Saturday, October 31, 2009

President's Editorial


Jake Putnam photo
Environmental Group Misleads Members; Donations Pour In
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

Washington D.C. environmental group Defenders of Wildlife sent out an email to its membership in late October claiming a wolf hunt in Montana had wiped all the adults in a pack and that the surviving pups “will likely die without the rest of their wolf family.”

The report quickly spread on the Internet and according to the Associated Press; within a few short days 80,000 people signed a petition asking President Obama to stop the hunt and donated in excess of $150,000 to be spent on wolf-friendly advertising in New York City. According to its website, Defenders intends to run a video advertisement in Times Square during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and throughout most of the holiday shopping season.

Carolyn Sime, wolf coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, countered the environmental group’s claims. She said hunters killed four wolves from the Cottonwood pack that ranges in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park and in southwest Montana. Four adult wolves and two pups remain in the pack.

Defenders of Wildlife has continuously incited its members with erroneous claims about wolves for so long, it’s high time those members wised up. This group opposed the de-listing process and filed lawsuits to block wolf hunts. They have made several claims that wolf hunting would destroy wolf populations in Montana and Idaho. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s likely that neither state will fill its wolf hunting quota this year, and even if they do population increases, which have averaged 20 percent in recent years, are likely to offset the harvest.

Data collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks shows that on October 27, 25 of the 75 wolf tags allotted for the state had been filled. The southern region had exceeded its quota of 12 dead wolves by one and the region was closed. The southwest and north portions of the state remain open for wolf hunting.

In Idaho as of October 26, 80 wolves were dead and 140 open tags remain. In the Sawtooth zone 19 wolves have been shot out of a possible 55. In the McCall-Weiser zone 13 out of a possible 15 tags are filled and hunting is about to be closed in a couple of other zones that only allowed five tags this year. This data shows the harvest is being carefully managed and spread out so as not to threaten the wolf population. In our opinion, more wolf harvest is necessary. We believe there are more wolves in Idaho than the state and federal estimates show. We also believe it’s extremely disingenuous for Defenders of Wildlife to characterize Westerners, including ranchers and hunters, as the unreasonable zealots of wolf management. Anyone who has or is considering making a donation to this group ought to take a look at their track record.

Part 2 – Check out America’s Heartland on Idaho Public TV

America’s Heartland, a program that brings stories about agriculture into homes across the country is beginning its fifth season on Idaho Public Television. Reporters travel coast to coast to provide viewers with a better understanding of how agriculture affects their lives. The next episode will explore how a Utah family mixes ranching with recreation, profile a Vermont builder who restores barns and look into poultry genetics. The program airs on IPTV Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. MST and on several weekday mornings at 9 a.m. It also airs on RFD TV on Wednesday’s at 6 p.m. MST. For more information go to http://www.americasheartland.org/

Friday, October 30, 2009

District IV YFR Discussion Meet


District IV YFR Discussion Meet, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau, Ritter Photo
Discussion Meet: Biggest Turnout in Years

Caldwell--The District IV discussion meet was held at the Canyon County Farm Bureau offices in Caldwell Thursday night to a packed house that included Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley and Kara Jackson, Miss Idaho.

Shane Stevenson took first place followed by Michael Archibald and Jackson, competeing in her first meet finished a strong third.

All three won cash prizes and partial expense voucher to the to the state meet. This year's meet was well attended because last year's winner went on to win the national contest.

Discussion meets are designed to simulate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each committee member.

The strength of Farm Bureau is largely in its ability to involve members in analyzing their agricultural problems and deciding on solutions that best meet their needs. Discussion Meets provides an opportunity for participation on the part of young, active farmers and ranchers and helps develop a greater command of basic discussion skills and leadership.

The three fundamentals of general discussion are constructive criticism, cooperation and communication. The contestant's responsibility is to exchange ideas and information in an effort to solve a problem.

Just in from Washington


Jake Putnam photo
AFBF: Cap and Trade Senate Bill Fails Farmers and Consumers

Washington--Senate Bill 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would, like a parallel bill that passed in the House of Representatives in June, establish a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gases.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman testified Thursday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee saying the American Farm Bureau stands in opposition to the House and Senate versions of the bill.

“One of the major failings of H.R. 2454 was that the measure failed to provide a cost-effective blueprint to transition to a clean energy economy,” said Stallman. “S. 1733 exhibits the same shortcoming.”

Stallman stressed that cap and trade legislation would result in higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs to farmers and ranchers. Cost increases incurred by utilities and other providers resulting from climate change legislation would ultimately be borne by consumers.

“The impacts of the legislation go far beyond just the farm and ranch community,” said Stallman. “Families will be hit hard with higher energy costs under any cap-and-trade program, an amount that could total up to $200 billion a year for American taxpayers. That will put enormous strain on family budgets.”

Stallman asserted that there should be two essential components to any policy that seeks to transition from one source of energy to new sources: a mechanism that removes the old source and a means to “plug the hole” that is left when that energy source is removed with a readily available, cost-effective new source of energy.

“The principal bills in the House and Senate would accomplish the first element by capping emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by limiting the use of fossil fuels,” continued Stallman. “However, there is little in either bill that would provide an alternative source of energy to the fossil fuels that will be lost.”

Stallman also said that S. 1733 does not make economic sense for agriculture. According to the latest Environmental Protection Agency report “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005,” updated in 2008, agriculture and forestry emit between 6 percent and 7 percent of the total GHG emitted in the U.S. The same EPA report also indicates that agriculture and forestry have the potential to sequester between 15 percent and 20 percent of total U.S. emissions. Currently these two sectors sequester about 11 percent of total emissions, so these sectors are responsible for reducing more GHG emissions than they emit.

“It stands to reason that any climate change policy should seek to maximize these contributions from agriculture, not punish them,” said Stallman.

Regarding offsets, Stallman told committee members that unlike the House bill, S. 1733 does not specifically provide a place for agriculture and forestry in its offsets program. While the bill provides a pool of 1.5 billion tons of domestic offsets, the bill does not specify who is eligible to provide those offsets. Instead, the president may choose which sector is eligible.

“This uncertainty creates a number of problems both for farmers and ranchers and the offsets program itself,” said Stallman. “S. 1733 places the entire offsets program at the complete discretion of the president, with no sector being assured that any of the offset opportunities they might provide will even be eligible to participate in the program. In this regard, S. 1733 takes a step backward from the House bill.”

“Agriculture and forestry can play a key role in any future national energy policy,” concluded Stallman. “But, S. 1733 fails to recognize this role and would in fact penalize the very sectors that have the best opportunity to reduce greenhouse emissions in the most cost-effective manner for all.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just in from New York



U.S. Economy Grew at 3.5% Annual Rate in Third Quarter, Ending Full Year of Decline

New York--Output of goods and services grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate, faster than economists expected, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Even so, it will be months before job-seekers begin to feel the benefits.

Just in from Washington



Outlook ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ for Agriculture
Washington--Speakers at Farm Bureau’s second annual commodity outlook conference, in Albuquerque, N.M., painted a “cautiously optimistic” outlook for U.S. agriculture, with crop and dairy producers likely faring better than livestock producers who will still face challenges in the year ahead.

