Thursday, December 31, 2009

Opinion from the Lawrence Journal, Lawrence Kansas

Fact-based climate debate

It is crucial that scientists are factually accurate when they do speak out, that they ignore media hype and maintain a clinical detachment from social or other agendas. There are facts and data that are ignored in the maelstrom of social and economic agendas swirling about after Copenhagen.

Greenhouse gases and their effects are well-known. Here are some of things we know:

• The most effective greenhouse gas is water vapor, comprising approximately 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

• Carbon dioxide concentration has been continually rising for nearly 100 years. It continues to rise, but carbon dioxide concentrations at present are near the lowest in geologic history.

• Temperature change correlation with carbon dioxide levels is not statistically significant.

• There are no data that definitively relate carbon dioxide levels to temperature changes.

• The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide logarithmically declines with increasing concentration. At present levels, any additional carbon dioxide can have very little effect.

We also know a lot about Earth temperature changes:

• Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

• The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

• Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

• Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the “hockey stick” graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

• During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

Contrary to many public statements:

• Effects of temperature change are absolutely independent of the cause of the temperature change.

• Global hurricane, cyclonic and major storm activity is near 30-year lows. Any increase in cost of damages by storms is a product of increasing population density in vulnerable areas such as along the shores and property value inflation, not due to any increase in frequency or severity of storms.

• Polar bears have survived and thrived over periods of extreme cold and extreme warmth over hundreds of thousands of years — extremes far in excess of modern temperature changes.

• The 2009 minimum Arctic ice extent was significantly larger than the previous two years. The 2009 Antarctic maximum ice extent was significantly above the 30-year average. There are only 30 years of records.

• Rate and magnitude of sea level changes observed during the last 100 years are within normal historical ranges. Current sea level rise is tiny and, at most, justifies a prediction of perhaps ten centimeters rise in this century.

The present climate debate is a classic conflict between data and computer programs. The computer programs are the source of concern over climate change and global warming, not the data. Data are measurements. Computer programs are artificial constructs.

Public announcements use a great deal of hyperbole and inflammatory language. For instance, the word “ever” is misused by media and in public pronouncements alike. It does not mean “in the last 20 years,“ or “the last 70 years.” “Ever” means the last 4.5 billion years.

For example, some argue that the Arctic is melting, with the warmest-ever temperatures. One should ask, “How long is ever?” The answer is since 1979. And then ask, “Is it still warming?” The answer is unequivocally “No.” Earth temperatures are cooling. Similarly, the word “unprecedented” cannot be legitimately used to describe any climate change in the last 8,000 years.

There is not an unlimited supply of liquid fuels. At some point, sooner or later, global oil production will decline, and transportation costs will become insurmountable if we do not develop alternative energy sources. However, those alternative energy sources do not now exist.

A legislated reduction in energy use or significant increase in cost will severely harm the global economy and force a reduction in the standard of living in the United States. It is time we spent the research dollars to invent an order-of-magnitude better solar converter and an order-of-magnitude better battery. Once we learn how to store electrical energy, we can electrify transportation. But these are separate issues. Energy conversion is not related to climate change science.

I have been a reviewer of the last two IPCC reports, one of the several thousand scientists who purportedly are supporters of the IPCC view that humans control global temperature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of us try to bring better and more current science to the IPCC, but we usually fail. Recently we found out why. The whistleblower release of e-mails and files from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University has demonstrated scientific malfeasance and a sickening violation of scientific ethics.

If the game of Russian roulette with the environment that Adrian Melott contends is going on, is it how will we feed all the people when the cold of the inevitable Little Ice Age returns? It will return. We just don’t know when.

Transportation News

15th Street Boise, Putnam photo

License Fees Go UP!
BOISE - Fees for many motor vehicle services in Idaho will increase Jan. 1, the Idaho Transportation Department announced this week.The increased fees were approved by the 2009 Idaho Legislature to generate additional funds to maintain and restore state highways and to modernize the Division of Motor Vehicles computer systems.

The fee changes will generate approximately $13.1 million from increases on 18 motor vehicle services, including driver licenses, vehicle titling and driving records.Many of the fees have not increased for more than a decade.Effective Jan. 1, costs for a standard Idaho drivers license (Class D) will range from $15 to $55, up from the present range of $12.25 to $45.Vehicle title certificates will rise from $4 to $7. Costs for motor vehicle and drivers license records will increase from $4 to $7. State identification cards will cost $10 instead of $6.50.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boise Blizzard

State Street near the Statehouse--Putnam photo
Treasure Valley Slammed by last snowstorm of Decade
Boise--The Treasure Valley is digging out from under five inches of snow. The first flakes started falling just after midnight with a steady snow falling through the night. Forecasters say the storm should clear for the Humanitarian Bowl and then pick up again tonight.
Tens of thousand of Vandal football fans are converging on the Bronco Stadium parking lot for the Bowl tailgate that will proceed in the snow right up to game time. Stadium staff started shoveling snow early this morning and the playing surface will be ready at game time.

Dairy News

Milk Prices below 'Break even point"

Boise--Idaho Milk production numbers are in for November with production holding steady but prices coming in below the break even mark. Idaho milk production during November 2009 totaled 977 million pounds, a 0.4 percent decrease from the same month last year, and 4.3 percent down from October 2009, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This year "is probably one of the worst years on record as far as the amount of equity dairymen have gone through to get through the year," Bob Naerebout, executive director of the association, told the Idaho State Journal.

He said dairy producers need to make about $16 per hundredweight to break even, but prices are currently just below $14 per hundredweight. He said a month ago it was below $10. "It's still a little below the break-even point, but it's certainly better than being $6 below break-even," Naerebout said.

