Sunday, October 31, 2010

Just in from Washington

Joyce Ranch, Owyhee County, Ritter photo

Higher Beef Prices Could Crimp Long-term Demand

Washington--Beef prices are expected to remain high for the next few years, which could put a crimp on long-term demand, according to the Washington Post.

Average retail prices of beef have climbed from $4.18 per pound in July 2009 to $4.44 per pound last July, a change largely due to a tight supply of cattle.

“You’ve got a whole bunch of things coming together and it’s driving all meat prices higher,” said Ken Mathews, an agricultural economist with USDA. “Beef is the highest price of the meats so that’s the one that gets the notice.”

Demand is expected to drop for beef, with poultry and pork expected to fill the gap. Consumption of poultry - chicken and turkey - is forecast to climb by 8.4 percent to 107.9 pounds per person by 2019, according to USDA.

“It puts beef in a difficult demand situation longer term,” said David Anderson, a Texas A&M University livestock economist.

Washington Post article

Friday, October 29, 2010

Just in from Twin Falls


Twin Falls – As Idaho farm producers look to the United States Congress to stop expected tax increases scheduled for the end of this year, the Idaho Farm Bureau President awarded Idaho Senator Mike Crapo a “Friend of the Farm Bureau,” award.

Crapo is a member of both the Senate Finance and Budget Committees, with jurisdiction over tax and funding issues.

Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley presented Senator Crapo the award during a ceremony at the Twin Falls County Farm Bureau offices.

"Mike Crapo has been a long time, 7 consecutive Congressional sessions recipient of this award. His roots of being raised on a potato farm and cattle ranch run deep as he seeks to represent Idaho and agriculture,"said Priestley.

Senator Crapo introduced federal legislation protecting family farms and ranches from the estate tax and income tax increases set to occur at the end of this calendar year. Tax relief passed in 2001 and 2003 but expires this year.

“This is not the time to raise taxes on anyone,” Crapo said, “especially the hard-working men and women of American Agriculture.”

Farm Bureau leaders say the most pressing issue in Congress for America’s farmers and ranchers is the prompt passage of legislation to provide estate tax relief, keeping capital gains tax rates from increasing and extending other important tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 or are set to expire at the end of 2010, according to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.

“Farm Bureau calls on Congress to act quickly to pass tax legislation when it returns after the election in order to avoid the economic damage that will be caused by tax increases and the uncertainty that surrounds the tax code,” Stallman wrote in a letter to members of the House and Senate.

Presidents Editorial

Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley--Putnam photo

Candidate’s Comments Cause for Concern
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

During a recent meeting with an Idaho sportsman’s group, gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred made some surprising comments. As a matter of policy, the Idaho Farm Bureau doesn’t endorse political candidates. However, we thought it pertinent to pass along the following information and as always, we encourage all Idahoans to get out and vote on Tuesday November 2.

During the October 9th discussion between Allred and members of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, the subject of bighorn sheep management came up. The following are Allred’s comments verbatim:

"My family a hundred years ago was driving sheep and cattle up to the Sawtooth Valley and running sheep. So I’d like to see a viable sheep industry. But we also have a long enough family history that we remember when there(were)much more substantial bighorn sheep populations in Idaho than there are now. So how do you manage those competing perspectives? Here’s one kind of distinction I would draw: On public lands, to me, wildlife populations have to take priority over individual private interests, really economic interests, and grazing. On private lands then private property owners need to take priority."

In early August, Payette National Forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville cut domestic sheep grazing on the Forest by 70 percent, from 100,000 acres to 31,500 acres over three years. Four ranches lost grazing access on the Forest. The cut could result in the loss of 28 jobs. Some scientists contend that disease transmission between bighorn and domestic sheep is not a relevant factor in declining numbers of wild sheep. However, Forest officials believe there is “a body of evidence that overwhelmingly demonstrates bighorn sheep in close proximity to domestics are at risk for disease transmission.

From our perspective, Payette Forest officials acted hastily in removing the grazing permits and in turn threatened the livelihoods of four Idaho businesses. But more to the point of Allred’s comments, regarding private interests using public lands, this is an indication of how things could change if he is elected as Idaho’s ' 33rd governor.

