Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Idaho Cherry Harvest 2009

Steve Ritter Video

Cherry farmers across the Northwest Turn in Record Crop

Emmett--With the last cherries coming off the trees, farmers have a lot to be thankful for in 2009. Farmers report triple yields over last year with above average quality.

"It never got too hot, and that slowed the ripening process giving pickers enough time to get the cherries off the trees. There was rain but it was early enough not to split the cherries," said Al Dimmick

Dimmick runs Cherrystone Orchard in Emmett, he said during the peak of harvest no one was getting sleep because there was so much picking to do. He says last year's frost and cool temps severely cut into the 2008 crop, with just an 18-percent yield now there are almost too many cherries to pick and declared a bumper crop for 2009.

In Idaho and Washington the lower elevation orchards are through with the picking season, now the season heads into the higher elevations. Cherry farmers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho all expect a bigger than usual crops of fresh cherries -- 18 million 20-pound boxes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Simpson Files Amendment to Protect Idaho Ag

Simpson Trying to Block Federal Water Jurisdiction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing any attempt to expand the federal government’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Simpson is the Ranking Republican on the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.

Simpson filed the amendment in response to passage of legislation in the United States Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee that would dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over agricultural uses of water. S. 787, the so-called Clean Water Restoration Act, would remove the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act’s definition of waters covered by the Act’s provisions. In short, this would make virtually any water body in the United States potentially subject to EPA permitting and enforcement authorities, including water tanks, irrigation canals, ponds, drainage ditches, and even mud holes. Non-navigable waters are currently regulated by the states.

“S. 787 is a classic example of legislation that sounds good to the average citizen but has devastating impacts on our economy, food supply, Constitution, and way of life,” said Simpson. “There is simply no reason why the federal government needs to be out micro-managing our nation’s farms and ranches and stealing regulatory jurisdiction from the states. S. 787 is a big government land grab, pure and simple, and it is being forced on the agriculture community by people who don’t know the first thing about crops or cows.”

The amendment was filed with the House Rules Committee. The Committee determines which amendments will be in order during floor consideration of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. The Rules Committee, under the control of the Democrat Leadership, has refused consideration of many Republican amendments this year and will either reject or approve floor consideration of Simpson’s amendment later this evening.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo last week voted against passage of S. 787 in the Environment and Public Works Committee and has placed a hold on Senate consideration of the bill.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

County News

Bob Smathers photo
Keough reports back

Sandpoint--Senator Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) attended the last Boundary County Farm Bureau meeting on June 12. Senator Keough gave a legislative report on the 2009 session to the county Board.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Climate Change Vote in the House Today

Climate Change Debate Rages on the Hill

Washington--The U.S. House is expected to vote today on climate change legislation that is a high priority of President Barack Obama. If the legislation passes the House, it could find a rocky road in the Senate, where the bill faces tough opposition, and opposition from the nation's largest Farm Organization.

“Climate change legislation working its way to a vote on the House floor this week continues to be seriously flawed. The bill’s provisions and omissions are very problematic for U.S. agriculture, our national economy and domestic energy security," said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

"Even after the stellar efforts of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson and many rural members of Congress to win vital changes for America’s farm and ranch families – efforts that we strongly endorse and support – there are simply too many flaws in the underlying bill," added Stallman.

“Despite inclusion of Chairman Peterson’s hard-fought provisions to reward farmers for carbon offsets and to remove the phony indirect-land-use calculation, this bill should be amended further or defeated," added Stallman.

Here are main details of the House legislation, which has undergone changes since being approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late May:

* The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated an average cost of $175 annually for households. It said the poor would get a $40-a-year benefit from rebates and other aid.
* New protections for agriculture are included to win the support of farm-state lawmakers. Among them: Department of Agriculture oversight of carbon-reduction efforts by farmers, instead of the Environmental Protection Agency; obstacles to corn-based ethanol that EPA had proposed would be put off for at least five years and probably longer; some rural electric utilities would get free pollution permits from the government.
* U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would be reduced 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

* Under "cap and trade," fewer and fewer pollution permits would be available to companies over the next several decades. Also, companies that pollute less than their limit could sell some of their permits to others struggling to meet environmental requirements.
* Utilities would have to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power and show a 5 percent gain in energy efficiency by 2020. Governors could lower the 15 percent target to 12 percent with 8 percent efficiency gains if they determine the national goals are unattainable for their states.
* Obama's February budget envisioned $646 billion in revenue from the sale of the permits between 2012 and 2019. But that assumed a 100 percent auction of emissions permits, far from the level the House bill requires.
* Companies could offset up to 2 billion tons of their emissions annually by paying for "green" projects in the United States and other countries, such as preserving tropical rain forests.

Just in from Washington

AFBF: It’s Time to Implement the Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2009—In testimony today on Capitol Hill, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said it was a long, hard road to passage of the 2008 farm bill, however it is now time to implement the bill.

Testifying before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, Stallman outlined major components of the farm bill that need quick action, including disaster assistance, payment eligibility and the collaboration between the Internal Revenue Service and the Agriculture Department.

“Many farmers faced major disasters in 2008,” said Stallman. “Disaster assistance rules need to be released so that farmers who have had their operations devastated can receive help.” According to AFBF, a year after the passage of the farm bill, there are no rules for the disaster program, let alone a target date for when producers will receive assistance under these programs. The organization is urging USDA to implement the program as quickly as possible.

