Monday, November 30, 2009

Idaho Farm Bureau's 70th Annual Meeting


Idaho Farm Bureau Staffer Joel Benson unloads boxes on Monday afternoon. Putnam photo
Convention Underway
Idaho Falls--Staff members arrived at the Shiloh Inn late Monday afternoon and started setting up for the 70th annual meeting. "We'll have workshops, health screenings, award banquets and of course the House of Delegates," said Convention Organizer Chuck Garner.
The Conventions opens early Tuesday with registration, then the YF and R discussion meet.

From the Statehouse


Steve Ritter photo

Otter Supports Idaho's Young Farmers and Ranchers

By Jake Putnam


Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter met with Jake Putnam and Steve Ritter of the Idaho Farm Bureau to discuss the importance of Young Farmers and Ranchers to Idaho Agriculture. The Governor thinks organizations like YF and R not only builds leaders but improves the state's robust Ag Economy.


Idaho’s Young Farmers and Ranchers, how much of a part do they play in Idaho’s economy?


You have to realize that in a $51.5 billion dollar economy, hopefully we are going to grow that to $60, but agriculture will always be a player either in farm gate or ranch gate production, manufacturing or marketing. It comes down to what’s going on with farmers and ranchers on the ground. It’s also the speed at which technology moves and we have to keep up to date with that. The Young Farmers and Rancher organization and the Farm Bureau is the genesis of that information, it’s the distributor of that information, they do best practice work, and they validate research best practices. The result of that is that we continue to continue to produce better crops, better animals that yield higher even better marketable material for the entire world. In all the export missions I’ve led, it’s always been about the quality of Idaho products and our ability to adapt to the new innovations whether its yield or the quality of the product. So as long as you have an organization with strength and depth of the Farm Bureau and the association with Young Farmers and Ranchers, you are always going to have growth and people on top of the game. I say we’re going to have to stay with it because agriculture will continue to be one of the major players in our economy.


Were you involved as a Young Rancher?


I was in 4H forever; They had to throw me out because I got too old. We were constantly improving the growth rates, the production rates, whether it was in a milk cow and even row crops. It was unheard of in those days to have more than 280 bags to the acre of potatoes, or 240 bushel of corn, unheard of was 4-pound gain per day gain on a beef animal or a hundred pounds of milk or 3.8 percent butterfat from a milk cow. It’s the velocity at which technology moves is only successful if it can be adapted, Once again you have the brain trust within organizations like Young Farmers and Ranchers and the Farm Bureau. They’re the ones that will distribute the newest and the best practices and so I encourage them to constantly stay involved. Not just as a member but provide leadership and new ideas. I would also encourage YF and R members to study other areas, study other countries, and figure out what they’re doing. We are going to be in this game a long, long time and the agricultural industry in Idaho is going to continue to be one of the major players in our economy and our future.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

70th Annual Meeting



Idaho Farm Bureau hosts 7oth Annual Meeting

Idaho Falls--The Idaho Farm Bureau will host its 70th annual meeting starting next Tuesday at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls.


Idaho Farm Bureau's 70th Annual Meeting Schedule of Events:

Tuesday, December 1
10:00 a.m. REGISTRATION DESK OPENS
Convention Lobby

11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. GENERAL SESSION LUNCHEON
Yellowstone/Grand Teton

1:00 p.m. FARM BUREAU'S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOPS
"Market Outlook" – Clark Johnston, Agri Source/JC Mgmnt.

Twin Falls
"Speak Up! Speak Out!" – Bob Wilson, AFBF
Idaho Falls room

"ATV Safety" – Polaris
Pocatello room

Legislative Issues ̶ IFBF Governmental Affairs
Boise room

2:00 p.m. REFRESHMENT BREAK
Convention Lobby

2:15 p.m. FARM BUREAU'S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE AND
WORKSHOPS (continued)
"Wealth Transfer" – Jim McCarthy, FBL
Pocatello

"Bridging The Generational Divide" – Bob Wilson, AFBF
Idaho Falls 2

"Time Management" – Cindy Dyer
Boise

"Commodity Hedging" – Agri Source
Twin Falls

3:15 p.m. REFRESHMENT BREAK
Convention Lobby

3:15 p.m. DISCUSSION MEET PARTICIPANTS AND JUDGES
Temple View

3:30 p.m. DISCUSSION MEET SEMI-FINALS
Twin Falls/Pocatello


4:45 p.m. SCREENING COMMITTEE MEETING
Riverview

5:00 p.m. CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE MEETING
Temple View

5:00 p.m. YOUNG FARMERS AND RANCHERS CAUCUS
Boise

5:15 p.m. HOUSE OF DELEGATES PROCEDURES
Idaho Falls

5:45 - 6:30 p.m. DISCUSSION MEET FINALS
Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise/Twin Falls

7:00 p.m. AWARDS BANQUET
(Live auction will follow)
Yellowstone/Grand Teton

Wednesday, December 2
6:00 - 7:30 a.m. HEALTH FAIR
Templeview/Riverview/Exec. Board

7:00 a.m. RISE 'N SHINE BREAKFAST
Affiliated Company Reports

IFBF, Rick Keller
Insurance, Phil Joslin
Marketing, Gary Fuhriman
Yellowstone/Grand Teton

8:00 a.m. - noon HOUSE OF DELEGATES SESSIONS BEGINS
Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise/Twin Falls 3
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. DISTRICT WOMEN'S CAUCUSES
Guest Rooms

10:00 a.m. REFRESHMENT BREAK
Convention Lobby

9:30 - 11:30 a.m. WOMEN'S COMMITTEE BUSINESS MEETING
Templeview/Riverview

12:00 noon LUNCHEON
Yellowstone/Grand Teton

2:00 p.m. HOUSE OF DELEGATES CONTINUES
Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise/Twin Falls

2:00 p.m. SPECIAL WORKSHOP – Sponsored by IFBF Women
Templeview/Riverview

3:15 p.m. REFRESHMENT BREAK
Convention Lobby

4:30 p.m. DISTRICT CAUCUSES
District I Riverview

District II Templeview

District III VIP Room

District IV Executive Board Room

District V Board Room 2

7:00 p.m. FARM BUREAU'S ANNUAL BANQUET
President Cup Award
Speaker: Walter Bond, Former NBA Great Yellowstone/Grand Teton/Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise


Thursday, December 3
7:00 a.m. COUNTY PRESIDENTS BREAKFAST
(County Presidents and Spouses Only)
Yellowstone

8:00 a.m. ELECTION OF OFFICERS and DIRECTORS
Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise/Twin Falls

8:20 a.m. HOUSE OF DELEGATES CONTINUES
Pocatello/Idaho Falls/Boise/Twin Falls

10:15 a.m. REFRESHMENT BREAK
Convention Lobby 4

12:00 noon ADJOURN HOUSE OF DELEGATES

12:30 p.m. STATE BOARD OF DIRECTORS LUNCHEON
Templeview


12:30 p.m. STATE BOARD SPOUSES LUNCHEON
Riverview


1:30 p.m. STATE BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Idaho Falls

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!



