Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pocatello's first snow

Summer officially over in Pocatello

Pocatello--Summer came to an abrupt end in Pocatello on Tuesday night. Nightime temperatures stayed in the 60's until a cold front moved in bringing high winds, rain and snow at the 45-hundred foot mark just before 3-am. The snow brought harvest to a grinding halt, but fair weather is forecast for Friday.

Crop Insurance

Nez Perce FB Sponsors Crop Insurance Breakfast Meeting in Lewiston
By Bob Smathers

Lewiston--Rick Williams from RMA spoke on Federal Crop Insurance programs in early September at the Brammer Building in downtown Lewiston. The topics discussed ranged from CRC (Crop Revenue) coverage to CAT (catastrophic) coverage. Rick also discussed falling numbers and how it relates to insurance and how the CRC base price is determined.

Rick Williams indicated that quality adjustments are a problem on CRC. He said that that falling number discounts should be factored into CRC coverage because falling numbers below 200 are not eligible for Federal crop loans through FSA. “Federal crop knows what they need to do with regard to falling numbers, we just don’t know how to get there.” Falling numbers was instituted as an alternative to visual inspection for sprout damage.

Mr. Williams also discussed CAT coverage which is a minimal insurance policy covering only 50 percent of APH. “There is no premium, but it isn’t for everyone.” CAT insurance doesn’t cover winter damage.

“In 2009, CRC was a great opportunity for growers, because the base price was high $8.98 per bushel” says Williams. The premium to purchase CRC in 2009 was much higher because of the high base price, but it was still a great deal. The $8.98 CRC base price was set last September and was based on the high market in 2008. Rick Williams indicated that the base CRC price would be in the $5.66 range for crop year 2010, but that the exact price wouldn’t be known until the final 10 trading days were up later in September.

Mr. Williams indicated that Growers should evaluate all crop insurance products (APH, CRC, RA, IP) when they are talking to their agents about crop insurance coverage. Also, a new “Combo Product” will be available in the future and this product takes the best of APH, CRC, RA, and IP and combines them into one product.

Several recommendations were given to growers at the meeting by Rick Williams. “In the event of claims, keep production records separate for all optional units on the farm and have all documents including settlement sheets available, otherwise claims could be delayed.”
This breakfast meeting was attended by about 20 people.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kootenai County Farm Bureau News

Kootenai County Fair Booth a Success

Coeur d'Alene--The Rust family, Carole, Erik and Del manned the Farm Bureau Booth at the Kootenai County Fair this past week. The booth was located in the central building where approximately 18,000 visitors per day passed by. Farm Bureau field man Bob Smathers took the photo and helped out, the fair ran 5 days.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Climate Change Bill Effects Farmer's Bottomline

Climate Control Bill Worries Ag Interests

Washington--AFBF Climate Change Specialist Paul Schlegel explains how climate change legislation will affect farmers and ranchers. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report says if the Climate Control Bill passes, farmers can count on an initial 1 percent to 7.2 percent drop in income because of skyrocketing energy costs especially fertilizer — which uses a lot of energy to be produced.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., thinks there are too many question that need to be answered before the Senate vote sometime this fall. "We still have a question about how is this going to impact livestock, corn, soybeans and wheat in our state," said Johanns, who was agriculture secretary from 2005-2007 under President George W. Bush. "This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Why would the leadership of the House ... put a bill out when they hadn't had analysis on the ag sector? That not only impacts farmers and ranchers, it impacts consumers."

Miss Idaho meets AFBF Volunteers

Miss Idaho Kara Jackson speaks in front of an American Farm Bureau gathering in Kansas--Russ Hendricks photo
Jackson a hit at AFBF Promotions Conference
by Russ Hendricks
Wichita--Ada County Farm Bureau member Kara Jackson spoke to nearly 50 Farm Bureau volunteers and staff members from 15 states all across the country at the AFBF Promotions and Education Conference in Wichita, Kansas, Sept 24.
Miss Jackson, the currently reigning Miss Idaho, spoke to the group about her love of agriculture and the reasons she chose her Miss Idaho platform which is: "Modern Agriculture: Supporting and Sustaining Society". Her message revolved around the need to help consumers understand where their food comes from and that farming is important in their daily lives.
Jackson will compete for the Miss America title on January 30 and hopes to be able to share this positive message about agriculture with audiences all across the nation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dude Dalley

Dude Dalley, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Dude is a healer pup owned by Idaho Farm Bureau YF and R President Chris Dalley of Blackfoot, Idaho. Chris reports that the dog loves to ride in the back of his pickup and will stay there all day unless Chris gives him permission to get down.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fuel Prices

Spud harvest near Murtaugh, Idaho-Putnam photo
Gas Prices Still High-- During Peak Harvest Season

BOISE — Just three weeks after the labor day holiday, Idaho gas prices are still sky-high. "The peak driving season is over and prices in the rest of the country have dropped from their seasonal highs in most regions of the country, but not here," AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Dave Carlson said in a news release Thursday.

According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, Idaho's average $2.71 price for regular grade gasoline hasn't moved more than a penny in the past month. During that same time, the national average price has dropped 14 cents to $2.53, Carlson said.

Western prices are higher than anywhere in the nation and Idaho is one of nine states where gasoline is prices are $2.70 a gallon. Six of those states, California, $3.14; Washington, $2.97; Oregon, $2.87, Nevada, $2.80, Montana, $2.74; and Idaho, $2.71, are in the West.

The AAA economists say traditional supply-and-demand dynamics are not the only factors affecting gas prices. This summer, increased money flow into commodities markets, or speculative investment, has served as the primary driver of oil prices, Carlson explained. But oil prices, which generally run a parallel course with what happens at the pump, continue to rise and fall on mixed economic news Thursday, oil prices took another dive, the second in two days, on news that supplies are up.

Demand's also down and thats worrisome to investors. AAA said the result is that oil prices are trading in the $66 range, some $6 below where they were a week ago. "We don't believe demand alone would explain why prices are so high in this region," Carlson said.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 Harvest

Putnam photo
Malta Barley ready to cut

Malta--Rancher Ted Higley is getting ready to cut his feed barley. Higley uses barley as a rotation crop to feed cattle. Higley reports that barley works as an excellent substitute for silage and the cattle love it. Higley and wife Betty Ann run 700 head of cattle on their ranch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Spud Harvest

Digging spuds west of Burley on Tuesday--Putnam photo

Temps hot, Yields UP

Burley--Despite a hot, 80-degree day, Idaho farmers started harvesting potatoes west of Burley. Norkota yields were up from last year reported one farmer, who credits a wet spring and hot summer days. He also said that September fresh pack shipments are well ahead of last year.

