Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Potato news

Stever Ritter photo
Spuds in Bloom across Idaho
Emmett--Ranger potatoes are in full bloom, its later than normal due to inclimate weather and one of the shortest springs in decades. A wet and cool late spring left the landscape of Idaho unusually green for late June. The abrupt arrival of temperatures in the 80s last week began to dry grasses, and the blossoms near Emmett were out just a few days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunset after the storm

The eyes of the world, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Another storm blew through the Treasure Valley tonight. This storm packed a gust of wind, lots of lightning, but very spotty rainfall.

Farm Weather 2010


Video: Steve Ritter

Emmett--Its been one of the coldest springs on record, but yesterday we had 100-degree temps. Then out of nowhere a violent thunderstorm struck Southwest Idaho, blowing over trees, taking roofs off chicken coops and thousands of lightning strikes.

Undaunted, Farmer Tracy Walton returned to his fields this morning to set siphon tubes, Walton says there's another storm brewing.

Just in from the Idaho Fish and Game

Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife

Salmon Runs Improving

LEWISTON— Idaho Fish and Game Biologists say the Gem State could see a record run of Snake River sockeye salmon this year.

More than 833 salmon returned to the Stanley Basin last year; biologist Jeff Heindel expects at least 1000 sockeyes this year, over the past few years he says averaged between 500 to 1,000 fish.

This year’s sockeye run on the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam is one of the best in decades with 134,058 sockeye counted at the dam compared with a 10-year average of 42,363. Just this week 25,011 were counted on Monday and 26,873 Tuesday. The 25,011 sockeye counted at Bonneville Dam yesterday was the second highest daily count since at least 1938. The record is 27,112 fish on July 7, 1955.

The last few years have seen a big upswing in sockeye returns. Last year’s run was 177,000 sockeye over Bonneville.

Around Idaho

Steve Ritter photo

Pastures Excellent Across Idaho

Fruitvale--In Adams county Idaho the never ending spring rains have had a positive impact on pasture lands. This angus herd in Fruitvale, Idaho has plenty of green grass to eat.

"It's looking good across the board," said Idaho Farm Bureau Range expert Wally Butler. "With hay off to a slow start this extra forage has really helped our Ranchers out. The only downside is that the heat will turn the grass brown awfully quick at the lower elevations." Butler added that hay prices will stay up until supply improves later this summer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just in from Milk Producers of Idaho

Steve Ritter photo


Washington--Hiring farmworkers on temporary visas will get harder starting this month. The Labor Dept. reversed Bush administration changes to key regulations.

Under George W. Bush, employers hiring foreign laborers could skip the paperwork to certify that U.S. citizens weren’t available and make a simple attestation instead. Under Obama’s watch, the certification requirement is back. Plus the administration is reinstating a requirement for a higher minimum wage for imported workers. The wage premium is meant to provide employers with a financial incentive to hire domestic workers before resorting to bringing in foreign ones.

Ada County FB News

Ada County Farm Bureau Awards Scholarship

Boise--Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke present Amanda Wilder a scholarship check for $750. Wilder says that the money will help pay tuition at the University of Idaho this fall. Wilder is the FFA State Vice President and just graduated from Meridian High School. She plans on getting a degree in food science.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Just in from Washington

USDA Report Outlines Plans to Increase Biofuels

Washington--The Agriculture Department released a report on Friday that outlines both the current state of renewable transportation fuels efforts in America along with a plan developing local strategies to increase the production, marketing and distribution of biofuels.

The report provides information on current production and consumption capacities as well as projections to meet the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) mandate to use 36 billion gallons of biofuel per year in America's fuel supply by 2022.

The report gives data on the significant impact the ethanol industry will have on job creation. It is estimated that as many as 40 direct jobs and additional indirect jobs are created with each 100-million-gallon ethanol facility built.

USDA plans to adopt regional strategies that allow the placement of biorefineries in areas of economic distress through the leveraging of regional resources for transportation, labor and feedstocks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just in from Washington

Hay is harvested on the Tubb's ranch near Malad, Idaho

Lawmakers Urge Vilsack not to OK Biotech Alfalfa

Washington--Fifty members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Six Democratic senators sent Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter urging him not to approve use of Monsanto's Co.’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

The Supreme Court lifted a Federal judge's injunction clearing the way for the the sale of the GMO seed. In the letter, Congressmen disputed the USDA's draft EIS that stated the biotech crop was unlikely to harm the environment or human health

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports use of Roundup Ready alfalfa and other biotech crops. AFBF and other Ag producer groups applauded Monday's Supreme Court decision.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sugar Beets looking good despite slow start

Sugar Beets, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Sugar Beets need Sunshine

David Sparks, Farm Bureau Report, Voice of Idaho Ag News
Kimberly--The cold and the rain have put a definite slow down on production crops. Unless you’re a polar bear or you’ve been hibernating like a regular bear, you’ve probably noticed that it’s been quite a spring in terms of rain and cold weather.

