Friday, January 30, 2009

Legislative Leadership Conference

Steve Ritter photo

Fish and Game Pitches Revenue Increase--Again
Boise--For the second time in the past two months, Idaho Fish and Game Director Cal Groen pitched his plan raise Fish and Game revenue to grass root Farm Bureau members.

The increase uses a new approach called the differential fee schedule, according to Fish and Game Director Groen who also addressed the issue of wolf management and thinning elk herds to Idaho farmers.

Groen added that differential fees would help keep prices lower for more general licenses and permits; Groen made the comments at a special field trip to the Fish and Game Headquarters trophy room.

Under this proposal, high-quality; hunting and fishing opportunities would cost more than general opportunities. For example, hunting for trophy bull elk would cost more than hunting for an antlerless elk.

The proposed fee increases is less for Idaho residents than non-residents. Groen said that a resident combination license would increase 11 percent, to $35.25, while a nonresident one would increase 20 percent to $238.25.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would raise almost $7 million annually. Eighty percent would help catch the department with inflation pressures from everything from fuel to fish food costs, and state requirements like wages and health care. The other 20 percent would go to on-the-ground projects that benefit hunters and anglers.

Director Groen answered a few tough questions from Farm Bureau Members but was warmly recieved. Members appreciate the directors honesty and his desire to reach out to landowners.

Senate Pro Tem Bob Geddes addressed the conference the next day but was less than ethusiastic about a fee increase in tough economic times. "The bill is sitting on my desk right now, its under a stack of legislation," said Geddes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Legislative Leadership Conference

Minnick Tells Legislative Leadership Conference He Can't Vote with Majority

Boise--Idaho's Freshman Congressman told the Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Leadership Conference he couldn't support the Congressional Democrats Stimulus Bill. The first term Democrat agreed with Representative Mike Simpson, R-Idaho that the bill failed to create adequate jobs.

The House voted, 244-188, on Wednesday evening for President Obama's package of federal tax cuts and spending worth $819 billion and meant to jump-start the economy out of its worst crisis in decades.

“The measure began with a tight focus on job creation and infrastructure improvements, but ballooned into a ‘something for everything’ spending proposal. With this bill, our deficit will grow to nearly two trillion dollars, and every penny we borrow will come from foreign leaders who will rapidly gain too much leverage over our economic welfare and decisions.

"However," Minnick said, "we do need to invest and spend on worthwhile programs. That’s why we should craft legislation dealing with health and welfare, energy and education, permit public input and evaluate proposals thoroughly so that we spend every nickel in the most cost-effective way.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Legislative Leadership Conference

Congressman Mike Simpson to Speak at the Legislative Leadership Conference
Simpson Talks Economic Stimulus At Leadership Conference
Boise--Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson had two very important meetings about the upcoming economic stimulus package in Washington. First, he attended a House Budget Committee hearing, then he joined other GOP leaders in a meeting with President Obama to discuss why the President thinks the stimulus package is necessary.

Congressman Simpson addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Leadership Conference this morning via teleconference. He told Idaho Farm Bureau members that the Stimulus Package is based on false expectations.

"The problem with this bill is that its not timely," said Simpson. "Too many of the programs take place years from now, it won't help the economy now. The authors of the bill have included eveyrthing under the sun and most of it is unnecessary. There is nothing more eternal than a temporary government program. I have problems with this bill, it wont benefit the economy."

“Unemployment is rising, businesses are suffering, individuals are suffering, we know our economy is in a recession - the question is what should the government do to spend taxpayer dollars wisely,” said Simpson. “I agree with Speaker Pelosi, this stimulus package needs to be temporary, timely, and targeted, however, this bill is none of these.”

Simpson told the Farm Bureau crowd that in the Budget Committee he told Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf, that he supports the need for funding transportation and infrastructure projects that are shovel ready and that he supports lower taxes. But that he did not support allocating billions of dollars on projects that will not be spent this year. Simpson things funding should go through the appropriations process with hearings, oversight and open discussion.”

Just in from Washington

US Capitol, Jake Putnam photo

Farm Bureau Urges Ag, Rural Focus in Stimulus Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2009 – An economic stimulus bill up for consideration by lawmakers must include investment in programs that will strengthen American agriculture and rural life, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities are vital to our nation’s economic future,” AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to members of the Senate and House appropriations committees.

“It is crucial to the future of rural communities that broadband deployment be approached in a manner that produces long-term economic growth,” Stallman said. He urged the inclusion of $6 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 to build a reliable rural broadband network that is affordable, moves data quickly and securely, and can be adapted as telecommunications technology changes.

“The slow or nonexistent deployment of modern telecommunication services in rural areas hinders the health, education, safety and economic opportunities of rural Americans. It also obstructs rural citizens’ access to goods and services enjoyed by Americans living in more densely populated areas,” Stallman said. He also urged funding for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, to provide rural business grants and loans, as well as for health information technology that will improve the quality of health care services.

Improvement of the nation’s transportation system, particularly rural highways and the inland waterway system of locks and dams used to transport domestic goods including farm products to market, also is critical, according to AFBF.

“Our rural highways and bridges are outdated and crumbling. It is imperative that rural America get an equitable percentage of the proposed $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects,” Stallman said.

In addition, AFBF urged the inclusion of $2 billon in the stimulus bill for critical upgrades to the nation’s locks and waterway infrastructure.

“Not only will this investment ensure that our nation’s waterways will be a viable mode of transportation for years to come, it will create jobs and economic opportunity for Americans living along our waterways, and enhance our competitiveness,” Stallman said.

AFBF expressed support for a number of other initiatives in the bill, including funding for new food and agriculture research on increasing productivity, development of domestic biofuels and food safety.

Idaho Farm Bureau Leadership Week

Women's Committee Provides Lawmakers with a Sack Lunch In Observation of Food Check Out Day

Boise--Food Check Out Day is held annually on the fifth week of the New Year, that’s when most Americans will have earned enough money to pay for their families food supply for the year. By comparison Americans need to work until May to reach "Tax Freedom Day," the date when the typical family finally meets its tax commitment.

"Americans depend on the safe and affordable food supply we supply." said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Frank Priestley. "We’re proud of those contributions, but just 22 cents of every dollar we spend on food goes to the farmers who grew it, yet farmers are a generous bunch and the backbone of this great nation."

According to the Agriculture Department, Americans devote only about 10.6 percent of their disposable income to pay for food. The percentage of income spent for food in the United States has declined over the last 30 years. Food is more affordable today due to a widening gap between growth in per capita incomes and the amount of money spent for food, according to the USDA.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Id Farm Bureau Commodity Conference 2009

Boise--Idaho Farmers are looking for ways to cut costs in anticipation of a very tight 2009 season.