Joe Glauber, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, told the conference that grain and oilseed demand remains strong, and relatively low ending stocks means that markets still have the potential for some price volatility. For livestock, Glauber does see price recovery, with higher prices forecasted for 2010.

“Farm income should improve in 2010 if input costs do not spike as they did in 2008,” Glauber said. For 2009, net cash farm income is forecast to fall to an aggregate $68 billion in 2009 however, down a staggering $30 billion from a record $98 billion in 2008.

“Both crops and livestock were hit pretty hard this year,” Glauber said.
All things considered, agriculture is weathering the current economic downturn “pretty darn well” thanks in a large part to exports, said Mike Dwyer, director of the trade and biofuels division of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

“For the last two years, exports accounted for 33 percent of cash receipts for agriculture. Trade is a major driver of prosperity for farmers and ranchers,” Dwyer said. “Agriculture and aviation are the only two industries in the United States that are net exporters.”

With most private economists forecasting a falling dollar in the year ahead, Dwyer sees a rise in U.S. farm exports, which makes the U.S. more competitive overseas. For the long-term future, Dwyer said U.S. agriculture needs to focus on exports to developing countries with an expanding middle-class population.

“The middle class in developing countries is where the action is going to be. Agriculture should be very optimistic about the long-term future. It all starts with demand, and demand is expected to improve in these developing countries,” Dwyer said.

Scott Brown, a livestock and dairy economist with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, said times are tough for all livestock producers due to “dreadful demand at home, restaurants and abroad.” Poultry and hog producers are particularly hard hit.

For hogs, there is simply too much supply on the market. Sow numbers are down, but they need to come down even more, Brown said. For chickens, the supply situation is in good shape; the problem is demand, particularly foodservice demand, because of the recession.


For dairy, the current situation is “very gloomy” with 2009 being the toughest year dairy farmers have ever faced, Brown said. “The world market will have to improve for dairy prices to return to their peak. The domestic market won’t cover it, but the market is recovering. Dairy supplies must continue to decline in 2010. I see more improvement for dairy in 2010 than cattle or hogs.”


For corn and soybeans, Robert Wisner, an Extension economist with Iowa State University, said clearing weather will likely mean lower prices into early November, but moderate price strength into the winter for both crops due to strong exports and ethanol demand.


For wheat, strong domestic and international production has rebuilt inventories. “Buyers don’t feel a sense of urgency, so they are only buying enough to fill their immediate needs,” said Frayne Olson, a crops economist at North Dakota State University.


As for cotton, Carl Anderson, professor emeritus and Extension specialist with Texas A&M University, sees another challenging year for the industry. “Cotton is an export-driven market, and there will be greater market uncertainty,” Anderson said. “Producers, merchants and mill buyers face new strategies to better manage price risk.”


Summarizing the various speaker’s comments, Bob Young, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “What I’ve heard leaves me cautiously optimistic.We have real, serious challenges in the hog and dairy sectors, challenges that will fundamentally alter the structure of the pork industry. The picture for crop producers comes in as ‘not bad,’ certainly not ‘great,’ more of a treading water situation if we can keep input costs under control this year. If we can get the general economy to turn around enough to bring the consumer back into the market, I think we’ll see some noticeable improvement in 2010 farm income.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

County News


NPFB Gearing Up for Annual Meeting
Moscow--Nez Perce County Farm Bureau met earlier this month discussing fall business. Talk centered on their county annual meeting, Idaho Farm Bureau annual conference, gold stars, and resolutions.

Robert Blair,(far left) led the discussion along with board members (going around the table), Dale Wolff, Bob Konen, Doug Zenner (Nez Perce County Commissioner) and Larry Smith, Nez Perce County Extension Educator and Crops Specialist.

Spooky!


Spooky!, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau. Steve Ritter photo

Purdum's Last Day: Saturday

Fruitland-Purdum's Produce in Fruitland is doing spooky business leading up to Halloween. The big sellers this time of year is the great pumpkin followed closely by apples and squash.
Purdums will close for the season on Halloween, Saturday night. The fruit stand has had one of the best seasons ever and continues to grow each year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just in from Washington


Jake Putnam photo

Simpson Offers Motion to Help America’s Farmers
Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Ranking Member of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, offered a motion on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to protect farmers from greenhouse gas reporting requirements put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Simpson’s motion instructs conferees who are working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for FY2010 to include a provision that was included in the House-passed bill. The provision prohibits funds in the bill from being used to implement any rule requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock manure.


“The livestock industry is being hammered by the downturn in our national economy,” said Simpson. “Frozen credit markets have left farmers and ranchers without the credit they need to run their day-to-day operations, and many have been forced to sell their land or declare bankruptcy. Now is not the time to pile the regulatory burden onto these operations, forcing even more of them to fail.”

According to the EPA, livestock manure management systems account for less than one percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., yet the cost to producers of regulating these emissions is extremely expensive and burdensome. The EPA currently only exempts manure management systems that emit less than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses annually.

“Right now, farmers and ranchers are hanging on by a thread,” Simpson said. “If we doom too many American farmers to failure through overzealous regulation, we will quickly find ourselves dependent on other countries’ farmers to meet our needs.”

The conference report on the Interior Appropriations bill is expected to be considered by the House later this week.

Fruit Stands: Pumpkin season

video

Steve Ritter video

The Great Pumpkin Hunt

Fruitland--Little Cameron Leonard of Caldwell was on a quest this past weekend. He wanted to bring home the biggest, prettiest, most orange pumpkin he could find and he found his prize at Prudum Produce on Emmet road outside of Fruitland.

Cameron was'nt alone, he had several hundred fellow pumpkin hunters tramping the colorful fields with him. He picked an oblong beauty that he packed off. The pumpkin weighed in at 22 pounds, at least half his weight. "I think he has a death grip on it," chuckled his father. "We're going to carve it up and put it out on the front step."

Prudums has been selling produce since July they will call it a season on Saturday October 31st, Halloween eve.Until then the produce stand will continue selling pumpkins, apples and fall produce in what has been an excellent season.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ag Extension Research News


Steve Ritter photo
Scientists Use Genetic Markers to Develop Potatoes
That Fry Up Light Even After Cold Storage
by Marlene Fritz

KIMBERLY, Idaho—In Idaho and across the nation, freshly harvested potatoes are in the early days of a storage season that—for some varieties—could continue through next August. When held at temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, they won’t develop cold-induced “sweetening”—an undesirable process in which sugars within spuds produce dark fries that are unacceptable to consumers—but they’re more likely to sprout, lose moisture and develop storage-related diseases.

At the University of Idaho, postharvest physiologist Sanjay Gupta suspects we could have cold-stored potatoes and enjoy eating them, too. “That would be a very significant improvement,” he said. “Cold sweetening has been a problem for the potato industry for a very long time.”

Gupta has teamed with Richard Novy, Aberdeen-based USDA Agricultural Research Service potato breeder, and two Midwestern scientists to select breeding lines for their resistance to cold-induced sweetening. Potatoes that could be stored at or below 42 degrees Fahrenheit and still fry up light wouldn’t need as many sprout inhibition treatments, Gupta said. As living seed, they would respire less at colder temperatures, thereby retaining moisture and weight, and would be less prone to plant diseases.