Even weeds are slow to grow in the cold, wet weather across Idaho this spring, says Don Morishita, University of Idaho professor of weed science and extension specialist at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center.

“Seems like every spring has been a challenge although the challenge this year has been the cold weather. It had a great impact on sugar beets. We lost some sugar beets just like the growers did and had trouble trying to get a good stand established as well. The grains are loving this cool weather. Grains look good this year but most of the other crops like sugar beets and corn are taking a beating. Our potatoes over at Aberdeen are just coming out of the ground so they’re slowly growing. Hopefully with some heat units, we’ll get those going too,” said Don Morishita.
Love how scientists talk…Let’s hope for heat units.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Farming in Idaho/Chopping Hay

Christensen farm outside of Parma, Idaho is chopping hay this week. The season is off to one of the slowest starts in decades thanks to record rain and unseasonably cold. (Steve Ritter photo)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Supreme Court reaction

Ag Groups Applaud Supreme Court Ruling on Biotech Alfalfa

WASHINGTON– The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s nationwide ban on the cultivation of biotech alfalfa. This remands the case back to the District Court and then back to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine what interim measures can be implemented while the agency completes its environmental impact statement process.

The news was welcomed by a coalition of agricultural organizations who had filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in “Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms.” The brief was submitted by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association (ASA), National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance (NAFA), National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), National Cotton Council and National Potato Council.

In the lower court case, environmental groups and individual organic alfalfa farmers sued USDA claiming the agency’s decision to grant deregulated status to glyphosate-tolerant (or “Roundup Ready®”) alfalfa violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). After finding a NEPA violation, the lower court enjoined almost all planting and sale of Roundup Ready® alfalfa and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

The Supreme Court reversed the injunction, finding that the District Court went too far in presuming that the only remedy available for a NEPA violation is a nationwide injunction rather than the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) proposed partial deregulation. The court explained that “a partial deregulation need not cause respondents any injury at all, much less irreparable injury.”

Accordingly, the court concluded that “the District Court abused its discretion in enjoining APHIS from effecting a partial deregulation and in prohibiting the possibility of planting in accordance with the terms of such a deregulation.”

The friend-of-the-court groups agree that the Supreme Court decision to reverse the lower courts’ ban protects the deregulatory process and thus the rights of farmers who choose to grow biotech crops, and who want access to the benefits that biotechnology can provide. It also reinforces earlier Supreme Court decisions instructing federal courts that nationwide injunctions are extraordinary remedies.

Just in from the American Farm Bureau

Stallman: Farmers must connect

Madison--American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman thinks American farmers need to do a better job connecting with consumers.

Stallman thinks farmers and ranchers have stayed in the shadows too long, because a new generation of Americans don't know where their food comes from, he thinks consumers need to be satisfied.

"Farmers in the information age also must engage consumers so they can learn about food production and develop or maintain trust with farmers who produce their food,"Stallman said. “All of us in agriculture have a responsibility to share our story,” Stallman said at the AFBF public relations conference in Madison. “We need to make a connection with the public.”

Stallman thinks consumers trust farmers but don't understand the industry because the U.S. population continues to become more urban and detatched from farming.

According to the AgChat Foundation, a vast majority of Americans no longer have a connection to agriculture, The foundation was created in April to empower farmers to tell their stories to consumers.

Farmers and Ranchers formed the AgChat Foundation to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. Their goal is to equip producers with social media skills like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, so they can tell their own story directly to to tell their story.

The AgChat Foundation will host its first training session Aug. 30 and 31 in Chicago. For more information visit the website

“Social media platforms are delivering the non-farmer to the farm,” said Tricia Braid Terry, communications director for the Illinois Corn Growers Association/Marketing Board, during a presentation at the AFBF conference.
“Social media might seem mysterious and elusive but what it boils down to is just an online conversation,” she continued. “I’m talking about moving your coffee shop talk to your laptop.”

Facebook currently has 450 million users while Twitter is adding a reported 300,000 new users per day and last week had a total of 106 million users.