October 2009 milk production was 1.02 billion pounds, unchanged from the preliminary level. Average milk production per cow in November 2009 was 1,790 pounds, up 20 pounds from November 2008. The average number of milk cows during November was 546,000 head, unchanged from October 2009, but down 8,000 head from November 2008.

Milk production in 23 major States during November totaled 14.0 billion pounds, down 1.0 percent from November 2008. October revised production at 14.3 billion pounds, was down 1.2 percent from October 2008. The October revision represented a decrease of 12 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate. Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,679 pounds for November, 25 pounds above November 2008. The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.31 million head, 209,000 head less than November 2008, and 6,000 head less than October 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Energy News

Ethanol producers file suit against California climate rules
Sacramento--Two ethanol industry trade groups filed a federal lawsuit this week that alleges California regulations to reduce the carbon content of fuels in that state are unconstitutional and should be struck down.The Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy say California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard collides with federal energy law and would harm the industry.

The state policy seeks a 10 percent decrease in the carbon content of motor fuels sold into California markets by 2020. But the ethanol trade groups call the rules at odds with a 2007 federal law that requires use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels in the nation’s fuel mix by 2022. The 2007 law created first-time greenhouse gas limits on renewable fuels under the federal standard. But, unlike the California policy, it exempted ethanol from plants in operation when the law passed.The lawsuit claims the LCFS “interferes with and frustrates” the federal energy law because it would effectively exclude the trade groups’ members from selling fuels into the California market.

“State regulations such as the LCFS cannot prohibit or limit the sale of ethanol products based on the level of GHG emissions purportedly attributed to them when Congress has specifically foreclosed limitations on the sale of the same ethanol products based on GHG emissions,” states the lawsuit filed in a federal district court in Fresno.Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, said the suit against the state rules has no merit. “It is a regulation that provides California consumers with cleaner, low-carbon fuels,” he said

Dairy News

Feb. 3 Whey Processing Workshop Planned for Twin Falls

TWIN FALLS, Idaho—With worldwide demand for whey products increasing for everything from breads to soups to energy bars, a Whey Processing Workshop is being hosted Feb. 3 in Twin Falls by University of Idaho Extension, School of Food Science and TechHelp.

The all-day workshop for whey plant operators, sanitation personnel and other operations personnel and managers will cover dairy chemistry, product quality and processing of whey products and byproducts, including permeate and lactose. Taught by Karen Smith, dairy processing technologist at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research and one of the world’s foremost authorities on whey processing, it will also cover the production of whey protein concentrate and isolate. Co-instructor Todd Hutson of Filtration Engineering Co., Inc., is an equipment supplier with extensive hands-on experience with whey processing equipment.

The class will begin at 8 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn and conclude at 5 p.m. Cost is $285 for individual attendees and $245 for multiple attendees from the same company. To register, contact Paula Peterman at (208) 364-6188 or or go online at . For technical information, contact Jeff Kronenberg, University of Idaho Extension food processing specialist, at (208) 364-4937 or

Monday, December 28, 2009

Simpson to Obama: Investigate Climategate

Simpson calls into question the Obama Administration’s actions on climate change, reliance on suspect data, and use of taxpayer funds

Washington– Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, in his role as Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, has written to President Obama expressing serious reservations about the way in which the White House and its agencies are using taxpayer funds to combat global climate change. Simpson was joined on the letter by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) who is the Ranking Republican on the full House Appropriations Subcommittee.

“We caution you against pursuing environmental policies that will undermine job creation in our already fragile economy,” Simpson and Lewis wrote. “We are particularly concerned about efforts to address climate change that circumvent the legislative process, are not grounded unequivocally in sound science, and don’t reflect majority public opinion in the United States. Recent events suggest that this is precisely the course your Administration is pursuing with regard to greenhouse gas policy.”

Simpson and Lewis outlined their concern over the impact a number of Administration-backed initiatives will have on job creation and economic recovery while our nation’s businesses and workers are struggling. They specifically noted concern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent movement toward regulation of greenhouse gases without Congressional approval and the failure within the Administration to seriously investigate the actions of prominent climate change scientists to suppress or eliminate data and to manipulate the peer-review process.

“It is apparent that the EPA’s recent actions, as well as cap-and-trade legislation approved by the narrowest of margins in the House, may have been based upon false pretenses,” wrote Simpson and Lewis. “The very legitimacy of the information upon which these actions were taken has been called into question. It is clear that the outcome of the House vote on the cap-and-trade proposal may well have been different had this information surfaced prior to the bill’s consideration.”

The Congressmen concluded by calling on the President to limit taxpayer expenditures on climate change research until a full investigation, by a credible unbiased entity, can be conducted.

“Therefore, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to re-direct funds necessary, using a portion of enacted fiscal year 2010 climate change funding, to determine the full extent to which illegitimate scientific evidence and research has been used to support recent legislative and regulatory actions (including the recently passed cap-and-trade legislation in the House and this week’s EPA endangerment finding),” wrote Simpson and Lewis. “In an attempt to set politics aside, we ask that a credible, independent entity conduct this review and report to the Congress and the American public within 90 days.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Labor News

Putnam photo

Immigration Legislation on Hold

Washington--U.S. House Democrats introduced a bill that would overhaul the country’s immigration laws, although aides say the bill is on hold until the health-care debate is completed.

The legislation introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), the chairman of the House Immigration Caucus. The effort has the backing of two key groups within the House Democratic membership – the Hispanic and liberal-leaning Progressive caucuses.