Stallman also said that the payment eligibility rule put forward in late December 2008 needs to be fixed by 2010. “The late date left the incoming Obama administration with very little time or opportunity for change before the rule would have to be implemented,” said Stallman. “While USDA is clearly now making progress on these rules, the delays have left a great deal of uncertainty in the countryside during this planting season.”

Further, Stallman said AFBF had concerns with changes to the definition of “actively engaged” for purposes of determining farm program eligibility, saying it will hurt farmers and create uncertainty across the countryside. Under the old rules, producers had to meet a two-pronged test: they had to show that they contributed capital, land and/or equipment, and they contributed labor and/or management to the operation. The new rule takes the labor and management requirement to an entirely new level by further mandating that this management be “separate and distinct” and “identifiable and documentable,” but provides no clarification as to what this means, according to AFBF.

“This lack of clarity will almost certainly result in a multitude of standards being applied across the country,” said Stallman. “The changes in this rule impact every farm, no matter the size, crop or region.”

Finally, Stallman testified that AFBF would be keeping a very close eye on the USDA/IRS collaboration announced earlier this year by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack.

“Any proposal that allows IRS information to become public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is unacceptable to Farm Bureau,” said Stallman. “It is critical that no information obtained by USDA through the IRS be subject to FOIA rules.” He also noted that once producers are red-flagged by the IRS, it is critical that any additional investigation required be handled at a centralized Farm Service Agency office by trained experts and not local offices due to privacy concerns.

“The farm bill touches the lives of every producer in this country,” concluded Stallman. “It’s Farm Bureau’s goal to ensure that the best interests of farmers are of paramount importance during this implementation process.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home Grown Energy

Wind Farms springing up on the Snake River Plain

Bliss--Driving on I-84 between Boise and Bliss, one can see wind farms springing up from the parched plain. Idaho is rated the 13th best place in the nation to cash in on wind power because of steady wind supply.

Wyoming, Washington, Oregon are moving full speed ahead to get in on the ground floor of wind power, but Idaho Utilities are more interested in reliable fossil fuels according to the PUC.

Idaho’s energy czar, Paul Kjellander is cautious about the profitability of wind power. “In Idaho we have some decent wind sites – three-plus category wind that is in sufficient clusters that I think you can do some large scale development , but at the core of all of it will be transmission. Without transmission we won’t be able to get any of that to market.”

Nonetheless he says there are seven major transmission projects planned across the state, Kjellander says the state is involved in a couple of projects to map wind potential. “You’ve got to be aware – or beware – of those merchants of magic bullets. Renewable technologies are maturing and some of them are very mature, but no single resource is going to get us to where we need to be,” he said.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

95 degrees in the shade

95 degrees in the shade, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Boise reached the 90-degreemark for the first time since last August 25th. Two days ago it was just 65-degrees. Farmers across the Treasure Valley welcome the BTU heatwave because crops are at least 10 days behind the normal growing season.

Gem County Harvest

Cherries are on at Walker Fruit Ranch

Emmett--Bryce Walker's fruit ranch is in the middle of one of the best cherry seasons ever. Last year a late season freeze cut the harvest to just 20-percent of normal, this year Walker says he will harvest five times more cherries than last year.

The ranch offers U pick, fresh pack, and specialties like jam. Walker's daughter Laurel Whittemore and husband Travis are doing a lot of the picking this year with the kids Jacob and Hailey manning the family fruit stand. They Walkers raise mostly bings and some rainer variety...The Walkers report cherries are plentiful and available into July.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

County News

Bonner County Scholarships Awarded
Sandpoint--Rebecca Gunter is one of three Bonner County Farm Bureau scholarship winners for 2009. Pictured is President Jack O'Brien presenting Rebecca with a $750 certificate. Additional Farm Bureau scholarship recipients locally are Zachary Kulhl and Meghan Durnan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wheat Market News

Wheat supply down, Prices up?

Seattle--Global supplies of wheat, the world's second-most consumed grain, will be historically tight next year even after bumper harvests, U.S. Wheat Associates Inc. President Alan Tracy said.

Growers worldwide are harvesting what will likely be the second-biggest crop on record this year, following the largest- ever last season, Tracy said in an interview in Tokyo. Still, world wheat consumption may rise as the economic slump prompts some consumers to switch from meat to cereals, he said.

Bloomberg News reports that wheat, corn and rice futures rose to records last year, increasing food costs and sparking riots from Haiti and to Ivory Coast. Wheat prices lost 36 percent in the past year as global output reached a record 687 million metric tons in 2008-09, according to International Grains Council estimates, raising year-end stockpiles for the first time in four years.

"The remaining stocks are still quite tight," Tracy said on June 19, forecasting the stocks-to-use ratio, the gauge of supply tightness, will be 23 to 24 percent at the end of 2009-10, compared with 19 percent in 2007-08.Wheat futures in Chicago fell 1.9 percent to $5.735 a bushel at 5:53 p.m. Tokyo time.