“Social media give us an opportunity to reach younger demographics,” Stallman said. “Those younger demographics will be the ones (in the future) making decisions that affect American agriculture.”

But social media isn’t just a fad or limited to younger people. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55 to 65-year-old women, according to Terry, who serves on the AgChat Foundation board.

Social media “are communications tools that must not be ignored,” Terry added. “This is a case where putting your head in the sand just isn’t going to cut it.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just in from Washington

Supreme Court lifts Roundup Ready alfalfa ban
USDA to issue rules on planting GMO alfalfa.

Washington-The United States Supreme Court ruled this morning that a federal judge had erred in prohibiting the planting of Monsanto Co's genetically modified alfalfa seed until a federal government agency completed a detailed environmental review.

By a 7-1 vote the justices made their first decision involving genetically modified crops and reversed a lower-court ruling.

At issue in the case was an environmental impact study on how the Roundup Ready seed could affect nearby crops.

From Capitol Hill

Climate Change Bill Unlikely to Pass Congress This Year

Washington--Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) met with President Barack Obama last week and told the President that he cannot support a cap-and-trade program or carbon fee to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting and the sudden lack of support is seen as a major setback to passing climate change legislation in Congress this year.

In his Oval Office address to the nation last week, Obama called for comprehensive energy reform, but did not propose an emissions cap. This is also viewed as a key blow to passing climate change legislation in the Senate.

Obama is said to know the chance of passing climate change legislation is slim and he wants to avoid a public failure. The Hill quoted an unnamed senior Democrat in the Senate who said, “He knows that if he mentioned a carbon cap, his success or failure would be measured by his ability to get it.”

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said a nationwide cap on emissions is unlikely. “It’s going to be difficult,” Bingaman said.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ag News

Iowa State study: Small Towns Benefit From Large Farms

Des Moines-Recent studies by Iowa State University rural sociologists show that small towns benefit from large farms. “Our findings suggest there is a modest favorable effect of large-scale agriculture on quality of life in the 99 Iowa communities we studied,” said Steve Sapp, professor of sociology. “It’s not especially surprising, given the close relationship between Iowa’s rural communities and agriculture.”

Sapp said quality of life was defined from residents’ impressions of government services (such as police and fire protection, street and park maintenance and garbage collection) and community services (such as medical care, schools, shopping, recreation and entertainment options, child care, senior citizen programs and youth programs).

In Idaho, small towns havn't felt the presures of the recession and unemployment rates are lower in small towns located in farming communities, according to rural economic studies. Quality of life also included socioeconomic data within each county, such as income, percentage of population living in poverty, crime rates, infant mortality rates, unemployment rates and gaps between rich and poor.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just in from Washington

Simpson Pushes EPA to Treat Biomass Energy Production Fairly

Washington--Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined Western colleagues in expressing concern about EPA’s efforts to regulate energy production from biomass combustion under the Clean Air Act. Simpson signed a letter to EPA asking that the agency postpone implementing the rule while it reconsiders its decision.

The EPA recently released its final PSD Tailoring Rule outlining which stationary sources of carbon emissions will be subject to EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions control regulations, which will be implemented beginning in January 2011. Although the draft regulation did not propose regulating emissions from biomass combustion, the EPA reversed its decision in the final rule. Both Congress and the Administration have consistently recognized biomass as a clean renewable energy resource.

“We are writing to express our deep disappointment and concern over the EPA’s decision in its final PSD Tailoring Rule to depart from the government’s consistent past practice of excluding biomass combustion emissions in calculating GHG emissions,” the letter states. “This decision contracts federal precedent regarding the carbon neutrality of biomass combustion and will discourage the responsible development and utilization of renewable biomass that could and should play a more significant role in our nation’s energy policy.”

Simpson has long promoted biomass not only as a resource that provides clean, renewable energy, but also as a mechanism through which forests can be properly managed and the risk of catastrophic wildfires on public and private lands can be reduced. Biomass energy product also puts to use a byproduct that would otherwise be wasted or burned in the open.

“There is enormous potential to generate renewable energy from waste products gathered on public and private lands,” the letter continues. “This includes byproducts of preventative treatments that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels, to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation, or to restore forest health…Further, this would help stimulate the economies of rural communities surrounded by federal lands by creating jobs.”