In our opinion, private interests that use public lands shouldn’t take a backseat to wildlife concerns. Grazing, mining, timber production and other uses of public lands are critical to our state’s economy. They provide jobs and revenue that support rural communities and should be considered equal to wildlife values at the very least.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making Idaho Cheese

Making Idaho Cheese--Jake Putnam photo
Gooding--The art of cheese-making continues to grow across the nation, and Idaho has its own boutique cheese-making family. Ballard cheese out of Gooding makes cheese twice a week selling the finished product at Markets and Co-ops throughout the West.

From the extra-rich milk of their 58 Jersey cows, they took their designer cheese curds into competition and won their first national award in 2004. Since that modest start they've added more complex cheeses, won more national awards and are now known in cooking circles across the nation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post Corn Harvest

Tanner Wing, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Post Harvest Work Underway

Mountain Home--The Elmore County corn harvest is in, prices are good and Tanner Wing of Blue Collar Farms is happy. Now he's getting his fields ready for the long winter and making plans for next year.

Just in

Ridley's market, Ritter photo

USDA Sees Food Inflation up another percentage point in 2011

Washington--The Agriculture Department doesn’t forecast a big climb in food prices this year, but the big rally in farm commodity prices that began in midsummer should lead to a jump in food prices next year.

USDA’s monthly food-price inflation forecast released Monday shows a 0.5 to 1.5 percent increase for 2010, the smallest gain since 1992. For 2011, food prices are expected to increase at the more typical rate of 2 percent to 3 percent.

Brad Ephraim Leibtag, the USDA economist responsible for the forecast, said higher corn and wheat prices increase the odds that food prices next year will be at the high end of the forecast range.

Wall Street Journal article

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just in from Washington

US Capitol Dome, Putnam photo

American Farm Bureau: 112th Congress Will Bring New Faces, Changes to D.C.

Washington--A few of the soon-to-be newly elected members of the 112th Congress may be familiar with farm policy, but like the public-at-large, most of them likely are not. And even the agriculture committees that will write the next farm bill won’t be immune to these changes, according to Mark Maslyn, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Writing in a guest blog item for The Hill, Maslyn said, however, that AFBF looks forward to working with new members to help them better understand that agriculture is one of the nation’s most vital industries.

“With the farm bill, we realize we are living in a different economic and political landscape as compared to when the 2008 farm bill was written,” Maslyn wrote. “So, as the new agriculture committees settle in and begin work on this important legislation, Farm Bureau will work with committee members to help them understand the role of farm programs and develop a bill that provides an effective and responsive safety net for producers across the country.”

Maslyn wrote that new members of Congress will face other issues of vital importance to America’s farmers and ranchers, such as tax policy, environmental topics related to water and greenhouse gas regulations, and international trade.

“We are hopeful that the new Congress will change the outlook of trade opportunities,” Maslyn wrote. “We hope the new Congress will take a fresh approach to free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea, which have been pending in Congress for several years. This year alone, more than 600 bilateral and regional trade agreements will have been negotiated around the world. Sadly, the U.S. will have a share in less than 20 of these trade deals.”--The Hill's Congressional Blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just in

Raking hay, near Ashton, Idaho, Putnam photo

FDIC Head Warns of Farmland Asset Bubble

Baltimore-In an address to the Risk Management Association in Baltimore on Monday, Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., warned that U.S. farmland could be the next asset bubble at risk of bursting.

Bair said it is important to monitor U.S. farmland values for signs of instability. Farmland values remain 58 percent above 2000 levels in inflation-adjusted terms and have remained strong during the recession. Many investors have turned to farmland in the Midwest and other areas because of the current agriculture boom.

But Bair warned that the “positive fundamentals” driving farmland values could change and hit farm banks.

“A sharp decline in farmland prices similar to the early 1980s could have a severe adverse impact on the nation’s 1,579 farm banks,” Bair said. “While the credit structure underlying U.S. farmland does not appear to involve excessive leverage or inappropriate loan products, this is a situation that will continue to require close monitoring.”

Reuters article

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just in from Washington

Near Riggins, Idaho, Putnam photo

Commodity Price Climb Started in Midsummer

Washington--The Agriculture Department’s October crop report that showed a smaller-than-expected corn crop is helping drive commodity prices upward, but the price climb really started in midsummer when Russia decided to suspend wheat exports, according to John Anderson, AFBF economist.

