Saturday, February 28, 2009

Short Line Rail Freight Needed

Bipartisan bill boosts short line freight transportation through tax incentives

Washington, DC – Senators Mike Crapo and Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas introduced tax credit legislation for short line rail investers. The announcement came as Crapo met with representatives of Watco Companies and other short line railroad companies in his Washington, DC office to discuss the legislation on “Railroad Day” on Capitol Hill. Watco operates rail services in eastern, southern and north-central Idaho.

Both Crapo and Lincoln are members of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over tax law. The legislation grants short line railroads a tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar the railroad spends on track improvements.

“Short line railroads are a lifeline for our small businesses by moving the product from the farm and factory to the distribution centers, and on to the stores and consumers. The Short Line Rehabilitation Tax Credit increases the necessary investment in track rehabilitation and upgrades to allow this freight to move safely, faster, and in heavier rail cars.”

“These rail improvements not only create jobs; they can save rail lines that might otherwise go abandoned by other rail companies. The Lincoln-Crapo bill would extend the tax credit program for three years.

Watco Companies, based in Kansas, owns Watco Transportation Services which operates 19 short line railroads throughout the United States, including the Eastern Idaho Railroad and has operations in the Magic Valley and Palouse areas, including rail repair facilities in Rupert and Idaho Falls. Crapo has strongly supported these tax credits which helped spur improvements along the Eastern Idaho Regional Railroad lines near Burley when Crapo toured there in the summer of 2006.

“Every dollar invested in rail equals three dollars in economic output,” said Rick Webb, Watco CEO. “Tax credits are value-added when you consider that everyone in the transportation cycle benefits. New jobs are created to perform the work; shippers receive the best service for their dollar and the public benefits from the efficiencies created by improved infrastructure.”

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ag Economy

Jake Putnam photo
Ag Economy Stable

(Boise) The Senate and House Agriculture Affairs committees heard testimony this past week from the Idaho Bankers Association on agricultural lending in today's economy.

Magic Valley Bank, Northwest Farm Credit Services and U. S. Bank briefed lawmakers on the states lending environment and all were optimistic for row-crop agriculture.

The Bankers pointed to last year's high prices and the fact that equity grew in Idaho Farm operations. They told the committee that last years prices will not hold up in 2009 because dairy prices are down and farm operations are not buying as much feed and putting money into inputs as last year.
The banks said they're keeping an eye on the cattle and dairy industry but said this downward trend should change by summer.

Source: MPI

Horses: Hard Times in Tough Economy

Hobby Horses An Economic, Moral Debate

Boise--Idaho Sheriffs across the state have an issue on their hands: Abandoned Horses. Just outside of Emmett two weeks ago a passerby found 15 dead horses in a rotting heap, their brands cut from the hide.

Lee Kliman of the BLM told the Idaho Statesman that he's seen an increase in the number of horses abandoned on public land. "The area where the horses were found is still littered with carcasses -- deer, cows, older horses," Kliman said.

The BLM Ranger said it's tied to the economy. "People are having hard times financially and they're cutting corners. There is a right way to dispose of a horse without dumping it on public land."

In California the situation is far worse and authorities there are forced to deal with tens of thousand unwanted horses.

John Madigan, a professor in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis addressed a meeting of California experts in animal control to discuss the issue of unwanted horses.

"The legislation that banned slaughter facilities in California where over 100,000 horses were sent annually should have provided an alternative mechanism to deal with the continued life of those animals in a humane manner."

The current economic downturn has made the problem worse with too many horses on the market, crowding shelters and thousands of starving horses on the range.

"The need for a solution is vital," said Madigan. "We cannot afford economically or morally to ignore this problem any longer. Research is needed to find reasonable solutions and new guidelines for the management of unwanted horses, but funding is lacking."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Canyon County News

Canyon County holds Annual Legislative Lunch

Boise--Canyon County Farm Bureau held their annual Legislative Lunch at the Idaho Farm Bureau Offices at 500 W. Washington in Boise.

President Alicia Kranz welcomed her board, County Farm Bureau members and Lawmakers to the catered event. Canyon County lawmakers discussed budget and stimulus issues along with a legislative overview.
Canyon County then discussed the 'Buy Local' movement sweeping Idaho and the United States. Board Member Sid Freeman told the group that WalMart has announced plans to buy produce from local producers. Freeman thinks the 'Local' movement will lead to more direct marketing.
Canyon County has teamed with Ada County to produce public service announcements that target rural road safety. Freeman will help produce the PSA's and hope to have them on the air by the first day of spring.

Snow Pack

Sno Pack, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Backcountry Snowpack Lacking--Ritter

Council--Steve Ritter went sleding February 22nd. Ritter says usually on this trail in Adams County they have to duck to get through the arch, so snowfall is lagging a few feet from last year. Steve says this is a tried and true backcountry snow measurement and is accurate to 5 cmm or so.

USDA Wildlife Services Threatened

Western Legacy Alliance Supports USDA’s Wildlife Services

MORELAND--The Western Legacy Alliance, a newly formed coalition, today announced its support for the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

Recently a group of environmental organizations sent a letter urging U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to abolish Wildlife Services to save animals’ lives and as a cost-cutting measure for the nation. WLA asserts that eliminating WS is a short-sighted maneuver that would result in economic losses far greater than Wildlife Service’s annual budget.

Formed to reeducate the American people about the forgotten role of the West’s public lands and natural resources in sustaining local – and ultimately the nation’s – economy, the WLA is grateful for Wildlife Services. The valuable protection of herds and game animals, disease prevention and protection of agricultural commodities that WS provides should not be ignored.

“Apparently the same folks who want to do away with WS expect me to stay out day and night trying to protect my baby calves from the same reintroduced wolves that they claimed would do me no harm. Have these people ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the terrified bawling of a cow trying to protect her calf from being torn to pieces? Without WS to help me with the problem wolves, I am out of business, plain and simple," said 86-year old Dick Baker, a Clayton, Idaho rancher.

Leadership Idaho

David Patrick Selected For Leadership Idaho Agriculture Program

Boise--Twin Falls Farmer and long time Twin Falls County Farm Bureau member David Patrick was one of just 30 people selected to take part in this years Leadership Idaho Agriculture program.

The LIA program was established in 1985 under the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. In 1993, the LIA Foundation was established. Direction of the LIA program is now under the leadership of the Foundation Board of Trustees. The program is dedicated to helping Idaho rural leaders chart a course for their personal future as well as the future of their industry.

The 30 individuals selected from across the state participate in four intensive leadership training workshops offered twice yearly. Participants develop leadership skills through:

EDUCATION - The opportunity to comprehend the various economic, social and political forces impacting Idaho agriculture and rural communities including current and future technologies critical to the industry.