WASHINGTON– Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings dropped 4 percent in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 24th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, a $1.70 price decrease from last year’s average of $44.61.

“As we gather this Thanksgiving for food and fellowship, it’s fitting to take a moment to recognize and give thanks, not only for the abundant food we enjoy as Americans, but for the hard-working farm and ranch families across our nation who produce it,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.

The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $18.65 or roughly $1.16 per pound, reflects a decrease of 3 cents per pound, or a total of $.44 per turkey compared to 2008. Milk, at $2.86 per gallon, dropped $.92 and was the largest contributor to the overall decrease in the cost of the 2009 Thanksgiving dinner.

“Consistent with the retail food price declines seen throughout the year, consumers will pay just a bit less for their Thanksgiving feast this year,” said Jim Sartwelle, an AFBF economist. “Consumers are benefiting at the grocery store from significantly lower energy prices and the effects of the economic slowdown. Again this year, the cost per person for this special meal is less than a typical ‘value meal’ at a fast-food outlet,” Sartwelle said.

Other items showing a price decrease this year were: a ½ pint of whipping cream, $1.55; a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.08; a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, $.72; and a 12-oz. package of fresh cranberries, $2.41. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also dropped in price, to $2.50.

Items that increased slightly (less than 5 percent) in price this year were: a 14-oz. package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.65; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.34; and a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.45. Two items, green peas and sweet potatoes, stayed the same in price at $1.58 for one pound and $3.12 for three pounds, respectively.

Sartwelle said despite retail price increases during the last year or so, American consumers have enjoyed relatively stable food costs over the years, particularly when adjusted for inflation.
The 4 percent decrease in the national average cost reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the organization’s 2009 quarterly marketbasket food surveys (available online at http://newsroom.fb.org/) and the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (available online at http://data.bls.gov/), Sartwelle noted.

Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey. Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages. Another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any statistical claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation.
More than 200 volunteer shoppers from 35 states participated in this year’s survey. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving


One More Thing to Be Thankful For
By Cyndie Sirekis, American Farm Bureau

This Thanksgiving, Americans of all ages, from every walk of life, will gather with friends and family. Most will eat a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey as the mouth-watering main dish, accompanied by a variety of side dishes and trimmings to suit their personal tastes.

Turkey lovers among us have one more thing to be thankful this year – the cost of Thanksgiving dinner will be lower. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner survey of the cost of classic food items to make the meal, consumers will pay about 4 percent less, compared to a year ago.

Declines in the retail cost of dairy products and whole turkeys account for most of the overall drop in the 12-item Thanksgiving dinner basket tracked by Farm Bureau. Whipping cream, rolls, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberries and a vegetable relish tray declined slightly or remained the same in average price.

Three items, canned pumpkin pie mix, frozen pie shells and cubed bread stuffing, increased in retail price. The price uptick in these three staples of a classic Thanksgiving meal, although modest (less than 5 percent), makes perfect sense considering the large amount of energy-intensive processing and packaging for these foods compared to most other items in the survey.
Whether we as consumers like it or not, foods that are highly processed have been slower to show retail price decreases compared to items that are minimally processed, like milk and whole turkeys. This has been true throughout the year.

Farm Bureau’s annual Thanksgiving survey has remained much the same for its 24-year run, to allow for consistent food price comparisons over time. What’s new is the flurry of attention accorded the survey by some retailers, along with its increased visibility in the social media arena.

The grocery business is well-known for being extremely competitive and never more so than today, as the economic recession continues. Anything that could possibly give one store the edge over another when it comes to luring shoppers inside is enticing to marketing managers. That is likely what sparked the recent interest among retail grocers in piggybacking on Farm Bureau’s survey results when developing special holiday meal promotions and pricing.

In addition, the survey results, whether showing the average price for classic Thanksgiving meal items went up or down, have always provided a treasure trove of information for creative print, radio and broadcast stories. Over time, the type of coverage has evolved, with many stories highlighting how food is produced by farmers and ranchers. And more people than ever before are weighing in online with their viewpoints about the survey through social media avenues such as blogs, Tweets and Facebook postings.

This sharing of information – whether centering on getting the most “bang for your buck” on holiday meal items, how to prepare various foods or even tips on buying direct from a local farmer or rancher – ultimately benefits consumers. That’s just one more thing to be thankful for this year, in addition to paying less for a classic Thanksgiving Dinner.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Capitol Cuts Expected


Capitol restored, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Boise--Expect more budget cuts to state programs and agencies, this legislative session according Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

Details of the cut won't be released until after the annual State of the State address in January, but Otter doesn't plan to raise taxes, he said.

Budget chief Wayne Hammon said state workers will not receive pay raises in the 2011 fiscal year and may face additional benefit cuts. Workers recently had their health benefits reduced. He also said that some state-run services may be privatized.

Earlier this month, Otter urged agencies not to fill vacant jobs and he now is looking into selling state assets such as buildings.

Just in from Washington



Farm Bureau Urges Timely Disaster Payments for 2009 Crops
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 19, 2009 – Farmers and ranchers in many areas of the nation have been hit hard by late planting and a protracted, wet harvest season and they would benefit greatly from the Agriculture Department maximizing farm bill emergency assistance programs, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Farmers are experiencing both quality and quantity losses and many still do not have crops out of the fields,” AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack.
When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, “getting help to farmers quickly can make the difference between a farmer filing for bankruptcy and holding onto the farm in hopes of passing it on to the next generation,” Stallman wrote.