“In light of the EPA’s decision to reverse federal and international precedent and ignore clear Congressional intent regarding biomass utilization, we respectfully request a written detailed response explaining your plan to reconsider the treatment of emissions of biogenetic carbon dioxide under the PSD and Title V programs,” the letter concludes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just in from Washington

EPA Agrees to Strengthen Oversight of Feedlots as Part of Water Settlement:

(From the Daily Environmental Report)

Washington-The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to tighten the oversight of animal feedlots, where bacteria, viruses, and parasites from animal waste can pollute nearby waterways, under a settlement filed May 25 to resolve a lawsuit by environmental groups (NRDC v. EPA, 5th Cir., No. 08-61093, final settlement 5/25/10).

Under the final settlement agreement, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, EPA agreed to propose a rule within one year to require all concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to submit details to the agency about their operations and to update the information every five years.

The requirement to submit information would apply to all CAFOs, not only those that are now required to have permits under the Clean Water Act.EPA also agreed to make publicly available by May 28, 2010, a guidance document to help authorities implement National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit regulations and effluent limitations guidelines and standards for CAFOs by specifying exactly what circumstances trigger the duty to apply for permits, according to the settlement agreement.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

American Farm Bureau Public Relations Conference

Stallman Addresses Conference
Madison--American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman addressed the AFBF Public Relations Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Stallman talked at length about image and trust campaigns in American Agriculture. The President of the AFBF told state staff members that in 30 years of Farm Bureau leadership that only a few days passed when farm members did'nt say 'we need to do a better job telling the farmers story.' Stallman told PR staff that we need to do a better job listening to farm members.

"Questions about food production and eating were discussed back in Roman times and not much has changed since then," said Stallman. "That fact that we need to eat food, dictates the fact that we will talk about it along with philosophical musings on production, what we eat, whats best for us, health wise. Those discussions only occur after your need for calories are met. These debates don't occur in countries where they scramble each day to feed themselves. Only after we get fat and happy do we engage in debate."

Stallman says PR staff is listening and acting on a number of initiatives and making sure that each and every critic's concern is met and addressed through innovative trust campaigns and new social medias.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just in from Madison

Wisconsin, Nation wait for critical milk ruling

Madison- A judge here in Dane County Wisconsin postponed ruling on a motion that greatly affects Wisconsin’s ban on raw milk sales.

Dane County Circuit Judge Patrick Fiedler is scheduled to rule on a case today involving Grassway Organic Farm’s claim that the state has no right to stop them from selling raw milk to customers who have become part-owners of the farm.

Industry insiders think that the judge will wait to see the 'Farm to Consumer' Legal Defense Fund's response to the FDA's motion to dismiss. The Fund filed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the FDA's ban on interstate sale of raw milk in a separate case in federal court in Iowa. The Fund was granted additional time to respond to the FDA's motion to dismiss.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its parent agency, Health and Human Services (HHS), claiming that FDA's regulation banning the interstate transport of raw milk and raw dairy products for direct human consumption constitutes violations of the United States Constitution and federal law. FDA filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that there is no fundamental right to travel across state lines with raw milk in one's possession, and that there is no fundamental right to consume the food of one's choice or to give one's family members the food of one's choice.

Once the matter is fully briefed to the court, a decision will be issued on whether the Fund's case should or should not be dismissed. The Fund lawyers think the case won't be dismissed and that the next phase of the case will go forward.

Monday, June 14, 2010

American Farm Bureau Public Relations Conference

Jack Fisher of the Ohio Farm Bureau addresses the the annual PR Conference-Steve Ritter photo
Engage and Listen, When fighting Ballot Propositions

Madison-Jack Fisher of the Ohio Farm Bureau addressed the AFBF Conference this morning in Madison. Fisher helped coordinate and mastermind the successful proposition 2 fight on the Ohio Ballot this past year.

Last February, HSUS leaders Wayne Pacelle and Paul Shapiro sat down with agriculture groups in Ohio and announced plans to bring California’s contentious Proposition 2 to the state that ranks second in egg production and ninth in swine, nationally. The group unsuccessfully tried to put a citizen referendum to ban sow gestation stalls, veal crates and battery cages for layer hens on the ballot, the measure failed by a 2-1 margin.

The Ohio Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council, the United Egg Producers, and other agribusiness concerns raised $4 million in a major campaign to push the passage of Issue 2.

Fisher says while the HSUS tired to divide farm groups it was a successful grass-root campaign that opened up dialogue that unified producers and influenced the public as well.

"Communications had a lot to do with unification of all the County Farm Bureaus in Ohio, but we are not there yet, because there's a challenge again this year, we are going to engage HSUS and work hard to understand where they're coming from;" said Fisher.