“It really kind of put commodity markets on edge and we have followed that now with consistently lower estimates of what U.S. corn production is going to be. It looks like we will actually end the current marketing year with fairly tight corn stocks. Yields are much lower than we thought they would be a couple of months ago,” Anderson said.

A higher corn price is good news for crop producers, but it will make for higher feed costs for livestock producers.

“This is a tremendous concern for livestock producers,” Anderson said. “This is very rough, but I would expect we’re probably looking at something like a 30 percent increase in feed costs for most segments of the livestock and poultry industry. And if you look at feed costs in general, that’s going to be about two-thirds of total costs for these industries.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just in from Washington

Economists see Higher Meat Prices due to Higher Corn Price

Washington--Higher corn prices will lead to higher retail meat prices, according to Bill Sirakos, senior economist with Frost Bank. Beef, poultry and pork prices will all go up, he said.

“Stock the freezer. Higher-price corn is going to raise the price of food,” Sirakos said.

Altin Kalo, a food analyst with Steiner Consulting Group in New Hampshire, said prices for turkey and ham should increase as the holidays approach. “Overall, the trend is toward higher prices for meat proteins,” Kalo said.

Corn makes up 80 percent of the feed for pigs, 72 percent for broiler chicken and 49 percent for beef cattle, according to Kalo’s calculations.

He said it is hard to pinpoint how much retail meat prices will rise, but the wholesale price of tom turkeys is up 15 percent this year over last year, wholesale cattle prices are up 13.5 percent over last year and broiler chickens are up 7 percent.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Stewards of the Land

Steve Ritter photo

Students Learn Stewardship

Weiser--Cambridge High School Students are getting a firsthand lesson in Stewardship. They’re weaving willows into this stream bank along the Little Weiser River in Adams County. Students and volunteers from the Indian valley community are saving streambanks from the meandering stream. The project is under the direction of Rivermenders; visit their website:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just in from the Idaho Wheat Commission

Wheat Production Up in 2010

Boise--All wheat production in Idaho is up 9 percent from 2009 to 108 million bushels. The winter wheat yield, at 82.0 bushels per acre, is up 1.0 bushel from last year. Winter wheat production totals 58.2 million bushels from 710,000 harvested acres, up 3 percent from last year’s 56.7 million bushels.

The 2010 winter wheat production is estimated to be 76 percent white and 24 percent hard red. Spring wheat yield, at 79.0 bushels per acre, is up 2.0 bushels from a year ago. Idaho’s spring wheat production totals 48.6 million bushels from 615,000 harvested acres, up 19 percent from 2009’s 40.8 million bushels.

The spring wheat crop is estimated to be 50 percent white and 50 percent hard red. Yield for durum wheat is estimated to be 65.0 bushels per acre, down 16.0 bushels from last year. Durum wheat production in Idaho totals 1.30 million bushels from 20,000 harvested acres, down 320 thousand bushels from last year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just in from Washington

Record Farm Exports and Continued Boom Expected for 2011

Washington--Record U.S. agricultural exports are providing an unexpected boost to President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. Farm exports from the U.S., the world’s largest grain shipper, may top the 2008 record of $115.3 billion in 2011, according to Joe Glauber, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist.

The boom is expected to continue through 2011, with wheat prices predicted to average $7.28 per bushel and corn prices forecast to be $5.83 per bushel, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

“It’s going to be the best year American farmers have had in two and a half decades,” said Dennis Gartman, an economist and editor of the Gartman Letter in Suffolk, Va. The next big winners are obviously the fertilizer companies and farm-equipment manufacturers. The winner no one seems to be talking about is small banks in the Midwest.”

Harvest 2010

Payette--The pumpkins are ready for harvest at this fruitstand just outside of Payette, Idaho--Steve Ritter photo

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just in from Washington

Spud harvest near Idaho Falls, Jake Putnam photo

New Report: Rate of Ag Productivity Growth Lagging
Washington--The current rate of agricultural productivity growth is lagging the world’s expanding demands, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Farm Foundation and Global Harvest Initiative.

The Global Harvest Initiative’s 2010 GAP Report, developed with the Farm Foundation and the Agriculture Department’s Economics Research Service, quantifies for the first time the difference between the current rate of global agricultural productivity growth and the pace required to meet future needs.