Prices rose to $6.77 a bushel on June 15, the highest since Oct. 2 on speculation rain may damage U.S. winter crop yields and delay spring planting. The prices are still down 6.1 percent this year compared with a 2.8 percent gain for corn and a 26 percent rally in soybeans.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Farm Safety

The Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety

If it sounds serious, it is. In fact, Kubota has developed the “Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety,” not only for its customers but for anyone who comes in contact with a tractor. These important tractor “Ten commandments” include:

Know your tractor, its implements and how they work. Read and understand the operator's manual before operating the equipment.

Also, keep equipment in good working condition.

Use ROPS and a seat belt whenever and wherever applicable. Kubota has provided ROPS as standard equipment on new tractors since 1985 and recommends tractor operators with older models ask their local dealer about retro-fitting their machine with a ROPS.

Be familiar with your terrain and work area – walk the area first to be sure and drive safely. Use special caution on slopes, slow down for all turns and stay off the highway whenever possible.

Never start an engine in a closed shed or garage. Exhaust gas contains carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and deadly.

Always keep your power take-off (PTO) properly shielded. Make it a habit to walk around your tractor and PTO driven implement – never walk over, through or between the tractor and implement, particularly if either is running. An unguarded rotating shaft is very powerful and rotates with enough speed and strength to kill you.

Keep your hitches low and always on the drawbar. Otherwise, your tractor could be at risk of flipping over backwards.

Never get off a moving tractor or leave it with its engine running. Shut it down before leaving the seat. A runaway tractor can be extremely dangerous.

Never refuel while the engine is running or hot. Additionally, do not add coolant to the radiator while the engine is hot; hot coolant can erupt and scald.

Keep all children off and away from your tractor and its implements at all times. Children are generally attracted to tractors and the work they do, but a tractor's work is not child's play. While a child's disappointment is fleeting, your memory of his or her injury or death resulting from riding the tractor with you, or being too close, will last a lifetime.

Never be in a hurry or take chances with your tractor. Think safety first, then take your time and do it right.

For more tractor safety information, visit http://www.kubota.com/ and click on the safety tab.

Women's Leadership Committee

Pictured L-R are Dawn Egbert, Fremont County, Pauline Bagley, Teton County; Diana Richmond, Madison County; and Shirlene Schwendiman, District II Women’s Leadership Committee Chair.

Bagley Named District 2 Woman of the Year

Rexburg--Pauline Bagley was named District 2 Farm Bureau Woman of the year. Bagley picked up a beautiful silver tray and a bouquet of flower at the annual Women's Leadership banquet Saturday.

The Idaho Farm Bureau's Women’s Leadership Committee contributes an essential perspective to the organization and provides opportunities for women to be come involved in all aspects of Farm Bureau. Four primary program focus areas are: Empower Leaders, Influence the Political Process, Revitalize the Grassroots and Speak Up for Agriculture.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Funds Available For Wildlife Habitat

Boise– The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has extended the sign-up period this year for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program that enhances farm conservation practices designed to improving wildlife habitat on private lands. The application period lasts from June 15th to July 6.

WHIP is a voluntary program for landowners that improves wildlife habitat using specific conservation practices. Through WHIP, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to develop, improve or restore wildlife habitat on private lands within an agricultural or forestry operation. Payments are made to accomplish agreed upon habitat improvement practices.

“The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program helps address national, regional and state-directed fish and wildlife concerns,” said Jeff Burwell, Idaho State Conservationist. “We use input from regional, state and local stakeholders to establish species and area priorities for the multiple-year plan that guides Idaho’s program”

Idaho’s WHIP plan focuses on restoration work that addresses critical wildlife habitat needs in specific habitat types. It also emphasizes habitat restoration and management that positively impacts threatened and endangered species and species of special concern.

To support habitat requirements for specific wildlife species, the application ranking process prioritizes habitat types and geographic areas.
To read the plan, visit http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip/index.html and click the link for the 'Idaho State WHIP Plan.'

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PNWER and Summer Presidents Meeting, July 12-16

Governor Otter Welcomes PNWER to Boise

Boise--Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter joined Idaho lawmakers, Rep Max Black, and Rep. Bert Stevenson and representatives from the Pacific NorthWest Economic to welcome the organizations 19th annual summit to be held in Boise July 12-16 at the Boise Centre on the Grove.

The Summit will coincide with the Idaho Farm Bureau's Summer President's meeting at the Grove Hotel. "We're looking forward to the meeting," said Gary Fuhriman of the Idaho Farm Bureau, "Our Presidents will have the chance to attend meetings, address issues and meet agricultural leaders from our region on a scale few have experienced." Governor Otter says he looks forward to an open dialogue with our neighbors.

"The exchange of ideas and new technologies, new management ideas, enviornmental policy, these are things we are working on through PNWER," said Governor Otter. "With the few days we are gathered, and the chance to exchange ideas, I think the opportunity is tremendous."

PNWER is a regional U.S.-Canadian forum dedicated to encouraging global economic competitiveness and preserving the region's world-class natural environment. This public/private partnership includes governments and businesses in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory. PNWER's major program initiatives include energy, transportation, homeland security and work-force development.

The theme of the 19th Annual Summit is 'Addressing Global Challenges' highlights of the July conference include an address by Governor Otter, a roundtable discussion on US-Canada Clean Energy innovations and problems. Another highlight includes a cross border livestock health conference and a policy tour to the Idaho National Lab in Arco.