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Madison--The Idaho Farm Bureau Public Relations team is attending the American Farm Bureau's Public Affairs Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. We are getting a birdeye view of the nation's Agriculture through fellow Farm Bureau PR staff.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cost of Living

The Harshbargers of Fremont County, Idaho, Putnam photo
USDA Report: Raising Child Born in 2009 Will Cost $222,360
Washington-A report released Wednesday by the Agriculture Department, Expenditures on Children by Families, finds that a middle-income family with a child born in 2009 can expect to spend about $222,360 ($286,050 if inflation is factored in) for food, shelter and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years.

This represents less than a 1 percent increase from 2008, the smallest increase this decade, which likely reflects the state of the economy. Expenses for child care, education and health care saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2008, whereas expenses on transportation actually declined. This decline in transportation expenses on a child mitigated the increases in the other expenses.

The report by USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion notes that family income affects child-rearing costs. A family earning less than $56,670 per year can expect to spend a total of $160,410 (in 2009 dollars) on a child from birth through high school. Parents with an income between $56,670 and $98,120 can expect to spend $222,360 and a family earning more than $98,120 can expect to spend $369,360. In 1960, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($182,860 in 2009 dollars) to raise a child through age 17.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

President's Editorial

Report Exposes Humane Society Charade

by Frank Priestley, President, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a powerful political organization with a vegetarian agenda, doled out $280 million on salaries, lobbying, advertising and fundraising during a recent three-year period. Yet less than one-fifth of one percent of the organization’s total budget during the three-year period was used for programs that benefit unwanted pets.

Numbers gathered from HSUS’ IRS filings from 2006 to 2008 show only a pittance of the money generated from seemingly uninformed donors was given to hands-on pet shelters in 45 states. At the same time the organization spent huge sums of money supporting ballot initiatives like Proposition 2 that created new regulations on hog, egg and veal production in California, a ballot initiative to ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts, promoting a ban on dove hunting in Michigan and a ballot initiative in Arizona that put strict regulations on hog production.

HSUS had duped thousands of donors into believing they are helping unwanted pets. However, tax records analyzed by, a non-profit organization set up to monitor HSUS, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and other radical groups, show a surprisingly different set of circumstances. A poll taken in February of this year shows how adept the group has become at convincing people to donate to the cause and then using the money to fulfill their dubious agenda. The poll, taken in February by Opinion Research Corporation shows 71 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “HSUS is an umbrella group that represents thousands of local humane societies all across America.” In addition, 59 percent of respondents agreed that “HSUS contributes most of its money to local organizations that care for dogs and cats.”

It’s unfortunate those statements aren’t true. However HSUS tax records show that helping to take care of unwanted pets isn’t a priority to this hypocritical organization. HSUS tax records show the organization made zero payments to pet shelters in Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming during the three-year period. Idaho shelters received $17,000 during the period.

The report shows how few of the millions of dollars raised by HSUS each year actually reach local shelters across the country. The report called “Not Your Local Humane Society,” lists each pet shelter grant given by the organization to every state from 2006 to 2008. In Arizona, the group spent just $1 on local pet shelters for every $300 in lobbying expenditures for a “humane farm” ballot initiative and other anti-animal agriculture legislation.

In 2008 HSUS’ budget increased by more than $8 million dollars, yet only 15 states received donations for local pet shelters. From 2006 to 2008, the organization left out five states entirely. HSUS reported having more than $162 million in assets at the end of 2008.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just in

Chicago--MILK PRODUCTION in the U.S. was up 1.5 percent in April . This is the third month of higher year-over-year output. Milk per cow is up 3.5 percent. The are 186,000 fewer cows than last year, but 14,000 more (9.096 million) than in December.

CHEESE IN STORAGE now at 26-year high with April inventories totaling 1.012 billion pounds compared to November 1984’s 1.044 billion pounds. Cheese stocks were 8 percent above a year ago and 2 percent above a month earlier. Butter stocks were down 14 percent from last year but were up 6 percent over March.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ada County Farm Bureau News

Ada County Farm Bureau Scholarships Announced
By Don Sonke, Ada County Farm Bureau President

Meridian--This years Ada County Farm Bureau scholarship recipients are Amanda Wilder, Meridian, pictured with Ada President Don Sonke and Jessica Reynolds of Kuna. Each year Ada County presents two $1000 scholarships to outstanding students choosing to further their education in an agriculture related field.