Doubling agricultural output to meet global demand by 2050 will require an annual average growth of at least 1.75 percent in total factor productivity, said Neil Conklin, president of the Farm Foundation and author of the report. Total factor productivity is the increase in output per unit of total resources employed in production. Between 2000 and 2007, ERS estimates global agricultural TFP growth averaged 1.4 percent per year.

“To close the gap without additional land and resources, we must increase the rate of productivity growth an average of 25 percent more per year over the next 40 years,” said Conklin. “And, productivity will need to grow faster than that during the next two decades, when the population will be increasing more rapidly than it will as it levels off by 2050.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beet Dumps spring up across Idaho

Dump originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Burley--Sugar Beet dumps like this one east of Burley are springing up across Idaho as the 2010 Beet harvest continues throughout Southern Idaho.

But Idaho beet growers are in limbo. The food industry is worried that a shortage of sugar beet seed, and a potential shortage of farmers willing to grow the crop could limit supply and raise prices.

Half of the American sugar supply comes from beets. Growers say genetically modified beets have made the crop economically viable again. Farmers say it would be hard to go back to growing non-GMO varieties now, with questions about whether available seed, labor, expertise or equipment is adequate.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just in--

Robert Blair teaches Precision Ag to U of I students last month at Blair Farm--Ritter photo

Blair Named Eisenhower Fellow

Philadelphia–Jim Moseley, former Deputy Secretary for Agriculture announced the 2010 Eisenhower Fellowships and Robert Blair of Kendrick, Idaho is one of two Agriculture Fellows that will travel abroad in 2011.

“This program gives these two farmers the opportunity to see firsthand some of the latest techniques in agriculture and to establish international connections for their communities,” said Mosley.

“It’s a great achievement and it’ll be a life altering experience," said Robert Blair. "General Colin Powell is the chairman of the fellowship. Former chairmen are Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and former President George H. Bush. So to be with that kind of leadership is bar none.” Blair runs and operates Blair Farms in Kendrick.

The goal of the Fellowship is to engage emerging leaders from around the world to enhance their professional capabilities, broaden their contacts, deepen their perspectives, and unite them in a diverse, global community - a network where dialogue, understanding, and collaboration lead to a more prosperous, just, and peaceful world.

“This allows me to travel overseas to meet with people in education, universities and businesses to understand what they’re doing in Agriculture. I’ll find out there, learn from them, but also take my knowledge and build a network of people worldwide,” said Blair.

Deputy Secretary Moseley stated that "In this world where tensions between countries mount easily, it's programs like Eisenhower Fellowships that bind us together as ‘people knowing people’ with the powerful and unbreakable bond of helping one another, no matter their backgrounds, to solve our collective daily problems. That is the essence of what President Eisenhower believed in after the horrific World War 2 experience which he commanded, and which proudly still exists today through this program."

Fellows will use their experiences abroad to enhance their leadership in U.S. agriculture. Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey and Chairman of the Executive Committee for Eisenhower Fellowships commended this new Fellows saying “We live in a globalized world. An Eisenhower Fellowship will allow these outstanding farmers to bring new insights from world experts back to their communities and to form a network of lasting relationships that will make them global leaders in agriculture.”

Chaired by General Colin Powell, Eisenhower Fellowships is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization seeking to foster international understanding and leadership through the exchange of information, ideas, and perspectives among emerging leaders throughout the world. Established in 1953 as a birthday tribute to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the organization has sponsored more than 1800 Fellows from 108 countries.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bingham County News

BinghamFB, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Blackfoot--Bingham County has a striking new building a block from scenic Jensen's Grove in Blackfoot. Agents and Reps started moving in last week, the old building is up for sale and Regional Manager Kendall Keller says the proceeds will go toward the new building.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 Sugar Beet Harvest

Beet trucks are rolling outside of Blackfoot, Idaho on Tuesday, Putnam photo

Good weather helping beet harvest

Nampa--According to the Idaho Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers have harvested 39 percent of the beets in south-central Idaho as of Oct. 12. That’s ahead of both last year and the five-year average. So far yields have been less than average because of difficult growing conditions in the spring but sugar content is very good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mickelsen's harvest, Osgood, Idaho

Washington--The United States Department of Agriculture estimates the fall production of potatoes is down more than 4% in the U.S. "Its busy, with very long hours. I work from seven to 12 am but the paycheck is good,” said one tired truck driver in Osgood, Idaho.

