Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Idaho Beef Council

Courtesy of Eric, Boise

BEEF: The official protein of Ironman 70.3 Boise

Boise-The Idaho Beef Council, marketing arm for Idaho’s beef producers, and World Triathlon Corporation, organizers of the Ironman 70.3 Boise, are proud to announce a multi-year partnership making beef the official protein of Ironman 70.3 Boise.

Athletes spend hours training in preparation for the event – repairing and rebuilding fatigued muscles is critical for peak performance. Beef helps rebuild and maintain muscle mass, provides energy and is a nutrient powerhouse. For these reasons, the Idaho Beef Council signed on to be a category-exclusive sponsor of the Ironman 70.3 Boise. As part of the sponsorship, beef will be available to athletes following the race in the BEEF recovery zone and to spectators at the post-race food area and various locations throughout the race course.

“Smart food choices are critical when competing at the Ironman level. It made sense for us to partner with someone like the Idaho Beef Council because beef not only taste good, but is a superior protein that provides a number of nutritional benefits to athletes,” said Andy Giancola, Director of Sponsorship and Licensing for World Triathlon Corporation.

"The Idaho Beef Council and the beef producers of Idaho are committed to health and wellness,” said Traci O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Idaho Beef Council. “We believe an active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle and this sponsorship provides us the opportunity to showcase beef as a nutrient-rich, premier lean protein- a key part of a well-balanced diet - in an environment that cultivates the importance of an active lifestyle. What better way to experience the Power of Protein than through an Ironman, the ultimate endurance test?"

2009 Legislature

Election Consolidation bill Dies in Senate

Boise--The attempt to save money and consolidate school elections was killed in a Senate committee at the Idaho Statehouse.

House Bill 201 failed by just a vote in the Senate Affairs Committee. Senators Bob Geddes (R-Soda Springs), Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) Monte Pearce (R-NewPlymouth) and Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa) wanted to save taxpayers money by consolidating elections to four times a year.
The bill required school districts to pay for elections not held at one of the 4 dates. The Idaho Farm Bureau favored the legislation while School Districts stood opposed.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just in from Washington

Obama Signs Wilderness Bill

Washtington--Flanked by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, President Barack Obama signed into law today the conservation plan that protects 2 million acres of wilderness and preserve monuments, trails and rivers across the country.
``This is one of those tremendously beautiful places, where we have an unequaled landscape ... that is mixed with a rugged, hardy people who have developed strong cultures there. This is land that needed to be preserved,'' said Crapo.

In the White House signing ceremony Obama said Monday the most valuable things in life are those already possessed. The law protects land from the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia to California's Sierra Nevada mountains to the wild Owyhees in Idaho.

"Our lands have always provided great bounty," Obama said today as he signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, which won final approval last week. "What these gifts require in return is our wise stewardship."

The legislation authorizes some $10 billion in spending for wildlife and land protection and also adds 2 million acres in nine states to the National Wilderness Preservation System; a system that currently consists of 10 million acres in 44 states.

The measure is the culmination of years of effort by conservationists, sportsmen and ranchers to protect large and small swaths of land across the country.

Just in from Washington

AFBF Opposes Changes to H-2A Labor Program

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation opposes changes to the H-2A temporary worker program proposed by the Labor Department and urges the department to implement the existing regulations that were promulgated Dec. 18 and became effective Jan. 17.

In a letter sent Friday to Thomas Dowd, administrator of DOL’s Office of Policy Development and Research Employment and Training Administration, AFBF said. “We have heard nothing but opposition from growers in reaction to changes proposed by the Department.” AFBF said the DOL proposal will directly and immediately harm many farmers.

“The H-2A rules that the Labor Department wants to put on hold made several improvements in the program. Farm Bureau is disappointed that the department wants to suspend these rules that allow U.S. agriculture to legally hire much-needed temporary workers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

Stallman said the sudden change in policy also is creating confusion for many farmers who have spent time learning the new rules, have already filled out applications and may well have contracts signed based on the provisions.

“The existing regulations that DOL proposes suspending for nine months cut red tape and make it easier to hire temporary workers,” Stallman said.

“One of the rules that DOL wants to suspend assures farmers that wages required under the program would be closer to those actually being paid in the economy and that workers referred by state workforce agencies were authorized for employment in the U.S.,” Stallman said. “Doing away with this rule will clearly hurt a farmer’s bottom line during extremely difficult economic times.”

The AFBF letter also emphasized that DOL did not provide enough time for public comment when it published the proposed rule in the Federal Register March 17 and gave only 10 days for interested parties to submit comments. Customary procedures normally allow at least 30 days for public comment. The shorter comment period did not provide AFBF sufficient time to reach out to its members and seek feedback.

American Farm Bureau Reacts To Dairy Plan

Farm Bureau: USDA Milk Purchase Provides Two-Fold Assistance

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation today said that strategic purchases of dairy products made this week by the Agriculture Department for the nation’s school lunch and nutrition programs will also help provide needed support to the nation’s dairy farmers.

USDA announced on Thursday that $160 million in surplus dry milk will be made available for school lunches and food donations to help the poor. The action drew praise from AFBF, which prior to the action sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for such action.

In that letter, AFBF President Bob Stallman urged the administration to take additional action to immediately help dairy farmers weather the crushing collapse in dairy prices.

“Given the suddenness and severity of the plunge in farm-level milk prices, a significant number of farmers won’t survive much longer with the prices they’re receiving,” Stallman said. “The farm-level milk prices in February were down nearly 50 percent from the beginning of 2008, even though farmers’ input costs, including feed and fuel, are still above historic averages. The economic downturn, growth in world supplies of dairy products, lower international and domestic demand, and high input costs are leaving farmers unable to even cover their input costs.”

Stallman called the USDA purchase of dairy products a “two-fold opportunity to assist U.S. dairy producers and provide ample amounts of dairy products to nutrition programs at a time when many Americans need this assistance.”

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dairy News

Ritter photo

Washington- In an effort to help support both low-income families and the the nation's struggling dairy farmers, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will transfer approximately 200 million pounds of nonfat dry milk from the Commodity Credit Corporation to USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to feed the hungry.

"President Obama understands that providing food to those in need will help many weather these tough economic times," said Secretary Vilsack. "At the same time, USDA's disposal plan will benefit dairy farmers, who have seen markets disappear and prices plummet in recent months, by increasing consumption of milk and other dairy products."

The nonfat dry milk was acquired by Commodity Credit under the Dairy Product Price Support Program. Under this program, CCC purchases dry milk, butter and cheddar cheese at near market level prices. The purchases support the prices of dry milk, butter, and cheese and the price farmers receive for milk.

Jerry Kozak, president of the National Milk Producers Federation, said Vilsack's announcement was an important first step to use USDA resources to help address the economic crisis facing dairy farmers.

USDA will make available about 200 million pounds of dry milk for further processing or barter. The acquired products are expected to include items such as instantized dry milk, ultra high temperature milk, cheese, and soups for domestic feeding programs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just in from Washington

1st District Congressman Walt Minnick--Putnam photo
Minnick announces nominations for USDA positions

Washington– Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick will recommend two Idahoans to key positions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Minnick will recommend to the President Barack Obama that Richard “Dick” Rush be appointed Idaho director of the USDA Farm Service Agency. Minnick will also recommend that Walter “Wally” Hedrick be appointed state director of the USDA Rural Development Agency.