Weather Impact

Eastern Idaho: Wettest Spring in 12 Years

Idaho Falls--Eastern Idaho Grain Producers President Matt Gellings knows grain and knows weather. After non-stop rains since march farmers are patiently waiting to get into the fields for work."We haven't seen a rain like this, I would say in probably 10, 15 years," said Gellings.

Matt Gellings lives in Shelly where farms wheat, hay, barley and potatoes, he says the rain is welcome, but its also been a burden. "I think it definitely helps. There's definitely some other sides to it. We're trying to do some hay and that's putting us off a bit, but anytime you can get free rain, it's a blessing," says Gellings.

Gellings says instead of complaining about the rain he's working with it. "I'm not running any sprinklers right now so that's a good deal. That's also helping on our pumping costs and our labor costs. This is just perfect weather for grain. It likes cool, nice weather, doesn't really like the hot, hot. Potatoes. They could probably use a little bit of heat right now, but we're still saving on the pumping costs and we're pretty much all irrigated out here so it's a plus," says Gellings.

As reported yesterday, hay is almost 10 days behind in Shelly, a lot of farmers are waiting for a few sunny days before cutting and at least a week after that for baling. " We're behind on that. It might affect some of our dairy quality hay. They were predicting that hay prices would be down quite a bit from last year. But last year was an all time high. Maybe will all of this rained on hay, it might help our hay prices."

Gellings says after a decade of drought conditions he's not going to complain about too much water. "Well maybe if it does continue to go on like that. But you know, we get a lot of wind around here and it seems to me no matter how wet it looks out there, you give it a couple of days where it's 75, 80 degrees and wind and it'll dry right back out," explains Gellings.

The rain has pushed back the first cutting for at least another five days, with warm weather and wind in the forecast Gellings and his neighbors are anxiously getting their swathers ready.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gardening Season Off to Slow Start

Novice Gardeners Challenged by Spring’s “Baptism by Fire”

BOISE, Idaho—University of Idaho Extension educator Wayne Jones hopes Idaho’s novice gardeners aren’t getting discouraged. “Ugly” weather is hindering heat-loving sweet corn, tomatoes, squash and peppers and leaving seed and seedlings disease-prone in cold, wet soils, says the Idaho Falls-based Jones. “If this is their first year of gardening, they’re having a baptism by fire.”

In southeastern Idaho’s Franklin County, colleague Stuart Parkinson says record rainfall and flooding—coupled with cold weather—are turning plants yellow. “The rain fills the soil profile and drives out the oxygen, and the plant can’t get the oxygen it needs.”

“Timing was everything this spring,” said Extension educator Jo Ann Robbins of Jerome County. “We had a week of summer, and if you got your garden planted right before then, it’s doing well. I got mine in after that, and my peas haven’t even come up. Some people are even farther behind schedule—and, this year, that may not be a bad thing.”

In southwestern Idaho’s Canyon County, colleague Ariel Agenbroad is seeing physiological leafroll in tomatoes—an upward rolling of leaves that occurs when tomatoes sit in waterlogged soils. The plants “usually come out of it” unless anxious gardeners overreact, Agenbroad said. “They think their tomatoes are wilting, so they keep watering them.”

The Treasure Valley’s warm, wet, windy weather has also been the “magic combination” for fireblight. It’s striking pears and is poised to spread to apples, she said. “It’s too late to treat it with sprays, so it’s time to prune out the damage.”

Novice gardeners are “still enthusiastic,” Agenbroad said, despite this year’s especially bountiful crop of weeds. “Weeds torment novices and experienced gardeners alike in the best of seasons, but with all the wet weather, no one has been able to get into their soggy garden to remove them, so they’ve become even more of a problem this year. We tell gardeners to try and be vigilant with hand-weeding and hoeing and get them while they’re small. We don’t like to recommend using herbicides in the vegetable garden, as the likelihood of harming desirable plants is too high.”

In northern Idaho, Bonner County Advanced Master Gardener Mikey Haven says bugs—especially cutworms—are starting to rumble and roll. “They eat anything with a stem, right through the middle.” But the county’s surging population of gardeners is persevering. “There’s a lot more interest this year in home gardening because of the economy,” said Haven. “People either lost jobs or are trying to find ways to be self-sufficient.”

She helps them keep their gardening costs low by researching problems and encouraging appropriate pest management. “Usually they have two questions: What is it and how do I get rid of it? Sometimes it turns out to be a beneficial insect—one of the good guys—or the problem is not that big. Just because you have a spot on a leaf doesn’t mean you have to spray the whole garden down with a pesticide.”

Parkinson agrees that what novice gardeners worry most about is losing crops to insects. Usually, their fears are unfounded. “We work with them and explain economic thresholds—how long they can let the insect go and not worry about it and when to start thinking about it—and we talk to them about the value of natural predators. If you’re out there spraying every week or 10 days, you’re probably killing the predators and upsetting the balance in the yard.”

But Parkinson describes his new gardeners as “still excited. They’re hanging in there.” For more information on Idaho gardening, contact your University of Idaho Extension educator or visit https://webmail.idfbins.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=0e956543346c4a268ae307fe7eb9738c&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.extension.uidaho.edu%2f or https://webmail.idfbins.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=0e956543346c4a268ae307fe7eb9738c&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.extension.uidaho.edu%2fidahogardens .