This years recipients are both truly well rounded students, excelling in academic, extracurricular and community activities. Amanda plans to attend either U of I or Washington State University majoring in Food Science and Technology. She has been active in FFA all four years serving many capacities including Chapter president and Secretary of the Boise Valley District this past year. Her parents are Steve Wilder, Ag Science teacher and FFA advisor for Meridian High School. Her mother, Laura, is the present Executive Director of the Idaho FFA Foundation.

Jessica Reynolds is also a four year FFA member at Kuna High school. She has served on many school and community activities and was the chapter president this past year and served as the Boise Valley District President her senior year. She plans to attend the University of Idaho this fall majoring in Agricultural Education. Her father, Dave, farms in the Kuna area and her mother, Karla is a school principal.

Our Ada County board is proud to be able to help these outstanding students continue their education and wish them well in the coming years.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Planting Peppers

Faces 2, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Farmers get two days of work in-- before the rain
Payette--Purdum farm finished planting peppers yesterday afternoon, just before the rain. Crews had to replant because of the cold wet weather from last month. The going was slow as workers carefully planted the fragile plants off the back of a tractor. "We started a month ago but got delayed, we found more plants and started again yesterday," said Robyn Purdum.

Boundary County Farm Bureau News

Lonny Merrfield grows seedlings on his Nursery for the forest industry--Smathers photo
Boundary County Farm Tour
By Bob Smathers
Bonners Ferry--The highlight of the Boundary County Farm Tour on May 21 was a visit to the Clifty View Nursery nestled between the Cabinet and Selkirk mountain ranges near Bonners Ferry. Farm Bureau member Lonny Merrfield (shown in photos) founded Clifty View in 1979 on a small portion of the family farm to provide contract grown seedlings for the forest industry. Their specialization has been in growing Cold Hardy Quaking Aspen and Colorado Spruce.

Over the years Clifty View has grown into a very diverse operation providing a full range of nursery products to a nationwide customer base. They are one of the few nurseries that grow their Aspen from seed. Clifty View supplies up to 500,000 aspen seedlings per year to various customers and roughly 30,000 larger aspens for landscaping. This is in addition to other species of trees including pine, juniper, fir and larch. Clifty View is one of the largest suppliers of Aspen in the country.

Lunch was provided after the Clifty View tour at the Boundary County Fairgrounds, then resumed at the Moyie Springs Lumber Mill owned by the Idaho Forest Group.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Just in from Payette

Purdum's plant peppers--Steve Ritter photo

Rain Hampers Purdum's Fruit and Vegetable Operation

Payette-"No more rain! Rain, rain go away," A kids song from the lips of Robyn Purdum, but the farmer sings with deadpan honesty. The fruit stand owner is tired of rain so much, she drips with frustration.

"Its not allowing us to get into the fields and do what we need to, to fertilize, spray and even finish planting," she says. Last June Purdum says you could look down lush cornrows and see the early sweet corn tasseling, today you'll see scrawny, 8 inch corn battling rain and cold temperatures for survival.

"If we have some heat units maybe we can catch up, if not we are going to be a couple of weeks late. Hopefully we will get some warm weather this month and in July and we will catch up. But the weather has got to turn around," said Purdum.

Purdum's have been in business 14 years on the edge of Payette out near Interstate 84. The farm is a landmark for travellers and city dwellers looking for fresh, home grown produce.

"It's definitely the coldest year I remember. Last year was wet but we had the heat with it and things grew real well but this year's been too cold," she sighs.

So far this year the weather's been a cruel joke, with two days of dry weather, followed by downpours. "You can start working again, but when it rains we're shut down again, I think we have worked three days of the past two weeks is all."

On this day the Purdums are planting and replanting peppers. The going is slow as workers carefully place the fragile plants into the rich soil. "Again, we're a month later than last year, we started a month ago but got delayed, we found more plants and started again today. The Purdums hope to get planted before another week of unsettled weather.

Just in from the University of Idaho

Wet Spring Delays Kimberly, Aberdeen Weed Research Tours Until June 22, 23

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – Even weeds are slow to grow in the cold, wet weather across Idaho this spring, says Don Morishita, University of Idaho professor of weed science and extension specialist at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center.
Plants are growing so slowly that the annual Kimberly Weed Research tour will be delayed a week until June 22 as will a similar tour at Aberdeen June 23.

"We've had to delay the tours because it's so cold and wet here that everything's behind," Morishita said.The University of Idaho Snake River Weed Research Tours will be held at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center at 3806 North 3600 East near Kimberly and the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center at 1693 South 2700 West near Aberdeen.