“Our open application process resulted in an outstanding pool of interested, qualified Idahoans for these two positions,” Minnick said. “I am deeply appreciative of the citizen committee members who worked together to review the applicants and help me make these recommendations. I’m also appreciative of my fellow members of the Idaho delegation for their insight into Idaho’s past and future needs for these two positions.”

Earlier this year, Minnick appointed a committee to review all those who applied for the two USDA positions. The committee members selected Bruce Newcomb, a former Idaho State Representative and State Speaker of the House of Representatives, to be the chair.

“I was honored to be asked by Congressman Minnick to help with selection process,” Newcomb said. “He made good choices, and our committee was honored to serve this state in helping this process move forward.”

Minnick lauded the hard work and careful process which led to this result.

“I could not be more pleased with the process, and I could not be more pleased with these recommendations,” Minnick said. “I think Dick Rush and Wally Hedrick will make Idaho proud, and will help get our economy on the road to recovery.”

There are two other appointee positions in Idaho for which President Obama has sought Minnick’s recommendation: U.S. Marshal and U.S. Attorney. Those recommendations will be announced next week.

Dick Rush
Dick Rush was born and raised in Idaho, and his parents still live on the family farm near Moscow. He is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a degree in agricultural economics and holds a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of California at Davis.

Dick has served as Administrator of the Idaho Wheat Commission, Director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture under two governors and State Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency. He also managed a 6000-acre dry land farm and livestock operation in north Idaho, owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho.

Besides a distinguished career in government, Dick has held management positions with Boise Cascade Corporation, Basic American Foods and served as Vice President of Natural Resources for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. He also served as CEO of the American Red Cross for Greater Idaho.

Dick is currently a member of the Idaho Soil Conservation Commission and a Supervisor of the Ada Soil and Water Conservation District. He is a member of the Idaho Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR).

Dick lives in Boise with his wife Nancy. They have three married children: Kelly, Leslie and Ben, and four grandchildren.

Wally Hedrick
Wally Hedrick is a third generation Idahoan who has spent most of his professional career in the private sector as a successful businessman.

He attended the University of Idaho and graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno with a degree in renewable natural resource management. He has a master’s degree in marketing and management from the University of Northern Colorado.

He has deep roots in rural Idaho having been raised in the farming business with all its hardships and challenges. He spent 17 years with Resources Northwest, Inc., and as president of that firm helped create natural-resource marketing and management programs for cities, counties, state governments, private companies and education institutions.

In 1989, then-Gov. Cecil Andrus appointed him as the first director of the Idaho Lottery and served the people of the state in that capacity for six years, generating millions of dollars for Idaho public school and buildings before departing the Lottery to return to the private sector.

Wally has served on the board of the Boise Family YMCA, and served on the Meridian School Board from 1985 to 2000. He continues to serve as Chairman of the Meridian Technical Charter High School.

He is also the owner of a hay and cattle ranch in the Magic Valley.

Water News

Tuthill Accepts Water Replacement Plan

Boise--Idaho Department of Water Resources Director David Tuthill issued an order accepting a water replacement plan from the North Snake and Magic Valley Ground Water Districts that temporary stops curtailment of 865 junior water rights affecting 430 water right holders in the Magic Valley.

"The 2009 replacement plan has been approved with some very important conditions. The ground water districts will have to move very rapidly to provide the water that is due to the senior water right holder Clear Springs. Two months is adequate time to install this system, but the ground water districts must work diligently to achieve this result," said Tuthill.

The order is part of a continuing response to a water delivery call made in 2005 by senior water right holder Clear Springs Foods.

The curtailment affects farmers with ground water rights in Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties with water right priority dates junior to November 16, 1972. The water rights include agricultural, commercial, industrial, municipal, stockwater, and other consumptive uses. The potential curtailment impacts approximately 41,000 acres of land irrigated by ground water.

Two weeks ago the North Snake and Magic Valley Ground Water Districts filed a replacement plan to provide water to Clear Springs Foods through a new pipeline project that transports water from irrigation wells above Clear Springs directly to the facility.

Director Tuthill accepted the 2009 replacement plan on condition that the appropriate temperature, quality and reliability of the water suits Clear Springs Foods. The ground water districts agreed to post a bond equal to the cost of project construction, but the curtailment still could happen this year if ground water users back off their promises to supply water.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Owyhee Wilderness Bill Clears Congress, Awaits Obama Signature

Owyhee Wilderness Bill Passes House

Washington, DC –The U.S. House of Representatives today gave final approval to the wilderness bill already approved by the Senate. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation during a White House ceremony on Monday.

The bill keeps ranchers on the land while protecting 517,000 acres as wilderness in the Owyhee Canyonlands and at the same time releases 199,000 acres of wilderness study areas to multiple use. The legislation also protects 316 miles of waterways under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Hunting, fishing and recreational vehicle access in the area will be maintained. Crapo released this statement following the passage of H.R. 146 in the House today:

“I thank everybody who has made this process work. Our key players have stuck with this for eight years, and that includes the Shoshone Paiute Tribes, the Owyhee County Commissioners, conservationists, ranchers and recreationalists, and the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management, as well as my colleagues in the House and Senate who have persisted to get this legislation passed. I offer my appreciation for the efforts of Senators Reid, Bingaman, Murkowski, Risch, Barrasso, and Leader Boehner, Representatives Simpson and Minnick and Majority Leader Hoyer. Many of us have been in close contact, often on a daily basis, to move this bill and it really demonstrates the spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration that is at the core of this Owyhee Initiative.

Senator Crapo went on to say:

“Our immediate focus is implementation of the Owyhee Initiative according to the Owyhee Initiative Agreement, which was hard-fought and long negotiated within the Owyhee Initiative Work Group, and which will be an enduring testament to the power and potential of collaboration. That implementation generally will consist of aggressively working with the Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management to conduct the activities directed by this law, and raising the private funding required to pay for many of the important elements of the Owyhee Initiative legislation.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Trade?

Farm Bureau to Obama: Mexican Trucking Scantions Hurt Ag

WASHINGTON– In an effort to end Mexican trade sanctions against U.S. farmers, the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking a new cross-border trucking program that complies with NAFTA.

Expressing disappointment in Congress’ decision to end the Transportation Department’s Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program, American Farm BF President Bob Stallman said Mexico has already responded by imposing $2.4 billion in trade retaliation.

“This action by Congress has come at a cost to U.S. agriculture and our exports to one of our top markets,” Stallman said. “We urge you to find a resolution that will honor our obligations under NAFTA, eliminating any cause for Mexico to halt U.S. trade.”

Under the terms of NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico each agreed to allow trucks from the other nation access into their countries. Unfortunately, the U.S. maintained its restriction on Mexican trucks crossing the border even after NAFTA implementation began. The Transportation Department’s pilot program with Mexico was developed as a step toward meeting that commitment. The pilot program came after a NAFTA dispute panel ruled the exclusion of all Mexican trucks violated U.S. obligations under NAFTA.

Now that the pilot program has been eliminated, the U.S. finds itself, once again, not in compliance with its obligations under NAFTA.