It offers a path to legal residence for people currently living illegally in the U.S., and creates a new panel within the Department of Homeland Security to make recommendations about future inflows of immigrants, according to an aide to a member of the Progressive Caucus familiar with the legislation.

Illegal residents in the U.S. with no criminal records would be able to pay a fine, start to pay taxes, take English and civic classes, and after six years be able to apply for a green card. It was unclear how large the fine would be, and whether the immigrants would be required to pay unpaid back taxes.

The bill would largely defer the issue of future inflows of immigrants to officials at the DHS, who will make an annual recommendation to Congress about how many new entrants will be allowed.
No new funds are made available to beef up border security, but the DHS secretary would be tasked with conducting a review and reporting to Congress about what further resources would be required, the aide said.

The bill takes steps to implement an Internet-based verification program for employers to ensure that prospective employees are legal, but stops short of making that program mandatory. Universal usage of the E-Verify program is the ultimate goal, the aide said, and Congress would be instructed to review its take-up by employers.

Just in from Washington

Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill

Washington--The Senate voted in the wee hours this morning to overhaul the nation's health
care system, by passing a bill to guarantee health insurance for
Americans that President Obama hopes will rein in health costs.

The vote came on the 25th straight day of debate on healthcare legislation and brings Democrats a step closer to a goal they have pursued for decades. It clears the way for negotiations
with the House, which passed a broadly similar bill last month by a vote of 220 to 215.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Travel

Putnam photo
AAA Projects an Increase in Holiday Travel

Boise--AAA is projecting 87.7 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home during the year-end holidays. This is a 3.8 percent increase from the 84.5 million Americans who traveled during the Christmas rush last year,which is the greatest projected increase for any major holiday this year.

Last year, the total number of travelers during the holidays dropped 4.7 percent from 2007. In the Pacific region 14.9 million travelers are expected to travel during the holidays, an increase of 11.2 percent from last year. Changes in travel rates range from a low of -4.7 percent in the South Atlantic region to 15 percent in the West North Central region.

More Americans traveling during the winter holidays is another sign consumers are growing more confident in their personal financial situations, says Marie Dodds, Public Affairs Director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. With Christmas and New Year's Day both falling on Fridays this year, many people will take advantage of long weekends to travel."

"The travel industry as a whole is picking up from where it was a year ago, and we'll likely see travel rates continue to increase throughout 2010," says Doreen Loofburrow, AAA Oregon/Idaho Director of Travel.

"The moderate projected rise in the number of air travelers this holiday period is especially welcome since the airline industry was hit very hard by the global recession. Higher Gas Prices Won't Deter Holiday Travelers Travel by car is the predominant mode of travel during the holidays, with 77.7 million going by automobile compared to 74.4 million last year; an increase of 4.4 percent. That means about 88 percent of year-end vacationers will drive to their holiday destinations.

In the Pacific region, 13 million will go by car, an increase of 11.9 percent over last year. Gas prices are about a dollar a gallon more expensive than a year ago, but that's not keeping holiday travelers home. Pump prices are still well below $3 per gallon, which can be a tipping point for many consumers, and prices have been stable since mid-October, with the national average remaining between about $2.59 and $2.70 a gallon, and Oregon's average between $2.70 and $2.76.

The number of travelers by air is expected be 4.2 million compared to 4.1 million in 2008; an increase of 2.9 percent. That means five percent of all holiday travelers will go by air. The number of those traveling by other means, including, trains, watercraft, buses and multiple-modes of transportation, is expected to be 5.8 million compared to 6.0 million last year, a decline of 3.1 percent.

The largest average share of all spending will be on transportation and transportation-related charges. Approximately 11.6 percent of spending will go toward lodging. Dining will account for 17.6 percent of total holiday spending, while shopping will account for 18.6 percent.

Entertainment and recreation expenses will account for 13.1 percent of the average travel budget.In the Pacific Region, average spending is expected to be a bit higher than the national average at $1,135, mostly because of higher fuel costs in this area. Christmas and New Year travelers will average 791 miles roundtrip, which is slightly lower than the 815 mile average traveled over Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just in from Washington

USDA Announces New Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment Program

WASHINGTON-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the implementation of the new Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Payment (DELAP) program. The 2010 Agricultural Appropriations Bill authorized $290 million for loss assistance payments to eligible dairy producers.

"Through this program, eligible dairy producers will receive economic assistance that will help stabilize their operations during these tough economic times," said Vilsack. "I have personally heard from hundreds of struggling dairy farmers from all across our country who have been hit hard by declining prices over the past year, and now, we'll be able to offer them help."

Milk prices declined substantially through early-to-mid-2009, with the national price for milk averaging $16.80 per hundredweight (cwt.) in the fourth quarter of 2008 and averaging $12.23 per cwt. in the first quarter of 2009, a 27-percent decline. On average, the price U.S. dairy producers received for milk marketed in the summer of 2009 was about half of what it cost them to produce milk.

"The dedicated employees of the Farm Service Agency deserve a great deal of credit for acting quickly to provide this critical assistance to America's dairy farmers," said Jim Miller, Under Secretary of USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

Eligible producers will receive a one-time direct payment based on the amount of milk both produced and commercially marketed by their operation during the months of February through July 2009. Production information from these months will be used to estimate a full year's production for an operation to calculate the payments, using a 6-million pound per dairy operation limit.

Dairy producers who have production records at the USDA Farm Service Agency
(FSA) county office because they participated in another FSA dairy program do not need to apply for the program. FSA will use existing production records for February through July 2009 to calculate and issue their payments.