DISCUSSION - The opportunity for in-depth consideration of global, national, and state issues which affect Idaho agriculture.
UNDERSTANDING - The opportunity to share opinions and objectives with a diverse group of people representing agricultural interests.
PARTICIPATION - The opportunity to interact and network with Idaho's current leaders, class participants, and alumni to strengthen the future and image of agriculture.

Program Objectives
1. Improve personal leadership skills, enhance self-confidence, and develop agriculture and natural resource awareness.
2. Encourage a network of leaders to take an active leadership role in community, state, and national issues.
3. Promote Idaho agriculture and the development of strong rural communities.
4. Continue to build a network of informed, trained, and motivated rural leaders in Idaho.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Annual Meetings

Robert Blair photo
Nez Perce County News

Lewiston--Board Member Robert Blair of the Nez Perce County Farm Bureau attended the annual meeting earlier this year and snapped this photo. Representative John Rusche R-Lewiston, attended the meeting and gave his perspective on the 2009 legislative session, a session thats expected to stretch well into Spring.

Ag Summit 2009

Iron Creek at the Iron Creek Angus Ranch on Creek near Salmon

Governor Honors Five during Annual Ag Summit

Boise—Governor Butch Otter honored five Idahoans for their contribution to Agriculture during the annual Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit at the Red Lion Riverside this week.

The purpose of the prestigious award is to recognize outstanding individuals that impact agriculture in a positive way.

Education and/or Advocacy: Carl Crabtree grew up on a ranch in Kooskia, Idaho and learned from an early age the importance of 4-H. Nothing taught him more about cattle than 4-H and it carried over into a live-time passion.

“It’s interesting when I was in High School,” he remembers. “I did a lot of 4-H judging and in the back of my mind what I knew what cattle ought to look like. I kind of superimposed that image and when the limousine bull was introduced in 1968, that was it. Now I’m thinking a little differently,” he laughs. “But, that was the perfect beef animal at the time, it got me interested in cattle and I’ve never looked back.”

Crabtree’s crowning achievement came just a few years ago when he helped author the Beef Quality Assurance Training Manual while serving on the National Beef Board, he also put together a strategic planning group for the E-quality assurance program and out of that came a number of recommendations that lead to the manual that’s used throughout the country.

Environmental Stewardship: Clyde and Jan Phillips of Salmon were married back in 1971 and started working on Gene Hussey’s ranch in 1990 they eventually leased it and finally bought the picturesque place back in 2003. Thats when they started working with the Lemhi Soil and Water Conservation District on the Iron Creek Reconnection Project.

In the old days the SalmonRiver produced the biggest Steelhead and Salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin, but with low return numbers and new ESA requirements the Phillips decided that they wanted to be a part of a high-tech, holistic conservation project.

The built fences to protect riparian sections along Iron Creek and built a stock water system to all their troughs that drastically cut sedimentation into the creek. They also installed a pump and irrigation system. In the old days Iron Creek would dry up, now it has water year round for the fish.

The Phillips project was unique and groundbreaking because it partnered eleven state and local agencies together on one project and along the way improved habitat on the upper reaches of the Salmon for future generations of Idahoans. They demonstrated a commitment to improving water quality with innovation and partnerships and serve as a model to their Idaho peers.

Marketing Innovation: From an early age Bill Meadows has had a knack for seizing opportunity It all started back in 1970 while working at the Aberdeen U of I Research Center.

Starting in 1970 while working at the Research center, Meadows went to work developing new crops and markets with a passion and now three decades later his contributions are legendary:

“Basically, I’m a dry land farmer but we expanded into growing oilseeds, I grow flax and even mustard in rotation with winter wheat.

Phillips knew the specialty crops would break the disease cycle on his dry land farm, as well as be profitable. But what he didn't know was what his pioneer farming practices would lead too.

He and a few fellow farmers started shipping their oil crops to California that lead to buying elevator locations and a shipping operation.

“Thirty-one years later I have the same farmers growing oil crops and its become a crop that people made fun of to a crop where you can make very nice returns, compared to wheat,” said Meadows.

Meadows and fellow farmers grew the oil crop to 30-thousand acres in three decades and its growing every day.

Technical Innovation: Bill Dean spent most of his adult life perfecting the pinto bean at the U of I research station in the Magic Valley outside of Twin Falls.

“I started out washing petre dishes in the path lab,” he recalls. “I eventually got moved down to the greenhouse making tomato crosses, I had arrived!”

“Working out the labs he worked with farmers in eliminating plant diseases that could not only wipe out a crop but the farmer as well, he did it by building on the work of researches that came before him:

“Researchers before me like Walt Pierce recognized the fact that there were some plants within the great northern population that didn’t get mosaic and he also proved they had genetic resistance to curly top, I built on that and it became the basis for UI 3 and UI 34 which carried both resistances, mosaic and curly top. It all centered on the transmitter virus that we put on the plants.

Bill Dean has always been modest to a fault. “I’ve appreciated the fact that my professional colleagues appreciated the work I did. I did make some significant contributions to the bean world but I had help, I guess that’s something to be proud of. I am proud of it, buts its not earthshaking,” he said.

Lifetime Achievement: For more than 35 years, Rich Garber worked in Idaho Agriculture, from the fields of the family farm in Nampa to lobbying at the statehouse, to judging a young farmer and rancher discussion meet. Through it all, Garber is passionate about getting the youth of Idaho interested in Agriculture.

“They're our future,” he says. "I think our 4-H and FAA programs are critical in bringing a new generation of leaders that understand the value of Idaho agriculture and natural resources. I've had an opportunity to influence the youth of Idaho and it's been a privilege and an honor.”

Garber’s resume reads like an Idaho Ag guidebook serving on irrigation districts, the national association of wheat growers, water users, Leadership Idaho, Food Producers and his current job as director of government affairs for the U of I, Garber did it all his way:behind the scenes.

“Growing up on a farm was a privilege not many have that opportunity. It creates a work ethic that few experience and you also gain respect for the land as a resource, the importance of taking care of that resource and along the way one can correlate Agriculture to the seasons of life. When you’re farming you understand the seasons and the timeliness of doing things in a way that others never realize," said Garber.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

State of the Union Address

Galen Lee serves on the Payette County Farm Bureau Board of Directors--Putnam photo

Idaho Farm Bureau Member to join Congressman Minnick at presidential address

Washington, D.C. – Galen Lee last visited our nation’s capital city in 1982 as a high-school student attending a Future Farmers of America conference.

Tonight he will sit in the gallery above the U.S. House of Representatives chambers and watch President Barack Obama deliver an address to the nation.

“This is an honor,” said Lee, who turns 44 on Wednesday.