The arrival of fresh spuds to the market while last season’s potatoes are still coming out of cellars has driven prices down to less than half of what growers were getting last year – and in some cases prices are one-third or less last season’s prices.

Meanwhile Idaho’s four districts have shipped nearly 3,700 40,000-pound units so far this season through Sept. 9, passing the 2,000 units shipped at this time last year, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meet an Idaho Farmer

Steve Ritter photo
Glen Wittenburg Named a "Gem" of Gem County
Emmett--79 year-old Glen Wittenburg farms corn outside of Emmett, Idaho. This is Glen's 48th season on the farm with wife Marjorie and this past week he's been harvesting field corn that will be sold as feed corn for cattle.

"I like to grow field corn," said Wittenburg. "I like watching it grow, it's something that facinates me. The secret to success is to spend a whole bunch of money on fertilizer. Do the best job you can irrigating it and then let mother nature do the rest."

Wittenburg says he planted in April with a harvest in September, a perfect 99- day crop. While the crop is nothing short of perfection, prices were farm from perfect. "Yesterday's prices were $3.29 a bushel, last year I got $4.65 a bushel. I might as well grin and bear it, its all you can do."

Each year the Gem County Farm Bureau honors long time farmers with recognition, Wittenburg is also a long time member of the Gem County Farm Bureau.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bean Harvest

Steve Ritter photo
Bean Harvest Looking Good

Twin Falls--Idaho bean growers say this could be one of the best harvests of the decade,despite a cold, wet spring. This past week growers reported excellent yields and quality throughout the Magic Valley.

Farmers planted more than 100,000 acres of dry beans this year, an increase of 20,000 acres from 2008. Production is forecast to be 1.78 million hundredweight, an increase of 22 percent from last year. Pinto beans accounted for 35,000 acres in Idaho this year, followed by chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, with 33,500 acres.

Treasure Valley producers reported an excellent harvest in both quality and yield, better yet the market outlook is good because of a reduced crop in the Midwest. At the end of August, open-market prices for 2008 crop commercial dry beans were about $36 per hundredweight.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Idaho Farm Bureau Editorial

Father of the Green Revolution Passes
By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

Dr. Norman Borlaug was one of the greatest innovators of our time. His work in plant breeding and hybridization is credited with saving a billion people worldwide from starvation. He died on September 12 at the age of 95.

Dr. Borlaug’s life example is a testament to human achievement and determination. Although he was well-known in several countries susceptible to drought and famine, Dr. Borlaug was relatively unknown here. Among his specific accomplishments were developing wheat and rice varieties in Latin American and Asia that increased yields by ten times, earning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, and helping to develop a saltwater-resistant adhesive used to hold shipping crates together during World War II. The crates were floated ashore at night to resupply soldiers on Guadalcanal because the Japanese controlled most of the island and the air.

In spite of all his success, environmental groups attacked his efforts to modernize third world agricultural practices saying the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are “unsustainable.” To them he replied: “If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things.”

Dr. Borlaug was a farm boy of modest Iowa upbringing. He failed his entrance exam at the University of Minnesota in 1933. He was however, allowed to enroll in the school’s newly created two-year general college. At UM he was a varsity wrestler but took periodic breaks from school to earn money for his education. In 1935 he took a job as a leader in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Many of the people who worked for him were starving. The food lines and economic devastation of the Great Depression had a profound effect on his future. He learned that people without food will often turn to violence. “I saw how food changed them. . . All of this left scars on me,” he later recalled. When he accepted the Nobel Prize in 1970, he said an adequate food supply is “the first component of social justice. . . Otherwise there will be no peace.”

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry in 1937 and worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, spending one summer in Idaho’s Salmon River backcountry. He went on to earn a PhD in plant pathology and genetics in 1942.

Dr. Borlaug met his wife Margaret Gibson while in college. They later had two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Margaret Borlaug died in 2007 at the age of 95. They were married for 69 years. He taught at Texas A&M from 1984 until his death. Following are two important quotations from Dr. Borlaug:

“I now say that the world has the technology—either available or well advanced in the research pipeline—to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called ‘organic’ methods, the 1 billion chronically undernourished people of the low-income, food-deficit nations cannot.”

“It took some 10,000 years to expand food production to the current level of about 5 billion tons per year. By 2025, we will have to nearly double current production again. This cannot be done unless farmers across the world have access to current high-yielding crop-production methods as well as new biotechnological breakthroughs that can increase the yields, dependability, and nutritional quality of our basic food crops.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hay Demand: Good

Brody Harsbarger rakes hay near Victor,Idaho--Putnam photo

Idaho Hay Report

Boise--Compared to last week, Premium and Supreme Alfalfa steady. Demand moderate to good and supply light. Fair and Good Alfalfa steady to weak. Demand light to moderate and supply moderate to heavy. Export hay steady with moderate to good demand and supplies moderate. Retail/feed store/horse hay steady in a light test. Demand light to moderate and supply moderate. Most producers working on final cutting of hay for this year and trying to get the hay put up as some rain showers moved through the state early this week. A lot of dairies concentrating on silage making this week instead of hay needs. Milk prices on the futures board still struggling however making some positive moves upward.

Tons FOB: 31,015 Last Week: 3,480 Last Year: 9,035 Tons Delivered: 3,400
Last Week: None Last Year: 1,800 Year to Date FOB: 237,051

Last Week: 206,036 Last Year: 350,805 YTD Delivered: 34,855

Last Week: 31,455 Last Year: 33,400

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free Trade Vital to U.S. Economy

Free Trade Agreements Would Boost Ag Economy

WASHINGTON--Citing the vital importance of trade to U.S. agriculture, the American Farm Bureau is urging the Obama administration to submit the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) to Congress for a vote.

In separate comments sent this week to the U.S. Trade Representative, AFBF said the trade pacts allow the United States to become a competitive supplier of agricultural products to Colombia and Korea. AFBF urged the administration “to not delay” in submitting the implementing legislation and called on Congress to pass the agreements. Though comments were not requested on the U.S.-Panama free trade agreement, AFBF urges congressional passage of that pact as well.

“These agreements offer great market opportunities for farmers all across our country,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Swift passage of the trade agreements is vital for the U.S. to expand trade for farm products – from beef to cotton to fruits and vegetables.”

Stallman said that Colombia has one of the highest tariff structures in South America, which is the major impediment to market access in many sectors, including agriculture.

“Colombian import duties on agricultural and processed food products average roughly 30 percent,” Stallman said. “For South Korea, agricultural tariff rates range from just over 1 percent to nearly 500 percent, depending on the commodity. Eliminating these tariffs through these free trade pacts would be extremely beneficial to U.S. agriculture.”