Producers who have not provided production data for those months to FSA, and have not already been contacted by FSA to provide such data, have 30 days, until Jan. 19, 2010, to apply. FSA officials estimate that more than 95 percent of eligible producers will receive benefits without having to fill out a new application.

A national per hundred weight payment rate will be determined by dividing the available funding of $290 million, less a reserve established by FSA, divided by the total pounds of eligible milk production approved for payment. Based on current information, FSA estimates that 875 million cwt. of milk production will be eligible for payment. The reserve will cover new applicants and appeals. The expected payment rate is approximately $0.32 per cwt.

To be eligible for DELAP, the dairy producer and the dairy operation in which the producer has a share:
· Must have produced milk in the United States and marketed milk commercially at any time from February through July 2009;
· Must have milk production data for those months; Must certify to all milk production produced and marketed by the dairy operation during that time.
· Also, any dairy producer who has an annual average adjusted gross nonfarm income of more than $500,000 for calendar years 2006 through 2008 is not eligible for DELAP.

For more information and eligibility requirements on the new DELAP program, please visit your local FSA county office or

Monday, December 21, 2009

President's Editorial

Putnam photo
Animal Rights Groups Attempt to Block Mustang Management
Editoral by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

Pocatello--Rangelands in several states are overcrowded with feral horses and the Bureau of Land Management is taking appropriate steps to move the animals to pastures and holding facilities in the Midwest.

The BLM plans to gather about 10,000 of the estimated 36,600 mustangs living on western rangelands and transport them to long-term holding corrals where they will be later offered for adoption. The BLM currently holds about as many horses in captivity as are living in the wild, which cost taxpayers nearly $30 million in 2009, about 70 percent of the total wild horse and burro program budget.

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar told the Associated Press recently that the current program is not sustainable for the animals, the environment or the taxpayers.

Salazar is right. Free-roaming horse populations double every four to five years and they have no natural predators, according to the BLM. In addition, mustangs compete with native wildlife for food and water. However, in spite of overwhelming evidence supporting more aggressive management, the California-based animal rights group In Defense of Animals has filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the plan to gather and relocate the mustangs. The lawsuit is supported by Nevada Author Terry Farley, singers Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow, and actor Ed Harris. They claim using helicopters to gather horses creates undue stress, the roundups violate the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed by Congress in 1971, and if the BLM continues there will be no horses left to preserve.

These arguments are hogwash and the federal judge should give this lawsuit a quick dismissal. BLM’s wild horse experts estimate western ranges can sustain 26,000 mustangs. With populations that can double in four years, we have a hard time imagining a scenario that could wipe out the population.

With regard to using helicopters for gathering, it’s really the only effective method. Even expert riders on fast horses are not capable of capturing the numbers of mustangs needed for effective management. One of the goals of the program is to capture mustangs that are adoptable, which means animals less than four years old. It would take an army of exceptional horses and riders to gather 10,000 mustangs. Helicopters are much more efficient.

In our estimation the lawsuit hangs on whether the plaintiffs can convince the judge that gathering mustangs violates the Act. If the judge rules it does, the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act should be modified to allow roundup and relocation. These animals must be managed in order to protect western rangelands and wildlife and to create a management scenario in which taxpayers’ dollars are managed efficiently.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just in from Washington

Putnam photo
Minnick Co-sponsors Equipment Depreciation Bill

Washington—Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick co-sponsored legislation designed to help farmers cope with shrinking margins. The Agriculture Equipment Depreciation resolution extends legislation that amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow farm and ranch equipment to be depreciated over five years instead of seven years.

The provision better matches agriculture equipment depreciation period to actual equipment use patterns and financing terms.Farm Bureau supports H.R. 4186, legislation to continue the 5 year depreciation for farm business machinery and equipment for two additional years. Enacted as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, this important tax provision is set to expire at the end of this year.

"This resolution is an attempt to give some additional tax credits to people who are investing in their business and it basically extends the five year accelerated depreciation for business machinery and equipment which was temporary program that was due to expire this year,” said Rep. Minnick.

Depreciation is treated as a non-cash business expense that lowers reported income and increases cash on hand. Ideally, the allowed number of years to depreciate a piece of business machinery or equipment should match the period of debt service so that the tax benefits can be used to finance payments.

“The thought process,” said Minnick “is that farmers that are making money, to an extent they can keep more of it in the form of a tax shield and that’s good in these tough times, it gives them a little more tax flow. If they are having trouble with their bank it gives them a little more leeway in terms of what their statement looks like, and their ability to service loans.”

Agriculture is an equipment-heavy industry with nearly $100 billion of stock in use during any given year. The share of farm assets attributable to machinery and farm-use motor vehicles makes up 7 percent of total assets owned by farmers and ranchers.

“If they are not making money, they still have to carry forward and carry back provisions so you can use the depreciation that way, so it is not a radical change but an acknowledgement that people in agriculture can continue to do what they need to do in terms of keeping their outfits up to date, and buying equipment that will allow them to be more efficient and to get the benefit of favorable tax treatment and hopefully get back to better times,” said Congressman Minnick.

USDA's Farm Service Agency surveys show that, on average, farmers and ranchers finance business equipment and machinery for five years. Aligning depreciation and debt service increases farm income by $800 million in a typical year, helps farmers and ranchers cover their debt service and facilitates the replacement of worn-out machinery.

The Bill passed the House and now goes to the Senate for final approval sometime in January.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just in from Washington

Dairies to Address Greenhouse Gas
Washington--U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an agreement with U.S. Dairy officials to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, mostly by convincing farmers to capture the methane from cow manure that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere.