“The NAFTA panel’s ruling gives Mexico the right to retaliate against U.S. products entering Mexico, and it has done so,” Stallman said. “This retaliation will affect hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fruit, vegetable, nut, juice, wine, processed foods and oilcake exports to Mexico.”
Stallman urged Obama to implement a program compliant with U.S. obligations under NAFTA that assures safe vehicles on U.S. roads. “Delay in these actions will only prolong the negative impact on U.S. exports and our agricultural producers,” Stallman concluded.

Orofino's Farm and Forest Fair: A success

Farm and Forest Fair Answers Vital Question

Orofino—Studies have shown that less than two percent of the world population is feeding the other 98 percent of the world. Most of that 98 percent thinks their food comes from the grocery store, not the farm. That’s a perception that organizers want to change.

More than 400 Fifth graders packed the National Guard Armory in Orofino eager to touch, see, and listen to presentations at the 12th annual Clearwater Basin Farm and Forest Fair.

The University of Idaho Ag Extension sponsors the event, teaming up with Ag producers and industry types to teach kids about the importance of Idaho’s billion dollar industries.

Ag Extension Educator Ken Hart says the bottom-line goal is education. “We hope to make them a part of timber policy and the industry in the future. A lot of these kids will be working in these industries and we hope that they’ll have a deep understanding of these programs because they’re surrounded by it everyday.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada County Farm Bureau

Representative Bayer Awarded Friend of Farm Bureau
Boise--Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke awarded Representative Clifford Bayer (R-Boise) the coveted Friend of Farm Bureau Award for 2009.

"The four term Representative has a solid voting record on Ag issues, he's a good guy to work with we were impressed with his sincerity and work ethic. He's proven himself to be a friend of agriculture," said Sonke.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Your Money

Dow up 497 Points

New York--It was a good day on Wall Street in fact its been a great two weeks as stocks ralled today after investors acted on government's plan to help banks remove bad assets from their books.

That plan splits cash from the $700 billion financial rescue package and also gets help from the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and select private investors; that had a ripple effect through the market today.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up nearly 500 points, or 6.8 percent, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose more than 7 percent. The Nasdaq rose more than 98 points or 6.7 percent.

Friend of Agriculture

Ada County Farm Bureau Awards Lawmaker

(Boise) Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke awarded Rep. Raul Labador (R-Eagle) the Farm Bureau's distinguished Friend of Agriculture Award.
"As important as the dairy industry has become in Idaho, we need lawmakers like Representative Labrador," said Sonke. "This immigration issue is key for Idaho and I think hes the one person who understands the practicality of a labor force and we need that insight in the Idaho Statehouse."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

President Priestley's Editorial

County Farm Bureaus Working Together
by Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley

Two examples of county Farm Bureaus working for the greater good came to light in this past month that deserve recognition.

First, Oneida County Farm Bureau helped head off a misdirected county ordinance that would place severe restrictions on livestock owners. The ordinance would have enacted new regulations over and above existing State regulations for confined animal feeding operations. In addition, it would create a new category for smaller livestock confinement operations.

The proposed ordinance was approved by the Oneida County Planning and Zoning Commission and then forwarded to the county commissioners for final approval. At this point, county Farm Bureau members decided they had better get together and speak with their commissioners about the ordinance.

They directed the commissioners’ attention to the fact that the proposed ordinance includes unreasonable definitions in its animal unit descriptions that would require permitting for as few as 10 dairy cows or 20 beef cattle if confined for more than 90 days in a year. The ordinance then proceeds to define an “Animal Confinement Operations” as “enterprises intended to operate at a profit.” We know of lots of small beef cattle operations, but 10-cow dairies that operate at a profit are rare if not nonexistent.

Other problems with the ordinance included unreasonable setback requirements, a cumbersome prior use application process for existing livestock owners, an extremely difficult process to develop any new livestock operations or expand any existing operations and several others.
After a discussion during county commission meeting, the ordinance was sent back to the planning and zoning commission for a rewrite. Oneida County Farm Bureau members and county officials are now working together on a revised ordinance that more closely resembles existing state law. This turn of events is a good example of how government should work.

The second example is a cooperative effort between Ada and Canyon County Farm Bureaus to alert the public about slow moving farm vehicles on state and county roads and highways. As
southwest Idaho has grown in recent years, local Farm Bureau members began noticing an increasing number of farm vehicle / auto accidents. At planting and harvest time, farm vehicle traffic on roads increases.
The idea of producing a farm vehicle safety public service announcement surfaced at a county meeting and the two Farm Bureaus decided to partner on the project. The two county Farm Bureaus will pool money and purchase air time in the Boise television market, as well as request that local television stations air the public service announcement as a community service.

This is a fine example of a positive community service project undertaken by county Farm Bureaus and their leaders, and there are dozens more. County Farm Bureaus regularly participate in highway cleanup projects, provide food and monetary donations to charities, sponsor and organize community events, and much more. Hats off to these fine leaders and the many hands that come together to accomplish these tasks.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friend of Agriculture

Friend of Agriculture, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Ada County Recognizes Rep. Mike Moyle

Boise--Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke awarded Representative Mike Moyle (R-Star) the organizations distinguished Friend of Agriculture award.

“His voting record speaks for itself," said Sonke.
"He's a farmer, is very easy to talk to and very accessible. Farm Bureau has gotten along with him very well over the years.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Curling cloud

Curling cloud, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
Middleton--Temperatures and spirits are up, thats the word from many Canyon County farmers that took to the fields for the first time Wednesday since last fall. In Eastern and Nothern Idaho soil conditions are too wet and many report they're at least a week away.

Farm Tech

Actual photo used by Robert Blair taken from a drone aircraft above his farm.
Farm Rules and Regs Struggle to keep up with Technology

Kendrick—Farm innovator Robert Blair got tired of wasting money on his Nez Perce county farm. His logic was simple: why pay thousands to fertilize 500 acres when just 10 acres need it?

Blair went to work not realizing that the solution to his problem was not in his fields, but the skies above.

One day surfing the internet he stumbled upon a catchy website that preached Precision Agriculture, and at first glance he was a convert to the concept.

Precision agriculture is the concept of doing the right thing, in the right place, in the right way, at the right time. It requires using new technologies, like global positioning devices, aerial photos, and information management software to assess and understand gathered farm data.

“We get a 10-percent increase in productivity just from the timing of an application; the proper placement can keep crops from drying up. So committing to these practices we’re spending less and producing more—we’ve seen as much as 10 percent, that’s huge,” said Blair.

But the concept is so new and precision practices growing so fast that it’s dragging in many states because rules and regulations haven’t caught up with new farming practices.

For instance Blair uses an unmanned, 10-pound, drone aircraft to photograph his fields from above. The aircraft is equipped with a high-resolution camera mounted in the belly of the aircraft and flies a pre-programmed flight pattern over his fields. The plane covers 640 acres in just 25 minutes and snaps hundreds of photos. Blair stitches the images together into a large, seamless mosaic that gives the high-tech farmer an understanding of what’s happening in the field in real time.

Blair says it’s hard to put a price tag on the value of this information, a single photograph could save an entire crop or tens of thousands of dollars or the environment of un-needed application chemical applications.