Lee is visiting the Nation's Capitol along with a group of Sugar Beet growers from across the state. Lee is from New Plymouth, Idaho, about an hour west of Boise near the Oregon border. He and his father grow sugar beets, peppermint, asparagus, hay, grain and corn, and have herds of dairy and beef cows.
Lee serves as president of the Nyssa-Nampa Beet Growers Association, and sits on the Idaho Mint Growers Board and the Payette County Farm Bureau Board. Lee and his wife Cindy have a blended family of eight, and they’ll all be watching televised address for a glimpse of their dad.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Lee said.

Lee was invited to the event by Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

“It was a pleasure to meet with Galen earlier today,” Minnick said. “I’m delighted he is able to attend the address, and will join him in watching with great interest to see what the president proposes for agriculture and for Idaho.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gov. Otter in Washington

Otter Meets with fellow Governors at the White House

Washington--Governor Butch Otter spent the weekend with President Barrack Obama and the Nation's Governors in a special economic stimulus meeting at the White House.

Otter is attending the National Governor's Association Meeting in Washington and the most obvious agenda item at the conference is the stimulus money. Otter has said he's worried that a blanket acceptance of the $787 billion stimulus package could hurt in the long run by increasing state taxes when federal funds run out. He says he doesnt want the stimulus turn into a permanent tax increase.

Democrat insiders have charged that Governors that turn down the money are "fringe governors," while those declining the money say their counterparts are out of touch.

According to the White House, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform the economy to compete in the 21st century. The compromise package of $789 billion will create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector.

American Farm Bureau Editorial

Renewable Energy is the American Way
By Robert Stallman, American Farm Bureau President

Washington--While the Obama administration and 111th Congress set up shop in Washington, farmers across the nation are revving up for what President Obama has said will be a major component of his presidency – a renewed focus on renewable energy. Farmers should expect to ramp up our efforts to provide clean, green energy to fuel the country.

Thinking Green
Farmers have long been proponents and suppliers of renewable fuels. It is Farm Bureau’s belief that America must transition to a nation fueled by clean, renewable, domestic energy to achieve long-term economic growth, create a cleaner environment and shield our economy from unreliable foreign energy sources.

With the same goal in mind, President Obama has said he will strive to create 5 million “green-collar jobs” during his administration, which means growing jobs at home. U.S. ethanol production already accounts for 250,000 home-grown jobs, and that number is growing. But it doesn’t stop there.

Cellulosic ethanol is the next worthy target. Until efficiency improves, incentives may be necessary to encourage production and handling of the cellulosic crops that drive this promising sector. Current reports indicate that grain-based ethanol continues to own a comparative economic advantage over second-generation, cellulosic biofuels. America’s enterprising farmers will do what they can to move this notion to commercial reality.

Midwest v. Middle East

So how do we do it?
Farm Bureau supported passage of the Renewable Fuels Standard. That measure transitions our domestic fuel supply to non-petroleum based biofuels. It also provides a federal commitment to conservation and energy efficiency, as well as the targeted, responsible domestic production of a broad array of energy resources.Although passed, some provisions in the bill still need to be implemented.

Meanwhile, Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for more access to ourdomestic oil and natural gas supplies. Accesstooffshore drilling would open up areas as close as three miles off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and part of the Gulf of Mexico. The more than 20-year congressional ban on offshore drilling was not extended in the last Congress, which means we are one step closer to furthering oil exploration in our own country.

Many naysayers argue that fuel prices have fallen, so why bother? Granted, energy prices are down now, but we don’t know how the economy will shake out. Further, our country was built on long-tern vision and wherewithal, and it is certain that long-term energy demand will require production from all sources, including renewable fuels.

Focusing on clean-and-green, renewable energy not only provides jobs for more Americans, but also a greater degree of energy independence. All forms of renewable energy, including wind, solar and others, represent a long-term investment in the American way of life.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

University of Idaho Briefs

Growers Benefit from Improved Varieties of Potatoes, Wheat, and Beans

Moscow--WITH CONSUMER TASTES continually changing, with growers and processors squeezing every conceivable cent from input costs, and with pests evolving into ever-more-aggressive forms, plant breeding dare not stand still. At CALS, it doesn’t.

CALS breeders have released six new varieties of potatoes, wheat, and beans since fall 2008. They include:

Classic Russet: a high-yielding, early-maturing russet potato with attractive tubers and outstanding culinary qualities that could replace the Russet Norkotah
Alpine Russet: a late-season russet potato that can be successfully processed out of long-term storage, like Russet Burbank, but that exceeds it in yields and fry quality
Clearwater Russet: a late-maturing russet potato with a high percentage of U.S. No. 1s, resistance to low-temperature sweetening, and exceptional processing quality

UICF-Lambert: a soft white winter wheat that performs much like Lambert—a UI variety released in the 1990s—and that offers the highest level of tolerance to imazamox currently available to wheat producers

VCW 54 and VCW 55: two dry beans derived from the scarlet runner bean that CALS breeder Shree Singh intends for worldwide use in transferring white mold resistance to different market classes.

CALS agronomist Jeff Stark, who coordinates the Tri-State Potato Variety Program, calls the trio of new russets “definite improvements over what’s available.” All are joint releases with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oregon State University, and Washington State University. New Aberdeen-based wheat breeder Jianli Chen is focusing on heat-, drought-, and pest-resistant varieties as well as on varieties that tolerate herbicides and that meet the distinct demands of domestic, Asian, and biofuel markets.

Topnotch varieties are essential to the profitability and sustainability of Idaho grain growers, Chen says. Wheat varieties on the docket for release later this year: two full-waxy wheats with potential for licensing as biofuel and blending wheats, a partial-waxy soft white spring wheat targeted to the Asian noodle market, three more imazamox-resistant varieties, and a soft white winter wheat with superior yield potential and end-use quality that veteran UI wheat breeder Bob Zemetra expects will excel in both domestic and foreign markets.

Friday, February 20, 2009

US Agriculture Census

Vermeer Dairy, near Wilder, Idaho--Putnam photo

AG Census Shows Growing Diversity in U.S. Farming

Washington–The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and farmers have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The Census of Agriculture is a valuable tool that provides the general public with an accurate and comprehensive view of American agriculture. It's also a set of benchmarks against which this Department must measure and demonstrate its performance to agriculture and the taxpayer," said Secretary Tom Vilsack.

" In the spirit of President Obama's call to make government more transparent, inclusive, and collaborative, I will be directing my team at USDA to review the findings of the 2007 Census and propose ambitious, measureable goals to make sure that the People's Department is hard at work for all the people – our diverse customers and the full diversity of agriculture," said Vilsack.

The 2007 Census counted 2,204,792 farms in the United States, that's an increase of 75,810 farms. Nearly 300,000 new farms started since the last census in 2002. Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms have a more diversified production with fewer acres, lower sales and younger farmers, many of which also work off-farm.

In the past five years, U.S. farm operators have become more diverse. The census counted nearly 30 percent more women farmers. The count of Hispanic farmers grew by 10 percent, and so did the number of American Indian, Asian and Black farmers.