Last year’s bigger increases came from the cost of nitrogen fertilizers and fuels, which affected the cost of beets, onions, potatoes, corn and beans.

The good news is that the inputs are not expected to increase at the same magnitude as last year. Other inputs like phosphorus and potassium, seed genetics and some herbicides will cost more, so the cost of putting in a crop is projected to increase .

Danny Ferguson of the Idaho Farm Bureau Commodities Committee says fellow farmers must save and market in areas they can transportation. He says consolidating transportation costs may hold the key for greater efficiency in the coming years.

Leadership Conference 09

The Legislative Leadership Conference is underway at the Red Lion Downtowner in Boise. This years conference is packed full of newsmakers of day, all of which are dealing with sagging revenues and budget challenges at the Idaho Statehouse.

Leadership Conference 09

Leadership Conference 09, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Chairman Carol Guthrie present Carol Sagen with a check from the county donations to the Ronald McDonald House.

Leadership Conference 09

Leadership Conference 09, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Boise--At the Doubletree Downtowner Idaho Farm Bureau members attended the annual Commodity Conference in an effort to cut input costs.

In the keynote workshop--'Managing for Higher Production Costs', Rod Sharp and Jeff Tranel of Colorado State University gave Idaho Farm Bureau members tools they need to deal with higher production costs.

In the afternoon, members heard the the State of Idaho Agriculture from State Ag Director Celia Gould and then listened to seminar on what crop insurance programs were available to them from Farm Bureau Insurance.

"This is going to be a challenging year," said Commodities Director Gary Fuhriman, "We want to give our farmers every bit of knowledge they'll need to get going this year."

Leadership Conference 09

Leadership Conference 09, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Carol Guthrie inventories the mountain of food and supplies the Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Committee donated to the Ronald McDonald House on Monday.

The donation is an annual event and the grateful staff of the House looks forward to not only the donation but the committees dinner they prepare at the house during conference week.

"It means a lot the 19 families staying at the house and they bring a lot of cheer to the families that are going through a lot right now," said Mindy Plumlee, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House.

Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee

2009 Idaho Farm Bureau State Speech Championship, Boise, Idaho

Five FFA District Champions met in Boise to compete in the State final. Only one emerged as state champion, and winner was also the youngest champion in state history.

Ritter and Ron

Ritter and Ron, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Steve Ritter was on hand as the Women's Committee made a donation to the Ronald McDonald House and cooked dinner Monday night.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Idaho Farm Bureau Leadership Committee

Women's Leadership Committee

The Idaho Farm Bureau's Shirleen Schwediman hands supplies to Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Mindy Plumlee
Farm Women Donate to McDonald House

Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee met at Boise's Ronald McDonald House this afternoon bearing food and gifts to the families of critically ill children. The Farm Bureau Women unloaded more than 200 pounds of food that will help feed the families of 19 families staying at the facility.

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a “home away from home” for families of sick and injured children receiving medical treatment at Saint Lukes Medical Center in Boise. Executive Director Mindy Plumlee says 539 families spent time at the facility in 2008, and they're booked just about every week.

"This is a 19 bedroom house and we have been at capacity," said Plumlee. "Thats why we welcome the Farm Bureau Women's committee donation and their gracious offer to cook dinner for the House tonight. It means so much to families staying here."

The Ronald McDonald House, located on Main St. near St. Luke's Hospital, started in 1988 and provides affordable alternative housing for out-of-town families with children who require medical treatment.

Built in the early 1900s and purchased by the late J.R. Simplot for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Families are charged just $10 a night; the balance is paid with public and private donations to the Ronald McDonald house, and any family who is unable to pay the $10 is not turned away.

The Women's Committee filled a Chevy Suburban full of food, and then spent more than a half hour unloading groceries in freezing, frigid temperatures and each member not only carried groceries into the House, but a smile.

“We're not just helping the struggling families but we're on a mission, we want the people of Idaho to know that we have the best, most plentiful and cheapest food supply in the world, we're sharing that good fortune with those who need it, and they need it now.” said Chairwoman Carol Guthrie.
Carol Guthrie also presented the House with a check. The money was collected from County Farm Bureaus across the state. Carol Hagen of Boise’s Ronald McDonald House is thankful for the help. “We’ll spend it all on food, and things needed to sustain the families during their stay here.

Carol Guthrie Chairman of the Women's Leadership Committee present Carol Hagen a check on behalf of Idaho Farm Bureau's County donations to the Ronald McDonald House.

"This donation came from just about every county in the state, and what started as a small donation from county to county ended up being a significant amount and we're honored to help out," said Shirleen Schwediman of Newdale."Our farmers are productive and efficient and they're also people you can depend on."

The event is held annually on the fifth week of the New Year, that’s when most Americans will have earned enough money to pay for their families food supply for the year. By comparison Americans need to work until May to reach "Tax Freedom Day," the date when the typical family meets its tax commitment.

"Americans depend on the safe and affordable food supply we supply." said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Frank Priestley. "We’re proud of those contributions, but just 22 cents of every dollar we spend on food goes to the farmers who grew it, yet farmers are a generous bunch and the backbone of this great nation."

According to the Agriculture Department, Americans devote only about 10.6 percent of their disposable income to pay for food. The percentage of income spent for food in the United States has declined over the last 30 years. Food is more affordable today due to a widening gap between growth in per capita incomes and the amount of money spent for food, according to the USDA.

Speech Contest Winners

Lauren Clark, State Speech Champion--Putnam photo

Clark Takes Farm Bureau's State Speech Title

Boise--Meridian High School freshman Lauren Clark won the 2009 Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee Speech Contest at the Comfort Suites Inn in Boise.

Clark just turned 14 and represented the Meridian FFA, she is one of the youngest winners in the contests long history. She accepted a check for $150 which will go toward her college education.

“As a freshman this is exciting to place in the top two in the State of Idaho, I’m looking forward to coming back and competing in the years ahead,” said Clark.

The MeridianFreshman gave a compelling, polished speech on California’s Proposition 2 crisis. Last November California voters approved Proposition which sets up rules and regulations of confined animals like chickens, pigs and turkeys. Her speech brought a common sense, unemotional look at costs and the Ag communities problems with the new law.

"The speeches today show the amount of research and time that went into each speech. They all did a wonderful job and it’s always hard to choose a winner,” said Rick Waitley Idaho Director of the Ag in the Classroom program.

“I think Agriculture is in good hands,” said Carol Guthrie, Chairman of the Women’s Leadership Committee. “Every year I’m impressed by the facts and topics they've researched, its amazing and it's is one of my favorite programs,” said Women's Chairman Carol Guthrie of Inkom.
“I think it builds character, it builds awareness of agriculture and that’s what we are all about."