As good as this information technology sounds, Blair says drones concern the Federal Aviation Administration and they have plenty of questions, should farmers file a flight plan, should they be licensed pilots, should a tail number be painted on the tails of drones? While farmers like Blair and hundreds of other tech-savvy famers wait, valuable time and money is lost.

“The problem’s simple, there are no specific rules or regulations from the FAA for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft in agriculture,” said Blair.

Right now government agencies like the BLM and Department of Agriculture have to jump through hoops just like Blair in order to fly unmanned aircraft. “They want to see new rules too, for the unmanned aircraft. We need partners to help sort this out; we need the federal agencies to team with Congressmen and organizations to help us get the tools we need to farm in these bad economic times; this could cut our costs,” added Blair.

Blair just got back from Washington D.C. where he met with Congressmen, the Acting Under-Secretary of Agriculture and anyone that would listen. He’s calling for a memorandum of understand signed by the Department of Interior, Agriculture with oversight by the FAA so farmers can use the technology this growing season. He’s hoping a green Obama administration will be sympathetic.

“As far as going green this is a big step in that direction and its also a push for better environmental awareness, better environmental practices within the Federal Government and the Farm Bill. Unmanned air systems fit the bill because this is a proactive technology and a brand new industry for commercial use.

Japanese farmers have used a 65 pound unmanned helicopter to spray fields since 1987. Unmanned commercial aircraft are overseen by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries which is USDA’s counterpart. Blair and other farmers are frustrated because technology developed in the U.S. are used by their counterparts in Japan, and they’re saving money.

Elliott Nowels of the Precision Ag Institute says the new practices save money. “Research shows that growers are gaining back their investment in precision Ag technology faster than we thought – often in just one to three years, and they are saving from $15 to $39 per acre by using inputs more efficiently with precision Ag tools, depending on crop and region of the country. At a time when inputs costs are going through the roof there’s never been a better time to adopt this technology.”

The institute just completed a survey of farmers using precision Ag practices:

· Eighty-five percent (85%) of corn growers, 88 percent of cotton growers and 100 percent of soybean growers indicated their operation has been more profitable using precision Ag technology.

· The average input savings per acre for these precision Ag users (inputs including seed, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and time/labor) $19 per acre for corn, $18.50/A. for beans and up to $39/A. for cotton.

· Fertilizer cost-savings led the way, coming in at $4 to $13 per acre depending on crop.

· The top benefits growers listed from their use of precision Ag technology were 1--the ability to apply chemicals and fertilizer where needed, 2--greater profitability due to lower input costs, and 3--identification of poor producing areas of their fields.

Robert Blair longs for the day when he can put all of the new farming practices to use on his farm. At a time of razor thin budgets and skyrocketing input costs, he wants outdated rules and regulations that drag him down, abolished.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just in from Washinton

AIG Executives Testify in Congress over Bonus Scandal
Minnick Delivers Statement At AIG Hearing on Capitol Hill

Washington--Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick serves on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises. That subcommittee is meeting this morning to examine government bailout funds to AIG, and executive bonuses paid with those funds. Just minutes ago Congressman Minnick made the following opening statement at the hearing:

"I opposed the TARP bill and I opposed the bailout for AIG. I'm a businessman, and when I bought businesses I took due diligence seriously. We taxpayers shouldn't buy companies or socialize businesses. Having made the mistake with AIG we should not now throw good money after bad. Instead, we should now withdraw taxpayers' support and let AIG go bankrupt, let a federal bankruptcy judge void these ill-advised bonus contracts, sort out the losses, and bring in new, qualified management to properly manage AIG free of one more nickel of taxpayer support. Thank you, Mr. Chairman."


Still too Muddy

Middleton--Farmer Sid Freeman reports that it still too wet to run equipment in his fields. "We got dumped on again last night." Last week the ground was frozen solid after a weeklong cold front dropped temperatures more than 15 degrees below normal. This week the temps are back to normal but a series of storms is keeping fields wet. Freeman added that three dry days in a row would bring harvest-like traffic jams to Canyon County.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nez Perce County Century Farm

(l to r): Earl Bennett (Idaho Historical Society Rep.), Senator Jim Risch, Marga Blair, Henny Reil, Robert Blair, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter

Lewiston--On Saturday March 14th, Nez Perce County President, Robert Blair and his family received a Century Farm award during the Lincoln Day Event in Lewiston. Robert was accompanied by his mother Marga Blair and his great aunt Henny Reil who is 94.

The farm was started in 1903 when Fred Reil bought land overlooking the Clearwater River between Lewiston and Orofino. Rheinhard and Anna Wilken (Marga’s parents) and Henry and Henny Reil farmed the land when Fred retired.

When Fred passed away, the farm was split up and purchased by the Wilkens and Reils, with the original land being purchased by the Wilkens. Marga married John Blair and they took the farm over from Rheinhard in 1972. Robert came back to the farm in 1993 and is currently running the farm with his wife Rhonda and their two sons Dillon and Logan.

Robert’s brother Chris is currently serving in the Army and is slated to get out this year and wants to come back to the farm. The farm is currently 1,500 acres of cropland where wheat, barley, peas, lentils, garbanzo beans, alfalfa, and cows are raised.

Irrigation news

Groundwater Pumpers Submit Plan

Pocatello--Hoping to avoid the loss of thousands of jobs, groundwater users on the Snake River Plain aquifer submitted a plan late Thursday to compensate aquifer spring users and thereby allow continued use of the aquifer by cities, factories, food processors, dairies, farmers and other entities that depend on the water for their economic survival.

Magic Valley Ground Water District and North Snake Ground Water District filed a 2009 Replacement Water Plan and Third Mitigation Plan with the Idaho Department of Water Resources late Thursday afternoon. The filing was in response to a March 5 order from the IDWR for up to 430 water users in Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties to shut off their water, so that Clear Springs Food Inc. can continue to receive an additional 2 cubic feet per second in water flow.

“We hope the director will accept and implement our mitigation plan and that the curtailment won’t take place,” said Lynn Carlquist, Chairman of North Snake Ground Water District. “As a simple matter of economic survival for these six counties, we need to address the curtailment so it does not occur.”

The plan filed Thursday provides for measures not seen in past proposals, including the “Over-the-Rim” direct delivery of ground water from existing wells to Snake River Farm’s intake. This proposal proposes to convert up to 2,000 acres of irrigated farmland from ground water irrigation to surface water irrigation. Certain members of North Snake Ground Water District farming near the canyon rim above Snake River Farm have agreed to cooperate in the effort. Surface water leased from the Upper Snake reservoir system will be delivered through the North Side Canal Company “S Coulee” to replace the ground water irrigation. It will now be up to Director Tuthill to either approve this plan or curtail 41,000 acres.

Carlquist pointed to March 7 Idaho Statesman story announcing Idaho’s jobless rate is at a 21-year high of nearly 7 percent, with some 53,000 unemployed; the state is expecting a 12 percent drop in tax revenue. Economists say joblessness will continue to rise nationally for the rest of the year and into early 2010, with the unemployment rate reaching 9 to 10 percent before it turns around.

Lynn Tominaga, Executive Director IGWA, said. “To avert this catastrophe, we will spend over $900,000 on this 3rd mitigation plan so that Clear Springs, will receive its water. This is in addition to the millions of dollars we have spent over the last few years to mitigate their material injury claim.”

