improvements, more Idaho motorists will sustain serious injury or death.

Gov. Otter and transportation officials hope the statewide meetings will provide a consensus for legislators when they assemble in Boise for the 2009 session.

Monday, August 4, 2008

HAY IN SHORT SUPPLY--UPDATE


Near Wilder, Putnam Photo
HAY PRICES CONTINUE TO CLIMB

Boise--The price of Idaho hay could surpass the $250 mark this winter, and while it’s good for some farmers, it’s hurting others.

Don Hale the president of the Idaho Hay and Forage Association called the prices 'scary', and when supplies get short dairies will pay what they have to feed cows. “I’d say $200 a ton is not unreasonable for good hay. The dairies will pay $220, and the horse people are paying that much.”

Idaho Hay is considered a cash crop and many farmers have gone from beet and potato production to hay and grain. But shortages remain in the national marketplace and that’s driving up prices in the Gem State.

Drought in Colorado and Texas has impacted Idaho hay supply while in California many hay producers had to let their fields go because they didn’t have the water. The lack of feed has forced many dairy farms there to drag up and leave California in search of consistent feed supplies.

Farmers like Hale can’t complain about making money for a change. “I’m not going to apologize for that. It’s the American way.” The Idaho Cattle Association’s Jennifer Ellis says hay prices have hurt cattlemen.

“I see a lot of people liquidating their herds,” said Ellis and laments that producers are “price takers, not price makers.”

The Capitol Press contributed to this story

Fair Season Opens Across Idaho

video

Steve Ritter video

Little Rose Kienitz lives for fair week. “I look forward to it all year long." After one fair ends, the 4-H'er immediately gets ready for the next one.

Ranch News


Jake Putnam photo
USDA Proposes Country of Origin Labels for Food

Boise--With tomato and pepper food scares in the summer headlines, the nation’s food industry will soon start requiring country of origin labels on meat, produce and other groceries.

Idaho farmers and ranchers know that labeling is more expensive but the quality of US produced food is prized by world consumers and that means profit and will bolster consumer confidence.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the 233-page draft of the rules on Friday in the Federal Register along with the estimated billion dollar price tag.

The project started six years ago and was spurred on by producers and consumer groups that shoppers should know where their food comes from, just as they do for shoes or auto parts.

"It's because of stringent government rules and regulations that our farmers produce the most, the safest and the best food on the planet. Shoppers want to know where their food comes from and we're going to tell them," said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Frank Priestley.

COOL advocates think that country labeling would have made a difference in the recent salmonella outbreak that left 1,200 people sick in 42 states. It was first thought that tomatoes were causing the illness and stores took raw tomatoes off the shelves. But the USDA investigators traced the salmonella poisoning to jalapeño and serrano peppers to Mexico.

COOL legislation requires retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin food like muscle cuts of beef (including veal), lamb, chicken, goat and pork; ground beef, ground lamb, ground chicken, ground goat and ground pork; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; perishable agricultural commodities; macadamia nuts; pecans; ginseng and peanuts.

USDA is accepting comments on the interim rule. Comments can be submitted through the internet at http://www.regulations.gov, by facsimile to (202) 354-4693, or by written testimony to Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S; Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA; STOP 0254; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW.; Washington, D.C. 20250-0254.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

West Nile Update

video
ROSS MASON OF IDAHO HEALTH AND WELFARE-Ritter Video

WEST NILE INFECTIONS DOWN

BOISE – Just one Ada County resident has come down with the West Nile virus, so far according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The man is in his 30s, did not go to a hospital and is now recovering.
He is the first Ada County resident to test positive for the virus in 2008. Health and Welfare reports just 11 other cases this year in Idaho.

Health experts say last year West Nile infected more than 130 people and contributed to one death. Two years ago Idaho led the nation with nearly one thousand human infections, nationally the virus contributed to 23 deaths in 2006.

Health officials say the West Nile virus is usually spread by a mosquito bite.
About 80 percent of people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will not become sick, but others may experience a flu-like illness that can include fever, headaches, body aches, dizziness and fatigue.

For some people the virus may lead to serious illness requiring hospitalization. On rare occasion death may occur.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Just in from Washington

Photo courtesy of K.Nagarajan

Farm Bureau Calls for Comprehensive, Bipartisan Energy Strategy

WASHINGTON-- The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to all members of Congress urging them to work constructively to craft a comprehensive energy plan that embraces all aspects of the nation’s energy needs. AFBF said the national energy strategy must include provisions to access the nation’s untapped oil and natural gas reserves, and include a continued emphasis on renewable energy.

“Farmers and ranchers, like all consumers across America, are feeling the tremendous financial impact of historically high energy costs,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman “In addition to gasoline costs, diesel prices have risen drastically for agricultural producers, while fertilizer costs – which are closely tied to natural gas prices – have doubled in the last two years. Now more than ever, the agricultural sector is looking to Congress for leadership to help alleviate these costs on consumers.”

Stallman said AFBF policy calls for a national energy policy that “should be focused on energy independence” while expediting “the development of energy resources anywhere in the U.S.”

“Clearly, legitimate policy issues need to be addressed in crafting an energy plan that encompasses such an approach, and it will need the cooperative, constructive efforts of members from both political parties,” Stallman said. “We urge the leadership of both parties, in both houses of Congress, to put aside short-term political considerations and work together to craft a long-range, bipartisan, effective energy plan that will finally put our nation on a path toward affordable energy independence.”

Stallman said a comprehensive strategy is needed to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers meet the world’s growing demand for food. Some experts say food production will need to double in the next 20 years to meet rising global demand.

“Today, record-high oil and natural gas prices underscore our nation’s over-reliance on foreign energy sources,” Stallman said. “These tight oil and natural gas supplies have driven U.S. farm inputs and energy prices to all-time highs, substantially increasing farm production costs. Increasing domestic energy supplies, from all sources, and enhancing our energy infrastructure are critical components of a balanced national energy strategy.”