The contestants competed at the county level, and then qualified from five districts to reach the state championship. The finalists then delivered a minimum five-minute speech to a panel of three judges. Nervous families packed the room and each speech addressed a different segment of Idaho agriculture.

Rachael Ashley from Kuna High School was the runner up in this year contest she took home a $75 check.

Idaho Farm Leadership Week

Women’s Activities

Sunday, January 25th at Comfort Suites on Vista
3 pm – shop and put together snack bags
7 pm – reception for speech contestants

Monday, January 26th at Comfort Suites
9 am speech judges arrive
9:30 am – speech contest
11 am – women meet at the hotel
3 pm – leave for Ronald McDonald House
4 pm – presentation and dinner at Ronald McDonald House
6 pm – continue meeting following dinner

Tuesday, January 27th
8 am – continue meeting if needed
9:30 am – deliver bags to the Legislature
11 am – presentation to Women’s & Children’s Alliance, 8th & Washington - Just added!
12 noon – lunch

Friday, January 23, 2009

YF and R Leadership Conference 09

Kimmel Dalley photo
Stephanie Lee Tells YF and R "It's about Time

Pocatello--Life coach Stephanie Lee of Idaho Falls told a packed conference room that its about time. Its about making time for family and friends that will gain not only sanity but health. Lee was well recieved by members and they praised her timely message.

YF and R Chairman Chris Dalley says that these workshops are important because in a sluggish economy its easy to get down, a break from the routine can give members a different look at their situation, they can network and go home feeling refreshed and recharged with a different slant on their situation.

YF and R members attend a time management workshop by lifecoach Stephanie Lee. --Kimmel Dalley photo

Dodge Truck Presentation at YF and R Leadership Conference

Chris Dalley, Samantha and James Williams and family, Frank Priestley,Matt Conn Fleet/Commercial sales, Rick Wallis Dodge General Sales pose with James Williams National Discussion Meet Winner.

Who Says You Can't Win Big in YF and R events? James Williams won a 4-wheeler in the State Meet and a Dodge at Nationals.

National Discussion Meet Winner

Matt Horrocks of KIDK interviews James Williams in front of his new truck.--Putnam Photo
Williams Honored at YF and R Leadership Conference

Pocatello--The YF and R group gave one of their own a rousing welcome at the YF and R Leadership Conference in Pocatello.

Dodge officials were in attendance and the luncheon crowd walked out front of the Holiday Inn as corporate officials presented part time rancher/BYU-Idaho professor James Williams the keys to a new Dodge.

Williams won the National Discussion meet in San Antonio January 12th. In December the Ucon rancher won the state meet in Boise. At the leadership luncheon Williams told the crowd that the competition in San Antonio was great, but his toughest opponent was against Caroline Anderson of Gooding in the State final.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a pre-determined topic and along the way it builds leadership and communication skills.

Williams won a 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup and a bunch of other prizes after taking home the prize. Williams also earned free registration to the 2009 YF&R Leadership Conference next month in Sacramento.

Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Conference

YF and R Leadership Conference Underway in Pocatello

Pocatello--Young Farmers and Ranchers started arriving in Pocatello Thursday morning from every corner of the state.

Drew Brammer and wife Markita flew in from Moscow via Salt Lake while others like Chris and Kimmel Dalley took the 25 minute drive from Blackfoot.

Last night 115 members boarded a bus with a secret destination as part of the annual Icebreaker. "They didn't know where we were taking them, but once we got there everyone had a good time," said Chris Dalley. The bus pulled up to the Deleta Skating rink on Yellowstone Avenue. The young families got off the bus and then had dinner that featured everything from pizza to burritos. It was the first extravaganza that put wheels on the feet of YF and R members.
"The icebreaker was a good time, it gave us a chance to talk to everyone and renew friendships," said Dalley. There were bumps and bruises but everyone left with a big smile on their face.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crop Insurance

Dave Paul at the Lewiston Crop Insurance Meeting--Bob Smathers photo

Nez Perce County Farm Bureau Hosts Crop Insurance Meeting
By Bob Smathers
Moscow--Dave Paul from the Risk Management Agency (RMA) in Spokane discussed crop insurance with growers in Lewiston on Monday, January 19. Mr. Paul covered the Federal Crop Insurance programs that growers have access to including Actual Production History (APH), Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC), Revenue Assurance (RA), Indexed Income Protection (IP), and Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite (AGR-Lite).

“There are lots of options out there for growers and one option may be better than another in any given year” says Paul. Mr. Paul also gave an overview of the catastrophic coverage available to growers. Catastrophic coverage has been around since 1996, but not much wheat is covered under this option.

“There is also a new “Combo Product” tentatively scheduled to be filed for 2011 that combines the best features of CRC, IP, RA, and APH into one insurance program,” says Paul. He said this will be a big change in Federal crop insurance programs and should save agents and growers a lot of time and reduce confusion.

“A new policy for dry peas is available in 2009,” says Paul. Under this policy, chick peas will be insurable as dry peas, not dry beans – single policy will now insure all cool season pulses. Fall planted pulse acreage will be eligible under this new policy for coverage in the spring provided an adequate stand exists. Growers will also be allowed “optional units by dry pea type and separate coverage levels and price election percentage by dry pea type. Growers may also be eligible for replanting payments. A winter coverage endorsement will be available in select counties for 2010.

Mr. Paul also gave a summary of the Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite coverage (AGR-Lite). This coverage is based on the tax year not production year and is based strictly on revenue. AGR-Lite insures against lost revenue from the sale of AG commodities produced during the insurance year due to unavoidable natural disasters and market fluctuations during the insurance year on a whole farm basis.

“This s a straight revenue program for the whole farm” says Paul. The grower can insure up to 80% of their actual adjusted gross revenue. On AGR policies, growers cannot finalize claims until after they have filed their taxes for the insurance year because the starting point for determining income and loss is the current year’s tax forms. Farmer paid premium rates vary considerably but generally fall between 2 and 4 % of total coverage depending on the commodities insured.

Dave Paul stresses that Federal Crop Insurance programs are legislated by the Federal Crop Insurance Act. “Premium subsidies and loss payments are paid from an insurance fund established under the Act. This includes full funding for any and all losses under the Federal crop insurance program” says Paul. Your crop insurance program is guaranteed – the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) is ultimately responsible for any amounts owed including claims which would be paid regardless of what happens with the insurance company.

Policies are sold and serviced by approved insurance companies under a Standard Reinsurance Agreement. Under the agreement, insurance companies are required to follow FCIC approved policy and procedure including timely payment of loss claims. Generally speaking, if an insured has complied with all the policy provisions, the insurance company will pay the loss within 30 days after agreement with the insured.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just in

Lower on-farm prices forecast for 2009

Chicago--Farm income set a record in 2008. But agricultural economists are predicting lower prices for farmers this year. Because of the global recession, the only demand increase for corn the next two years will be for corn used for ethanol.