In light of the situation, Stallman urged Vilsack to maximize its use of farm bill programs such as Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments and Emergency Loans to aid farmers and ranchers.
Further, Stallman requested that USDA “act as it has in the past and provide farmers and ranchers with estimated fast-tracked partial disaster payments for the 2009 crop year as quickly as possible.”

AFBF also urged USDA to consider using its authority under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to maximize Emergency Loans program funds by offering as many farmers as possible guaranteed (rather than direct) loans.

“Guaranteeing private loans versus providing them directly will help USDA stretch limited funding to assist the largest number of producers possible in a fiscally responsible way,” Stallman said. “While guaranteed loans certainly come with additional logistical difficulties, we believe these hurdles are worth overcoming if it will allow for additional funds to reach those producers most in need.”

The 2008 farm bill included a standing disaster program for crop years 2008 to 2011, in the hopes that this program would provide more consistent and timely assistance to farmers when they are hit by natural disasters. However, this program has yet to be implemented, Stallman noted.

While agricultural credit appears to have weathered the financial downturn better than many other sectors, Farm Bureau is concerned that those producers who have faced multiple years of disaster will feel the brunt of the nation’s credit crisis as they visit their lenders to obtain operating credit for the 2010 crop year.

As harvest season draws to a close and final crop yield and quality data becomes available, AFBF will continue to monitor the situation closely and explore other options that might prove beneficial in helping farmers stay on their land, despite the disasters they have faced this year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ada County Farm Bureau News



Longtime Farm Bureau Member Passes
by Don Sonke, Ada County Farm Bureau President

Kuna--Idaho Farm Bureau lost a friend last week with the passing of Bob Day, longtime board member of the Ada County Farm Bureau. Bob was active up until about 2 years ago when he turned 86 and decided he could no longer safely drive to the meetings. Although I asked him a number of times how long he had served I never did get an accurate response. I am guessing over 30 years and his input was always well thought out and accurate.

Bob was born in Boise, November 13, 1921, graduated from Kuna High School in 1939 and married Dorothy Stephens, the sweetest lady ever, in 1943. Bob served in the Navy as a Sea Bee during WWII and returned home to farm and raise registered Jersey cattle until retirement.

He was active in many community and ag activities over the years sharing his wisdom and experiences. He was a great friend and I will miss his company and conversation that we shared as we attended many Farm Bureau events.

Dairy News from the MPI



DAIRY LEADS 3RD QUARTER EXPORT FIGURES

Boise--According to the Idaho Department of Commerce showed that dairy exports doubled during the third quarter of 2009, pumping more than $31 million into the state’s economy. The increase was fueled largely by the weakening dollar and an increase in demand for food products in foreign markets.

Total export sales by Idaho companies also experienced a solid increase in the third quarter of 2009, totaling nearly $1.09 billion for July through September. International sales of Idaho products for the three-month period were up nearly 24 percent compared to the previous three months. Nationally, exports for the same period rose 5.2 percent.

Significant declines in exports during the first three quarters of 2009 means Idaho is still far behind in its year-to-date results compared to 2008, when the value of state exports set a record at more than $5 billion for the full year. Compared to the third quarter of 2008, the most current quarter’s results are down 19.6 percent.

The top Idaho export category continues to be semiconductors, but exports of industrial equipment, mineral concentrates, paper and pulp exports, dairy products, and fruit and seeds also grew during the third quarter.

“This is not just a seasonal impact with the quarter-over-quarter increases this year,” said Damien Bard, administrator of the international division of the Idaho Department of Commerce. “While there are still challenges in Idaho’s export economy, these numbers give us reason to be cautiously optimistic.”

The top export destination for Idaho goods in the third quarter of 2009 was Taiwan, followed by Canada, China, South Korea and Singapore. In the most recent quarter, Idaho exported products to 112 countries.

Idaho companies export products ranging from integrated circuits to musical instruments to fresh produce. Idaho maintains trade offices in China, Taiwan and Mexico.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just in from Washington


Murtaugh harvest--Putnam photo

Cap and Trade Shrinks Agriculture-American Farm Bureau
Washington--The American Farm Bureau's chief economist says climate change proposal present the nation with a dilemma. Cap and Trade proposals will shrink agriculuture in the U.S., according to Bob Young, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau, who says not allowing the offsets will jack up productions costs and force some producers to quit, while allowing offesets will result in land brought out of production to be put into trees.

“I think the real question then becomes do you like the agriculture you end up with,” Young told Brownfield during an interview. “It’d be a much more brittle agriculture, it’d be much less resilient to short crop situations, because you just wouldn’t have the dirt to respond with, and that, I think becomes the real question: do you like what you end up with at the end of the day.

Young observes that most of the carbon reductions come from changing the mix of electricity generation as well as paying offsets to other countries to keep land in trees. He says that if that’s the case, it should be done without cap and trade provisions.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just in from the Statehouse


Putnam photo
Statehouse Remodel Nearly Completed

Boise--Idaho officials got the keys to the restored Statehouse on Wednesday--on time and under budget.

The massive remodel started back in of April of 2007 when lawmakers voted to renovate and expand the Statehouse. That was back in the good old days when there was money to spend, unemployment stood at three-percent and the Dow peaked at 14,000.

Wednesday, those lucky enough to get invited on the tour marveled at the restored marble, etched glass and the new underground wings that highlight the new and improved Statehouse. Contractors promised to finish under budget and on time, they kept their word even finishing a day ahead of schedule.Crews are still putting last minute touches on the building while movers continue to haul in furniture. Idaho lawmakers will move in two full weeks ahead of the 2010 legislative session.

The Idaho Statehouse is nearly 90 years old and Capitol restoration commissioners say it was the hidden things like plumbing and wiring that needed to be fixed the most and was the most expensive to fix. But the Commission also decided to bring back original features from the 1913 construction and the 1920 expansion.

The rennovation price tag was $120 million -- somehow penny-pinching contractors finished under that projection."There were many people who said it couldn't get done and if you really think about it, in this day and age to do a project this size in a two-year period and of that magnitude the cost, it is a huge cost, but they did come in on time and budget and I think all taxpayers will be pleased with the work that is done and they will be anxious to see it in January," said Sandy Patano, Capitol restoration commissioner.