Registration at both locations will begin at 8 a.m. with the tour starting at 8:30 a.m. A sponsored lunch at noon will conclude the weed tours. Attendees will receive three Idaho State Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator recertification credits at each location.The agenda for the

Kimberly tour includes:
Sugar beet and chicory

· Effect of strip tillage in irrigation requirements, weed emergence and growth, insect behavior, and disease incidence

· Comparison of weed control treatments in furrow irrigated strip tillage sugar beets

· Comparison of soil active herbicides tank mixed with Roundup for weed control in strip tillage sugar beets

· Effect of straw residue level and nitrogen placement and rate on strip tillage sugar beets

· Weed control in conventional beets with various products used with glyphosate

· Comparing Roundup Ready sugar beets to conventional sugar beets for weed control and yield

· Evaluating Quadris fungicide tank mixed with glyphosate for crop safety, disease incidence and weed control

· Comparing fungicides for Rhizoctonia control in sugar beets

· Comparison of insecticide seed treatments for leaf miner control in sugar beets

· Evaluation of registered and non-registered herbicides for weed control in chicory

. Cereals and corn· Broadleaf weed control with pyroxsulam in spring wheat

· Wild oat control with broadleaf and wild oat herbicide combinations

· Crop tolerance and broadleaf weed control with Huskie alone and in tank mixture

· Crop tolerance and weed control with BAS810H compared to other broadleaf herbicides

· Volunteer chicory control in spring wheat

· Volunteer chicory control in field corn

· Broadleaf weed control in field corn.Potatoes

· Comparing 2- and 3-way tank mixtures for weed control in potatoes

· Effect of CIPC-treated potato seed on potato growth and developmentPeas, dry beans and soybeans

. Preplant and pre-emergence weed control in podded peas

· Edamame soybean variety response to Treflan and Dual Magnum

· Broadleaf and grass weed control in dry beans.

The agenda for the Aberdeen tour includes:

· Tolerance of newly released potato varieties to Outlook, Chateau, and Reflex

· Weed control with Reflex tank-mixtures

· Weed control with Matrix tank-mixtures

· Weed control with pyroxasulfone tank-mixtures

· Weed control with Solida (rimsulfuron) pre- and post-emergence in potatoes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Soulen Sheep Sheds & Pens flooded

Emmett-Flood waters continue to plague families and farms along the Payette River north of Emmett. The Payette hit flood stage on Friday and crested yesterday afternoon. Steve Ritter photo

Flooding on the Payette

Steve Ritter video

Emmett--The Payette river reached flood stage on Saturday and continues to run high according to photographer and videographer Steve Ritter. The river may have crested according to Gem County officials, but will know for sure after Tuesday when daytime temperatures could reach the 75-degree mark.

2010 Farm season

Cool Weather slows Farm Season
by Nishi Gupta
Idaho's Newschannel 7
CANYON COUNTY -- The cooler, wetter weather is causing problems for area farmers.Their crops haven't seen much sun lately, and in some cases those crops are still underground, when they should have emerged from the ground weeks ago.

"I raise sugar beets, dry beans, and corn that we term the row crops, and then some wheat and a little bit of alfalfa hay," said farmer Leonard Andrew.

You would think this Canyon County farmer would have his hands full with all those crops, but some haven't seen the light of day. Nearly 20 acres of his sugar beets had to be thrown away because they didn't break ground.

And his corn is weeks behind - only three inches high when it should be a foot. "The cold weather. They (beets) didn't know which to grow normally, they grow up toward the warmth but there wasn't any warmth for them to grow toward," said Andrew.

And April and May showers haven't helped either. Too much of it leaves crops like alfalfa hay too wet to be profitable."We don't need the rains help to produce a crop here. This is a desert. We plan on irrigating the crops," said Andrew.

The Idaho Farm Bureau represents nearly 13,000 farmers in the state, and says the story is similar with many of them. "All they're doing day in day out is looking at the skies and wondering when they could have a day of sunshine," said Jake Putnam of the Idaho Farm Bureau.

That's because the concern is for more than just the crops. If there is no feed or hay for the cows, there could be trouble in the local dairy market.

"Potatoes, onions, beets, alfalfa, corn, those are our big crops - but our number one commodity is milk. We do more milk and cheese than we do potatoes," said Putnam.

Farmers like Leonard Andrew are nervous, but are trying to stay positive.

"We're hoping for a nice long Indian summer-fall," said Andrew.