Thomas Gallagher, the chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc., which signed the agreement with the government, said the commitment shows that U.S. farmers are concerned with making their operations increasingly sustainable.
"This memorandum came about because of the commitment of U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy industry to a sustainable future," Gallagher said. "Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with our heritage of taking care of the land and natural resources while producing nutritious products that consumers want."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just in Washington

Black Canyon Irrigation District
Simpson Opposes Efforts to Overregulate Agriculture

WASHINGTON, DC -- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today joined his colleagues on the Congressional Western Caucus in sending a letter to House and Senate leadership opposing the Clean Water Restoration Act. This legislation would dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over agricultural uses of water and is strongly opposed by Idaho’s agriculture community.

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, making virtually any water body in the United States potentially subject to EPA permitting and enforcement authorities. This would include water tanks, irrigation canals, ponds, drainage ditches, and even mud holes. Currently non-navigable waters are regulated by the States.

“I’m deeply concerned that this legislation would give the federal government such a broad reach that it would significantly restrict farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to make decisions about their own property and threaten Idaho’s control over state water rights,” said Simpson. “The Clean Water Restoration Act 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.”

Twenty-seven Senators and Members of Congress representing western states, including Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, joined Congressman Simpson in signing the letter. The letter opposes any legislative effort to expand federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over water in the West.

“In the West, few things have been more important in our states’ history than water,” the letter reads. “In the areas we represent, where the frontier spirit of smaller government and individual liberty are still sacred traditions, there is overwhelming objection to this bill.”

S.787, the Clean Water Restoration Act, was marked up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June, and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has placed a hold on Senate consideration of the bill. A House companion to the legislation has not yet been introduced.

Potato news

Growers Will Learn How to Put Sustainability into Practice
at Jan. 20-21 University of Idaho Potato Conference

Pocatello—“Putting Sustainability into Practice” is the theme of the University of Idaho’s 42nd Annual Potato Conference Jan. 20-21 in Pocatello. Participants will learn how to more efficiently use fertilizers, pesticides, water, fuel and other inputs.

John Keeling of the National Potato Council will describe the national forces driving potato producers to adopt sustainable practices, while Dave Ingersoll of J.R. Simplot Company will discuss consumers’ interest in improved product quality and nutritive value. A.J. Bussan, potato and vegetable production specialist at the University of Wisconsin, will describe future challenges in potato management systems; Paul Patterson, University of Idaho Extension economist, will examine the Idaho industry’s economic sustainability on both a farm and statewide basis; and Rich Novy, USDA Agricultural Research Service potato breeder, will address improving sustainability with new potato varieties.

Other conference topics will include organic potato production practices, manure management, production cost trends and forecasts, supply-demand balance, and evolving food-service products.

Participants will get research-based updates on managing diseases—including potato virus Y effects, symptoms and strain differences---as well as nutrient-disease interactions, insects, nematodes, weeds, planting, irrigation, harvest and storage. They will get briefings on the 2009 season and on field-burning requirements, learn how to enhance food safety, get tips on developing equitable crop leases, find out how to diagnose disease problems, and get advice on anticipating hail-damage outcomes. They will also learn how to use humic acid and post-harvest phosphorous acid, what crop insurance covers, which Natural Resources Conservation Service programs are available to them and how to implement the updated Good Agricultural Practices audit.

Spanish-language workshops will cover equipment maintenance and pest-management, including green peach aphids, powdery scab and University of Idaho Extension’s new Spanish-English field guide.

Slated for Idaho State University’s Pond Student Union Building, the 2010 University of Idaho Potato Conference is scheduled for 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, and 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21. In-state registration is $20 until Jan. 8 and $25 at the door. Out-of-state participants pay $75 until Jan. 8 and $90 at the door.

The conference is held in conjunction with the Eastern Idaho Ag Expo, which begins Jan. 19 in the Holt Arena.

Monday, December 14, 2009

YF&R Under New Leadership in 2010

Putnam photo
New YF&R Leaders Stress Leadership and Family

Malad-Last week the Austin and Maysi Tubbs of Malad were elected Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Leaders for 2010. The Tubbs are well known in the Malad Valley where they run a cow-calf and feed operation with their four sons.

Tell us about your Operation?

We live in the Malad Valley and ranch, and we farm a bit. Our main production is growing beef cattle, a cow calf operation. And we grow crops, hay and a little grain to put the animals through the winter and we wean the calves in the fall and sell some of them and some of them we maintain throughout the winter and sell in the spring.”

You’ve got a big spread here, how many head?

We run around 300-400 mother cows and we have about 400 acres of irrigated ground and a couple of thousand acres of dry land that we operate, a lot of it is in grass right now.”

How did you first become involved in Farm Bureau?

“My next door neighbor here was the county president of Farm Bureau at the time he asked if I would help him at the Farm Bureau Banquet cook meat and that’s how he got me into it, he got me involved then, we liked what were made a part of, enjoyed it and continued to be involved.”

Why Farm Bureau, and why did you become involved in YF&R?

“Coming from generation after generation of ranchers, its sad to see them disappear especially the youngsters, its nice to be involved with an organization that is striving to improve the lifestyle of farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau cares about this lifestyle and wants to make sure there is a continued say in for generations to come.”

Maysi, your thoughts about your involvement in Farm Bureau?

“I think its really important that all the young farmers and ranchers get together and communicate with each other about the struggles we are having, and I tell Austin, I like to go to the convention each year because it gives you a boost so you can go through the next year, knowing that there are other people out there struggling and doing it, and we can do it we can raise family and it gives me a boost to go through the next year. Just to be able to associate with them and I’m amazed at what Farm Bureau does with legislation and everything it does in the legislature, everything they know, I was never aware of that until I joined Young Farmers & Ranchers, the voice we have.”