Demand is expected to decline for wheat and cotton this year. One bright spot for farmers is that fuel and fertilizer prices are expected to decline because of the weak global economy.

Beating Winter

Steve Ritter video

Inversion, Cold Temps, Bad Air Grip Idaho
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a yellow alert for air quality in the Treasure Valley, The Magic Valley, Pocatello and Idaho Falls because of the inversion.

Concentrations of small airborne particles are expected to gradually build through the week, according to DEQ’s Web site. Reduced traffic on the weekend could help keep air quality in the lower moderate category, but sensitive individuals should take precautions like staying away from strenuous outside activities until the air quality is better.

A gradual breakdown in the strength of the inversion is expected to begin today. The weakening should slow the increase in particulate concentrations and keep air quality in the lower moderate category.

In the meantime above the clouds its a winter wonderland with warm sunshine and clear, clean air.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Is Sworn In as the 44th President

Washington--Barack Obama took the oath of office on Tuesday 10 am MST at the National Mall in Washington before the largest inaugural crowd ever.

Barack Obama called on Americans to confront “our collective failure to make hard choices.”

President Obama spoke for about 18 minutes, after taking the oath on the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural in 1861. The President emphasized his determination to unite Americans in confronting both the economic challenges facing him and the continuing fight against terrorism.
Obama warned the nations problems “are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”

Annual Legislative Freshman Lunch

Ritter photo
Priestley Address the Idaho Legislatures Freshman Class

Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley warmly greets the 2009 Legislative Freshman class at Boise's Crystal Ballroom.

The lunch is conducted each year as a way of introducing the Farm Bureau and its policies to incoming lawmakers.

This years class includes two Farm Bureau members, Rep. Judy Boyle, District 9, seat B and former State Director of Agriculture, Rep. Pat Takasugi.

The Farm Bureau Legislative Team attended the event and graciously hosted the distinguished lawmakers, left to right: Kent Lauer, Wally Butler, Frank Priestley, Russ Hendricks, Dennis Tanikuni, Rick Keller.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just in from Washington

Congressman Walt Minnick at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting December 4th, 2008, Putnam photo
Congressman Minnick Appointed to Agriculture Committee

Washington--Congressman Walt Minnick landed a major Capitol Hill coup with his appointment to the House Agriculture Committee. Minnick address the Idaho Farm Bureau's annual meeting in December saying that landing on the Ag committee was a priority.

With the appointment the freshman Congressman will help guide America's commodity markets, set farm policy and oversee the U.S. Forest Service.

Spokesman John Foster says the post will help Congressman Minnick look out for Idaho interests in a democrat-controlled Congress.
On the Ag committee Minnick will promote energy alternatives everything from wind power and anaerobic digesters to from woody biomass harvested from Idaho's U.S. Forest Service land.

"Walt's not afraid to say it," said Foster, "We need to hear some chain saws again."

District 5 FFA Speech Contest

Photo courtesty of Sandy Maras (Clark Fork HS)


(Sandpoint) Laray Stoffels won the District 5 speech contest on Friday. Laray will be representing District 5 in the State Competition in Boise next week. Chris Elliot from the Bonner County Woman's Leadership Committee presented Laray a check and invitation to the State championships.

Obama Inaugural

Jake Putnam photo
Farmers Need Policies that Promote Economic Growth

Washington--As the new Congress and the Obama administration prepare to take up proposals to address the current economic recession and climate change concerns, they must enact policies on taxes and the environment that promote economic growth, thats the word from last weeks 90th American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

“Where Congress and the administration must propose and enact new laws and regulations to deal with our nation’s challenges, Farm Bureau will work to ensure those new measures do not threaten farmers’ and ranchers’ profitability,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, “but, rather, capitalize on opportunities to maintain a strong agricultural economy and bolster rural America.”

As Congress is expected this year to revisit the issue of climate change, the delegates have reaffirmed their opposition to caps on greenhouse gas emissions that would drive up the cost of fuel, fertilizer and other inputs needed to produce farm commodities.

Continuing to support America’s transition to energy independence through the production of biofuels, the delegates felt, was the right direction. They approved a policy supporting an increase in the ethanol-to-gasoline blend rate to more than the current 10 percent.

AFBF delegates also approved policies aimed at bolstering the rural economy. For example, the Obama-backed economic stimulus proposal should fund improvements to the nation’s infrastructure, including expanding broadband Internet access in rural areas and funding the Water Resources Development Act, which authorized construction of new locks and dams on the inland waterways.

The delegates indicated that federal lawmakers and the new administration also should complete an unfinished immigration bill left over from 2008. They expressed support for immigration reform that provides a more efficient temporary worker program for agriculture. They voted to support improved training for employers to help them understand and better use the current H-2A seasonal agricultural worker program, and better information delivery for new users of the program.

Permanent repeal of the estate tax, which impedes farm families’ ability to keep farms in the family, was another issue on which the delegates indicated renewed support.

The delegates also approved a resolution stating that the concept of “sustainable agriculture” should be flexible and recognize the benefits of accepted agricultural practices. They supported scientific research and education that encourages all participants in the agricultural industry to produce, process and distribute safe food and feed.

“Our nation faces serious challenges and our leaders must deal with those,” said Stallman. “But in doing so, they also have opportunities to put policies in place—on issues such as energy, immigration, taxes and infrastructure—to make us stronger in the long run.”

Citing anti-livestock campaigns such as last year’s Proposition 2 in California, the delegates urged the AFBF board of directors to continue the Ag Challenges Initiative, a program that helps producers tell their story of responsible care for animals.

At this AFBF annual meeting, 369 voting delegates representing every state and agricultural commodity deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policy approved at the annual meeting will guide the national farm organization’s legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2009.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Farm Economy

Where does your food dollar go?

OFF-FARM costs or the marketing expenses associated with processing, wholesaling, distributing and retailing of food products account for 81 cents of every retail dollar spent on food.

FARMERS AND RANCHERS receive just 19 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food that is eaten at home and away from home. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food in America.

*Other Costs include property taxes and insurance; accounting and professional services; promotion; bad debts; and many miscellaneous items.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just in from Washington

Photo courtesy of Mark Lisk, author of 'Owyhee Canyon Lands '
Owyhee Wilderness Bill Passes the Senate
Washington--It took eight years but Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo finally achieved his goal of passing a 517,000-acre wilderness in the U.S. Senate.