2010 Spud Harvest

An army of spud diggers converge on Mark Mickelsen's farm in Osgood, Idaho.
Idaho Potato harvest progressing
Osgood-The pace was frantic, trucks rushing to and from fields, a line of spud diggers harvesting an impressive 36 rows at a time, making up for lost time after a late spring.
That was the scene at Mark Mickelsen's Osgood farm when the fields dried out after a Monday morning rain. Diggers equipped with powerful spotlights worked well after 1-am Tuesday morning.
"We were out lighting up the night-time sky," said Stephanie Micklesen. With frost and the chance of rain, the Micklesen's were not taking chances and pulled out all stops in an effort to get the crop in before another round of weather delays.
Next door Greg Risenway was also working at break-neck speed. "We had rain that set us back, there's a chance of frost and more rain, we want to get it in while we can," he said.
Risenway says quality is good this year but size down. Throughout the Upper Valley great clouds of dust could be spotted from Blackfoot all the way to Ashton as the harvest progressed two weeks behind last years harvest.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just in from Washington

Silage corn harvest, Gem County--Ritter photo
National Corn Production down 4-percent

Washington--The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s October Crop Production report pegs U.S. corn production at 12.7 billion bushels, down 4 percent from the September forecast and down 3 percent from last year's record production of 13.1 billion bushels.

The corn report was based on conditions as of Oct. 1. The report stated that yields are expected to average 155.8 bushels per acre, down 6.7 bushels from the previous month and 8.9 bushels below last year's record of 164.7 bushels. Forecasted yields decreased from last month throughout much of the Corn Belt and Tennessee Valley. Illinois showed the largest decline, down 14 bushels per acre. Indiana and Iowa are both down 10 bushels per acre from the previous month, while Missouri and Nebraska declined 9 bushels per acre.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feed Corn Harvest

Feed Corn Harvest, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Steve Ritter took this photo of the silage corn harvest on the Whittenburg farm just outside of Emmett, Idaho.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kiosk at Zoo Boise

Kiosk at Zoo Boise, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Ada County Farm Bureau sponsors Farm Exhibit at Zoo Boise

Boise--The Ada County Farm Bureau is taking an active step in teaching a new generation of Idahoans about Gem State agriculture. In conjunction with Zoo Boise, the Bureau is sponsoring a farm kiosk at Zoo Boise.

The kiosk was installed at the Zoo Farm exhibit this month and is available to all zoo visitors. By touching and dragging various items on the screen, participants can find the ingredients to make an apple pie, pick out products that come from cows, put the pictures of a growing plant in the proper order, and several other educational and fun activities. We hope to expand this exhibit in the future with the goal of educating the public about modern farms and farming.

“We became involved with Zoo Boise on this project through Farm Bureau Insurance agent Mario Salinas. He had worked with zoo director Steve Burns to bring the Lion exhibit to the zoo. Mr. Burns and his staff wanted to create a Zoo Farm and he contacted Mario, who then contacted me,” said Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke.

“It is our goal to educate a population that is becoming farther removed from knowledge of how their food is produced,” added Sonke. “The kiosk has a farm and food message presented in a snappy, high tech farm game on a touch screen that people can interact and get facts on where their food comes from and how it’s harvested.” The game was developed by Pioneer Seed, a division of the DuPont Company along with input from the staff at the American Farm Bureau in Washington D.C.

The Farm Bureau Federation is a general farm organization that promotes and defends farmers and ranchers through lobbying and various programs both locally and nationwide. The county board functions as the grassroots level through contacts with local farmers and Ag related businesses. Ada County joined together with six other counties in the district to work to develop this exhibit.

Just in from Bonner County

Sandpoint--Bonner County Farm Bureau hosted a candidate forum geared for the county commissioner race in the County on Thursday night in Sandpoint. BCFB reports that the next forum is in Clarkfork (in partnership with the local VFW) on October 16th.