Monday, June 15, 2009

YF and R Annual Summer Leadership Gathering

Leadership Activity a Success

Raft River--40 Young Farm and Ranch Couples braved the elements to attend the YF and R Annual Summer Leadership Activity in Raft River on Saturday.

"We’re trying to build leadership, it’s a way of people to get to know each other across the state. At dinner time everyone had the chance to talk about how things were going and how the weather is affecting us, it’s a great way to network and socialize," said YF and R President Chris Dalley.

Kids and Family are a huge part of the Idaho Farm Bureau's YF and R program and 55 kids took part in the water slide, sack races, volleyball and football, while the adults tried their hand at skeet shooting.

A steady rain fell through out much of the afternoon and temperatures dropped to the low 60's on Lynn Steadman's farm but the rain didn't affect enthusiasm of kids or parents.

"We were pretty concerned but we had a few alternatives in case it got really bad. We had the church reserved and few options like that but we all ended up staying there the whole time and it ended up being fun. There were kids with hoodys going down the slide, but at 7 pm it warmed up and the kids wore that slide out till dark, they had so much fun," said Dalley.

YF and R Leadership was excited to see a few new faces at the event, "There were several new people that showed, that’s what its all about: getting them all involved. It was good, it turned out really well, we were really pleased with it all," added Dalley.

Rain Hampering Hay Crop

First Hay Crop Late, Quality Down

Blackfoot--Idaho farmers for the first time in a decade are praying for sun and heat, but can live without the rain for a while. Southwest Idaho farmers are two weeks behind in their first cutting, on the other end of the state they're at least 10 days behind. According to the National Weather Service in Pocatello, it's rained everyday for the past 11 days and that makes cutting hay impossible.

"Our hay is ready to cut but with this rain and more in the forecast we don't know when we're going to do it. The hard part in all of this is that we have to decide when to cut and then it's how do you get it down and dry." said Idaho Forage and Hay Association President Don Hale of Blackfoot.

Idaho has doubled it's normal June precipitation across the Snake River Plain, reservoirs are full, while rivers and creeks are running high, some reservoirs like Lucky Peak outside of Boise have released water to make way for melting snow. Temperatures have been cool and there's still a lot of snow in the high country. Hale says the cool temps are the only saving grace thus far.

"We are fortunate in that its been cool so it has not bloomed. But the grass has gone to seed and its losing valuable the nutrients in it. The problem is that everyone starts haying and it lasts for 2-3 weeks and they start back in again and its on a rotation. All the hay is going to be ready to cut on the same day when its dry enough, so we are in a real bind as far as getting everything cut quick enough," added Hale.

Hale says the when the hay gets tall and heavy and it falls down on itself, and its almost impossible to cut when dries out you've lost the crop. "When it bleaches out and turns brown they've pretty well lost the crop. We haven't cut so we're sitting here waiting for a few good days to get cutting."

For now there is no back up plan if the rain continues. It's a waiting game that will hopefully end sooner than later. Hale says the big temptation is to cut back on irrigation to save money. But he cautions that cutting irrigation even in wet weather can prove disastrous.

"We have have to be careful, I have a field that takes the pivots 11 days to get from the start to the finish, if your dry too long it will take a long time before you can be back for water. You got to think positive but its going to affect the hay prices, but for feeder hay those prices will drop.

Idaho Veterans

Minnick presents war hero with overdue medals

Lewiston, ID – In February 1945, Kenneth Keene was a Navy corpsman who stormed the sands of Iwo Jima and spent the day dodging bullets while he tended to the wounded.

Today, his country said, “Thank you.”

Keene never received all the medals he earned for his service. His daughter, Sandra Wicker, contacted Congressman Walt Minnick last year and asked for help. Minnick’s office secured the medals and presented them to Keene today at a ceremony in Lewiston at the Idaho State Veterans Home. The local American Legion post also participated in the ceremony.
“I am here today to right a wrong,” said Minnick, who was joined at the ceremony by Idaho Rep. John Rusche, of Lewiston. “The medals I am presenting today were due to Mr. Keene 64 years ago, and it is my distinct honor to finally present them on behalf of a very grateful nation.”
For his service, Keene earned the Bronze Star, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, and an Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

Keene, whose wife Edith Rosetta passed away a year ago, has four children and lives in Riggins. After leaving the Navy, Keene became a minister in the Salvation Army. He worked for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California, for 20 years. He has lived in Idaho for 17 years, and is 86 years old.

“In the words of an American soldier somewhere today, ‘Hurry up and wait!’” Keene said. “I’ve waited 65 years for these particular medals to get here. I would like to thank Congressman Walter Minnick and his great staff in Boise and here in Lewiston, for all of their hard work and research in making today possible. The medals themselves are not as important as the fact that they exist for a reason, to be able to give the soldiers something back to show thankfulness … for stepping outside of the box, when it was necessary, and not thinking of one’s own safety or of punishment, only that of his fellow comrades’ well-being.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Collin's Girls Add to their College Fund

Washington--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes operating loans of up to $5,000 to farm kids ages 10 through 20 to finance income-producing, agriculture-related projects. The project must be of modest size, educational, and initiated, developed and carried out by rural youths participating in 4-H clubs, FFA or a similar organization.