The bill sets aside more than 2 million acres of wilderness south of Boise in Owyhee County. Idaho Sen. Jim Risch supported the proposal as governor and voted for the bill on the floor of the Senate. The legislation now goes to the House, where it's expected to pass.

"For Idaho, it is a huge win," Crapo said. "This is the resolution of a decades-old series of conflicts over land management issues over a wonderful part of our state."

The bill brings together a land use package that opens areas of previously off-limits areas to motorized recreation, livestock grazing and other activities. It also provides ranchers with cash and federal land in exchange for giving up private land and giving up grazing rights on some public land.

Senator Crapo says there's still more to do, they'll need to raise cash for land exchanges some $7 million dollars."We've started the process of raising the money," he said. "But it's hard to do until legislation is passed. I expect that we will have very strong support from all members of the working group."

Congressman Walt Minnick is calling for support of the bill in the House,he says it's a good piece of legislation. "It keeps a very stunning part of Idaho from turning into ranchettes," and added "It's a special piece of the United States that deserves increased protection."

Minnick spoke with the House Majority Leader after the bill passed the Senate and says the House could take up the bill in just a few weeks.

Crapo worked hard bringing together the unlikely coalition of ranchers, wilderness advocates, outdoor enthusiasts to support the legislation. It almost passed the Senate last year as part of a lands bill but was killed in the 11th hour by a threatened filibuster.

Craig Gehrke of Boise's Wilderness Society Chapter called this a historic moment for public lands in Idaho. "This bill is about providing real solutions for both people and the land, and we are committed to this process until the end."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Endangered Species Act

Photo courtesty of Mangrove Mike
Idaho Ready to Take over Wolf Management

Boise-– The Department of Interior announced Wednesday that because of a successful reintroduction program and healthy population, the Department will strike wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana. The decision gives the states the responsibility for managing wolves under plans already approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, starting in mid-February.

Deputy Director of Idaho Fish and Game, Jim Unsworth, says the government's latest attempt to remove federal protection from the wolves could be stalled by legal filings in the federal courts by the Obama administration.

"We've got a new administration and a lot of lawsuits in front of us," Nate Fisher, administrator for the state Office of Species Conservation, told lawmakers.

Some 15-hundred wolves in the Northern Rockies were taken off the list last February but was later nullified in Federal District court in July because the court said that state management plans couldn’t guarantee sustained recovery.

The Northern Rockies wolf population includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah. The federal decision supports removing wolves in Montana and Idaho, but not Wyoming, from the endangered species list.

Unsworth was on KBOI radio in Boise this morning and said that wolves need to be managed just like mountain lions and bears, and plans have been drawn up to manage wolf numbers through hunting.

The state agency drafted rules last winter that established a hunting season from Sept. 15 to Dec. 31.

Unsworth said the number of harvested wolves depends on populations in each region and also livestock depredation numbers. Last year he says, more than 350 wolves were eligible to be killed.

Just in from Washington

Obama Nominee Gov. Tom Vilsack testifies before Senate Agriculture Committee

Washington, DC – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is offering his support for President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for Agriculture Secretary. Citing Gov. Tom Vilsack’s recognition of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s role in implementing the 2008 Farm Bill promptly and according to congressional intent, Crapo expressed interest in working with Secretary-designate Vilsack to tackle the challenges facing agriculture and rural communities. Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, met personally with Vilsack to discuss his nomination.

“With high input costs, tightening credit, and unstable prices, the work ahead to help rural America overcome these trials will be substantial,” Crapo noted in a submitted statement. “Representing the State of Idaho, with diverse agriculture production, including dairy, beef, grains, sugar, and a wide array of specialty crops, I look forward to working with you and the other members of the Committee on this effort. We must make certain that proper resources are dedicated to implementing the specialty crop programs in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“During my time in the Senate, I have been honored to serve as both Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit. The programs under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee are instrumental in assisting with rural job and business growth, promoting forest health, providing rural credit, and preserving our natural resources,” Crapo added.

Crapo emphasized that rural economic needs go beyond production agriculture, to include infrastructure upgrades, environmental and energy improvements, and efforts to attract business to rural areas.

“The economic development of rural America is a goal we both share, and the economic success of rural communities is closely linked to access to certain basic infrastructure,” Crapo added. “For example, the availability of clean, safe drinking water is a necessity for all communities, yet rural communities often struggle to fund water and wastewater projects. Through a program called Project SEARCH, I worked to ensure that small rural communities will have streamlined access to funding for water and wastewater projects, and I look forward to working with you to help make this program a success.

“As you know, as Secretary of Agriculture, you will be in charge of overseeing 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. This is a tremendous responsibility given the challenges facing our national forestlands, including the continuing threat of devastating forest fires and bark beetle infestations. A century of fire suppression compounded with declining timber harvests have resulted in tremendous fuel loads and invasive species issues that now pose a danger to individuals, wildlife and water health. As a Senator from the Western United States, from a state where 73 percent of our timberlands are national forest lands, national forest management policies have a huge impact on the lives of Idahoans. I appreciate your recognition of these issues, and I look forward to working with you to effectively manage those forestlands,” Crapo noted.

Finally, Crapo noted trade can be a critical factor in improving the rural economy. He said successful conclusions to World Trade Organization talks and support for legislation he has cosponsored opening trade and travel between the U.S. and Cuba have the potential to boost prices and sales of U.S. commodities.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Farm Bureau Convention News

Schafer meets the press at the AFBF Annual Meeting in San Antonio

Sec. Schafer: U.S. Agriculture can be Force for Peace

San Antonio--In what may be his last public speech before leaving office Jan. 20, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said one of the lessons he learned during his year in office is how interconnected the world is – and how agriculture can be a force for peace.

Speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual meeting, Schafer said that although America has long played the lead role in providing emergency food aid to the world’s hungry, it’s now time to take another step. The greatest challenge, Schafer said, is to feed the 70 million additional people who join the world’s population every year.

“We must help (other countries) put their agriculture on a more stable footing,” he said, adding that he “has no doubt” that improving agriculture across the globe “can bring peace to this world.”

During a news conference held just before his speech, Schafer discussed some of the issues USDA is coping with in the closing days of the Bush administration, including the controversy over the soybean checkoff program, the implementation of country-of-origin labeling, and biofuels.

USDA has asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate allegations of mismanagement of checkoff funds, personnel issues within the National Soybean Checkoff Program and mismanagement in the USDA’s role in monitoring the checkoff program. The allegations are serious, Schafer said, and need a serious outside investigation, but he added that the situation “challenges us as to whether this is an effort to eliminate the soybean checkoff.”

Regarding country-of-origin labeling, Schafer said that despite some remaining issues, he believes that on the whole, the COOL program represents a good balance. He added that COOL is a marketing program, not a trade issue, and he is confident that it complies with World Trade Organization rules.