Dean Stevenson, Magic Valley GWD director said, ”We would like to thank North Side Canal Company board of directors and Manager Ted Diehl for their cooperation and help in getting this plan put together to avoid this water delivery call.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

University of Idaho Briefs

Dirk Vanderwall of the University of Idaho with Idaho Star, Ken White of Utah State University with Utah Pioneer, and Gordon Woods of the University of Idaho with Idaho Gem. Standing far right is Don Jacklin, the man who funded the mule cloning research. University of Idaho/Phil Schofield © 2006

Outstanding Equine Scientist Leaving Uof I to Join World Famous Vet School

Written by Bill Loftus

MOSCOW –Veterinarian Dr. Dirk Vanderwall is leaving the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to join one of the nation’s most prestigious schools of veterinary medicine.

He will leave Idaho at the end of March to join the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine at the New Bolton Center, which gained fame worldwide for its heroic efforts to save Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in 2006.

During his 10 years on the University of Idaho faculty, Vanderwall was a member of the team that produced the world’s first equine clone, the mule Idaho Gem in 2003. Vanderwall earned his veterinary degree at Cornell University and his doctorate at the University of Idaho.

“We valued Dirk’s teaching and research contributions as a member of our faculty and congratulate him on his selection to lead one of the nation’s outstanding large animal reproduction programs,” said John Hammel, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.

Vanderwall notified Hammel of his resignation from the University of Idaho faculty Wednesday. Vanderwall will lead a team of veterinarians at Penn Vet’s Georgia and Philip Hofmann Research Center for Animal Reproduction.

“I am leaving the college and the university with an appreciation for the opportunities to learn and to develop my professional abilities,” Vanderwall said. “I think it is safe to say that my opportunity to go to Penn Vet is a direct reflection of the things that we have collectively accomplished here at the University of Idaho.”

"I enjoyed working with many excellent colleagues and supporters during my time on the college faculty, including veterinarians throughout Idaho and the Northwest, and members of the Idaho Horse Council as part of my activities in the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory at Moscow,” Vanderwall said.

Vanderwall was recognized in 2005 as the world’s top veterinarian specializing in animal reproduction by the American College of Theriogenologists. The honor followed the success in producing three mule clones in 2003 by a University of Idaho – Utah State University team led by veterinary researcher Gordon Woods, who is now a Colorado State University researcher, animal scientist Ken White of Utah State University and Vanderwall.

Vanderwall was honored with the Northern Idaho Veterinary Medical Association’s George Oakshott award in 2004.

Farm Bureau Advocates Recognized

BCFB President Jack O'Brien left, presents the Offerman with a bench in recognition of their service to Farm Bureau

Offermann's Recognized for 20 Years of Farm Bureau Service

Sandpoint--Bonner County Farm Bureau President Jack O'Brien presented Jean and Herb Offermann with a custom handmade bench made by local artisan Ken Sheffler, in appreciation for their years of dedicated service to Farm Bureau.

Jean and Herb spent countless hours in service of the county and state Farm Bureau in various positions. Herb served as Bonner County President before becoming a State Director. Jean served as Bonner County Women's Chairperson before becoming Bonner County Farm Bureau President. Bonner County Farm Bureau presented the Offermanns the bench before their March Farm Bureau meeting.

News from Washington

Ag Groups Strongly Oppose Farm Safety Net Cuts

WASHINGTON---The American Farm Bureau Federation joined 38 other agricultural and commodity groups in expressing strong opposition to the more than $16 billion in cuts to the farm safety net proposed in President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the chairmen and ranking members of the Agriculture and Budget Committees in both the House and the Senate, the broad coalition of farm groups warned that the cuts “threaten, once again, to change the rules midstream on American farm and ranch families.”

The letter noted that the round of cuts is being proposed just eight months after the 2008 farm bill was passed, which at the time contained more than $7.6 billion in cuts to the safety net despite the fact that the cost of the provisions over the preceding six years was already $21.8 billion under budget. The proposed cuts in the farm safety net constitute less than one quarter of one percent of the total federal budget and make up just 16 percent of the total farm bill’s cost.

“You don’t change the rules in the middle of a basketball game and you don’t change the provisions of a farm bill that was implemented less than a year ago with the support of more than 500 nutrition, conservation and farm organizations,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The ink is barely dry on the new farm bill, and all of the provisions have not yet been fully implemented. The bill must be fully implemented and allowed to work before changes are considered.”

The coalition letter emphasized that the producers are already struggling to understand and comply with confusing, costly and unduly burdensome payment and eligibility rule changes that were unanticipated and far exceed what the farm bill required and Congress intended.

“The proposed budget cuts overlook the fact that producers and lenders alike have made long-term business decisions based upon the commitment made by Congress in the five-year farm bill and thus will exacerbate the current credit crisis,” the letter emphasized.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The New Economic Frontier--Your Farm

Jim Rogers Is Buying Farmland

New York--Noted commodity trader Jim Rogers says farming is the most stable recession investment today. In fact the bull market trader is buying farmland.

Despite a dip in commodity prices, he thinks farming is bullish and says smart investors are buying farm land. In fact Rogers is buying up all the farmland he can in Canada and Brazil.

Rogers told CNBC: "We're still going to eat, probably; we're still going to wear clothes, probably. Farmers cannot get loans for fertilizers right now. So the supplies of everything are going to continue to be under pressure."

Rogers says laid off financial paper-pushers would be served finding jobs on farms. "If I'm right, agriculture is going to be one of the greatest industries in the next 20 years, 30 years," he said.
You can see the CNBC interview by clicking here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Your Money

Financial Stocks Rally; Dow Back Above 7,000

New York--Stocks rallied on Wall Street for the third straight day. The Dow Jones closed at 239.66 points, up 3.5 percent, higher at 7,170.06 while Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was up 4 percent, or 29.38 points, to 750.74. The Nasdaq finished 3.97 percent, or 54.46 points, higher at 1,426.10.

March Moon at morning

March Moon at morning, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Boise--Idaho Farmers are still itching to get into the fields. Farmer Sid Freeman of Middleton reports that the ground is still frozen in the mornings and doesnt soften up till late in the afternoon.

March temperatures have averaged between 10 and 15 degrees below normal, precipitation is above average for March.

Warmer temps are expected this weekend, Freeman says expect to see a flurry of farm activity on Saturday, depending on the weather. March 20th marks the first day of spring and farmers are hoping the month goes out like lamb temperature wise, so they can get some work done.

Vanderwall Leaving

Steve Ritter photo
Equine Cloning Scientist Leaving U of I

Moscow—Dr. Dirk Vanderwall, one of the University of Idaho professors who successfully cloned the first equine in the world is leaving the U of I.

Vanderwall accepted a position at the University of Pennslyvania. Insiders close to the program blame funding and tight budgets limited continued cloning research.

In 2003, after years of tedious trial and error the U of I and Utah State scientists successfully cloned a mule named Idaho Gem, and weeks later hosted a worldwide newsconference with the cloned foal.

For the University of Idaho, Scientists Vanderwall and Gordon Woods it was a crowning achievement that brought international praise and attention and a cover story in Science magazine.