The FSA’s John Lejardi says the Farm Service Agency is the USDA’s principal agency charged with promoting a stable and abundant American food supply, and points out that this program gives the next farming generation a foot-up when their turn comes. Simply put, Rural Youth Loans is vital investment in future of U.S. agriculture

The project must be an organized and supervised and it must be planned and operated with the assistance of the organization advisor. The project must produce sufficient income to repay the loan, and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience in ag-related skills.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Water News

Idaho Farm Bureau Water Committee members hear Hal Anderson's report:Putnam photo

2009: Best Water Year of the Decade?

Boise--Idaho Department of Water Resources administrator Hal Anderson told Idaho Farm Bureau Water Committee members meeting at the Holiday Inn today, that the winter of 2009 couldn't have gone better in terms of Idaho's precious water.

Anderson says Idaho is having one of its best water years of the decade with with good reservoir storage, above-average snowpack and a cool, wet spring that's sent torrents of spring run-off down the Snake River. He told committee members that the run-off has allowed the Idaho Water Resource Board to use its water rights to sink more than 80,000 acre-feet of water into the ground to recharge the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.

“We’re using water board funds that were previously appropriated for recharge activities to make some positive impact on the Easter Snake Aquifer” said Anderson.

The recharge started two months ago and will wrap up this fall after harvest with help from three irrigation districts and three canal companies. The late melting snow and run-off has put the state within 20,000 acre-feet of its new, 10-year annual goal for recharge projects aimed at helping the aquifer, said Anderson. The target comes from the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan, or CAMP approved by the Legislature this past session.

Colony Collapse Disorder Update

Jake Putnam photo

Bee Mortality Linked to Parasites

Washington--US Department of Agriculture Scientists have sequenced the genome of a parasite that’s been killing off honey bees. Nosema ceranae is one of many pathogens suspected of wiping out bee populations across the country.

Last year Colony Collapse Disorder made headlines as millions of colonies of honey bees disappeared. Idaho beekeepers reported losses but not as severe as other states. Many beekeepers reported losses of up to 90 percent, according to USDA statistics. Researchers think CCD may be the result of a combination of pathogens, parasites and stress factors, but the cause remains elusive. The stakes are high because honey bees account for at least $15 billion dollars in US crop production.

The microsporidian Nosema is a fungus-related microbe that produces spores that bees consume when they forage. Infection spreads from their digestive tract to other tissues. Within weeks, colonies are either wiped out or lose much of their strength. Nosema apis was the leading cause of microsporidia infections among domestic bee colonies until recently when N. ceranae jumped from Asian honey bees to the European honey bees used commercially in the United States.

Sequencing the genome should help scientists trace the parasite's migration patterns, determine how it became dominant, and help resolve the spread of infection by enabling the development of diagnostic tests and treatments.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Davis Creek Cellars at Farmers Markets

Boise--YF and R District 4 member Gina Davis has had a good spring. Her start-up wine label struck gold last month at the prestigious Pacific Northwest Wine Summit, the largest wine competition in the Northwest.

With all that success behind her now, Gina is spending all the time she can on marketing the new label, last night she set up a booth at the Edward's Nursery Farmers Market in Boise.

“Well, now you market and try and maintain and hope to do as well with the wine in the barrels right now. We’ve got the new vintages, the 2008 reds are in the barrel, I’m hoping to make this new Vintage as well as the last ,” said Davis.

Last month Davis took home four bronze medals, two silvers, a gold and a double gold for her 2007 Syrah ($20.00) and 2007 Malbec (20.00), 2008 Rosé of Syrah ( $10) 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon($29); and 2007 Tempranillo ($20).

The Davis Creek Cellars Wine Tasting room is now open in Marsing on the weekends, Davis has all of her award winning vintages available for tastings.

Idaho Farm Bureau YF and R

YF and R Party last month in Caldwell--Gina Davis photo

YF and R Kicks off Summer Activity This Weekend

Raft River--The Idaho Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers will kick off a weekend of fun and frolic in the sun and water at Lynn Steadman's farm in Raft River.

"This is a family affair and kids are welcome," said co-chairman Kimmel Dalley. We're going to have activities geared to the whole family, we will have activities all afternoon with a big barbeque starting at 5pm. To get to Steadman's just get off the Raft River exit and look for the signs. He lives less than a mile off I-84.

If you need more information call Chris Dalley's cell phone at 208-589-7422. The activity is welcome to YF and R members and friends, Board members and County Presidents.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Idaho Water News

Wet Weather helping Aquifer

Boise--Heavy rainfall, cool temperatures, above-average snowpack and ample reservoir storage has helped recharge efforts of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, according to the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

Water Resource Administrator Hal Anderson says heavy spring run-off has put the state within 20,000 acre-feet of its 10-year annual goal for aquifer recharge projects. That target was set as part of the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan, approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

“I’m happy to report that we’ve had a number of factors come together this year that allowed us the opportunity to implement some of the recharge activities targeted in the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan “We’re using water board funds that were previously appropriated for recharge activities to make some positive impact on the Easter Snake Aquifer” said Anderson.