As for biofuels, Schafer noted when food prices increased dramatically last spring and summer, accompanied by high commodity prices, many people were quick to blame ethanol. Those high commodity prices are gone now, but food prices haven’t gone down proportionately.

“This points to a clear fact that ag commodity prices were not the driving factor in food costs,” Schafer said.

Meanwhile energy prices and prices for inputs such as fertilizer have gone down, though not at the same rate as commodity prices. That is finally beginning to balance a little bit, Schafer said, adding that he believes that by planning season, the price for inputs will have balanced out with the commodity prices.

American Farm Bureau Convention News

The Dodge Representative presents Samantha and James Williams keys to their new Dodge pickup at the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. James won the national YF and R discussion meet. Photo courtesy of Samantha Williams.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Take Top Honors
SAN ANTONIO--Winners of the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual meeting. Young farmers from around the United States competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.

Donald and Alicia Blankenship of Tennessee won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of a 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, and a $1,000 product voucher from Valvoline. They also received free registration to the 2009 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference, Feb. 7-9, in Sacramento, Calif.

Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest included Larry and Jenny Rebecca Black of Florida, Brian and Catherine Ziehm of New York, Bryan Boll of Minnesota, and Chris and Jamie Demerly of Michigan. They each received a compact tractor, courtesy of Case IH, and a $500 product voucher from Valvoline.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside Farm Bureau.

James G. Williams of Idaho won the Discussion Meet. He will take home a 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck, courtesy of Dodge, plus free registration to the 2009 YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet were Marc Arnusch of Colorado, Dalton Henry of Kansas and Nicole Reese of Wisconsin. They each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chainsaw, both courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Dan and Cara June Strasser of Tennessee won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. They received a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck and free registration to the YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition were Curt and Carrie Divine of Kentucky, Jeff and Alyssa Vander Werff of Michigan, and Matthew and Teresa Widboom of Minnesota. Each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chain saw, courtesy of STIHL.

The Excellence in Agriculture award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Farm Bureau Convention News

Samantha and James Williams accept a four-wheeler from Polaris representatives for winning the Idaho YF and R Discussion meet in December. Putnam photo

Idaho Young Farmer Wins National Competition

SAN ANTONIO--A young farmer from Ucon won the national YF and R discussion meet Monday at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual meeting.

James Williams will bring home a 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup and other prizes after finishing first in the AFBF Discussion Meet. He competed against a field of his peers from every Farm Bureau in the country. Williams also earned free registration to the 2009 YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet were Marc Arnusch of Colorado, Dalton Henry of Kansas and Nicole Reese of Wisconsin. They each received a $6,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a Farm Boss chainsaw, both courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on predetermined topics.

This year’s topics included the following:

How can the aging infrastructure of the United States support the transportation of agricultural commodities in the future?

How do land grant universities remain on the forefront of an ever-changing agricultural environment?

How do we correct the misconceptions of Farm Bureau?

After YF&R, how can Farm Bureau utilize the leaders it has developed?

Williams qualified for the AFBF competition by winning the Idaho Farm Bureau discussion meet in early December. In that competition he took home a new Polaris four-wheeler and an all expense paid trip to the national competition in San Antonio.

Williams is the son of Galen Williams of Ucon. He currently teaches at Brigham Young University Idaho in their Institute of Religion Department. James and his wife Samantha have four children and also run a horse boarding and hay operation north of Idaho Falls. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Master’s degree in education.

Monday, January 12, 2009

State of the State Address

Idaho's Capitol Dome by Jake Putnam


Boise--Gov. Butch Otter this afternoon called for budget cuts across the board because of the worse economic climate in the Gem State in more that two decades.

"The impact is serious," Otter told a statewide audience on Monday afternoon. "Fundamental changes are being made in the way we do business. Every director, administrator and employee in state government is re-evaluating processes and rethinking priorities. Some services that were meeting public demands – and in some cases have become expected of state government – have had to be reduced or eliminated . Our new Zero-Base Budgeting process already is identifying a number of programs and operations that have been pursued or continued at taxpayer expense but with no specific statutory authority or direction."

The Governor asked lawmakers to cut higher education budgets by 10 percent, public schools by more than 5 percent, state parks by more than 50-percent.

"My General Fund budget proposal for Health and Welfare is down 7½ percent. Higher education is down almost 10 percent; the departments of Correction and Water Resources each are down almost 12 percent," said Otter.

The Governor proposed a state budget 7.4 percent smaller than the 2008 budget and conceded that the budget cuts will be tough stressing that Idahoans are living in tough times.


Otter stressed in his speech that the transportation revenue system isn’t designed to meet state needs today. So he laid out the second part of a plan to generate new revenue.

"I’m proposing to increase our fuel tax by 2 cents a gallon in each of the next five years –for a total of a 10-cent increase in the tax, to 35 cents a gallon. That will bring in about $17.6 million in additional fuel tax revenue the first year," said Otter. "And after five years it will generate a total of about $88 million a year extra for transportation."

Otter reminded lawmakers that they raised the fuel tax to 25 cents 13 years ago. And that the state is trying to accomplish 2009 goals with 1996 dollars.

"So I also will be asking you to approve increases in our vehicle registration fees in a way that updates our system while continuing to take the age of vehicles into account. My plan will raise about $15 million in new revenue from registration fees in the first full year it’s implemented. After five years, the registration changes I’m proposing will generate about $51 million a year in additional revenue. I also am proposing a 6-percent excise tax on car rentals, and that we eliminate the ethanol exemption from the fuel tax. And I want to shift the 5 percent of fuel tax revenue that the Idaho State Police NOW gets in order to put another $16 million a year into our roads and bridges," said the Governor.

Otters budget proposals reflect his conservative approach and his goal of creating a balanced budget that one day will bring new jobs to this state.

"We want to encourage and create a climate that enables visionaries like the Simplots, Albertsons, and Morrisons of yesterday -- and like the Parkinsons, Hagadones, Vandersloots and Sayers of our own generation -- create more jobs and a bright future for Idaho families and communities," said Otter.

2009 Legislature Underway

Statehouse Dome, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
BOISE - The 2009 Legislature starts today with an ominous economic backdrop. Lawmakers will be tasked with cutting budgets, slashing hundreds of state jobs and eliminating programs for the state's poor.

Some say it could be one of the shortest sessions on record because of the lack of revenue dollars, others say it will be the longest on record for the same reason.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter will propose an estimated $2.69 billion budget for fiscal year 2010 starting in July, thats 8 percent lower than the fiscal year 2009 plan. The Governor will deliver the annual State of the State address at 3pm.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Food Trends

Fuel Prices Down, Food Prices Slow to Follow

Washington--The U.S. Department of Agriculture says after two years of record breaking fuel prices, prices have dropped but food costs are not dropping nearly as fast. But for the first time spiraling, food costs have leveled off.