The latest census figures show a trend toward more small and very large farms and fewer mid-sized operations. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than $2,500 increased by 74,000. The number of farms with sales of more than $500,000 grew by 46,000 during the same period.

Census results show that the majority of U.S. farms are smaller operations. More than 36 percent are classified as residential/lifestyle farms, with sales of less than $250,000 and operators with a primary occupation other than farming. Another 21 percent are retirement farms, which have sales of less than $250,000 and operators who reported they are retired.

In addition to looking at farm numbers, operator demographics and economic aspects of farming, the Census of Agriculture delves into numerous other areas, including organic, value-added, and specialty production, all of which are on the rise.

The 2007 Census found that 57 percent of all farmers have internet access, up from 50 percent in 2002. For the first time in 2007, the census also looked at high-speed Internet access. Of those producers accessing the Internet, 58 percent reported having a high-speed connection.

Other "firsts" in the 2007 Census include questions about on-farm energy generation, community-supported agriculture arrangements and historic barns.

The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years, is a complete count of the nation's farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Census results are available online at .

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Farm Editorial

Humane Society Legislation Moves Across the U.S.
By Chris Chin, Young Farm and Rancher
Jefferson City, Mo

Jefferson City--HSUS is moving to Illinois and Ohio with their legislation and ballot initiatives which would ban egg laying hen cages, sow stalls and veal stalls. HSUS claims these methods of production are not humane. I respectfully disagree.

Humane farm animal care is an issue all farmers should be talking about. In fact, we should own the issue. Whenever the issue is addressed by someone without the knowledge of modern agriculture and the ethics of animal care that guide modern farmers, we first must listen to the concerns, and not just blow them off.

But after, hearing, we must respond by sharing our PERSONAL STORIES ABOUT OUR CARE OF FARM ANIMALS and why we use modern animal production methods.

As a farmer, my top priority is the care I give my animal. I know a healthy animal produces healthy food. My kids and I eat the same food I raise for consumers; I wouldn't feed my family anything that wasn't safe. Farmers use these methods of production to PROTECT their animals from each other, predators, disease and the elements of the weather. As a hog farmer, I know my hogs can not sweat, which means the hog doesn’t like physical activity because the hog can’t cool their body down. Because of this, my hogs lay down and rest, they only get up to eat or drink. Hogs also do not have necks, they don’t like going someplace if they can’t see where they are going, thus, they do not like turning around. Hogs prefer moving forward, that is why my barn is designed to meet this need and we have no sharp turns or angles which would cause stress for our hogs during movement.
Our stalls create a stress free environment where the sow can lay down, eat or drink without fighting for food or water or being stepped on by another sow. Our stalls provide PROTECTION for our sows. I know on my farm I am providing the best care for my animals and they are content and comfortable. I can tell this by their body language, as can every farmer who raises livestock.
Farmers and ranchers have a great story to tell, please go out and share your story with others. And if you don’t raise livestock, you can still tell our story, talk about your neighbor who raises livestock and the humane care and respect they give their animals. Farmers and ranchers provide the best care for their animals based off years of experience, sound science and responsibility to provide healthy food for our families, and yours

Monsanto News

Monsanto's Seed Business Growing Larger than its Herbicide Division

Soda Springs—Monsanto Company says its seed business may soon be more profitabe than it’s successful Herbicide business.

The company that developed round-up, announced this week that its seeds and genomics division will grow by more than 60 percent by 2012, Carl Casale, Monsanto's executive vice president, told investors Wednesday.

Casale says the the seed segment will keep growing by an 18-percent margin through fiscal 2012 while gross profit from Monsanto’s Roundup and herbicides business will decline after reaching a projected peak this year at $2.4 billion. The executive VP released the projections at the Morgan Stanley Global Basic Materials Conference in New York.

Monsanto is one of the largest employers in Caribou County and develops insect-and herbicide-resistant crops and other agricultural products.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Sid Freeman and Don Sonke announced a cooperative farm safety project between Canyon and Ada County Farm Bureaus--Jake Putnam photo

Canyon and Ada County Team Up For Farm Safety

Boise--The headlines each spring are disturbing and frequent: motorists injured in accidents with farm machinery.

Now the Treasure Valleys most prominent farm organizations are teaming up to raise farm safety awareness on rural roadways.

"There's just a lot more congestion on our roads," said Canyon County Farm Bureau Board member Sid Freeman. "We're seeing more and more impatient people and they don't realize how long it takes machinery to get from one field to the next. They end up putting themselves and others at risk by making bad decisions on the road."

Canyon County and Ada County Farm Bureau organizations formed a partnership to produce and air public service announcements urging motorist to look out for farm machinery this spring on rural roadways.

Ada County's rural accident are on the rise, that concerns Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke. "We saw the PSA's that Canyon County produced, we just thought it was a project we'd like to get involved with," said Sonke. Freeman added that there were several near fatal accidents last summer in Canyon County that could have been prevented with awareness and understanding about farming and farm machinery.

"Every year the near misses make the headlines; it boils down to this: one fatal accident is too many," said Freeman. "With all those misses its just a mater of time before someone gets killed and that's unacceptable."

Sonke points out that Ada County farmland is being replaced by subdivisions, that means more traffic and more accidents. "Drivers don't expect to see farm equipment anymore and they're miles from the city limit, they don't know what to do." he said.

Freeman points out that farmers are using much bigger equipment and this change came about just a few years ago. "It's to save money, fewer passes through a field, that burns a lot less diesel and takes a lot less time, it comes back to staying profitable and staying on the farm, we take up a lot more roadway that we used to and drivers are not used to that."

Some farmers are so concerned that they're using extra flags and even pilot cars to keep the public safe, but its a losing game because as the rural population grows, traffic speed goes up and patience wears thin; patience and respect will be a big part of the PSA script.

The Farm Bureaus will start production on two new Public Service Announcements in early March, the Pubic Service Announcements will start running on Treasure Valley television and radio stations in April, just as the equipment hits the roads for spring planting.

Sonke and Freeman says the PSA's will center on basic rural safety tips:

Left-turn collision Defensive driving tips: -Is it really turning? Don't assume a farm vehicle that pulls to the right side of the road is going to turn right, or is letting you pass. Check the operator's hand signals. - Is there a turn signal? A flashing light on a tractor that suddenly stops flashing is a turn signal. Slow down when you see this signal. -Where could it turn? Check the left side of the road for gates, driveways, or any place a farm vehicle might turn.

Rear-end collision Defensive driving tips: -Be alert. Always watch for farm vehicles on rural roads, especially at planting and harvest. -Slow down immediately. As soon as you see a slow-moving vehicle, start to apply brakes like you would when approaching a stoplight. -Keep your distance. Stay a safe distance behind farm vehicles. Most farm equipment is not designed to travel at speeds greater than 25 miles an hour. Even when towed behind a truck, equipment such as sprayers and fuel tanks often travels less than 25 miles an hour.