The Colombian agreement will eliminate tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and correct the current imbalance in agricultural trade between the two countries created in part from congressional passage and extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA), according to AFBF.

CTPA allows the United States to become a competitive supplier of agricultural products to Colombia. The United States will be able to export products duty-free and compete with Colombia’s Latin American trading partners who currently supply a large percent of the Colombian food and fiber market through preferential trade agreements.

Under CTPA, more than 80 percent of current U.S. exports to Colombia will become duty-free immediately. Agricultural items that receive immediate duty-free treatment include high quality beef, cotton, wheat, soybeans, soybean meal, apples, pears, peaches, cherries and some processed food products.

An AFBF economic analysis on the agreement estimates the total increase in United States farm exports associated with the CTPA could exceed $815 million per year.

The Korean trade agreement, when fully implemented, would also create opportunities for U.S. agriculture. Exports of major grain, oilseed, fiber, fruit and vegetable and livestock products are likely to exceed $1.8 billion annually, according to AFBF.

Stallman said a critical part of the Korean agreement is for Korea to take further steps to allow all U.S. beef into the market. Prior to the agreement, all U.S. beef had been shut out of the Korean market. Currently the U.S. and Korean beef industries agreed that the U.S. can export to Korea only beef that is less than 30 months of age.

“This is a worthy first step in allowing U.S. beef back into the market and achieving consistency with the World Organization for Animal Health standards,” Stallman said. “However, South Korea must take further steps to allow all U.S. beef into the market, regardless of age and bone material.”

The KORUS FTA allows the United States to become a competitive supplier of agricultural products to South Korea by providing duty-free and reduced tariff access. Lower tariff rates on U.S. products will make the United States more competitive with Australia, China, Japan and other agricultural suppliers to South Korea.

Under the KORUS FTA, almost two-thirds of current U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea will become duty-free immediately. Items that receive immediate duty-free treatment include wheat, corn, soybeans for crushing, hides and skins, cotton and a broad range of high-value and processed products, including almonds, pistachios, bourbon whisky, wine, raisins, grape juice, fresh cherries, frozen French fries and frozen orange juice concentrate.

Idaho Agriculture Groups Endorse Monsanto Mine

Leaders Say Proposed Blackfoot Bridge Mine Will
Provide Key Food Growing Product

Leaders from a broad spectrum of Idaho’s agriculture community announced support today of Monsanto’s proposed Blackfoot Bridge phosphate mine, which will allow for the continued domestic production of specialty herbicides that help farmers produce food more efficiently, and do so in an environmentally sound manner.

“As the world’s population continues to grow and we see staggering population growth figures for the years 2025 and beyond, the need for an adequate food supply becomes more and more evident,” said Rick Waitley, executive director of the Food Producers of Idaho. “The treasure of the Blackfoot Bridge Mine is key to meeting the food production needs of the future. Agriculture around the world looks to this resource to meet the future food supply need.”

The Food Producers is just one of several agriculture organizations that have joined to endorse the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Preferred Alternative” put forth in the agency’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Blackfoot Bridge mine. Along with Waitley’s organization, representatives of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, the Idaho Grain Producers Association, and the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association jointly endorsed Alternative 1A, the BLM’s preferred course of action. In addition, the Food Producers of Idaho represents more than 20 Idaho agriculture organizations.

If approved by the BLM, Blackfoot Bridge will replace the South Rasmussen Mine as the provider of feedstock for Monsanto’s elemental phosphorous plant just outside Soda Springs. That plant is the only source of elemental phosphorus in the United States, and as the BLM’s EIS points out, without Blackfoot Bridge the plant will likely have to close. Monsanto uses the elemental phosphorous produced at Soda Springs as the primary building block in Roundup, the company’s glyphosate-based herbicide.

Frank Priestly, president of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation added, “Roundup is a valuable tool that helps American farmers feed the world. This is the only source of elemental phosphorus in the United States. Without it, we will have to rely on China. That’s one reason we’re encouraging our members to become familiar with the project and submit comments on the project to the BLM.”

“Blackfoot bridge is doubly important for us,” said Scott Brown, Vice President of the Idaho Grain Producers Association. “As Idahoans, we’re concerned about the 770 good-paying jobs and solid tax base that Monsanto’s operations provide. As farmers, we value how glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup help us stay competitive and efficient.”

Brown said that in addition to the importance of a safe, reliable, U.S. source of glyphosate, another factor in supporting the project is the fact the BLM and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality took Monsanto’s mining proposal and upgraded it to ensure that selenium is contained and the environment is protected. “It’s clear Monsanto and the agencies are taking extra measures to protect the environment, and particularly water quality,” he added. “I farm near the mine, so I have a direct stake in its safety.”

Alternative 1A sets strict environmental safeguards and reclamation standards for the Blackfoot Bridge mine. The plan includes the use of a laminated geosynthetic clay liner to cover and contain selenium that may be present in waste rock to protect the Blackfoot River from any detectable increases in selenium.

“The old saying that, ‘If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined,’ really applies to this project” said Mark Duffin of the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association. “Blackfoot Bridge is where modern agriculture and environmentally sound mining come together to benefit the public.”

The Idaho Farm Bureau has set up a page on its website with information about the mine and its impact on food production, and also with a link to submit comments to the BLM. Just go to: and click on “Monsanto Mine.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spud Day

Spud Tug into the mashed potoatoes--photo courtesty of the City of Shelly
The 81st annual Idaho Spud Day Kicks Off In Shelly

Shelly-If a tug of war over a deep pit of mashed potatoes is your kind of fun, plan on attending Spud Day festivities this weekend in Shelly. For the past 8 decades Eastern Idaho farmers and residents have marked the beginning of the spud harvest with the tuber's own special day.

Spud Day got underway yesterday in unseasonably warm days, and kicked off with the Miss Russet Pageant at Hillcrest High School Auditorium in Idaho Falls.

Tonight at at 7:30 p.m., the musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" takes center stage at the Virginia Theater.
New to this year's list of events, a golf tournament at Journeys End Golf Course. It starts at 1 p.m. on Friday. Also on that day, a Tater Trot at 3 p.m. at Shelley High's track.

On Saturday, it is all about food and entertainment. The pancake breakfast starts at 7 a.m. inside the senior center. At 7:30 a.m., there will be a Spud Run and Half Marathon at Sunrise Elementary School. The children's parade starts at 9:45 a.m. with the Spud Day Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Both take place on Shelley State Street.