While at the University of Minnesota, Gupta began developing two biochemical markers that reveal a potato’s propensity to tolerate cold storage. One of the biochemical markers is a protein called UDP-Glucose pyrophosphorylase that controls the formation of sucrose from the potatoes’ starches; the other, acid invertase, controls the formation of the reducing sugars glucose and fructose from sucrose. Together, they indicate not only how well a variety can be stored at lower temperatures but for how long.

Gupta refined the markers at the University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center. Along with Martin Glynn of the USDA-ARS in East Grand Forks and Joe Sowokinos of the University of Minnesota, he then used the markers to screen about 300 experimental clones and commercial varieties from a dozen North American breeding programs. The markers predicted with about 90 percent accuracy a potato’s response to storage temperatures.

“Understanding the underlying mechanism of cold-sweetening is a big benefit to breeders,” said Novy. “We can intercross parents having divergent cold-induced sweetening resistance and make greater gains, because many of their offspring will be more resistant than either parent.”

By choosing the right parents, breeders could significantly accelerate the development of potatoes with the level of cold-sweetening resistance the market seeks, Gupta said.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Just in from Washington


Jake Putnam photo
Ag Agenda: Don't CAP Our Future
By Bob Stallman, President American Farm Bureau

Washington--Farm Bureau recently kicked off a climate change grassroots campaign appropriately titled “Don’t Cap Our Future.” Farm Bureau members are getting out the word on Capitol Hill that cap-and-trade legislation would impose higher energy and food costs on consumers, raise fuel, fertilizer and energy costs for farmers and ranchers, and shrink the American agricultural sector, resulting in reduced U.S. food production. The consequences of climate legislation far outweigh the benefits and aren’t worth capping America’s future.

Paying the Piper

Under the cap-and-trade legislation in the House and Senate, American families will pay higher energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, energy costs could grow by $1,870 per household. Combined with higher costs for food, the additional yearly hit on families would total about $2,300 per household. Said another way, the cap-and-trade law would impose costs of up to $200 billion a year on American taxpayers. At the farm gate, as much as 17 percent of U.S. agricultural land currently used for food production will be idled and planted in trees under the House bill. That is because the vast majority of incentive payments will go to people who choose to grow and maintain trees for greenhouse gas reduction, rather than farmers who work to put food on Americans’ tables. This shift in land use will hurt consumers at the grocery store. Food costs could rise by up to an average of $33 billion annually in 2020 and up to $51 billion annually by 2030 as a result of this legislation.

Higher fuel and fertilizer costs to American farmers and ranchers who do remain on the farm will put them at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions. A Cap is Worth a Thousand Words Farmers and ranchers, along with many American taxpayers are saying enough. That’s why Farm Bureau has launched the “Don’t Cap Our Future” campaign. With the familiar farmer’s cap driving our efforts, the effort is a traditional grassroots approach that involves sending cards and letters to members of Congress, and hand-delivering farm caps to congressional offices at the state level.

Farm Bureau members nationwide will be voicing opposition to climate legislation. My goal is to engage at least 2 percent of Farm Bureau members. I am personally asking members to sign a new farm cap on its bill (if you are like me, you have a lot of unused caps in your closet) and hand-deliver it to a member of Congress with the message “Don’t Cap Our Future.” For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food prices



Tracking Milk and Egg Trends
Washington--For the third quarter of 2009, shoppers reported the average price for a half-gallon of regular whole milk was $1.89, down 3 cents from the prior quarter.


The average price for one gallon of regular whole milk was $2.87, down 14 cents. Comparing per-quart prices, the retail price for whole milk sold in gallon containers was about 25 percent lower compared to half-gallon containers, a typical volume discount long employed by retailers.

The average price for a half-gallon of rBST-free milk was $3.32, up 14 cents from the last quarter and about 75 percent higher than the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk ($1.89).

The average price for a half-gallon of organic milk was $3.77, up 14 cents compared to the second quarter—double the reported retail price for a half-gallon of regular milk ($1.89).

Compared to a year ago (third quarter of 2008), the retail price for regular milk in gallon containers decreased by 27 percent while regular milk in half-gallon containers decreased 26 percent. The average retail price for rBST-free milk dropped about 3 percent in a year’s time.

The average retail price for organic milk in half-gallon containers went up and down slightly throughout the year, rising 1.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the prior year. For the third quarter of 2009, the average price for one dozen regular eggs was $1.44. The average price for “cage-free” eggs was $3.04 per dozen, around 95 percent more per dozen than regular eggs.

Regular eggs dropped in retail price by 16 percent from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009; “cage-free” eggs increased in price about 1 percent over the year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Cattle Roundup

video

The Annual Dalley Roundup Weathers Early Snow!

Blackfoot--The Dalley family of Blackfoot, Idaho is gathering up their cattle. Early snow and cool temps brought the cattle home even faster than planned. For Ralph and Joyce Dalley rounds up are more about family than cattle. Daughter Sara Erb is planning a new career as a videographer!

Cost of Living


Food Prices Trending Down From Last Year

Washington--Retail food prices at the supermarket decreased slightly for the fourth consecutive quarter and are significantly lower than one year ago, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare a meal was $46.03, down $.26 from the second quarter of 2009 and $4.18 lower or 10 percent less compared to one year ago.

Of the 16 items surveyed, nine decreased and seven increased in average price compared to the prior quarter.

Shredded cheddar cheese, ground chuck, whole milk, vegetable oil and Russet potatoes declined the most in price from quarter-to-quarter. Shredded cheddar cheese dropped 23 cents to $4.08 per pound, ground chuck dropped 17 cents to $2.65 per pound, whole milk dropped 14 cents to $2.87 per gallon, vegetable oil dropped 13 cents to $2.72 for a 32-oz. bottle and Russet potatoes dropped 11 cents to $2.65 for a 5-pound bag.

Other items that decreased in price were: sliced deli ham, down 5 cents to $4.75 per pound; boneless chicken breasts, down 2 cents to $3.08 per pound; white bread, down 1 cent to $1.76 for a 20-oz. loaf; and sirloin tip roast, down 1 cent to $3.87 per pound.

“Consumers continue to benefit from modest, steady declines in retail food prices at the grocery store. From a nutritional perspective, it’s important to note that our volunteer shoppers found significantly lower retail prices for several protein-rich foods that are staples in the diet of most Americans, including milk, cheese, eggs and ground beef, compared to one year ago,” said AFBF Economist Jim Sartwelle.

Whole milk decreased 27 percent, cheddar cheese decreased 23 percent, potatoes decreased 22 percent, apples decreased 19 percent, eggs decreased 16 percent, vegetable oil decreased 16 percent and ground chuck dropped 10 percent in retail price compared to a year ago, according to AFBF’s survey.