Passing collision Defensive driving tips:Be patient. Don't assume the farmer can move aside to let you pass. Shoulders may be soft, wet, or steep, which can cause the farm vehicle to tip, or they may not be able to support a heavy farm vehicle. -Make sure you're clear. When passing, make sure you can see the farm vehicle in your rear-view mirror before you get back in your lane. -Enjoy the drive. Even if you have to slow down to 20 miles an hour and follow a tractor for two miles, it takes only six minutes of your time, about the same as waiting for two stoplights.

With tighter budgets, Ada and Canyon County Farm Bureaus says both organizations can have an impact and spend less money doing it, "theres a need out there, someone has to do something," Sonke and Freeman reasoned.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gem County Farm Bureau's Legislative Lunch

Gem County Hosts Annual Legislative Lunch

(BOISE) The Gem County Farm Bureau held their annual legislative lunch with members and their lawmakers at the Farm Bureau Federation Office at 500 W. Washington on Tuesday.

The Farm Bureau is a convienient meeting place for rushed Gem County lawmakers to grab a lunch on the run, but more importantly its a valuable chance to sit down with constituents from their home district.

Gem County Farm Bureau welcomed Representatives Steven Thayn and Carlos Bilbao and new State Senator Melinda Smyser.

The Budget,Water issues, taxes, and the high costs of doing business topped the cordial meeting. For Gem County Farm Bureau Members its a way of letting the lawmakers know whats important to them.

Murphy Complex Fire Report at Statehouse

Murphy Complex Rehabilitation on Schedule and on Budget

Boise--Idaho Rangeland experts completed their testimony in front of the Idaho House of Representatives Ag Committee on Tuesday. The Committee is charged with monitoring State and Federal rehabilitation of the massive 2007 Murphy complex fire.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Farm Energy

Researchers Want to Create Ethanol from Idaho Agricultureal Waste

Pocatello--They are not exactly alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, but almost: researchers from Idaho’s three largest public universities are seeking to create ethanol from the Gem state’s agricultural waste.

And they have a realistic shot at converting potato, sugar beet and other agricultural waste – perhaps even cow manure – into a fuel that can run in your car.

Tim Magnuson, Ph.D., Idaho State University associate professor of microbiology, has received $27,000 from the Center for Advanced Energy Studies –Idaho National Laboratory for a collaborative project titled “Development of Lignocellulosic Ethanol Production Potential in Idaho.”

This is a collaborative project between Idaho State University, Boise State University, the University of Idaho and the INL.

“We want to emphasize that this study focuses on using Idaho raw materials,” Magnuson said. “A lot of this material is waste that we hope we can convert to useful energy.”

Idaho State University’s role in the project, funded by the Department of Energy, is to discover and characterize microorganisms that convert agricultural waste to ethanol. There is the potential to convert the waste from potatoes, sugar beets and other major Idaho crops into fuel, which would reduce waste and become an energy source.

“We have candidate microorganisms for the study that can metabolize those materials in waste products,” Magnuson said. “We’re using microbiological processes to convert waste byproducts into ethanol.”

Various bacteria can break down sugars in plants to make ethanol, in a process similar to using fermentation to create alcohol. Idaho State University researchers are right now testing a variety of microbes in their laboratories that can metabolize various waste products into ethanol. Once the best microbes for doing this are identified, the researchers will just be getting started.

“The challenge of this project is taking everything from the laboratory to the pilot scale to actually produce ethanol,” Magnuson said. “This project incorporates basic research to discover the proper microbes up to applied engineering that will produce the fuel.”

Once Idaho State researchers discovery the best microbes for converting agricultural waste into ethanol, Boise State University researchers, led by assistant professor Kevin Feris, Ph.D., will work on encapsulating them in form that they can be used to convert waste. Greg Bala, a scientist at the INL, will assist in this area.

At the University of Idaho, Jon Van Gerpen, professor and chair of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, will then scale-up the process using the microbes to actually produce ethanol.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Idaho Statehouse

Statehouse, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

The Idaho Statehouse is awash in flags for Presidents Day. Monday is a state holiday, but the legislature will be in session as usual.

University of Idaho Briefs

Stats Show Rural Schools Succeeding, Facing Big Challenges, Too
Written by Bill Loftus

MOSCOW – Students in Idaho’s rural schools hold their own when compared with their fellow students in towns and cities, according to a report released Thursday by the University of Idaho and Idaho Rural Partnership.

The statistics gathered by university researchers showed rural schools tended to have lower enrollments and were more likely to be losing students, but they also spent more per student and tended to have smaller class sizes. The report focused on the state’s most rural school districts, those where the biggest town had fewer than 2,500 residents.

Rural students, however, faced challenges, too. They were more likely to come from low-income families and were just as likely to be from families where English is a second language.

Shelby Kerns, Idaho Rural Partnership executive director at Boise, said the report was intended to give Idaho legislators and the public an overview of the success and challenges rural school districts, their students and communities face.

“It’s important that they understand the difference and the facts about what’s really going on in rural districts,” she said.

“Our rural school districts can’t be lumped into any broad generalization,” Kerns said. “Some are doing great and some struggle a little more. Rural students are doing well overall, but there are other challenges we need to address.”

“Rural students tend to be more likely to come from low-income families,” Kerns said. “Those factors create some definite challenges for rural schools because those districts also tend to face greater funding challenges.”

There also are some areas where rural education is doing great, Kerns said, and even outperforming schools in cities and towns.

Among the most notable statistics, she said, included the overall decline in rural school enrollment. Nearly two-thirds of rural schools have lost 10 percent or more of their students over the last 10 years.

“The report confirms what we thought about Idaho’s hard working, rural teachers, school board members, and superintendents,” said Priscilla Salant, the University of Idaho’s coordinator for outreach and engagement and an author on the report. “They’re holding their own against the odds. The question is what’s going to happen when their budgets become even tighter than they are now.”

In addition to the Idaho Rural Partnership and the University of Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory also provided support for the project. More information is available online at

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just in from Washington

Senate Passes Stimulus Bill
Washington--The U.S. Senate passed the $787 billion stimulus package of spending and tax cuts aimed at rescuing the struggling economy. The vote came just hours after the House approved the measure.

Fifty-nine senators cast votes in favor of the bill, with 38 opposed. The majority needed 60 votes, Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown cast the deciding vote after returning early Saturday morning from his mothers funeral back in Ohio.

Earlier House Democrats voted in mass to push one of the largest spending bills in U.S. history by a vote of 246-183 and handed President Barack Obama his first major political victory.

Just in from Washington

Putnam photo

House Approves Stimulus With No Republican Support

Washington--With a final vote of 246 to 183, Congress passed the Stimulus package, reflecting the Democrats' considerable majority and the Republicans' deep dissatisfaction with the $787 billion dollar legislation.