The late and heavy melt-off in the mountains allowed the Idaho Water Resource Board to use its water rights to send more than 80,000 acre-feet of water toward recharging the aquifer. Anderson says that put the state within 20,000 acre-feet of its 10-year annual goal for aquifer recharge projects. That target was set as part of the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan, approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

Recharge in the Upper Snake River Basin, upstream from American Falls Reservoir started two weeks later than normal due to unseasonably cool weather.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Agriculture: Driving Economic Force in Idaho

Agriculture Accounts for One in Six of all jobs in Boise

Boise--Despite PR efforts showing Boise as a high-tech, metropolitan hub,one in six of all jobs in the city of trees is tied to agriculture, and that might be why the metro area is not suffering as bad as other urban centers during the country's economic slow down.

Overall, agriculture accounted for 46,300 of the metro area’s 272,000 jobs in 2008, generating $958 million of the region’s $10.1 billion payroll. Statewide, agriculture accounted for 129,000 of 653,400 jobs, providing paychecks totaling $2.8 billion of the $22.1 billion paid in wages last year.

The Boise metropolitan statistical area is comprised of Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem and Owyhee counties.In 2008 as the national recession impacted the economy overall, agriculture offered some stability even if the wage rates are significantly below much of the rest of the economy. Total wages statewide dropped fractionally from 2007 and average employment was off more than 7,000 across all sectors – 5,000 of that in the five-county area. But agriculture posted fractional increases in both employment and wages in the metro area and statewide.

The U.S. Agriculture Department identifies 197 specific industries in the economy’s agriculture sector. They range from direct crop and stock production, processing, supplying producers and processors with goods and services and wholesaling and retailing the end products.

Crop and animal production on farms and ranches accounted for only a fraction of the agriculture jobs – 3,600 in the metro area and 16,500 statewide. Both were up slightly from 2007, when they generated sales of nearly $1 billion, according to estimates from Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

Agricultural services like veterinary care, processors, marketers not to mention input providers like fertilizer and machinery makers provided only a slightly larger number of jobs – 8,800 in the Boise area and 29,400 statewide. That was an increase of 5 percent to 6 percent in both areas with sales estimated at $2.7 billion in 2007.
The vast majority of the agriculture sector employment was in the peripheral and indirectly related businesses like retailing and wholesaling, the mining of the raw materials for farm inputs and the production of containers for food products at various stages in the commercial chain. Those jobs accounted for 74 percent of the agriculture sector jobs in the metro area – 34,000 – and 64 percent statewide – just over 83,000. Sales were estimated at $2.1 billion in 2007.

While jobs in that part of the sector were up fractionally statewide, they were caught in the substantial contraction of the metropolitan economy in 2008, dropping nearly 1 percent from the year before.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Crazy storm!

Crazy storm!
Originally uploaded by Jake Putnam
The Treasure Valley and all of Southern Idaho was rocked by thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. The storm carried significant hail, damage to crops are still being assessed this weekend.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feed Market News

Grain Prices Move Higher

Chicago--Planting delays in Illinois and other mid-western states helped push corn past $4 a bushel in cash markets Monday for the first time since the 2008 harvest.

Grain prices, led by news of tight supplies and lower production in Brazil and Argentina, are approaching $12 a bushel, which is $3.50 higher than prices on March 1. Rising corn prices are still far short of the $7-plus territory of a year ago. Some of the frustration over last year’s price volatility, which added almost a dollar to corn value in one week, was directed at managers of pension funds accused of shifting money from the faltering stock market to the soaring grain market.

There are still some indications of outside influence again in 2009. Rising oil prices may also be contributing to upward pressure on corn. Grain prices now follow crude, and higher crude oil prices tend to make production of grain-based ethanol and biodiesel fuel more profitable.

Farm News

Blair Awarded Precision Farmer of the Year

Kendrick--Robert BlairRobert Blair is not your typical dryland Idaho farmer. While his passions rank family and farming first, he is also staunchly dedicated to promoting precision ag for the betterment of all farmers.

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

In addition to farming 1,500 acres of wheat, peas, lentils, garbanzos, alfalfa and cows, he taught the precision ag lab at the University of Idaho during the 2008 fall semester and has also started a precision ag business called PineCreek Precision.

The company is centered on Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) – small, autopilot-controlled planes (less than 20 pounds) that can be used to gather imagery. Blair, the first farmer in the United States to own and fly a UAS on his own farmland, decided to make a prototype airframe in 2008. Today he is a national leader in the promotion of UAS for agriculture, and is the first person in the U.S. to file a petition to the FAA for commercial use. Not even Boeing, Lockheed, or other aircraft businesses or organizations had done that. He has traveled on his own dime to Washington, D.C. to try to make commercial UAS rules that are sensible for end users. He has spoken around the country at different venues on UAS use in ag.

Robert is a board member of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, Lewiston Chamber Ag Committee, U of I/WSU Legume Virus Project, Idaho Farm Bureau LASR Committee, Nez Perce County Farm Bureau President, CEO Coalition on Transportation member, Governor Otter’s Kitchen Cabinet (Advisory Group), IGPA Alliance for Rail Competition National Representative, and taught the precision ag lab at the University of Idaho.

He is helping the University of Idaho to expand its precision ag program and is also promoting agriculture by doing TV interviews for a new farm program in our area. His leadership and ability to bring things together are excellent and promotion of ag and precision ag is at the front of everything he does.