Is it a comfort to be in like-minded company?

“When you sit and visit with them and see how they do theirs, how we do ours and you see what differences, the things that you have that are the same and sometimes you take ideas that people have and try and put in your own operation a little bit.”

Austin, many farm kids never make it back to the farm after college, why did you come back?

“I know that when our first child was born, I knew only how to raise a child on a farm and that was the main pull of coming back, cause I wanted to teach my children how to work and the responsibility of that, I learned growing up and I hope that it can sustain itself so that our children and their children can continue to do things that we enjoy doing.”

In today’s world what is the appeal of an organization like YF&R?

“What’s so appealing about the Young Farmer & Ranchers is that they’re developing leaders, we need more leaders that are involved in Idaho Agriculture. If we want to continue to raise families and enjoy the lifestyle we enjoy we need YF&R to provide that opportunity. Leaders are not born, they’re molded, you spend a couple of years just attending things, maybe not getting too involved and pretty quick it sparks an interest to where you want to get involved more and then you want to become a leader, you start applying yourself within the organization on how to become a better leader. From there you get on the county chair and pretty quick some run in their district and state and that’s good to see, we need people that are willing to step up and be leaders.”

Maysi, is the traditional role of women on Farms and Ranches changing?

“I think every farm and ranch has a different role for each woman, I find that to be able to be here with my children and to raise them on a ranch, and the generation of workers in this family are very strong and the opportunities that have to be with them every day to be with my husband and work along side of him, Id rather change lines than scrapbook any day and I would rather be on a horse and chasing cows than go to a women’s meeting. It’s just what I do, meetings are not a bad thing, but this is what I do and it ties me to the land and it gives me a different perspective. It also gives me a perspective on the family that’s often lost , to be with my husband, my kids all day long; to be a homemaker, I love it.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Jackets!

Joel Benson photo
Pocatello--Idaho Farm Bureau Frank Prietley tries on his new jacket with the help of the new Farm Bureau Vice President, Mark Trupp. New jackets are traditionally awarded to the President and Vice President by the Idaho Farm Bureau Board of Directors to the new leaders. Priestley and Trupp were elected at last weeks annual meeting in Idaho Falls.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just in from Washington

Mark Harris of Soda Springs is a long-time Farm Bureau Member-Putnam photo
Farm Bureau Reports 49th Year of Membership Growth

WASHINGTON– Farm Bureau’s national membership rose to 6,277,664 member families in 2009, marking 49 consecutive years of membership growth. State Farm Bureaus overall reported a total 34,378 more member families this year than in 2008.

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said this year’s membership growth is especially noteworthy considering the continuing economic challenges facing the nation. He credited agricultural advocacy programs at the local, state and national levels and services offered by state Farm Bureaus for the organization’s overall membership growth.

“Farm Bureau members and the county and state leaders they elect are the driving force behind our membership growth,” Stallman said. “Members are the lifeblood of true, grassroots organizations such as Farm Bureau. As AFBF heads into its 91st year, this membership accomplishment sets the stage for even greater achievements in policy, programs and services, all of which are developed with the goal of improving member families’ businesses and standards of living.”

Texas Farm Bureau had the single largest gain of 17,101 members, bringing its membership to 439,260.

Other states organizations with significant growth included Kentucky, which grew by 12,418 members to 483,352; Tennessee, which grew by 10,162 members to 646,240; North Carolina, which gained 9,592 members to 508,426; and Utah, which grew by 5,897 members to 27,313. Tennessee Farm Bureau remains the largest in the nation.

Utah Farm Bureau had the single largest percentage membership gain, growing 27.5 percent to 27,313 member families. Rounding out the top five by percentage of growth were West Virginia (11.6 percent), South Dakota (11.2 percent), Montana (7.7 percent) and Maryland (7 percent). The West had the largest percentage of growth, 3 percent.

Nineteen state Farm Bureaus earned Navigator Awards for exceptional membership growth: Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia.

Forty state Farm Bureaus achieved 2009 membership quota: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Parma Research Center

Ritter photo

Regents Approve Simplot Proposal, Hear Plan to Maintain Tetonia, Sandpoint Center Operations

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – At a meeting today in Twin Falls, the University of Idaho Board of Regents heard details about a proposal between the University of Idaho and the J.R. Simplot Co. focused on the university's Parma Research and Extension Center that both preserves a vital public research asset and promises to expand the center's overall research value to agriculture.

The board approved the proposed agreement during the meeting of the Idaho State Board of Education. The university regents also heard a report that operations will continue through June 30, 2010, at two other research and extension centers at Sandpoint and Tetonia.

"We thank the regents for their favorable reaction to this public-private collaboration," said university President Duane Nellis. "We also extend our thanks to the J.R. Simplot Company for joining the University of Idaho in this thoughtful assessment of how our combined expertise and interests can serve the state's agricultural industry. This agreement could serve as a model for bringing private industry and the public sector together in ways that will lead and enhance Idaho's economic develop in new ways."

The agreement and report are the latest steps in a long-term consolidation and restructuring plan begun early this year for the state-funded Agricultural Research and Extension Service in response to legislative budget cuts and gubernatorial holdback directives that already total $4.7 million or 17 percent.

The Simplot agreement and financial support from other agricultural interests are examples of alternative ways to meet Idaho agriculture's critical needs that university officials pledged to seek in May when plans were announced to close the three centers.