“Again this quarter and compared to one year ago, the foods that declined the most in average retail price are among the least-processed items in our marketbasket,” Sartwelle said.
Several items went up slightly in price compared to the prior quarter: bacon, up 18 cents to $3.37 per pound; orange juice, up 11 cents to $3.13 for a half-gallon; eggs, up 10 cents to $1.44 per dozen; toasted oat cereal, up 9 cents to $2.95 for a 9-oz. box; flour, up 6 cents to $2.48 for a 5-pound bag; apples, up 5 cents to $1.46 per pound; and bagged salad, up 2 cents to $2.77 for a 1-pound bag. Compared to one year ago, bagged salad increased the most in price among the items in the basket, up 16 percent.

AFBF’s third quarter marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s August 2009 Consumer Price Index (www.bls.gov/cpi) report for dairy and related products, which showed a slight decline (-.4 percent) for the ninth consecutive month.
As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Starting in the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. That figure has decreased steadily over time and is now just 19 percent, according to Agriculture Department statistics,” Sartwelle said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $46.03 marketbasket would be $8.75.

Further, according to USDA, the average price farmers received for their products in September remained flat from the August level, but was 18 percent lower compared to a year ago.
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The mix of foods in the marketbasket was updated during the first quarter of 2008.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 66 shoppers in 29 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in August.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just in from Washington


Jake Putnam photo

Ag Agenda: Don't CAP Our Future
By Bob Stallman, President American Farm Bureau


Washington--Farm Bureau recently kicked off a climate change grassroots campaign appropriately titled “Don’t Cap Our Future.” Farm Bureau members are getting out the word on Capitol Hill that cap-and-trade legislation would impose higher energy and food costs on consumers, raise fuel, fertilizer and energy costs for farmers and ranchers, and shrink the American agricultural sector, resulting in reduced U.S. food production. The consequences of climate legislation far outweigh the benefits and aren’t worth capping America’s future.

Paying the Piper
Under the cap-and-trade legislation in the House and Senate, American families will pay higher energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, energy costs could grow by $1,870 per household. Combined with higher costs for food, the additional yearly hit on families would total about $2,300 per household. Said another way, the cap-and-trade law would impose costs of up to $200 billion a year on American taxpayers.

At the farm gate, as much as 17 percent of U.S. agricultural land currently used for food production will be idled and planted in trees under the House bill. That is because the vast majority of incentive payments will go to people who choose to grow and maintain trees for greenhouse gas reduction, rather than farmers who work to put food on Americans’ tables. This shift in land use will hurt consumers at the grocery store. Food costs could rise by up to an average of $33 billion annually in 2020 and up to $51 billion annually by 2030 as a result of this legislation.

Higher fuel and fertilizer costs to American farmers and ranchers who do remain on the farm will put them at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions.

A Cap is Worth a Thousand Words
Farmers and ranchers, along with many American taxpayers are saying enough. That’s why Farm Bureau has launched the “Don’t Cap Our Future” campaign. With the familiar farmer’s cap driving our efforts, the effort is a traditional grassroots approach that involves sending cards and letters to members of Congress, and hand-delivering farm caps to congressional offices at the state level. Farm Bureau members nationwide will be voicing opposition to climate legislation.

My goal is to engage at least 2 percent of Farm Bureau members. I am personally asking members to sign a new farm cap on its bill (if you are like me, you have a lot of unused caps in your closet) and hand-deliver it to a member of Congress with the message “Don’t Cap Our Future.” For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.

Harvest Over, New Season Underway


Farmer Andy Russell discs under last years silage corn--Ritter photo
Fall Planting Underway in Emmett
Emmett--Andy Russell got the last of his silage corn harvested last week, this week he's discing it under and planting barley in rotation. Warm weekend temperatures helped planting, but a driving rain on Sunday and Monday slowed traditional fall work to a standstill.
Russell is the son on Bill and Claire Russell, who have farmed this land since the 1940's. The Russells farm a hundred acres of feed for their dairy farm. Bill and Claire were named Gems of Gem County by the Gem CountyFarm Bureau.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ada County Farm Bureau News


Left to right ACFB Pres. Don Sonke are Oscar Salinas, Mario Salinas, Sonke, Stuart Barret, and Dan Arnold

Ada County Farm Bureau Supports Jalapeno Open
By Don Sonke

Meridian--Ada County Farm Bureau sponsored two teams in the 2009 Jalapeno Open. ACFB sponsored an insurance agent team and a federation team for this years Open held October 9 this year.

The Jalapeno Open is a golf tournament founded by Richard G. Cortez, owner of Metalcraft, to provide scholarships to deserving Hispanic high school graduates. Beginning in 1993 the proceeds have exceeded $230,000 and has benefited more than 300 students.

The Ada County board voted to sponsor this event on a yearly basis to show our appreciation for the contribution the Hispanic community makes toward our agriculture work force. About 15 of the scholarship recipients were in attendance at the awards ceremony after the tournament. They represented students from several Idaho colleges including UI, Boise State, and College of Idaho and had majors such as business administration and civil engineering. This event has widespread support from both the business and political factions of our community. Former Governor Phil Batt chaired the committee one year and has played and been a contributor for several years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harvest News



Idaho Beet Crop Harvest Continues Under Dark Legal Cloud

Wilder--A Federal District Court judge in Portland, Oregon will meet with the US Department of Agriculture officials and Environmental groups to decided whether to place an injunction on Roundup Ready seed for the 2010 season; while Idaho farmers continue the 2009 harvest with record yields.
Oregon environmental groups and organic farmers filed the suit in Portland over fears of cross pollination with organic crops in the Willamette Valley. Insiders say their lawyers are expected to ask federal Judge Jeffrey White October 30th for the injunction barring Roundup Ready seed until the Department of Agriculture can do an environmental and economic impact study.

Roundup Ready beets consist of broad-spectrum glyphosate herbicides manufactured by Monsanto. Growers can use Roundup to kill weeds without damaging their crops. "With those weeds you can lose three, four-ton less per acre," said long time farmer Grant Wyatt of Burley.
Controlling weeds is a farmers nightmare because the chemicals that kill weeds also can kill beets. Before Roundup n farmers had to carefully apply low doses of herbicide twice a month and then walk a tightrope protecting the beets. What herbicide didn't kill, migrant workers are hired at a premium had to do the rest.

Roundup ready beets are genetically modified and immune to most weeds. Still some weeds still get through but are easily handled without harming the beets. Sugar industry representatives say that just over 90-percent of the sugar beets planted this year were Roundup Ready created by Monsanto. Farmers say Roundup provides a demonstrated and clear-cut edge in weed control. Farmers are also making fewer passes over their fields, using far less fuel and chemicals.
The US and Canada are the only countries using Roundup Ready sugar beets.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

District Discussion Meets Underway


Bob Smathers photo
U of I Discussion Meet a Success

Moscow-Collegiate members of the Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers held their annual Discussion Meet at the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on October 14.

All seven competitors presented well researched comments with hopes of winning a free trip to the state YF&R discussion meet at the Annual Farm Bureau Convention in December. The U of I students tackled the discussion question “How can agricultural producers reach out to the public to gain their support on important issues impacting agriculture?”