When the Statehouse is dedicated in December the public will see drastic changes but none greater than the 50,000 square-foot underground wings. The wings bring additional floor space for committee meetings, now the public can come to committee meetings and testify in comfort. The Statehouse now boats a grand total of 251,000 square-feet.

In two weeks, the governor's office will move out of the Borah building a block away into their plush, new digs. Movers should complete the move by December 4th. All departments should be back in the Statehouse by the start of the 2010 legislative session on Jan. 11. The Capitol Commission is preparing a rededication ceremony and inviting the public to view the Capitol next month.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ada County Farm Bureau Notes


Sonke photo
Ada County Banquet Draws Record Number
By Ada County President Don Sonke

Kuna--A record number of Farm Bureau members and friends attended the annual Ada County Farm Bureau banquet last Thursday night. About 160 people were in attendance at the Peregrine Steak house in Kuna for a sumptious prime rib or salmon dinner and an excellent program that featured David Leroys presentation of President Lincolns connections to Idaho. Joel Benson started the program by outlining the benefits programs and discounts available to FB members followed by Pres. Sonke giving a summary of the county boards participation in the pasts years events.

The featured speaker was David Leroy former Ada County prosecuter, Idaho Attorney General, Lt. Governor and gubanatorial candidate. Leroy is a Lincoln scholar and the author of the book, Mr. Lincoln. The audience was taken back to the civil war period and leading up to President Lincoln's assassination (during which Lincoln was a friend of William Wallace, Idahos first territorial Governor).
Most were unaware of Lincolns many connections to Idaho including lobbying and signing the bill creating the Idaho territory in 1863. On the last day of his life he invited Idaho delegate W.H. Wallace whom he nicknamed "old Idaho", to attend Fords theatre for the play, Our American Cousin. Wallace declined due to his wife being ill and one can only speculate how history might have been altered by another party being in Lincolns box that night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Equal Access to Justice Act


Tubbs ranch near Malad, Putnam photo
Western Caucus to Bring Attention to EAJA Abuse

MORELAND--In an open letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, dated November 2, 2009, members of the Congressional Western Caucus expressed great concern to Attorney General Holder regarding the ongoing and apparent abuse of the Equal Access to Justice Act by certain organizations including environmental and special interest groups.

The Caucus highlights the complete lack of oversight, accountability, and transparency in the overall process and allocation of funds under EAJA, which appears to have contributed to the egregious abuse.

“Environmental groups have been working to deny grazing rights to America’s ranchers for decades. They do so by claiming violations of environmental policy, suing federal environmental agencies and ultimately, tying up ranchers’ time and resources in costly, and often baseless, court battles,” said Jeff Faulkner, Western Legacy Alliance (WLA) member. “What makes this situation worse is the fact that these environmental groups such as Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity are shaking down federal government programs so they can access taxpayer dollars to fund their radical agendas.”

Two of the federal programs that are seemingly handing out millions, and possibly billions, to environmental groups are the EAJA and the Judgment Fund.

The EAJA was established approximately 30 years ago by Congress to ensure that individuals, small businesses and/or public interest groups with limited financial capacity could seek judicial redress from unreasonable government actions that threatened their rights, privileges or interests. EAJA accomplishes this by allowing small businesses and individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford a court battle to obtain reimbursement of attorney’s fees if they are found to prevail in a case over a government agency such as the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Forest Service.

When the law was first enacted, federal agencies were required to report annually on EAJA applications and the amount of attorney fees each agency awarded to groups and individuals. However, that reporting requirement ended in 1995 due to the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act. As a result, since 1998 there has been no uniform method of reviewing EAJA and there is no public accountability or transparency in the program.

“Our research shows that in the past 10 years, 1,500 cases have been filed by environmental groups against federal agencies. Since there is no accountability or specific reporting, it is unclear how many millions or billions have been paid out. We can find nearly 10 million in payouts, but that appears to be just a glimpse of the problem,” added Faulkner.

According the U.S. Department of the Treasury website, the Judgment Fund, which was created in the 1960’s, “…is available for most court judgments and Justice Department compromise settlements of actual or imminent lawsuits against the government. Congress has added a number of administrative claim awards (settlements by agencies at the administrative level, without a lawsuit). The Judgment Fund has no fiscal year limitations, and there is no need for Congress to appropriate funds to it annually or otherwise. Moreover, disbursements from it are not attributed to or accounted for by the agencies whose activities give rise to awards paid. Absent a specific statutory requirement, the agency responsible is not required to reimburse the Judgment Fund.”

Since 2003, the Judgment Fund has paid out $4.7 billion in judgments, including the reimbursement of attorney’s fees. It appears environmental groups have accessed millions of taxpayer dollars from this fund; however, the Web site reporting these payments does not indicate to whom the payments were made or for what purpose. Additional investigation reveals that the same environmental groups benefiting from EAJA payments are accessing the Judgment Fund to millions of dollars each year.

“WLA commends Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis for spearheading this effort within the Western Caucus and is encouraged that the members have been quick to address it. Since its inception, the WLA has been working on identifying the true extent of the EAJA abuse and other federal funds,” continued Faulkner. “It is becoming more and more obvious that the extent of the abuse and exploitation is far-reaching and down-right astounding.”

The WLA is working to highlight these problems and educate the public and the nation’s elected officials while demanding prompt action to ensure appropriate use and reporting of taxpayer dollars from federal programs.

In addition, the Western Caucus has requested that the DOJ respond “with an explanation regarding how the Department tracks EAJA disbursements, and if no such tracking exists, the Caucus requests that the DOJ create a central, searchable EAJA database.” The Caucus believes that “a central database under the DOJ auspices would be the most transparent and efficient means of bringing EAJA back into the sunshine.”

The Western Caucus is comprised of members of Congress committed to protecting the interests and ideals of the West. More information on the Caucus can be found at: http://robbishop.house.gov/WesternCaucus/.