The agreement is critical to maintaining operations at the Parma center, said John Hammel, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean at Moscow, adding it does change the center's overall function.

"Simplot has, through this agreement, acquired rights to access research land and also upkeep and maintenance, which is a separate and compact agreement," Hammel said.

"We anticipate that the Simplot Company will still fund nonproprietary research ventures with the other faculty at the Parma station and elsewhere," Hammel added. Additionally, other companies as well as the agricultural commodity groups will fund research just as they currently do.

"The advantage to this agreement is that Simplot Company has research partners that the company will bring to the table, which will only enhance the industrial partnership as our relationships grow," Hammel said.

In broad terms, the agreement submitted to the board of regents outlines a commitment from Simplot to contribute $300,000 each year for five years to the Parma Research and Extension Center that would give Simplot researchers use of facilities and acreage for crop research and development.

The funds would be used to pay the university's labor, materials and other operating costs directly applicable to management and operation of the land and facilities provided by the university under this agreement and to contribute to costs associated with the university's overall maintenance of the Parma center. The agreement states that Simplot's stand-alone research and the resulting intellectual property would be retained by the company.

The university will continue to conduct its separately funded field crop research at the Parma Center alongside of, but separate from, the company’s proprietary research conducted under the agreement. University officials do not anticipate any reduction of field crop research availability to others who have funded research at the Parma Center and wish to continue to do so.

The agreement addresses 50 acres, half of the center's cropland used for research. It does not address orchard or vineyard research that is conducted elsewhere at the center. Parma sits on a total of 200 acres.

Hammel said encouraging conversations continue to maintain the orchard and vineyard with the Treasure Valley's tree fruit industry and the Treasure Valley Agricultural Coalition.

At the Tetonia Research and Extension Center, contributions of $120,000 from the Idaho Potato Commission, $15,000 from the Idaho Barley Commission and $20,000 from licensed potato variety royalties will fund operations there through the 2010 harvest in late fall. A special gift fund will go to support operations at Sandpoint at 60 percent of normal through June 30.

The three research and extension centers were proposed for closure by year's end after a statewide panel of agricultural interests met in April and reviewed the statewide system. In July, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and University of Idaho President Duane Nellis called for redoubled efforts to find alternate funding sources to keep the centers operating.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ag Extension News

Putnam photo
Sugar Beet Growers Will Learn About Strip Tillage
and Other Production Topics Jan.

Twin Falls--Idaho—Strip tillage, which is attracting intense grower interest nationally, will top the agenda when University of Idaho Extension delivers a full day of workshops Jan. 8 during the 2010 Snake River Sugar Beet Conference in Twin Falls.

Members of a grower panel will share their experiences with strip tillage—which limits tilling to the narrow strip in which seeds are planted—and soil scientists Amber Moore of University of Idaho Extension and David Tarkalson of the USDA Agricultural Research Service will discuss their recent nutrient-management research in strip-tilled and other systems. Orthman Manufacturing agronomist Mike Petersen will provide additional insights into strip-tillage nutrient management and agronomics from an industry perspective.

Other topics for sugar beet growers will include insecticide seed treatments, pesticide applicator software, impacts of over-irrigation, refining nitrogen inputs, maintaining planters, and identifying and controlling sugar beet diseases.

For Roundup Ready® sugar beet production, speakers will discuss tank-mixture economics, Roundup application timing and nitrogen’s influence on weed control. A special Spanish-language segment will cover pesticide training, worker protection safety, phosphorus management and a disease update.

To pre-register, call Kathy Garofano or Tamie Keeth at (208) 736-3600. For more information on the workshops, contact Morishita at (208) 736-3616

Co-sponsors include The Amalgamated Sugar Company LLC, Idaho Sugar Beet Growers Association, Nyssa-Nampa Beet Growers and Elwyhee Beet Growers.

Just in from Washington

Near Wilder last summer--Jake Putnam photo
Ag Groups file Supreme Court Brief in Biotech Alfalfa Case

WASHINGTON-The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association have submitted a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of a petition seeking review of the “alfalfa” case, “Monsanto v. Geertson Seed.”

The Ag groups argued that the Lower courts failed to adequately consider the mountains of evidence that prove biotech alfalfa is safe, and thus those courts abandoned a well-established legal principle when they banned the planting of the crop. That is just one of the points supporting a request for the United States Supreme Court to review a case related to biotech alfalfa, according to a brief filed by several groups.

Family-owned Geertson Seed Farms, Adrian, Ore., has been producing alfalfa seed since 1942, and still farms the original 80 acres that was homesteaded by the family in 1939. They're worried that genetically altered seed could put them out of business.

Ag group lawyers contend that the lower court’s injunction against biotech alfalfa was made without the court conducting a thorough review of evidence and absent a finding of irreparable harm, according to the brief. It was also made despite the fact that agricultural biotechnology already is adopted widely in the U.S. for a number of key crops, ranging from corn and cotton to papaya, sugar beets and soybeans.

“The lower courts abandoned the well-established principle that evidence of likely irreparable harm is a prerequisite to issuance of an injunction,” the brief stated. “The district court ruling in this case, instead of fashioning an injunction based on the evidence before it, declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing and applied a legal standard that effectively presumed the existence of irreparable harm.”

If the courts do not respect those established legal standards, the ability to bring future innovations, especially biotech crops, to the marketplace is in real jeopardy, according to the brief.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just in from Washington

EPA Declaration Could Hurt Family Farms

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's announcement that greenhouse gases jeopardize public health opens the door for the federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from refineries, chemical facilities and power plants - even if Congress rejects climate change legislation.