11:00 a.m.: the Pro Form Airborn Jump Rope Team performs on the park stage in the south west corner of the park
Noon: free baked potatoes at the south east park shelter, the talent show start at the stage on the south west corner of the park, at the center of the park there will be a potato picking contest

12:30 p.m.: Horseshow Tournament north side of the park
3:00 p.m.: Spud Tug at the south east ball diamond

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Garden News

Heather's garden--Jake Putnam photo
Garden Harvest: A Full Time Job

Boise--Teacher Heather Glass put her career on hold last spring to take up gardening full time. Her goal was to produce enough food to last her family through the winter, with two-thirds of her garden harvested this year, she says she's accomplished that goal.

"To be self sustaining and truly eat all winter long from the garden you have to commit," said Glass. "You have to pre-cook meals and freeze them; you have to learn how to can the food. You can't eat out of the garden all year, you have to treat it, cook it to make it through the winter. I think we will make it this year."

Glass lives with retired dentist, Ted Glass, her father in Boise's northwest foothills on an acre of land. The garden is neatly laid out with a clever drip irrigation system that's stingy with water. Heather plants, weeds, stays on top of the latest bugs and pests while Ted runs the tractor and handles irrigation.

"I'd say we're up two-thirds from last year," said Ted Glass. "Our yields are up because of the irrigation, and because we planted more." Heather Glass says to be self-sustaining they have to have variety, plus herbs, fruit trees and foodstuffs that can be cooked, canned and frozen.

"About 80-85 percent of what we eat comes from the garden, that’s minus meat and staples like mayonnaise. Sometimes ill buy lettuce in the winter for a fresh salad, but for the most part everything comes from the garden. This year we are stocked with soups and stews, chili, so I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen," said Heather.

Heather started cooking the first of August with the harvest and has been at it every since. "I’m in the kitchen this time of year about 8 hours a day. I'm cooking things like spegetti sauce, and eggplant parmesan. I cut it into sections and section it off. I make green bean medley with green beans, carrots and corn. I measure it, seal freeze it, and so I prep a lot of stuff to get it in the freezer and in individual containers."

Brenda Schmidt of Jarden Home Brands, the Indiana company that makes Ball and Kerr canning jars and other supplies for home preservation, said retail sales increased by 30 percent in 2008 over 2007 and have increased another 30 percent so far this year over 2008.

''We have found that many people planted vegetable gardens or utilized locally grown produce, and now — canning season — they are fresh-preserving those products for year-round use and as a way to cut back on their grocery bills,'' she said.

However, the company's research shows that the recession is driving only part of the sales increase. The rest is due to the continuing interest in locally grown foods and a desire to control one's food sources. ''Canning allows you to create the foods you want on the terms that you want. You can control all of it,'' Schmidt said.

This is my first year," said the former teacher. "Since I moved to Boise I've been freezing everything. I decided that if something happens, I don't want to depend on electricity, its another way to preserve. I wish I had learned about canning before. I've been teaching myself, carefully reading all the books on it. I’m taking a canning class from the U of I extension service. It’s a science, you have to be very careful."

Canning involves processing jars at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria, yeast and mold, which can contaminate food. Canning recipes contain processing time guidelines, which should be followed carefully. It's important to have up-to-date information. Glass says Grandma's 50-year-old recipe for canning tomatoes isn't the one you want to use today. Guidelines change over time because pH levels of fruits and vegetables vary as hybrids are produced.

Glass says even the soil a food is grown in can affect how it will react to home-canning methods. Scientific research is constantly being updated to provide the best information to prevent spoilage.

Ted and Heather Glass rarely eat out, they're on a tight budget. They report their garden has saved them thousands in food costs. "I think just this summer alone we cut at least $2-thousand dollars in groceries, we might save another $2-3 thousand this winter.

"It’s a commitment, its been one of my biggest pleasures of my life, growing a garden, preparing the food, watching things grow, coming down the stairs with a big basket of tomatoes, it’s absolutely a passion. I can't see doing anything else right now, especially in this economy," said Heather Glass.

Gardners like Ted and Heather are part of an urban trend back to agriculture and home grown foods, due in part by the economy, and the growing concept of wanting to know where your food comes from. The Glass's have found out the hard way that gardening and growing your own food is time-consuming, back breaking work.

"It’s a commitment to grow a small garden and a few tomatoes here and there with a salad here and there, that’s nice and it’s nice to have fresh produce, but it isn’t sustainability. This is a full time job, it's my life and I love it," said Heather Glass.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Golden days of Harvest

Eastern Idaho Harvests underway

Pocatell0--The sunsets around Pocatello are golden, as farmers start harvesting the first fields of spuds. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm but are expected to drop off later this week with a fresh round of cool, wet weather.

Hay and wheat are in but flat markets have tempered farmers optimism and joy this time of year.

Sugar beet harvest is still a month away, and Idaho farmers have a lot of work ahead of them in the coming weeks.

Miss Idaho hangs with Idaho YF and R

Kelly Moulton photo
Miss Idaho tours Eastern Idaho Schools

Blackfoot--Miss Idaho Kara Jackson continues to travel the state talking about Ag education. She spent nearly a week in Eastern Idaho making appearances at schools and the Eastern Idaho State Fair. Here she caught up with Jason Moulton, Chris Dalley and Kendall Keller.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Borlaug Tribute

Father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug dies at 95

Dallas--Dr. Norman E. Borlaug--the man credited with saving more lives than any other person who has ever lived--passed away Saturday, September 12, 2009 at his home in Dallas, Texas.

Widely known as the "Father of the Green Revolution" and "The Man Who Fed the World" for his pioneering work developing high-yielding wheat for areas with limited cultivated land and increasing population, Dr. Borlaug was one of only five people in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal (an honor shared by Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr.).

Dr. Borlaug devoted his life to ensuring food security for what he termed "the forgotten world," mostly developing nations, where "most of the people, comprising more than 50% of the total world population, live in poverty, with hunger as a constant companion."

When Dr. Borlaug received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, then-President Gerald Ford stated that Borlaug's work "has pushed back the shadow of hunger on this planet and given us precious time to force its final retreat."

"Dr. Norman Borlaug was the father of the Green Revolution that transformed much of the hungry Third World," said former Senator George McGovern. "As U.S. Food for Peace
Administrator in the 1960s, I shipped 4 million tons of food aid per year to India; now it can export food. Dr. Borlaug’s scientific leadership not only saved people from starvation, but the high-yield seeds he bred saved millions of square miles of wildlife from being plowed down. He is one of the great men of our age."

Dr. Borlaug was born March 25, 1914, near Cresco, Iowa and often stated "Whatever I've been able to do in life for large part goes back to the experience of growing up on the soil, [on] a very small farm in Howard County, Iowa."