Dairy News from the MPI


MILK OUTPUT Drops in September

Boise--Milk output was down 0.7 percent. There were 197,000 fewer cows in U.S. than a year ago, but milk per cow was up 1.5 percent.CALIFORNIA MILK was down 6.4 percent, with 4 percent or 73,000 fewer cows than a year ago. Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona also were down. Wisconsin was up 5.2 percent with 4.7 percent more milk per cow.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gem County Gems


Gem County Gems, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Gem County Gems Gather

Emmett--Gem County Gems were awarded Friday night at the Gem County Annual banquet; L to R Bill and Clara Russell, Gene Atckinson, Glen and Marjorie Wittenburg, Drenzel and Elaine Haws and Gem County FB President Tracy Walton.

The Gem County Farm Bureau has an innovative recognition program that spotlights long time farmers who have reached the golden 80's. A video documentry is produced and shown to a packed house each year. 'The Gems' of Gem County is the showcase of Gem County's annual meeting.--Steve Ritter photo

Just in from Washington



Preparing for a Safe and Easy Thanksgiving Dinner, One Day at a Time

Washington-- Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting experience families planning their annual feast. The goal is to have a safe and delicious turkey dinner , and if planned ahead can be a fun and memorable experience.

A good way to start is one week before the big day – on Thursday, November 19 at 3 p.m. ET – join the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a live Facebook chat featuring a holiday food safety expert from its Food Safety and Inspection Service. Members of the public can submit questions about safe preparation of the holiday meal—turkey, stuffing and other holiday favorites--and get live answers right on the USDA Facebook page. For more information about the chat or to submit questions in advance, visit the USDA Live page at http://www.usda.gov/live and become a fan of USDA on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usda."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just in from Washington


Seed Corn--Ritter photo

2009 Corn Crop: Average

Washington--The U.S. corn crop's progress has nearly matched the crop's five-year average after an entire season of lagging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

After a slow, wet spring, the corn crop fell far behind the historic average in planting, emergence, silking and ripening. At this late stage, the crop is 97 percent mature, against an historic average of 100 percent mature for this week of the year, the USDA said Monday.

An harvest-stopping snowfall could place the year in the category of a classic photo finish. As of this week, harvest still lags far behind, at 37 percent done compared with a five-year average of 82 percent done by the second week of November.

The nation's sugarbeet crop is 93 percent harvested. The sunflower crop is 33 percent harvested, against an average of 75 percent for this week of the year.

The soybean harvest is 75 percent done, while the cotton harvest is 44 percent complete.

Eighty-six percent of the winter wheat crop is planted, close to the historic average, the USDA said.

Friday, November 13, 2009

U of I News


Doug Barrie harvests wheat, August 2009--Putnam photo

Northwest Scientists Propose Regional,
Long Term Research on Dryland Agriculture

MOSCOW, Idaho – Scientists at Oregon State University, the University of Idaho and Washington State University want to take a long-term look at dryland agriculture and ways to sustain it in the Northwest's interior by establishing a single coordinated project to share expertise, research sites and computing power available from the three institutions.

The research would study farming's effects on soil carbon and soil management that may be affected by climate change and other factors.

To map out a long term agricultural project focused on non-irrigated wheat and other cereal crops, the team received a US Department of Agriculture grant for $200,000. If approved, the plan would lead to a multi-million dollar, decade-long project that would begin in about two years.

"This project will allow us to establish a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, long-term approach to sustaining agricultural productivity and the economic well being of the entire region," said Sanford Eigenbrode, a University of Idaho entomologist who will lead the project to design a long term monitoring network.

The team leadership includes Susan Capalbo and Steven Petrie of Oregon State University; James Gosz, Jodi Johnson-Maynard and J.D. Wulfhorst of the University of Idaho; and Hans Kok and Bill Pan of Washington State University.

The regional project will build on the collaborative momentum established by the USDA-funded STEEP or Solutions to Environmental and Economic Problems research and educational program,” Eigenbrode said.

If funded, the Interior Pacific Northwest Long Term Agricultural Project would become part of a new network of similar projects to be initiated throughout the USA, patterned after the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research network. That network includes just one site, Michigan State University's W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, devoted to long term study of agroecosystems. The new network will address the important need to extend the long-term research infrastructure to include the diversity of U.S. agriculture.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ag in the Classroom




Miss Idaho Kara Jackson meets with students in the Deary School district. Her topic was Idaho agriculture and commodities grown in Idaho--Bob Smathers photo.

KARA JACKSON, MISS IDAHO MEETS THE PRESS

Deary--Kara Jackson, the reigning Miss Idaho is creating quite a stir in the Gem State. The young co-ed has put school on hold until after the Miss America pageant and is spending every day speaking to groups about her unique pageant platform: platform:"Modern Agriculture: Supporting and Sustaining Society". Her message helps consumers understand where their food comes from and the importance of farming in our lives. Last month Jackson was named to the Ada County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, one of the youngest directors ever in Ada County.

You won the Miss Idaho title on an Ag Awareness platform, how did this come to be?

In high school I became very involved in FFA, following in the steps of a lot of people who are now involved in the Agriculture industry. I served as a state FFA officer and then I ran for a national FFA office. I prepared really hard for the National FFA office for six months for all the different interviews, and I didn’t get the office so I came back to Boise and wondered what to do. How can I still promote agricultural education? And I came across the Miss Idaho Organization. I had always followed Miss America and knew that they had platforms so when I thought about competing, agricultural awareness was the first thing that popped into my mind. I guess it’s something I have been doing since I was a 4-H member and FFA member. It’s something that’s really been a passion for quite a while.

What’s one thing every Idaho child should know about agriculture?

"There are a lot of things that the youth need to realize but I think the most important thing is everything we eat comes from a farm. There is a real disconnect there and from agriculture. Sometimes when I’m in the schools I ask kids what have you eaten today that’s not from a farm. I get funny answers like lunch meat or milk or a granola bar. Kids just aren’t making the connection that everything they’re eating throughout the day, the clothes they wear, houses they live in, those are all products of the agriculture industry."

You’re travelling Idaho, what are you doing to bring this Ag agenda forward?

"I’m trying to travel throughout the state, a lot of times with the help of County Farm Bureaus and the Idaho Farm Bureau to get my message out, particularly in the schools but also in civic organizations and everything like that. So for instance a few weeks ago I went to Bingham County and I was able to do 8 or 9 assemblies in one day. The assemblies were full of children and it’s so much fun to talk to them about everything we produce in Idaho and how important it is for us to respect farmers and appreciate the agriculture industry. It’s just really interesting to see the vibe and attention I get from them and how you see the light bulbs turn on not only in the students mind but the adults watching; whether it’s the Meridian Ag show or the places I go. I like to see how people make the connection to agriculture in their daily lives.