The top finishers were 1st Alex Vigil, Agribusiness, 2nd Colin Longworth, Range Science, and Joel Zwainz, Business and Accounting. Alex Vigil represented Idaho in the National Collegiate Discussion Meet in Sacramento last January and made it all the way to the sweet 16 of that competition.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harvest 2009


Brett Meyer harvest silage corn on his farm outside of Filer, Idaho, Steve Ritter photo
National Corn Harvest Underway
Washington--The USDA estimates the U.S. corn harvest is now 10% complete thats up 6% last week, 13% last year yet 25% of average. The slow corn harvest has kept traditional harvest pressure off the market. Thats good for early market prices because elevators and ethanol plants are reportedly bidding up for cash supplies as they had counted on newly harvested corn supplies that are being delayed due to the weather. Eventually, harvest pressure will begin to hit the market and pressure prices downward.

On Friday, the USDA released the monthly supply/demand report for the month. The USDA estimated corn production at 13.018 billion bushels, up slightly from last month and 8 percent higher than 2008.Based on conditions as of October 1, yields are expected to average 164.2 bushels per acre, up 2.3 bushels from September and 10.3 bushels above last year. If realized, this yield will be the highest on record and total production will be second only to the record set in 2007.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sugar Beets Going Full Speed


Near Parma-Putnam photo
Roundup Ready Spiking Beet yields; Tight Supplies Boosting Prices
Nampa--With beet prices in the dumper last year, many Idaho farmers planted cash crops like hay, wheat,corn and potatoes. Stubborn farmers that that stuck to their guns and planted beets this year are in the black while the markets for other crops are flat.

"Beets did well this year with good market prices,” said Sid Freeman of Middleton. Freeman finished harvesting last week and says the beet crop is making up for shortfalls in the others.

Idaho farmers will harvest 5.56 million tons of sugar beets, up 54 percent over last year, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. Grower returns are higher than last year because of strong market prices.

“What's really saving us is just having a good crop, with fuel and fertilizer up we’re covering those costs in saved labor, herbicides and fuel,” said Freeman.

Total Yields for the Idaho sugar beet crop are expected to peak at 34.1 tons per acre, up from 31.2 tons last year. U.S. sugar beet yields have continued to trend higher in part because many growers switched to Roundup Ready seed varieties.
Farmers can spray all their fields with Roundup without injury to the crop. That’s decreased labor costs and also reduced fuel consumption not to mention additional herbicides. Roundup is spiking yields because other herbicides used to control weeds drastically stunt beet growth.

About 176,000 acres of sugar beets were grown this year in Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington -- all under contract to Amalgamated Sugar Co with 163,000 acres harvested in Idaho. This year's larger crop is up an astounding 17-percent across the nation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Garden News


Heather Glass harvests her garden, September 2009, Putnam photo
Annual South Idaho Garden SymposiumTeaches “Going Green”
by Marlene Fritz, University of Idaho

TWIN FALLS, Idaho—Do you want to “go green” in your garden next year—or are you already experimenting with environmentally “soft” techniques and need tips on maximizing their impacts? On Nov. 14, University of Idaho Extension will host its fourth annual South Idaho Garden Symposium, “Going Green in the Garden,” at the College of Southern Idaho’s Herrett Center for Arts and Science. Cost is $25 until Nov. 6 and $30 at the door, space permitting.

“Although a lot of people don’t know what ‘green’ means, it’s not really new in the garden,” said Jo Ann Robbins, University of Idaho Extension educator in Jerome County. “It’s one step beyond traditional low-maintenance, low-input gardens towards an increased focus on water protection, sustainability and self-cycling.” Interest in green gardening is building along with Americans’ inclination to save more and forgo unnecessary expenses, Robbins said.

“People are looking at their lifestyle differently, and a green garden tends to be economical as well as attractive.” Organized by the Magic Valley and Mini-Cassia Master Gardener Associations, the program includes presentations by University of Idaho Extension faculty in horticulture, entomology and plant pathology as well as local nursery and landscape professionals.

Participants will learn how to:
· Apply the concepts of a green garden and become better stewards
· Control garden problems organically with commercially available soft garden chemicals
· Use beneficial insects,and best management practices to create insect-friendly yards
· Use good cultural and management practices—including the newest biological controls
· Use irrigation equipment efficiently and effectively
· Complete their green gardens with new and old favorite native plants

The event includes a silent auction, door prizes and seed exchange. It begins with registration at 8 a.m., breaks at noon for a sandwich-and-salad buffet and concludes at 3:30 p.m. For more information, contact Shari Wright at (208) 320-3975, Kathie Stewart at (208) 735-5396 or Gene Holm at (208) 436-8989. To download a registration form, go to https://webmail.idfbins.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=cf41c0ebf1e54d81a96d878330aaa955&URL=http%3a%2f%2fextension.ag.uidaho.edu%2fJerome and click on Upcoming Events for Gardening.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Farm Aid 2009


Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Mathews at Farm Aid 2009
Photo courtesy of Sharonc

Farm Aid Swings and Misses
By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

A group of musicians including Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp got together in St. Louis, Missouri recently and held a benefit concert to raise money for small farmers.

This 24th anniversary of the Farm Aid concert / fundraiser broadcast to millions on Direct TV sounds like a noble cause, but on closer inspection it’s more of a charade than anything. Good music indeed and Farm Aid deserves credit for shining a light on some of American agriculture’s problems. However, we disagree with the amount of misinformation they are spreading to consumers and we think it’s poor judgment for farmers to attack other farmers when times get tough.

We commend Farm Aid for showing the plight of small farmers everywhere. And they do a fine job of showing examples of small farmers using creative niche marketing strategies. But Farm Aid’s public relations machine doesn’t have a good grasp on the real problems agriculture faces. For instance, they vilify corporate farms without taking the time to understand that 98 percent of American farms are owned by families. It’s true that many of those farms are incorporated for tax purposes, but are nonetheless still family owned.

In addition, Farm Aid attacks large farms and modern production methods much the same as PETA and other animal rights groups. They argue America’s remaining small farms soon will be swallowed up and before consumers know it they won’t have a choice except to buy processed foods from giant agribusiness corporations. These assertions are not even remotely accurate.

First, we all need a clear understanding of the fact that there are 300 million Americans who need food every day. That food is currently produced by less than 2 percent of our population. If we were to take away large farms and modern production methods, most of us would have to go back to living and working on farms, much like our society was in the 1930’s. Even if we had the land, water and other resources available, how many Americans would quit their jobs, give up their pensions and health insurance coverage, move to the country and assume the risk and hardship that comes with running a farm?

Consumers today have more choices and more opportunities to buy fresh, local food than they have in more than 20 years. The popularity of farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) ventures are off the charts. Plenty of farmers across this nation are offering farm fresh eggs, vegetables, meat and dairy products and consumers who want to know their farmer are reaching out. The opportunity to buy farm fresh meat and produce has never been greater.

Farm Aid also has its own unique interpretation of why the dairy industry is financial duress. It’s not overproduction, they say, but big dairies, supported by the government and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are the real villains that have driven milk prices to well below the cost of production. If Farm Aid were to ask an agriculture economist or a dairy market analyst, they would soon understand that the dairy industry is suffering from overproduction and lagging demand, but at the same time dairy producers are taking steps to correct the problem. Small dairies that sell milk to large corporate processing companies are in direct competition with big dairies that can produce milk for less because of economies of scale.