Vanderwall will take a similar job heading the reproduction section and director of the Hofmann Research Center for Animal Reproduction at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Ken White of Utah State, filled out the research dream team with Woods and Vanderwall. He remains at Utah State, Woods is now at Colorado State and each brought their own unique talents to the cloning project that resulted in a total of three successful equine clonings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Owyhee Wilderness on hold

House Republicans kill Ominibus Land-use bill

Washington--House Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were successful in killing the Democrat sponsored Omnibus Land-Use bill that included provisions to establish a new wilderness area in southwestern Idaho the legislation failed to get the required 2/3 majority for passage.

The bill fell six votes short because Democrats brought the legislation up under rules requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. They didn't hit that mark, so Democrats will have to bring the bill back up under a normal procedure.

The bill sets million of acres of public wilderness and creates more than 1,000 miles of scenic river designations.

Representative Walt Minnick, D-Idaho voted for the bill and expressed frustration and diappointment when the legislation fell short in the House.

"As I just relayed to Senator Crapo, it has been a long process to get to this point and the process is not yet over," Minnick said. "Although I am disappointed, today’s action shows that there are more than enough votes for this bill to pass the House under normal rules. I urge House leadership to put this bill back on the floor as quickly as possible, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting, reflecting and representing the collaborative work represented in this bill."

The bill passed the Senate on Jan. 15. and insiders expected passage in the House. But all is not lost, House Democrats are expected to bring the bill back next week in a manner that would allow Republicans to tweak it.

"If passed," Minnick told the Congressional Record, "This bill will permanently protect as wilderness 517,000 beautiful acres in the southwestern corner of my home state’s landscape and would provide wild and scenic status to nearly 315 miles of rivers. It will also guarantee that the ranching families who have protected this land for generations will continue on, with their grazing rights protected."

Commodity Watch

Vilsack: Increase the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline

Washington--Ethanol producers met with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington and asked them to boost the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline by 10 percent to 15 percent, which could spike demand for ethanol by more than 6 billion gallons a year.

From across the country automobile and small engine manufacturers used the age-old excuse that there's no certainty yet that such an increase will not harm engines and fuel lines.

"We can move the blend rate to 12 or 13 percent in the interim," US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a visiting farmers and that gas could eventually be boosted by 15 percent or 20 percent.

EPA press secretary Adora Andy said that the agency is reviewing the request and will act "based on the best available science."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Calving Season Underway

Photo: Courtesy of Kimmel Dalley
Ranchers Struggle with Bitter Cold

Blackfoot--Chris and Kimmel Dalley of the Pale Horse Cattle Company are in the middle of calving season and the 10-degree temperatures, 4 inches of snow and strong winds outside of Blackfoot, Idaho are just a distraction.

"I don't believe in global warming," said Dalley who has worked day and night keeping an eye on his cattle during this critical season. "It got up to 27 this afternoon, its cold for March but not at all unusual; everythings on schedule and going smoothly," said Dalley.

A series of late season storms and cool temperatures has farmers itching with cabin fever, but ranchers traditionally work through it. Dalley, at this 10-pm writing was out checking on cattle, and said he was thankful for the light of the full moon and that he's looking forward to 50-degree temps this weekend.

Legislative News

Dome under snow, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.
Election Consolidation?

Boise—In an effort to get more Idahoans to vote, a legislative committee approved a bill designed to consolidate Idaho’s elections—at a cost of $3.1 million annually.

Lawmakers say scheduling all of the states elections in March and November would get more Idahoans out to vote. The bill also allows people to vote on multiple local issues from a single location.

Last year 30 percent of registered Idahoans voted in the primary, while 78 percent voted in the general election. According to the Secretary of state's office, voting for city and tax district elections is typically below 20 percent.

"The goal should be 100 percent but it needs to be more than the 5 to 10 percent we're getting in local elections," Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rural impacts of the Stimulus Bill

(Washington) AFBF Budget Specialist Pat Wolff explains what's in the economic stimulus package for rural America.

President Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus package, part of package included $7.2 billion for broadband grant and loan programs. The bulk of the funds directed at broadband--$4.7 billion--will be distributed through a program run by the Commerce Department, while $2.5 billion will fall under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department, giving particular emphasis to broadband deployment in rural areas.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another Boise Snowstorm

Box Elder Row in March, originally uploaded by jack9999p.

For the 3rd time in 4 days, Boise was buried under a blanket of fresh snow. Some parts of the Central mountain gained nearly two feet of snowpack.

By Frank Priestley, President

Animal Rights Organizations Amplify Anguish of Unwanted Horses
In yet another case of misguided activism, animal rights groups have put American taxpaying citizens out of work and helped create a cottage industry that brutalizes innocent animals.
We have a growing problem in this country with unwanted horses.

With the economy in the tank, high feed costs and expenses associated with euthanasia and disposal, many people can no longer afford to keep their horses. In addition, with an estimated U.S. horse population of 9.2 million head, at an average age of about 10 years, about 500,000 horses die or must be euthanized every year. It costs over $300 for veterinary and disposal fees to put a horse down.

These issues are contributing to the abandonment of old and unwanted horses on public land throughout the country. In addition most horse shelter and rescue operations are full to capacity. Until 2007, there were three horse processing plants operating in the U.S. These plants were federally inspected, humane operations that processed and packaged horse meat for export to many foreign countries where the meat is considered a delicacy.

However, thanks to the Humane Society of the United States, a group with radical views on animal rights that should not be confused with your local animal shelter, horse processing in the U.S. for human consumption was shut down in 2007. The Humane Society of the U.S. argues that horses are not generally considered a food animal and that they “endure extreme suffering” when sent to processing plants.

Legislators in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and at least six other states are working on new laws in support of processing horse meat for export. The Utah Legislature recently passed a resolution supporting the transport of horses out of state to Mexico or Canada for processing. Legislatures in Arizona, Kansas and Minnesota are working on similar legislation, while lawmakers in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Montana are working on legislation to bring horse processing facilities into existence.

In Congress, a bill that would prohibit transport of horses across U.S. borders for processing is pending. In addition there are several other bills before Congress that would criminalize nearly everything having to do with the processing of horse meat. However, at the present time there is no ban on processing horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., except in Texas and Illinois.

In 2007, 80,000 unwanted horses were shipped to Mexico or Canada for processing and export. In Mexico, the treatment of these animals is primitive, brutal and unregulated.

In our view, the use of processing plants is a humane way of disposing of surplus or unsound animals, and a much better alternative than abandonment where horses often starve or become a problem for someone else.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Food News

Nutritious Meals the Focus of Food Check-Out Week

Washington--Farmer and rancher members of many local Farm Bureaus reached out to consumers with practical information and tips on how to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars during bad economic times.

“Stretching Your Grocery Dollar with Healthy, Nutritious Food,” the new official theme of Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Week, reflects the fact that many Americans are feeling an economic squeeze and, as a result, are eating out less and preparing more meals at home.

“Public health experts are concerned that today’s tough economic times could lead consumers, many of whom are already overweight, to cut costs by buying less nutritious foods that lack important vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.

Tips for better nutrition on a stretched budget, making sense of food labels and understanding USDA’s My Pyramid are among the topics Farm Bureau members talked about with consumers.

Gilbert and members of the national committee coordinated pilot consumer grocery store tours with tasting stations in Phoenix and Louisville. Led by a registered dietician, consumers walked store aisles learning about foods that can help them achieve healthier nutrition on a tight budget.