Another concern farmers have is -- if it gets too hot, they may not have enough water to keep up with the heat.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wild Idaho weather

Wild Idaho weather, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Boise--Another storm blows through the Treasure valley friday afternoon. The storm packed high winds, rain and hail, a funnel cloud was spotted in NW Boise.

Parked Tractor

Parked Tractor, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Rain again in the Treasure Valley
Parma--Its raining once again across the Treasure Valley, hundreds of tractors like this sit idle waiting for the mud to dry.

Precipitation to date is 7.97 inches of rain, the normal total is 6.57. With another .30 forecasted today, it could be Sunday before farmers return to their fields.

Just in from Washington

Jake Putnam photo
EPA Releases General Draft Permit on Pesticide Applications
Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a draft version of the permit farmers will be required to obtain to apply pesticides on crops under the Clean Water Act. This follows an April 2009 court decision that pesticide discharges to U.S. waters are pollutants, thus requiring a permit.

“Farmers already have a set of regulations that they follow to apply pesticides. This permitting requirement is duplicative and costly and will not benefit the environment,” said Tyler Wegmeyer, a regulatory specialist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The American Farm Bureau is reviewing the draft permit regulations and will submit comments urging changes to ensure that the final version is the least burdensome and costly for farmers as possible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just in from Washington

Climate change bill expected to take the spotlight when the Senate returns from recess next week.

Washington--On June 10th Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is scheduled to ask for a vote on her resolution that would kill the Environmental Protection Agency’s scheme to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. AFBF strongly backs the Murkowski resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also plans to meet with committee chairs the same day to plan a schedule for Senate consideration of climate change and energy legislation. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to spur consideration of the bill.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just in from Washington

Capitol Hill, Jake Putnam photo
American Farm Bureau Urges Senate to Pass Tax Extenders Bill

Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote to members of the Senate Tuesday, urging them to pass H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

“Prompt passage is needed to reinstate many important farm-related tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009,” Stallman wrote.

On Friday, the House passed the bill, 215-204.The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week, when it returns from its Memorial Day recess.

Farm Bureau-supported provisions include extensionfor one year (through 2010) the $1 per gallon production tax credit for biodiesel. Farm Bureau also supports a provisionthat extends for one year a five-year depreciation recovery period for certain machinery and equipment used in farming. The bill includes many other one-year extensions that will help farmers and ranchers at tax time.

Endangered: Agriculture's Next Generation

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Memorium, Don Hale 1947-2010

Don Hale Close-Up, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Blackfoot--Longtime Farm Bureau leader and farming icon Don E Hale, passed away Thursday, May 28, 2010.

He was born December 27, 1947, in Blackfoot, the son of Ezra Foss and Grace Belnap Hale. Don lived most of his life in the Groveland area where wrestled, played ball, farmed, raised a family, and served his church and community faithfully. Don attended school at Groveland Elementary and graduated from Blackfoot High School in 1967. He attended Idaho State University. Don served an LDS mission in the East Atlantic States Mission.

Don was a High Priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had many callings and served in many capacities.
Don served as watermaster on 4 local canals and as a member of the Committee of Nine, two years as chairman. He was the founding President of the Idaho Hay and Forage Association, where he worked many hours to get it off the ground. He served on the board of Directors for the Bingham County Farm Bureau and several canal companies. He was known as the “Hay Man” at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.

He established himself as an expert in the areas of alfalfa hay quality, cattlemanship, and crop irrigation including local water issues. Don’s expertise was sought by state media and politicians, including the Governor. He influenced key water legislation in the State of Idaho.

Don is survived by his wife, Judith Ann, two brothers Arvel and Dan, and his sister Julia, his eight daughters; Samantha Hale, Georgia (Russ) Seymour, Jackie (Todd) Bjornberg, Hollie (David) Blaker, Rebecca Hale, Andrea (Chris) Dixon, MaryJo (Jared) Mendenhall, Jennifer (Nathan) Godfrey, and one son Fred (Wendi) Hale, and 30 grandchildren.

He is joining his parents Grace and Ezra Hale, his sisters Ella and MaryAnn, his brother Bill and son, Ezra with his Father in Heaven.
Don will be missed as a Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Uncle, Cousin, Coach and Friend to all he leaves behind.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, June 2 at the Rose LDS church, on Rose Road, at 2 p.m.

Don will be missed greatly by the Farm Bureau, and the hundreds of fellow farmers lucky enough to call him friend.

House Passes Interior Bill with Idaho Priorities

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