How has the pageant world reacted to your unique platform?

"It is incredibly unique, it’s something that Miss America Pageant has never seen on the national level and I think it’s positive. We are trying to change the Miss America Organization so it’s more relatable, current and hip; I think my platform applies to that. My platform is applicable to every person in the country because everyone eats, everyone wears clothes, everyone lives in a house and goes to school agriculture plays an important part of our daily lives. I think it interests people; it’s a bit of a shocker but it’s what the Miss America organization needs and I’ve had a very positive reaction. At first I wasn’t very sure about it; how I was going to get a response but so far it’s been very positive and people seem excited about it.

You recently became a member of the Ada County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, you might be the youngest person every chosen for that position, certainly the first Miss Idaho, what do you hope to contribute?

For me it great, simply because I’ve heard from Young Farmers and Ranchers and FFA and my studies of the Agriculture Industry that we need to get young people involved in the agriculture industry. Especially with the average age of a farmer being 55 it’s critical that we get my generation and even younger generations interested in farming. For me being on the Ada County Farm Bureau Board has been an incredible privilege, it’s an honor and hopefully I’ll be able to attract that younger generation. I think when other people see that someone their age or a little bit younger, it might motivate them to be involved too. I think more than anything my added responsibilities will help stimulate an interest in agriculture within the younger generation.

Tell us about the Pageant, When is it? Can people watch you compete on TV?

The Miss America Pageant is in Las Vegas. I leave January 20th; finals night will air on National Television January 30th and that’s on the TLC channel. The night before that TLC will air a special on January 29th with all of us contestants; America has a chance to vote for their favorite contestant. The four girls with the most votes automatically make it the top 15, so I encourage everyone to vote, it will definitely help me a lot. Between now and then I’ll be very busy not only with my Miss America preparations but also appearances and promoting my platform

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Biggest Farm Bureau Campaign Class Ever


Linda Johnson of the American Farm Bureau conducts Campaign U. Putnam photo
Campaign School Helps Political Hopefuls

Boise--Potential candidates for public office gathered at the annual Idaho Farm Bureau Campaign school on Tuesday afternoon at the Boise Riverside Downtowner. The 21candidates came from all walks of life and political persuasions with the hopes of one day making a difference through public service.

"We teach them what they need to know and what it takes to win election," said Idaho Farm Bureau organizer Dennis Tanikuni. To help prospective candidates prepare, Idaho Farm Bureau offers the unique Campaign school every off-election year in Boise.

The school is open to all potential candidates, with recommendations coming from County Farm Bureaus. The curriculum is targeted for local, state and national political races."We're appreciative of anyone that offers themselves for public office," said Tanikuni, of the Idaho Farm Bureau's Governmental Affairs Department. "But they need to know all the hurdles they must clear and all the difficult things they have to do in order to have a successful campaign, this school gives them that knowledge."

Over the past two decades 80 percent of those attending the school were elected to public office according to Tanikuni.Content for the Campaign School was developed by the American Farm Bureau with input from political consultants, staff of both national political parties and even a group of pesky former reporters.

Videotapes, DVD's, case studies and a computer game assist in the presentation of information. "This really gives the candidates a realistic, hands-on experience and to test techniques, tools and methods," Tanikuni said.

Content focuses on evaluating the viability of the candidacy; selecting themes and issues; budgeting and raising money; and campaign organization and strategy. Working with the news media also is emphasized and participants had to 'meet the press' in a mock interview with former reporters. "You can read about how to handle the media, but until you've been there it's useless," said Tanikuni.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just in from Washington


Bill Russell continues to farm in Emmett, one day he will pass the dairy farm to his son--Ritter photo

Estate Tax Fix in the Works
by Jacqui Fatka, American Agriculturist

Washington--With budgets tight and tables turning on Capitol Hill, what once looked like a friendly environment for a permanent repeal of the estate tax, now looks impossible.

Today the majority of Congressional members no longer support full repeal, and it is likely something will be passed before the end of the year to prevent the one year of repeal from going into effect, tax specialists predict.

Currently, the estate tax - also termed the "death tax" - is set at 45% for estates worth more than $3.5 million (or $7 million for a couple). The President's budget proposed freezing the estate tax at this level so it could be dealt with at a later date.

If Congress does not freeze the tax at this level, the estate tax would be eliminated completely in 2010. However, in 2011, it would revert to pre-2001 tax levels, and estates worth more than $1 million would be taxed at a 55% rate.

If the estate tax law does expire in 2010, estates would also lose the "stepped-up basis," which adjusts the value of property for inflation at death and impact what you pay capital gains on. Pat Wolfe, American Farm Bureau Federation tax specialist, said she expects capital gains will be moved separately from the estate tax.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just in from Washington


Jake Putnam photo
Simpson, Minnick Vote against H.R. 3962

Washington--Over the weekend the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 by a vote of 220-215. Idaho Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick voted against the bill because of 'hidden costs' of the Health Care legislation.
“Pelosi is touting that she just passed legislation to make health care more affordable," said Simpson. "But nothing could be further from the truth, the frightening reality for the American taxpayer and anyone who will need health care in the future is that she is hiding the true costs of this legislation and doing so in ways that will be disastrous to our nation’s long-term fiscal health.”

Democrat Congressman Walt Minnick also voted against the bill because of lack of home district support. "Over the last several months, I have met with thousands of constituents from all over Idaho‟s First Congressional District. They are gravely concerned about the economy, about job security, and about the kinds of opportunities their children and grandchildren will have to make a better life."

Minnick added that he had to vote with the minority because of economic concerns: "Like most of them, I believe that cutting down the cost of health care is one important step we can take in moving our economy forward. We need to reform the insurance industry by demanding accountability and increasing private-sector competition. We must reduce government spending on programs such as a Medicare, and look to Idaho for examples of ways to do just that. And we must reduce costs throughout the health-care system, so the long-term benefits of reform will truly help our economy to grow and our nation to prosper.