“While I support a number of programs and ideas that are reflected in the package we voted on today," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "I can not support the astronomical amount of money that is being thrown at this problem with very little thought and no debate.”

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick joined his constituents in opposing today a bill to add nearly $1 trillion to what is already a record federal budget deficit. Minnick voted against the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the stimulus bill. Minnick also voted against the first version of the bill.

“It is important to act and do so decisively, but we must be mindful of the legacy we leave for future generations,” Minnick said. “The consequences of this bill will be painful and possibly harsh for those tasked with the burden of paying for what has been passed today.”

Minnick last week introduced the Strategic Targeted American Recovery and Transition (START) Act of 2009, which focuses on job creation and infrastructure investment. The Act would have appropriated $20 billion for school modernization, $4 billion for job training and workforce investment, $50 billion for shovel-ready highway, bridge and road projects, and $100 billion in tax cuts targeted at those who will spend the money quickly. Minnick worked quietly to gain support from others whose constituents elected them to go to Washington and do things differently. Minnick said he had hoped his bill, with only 20 percent of the total cost but even more direct investment in infrastructure, would be seen as a common starting point upon which all could agree.

“My bill was a high-powered rifle. This bill is a shotgun, and it will add nearly $1 trillion we do not have to a debt already out of control,” Minnick said. “Clearly we needed to act, which is why I proposed my own measure. I agree with the need to put money into the system immediately, help people stay in their homes, get the banking system working again and put Americans back to work. But this bill is too much spending with too little investment in the jobs we need right now.

“Our country needs repair," added Simpson. "It needs help. People are losing their jobs and their homes - we need to act. However, we need to act in a thoughtful manner that includes opinions from all Americans, not just those who control the U.S. House. The way in which this body has conducted its business today – and the entire time we’ve tried to discuss this extremely important legislation – is an embarrassment.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln's 200th Birthday Observed in Boise

Putnam photo
Lincoln Memorial Re-dedicated on Capitol Boulevard

Boise--Idaho dignitaries rededicated Idaho's Lincoln Memorial on the Capitol Boulevard island in front of the Statehouse.

Work crews moved the Lincoln statue from the entrance of the Boise Veteran's Home at Fort Boise where it stood since 1970, prior to that the statue stood 61 years in front of the old Home in present day Veteran's Park.

Former Idaho Attorney General and chairman of the Idaho Bicentennial Lincoln Commission David Leroy conducted the ceremony in front of a hearty Statehouse crowd in 30-degree weather as snowflakes drifted from gray skies.

"The effect America's 16th President of the United State had on the State of Idaho has been a profound one which will stay with the residents of Idaho forever," Leroy told the noontime crowd. People should know that with a stroke of a pen Abraham Lincoln created Idaho. The authorization of the Idaho Territory was one of the most significant, expansionist acts of his presidency."

Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Eismann lead the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, Lt. Governor Brad Little accepted the monument on behalf of the State of Idaho. Skip Critell, A Lincoln re-enactor delivered the Gettysburg Address in front of a crowd of 500.

Putnam photo
The Lincoln Monument was orginally given to the State in 1915 by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, making it the oldest such monument in the Western United States. The 17-foot high statue and pedestal weighs about 29,000 pounds. Lincoln was credited with helping pick the name of "Idaho."

A poll conducted this week in Idaho revealed that President Abraham Lincoln is the Gem States most favorite president with a 38-percent favorable rating, Franklin Roosevelt and JFK were tied for second with a 14-percent rating, George Washington followed at 12-percent.

YF and R News

Kimmel Dalley photo

YR and R Leaders Attend National Conference in Sacramento
Sacramento--Idaho's YF and R leaders are just back from the YF and R National Leadership Conference in Sacramento.

Those attending were Heather and Doug Barrie, John and Caroline Anderson, Chris and Kimmel Dalley, Austin and Maysi and HoldynTubbs.

The Leadership Conference focused on leadership and personal development opportunities for Farm Bureau young farmers and ranchers. The interactive conference brought together YF and R leaders from 45 states and more than 800 attended.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just in from Washington

Congress Reaches Deal on $789 Billion Stimulus Plan

Washington--Congress has moved to strike a deal between the Senate and House economic stimulus versions, the package cuts back Democrats' proposed spending on education and health programs in favor of tax cuts that were needed to win Republican votes in the Senate.

Special Olympics

Special Olympics, originally uploaded by steve_r_curtis.
Winter Olympics Underway Across Idaho

McCall--Documentray Film makers Steve Curtis, and Steve Ritter pose with Reuben Murray, Idaho's Bronze Medal winner at the World Special Olympic Winter Games in McCall. Steve is on vacation from the Idaho Farm Bureau and has spent the past three days profiling Reuben as part of a documentary for Idaho Public Television.

Murray is the first Idaho medalist of the games thus far, he brought home bronze in the 200-meter snowshoeing event.

Reuben is well known to Northwest Boise residents from his day job at the Albertsons store on Glenwood and State streets in Boise.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just in from the Statehouse

Otter Proposes Highway Plan

Boise--Gov. Butch Otter introduced a package of bills today at the Statehouse annex in hopes of raising $174 million to fix Idaho roads.

The five bills include:
1) Shift current $16 million annual funding of the Idaho State Police from the highway distribution account to the state general fund over a five year period;

2) Apply a 6% fee on rental cars to increase funding for highways and bridges $2 million per year;

3) Increase state fuel tax 2¢ per year over a five year period for a total annual $88 million after the fifth year;

4) Increase vehicle registration fees for cars from a maximum annual $48 to over $120 within a five year period. Following the same period, light trucks fees would progressively increase. Other vehicles like hearses, motorcycles, wreckers, ambulances, cabs and buses would have fee increases over the five year period. Heavy truck fees would be further evaluated by a task force to evaluate if truckers are paying their fair share, but they would see a first year 5% fee increase generating $2.5 million;
5) Elimination of the current ethanol fuel tax exemption at $4.1 million per year.

A spokesman for the governor said the tax money is enough to maintain existing state highways but some lawmakers said that the timing of increases doesn't fit the economic times while others promise compromise legislation in the coming weeks that will take into consideration current economic crisis.

Just in from Washington

Senate Approves Stimulus Plan
Washington--After a 61-to-37 vote that was along party lines, negotiations with the House over the $838 billion bill will begin.

Dow Drops 4.6% While the S&P 500 Lost 4.9%

Major stock indexes slumped after Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner unveiled the latest government program to bail out the banking system, with the Dow dropping 382 points to close at 7,888.88 and the broader S&P 500 index fell 4.9%. Investors bid up prices of Treasury securities in a flight to safety.

Winter Annual Meetings

Payette County Holds Annual Meeting

Payette--Payette County Farm Bureau President Jerry Anderson welcomed 68 people to the Counties annual banquet Monday night in Payette.