Themed tasting stations (whole grains, dairy/eggs, produce) staffed by committee members provided shoppers with the opportunity to sample various foods and ask questions. After completing the tour, consumers received a grocery shopping guide with information on how to make wise shopping decisions to stretch their food dollars. Pull-out cards in the guide provided concise, practical tips on stocking your pantry, refrigerator, freezer and seasoning shelf.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wolves Delisted

Salazar: Wolves delisted in Idaho and Montana

Washington--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an order to remove gray wolves from the endangered list of threatened species in Idaho and Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah but the Wolves remain a protected species in Wyoming.

“The recovery of the gray wolf throughout significant portions of its historic range is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act,” Salazar said. “When it was listed as endangered in 1974, the wolf had almost disappeared from the continental United States. Today, we have more than 5,500 wolves, including more than 1,600 in the Rockies.”

“The successful recovery of this species is a stunning example of how the Act can work to keep imperiled animals from sliding into extinction,” he said. “The recovery of the wolf has not been the work of the federal government alone. It has been a long and active partnership including states, tribes, landowners, academic researchers, sportsmen and other conservation groups, the Canadian government and many other partners.”

Boise Friday Morning March 6, 2009

Boise Friday Morning (March 6), originally uploaded by jack9999p.

Boise--For the second day in a row Treasure Valley residents woke up to a blanket of snow. A Winter Storm Advisory was issued across Central Idaho after a foot of snow fell yesterday. Temperatures have dropped and the storms are bringing heavy snow to the high country. storms.

More Snow in March

Steve Ritter photo
March off to a Wet Start
Emmett--Just when forecasters were calling for doom and gloom in snowpack numbers, Idaho gets rocked by a series of storms. Squaw Butte got a dusting but the Treasure Valley got an inch. Weather forecasters say that the storms combined with cool temps will persist until Monday.

Idaho's snowpack has lost 20 percent water content since Jan. 1, but experts say there should still be enough water for irrigation.

Idaho Department of Water Resources hydrologist Steve Burrel told the State water committee that snowpack numbers stand at 80 percent of the average amount and that's down from normal January levels.

A Warm high pressure system, combined with an inverstion pushed storms north and south causing warm temps at the higher elevations which melted snowpack according to the report.

In southern Idaho, the mountain snowpack is critical to the health of the region's drought-prone agricultural industry.

Snowpack numbers across the state range from 72 percent of average in Coeur d'Alene basin to 115 percent in south Idaho's Bruneau Basin according to forecasters.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Idaho Landowners Deal with Depredation

Depredation Meeting in Lewiston
By Bob Smathers

Lewiston--The topic of the day at a Fish and Game meeting in Lewiston on February 28 was depredation. Brad Compton, manager of the statewide depredation program talked about the Depredation Prevention and Compensation Program. He indicated that a fledgling program was started in 1984 to deal with wildlife depredation, but did not evolve into the current program until 1989.

“The depredation/resolution program is a shared responsibility program between Idaho Fish and Game and landowners” says Mr. Compton. The overall goal of the program is prevention of crop damage. Compton said there are typically over 700 depredation complaints each year statewide. He also said that Fish and Game processes about 20 to 40 claims each year. “That’s pared down from 700 complaints.”

Funding for the Depredation Prevention Program comes from two sources and amounted to about $770,000 in FY08. One hundred and ninety thousand came from tags, $.75 per tag which is dedicated funds. Another $580,000 comes from general tag and license funds. Management tools that are used in the depredation prevention program are hunting season structure, directing hunters to problem areas, Access Yes, hazing, baiting and lethal options. Hazing is done with cannons etc. to move elk out of an area using noise. Baiting is drawing animals away from where depredation is occurring with an alternative food source, such as a food plot. “Lethal control is the last resort, but is still very common year around in Latah and surrounding counties in Northern Idaho” says Compton.

When the animals do not leave an area and crop depredation continues, landowners can be either issued kill permits or an outright depredation hunt implemented. Kill permits are issued to landowners for a limited number of elk to be taken. The individual or landowner with the kill permit is responsible for field dressing the animal, then Idaho Fish and Game transports and donates it to the food bank. Fish and Game covers the butchering expenses. With a depredation hunt, landowners designate ½ of the permits and Fish and Game designates the rest and in this case, the hunter keeps the meat.

Funding for the depredation compensation fund comes from two sources and amounted to $340,000 in 2008. Two hundred thousand came from the sale of licenses and tags and the remaining $140,000 in the fund came from interest on a non-expendable account or endowment. The non-expendable account or endowment sits at $2,250,000 at this time. This endowment fund is fixed at $2,250,000 and the interest generated depends on interest rates.
To be eligible for depredation compensation, a landowner must allow hunting. He must also allow Idaho Fish and Game to access his property to verify damage and take reasonable steps to prevent wildlife damage. In addition to meeting these conditions, a landowner must have more than $1,000 in damage to be eligible for a depredation payment.

“Depredation claims have been increasing statewide over the last three years” says Compton, and the Clearwater region is the leading region for claims in the state. Claim payments statewide have usually been less than $200,000, but in 2008, losses were over $500,000. Crop damage claimants only received $.67 on the dollar and livestock loss claimants received $.50 on the dollar in 2008 because the total economic losses exceeded the amount in the fund. Brad Compton said that claims are $189,000 so far in 2009, but could increase to $300,000 between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30. “Specialty crops grown in the Northern Idaho region and higher crop prices are contributing to higher claim payouts.”

Rob Stevens, the landowner coordinator in the Clearwater region says there are many challenges to depredation management. There are many canyons in the Clearwater region amongst the ag land that provide refuge for wildlife. “Property is predominantly private and there are also different values among landowners regarding wildlife” says Stevens. “In 2007-2008 we had the perfect storm with drought taking out the food source in the canyons, so elk and deer came out in droves to feed on crop land. In addition, crop prices were high and this contributed to the high payouts on depredation.”

“Differing values amongst land owners in Latah and surrounding counties make depredation management very challenging” says Dave Cadwallader, regional supervisor for Idaho Fish and Game in the Clearwater Region. “There are lots of private land refuges adjacent to farm land where landowners do not allow elk to be hunted. The elk are smart and find these safe refuges and they live there during the day, but come out and feed in the crops under the cover of night.”

Many of these refuge landowners do not permit hunting on their land are tired of confronting hunters who trespass instead of asking for permission to hunt. Trespass is tied closely to depredation and it is an issue for landowners, sportsmen and Idaho Fish and Game.

“Landowners who close their land because of trespass make it more difficult for Idaho Fish and Game to manage depredation” says Nez Perce County Farm Bureau president Robert Blair. He also went on to add that legislators, Fish and Game and other stakeholders need to resolve the issue of trespass. “Current trespass laws need to be evaluated by the stakeholders, especially the legislature because the dynamics of Idaho’s population has changed over the years.” Says Blair. If trespasser’s are not caught and prosecuted, then more private land will be closed to sportsmen and the depredation problem will continue to grow.

Dave Cadwallader says that Fish and Game is urging landowners not to confront trespassers on their property, especially if they are packing a high powered rifle. “Get a description of the person and their vehicle and get their license plate number and call a conservation officer or county deputy” says Cadwallader.