Robert hosts a precision ag field day each year and 2009 will be the third. His on-farm experiments with fertilizer, varieties, and different equipment has opened the eyes of many farmers in the area to the benefits of precision ag. Besides the economic benefits, he emphasizes the environmental stewardship aspects precision ag brings. He touts the benefits of precision ag records for proving environmentally safe tillage, application, and record keeping.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Irrigation news

Timely Rain Bolsters State Water Supply

Boise–A cool, wet spring combined with timely rain has turned the 2009 runoff into a 'moderate water supply year' according to the June Water Supply Outlook Report released by the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Average precipitation for the water year is good for the forests and rangelands, but the timing and intensity of spring rain can affect snowmelt runoff and irrigation demand for Idaho's water users,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS water supply specialist. “Just like water on the Wicked Witch of the West, spring rain, and hot temperatures, can cause untimely melting of the snow.”
June 1 snow levels are near average in the Clearwater basin and the snow is melted in the southern Idaho basins, except in the highest elevations.

Reservoirs across Idaho are filling up except a few in southern and central Idaho. This could make irrigation water supplies tight for users in these basins. Depending on the summer's irrigation demand, better carryover reservoir storage for next year is also favoring basins that had better carryover from last year; these include Dworshak, Payette, Boise and Upper Snake reservoirs.

To provide guidance to water managers and river runners, there are a number of graphs on the Idaho NRCS Peak Streamflow Resources page: http://www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/watersupply/peakflow.html.

Projections are made periodically after the snowmelt peaks have occurred and streams are receding. These graphs are manually updated once a week or more during the runoff season and less often in the summer months.

For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supplies for specific basins, please view the complete June 2009 Water Supply Outlook Report online at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.

Meet A Farmer

Mike Christensen--Meet an Idaho Farmer

Melba--Mike Christensen farms nearly 9-thousand acres in the Dry Lake Area in south Canyon County. Christensen is an advocate for cutting down on mistakes to save money that efficiency has paid off, The Christensen's were named Canyon County Farm Family of the Year.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

U of I Extension News

Public Invited to Field Day June 10 at Aberdeen

ABERDEEN, Idaho—Gardening enthusiasts, native plant lovers and green-industry representatives are invited to the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center June 10 to see the exquisite progress being made by the university’s four-year-old native plant evaluation program.

Steve Love, Extension horticulturist and station superintendent, timed this year’s Native Plant, Hardy Rose and Turf Field Day to coincide with peak bloom time for his three acres of native plant field trials and for his rose demonstration plots at nearby Rotary Park.

Participants can expect to be dazzled by penstemons, buckwheats, asters, daisies, columbines, mints, globemallows and such native shrubs as currants, hawthorns, mock-oranges and oakleaf sumac.

They can also compare the performance of exceptionally cold-tolerant varieties of floribunda, miniature, hybrid tea, modern shrub, Explorer, Parkland and Buck roses. In addition, they can examine the performance of 24 low-maintenance turfgrasses with potential for residences, golf courses and parks. Planted by research support scientist Tom Salaiz, these “utility” grasses get only about a third as much fertilizer and about three-fifths as much water as conventionally managed lawns. They include native and naturalized blue grama, buffalograss, prairie Junegrass, muttongrass and numerous fescues and wheatgrasses.

Love expects the native plant evaluation effort to lead to new varieties developed specifically for Idaho and Intermountain landscapes and sold by nurseries in Idaho and neighboring states. Most of the native perennials on display at the field day were grown from seed collected from more than 1,500 Idaho desert or mountain plants by Love and his colleagues during the past several summers. Winners of the side-by-side field evaluations must have exceptionally beautiful flowers or foliage, grow reliably under commercial production regimes and thrive with less than a third of the water that most Idaho landscapes get.

“So much of this material has tremendous potential for commerce,” said Love. “The hardest part of the project now is whittling the plants down to a few varieties that we’ll have to pick and go with.” Field day participants can let Love know which plants are their favorites, and they can get answers to their questions about native plants and low-water landscaping.

The free event will begin at 1 p.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. The Aberdeen Research and Extension Center is located at 1693 S. 2700 W. in Aberdeen. For more information, contact Love at (208) 397-4181 or slove@uidaho.edu. To learn more about Idaho gardening, visit http://www.extension.uidaho.edu/idahogardens/ .

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Water News

Tuthill to Retire
Boise--Idaho Department of Water Resources Director David Tuthill is retiring June 30, after 33 years at IDWR. Tuthill says he will “pursue a career in the private sector,” according to the department news release.

Tuthill served as manager of the department’s western regional office, adjudication bureau chief and water management administrator before being named director in 2007.

“The 33 years that I have spent working for the Idaho Department of Water Resources have constituted a wonderful career full of challenge and reward,” Tuthill said. “I have admired my leaders throughout my career including Gov. Otter. Working in the service of the citizens of the state of Idaho, particularly the water users throughout this beautiful state, and with the talented and dedicated IDWR staff, has been gratifying and truly an honor.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hay and Forage News

Hay Inventories High

Boise--The National Agriculture Statistics Service announced that May 1st hay inventories in the Pacific Northwest totaled 1,070,000 tons, up 65 percent from one year ago. Idaho reported 450,000 tons up 50 percent from May 1, 2008 and up 41 percent from 2007. Unsold hay on Washington farms totaled 350,000 tons the highest level since 2004. In Oregon hay inventories were 270,000 tons compared to 150,000 tons in 2008.


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