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.

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