In 1985 Dr. Borlaug was the driving force behind the establishment of the World Food Prize, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and awarded annually to persons who have made outstanding contributions to food and agriculture throughout the world.

--from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

Idaho Legislature

Idaho Statehouse--Putnam photo

Financial Woes Could Dominate 2010 Session

Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter says the 2009 budget is short to the tune of $173 million dollars. The Governor says the state projected revenues would be around $2.5 billion dollars but it's come up short because of a sluggish, recovering economy.

"We're going to have to make adjustments in our expenditures for 173 million dollars", Otter said. The Governor says there wasn't enough state revenue coming in and now that could mean another round of cuts. Right now Governor Otter says he's withhold further comments on budget cuts until further study of the problem.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conservation Stewardship

Driggs CRP by Steve Ritter

BOISE--Agriculture producers could be rewarded for conserving natural resources on their land. The Conservation Stewardship Program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service encourages producers to maintain and initiate conservation practices with monetary incentives.

The program offers two payment types: an annual payment for maintaining existing conservation practices and adopting new ones and a supplemental payment for adopting resource conserving crop rotations. The per acre payments range from $12 to $22 for cropland, $7 to $ 14 for pasture, $5 to $10 for rangeland, and $6 to $12 for forestland. A supplemental payment, available only for cropland, adds an additional $12 to $16 for the cropland rotation.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program recognizes those who are already doing work to conserve their land and are willing to undertake additional activities,” said Jeff Burwell. “We see this as a great opportunity for producers to get rewarded for their conservation efforts.”

The program is voluntary and open to both agriculture and forestry producers. Approved applicants will develop a conservation stewardship plan outlining current conservation activities and new treatments for resource concerns on their land

There is a continuous sign-up for this program however the first funding cycle closes on September 30.

“The benefit of getting in this first cycle is there is less competition because of the short sign up period. We have funding to sign up 164,000 acres in Idaho before Sept 30,” Burwell added.

The payment cap is $40,000 per year with a $200,000 maximum for the five year contract period.

The first step to apply is completing a self-screening checklist to determine if the Conservation Stewardship Program is suitable for you. The checklist is available at NRCS field offices and on the NRCS Web site at

The application process requires that you
1.) Have farm records established with USDA Farm Service Agency,
2.) Be the operator of the land,
3.) Provide evidence that they have control of the land for 5 years, and;
4.) Provide a map delineating their entire agriculture or forestry operation.

For information on the program in general, eligibility, or a list of conservation activities, visit your local NRCS office. To find the office nearest you, look for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the government pages of the phonebook. Or, on the “Find a Service Center” page on the NRCS Web page

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Garden News

Heather's peppers--Jake Putnam photo

Peppers and Pasta, a Harvest Treat

Gardens across Idaho Valley are chocked full of harvest colors, reds, yellows, purples and the most brilliant colors come from peppers. Peppers are usually reserved for chilli, but peppers can spice up a bowl of pasta. Garden columnist Kate Lawson shares a favorite last summer recipe:

"Peppers are easy to freeze, just chop or slice into rings and flash freeze. When solid, transfer to plastic, zippered bags and you can grab a handful when making homemade pizza or sauce.
Linguine with PeppersSmoked mozzarella is available in most supermarkets with a decent cheese selection. Use any combination of peppers for this sauce," writes Lawson.

2 large yellow bell peppers (can substitute 6 smaller peppers or use a combination of orange and yellow or red)
3 fresh medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil
1/2 cup diced smoked mozzarella
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (or to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound linguine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)

Heat the broiler. Broil the peppers on a piece of aluminum foil on rack about 5 inches from the heat source, turning occasionally, until the skin has blackened all over.
Place the peppers in a brown paper bag. Close the bag securely and let the peppers rest for 5 minutes.

Remove the peppers. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem ends, seeds, and any white membrane. Cut the peppers into thin strips and put into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, capers, basil, mozzarella, crushed red pepper and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Set aside.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir in the linguine and cook until al dente, stirring often.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce in the bowl and toss, adding a little hot pasta water if necessary. Add coarse salt and pepper to taste, top with a bit of grated Parmesan or pass at the table. Serve hot with some garlic bread and simple green salad. Serves 4.

Per serving: 581 calories; 34 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 53 percent calories from fat); 54 g carbohydrates; 19 mg cholesterol; 558 mg sodium; 16 g protein; 4 g fiber.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Parma Extension Update

Parma--Steve Ritter photo

Listening Sessions Seek Alternatives

Caldwell--The University of Idaho held the first Parma Research Center listening session last night to a full house of concerned farmers and Canyon County citizens.

The U of I's decision to close the center comes after the Idaho Legislature mandated budget reductions – a $3.2 million reduction in state funding for Agricultural Research and Extension Service for fiscal year 2010.

University of Idaho officials told the packed meeting that if groups could raise $250,000 in donations that the Center could stay in business until next June, buying time until a long term solution can be ironed out.

The Idaho Statesman reported that the 70-or so growers committed to contribute. Farmers attending applauded former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig when he stressed the importance of specialty crops to Idaho's agricultural and economic future - and the importance of the research center to those crops.

Taste of Idaho This Weekend

Gina Davis of Davis Creek Cellars prepairs for the annual Taste of Idaho--Putnam photo


Boise--The fifth-annual Taste of Idaho will be held Saturday, September 12 at the Quest Arena from 10:00 am-5:00 pm. The event provides a great opportunity to meet Idaho's finest food and wine producers.

One of Idaho's premier culinary events, Taste of Idaho features the state's best food and wine, along with amazing chef demonstrations and samples of award-winning recipes. Admission is $5 for food sampling and $5 for a wine or beer sampling glass. Children under 12 are free. Tickets are available at the door.

While sampling a delicious array of local foods, festival goers can watch four local chefs prepare their award-winning recipes in the second annual Taste of Idaho Chef's Competition. The chefs include Chris Zahn of the Arid Club who will be presenting the Best of Lamb and Best Fruit First Course winning recipes.

David Knickrehm of Texas Boogie Bar and Grill will be preparing the Best of Beef and Best of Trout recipes. Chris McDonald, also of the Arid Club will prepare the Best of Pork and Best Vegetarian Entree, and Jason Jones of Texas Boogie Bar and Grill will prepare his award winning potato dessert. From 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., these chefs will demonstrate their recipes and then make them available for sampling.

Each chef will be teamed up with a local winery and pair their all-Idaho dishes with great local wines. Taste of Idaho is sponsored by Idaho Preferred, Albertsons, SYSCO and Peak Broadcasting. For more information about Taste of Idaho and the Idaho Preferred program, visit or contact Leah Clark at, or 332-8684

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wolf Decision

Wolf Hunts Still On--For Now

MISSOULA--Earlier this week, a federal district court issued an order finding that the delisting of Idaho and Montana wolves is more than likely illegal, but didn't stop wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.