But the EPA's declaration doesn’t directly impose new carbon dioxide caps; it does establish the framework for regulating carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Monday's announcement clears the way for the EPA to finalize the first-ever national limits on vehicle exhaust emissions that were proposed earlier this year. EPA lawyers say the vehicle emissions rule and the endangerment finding could force the EPA to regulate suspected heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act by next spring; which isn’t sitting well with Nation’s largest Farm Organization.

“The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency today to announce an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could carry severe consequences for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

“We firmly believe any regulations dealing with global warming that could negatively affect our ability to produce food and fiber for our nation and the world should come through the legislative process. While more and more questions are being raised about the scientific validity of global warming models it is not the time to begin making sweeping policy decisions based on the projections offered by those climate models.”

Stallman added that while the EPA’s intention is to focus on a few polluters, he thinks the new rules will affect small operations. “We realize the EPA’s stated intention is to focus this finding narrowly on specific industries, using particular thresholds, but we believe there is no protection in the provisions that prevent them from being applied broadly across all sectors, including farm and ranch families who produce livestock. Due to the timing of the announcement, with the Copenhagen talks about to kickoff, we also believe this move could have more to do with political science than climate science.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow on the Dome

Snow on the Dome, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.
Idaho Briefs
Road Funding Still a Priority
A task force started by Governor Butch Otter will once again look at crumbling State roads. Funding road repair extended the 2009 session until May, the gas tax could be under attack during the 2010 session.
Snow a Problem
Snow on the roads led to more than 80 accidents yesterday in the Treasure Valley, the Idaho Transportation Department says November to February presents the greatest safety challenges in motorists. Theyre setting up a 511 telephone number that will give travellers up to the minute road conditions that include closures, delays and weather conditions.
Unemployment Down
The Unemployment rate dropped from 10.2 percent to 10-percent in November. Some ecnonomist say the numbers reflect a recovering economy, others think some part-time employees have stopped looking for full time employment.
Seasonal jobs are harder to find this year because of intense competition in the job market.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Boise hit by first snowstorm of season

Putnam photo
Boise buried under three inches of 'partly cloudy'

Boise--Boise was hit by a surprise storm early this morning. The National Weather Service reported 2-3 inches of dry powder snow, the storm subsided by noon.

Morining rush hour traffic came to a standstill on I-84, there were a few accidents but for the most part motorists took the storm in stride. Businesses like the Idaho Farm Bureau scrambled for snow removal equipment but had sidewalks clear by noon. Cold temperatures could keep the snow on the ground through the weekend.

A bobcat clears the Farm Bureau parking lot on Monday morning. Four inches of snow fell on downtown Boise. --Putnam photo

U of I Extension News

Putnam photo
Investing in Idaho's Future: University of Idaho and J.R. Simplot Announce Collaborative Concept for Parma Research and Extension Center

MOSCOW, Idaho – Under a pre-agreement document submitted for consideration by the University of Idaho Board of Regents, the university and J.R. Simplot Company propose a $1.5 million multi-year agreement for the university's Parma Research and Extension Center that would give the center a new lease on life.

"The University of Idaho and J.R. Simplot Company have had a long and proud history of providing leadership to the state and its agricultural industry," said University of Idaho President Duane Nellis."This innovative agreement aligns the research and knowledge expertise of Idaho's land-grant university with the business acumen of one of the state's most respected industry leaders and marks a new era in public-private collaboration in Idaho agricultural research. This is an Idaho-grown partnership that will pay long-term dividends to the state's economy."

Bill Whitacre, Simplot's president and chief executive officer, reiterated the importance of the agreement to Idaho's future.

"The J. R. Simplot Company is excited about the potential for a new level of collaborative research that will benefit both Idaho and our Company," said Whitacre. "The opportunity to work with the University of Idaho will further enable us to enhance both the practical and technical sides of production agriculture in the food system."

In broad terms, the agreement submitted to the board of regents outlines a commitment from Simplot to contribute $300,000 each year for five years to the Parma Research and Extension Center that would give Simplot researchers use of facilities and acreage for crop research and development. The funds would be used to pay the university's labor, materials and other operating costs directly applicable to management and operation of the land and facilities provided by the university under this agreement. and to contribute to costs associated with the university's overall maintenance of the Parma center. The agreement states that Simplot's stand-alone research and the resulting intellectual property would be retained by the company.

“This agreement shows that the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences conducts research that is important to the state, to Idaho agriculture and to a company that symbolizes the entrepreneurial spirit, agriculture and Idaho for many of us,” said John Hammel, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Terms of the Simplot agreement will be presented to the University of Idaho Board of Regents/Idaho State Board of Education for consideration and approval. The board's next meeting is scheduled Dec. 9-10 in Twin Falls. At that time, the university will also present its final recommendations for the research and extension centers.

Cooperative conversations concerning the Sandpoint and Tetonia Research and Extension centers have enabled the university to acquire sufficient pledges of funds from industry parties to allow the institution to maintain operations at these two facilities to be maintained through June 30, 2010. The university plans to continue seeking more sustainable permanent funding from industry partners for those facilities.

Under board of regent policy, the university began concurrent administrative processes to have the mechanisms in place in the event that it needed to restructure some or a number of its research and extension center operations.

The college administers research and extension centers statewide, including cooperative efforts with counties to base University of Idaho Extension research faculty in county offices. Action by the Idaho Legislature and the governor's holdback directive, in the face of declining state revenues, reduced the state appropriation to the Agricultural Research and Extension Service budget this year by 17 percent, or $4.7 million.


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