However much Farm Aid would like big dairies and other confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to disappear, the reality is there are 300 million Americans to feed. That simple fact dictates the need for large-scale, modern agriculture methods. But there are lots of examples of small dairies and other small farms producing value-added products and marketing them locally. Reed’s Dairy in Idaho Falls and Ballard Dairy in Gooding are excellent examples of dairy niche marketing. They milk small herds by today’s standards, rely on the quality and freshness of their milk, and produce a wide variety of cheeses, ice cream, and other dairy products. Many small dairies also provide delivery service as an added convenience to their customers.

Farm Aid also misses the mark on agriculture trade, genetic modification of crops, country of origin labeling and many other points we don’t have space to address here.

Farm Aid has the potential to do some good for American agriculture by helping to educate the public about how food is produced, where it comes from and the hardworking families who make their living on the land. But in our opinion, they won’t get there by placing blame at someone else’s doorstep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Memory of Masa Tsukamoto


An early E-Z Tarp brochere,courtesty of E-Z Tarp Inc.
Idaho Potato Innovator Masa Tsukamoto passes away in Boise
Boise—Blackfoot Inventor, innovator, and farmer Masa Tsukamoto passed away Thursday at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Boise, he was 86. Tsukamoto served the agriculture industry for more than 58 years, not only as a successful farmer, but through service organizations and inventions like the E-Z Tarp.

Tsukamoto developed The E-Z Tarp system in the mid 1980s to solve problems related to tarping loaded potato trucks in the field. The old tarp systems required truck drivers to climb onto the truck to cover the load. It was dangerous,took valuable time and bruised potatoes. E-Z tarp saved farmers untold millions of dollars in expenses.

In February Idaho Governor Butch Otter will posthumously award Tsukamoto the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Agriculture for Innovation at the annual Idaho Ag Summit.

Tsukamoto was born in Pocatello, Idaho, the son of Japanese immigrants that farmed the Chubbuck area. He attended Pocatello High School graduating in 1943. He went to work on the family farm then struck out on his own in 1952 to the Rising River area outside Blackfoot. He raised potatoes and grain until retirement in 1993. He married Midori Endow in 1954 and had three children, Kaydeen Burkett of Boise, Alan Tsukamoto, Blackfoot and Julie Van Orden of Pingree. He is survived by eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

After E-Z Tarp was patented, he developed the Cellar Duck, also marketed by EZ Tarp. Masa saw the need to keep the cellar ventilation pipes clean and disease free of and pests where potatoes are stored. The Cellar Duck washes ventilation pipes inside and out with high pressure water while disinfecting them in just 90 seconds with just the push of a button.

Masa also invented a water saver wheel thats equipped with five spokes and spades that prevents wasting water in fields during irrigation. He also created a shoe for potato planters that reduced soil compaction around the potato seed. These last two inventions were never patented by Masa, but were ‘imitated’ and manufactured by others since their creation.

Masa served on the advisory board of the Bingham County Extension Potato Specialist, on the Board and Bargaining Committee of the Potato Growers of Idaho, and the Board of the Idaho Potato Expo. He was awarded Lifetime Membership in the Potato Association of America in 1997, was named “Grower of the Year” in 1988 by the Idaho Potato Grower Magazine, and inducted in the Idaho Potato Hall of Fame in 1998.

In addition to his involvement in the agricultural community, Masa was an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League, serving as a board member and president for several terms. He was honored by Pocatello High School Foundation as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2009. KIFI-TV 8 selected him as one of “Eight Who Make A Difference” for helping to preserve the history of the Japanese-American internment camp in Southeastern Idaho.

Masa chaired the JACL Minidoka Project which resulted in the former Minidoka Relocation Center being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. He was a member of the Blackfoot Elks Club, served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce and the Board of the Bingham Housing facility. In 1997 he was honored on the Blackfoot Pride Days Nostalgia Night as a ‘Living Legend.’

Tsukamoto will forever be remembered for dedicating his life to advancing agriculture that set an example for countless others. His service to his community further exemplifies the need to contribute back to one's profession and community.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Equal Access to Justice Act



Environmental Lawsuits Rake in Billions for Lawyers
By Jake Putnam
Cheyenne--During harsh economic times, rancher Karen Budd-Falen reached the breaking point on a day last fall. Falen had read about a huge court settlement the Federal Government paid out to a non-profit environmental group and after talking to the ranchers in the Western Legacy Alliance, it set her off.

Falen channeled the frustration into a quest; she wanted to know how much money the Federal Government had paid out in lawsuit legal fees over the past decade and what she found is astounding.

In just six years non- profit environmental groups filed more than 15-hundred lawsuits and in turn the Federal Government paid out more than $4.7 billion in taxpayer dollars in settlements and legal fees in cases against the U.S. government.

Between 2000 and 2009, Idaho’s Western Watersheds Project out of Hailey filed at least 91 lawsuits in federal district court with 31 appeals in federal appellate court according to Falen, who not only is a rancher but a former Department of Interior law clerk. She and husband Frank represent cattlemen in range issues throughout the west.

Falen often wondered how tiny non-profit organizations like Western Watersheds could afford an attorney like the famed Laird Lucas of Boise who is known as one of the best natural resource attorneys in the country.

“We tried to track the fees paid to environmental groups in certain federal courts. These guys are charging between $350 and $450 an hour in legal fees.” Falen says the Federal government is picking up the tab and adds: “In Federal District Court in Boise, over the last ten years, WWP received a total of $999,190 in tax dollars for ‘reimbursement’ for attorney fees and costs.”

“We’ve had a lot of litigation with WWP,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Haws of Boise. “We’ve have a lot of cases with them and they have prevailed on cases and been awarded Equal Access to Justice Attorney fees. I don’t have a total, but that amount wouldn’t surprise me.”

“It’s atrocious, as a private operator I can’t gather that kind of money to fight anything like that,” said rancher Ted Higley of Malta, Idaho. “If they’re going to fight personal causes it should be with their personal money, not government money.”

Falen’s research shows that of the cases filed by Western Watersheds in Idaho’s Federal Court, 19 went before Judge Lynn Winmill; eight resulted in decisions on merit with WWP prevailing with total attorney fees awarded to the tune of $746,184; six of the cases were settled by the feds paying of $118,000. WWP lost six cases but still managed a payday in two cases, but the payment amount is confidential. Falen’s findings show a pattern: there’s a payday in court, win or lose or draw.

“I’m not going to point fingers at WWP but there are organizations out there that are just sitting there scrutinizing, watching every decision an agency makes waiting for that ‘low hanging fruit’ to jump on-- just to get fees,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Haws.

“Nonprofit, tax exempt groups are making billions of dollars in funding,” said Falen. She says the majority of this legal fee money is not going into programs to protect people, jobs, wildlife, or endangered species but to fund more lawsuits from ‘non-profit environmental groups.

Farmers and Ranchers that struggle to make a living off the land are forced to spend money out of their pocket to defend themselves; that’s what happened to ranchers Tim Lowry and Paul Nettleton of Owyhee County.