Anderson said the County were successful in sending two proposition to the state that ended up in the policy books and reminded members that the process starts all over again and urged members to bring issues to the Payette County meetings on Mondays.

Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley and wife Susan attended the annual meeting. Priestley told Payette members that while the state's economy is struggling the Ag sector remains vibrant and is a stabilizing force in the state's economy.

Payette County Comissioner Larry Church told Farm Bureau members that tax revenue will be down but thanks to a tight budget and diligence the county should be in good shape for 2009. He said that budget cuts will affect services in the county but an unexpected PILT payment from the Federal Government will help meet budget shortfalls this year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Winter Annual Meetings


The Clearwater County Farm Bureau held their annual meeting on Friday February 6. Besides regular county business, the board appointed a resolutions committee, set a date for a spring resolutions meeting and discussed some potential resolutions for that spring meeting.
From Left to right are Martin Thompson, Dale Stuart, Pat Richardson, Jim Miller and John Schlader. The person with their back to the camera is Brenda Corder, the county secretary.

Idaho Legislature

Transportation Infrastructure Plan Unveiled Tuesday

Boise--Governor Butch Otter will unveil his transportation infrastructure plan on Tuesday in the House Transportation Committee.
The plan includes five proposals totaling more than $174 million that include: raising vehicle registration fees; raising the gas tax; redirect the 5 percent funding from the Idaho State Police to the general fund; eliminate the tax exemption for ethanol; and taxing rental cars.

Lawmakers will introduce the five proposals as separate pieces of legislation and not in a single package bill. Rep. Leon Smith proposes a 25-cent increase to the fuel tax.

Lawmakers are expected to vigorously debate all of the bills introduced Tuesday with the end result a package that will work with Governor Otter's plan along with a few new ideas from the Legislature.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Legislative Immigration Update

Lawmakers Examine Migrant Labor in Idaho

Boise--The two Agricultural Affairs committees heard presentations this week on the importance of immigrant labor in Idaho.

Brent Olmstead, represented both the Milk Producers of Idaho and the Idaho Business Coalition for Immigration Reform. He told the committee that there are industry concerns with both the H-2A and the e-verify programs. Olmstead told the committee that its hard to find a farm labor work force.

“The US faces a serious economic, labor market and security challenge," said Olmstead. "We are barely replacing the existing work force through native born workers. We're not coming close to producing enough native born workers to meet the demands of our economy. This has been the case for well over a decade, and yet our legal immigration policies have been mostly blind to the labor force needs of the economy. As a consequence, we now have millions of persons living and working in the US illegally.”

Olmstead went on to say that a diversified economy demands a diverse workforce. Native born workers are staying away from Ag sector jobs, legal migrant workers are going after the higher paid jobs.

“Employers want to hire a qualified, dependable and legal workforce. But they can only hire workers that apply for the jobs. Right now the traditional worker is not applying for employment in the agricultural sector and the reasons are obvious. With more available jobs than legal workers, the legal workers have migrated to the more skilled, year round, more pleasant, urban, higher paying jobs. It's not the fault of agriculture, but more a reflection of the reality that when there are more jobs than workers, the less attractive jobs are more likely to go unfilled.”

The committee’s questioned the impacts on Idaho agriculture and are interested in finding solutions that will bring a legal, stable work force to the Gem State while securing our borders.
There's talk of introducing an Arizona type of law that places sanctions on employers who hire undocumented workers, so far that bill has'nt found a lot of support in the Capitol annex.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ag News

College Considers Planning Process For Closure of Research and Extension Centers

MOSCOW, Idaho — The University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will involve faculty, staff and stakeholder groups around the state in its planning for the proposed closures of research and extension centers.

The college and University of Idaho Extension operate 12 research and extension centers throughout the state, and another based on the Moscow campus that oversees nearby facilities.
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Dean John Hammel outlined the proposal during a recent presentation to the Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance - Appropriations Committee.
Hammel said the college plans to form a planning committee with broad membership from internal and external groups interested in the research and extension centers to help the college's leadership assess the options.

The college will await legislative action on the state's agricultural research and extension appropriation, which is not expected until late March, before the college finalizes its plan.
Hammel said the college's leaders reviewed all available options before arriving at the proposal. The controlling factor was the agricultural research and extension budget is mostly dedicated to salaries. Only $3.3 million in operating funding is available to fund maintenance, program support, capital outlay and travel.

"We have little flexibility in our operating budget and we must not continue to markedly erode these resources," Hammel said. "Doing so will severely limit our capability to adequately support our existing research and extension programs, many of which are already underfunded, and to address future priorities driven by the changing landscape of Idaho agriculture, communities and our clientele."

The closure of two or more centers is the college's proposed response to expected cuts totaling 7 percent or $1.94 million in the college's agricultural research and extension appropriation from the state for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1.

In addition to the center closures to save approximately $1 million, Hammel said the college planned to eliminate 15 vacant faculty and staff positions to save $800,000 and cut travel budgets by 25 percent.

In a memo last week to the college's faculty and staff, Hammel said no centers have been chosen for closure and the process to determine which centers would close under the plan has not begun.
Hammel said he will seek recommendations from those within the college and university and those who rely on the centers to keep Idaho agriculture healthy and competitive.

"We must stress that no centers and programs are currently targeted and that we have not yet initiated the review process," Hammel said.
Some of the criteria that will be used to evaluate the centers will include:

*Current and future relevance
*Impact on industry and the specific industry sector affected by closure
*Program priorities across Idaho
*Potential partnerships or collaborations to meet need.

The list of criteria is not final, nor are the exact parameters that will govern the decisions, Hammel said, adding, "We will communicate the finalized review process and the criteria by which these actions will be determined."

Friday, February 6, 2009

President Priestley's Editorial

UI Economists Tabulate Agriculture’s Economic Contribution

By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

An economic analysis recently released by the University of Idaho shows agriculture is the single biggest contributor to the economic base of this state.

UI economists Philip Watson, Garth Taylor and Stephen Cooke conducted an “economic base analysis” and tabulated the economic activity generated by all of the sectors that depend on agriculture. This analysis includes sales of fertilizer, farm equipment, irrigation supplies, the revenue generated by food processing, and all of the jobs created in all of the economic sectors that depend on agriculture for their existence.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation has long argued that this type of analysis provides a much better picture of agriculture’s contribution to the state’s economy and we applaud the University of Idaho for conducting this important work.

The typical “gross contribution analysis” which includes total sales, direct employment and direct wages in calculating a sector’s economic contribution, shows Idaho farms and ranches were responsible for 6 percent of gross state product in 2006. Further, this analysis shows Idaho agriculture generating $12 billion in total sales, (11% of state total) 56,000 jobs (6% total workforce) and $1.2 billion in wages paid (4% of state total).