That's good news for shoppers, who have abandoned fast food outlets and upscale restaurants in droves. Studies show that many people are cooking at home to save money, because of the worsening U.S. economy.

In the latest food price outlook the USDA's Economic Research Service has connected flat grocery prices with significant drops in commodities payouts to U.S. food producers.

The rise and fall of wheat prices stands as a prime example of what’s happening across U.S. commodity markets. Earlier this year wheat prices fetched double digit records in March 2008 but finished the year at just above the break-even point. Butcher shop prices for beef dropped because shoppers started looking for cheaper substitutes.

While climbing food prices have stopped cold in 2009, prices are expected to stay at the high inflationary levels according to USDA economic analyst Ephraim Leibtag.

"Overall, food prices are still quite a bit higher than they were three years ago, and that's not going to change," Leibtag said.

According to the American Farm Bureau’s year-end market survey, cereals and baked goods jumped 9 percent or more in 2008. Falling grain prices means bread prices will go up just 3 percent or less in 2009. Eggs, which went from $1.21 per dozen in 2006 to nearly $2 in 2008, should drop by a few cents this coming year.

Dairy products should fall after significant markups in 2008. The price for a gallon of milk is already down in Boise, Twin Falls and Pocatello but shouldn't’t drop further because prices are still being influenced by the midyear markup in fuel as well as commodity costs, which stayed high in September.

The Farm Bureau in Washington also says that retail prices driven up by fuel costs have stayed at those prices despite significant falling fuel prices nationwide. The market basket surveys noted price drops in apples, cheese, beef, bacon but cereal and bread were up along with mayonnaise.

Red sky at morning

Red sky at morning, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

In the past month Idahoans have witnessed wild weather swings, from mild days to freezing temps and blizzards. Weather forecasters says that trend should continue throughout thel winter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Legislative News

Idaho Economic Ag Forecast Down in 2009

Boise--Idaho lawmakers heard dire economic reports from experts on the eve of the 2009 legislative session. Economists say the state's agriculture industry is expecting a down year across the board and that includes the biggest commodity--dairy.

Garth Taylor, University of Idaho economist told lawmakers,"So goes dairy, so goes the rest of the state in ag. And dairy prices are not looking so cheery."

Economists in the briefing said that Idaho consumers are feeling a pinch in the pocketbook and theres been a weaker demand for wheat,beef, potatoes, and barley.

There was a ray of hope in the dark economic forecast because of the weak dollar worldwide state exports should surpass the $4.7 billion record set in 2007, according to Commerce director Don Dietrich.

Idaho Politics

Photo courtesy of the Governors office


(Boise) Idaho Governor Butch Otter appointed Senator Brad Little lieutenant governor at newsconfernce on Tuesday. The appointment was effective immediately but is subject to confirmation by the Idaho Senate.

Little was elected this past November to his fifth term in the Idaho Senate and succeeds Jim Risch, who resigned as lieutenant governor today after being elected to the United States Senate in November.

Little’s appointment was announced just one hour after Risch was sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. Governor Otter said he was impressed by the civic virtue he found among those willing to be considered for the position of lieutenant governor, and that many of those with whom he talked would have been excellent choices.

“For me, it came down to the fact that Brad is one of best public servants I know – and one of the best people. Nobody understands the issues, the personalities or the possibilities better than him, and nobody will work harder for the people of Idaho,” Governor Otter said. “It is a privilege to be able to recognize and reward our new lieutenant governor’s talents and abilities. Brad believes, as I do, that Idaho’s greatest days are ahead of us. I’m proud to be associated with him.”

Little, a farmer, rancher and businessman, was Republican Caucus chairman in the Idaho Senate. He also served on the Senate Resources and Environment, State Affairs, and Transportation committees. The University of Idaho graduate is a former board member of the Idaho Community Foundation and the Gem County School District Foundation. He is a past chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Idaho Woolgrowers Association and the American Land and Resources Foundation.

Little and his wife, Teresa, have two sons.

“I’m honored to have this chance to keep serving the people of Idaho the best I know how,” Lieutenant Governor Little said. “Butch and I have been friends a long time. We understand how one another thinks; we share values and ideals. Jim Risch leaves big shoes to fill. I will do my best, and I’m happy to have the confidence and support of Governor Otter and my colleagues in the Legislature in that effort.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Capitol Contruction Continues

Capitol Contruction Continues, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

One year down, one year to go. The January 2010 Idaho Legislature is scheduled to meet once again in the Idaho Statehouse. Contruction crews have completed the wing superstructure and have re landscaped the area.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Still snowing in Boise

Idaho Farm Bureau, home of Idaho Farm Bureau News, 500 W. Washington

Boise Precipitation Above Normal
Boise--Two new inches of snow fell this morning in the Treasure Valley. The new snowfall is in addition to 2-4 inches of snow that fell yesterday.The forecast calls for warmer temperatures and rain this afternoon, but storms continuing throughout the week.

New YF and R Chairmen

Heather and Doug Barrie are the new chairmen of the District II YF&R Committee, Putnam photo.

Ucon--Doug and Heather Barrie have assumed leadership of the District II YF and R committee and look forward to the challenges ahead.

The Barries live just outside of Ucon, Idaho and farm 400 acres of grain and hay, but also help out on the family operation.

"This time of year I’m trying to finish my marketing," said Barrie. "I still have a little grain left right now which is unfortunate but starting this month we'll start working on equipment to get ready for the spring."

Barrie says with a sigh that the off seasons gets shorter every year. "In December I try to keep low key when I can. I just enjoy the time because I’m so worn out, especially during grain harvest. We harvest quite a few acres for the neighbors. And this year we spent about 8 weeks in those machines, so right now it’s kind of a burned out thing. We are just getting over that."

The Barries met at nearby Rick's College, (now BYU-Idaho) Doug boasts with a twinkle in his eye that Heather made the first move and asked him out on their first date. "Doug was a home teacher," said Heather. "I thought he was pretty cute and asked him out…that’s it!"

The Barries have never looked back and now have a young family in tow. "Emily she is 3 and very shy. Nathan is 6 and Katie is 8."

Heather says taking the family to meetings is never a problem. "YF and R is the perfect fit for the family because all of the meetings are kid friendly and she can visit with other young farm families. We can share stories, see what they got going on, get ideas from them, and share ideas back. We have really liked it, it’s been great, and it’s the place to be," said Heather.