In addition to the TRILLION dollar cost of H.R. 3962, the bill also contains the following provisions:

· Includes a “surtax” on individuals making over a certain income, more than half of which are actually small businesses. Moreover, this tax will continue to entrap more and more middle class Americans every year as their incomes go up because, like the Alternative Minimum Tax, it is not indexed for inflation.

    • Drastically expands Medicaid, from 100% to 150% of federal poverty level. Starting in 2014, it will cost states, including Idaho, $34 billion to comply with another unfunded federal mandate--something state budgets simply cannot afford during these difficult economic times..

    • Those individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance will have to pay a penalty. Americans will no longer get to choose whether or not they will purchase health insurance in the future because government will have already made that decision.

    • People who already have health insurance through their employers will be at risk of losing it. H.R. 3962 will implement expensive new mandates on all employer-provided health insurance that businesses must either comply or be faced with new taxes and penalties. For many employers, it will make more business sense to eliminate jobs or drop employees’ health insurance.

“During a time of record budget deficits, we cannot afford to create another trillion plus dollar entitlement program, like this bill does. However, we all agree that our current health system needs reform,” said Simpson. “I will be the first to admit that it is irresponsible to just say no to the current health legislation without offering commonsense alternatives that will actually bring down the cost of health care. For these reasons, I support measures to make health care more affordable and accessible without further drowning our nation in debt.

Simpson and 66 of his colleagues have cosponsored H.R. 1086, the HEALTH Act. This bill would create effective medical malpractice reform by putting an end to junk lawsuits by placing caps on noneconomic damages and limiting attorney fees. This bill would save as much as $120 billion in wasteful spending by stemming the practice of defensive medicine.


Simpson is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2607, the Small Business Healthcare Fairness Act, which would allow small businesses to band together through associations to buy health care coverage. Large corporations and even labor unions already leverage their size and buying power to secure lower premiums and rates when buying health insurance for their employees and members. This bill would give America’s small businesses the same advantages and make health care coverage for their employees more affordable.

In addition, Simpson supports reforms that would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing condition as well as reforms to make the purchase of health insurance for individuals tax-exempt like it is for employer-sponsored insurance. He also believes that we need to do more as a country to focus on prevention and early intervention. Simpson also supports prescription drug re-importation, which would control prescription drug costs by allowing Americans to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from places such as Canada and Europe where drugs are sold for much less money.

“I am disappointed to see that once again, the Democrats have failed to listen to the American people and passed health reform that all Americans could support,” Simpson said.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

President's Editorial



Ohio Voters Endorse Livestock Board
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau

Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure this week creating a livestock care standards board. This victory for livestock interests slams the door on efforts of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) to regulate agricultural practices through voter initiative and may be a wise strategy for other states to follow.

HSUS has already backed ballot measures regulating livestock production that have passed in Florida, California, Colorado and Arizona. Those measures outlaw the use of hog gestation crates, veal production crates and battery cages for laying hens. HSUS is masterful at appealing to the emotions of voters and convincing them that these tools of livestock husbandry are inhumane, when in fact they are scientifically proven methods that increase production and keep food costs low.

After HSUS rolled through California last year easily passing Proposition 2, many in the agricultural sector began to wonder which state they would pick off next. Ohio Farm Bureau and its Buckeye State allies decided to take a proactive approach by creating this livestock regulatory board intended to head off efforts by activist groups that want to impose their agendas on agriculture. And it’s good news that they won by a resounding margin of 64 to 36 percent. But it doesn’t mean HSUS is going away and that’s important for Idaho to keep in mind.

“We believe Ohioans should be in control of Ohio,” said Joe Cornely of the Ohio Farm Bureau. “They (HSUS) are not bashful about dictating from DC. We believe in consumer choice on meat milk and eggs, they advocate veganism.”

Voters should understand that HSUS is not the good folks taking care of stray pets down at the local animal shelter. HSUS is a powerful organization with a vegetarian agenda. Most of their funding is used for political activities while only a small percentage is passed along to animal shelters.

HSUS-backed initiatives have caused livestock production to shift out of states where livestock production restrictions were enacted. That’s unfortunate and we don’t wish added regulations on any state, but Idaho’s economy has benefitted from this action with the establishment of a Hy-Line International chicken production plant in Cassia County. Poultry restrictions in California are likely to continue to entice private companies to move egg, broiler and possibly hog production into other states. With an ample land base and feed production capabilities, Idaho is a prime state for these companies to relocate to. This would bring many opportunities for Idaho farms as well as jobs, tax revenue and diversity to Idaho’s agriculture base.

Ohio voters made a solid statement that acknowledged the role farmers play in caring for farm animals and providing a safe and quality food supply. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is charged with maintaining food safety, encouraging locally grown and raised food and protecting farms and families. The board is made up of 13 members including the director of the state department of agriculture as chairman, and others appointed by the governor to include the state veterinarian, dean of a state university agriculture department, two consumer representatives, one member of a county humane society, one licensed veterinarian, two farm organization representatives and four other appointees. No more than seven members of the board can come from the same political party. The board will establish standards subject to the authority of the state legislature.




Friday, November 6, 2009

Just in from Washington


Putnam photo

AFBF, Ag Library to Create Information Clearinghouse for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2009 – The American Farm Bureau Federation is partnering with the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Library to create the National Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. The new information-sharing program will help those who have decided to pursue a career in agriculture and will help support Farm Bureau’s commitment to rural development.


The clearinghouse is a component of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a competitive grant initiative that is part of the 2008 farm bill. The clearinghouse will be supported by a five-year, $1.5 million grant from USDA.

“This is a great opportunity for Farm Bureau to provide information to beginning farmers on how to start and stay in farming and ranching,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are providing in-kind support to the National Ag Library with outreach, publicity, educational seminars and our annual conference where other project grants will be highlighted.”

The clearinghouse will use the grant money to develop a Web site and databases to serve beginning farmers and ranchers, with particular focus on those categorized as underserved. The clearinghouse will provide education, training, outreach and mentoring materials to beginning farmers and ranchers across the United States. AFBF will serve as a conduit for distribution of the information.

“Our goal at Farm Bureau is to help farmers be successful and to move agriculture forward,” said Dan Durheim, coordinator of AFBF’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program. “The projects included in the clearinghouse are fascinating and diverse: an agricultural entrepreneurial program in Missouri, legal and technical support for beginning and immigrant farmers in Minnesota, effective business practices to Navajo farmers in Arizona, business planning and sustainable practices for women in the Northeast, and absentee forest landowner training in Tennessee.”