In the ruling, the court stated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove protections from wolves in Northern Rockies while retaining protections for Wyoming wolves appeared to be “a practical determination that does not seem to be scientifically based.”

The court failed to stop the hunts because it held that a single hunting season at these levels in Idaho and Montana would not “irreparably harm” the wolf population as a whole.

The order came just 10 days after Idaho’s wolf-hunting season opened on September 1 in two of the state’s 12 hunting units. Montana's season is set to open September 15. Idaho officials authorized the killing of 220 wolves in a wolf hunt, which represents 25 percent of the last official Idaho wolf population estimate at the end of December 2008. Montana has authorized the take of 75 wolves in a wolf hunt, which is 15 percent of its last official wolf population estimate.

Under the challenged Federal wolf delisting rule, Idaho and Montana can lower the wolf population down to 150 per state – a potential loss of roughly two-thirds of the region’s wolves.

Climate Change Legislation

Storm clouds over wheat,near Ucon, Idaho--Putnam photo
Wheat Growers, American Farm Bureau Oppose Climate Change Legislation

Washington--The National Association of Wheat Growers' Board of Directors met by conference call last Friday to discuss pending climate change legislation.As part of that discussion, the panel voted 26 to 2 to approve a new resolution regarding greenhouse gas regulation.

The new resolution reads:"NAWG is opposed to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture. NAWG will strive for a net economic benefit to farmers, agriculture and food production. We believe neither greenhouse gas regulation nor legislation should take effect until the major carbon emitting countries of the world have agreed to regulate their own greenhouse gases in a like manner to ours. NAWG urges USDA to do a detailed economic analysis of any legislation or regulation before it becomes law. Furthermore, NAWG will oppose EPA regulation and will work to overturn the Supreme Court ruling."

The board also voted 24 to 0 to remove existing resolutions relating to greenhouse gas regulation and an agriculture cap-and-trade program.In a statement, the group said it's staff and grower-leaders plan to continue to work on this issue to achieve an outcome that the board feels is in the best interest of grower-members.

The American Farm Bureau has spent the summer working on compromises to climate change legislation that would benefit the nation's farmers. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the AFBF is strongly opposed to the Climate Bill for several reasons.

As written the bill imposes enormous costs on agriculture and other sectors of the economy; the cap-and-trade program would take effect whether or not competing nations like India and China adopted similar programs, meaning U.S. industries would have an incentive to locate overseas. It also provides no concrete alternative energy program, such as nuclear, to hold down energy costs; and, lastly, the measure would appear to have little or no impact on the climate, Stallman noted.

“Most recently, the administrator of EPA testified before the Senate that the H.R. 2454 would have a negligible impact on temperature by the year 2050,” said Stallman. “And virtually everyone agrees that the U.S. alone can’t solve the problem.”

AFBF contends that reducing carbon emissions must be a shared, global responsibility. Without other countries doing their part to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, H.R. 2454 will never work. Stallman noted that while the United States may be a large emitter of GHGs, if emissions are measured based on unit of output, the U.S. is one of the cleanest producers. The effect of HR 2454, Stallman pointed out, would be to punish environmentally sound practices while letting others off the hook.

“A ton of GHG emitted in China is the same as a ton of GHG emitted in Virginia,” said Stallman. “Regulating emissions in Virginia without regulating emissions in China will have little or no effect on the environment.”

AFBF also maintains that an agricultural offsets program administered by the Agriculture Department is an essential cost containment measure, but revenues from offsets will only partially defray increased costs and not all agriculture sectors will benefit from offset opportunities.

“Inclusion of an offset program is not the complete answer,” said Stallman. “Even with a robust agricultural offset program, the bill still does not make economic sense for producers because a number of sectors will be not able to participate.”

Participating in an offset program will depend to a great degree on where the producer is located, what he or she grows and if his or her business can take advantage of the program, Stallman noted. Not every dairy farmer can afford to capture methane. Not every farmer lives in a region where wind turbines are an option. Not every farmer can take advantage of no-till. And not every farmer has the land to set aside to plant trees, according to Stallman.

“Yet, these producers will incur the same increased fuel, fertilizer and energy costs as their counterparts who can benefit from the offsets market,” said Stallman.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Changes to H2A in the Works

H2A Changes--Again
Washington--The U.S. Department of Labor will propose changes to the H2A temporary worker program in an upcoming Federal Register posting.

The changes made several years ago were intended to simplify the program and increase the ability of employers to utilize the H2A system did not pan out as planned. Farmers report that use of the program has diminished since the department “simplified” it.

Milk Producers of Idaho reports that they will monitor the posting when it comes out and will inform their members about the changes. MPI will look for impacts on the Idaho dairy industry and the time frame for a public comment period.

Federal contractors will have to start using the e-verify system on all employees starting September 8th. The requirement was challenged in the court system but was found constitutional.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Farm Bureau at the Eastern Idaho State Fair

Eastern Idaho State Fair Underway

Blackfoot--The Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot is in full swing, Over the weekend the Farm Bureau sponsored a float in the annual parade and also hosted Kara Jackson, Miss Idaho.

On Sunday the gates opened to record crowds, in fact the largest opening day crowd in the hundred year history of the fair. More than 5,000 more people passed through the gates this year than last years record number. Clear skies and warm weather brought families from across Eastern Idaho.

"I just love it," said Doris Wallace from the fair staff; "You know you work as hard for success as you do for not your successes. To have people come out and know and enjoy it and to have a good time. When you worked hard, it makes you feel really good."

Market News

Doug Barrie harvests the 2009 wheat crop, uploaded by IdFarmBureau.
Wheat Prices Down
Chicago--Wheat fell to the lowest price of the year because of speculation that global production will outpace demand that that will limit overseas purchases of supplies from the U.S., the world's biggest shipper of the grain.

According to Bloomberg News, world output may total 659.3 million metric tons in the marketing year ending May 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report on Aug. 12. That would be second only to last year’s 682.4 million tons. Global inventories may jump 8.3 percent to 183.6 million tons, the USDA said.

"The pressure's going to stay on prices because of increased global production and stockpiles," said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, of the Summit Commodity Brokerage in Des Moines, Iowa. "Crops overseas are better than they thought they were going to be. The U.S. crop has been decent."

Wheat futures for December delivery fell 7 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $4.7875 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the most-active contract touched $4.7525, the lowest since Dec. 5. The price declined 5.6 percent last month because of slack demand for U.S. inventories and rising global inventories.