Doug Barrie served an LDS mission and knows the importance of communication, organization and reaching out. He says the YF and R programs are excellent training tools for leadership and life skills; but when he first showed up a meeting he didn't know what he was getting into.

"One day my friend Dave Williams called me and said ‘come to this meeting’ there'll be pizza and bring your kids, it’s a family thing and it'll be fun. I get there and they invite me sit on this group, this kind of panel discussion. So I stood up there and did that whole thing. I didn’t even know what it was called. But they ended up calling it a discussion meet. It was fun; everyone says I got railroaded into Farm Bureau, that’s my story," laughs Barrie.

Barrie says YF and R is preparing everyone for the future and in the process making Idaho Agriculture stronger.

"The Achiever award it’s a great opportunity for everybody to see what they’re doing to be successful, it gives us all something to shoot for and that's what we need in these times," he said. The Barries are looking forward to the YF and R annual meeting later this month in Pocatello.

YF&R Leadership Conference-January 22-24, 2009 Holiday Inn, Pocatello. Registration forms can be found on the IFBF webpage:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Washington Agriculture News

American Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Paul Schlegel

'Cow Tax' Worries Nation's Dairy Farmers
Washington--Cows could cost dairymen tens of thousands of dollars each year and drive up milk prices if an idea of the Environmental Protection Agency becomes law.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York says it amounts to a cow tax and says he wants to kill the idea before it gets started saying it could cost dairy and cattle farmers more than $120 million annually.

The tax idea comes as part of the EPA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, a rundown of regulations the agency issues when considering new ways to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Schumer, the document calls for farmers whose farms emit more than 100 tons of methane to purchase permits, and that includes any farm with 25 or more dairy cows or 50 or more beef cows - which amounts to almost all farms in the nation.

"The bottom line is simple,'' Schumer continued, "this idea is absurd, and if imposed would be very, very bad for our farmers and for our whole economy. ... Now is the time to nip this in the bud and wipe out any and all suggestions of a cow tax.''

According to analysis done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Farm Bureau Federation, Schumer said permits would cost farmers an estimated $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 per beef cow - totalling $13,000 and $22,000 a year for medium-sized dairy farms with 75 to 125 cows and $17,000 and $27,000 for medium-sized cattle farms with 200 to 300 cows.

"If American farms are forced to scale back or raise prices, it's going to affect all of us,'' Schumer said, "because it will mean that everyone will pay more for milk and dairy products and meat and meat products. We've heard enough reports about Chinese baby formula tainted with melamine and Mexican jalapenos contaminated with salmonella to know that putting American farms out of business does not spell good things for the whole health of the nation's dairy and meat supply.''

Snow continues to fall across Idaho

Snow-water equivalent percentages in snowpacks in the mountains above Idaho's 21 river basins, as reported Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service:

- Northern Panhandle region: 74 percent of average.
- Spokane River Basin: 77 percent.
- Clearwater Basin: 90 percent.
- Salmon Basin: 101 percent.
- Weiser Basin: 96 percent.
- Payette Basin: 96 percent.
- Boise Basin: 100 percent.
- Big Wood Basin: 97 percent.
- Little Wood Basin: 104 percent.
- Big Lost Basin: 100 percent.
- Little Lost, Birch basins: 96 percent.
- Medicine Lodge, Beaver, Camas basins: 103 percent.
- Henry's Fork, Teton basins: 95 percent.
- Snake Basin above Palisades: 97 percent.
- Willow, Blackfoot, Portneuf basins: 91 percent.
- Snake River above American Falls: 96 percent.
- Oakley Basin: 95 percent.
- Salmon Falls Basin: 104 percent.
- Bruneau Basin: 107 percent.
- Owyhee Basin: 97 percent.
- Bear River Basin: 87 percent.

Snow in Boise

Putnam photo

Storms Bury Idaho--More on the Way

Boise--Another winter storm has rocked the Treasure Valley, the first of a series of storms forecast for the first week of January. Boise had 3 inches of snow this morning, with a Winter Storm Warning in effect until 5pm.

The month of December set snowfall records across the state but water content in the snow is just average.

"We’re only a third of the way through the winter,” said USDA hydrologist Ron Abramovich, “If we don’t get anymore snow from now to April 1, we’ll end up with 30 percent of average.”

Abramovich says theres 84 inches of snow at Mores Creek Summit but the water content at the Boise County site is disappointing--just 8 inches of water which is normal for December.

Over the past three weeks Idaho cities have seen prolific and record snowfalls. Boise has seen a white Christmas just once this past decade, (six inches of snow is the average) but this month the Capitol City was blanketed with 22 inches of snow.

Boise surpassed the 1924 record of 19.4 inches. But the biggest December of 1884’s 36.6 inches of snow still stands. But the impressive totals are just getting us where we need to be in terms of water, and it’s the same in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Pocatello.

By Jan. 1st Idaho watersheds should be at 40 percent; February, 60 percent; March, 80 percent; April, 100 percent in a normal year, The recent snow has been good news, but in terms of water supply for next summer statistics show that the state is only 25 percent there and still needs above-normal precipitation.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

Up Coming Events

Middleton Farmer Sid Freeman meets with Darrell Bolz R-Caldwell at the 2008 Strolling Buffet. Putnam photo

Idaho Farm Bureau Prepairs for a Busy January

Boise--The holidays have past and farmers are now looking ahead to the 2009 season. With ample snow pack and lower gas prices Idaho Farm families have a renewed feeling of optimism.

"The week of January 26th will be a very busy week for Idaho Farm Bureau Leaders," said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Rick Keller. "We have organized a series of meetings designed to help our members meet the challenges ahead."

YF&R Leadership Conference-January 22-24, 2009 Holiday Inn, Pocatello. Kendall Keller has workshops and presentations designed to meet the needs of YF and R members.Registration forms can be found on the IFBF webpage:

Commodity Conference-January 26-27. Red Lion Downtowner, Boise. Gary Fuhriman, Director of Commodities, has planned an excellent conference for the commodity committees. This years agenda will cover several vital issues with an emphasis on 'Managing for Higher Production Costs.'

Legislative Leadership Conference January 27-28. The annual Legislative Conference is a key Farm Bureau event that provides a valuable opportunity to have concerns voiced in Boise. The conference will feature sessions by legislative leaders, Idaho's congressional delegation, and other key state officials.

Strolling Buffet
The highlight of the conference will again be the Strolling Buffet on the evening of January 27, where members will have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with lawmakers from your area in an informal setting.

Women's Leadership Committee
Monday January 26th, IFBF State Speech Contest Finals at Comfort Suites Inn.
Snack Bag Deliveries to Idaho Lawmakers
Food Delivery and Dinner at the Ronald McDonald House


Boise– Governor Butch  Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke announced an agreement today between water users and water managers on prioriti...