Farm Bureau will host a beginning farmer and rancher conference annually that will be held in conjunction with the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Conference, beginning in Orlando, Fl. in February 2011.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vandals More Than A Football Powerhouse


Jake Putnam photo
Grid Iron Success Bolsters Campus Butcher Shop
Moscow--With Vandal success on the football field this season, fans are flocking to the best kept secret on campus--the Vandal butcher shop. Boosters can buy Vandal Brand Meats for their tailgate parties. The meat is fresh, high quality and carries the unique Vandal brand.

Located on the west end of UI’s Moscow campus just off Perimeter Drive and 6th Street, the shop offers everything from brats and ribs and smoked turkey to the popular Vandal football ham and.yes, its shaped like a football. Ron Richard runs the shop and his staff can fill any specialty order.

Vandal Brand Meats has over-the-counter service for fans and for out-of-towners, they can ship via UPS or air and its the perfect holiday gift because its frozen and wrapped in a freezer pack to ensure freshness. All cuts are labeled with nutrition facts,cooking,and storing instructions.

The secret to Vandal Brand success is that all livestock is locally raised—the majority on campus farms—and all meats are processed on campus in the Meat Lab. UI professor emeritis John Miller says,“It's all about the small product supply, we know the background of our meats, and that builds customer confidence.”

All Vandal Brand beef is aged 7 to 14 days,allowing enzymes to break down muscle tissue and tenderize the meat,compared to supermarket meats,aged as little as 2 days.

For the past 20 years,Vandal Brand Meats has made the transition from bulk processing a few cuts of meat to incorporating customer favorites like sausage making, spicing, and marinating. And it serves a valuable purpose It’s the outlet for products used in research,teaching,and extension activities.

“We try to give students a pasture-to-plate mentality, so they get to see and experience the whole growing and harvesting process,” Miller told us while touring the lab.“The retail outlet gives students an understand on how the breeding and genetics work that's done, all that translates into the incredible high quality of the meats.”

Miller, now retired, pioneered Vandal Brand and helped open the butcher shop. For that innovation and vision, Governor Butch Otter awarded him the Governors Excellence in Agriculture Award and will pick up the award in February. The Farm Bureau is producing a video segment on the former U of I professor.

Profits from the campus butcher shop covers expenses and pays student workers. UI’s best selling products are the smoked sausages and the old-fashioned-cured holiday ham. The ham is already cooked complete with heating instructions, but the Vandal football ham has been a fan favorite this year.

To place orders, or for detailed product list and open hours, call 208-885-6727, or just stop by before the game.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Health Care Debate



AFBF Urges House to Oppose Health Care Bill


WASHINGTON, D.C, November 3, 2009---American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman today urged all members of the House “to stand with our nation’s farmers and ranchers and oppose H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.”


In a letter to the House, Stallman said health insurance costs are an ongoing and significant expense for agricultural employers, and health care reform must not unduly burden farm and ranch businesses with costs they can’t afford. “While tax incentives in the bill are designed to help small employers cover health care expenses, there are no allowances for seasonal workers common to our industry,”

Stallman wrote. “ We are opposed to an employer mandate and view an 8 percent payroll tax imposed for non-coverage as excessive and as burdensome as mandated coverage. “Farm Bureau believes that health care is primarily the responsibility of individuals, and we are opposed to provisions in the bill that mandate individual coverage.


Most farmers and ranchers are self-employed and would already cover themselves if they could afford it. Passing a mandate accompanied by the threat of a tax for noncompliance only makes the situation worse for people unable to afford coverage in the first place,” Stallman wrote. Farm Bureau supports private, market-based reforms and is opposed to the creation of a government-operated health insurance program. “We believe that the creation of an exchange where individuals and businesses can easily compare and purchase privately offered insurance will encourage the competition necessary to bring about cost savings,” Stallman wrote.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dairy News from the MPI



IDAHO SUPREME COURT TO HEAR DAIRY ARGUMENTS

Boise--This Wednesday the Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments the Idaho Dairymen’s lawsuit against Gooding County regarding the 2007 Ordinance adopted by their County Commission.

The ordinance was intended to protect the county’s water quality from animal waste runoff . The ordinance establishes certain setbacks for locating Confined animal feeding operations in the county and prohibited CAFOs from having more than 5 animal units per tillable irrigated acre owned by farmers. The land base to support the animal units is required to be in Gooding County with the exception of surrounding farm land in bordering counties.

Dairymen filed suit challenging the authority of the county to supersede existing federal and state environmental regulations (including Nutrient Management Plans).

Deb Kristensen (a partner with MPI member Givens Pursley) will be arguing the case on behalf of industry. A decision from the court may be rendered by the end of the year. The Milk Producers of Idaho are working on legislation to address the issue this upcoming legislative session.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ada County Farm Bureau Notes


Custom Forage Doing Good Business in Treasure Valley
By Don Sonke, Ada County Farm Bureau President

Kuna--John Indart owner of Indart Farms, a custom forage harvest company, says it has been a good season for his business. The majority of his business is for dairy and even though the industry has been depressed for the past year, the cows still need feed and he has harvested over 90,000 ton of corn and haylage for his customers.

All this has been chopped by the Krone forage harvester pictured above. This 800 horsepower behemoth will process over 220 tons of corn or 180 tons of haylage per hour. The 10 rows of corn this machine takes in one swath is a far cry from the one row harvesters of 50 years ago. It takes 5 ten wheelers and 4 semi trucks to satisfy the output of this one machine. The Krone is made in Germany and costs a whopping $450,000.

John says his business employs 6 full time employees and 8 part time during the busy season. In the off season the equipment is used to haul and spread manure on local farm ground. John lives in Caldwell and has recently doubled his family by having a set of twin boys.

Fall Colors


15th Street Fall, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

The last of the brilliant, fall colors have decended on Boise. Temperatures have dropped, winds are picking up and soon the leaves will be off the trees. The Upper Valleys have seen the leaves turn and fall weeks ago.

School Milk Program

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would provide more access to milk in schools. Washington--The School Milk Nutrition Act of 20...