These are the numbers that agriculture’s detractors like to use when they make arguments about how important the high-tech and service (tourism) sectors are, or how Idaho’s economy is evolving into something new and no longer depends on agriculture.

However, under an “economic base analysis” we see that in 2006 agriculture generated $21 billion in total sales (20% of state total), 156,599 jobs (17% of total workforce) $4.2 billion in wages (15% of state total) and $8.4 billion overall which pencils out to 17% of Idaho’s gross state product – “the single biggest contributor to the economic base of Idaho,” according to the study.

Another interesting point noted in the UI analysis shows the value of exports. “An economy without exports is less able to generate new money and will slowly leak out existing money due to purchases from outside the region.”
Idaho agriculture exports 73 percent of its output, while Idaho’s high-tech sector exports 55 percent of its production. On the other hand, Idaho’s service sector, including retail and wholesale trade, construction, utilities and “other manufacturing” are indirect sectors that export little. Their output primarily supports the exporting sectors. The UI analysis points out that healthy economies need industries that export and industries that support exporting sectors, which is what keeps the dollars flowing. “In summary, base contributions are propelled by exports and the output of other sectors indirectly generated in support of agriculture’s export production,” the analysis states.

With the rapid advance of the dairy industry over the past ten years, the makeup of Idaho agriculture has changed. Since 2003, milk sales have generated more revenue than any other commodity except timber in Idaho and overall livestock revenue has outpaced overall crop revenue. Idaho now ranks third in the nation in milk production behind California and Wisconsin. But at the present time, the dairy industry is struggling with overproduction and farm gate returns are running far below production costs.

However, Idaho agriculture is exceptionally diverse in comparison to many other states and because of that fact, agriculture will continue to generate strong revenue, provide thousands of jobs and be a stabilizing force in our state’s economy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ag News

Austin and Maise Tubbs, Malad, Idaho--Putnam photo

2007 Ag Census is Out

Boise-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture

“The true value of the Census of Agriculture is in the information it provides,” said Bill Meyer, director of the NASS Idaho Field Office. “The Census charts trends in agriculture over time and provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive data for every county in the nation.”

The Census, which is conducted every five years, provides facts and figures on virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture, including number and types of farm operations, the economic aspects of farm production and the demographics of U.S. farm operators. The following is a small example of the types of information available:

• The average age of American agricultural producers in 2007 was 57.1 years old. In Idaho: 56.5 years.

• 13.9 percent of the principal operators in the US were women in 2007, an increase of 2.7 percentage points from 2002; In Idaho, 12.4 percent were women, up 1.1 percentage points from 2002.

• In Idaho there are 223 Native American farmers and ranchers.

• 86.5 percent of the America’s agricultural operations are still run by single individuals or families. 59.8 percent of operations had less than $10,000 in sales of agricultural products in 2007. In Idaho, 84.1 percent of the ag operations are operated by individuals or families. 60.1 percent of Idaho operations had less than $10,000 in sales of agricultural products.

• In Idaho, there were 2,867,218 acres of irrigated cropland harvested out of a total of 4,225,786 acres of cropland harvested. This is up 1.3 percent from 2002.

For farmers and ranchers, the data can be a valuable tool to help them make critical decisions about the future of their operations. In addition, the information is used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities, including government agencies, community planners, agribusinesses, lenders, trade associations and many others.

“The information provided from the Census is really the voice of our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said Meyer. “They took the time to tell us about what’s happening in agriculture on a local and national level. That voice will be heard by policymakers and other agricultural stakeholders now and in the years ahead.”

Census results are available online and in various publications to be issued by NASS. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Idaho Statehouse Remodel

Boise Winter Scenes, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
Remodel on Track
Boise--TheIdaho Capitol restoration and expansion is on budget and and on time, according to the head of the panel helping oversee the project.

Rep. Steve Hartgen, testified in front of the Joint Finance-Appropriations committee and said the $122.5 million project was on target and where it should be.

"We have much to do and a short time to get there, but we think we will make it," Contractors working the project plan to turn the building over to the state next Nov. 19, giving lawmakers enough time to move back into the building before the 2010 session.

Landscaping is almost completed on top of the underground wings to the east and west. Work in the superstructure continues day and night and should continue through the summer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Endangered Species Act

Photo courtesy of Wally Butler
Idaho to Obama Administration: Take the Wolf Off the List

BOISE - Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the Congressional Delegation sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to allow publication of a federal rule removing wolves from the list of endangered species and implementing Idaho's state wolf management plan.

"Idaho has a long and successful history of managing big game and other species," the letter states. "We are prepared to manage wolves in a sustainable manner within our borders." The letter was signed by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, U.S. Senator Jim Risch, U.S. Representative Mike Simpson and U.S. Representative Walt Minnick.

The rule that would have delisted wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah was set to be published in the federal register last week. But the Obama administration stopped all pending rules and regulations sought by the Bush administration.

The letter stressed that the gray wolf's reintroduction to Idaho by federal officials in 1995 is one of the state's most controversial natural resource issues.

"Idaho's wolf population quickly flourished to eight times the recovery objectives for Idaho under the Endangered Species Act," the letter stated.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fertilizer news

The Monsanto fertilizer plant in Caribou County, Summer '08--Putnam photo

Monsanto Profitable, Expanding

Soda Springs--Monsanto Company is proving itself recession proof. The Roundup ready giant’s first-quarter earnings paid out a buck a share -- doubling last years first quarter.

It’s the round-up product lines thats blowing away traditional rivals DuPont, and Syngenta. Seed sales are up 31% compared to last year. Roundup herbicides did even better, up 35% compared to last year.

The 2009 season looks like another record breaking year for the company. Through the end of December, prepayments for seeds were 50% ahead of last year. That's also good news fertilizer makers PotashCorp, Mosaic, and Agrium and equipment makers like John Deere.

Sugar industry representatives say that just over half of the sugar beets planted this year were Roundup Ready created by Monsanto. They say farmers who used the product have a demonstrated and clear-cut edge in weed control.

And those that planted GMO beets this year say there's far less cultivation, not as many passes in the field with fewer sprayings. Most conventional beets have a minimum four applications of spray per season while roundup has just two applications. With fewer trips across the field farmers save diesel.

It also shows that Farmers are still planting, despite lower commodity prices.
Monsanto officials outlined the need for a new phosphate mine outside of Soda Springs at a legislative lunch last week. Company officials are looking at the Blackfoot Bridge Mine site just a few miles to the south with a target opening date of 2011.

"The Roundup fields look a lot better," said farmer Sid Freeman. "They're more expensive, but workers are getting harder to find, bottomline it's less hassle and a lot less work."

Beet farmers have battled weeds for decades, Freeman says despite the cost of Round up he makes up for it in higher yields."With those weeds you can lose three, four-ton less per acre," adds Freeman.


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