Exporters sold 406,707 metric tons of wheat in the week that ended on Aug. 27, down 38 percent from the prior week, the USDA said in a report last week.

Wheat is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop, valued at $16.6 billion in 2008, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

Farm Economy slowing but vibrant

Emmett grain harvest--Steve Ritter photo
West Losing Fewer Jobs

Boise--The Western states are holding up better than the rest of the nation according to the Western States Blue Chip Economic Forecast just out. Twenty-six states, except California, have more jobs now than they had eight years ago based on June figures according to the report.

The June figures on employment released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 131.8 million jobs in the country, a decrease of 6.2 million from the recession start. And the June employment total is actually lower than it was at the February 2001 peak of 132.5 million.

Nationally, the gains from the 2001 economic rebound have disappeared. Most Western states recorded strong growth during the mini-boom, even after sharp job losses in the past couple of years, they're ahead of the game compared to the last business cycle, the report said.

Idaho had 628,700 nonfarm jobs in June 2009 compared to 578,900 in June 2001, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information that the forecast cited. The Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast was produced by Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business. Panelists included John Church of Idaho Economics, Mike Ferguson of the Idaho Division of Financial Management and Kelly Matthews of Wells Fargo.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Idaho Politics

Look for Spending Cuts in 2010
Boise--Gov. Butch Otter is warning of further spending cuts - including education, social programs and transportation - because of a new forecast that shows a 6.8 percent drop in revenue.

The figure was last week by Otter's budget office. The Governor says fiscal 2010 revenue will fall $151 million short of the $2.507 billion the Legislature budgeted for the spending year that began July 1.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Farm Bureau Editorial

Comments, Hunt Evoke Controversy for Idaho
by President Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau

The September 1 opening of the first wolf season in over 50 years, coupled with an off-the-cuff statement from a gubernatorial candidate, resulted in Idaho taking a beating in the national media not felt in several years.

Many of us don’t care if the editors at the New York Times think Idaho is full of hicks, rubes and racists. We live here and we know that’s not true. But the outpouring of degrading messages on the newspaper’s website, along with the snowball effect created by other forms of mass media, gives us reason for concern.

The biggest concern is a nationwide call to boycott Idaho potatoes. When the wolf season dates and quotas were set in mid-August, the animal rights group Friends of Animals, based in Massachusetts, called for a boycott of Idaho potatoes.

Then this week after gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell made an asinine and threatening remark about President Barack Obama, the New York Times published an editorial and a column by Timothy Egan. The editorial suggested that Idaho’s wolf hunt is misguided, premature and that the region’s wolf population has not yet reached a sustainable level. Egan’s column, which drew nearly 400 responses on the newspaper’s website on the morning it ran, connected the anti-Obama rhetoric with wolf hunting and other long-held, negative outside perceptions about Idaho.

Idaho’s Republican leadership denounced Rammell’s comments. “Reckless and inflammatory statements like these gravely damage confidence in the political process and the good citizens who serve the public. As Governor, as an Idaho Republican and as a citizen of our state, I reject and condemn this kind of rhetoric,” said Gov. Butch Otter. “There is no place for it in Idaho.”
Joking about shooting the President or anyone for that matter isn’t funny. It’s poor taste. Here’s a sample of some of the comments received on the NYT website:
“Idaho seems to be an attractive venue for the stupid.”

“Does anyone know about an organized boycott of all products/services coming out of Idaho, including tourism (even these yahoos must be able to make more than potatoes). We need a list of EVERYTHING coming from Idaho, and a major campaign against them, including, for example, any fast food restaurants (e.g., McDonalds) that buy Idaho potatoes.”
“I had a boss who flew into Boise, considering it for a new plant. He spent one night there. The plant was opened in Arizona.”

“Idahoans like Rex Rammell should know that people have a choice when they shop for potatoes and onions. Boycotts are an easy and peaceful way to communicate a zero tolerance policy when it comes to violence-against-Obama-speech, and the hatred that lies beneath such “humor.’”
If you want to know more about Idaho’s wolf population, seek out a credible source like the Idaho Department of Fish and Game or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – not an east coast newspaper or a candidate vying for political office.

In spite of what the New York Times’ editors think, it’s clearly a stretch to argue that allotting 220 tags will have much if any consequence on our overall wolf population. In our opinion it’s unlikely that all of the 220 tags will be filled. We believe there should be more tags but it’s clearly a hot political and emotional issue. With the number of deep-pocketed animal rights groups out there ready to file lawsuits, it’s a miracle we got a hunt started at all. We hope that hunting wolves makes them more wary of humans and helps keep them away from livestock.

Although it’s an even bigger stretch of logic to think a potato boycott will change how Idaho manages its wolf population, this kind of media attention could be detrimental to the potato industry which creates in excess of $700 million in farm gate revenue each year and generates millions more in total revenue that thousands of Idaho families depend on.

This turn of events was a gut-punch for Idaho’s image. We hope it doesn’t deliver a similar blow to the state’s economy. Idaho exports 73 percent of its agricultural products. We need to remember that those folks out there who don’t always agree with our way of thinking are also our customers. We need to be able to continue to hunt wolves. We also need to keep a civil tongue.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ag News

Idaho Agriculture Land Prices Decline
Boise–Nationwide, cropland and pasture land values declined 3.9 percent with lands in the mountain regions of Montana and Idaho taking the largest decline. Overall farm real estate prices in Montana fell 22 percent to $700 per acre.

In Idaho farm real estate values declined 12 percent to $2,200 per acre. Much of this decline was caused by the collapse in demand for recreational ranches. Real estate developers noted that developmental pressure and speculation has declined for much of Idaho’s agricultural land.

While agricultural land values declined in Idaho, rental rates in the state jumped a staggering 20 percent from 2008. Irrigated cropland in Idaho had an average cash rental rate of $175 per acre caused in great part by the run-up in grain prices two years ago. Nationwide rental rates were up 5.3 percent. Agricultural land rental rates held steady in California and Oregon and declined slightly in Washington.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just in from Washington

Vermeer dairy--Jake Putnam photo
Dairy prices still flat

Washington--Despite all the talk last spring that dairy prices might begin to recover by mid-year, milk producers continue to receive the smallest milk checks they’ve seen since a quarter century ago.

Spot prices in July for the different classes of milk ranged from $9.97 per 100 pounds for Class III milk—the kind used to make most cheeses—to $10.87 for Class II milk—the kind used for soft products like ice cream and yogurt. Class IV milk—used for nonfat dry milk—was $10.15 per hundredweight in July. That compares to an average all-milk price range of $17-$18 one year ago.

Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Lang says the break-even price on his dairy farm is around
$14 per hundred weight. He testified July 28 at a House Agriculture Committee hearing about
the dairy crisis.

“Because of the historically low milk price, we have almost depleted all the cash we put away
over the previous two years when the price was considerably higher,” he said. “We are now
using a bank line of credit to help pay for daily operations.”

Prices won’t improve much until milk production declines, says Allison Specht, American Farm
Bureau Federation dairy economist. “A supply decrease means that cows have to permanently
leave the market,” she said. There were 115,000 fewer dairy cows this July than in July 2008,
according to USDA, representing about a 1 percent reduction in the U.S. herd. AFBF economists
believe another 3 percent reduction is needed. Meanwhile, milk production was up 0.1 percent in July from a year ago.

It seems the mild weather that most of us enjoyed through midsummer was good for cows, too. Specht calls this is “double-edged sword” for producers. Also, she says some producers seem to be waiting to see if their neighbors will be the ones to throw in the towel.

“They hope the guy down the road will be accepted into the CWT,” she says, referring to the private, voluntary herd retirement program run by the National Milk Producers Federation. In the meantime, Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments are helping smaller herd owners scrape by. Large operations have pretty much maxed out their MILC payments, Specht says.

Policy options that are being discussed include raising purchase prices for USDA’s Dairy Product Price Support program, something that national Farm Bureau policy does not support because it could send the wrong signal to the market to maintain production. Another option, one that USDA acted on after the European Union reinstated its dairy export subsidy regime, is to resurrect the Dairy Export Incentive Program that subsidizes the
price of milk for export.

Twelve northeastern state Farm Bureau presidents wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this month urging USDA to consider reforms to the federal milk marketing order system, which sets minimum prices for the different classes of milk based on current market trends. They said the current pricing system works well on the national level but does not always recognize regional production needs and tends to penalize areas with higher production costs.

USDA recently announced the establishment of a review commission, as called for in the 2008 farm bill.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Farm News

Doug Barrie cuts a wheat, near Ucon, Idaho. Jake Putnam photo
Recession Hits the Farm, Cutting into Profits

Ucon--The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that U.S. farm profits will fall 38% this year, a clear sign that the nation's slowing economy has hit the heartland. The economic malaise first hit the nation's urban centers with declining property values then the suburbs and now the farm.

The USDA says farm income will drop $54 billion in 2009 down $32.2 billion from last year's record high net farm income of $87.2 billion. The drop in farm prices could lead to a slow spike in in food costs according to economists.

For farmers like Doug Barrie of Ucon the news combined with a flat wheat market is not great news. "Market prices, well, looking back I wish I would have contracted early. It was in the 5-dollar to $5.20 range for soft white. I was hoping for $5.50, but missed that boat.
Barrie talked to his marketing consultant who quoted prices just above the $4-dollar mark. "That's okay in our normal cost schedule, but with high fertilizer costs it really eats into our profits."

Study to Track Changing Idaho Snowpack

Harris Ranch near Soda Springs--Jake Putnam photo
Natural Resources Research Assesses Impact of Changing Snowpack on Climate in Western U.S.
Written by Sue McMurray

Moscow-– Water researchers across the state are collaboratively embarking on a three-year hydrologic study that will contribute to a greater understanding of the altered distribution of winter snowpack, one of the greatest climatic impacts on the semi-arid mountains of the western U.S.

University of Idaho, Boise State University and U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Service project members recently received $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to support their effort.

The project, entitled "Collaborative Research: A WATERS Testbed to Investigate the Impacts of Changing Snow Conditions on Hydrologic Processes in the Western United States," is a collaborative effort directed by Danny Marks, research hydrologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service; Jim McNamara, professor of watershed hydrology at Boise State University; and Timothy Link, associate professor of forest resources in the University of Idaho's College of Natural Resources.

According to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the western U.S. will experience decreased snowpack, shifts in timing and volume of runoff, and increased evapotranspiration, all factors leading to the reduction of precious water resources in the summer season when they are needed the most. Recent research in southern Idaho strongly indicates that these changes have occurred in the past 50 years.

"Our overall goal is to advance the scientific understanding of relationships between snow and soil moisture processes in complex terrain, a key step toward understanding the hydrologic impacts of climate change in the western U.S.," said Link.

Link is collaborating with a team of other hydrologists and Waters of the West scientists who propose that future impacts of climate-induced changes in snowpack distribution on soil moisture dynamics can be predicted by evaluating current differences across elevation gradients. Specifically, they will examine the relationships among snow distribution, landscape properties and soil moisture.

"One of the problems in natural science is that funding programs typically are not long enough to establish trends," said McNamara. "The NSF is interested in building permanent environmental laboratories around the country to observe natural processes, and our project is a test bed. We’ll be looking at network ideas, how to build one of these natural labs, what measurements to take and what science questions we can ask with them

"One of the things we hope it will do is improve hydrologic predictive models, which will give us a better understanding of where water is and how it gets there in the semi-arid Intermountain West," McNamara said. "This project is a model for building on statewide strengths represented by universities, government agencies and world-class outdoor laboratories," Link added. The study will take place on the Reynolds Creek and the Dry Creek experimental watersheds that currently comprise the Middle Snake Hydrologic Observatory.

The MSHO is part of a nationwide network of experimental sites that make up the Water and Environmental Research Systems Network. The network strives to improve the nation’s capability to better predict and manage water. The similarities and contrasts between the two watersheds create opportunities to understand how combinations of hydrological conditions and different soil properties interact to control water flow and temperature dynamics, team members say.

Another of the team’s objectives is to demonstrate how hydrologic observatories can be used to facilitate community science efforts to address critical water resource problems that are common to many semi-arid and arid regions across the globe. The idea for the study grew from the team’s long-term interest in the topic and vision to build effective university-government partnership.

The project is supported by the ARS research facilities and is a direct result of the Idaho NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive (EPSCoR) program commitment in 2004 to establish long-term water observatories to develop better understanding of the waters in Idaho and the nation. The current NSF EPSCoR project, "Water Resources in a Changing Climate," expands on this initiative.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kent and Pauline Bagley drive cattle

Upper Valley Ranchers Report 'A Good Year'

Victor--The Bagleys of Victor, Idaho are getting ready to move their summer range cattle back home, here they're seen moving cattle to a new pasture. Pauline Bagley was named District 2 Woman of the Year, despite a sluggish economy, its been a good year on the ranch, reports Pauline.

We need a better guest worker program

America has a farm labor shortage. By ZIPPY DUVAL Americans expect a lot from farmers and ranchers: fresh, unblemished fruits and vegetabl...