The ranchers successfully defended a decade-long fight for water rights on their land against the BLM. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled on their side in a precedent setting case but the U.S. Supreme Court denied them attorney fees under EAJA from the government because the decision came in state court. That left the ranchers with a $1.5 million legal bill from a case in which the Federal Government dragged them into court.

“There’s a lot of a things wrong with this picture,” said Falen. “The federal government is spending billions in taxpayer dollars without any accounting of where the money is going or to whom it is going. There is no oversight in spending this money, especially the money that’s coming out of agency budgets that should be funding programs to protect public lands, national forests, ranchers, recreationists, wildlife and other land uses,” said Falen.

Falen’s research shows that between 2000 and 2009, Forest Guardians (NKA as WildEarth Guardians) filed 180 lawsuits in federal district courts with at least 61appeals in the federal appellate courts during the same time frame the Center for Biological Diversity filed at least 409 lawsuits in the federal district courts with at least 165 appeals in the federal appellate courts.
In addition she found over the past 15 years that the Wilderness Society filed 149 federal court lawsuits, the Idaho Conservation League filed 69 lawsuits, the Oregon Natural Desert Association filed 58 lawsuits, the Southern Utah Wilderness Association filed 88 lawsuits and the National Wildlife Federation filed an astonishing 427 federal court lawsuits.

Falen says she found cases in which the Federal Government paid legal fees for both sides of a case--just so they could turn around and sue the federal government who in turn will force ranchers off the range.

In 2001 the Western Watersheds Project sued Verl Jones of Challis claiming that the rancher violated the Endangered Species act by diverting water from a creek on his ranch to irrigate an alfalfa field, killing endangered bull trout. Federal District Court Judge Winmill ordered Jones to stop diverting water, which cut into the families hay production and nearly bankrupted the ranch. But the harshest blow came when Jones was ordered to pay $36,000.00 to Watershed’s attorney Laird Lucas. In the end the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal overturned Winmill’s decision and the order to pay Lucas, but the family was left with a $50,000 bill from their attorney.

Falen also documented numerous cases in which the federal government agreed to pay attorney fees, but hid the exact amount from public view. “Somewhere this has to stop and the government has to be held accountable for the money it’s spending,” adds Falen.

“If you just look at the raw number and say ‘why in the world is the United States paying a million dollars bankrolling them to sue us,’ well that’s what congress set up through EAJA. That’s the law, we’re bound by it,” said Mark Haws.

“My firm did this because it makes me so mad,” said Falen. She says agrees with Haws, these groups have mastered the art of filing suits and collecting taxpayer money from the Federal Government by “prevailing” in litigation. They can prevail either by winning the case on the merits or by the Justice Department agreeing that the group “prevailed” in a settlement.

The main funding source is called the “Judgment Fund.” It’s a Congressional line-item appropriation that’s used for Endangered Species Act cases, Clean Water Act cases, and with other statutes that directly allow plaintiffs like Western Watersheds to recover attorney fees just by filing, even if there’s no hope in winning.

“I wish we could get a payday just for showing up,” said rancher Ted Higley. Falen uncovered six years of paydays for ‘non-profit’ lawyers, she found:

In fiscal year 2003, the federal government made 10,595 individual payments from the Judgment Fund to federal court plaintiffs for a price tag of $1,081,328,420.00.

In 2004, the federal government made 8,161 payments from the Judgment Fund for $800,450,029.00.

In 2005, 7,794 payments were made from the Judgment Fund for a total of $1,074,131,007.00.
In 2006, the federal government made 8,736 payments from the Judgment Fund for $697,968,132.00.

In just the first half of fiscal year 2007, the federal government made 6,595 payments from the Judgment Fund for $1,062,387,142.00.

In total, $4,716,264,730.00 (that is billion with a “b”) in total payments were paid in taxpayer dollars from the Judgment Fund from 2003 through July 2007 for attorney fees and costs in cases against the federal government.

Falen says another major source of payments to “winning” litigants against the federal government is the Equal Access to Justice Act. Equal Access funds are taken from the “losing” federal agencies’ budget. So if the BLM loses a case in Federal District Court attorney fees are paid from the “losing” BLM office’s budget. “That’s money that could be used for range improvement, habitat enhancement, timber projects, and archeology and cultural clearances and other agency programs,” adds Falen.

Between 2003 to 2005, Region 1 of the Forest Service (Montana, North Dakota, northern Idaho) paid $383,094 in Equal Access to Judgment fees.

Between 2003 to 2005, Region 2 of the Forest Service (Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma) paid $97,750 in EAJA fees.

Between 2003 to 2005, Region 3 of the Forest Service (Arizona, New Mexico) paid $261,289.85 in EAJA fees.

Between 2003 to 2005, Region 4 of the Forest Service (southern Idaho, Utah, Nevada) paid $297,705 in EAJA fees.

Between 2003 to 2005, Region 5 (California) of the Forest Service paid $357, 023 in EAJA fees.
Between 2003 to 2005, Region 6 (Washington State, Oregon) of the Forest Service paid $282,302 in EAJA fees.

Out of the 44 total cases in which the Forest Service paid EAJA fees between 2003 and 2005, 35 payments went to ‘nonprofit’ environmental group plaintiffs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sput Harvest Back on Track


Christensen Farms--Steve Ritter photo

SPUD HARVEST NEARLY WRAPPED

Parma--Heavy rain, snowstorms and frigid temperatures brought the potato harvest to a halt last week from Canyon County in the west to Bingham County in the east, but mild temps has harvest back on track according to farmers.

Field frost was a concern because of 20-degree temps but 80-degree temps a few days before kept potatoes snug and safe from the cold. Four days of dry, warm weather brought equipment back to the fields.

Growers in American Falls report they were unaffected by cool temps and expect the potato harvest to finish Friday and despite the weather delay most Power County producers finished ahead of the storms.

Most Treasure Valley farmers finished ahead of the freezing rains and with dry fields the past four days the beet harvest has moved into high gear according to Sid Freeman who hopes to finish his beets this weekend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cattle Counts Coming In Short



Cattle Rustling Makes a Comeback

WEISER - In Washington County, Chief Deputy Earl Nelson mans the frontlines in a crime spree sweeping the West – cattle rustling.

Every night Washington County deputies keep their eyes peeled for suspicious goose-neck trailers, semi-trucks and four wheelers. The cattle rustling season is in full swing as ranchers drive cattle from the summer to fall range.

“We’ll drive up to Cuddy or West Mountain and if there’s a suspicious looking truck and trailer parked there, we’ll ask them what they’re up to,” said Nelson, a 26-year veteran of the Washington County Sheriff’s office.

Just up the road in Council, the Idaho State Police are investigating the disappearance of 220 head of cattle. At current market prices that’s close to a quarter-of-a million dollar loss and the law says it’s the lure of easy money that’s bringing rustling back.

“It’s definitely the economy.” said Idaho State Police Brand inspector Larry Hayhurst. “Why rob a 7-11 for a couple hundred bucks when you can rustle a couple of cows for a quick $1,500?”