This meeting was attended by Idaho Fish and Game officials, landowners, sportsmen, several Idaho legislators and representatives from various organizations. The meeting was co-hosted by the Idaho Fish and Game, Nez Perce County Farm Bureau and the Nez Perce County Grain Producers.

Farming Full Circle

A New Generation of Victory Gardens
By Suzanne DeJohn

During tough times, generations of Americans have turned to food gardening as a way to help feed their families, and our country’s current economic downturn is no exception.

A recent poll projects a 20 percent rise in the number of households growing vegetables this year over last. In addition to putting food on the table, could this renewed interest in growing one’s own food spark a sense of empowerment and community pride, as it did during the “victory garden” era of the 1940s?

"People just want to buy and grow local foods these days, and many are finding their way to the garden and farmer markets," said Heather Glass of Boise. "We couldn't be in a better place to really enjoy local produce."

Americans planted victory gardens during World War II as a way to support the war effort. By growing produce to feed themselves and their communities, these home gardeners allowed the nation to divert more of the national food and fuel supplies to the troops. People felt personal pride in the labor they contributed, and the food they grew helped offset the privations caused by war.

Some 20 million Americans answered the call of “Plant More in ’44.” Altogether, they produced about 40 percent of the vegetables consumed nationally that year. The victory garden concept changed gardening from a practical pastime to a civic duty and patriotic gesture.

Sixty-five years later, Americans are again struggling to make ends meet, and food gardening is experiencing a revival. This time around the reasons have less to do with patriotism and more to do with saving money and promoting self-sufficiency. However, what started as a simple trend appears to be growing into a full-fledged movement as activists try to rekindle the fervor for home food gardening as a means not only to harvesting edibles but also to building community and increasing environmental awareness.

There’s even a campaign afoot to convince President Barack Obama to dig up part of the White House lawn and restore the victory garden planted in 1943 by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. It may be time to dust off the victory garden moniker and use it once again to unite and inspire gardeners.
Heather Glass and Father Ted grow all their own produce in their Northend Boise garden.

Most young Americans are a few generations removed from their gardening and farming roots. After World War II, many families abandoned food gardening to pursue leisure
activities. Suburban landscapes became seas of manicured lawns punctuated by a few ornamentals. If someone grew vegetables, it was likely in a corner of the backyard.

This suburban lawn paradigm even resulted in some homeowners’ associations forbidding food gardening by residents. In just a few short decades food gardening went from patriotic to prohibited! Now the tides are turning again, and a new generation is eager to grow food.

According to recent polls conducted by the National Gardening Association, 2 million more households grew vegetables in 2008 than in 2007, and results suggest there will be a 20 percent increase in vegetable gardening this year over last year. Those of us who’ve watched interest in food gardening decline can rejoice in its revival. Perhaps the silver lining of this economic recession will be that it inspires a new generation of gardeners.

Although Americans returning to gardening to put vegetables on the table, it’s unlikely they will see the zeal—and productivity—of the World War II victory garden era. However, even a small home garden can help offset rising food prices and empower people to provide for themselves and their families during these tough economic times. And if calling these revitalized plantings “victory gardens” inspires participation and camaraderie among neighbors, so much the better. We’ll need a new slogan, though. How about “Homegrown is Fine in 2009?”

The National Gardening Association is nurturing the next generation of gardeners in schools, communities and backyards nationwide with resources including curricula, Youth Garden Grants, the Adopt a School Garden® program, and more. Visit www.kidsgardening.org.

Suzanne DeJohn is web content developer with the National Gardening Association/www.garden.org

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just in from Washington

(Washington) Idaho Senator Mike Crapo took time out of his busy Washington schedule to meet with local farmers February 23 at his office on Capitol Hill. A contingent of Idaho Farm Bureau members, not to mention Idaho Beet, Grain and Potato producers met with Idaho Congressional Delegation to talk Ag issues. (Robert Blair photo)

Dairy News

Farmers Wait for Milk Payments

Washington—Idaho’s billion dollar dairy industry stung by the collapse of milk prices will soon get help according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S.D.A is working to get Milk Income Loss Contract payments out quickly. The program pays dairy farmers when domestic milk prices fall below a certain level.

Milk and other commodity prices started falling in October. That’s put the state’s dairymen in a precarious situation because feed costs are still high while milk prices dropped.

The MILC program pays farmers when milk prices drop below about $17 per hundredweight. Prices vary nationwide.

According to the National Milk Producers Federation, there are new features that dairy farmers need to look out for:

• If your dairy has more than $500,000 in nonfarm adjusted gross income, you are not eligible for payments. Documentation of income will be required. You should visit with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office about the paperwork needed prior to filing for MILC.

• The cap on milk production has been raised from 2.4 million pounds to 2.98 million pounds per operation per fiscal year.

• A “feed cost adjuster” can raise the $16.94 target for the Class I price in Boston, depending on feed cost.

To estimate your MILC payments, visit the National Milk Producers Federation Web site at http://www.nmpf.org/milk_pricing/milc_payments.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Extension News

4-H Teachers Vow to Bolster Science, Engineering and Tech in Ed Programs

Moscow--In science and engineering, 4-H’ers are Idaho’s ‘can-do’ kids WITH STUDIES FINDING that only a third of U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders are proficient in science and technology, the nation’s 4-H educators have vowed to involve one million new members in 4-H’s science, engineering, and technology (SET) activities by 2013.

“4-H has more than a 100-year history of engaging children in direct, hands-on, minds-on science activities,” says Tim Ewers, University of Idaho Extension 4-H/youth development specialist in Moscow. “We’ve developed a pipeline of programs that keep kids involved from kindergarten to high school graduation and put them on a trajectory right to college. We want them to build the perception that they really can do science and engineering.”

Idaho’s newest SET programs emphasize club, camp, and school-based robotics, rocketry, and such geospatial technologies as global positioning and geographical information systems. They also serve federally funded 4-H Afterschool programs: two in Burley and Worley draw predominantly Hispanic and Native American youngsters.

But whether kids are knee-deep in vegetable gardening, elbow-deep in meal planning, or sky high with rockets, 4-H has long been steeped in science. Promoting interest in science careers. Chad Cheyney, UI Extension educator in Butte County, was impressed with impacts of the 2008 4-H National Science Experiment, in which kids nationwide investigated the properties and promise of superabsorbent hydrogels: of Arco’s 20 fourth-grade participants, 18 said the project had whetted their interest in a scientific career.
During 2008, 4-H’ers in Idaho also examined insect homes in Junior Master Gardener classes; applied electronic animal identification and ultrasound technologies in livestock programs; discovered the basics of computer, wood, and veterinary science; and flocked to camps in rocketry, geocaching, geology, electricity, nutrition, and natural resources.

Of those who participated in Idaho Robotics Opportunities for K-12 Students (Idaho ROKS)—a collaborative program with UI Extension 4-H/Youth Development, the University of Idaho College of Engineering, and the Idaho Space Grant Consortium—one in three was female and one in six was minority.

With its statewide presence, Ewers says 4-H can reach urban, rural, and underserved audiences alike: youthful SET participants in Idaho tallied 26,056 in 2007-08. And with its century-long commitment to learning by doing, 4-H “gives children the time to engage in real scientific inquiry.”

CONTACT TIM EWERS at tewers@uidaho.edu


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