The ISP receives between 300 and 500 reports of lost or missing cattle each year. “I don’t think we’re seeing all the cattle that are missing,” said Hayhurst. “They turn out cattle in the spring and don’t know what they’re missing until November.” Hayhurst thinks those the numbers could double or triple when the summer range cattle come
in. “Because times are tough; people are watching their numbers a lot closer.”

Hayhurst points out that cattle thieves aren’t limiting themselves to the range. In Twin Falls County farmers are coming-up short on feedlots and dairies. Thieves are working in broad daylight and according to the ISP most thieves work alone or in small teams rather than as part of organized crime syndicates.

Rustlers are loading the cattle onto trailers and take them straight from ranches and farms to the auction, Hayhurst said. On the auction block, each cow is worth about $700 and cattle hold their value. Smart rustlers look for calves and unmarked cattle because the animals are untraceable.

Idaho ranchers aren’t required to brand their cattle, but most do especially on the range. The rustling trend is even a bigger problem in Texas. More than 6,400 head were rustled last year according to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and that number is on the rise in 2009. The situation is so serious that the Texas legislature passed a bill last May raising the maximum penalty for livestock theft from two to 10 years in prison.

The theft of cattle is just part of a growing agricultural crime wave in Idaho. Last year it was copper wire and tool sheds, and this year its cattle. Deputies say it’s because the chance of getting caught are slim. But the ISP says they’re making progress in them auction yards.

“On questionable ownership of cattle, we hold $3 million dollars in market value cattle on questionable ownership, 80-percent check out, but for the rest: there’s something wrong,” Hayhurst said. Modern day rustlers are sophisticated and technologically savvy. They know the law and how much jail time they’ll get. They have trucks, trailers, computers and GPS. They’re mission is to get the cattle to market as fast as they can, get a check and
disappear. This past spring the Washington and Adams county sheriff’s offices held a public meeting in Cambridge to address the problem.

They urged cattlemen and residents to be more aware of strangers, to take down license plate numbers and to keep track of people visiting the area on specific days. “We want to know who’s on the range and why they’re there,” said Nelson. “We passed out vehicle stickers to everybody, so trail-head visitors on Cuddy, Council and West Mountain know they’re being checked.

Ranchers in turn send that information to the brand inspectors. If we have missingcattle from an area, we have license plate numbers and the day they were in the area. It’s too early to tell how it’s working,but it’s a first step to get a handle on some of this crime.”

Cattle thieves were lynched in Idaho up until the turn of the century. Those days are gone, but the sentiment lives on for today’s ranchers and dairy operators who feel violated and endure the stinging losses – losses that can break a family business.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dairy News




VerMeer Dairy, Wilder, Jake Putnam photo

DAIRY AID PACKAGE ANNOUNCED

Washington--House and Senate negotiators agreed on a $350 million aid package to the nation's dairy farmers facing the lowest farm-gate milk price in decades.

The agreement includes $60 million in cheese and dairy product purchases for food banks and other nutrition and feeding programs, and $290 million in direct support to dairy farmers using guidelines determined by the Secretary of Agriculture.

"These are desperate times in farming, and we can't lose sight of the fact that farming losses reverberate through our rural communities," Senator Kohl said. "We hope this funding can provide a measure of relief to the farms and small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat through this storm of mounting costs and debt."

The money will be part of the annual funding bill for USDA for the fiscal year that opens on October 1st. House and Senate negotiators were scheduled to meet on Wednesday afternoon to vote formally on the aid and other parts of the funding bill.

During the past year, the USDA's Farm Service Agency has made more than $143 million in Milk Income Loss Contract payments to Idaho farmers; and has taken steps to bolster dairy markets through the Dairy Export Incentives Program and temporary adjustments to the Dairy Product Price Support Program.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Harvest rain


Endless rain, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.
Drought Over?

Boise--Idaho Farmers had to stop harvest because of rain and snow over the weekend. Snow was reported in the Upper Snake River basin, the Magic Valley and even parts of Southwest Idaho. The weather has slowed the beet, spud and corn harvest. The weekend storm track is expected to dry up later today with mild, dry weather is expected throughout the rest of the week.

According to forecasters, El Nino will have an effect on weather patterns this winter. That means we can expect warmer than normal temperatures but more rain and snow. If there is a brightspot local hydrologists say El Nino's effect won't be as strong, meaning the Snake and Boise river basins will experience a near normal winter.

The new water year officially started October 1st and Idaho is re-charging aquifers. Troy Lindquist, National Weather Service Hydrologist says that the drought that has plagued us over the past few years is on hold; "but it wouldn't take much to get us back into a drought like situation."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Idaho Harvest

video

Idaho Harvest in Full Swing

Caldwell--The Idaho Harvest is in full swing with spuds, beets, corn and seed crops finishing up in October. Mike Christensen in Canyon County says the weather has been perfect thus far, now if the markets would cooperate 2009 would go down as a very good year.

Fuel and fertilizer have greatly cut into the bottomline, leaving many farmers at the break-even point, and some ended up in the red.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Just in from Washington


Laura Padgett photo

Farm Bureau Strongly Opposes Boxer-Kerry Climate Change Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2009—The Boxer-Kerry climate change bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday includes few provisions that are friendly to agriculture and will be strongly opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“America’s farmers and ranchers did not fare that well in the House-passed climate change bill and they fare even worse in the Senate bill,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “There are few benefits and even greater costs to agriculture and the American public.”

The bill, authored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass), seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade program. The legislation would require greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 20 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels -- greater than the House bill’s target of 17 percent. Stallman said the 20 percent target is unrealistic and will lead to higher energy bills for all consumers.

“The Waxman-Markey bill, passed narrowly by the House this summer, did at least include credits to farmers for carbon-storing or carbon management practices. The Senate bill does not guarantee any benefits to agriculture for carbon sequestration,” Stallman said.

Another major concern for Farm Bureau is that the Boxer-Kerry bill would not prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from continuing to move forward to fully regulate all greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The bill also does nothing to provide alternative sources of energy to fill the energy deficit left by the reduction in fossil fuels, nor does it prevent the EPA from using controversial indirect land use principles that penalize ethanol, according to Stallman.

“This bill does not realistically address America’s energy needs,” said Stallman.

“Both the Senate and House bills would bring higher fuel and fertilizer costs to American farmers and ranchers, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions,” Stallman said. “For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.”

State Resolutions Meeting

video
Steve Ritter video
State Resolution Committee Meets In Boise

Boise--The annual State resolution meeting met in Boise on Thursday with 125 pages of resolutions from Idaho Farm Bureau's five districts.

"It's Democracy in the truest form," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "It's an amazing process in which every member has a voice in grass root politics."

Issues of statewide and national importance will then be discussed by county voting delegates at the IFBF annual meeting this year at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls, December 1-3. Recommendations on national issues are adopted and forwarded to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meet A Farmer

video

Ted Higley feeds Barley

Malta--Ted Higley runs 700 head of cattle just outside of Malta, Idaho. The Higleys feed their cattle during the winter months and were looking for a rotation crop that wouldn't jeapardize their feeding operation, he settled on barley.