The Clarkfork Forum will include State Representatives George Eskridge and Eric Anderson, and State Senator Shawn Keogh to answer legislative questions. Board Member Louis Kins says he appreciates the local Grange for covering the northwest end of the county and allowing voters to ask questions and decide who to vote for without being swayed by local media bias.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Silage Corn Harvest in Magic Valley

Brett Meyer silage corn, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Corn harvest late, but underway

Filer--Brett and Jerica Meyer have started their silage corn harvest outside of Filer, Idaho. "We just started this week, we are usually done by this time, so we're three weeks behind because of the weather," said Jerica Meyer.

"We didn't have enough hot days. Quality and yields seem to be fine. We give the dairy guys the best quality, I haven't added tonage, but we're dealing with rain and mud, other than that things look good and we've been going, going and going," added Meyer.

Just in from Pocatello

DK Farms Pocatello teaches kids earthworm fundamentals

Swore Farms - Agricultural Education for Southeast Idaho's 5th Graders
by Bannock County Farm Bureau

Pocatello -- It's not every day you see 450 5th grade students on a farm. But this was the scene last week at Swore Farms in Chubbuck, Idaho.

Swore Farms, in conjunction with the Highland High School FFA and the Bannock County Farm Bureau Federation, hosted over 400 students each day last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Students learned first-hand about a variety of farm-related topics including electricity (from Idaho Power) to earthworms (from DK Farms). Even though the temperatures rose quickly each day, students were excited to have hands-on experience digging potatoes and practicing roping skills on hay-bale cows.

The Bannock County Extension office was on hand with a memory-based farming game. Volunteers from the Bannock County Farm Bureau Federation educated youngsters about corn while popping fresh popcorn beside the famed 'Swore Farms Corn Maze.' After a quick (and sometimes not-so-quick) run through the corn maze, students were ready for other farming adventures including getting dirty while gathering freshly harvested potatoes.

Takeaways included samples of "worm dirt" from DK Farms for the parents and a bag of red potatoes - courtesy of Farm Bureau's own Mike Swore (owner of Swore Farms) - for the students. All-in-all, students and parents deemed the event a great success.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just in from Boise

Steve Ritter photo

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick Awarded Friend of Farm Bureau Award

Meridian--Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick was awarded the American Farm Bureau’s ‘Friend of Farm Bureau Award’ for his work on Capitol Hill this past year.

“Congressman Minnick is one of five Congressmen in the nation that has a 100-percent voting record with the American Farm Bureau on key issues affecting agriculture, said Idaho Farm Bureau CEO Rick Keller. “We proudly present this award on behalf of the American Farm Bureau and the Idaho Farm Bureau.”

“It’s a real honor to receive this award and represent Idaho Agriculture,” said Congressman Minnick. ”I appreciate the work you and your colleagues do. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t hurt to have grown up on a wheat farm.”

The ‘Friend of Farm Bureau’ award is given at the end of each Congress to those members of Congress who were nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus and approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

This award is based upon voting records on AFBF’s priority issues established by the Board of Directors, number of bills that a member has sponsored and co-sponsored, specific leadership role for Farm Bureau on priority issues and how accessible and responsive that member is to Farm Bureau members and leaders. In addition, the state Farm Bureau lists any other specific reasons why that member should receive this award.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just in from Washington

AFBF Calls for Legislation to Fix Pesticide Regulation Nightmare

WASHINGTON-Consolidated, bipartisan legislation offers the best hope of fixing a regulatory nightmare created by a 2009 court ruling. That ruling overturned a key exemption for pesticide use under the Clean Water Act, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The court set aside decades-worth of sound public policy on pesticide regulation,” Stallman said. “Right now there are three different bills to clear up this potential regulatory nightmare for farmers and ranchers. While each of the efforts is appreciated, we really need our lawmakers to come together in a unified effort.”

Stallman said he appreciates the recognition by lawmakers that a congressional solution is needed. The latest effort is a bill introduced on Sept. 30 by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) The Peterson bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to prohibit additional permits for pesticides when applied consistent with FIFRA.

Similar bills have also been introduced by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and in the Senate by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Stallman said Farm Bureau is calling for the three legislative efforts to “join forces.”

Stallman said the problem was created by a 2009 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned an Environmental Protection Agency rule exempting pesticide applications over or near water from the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just in from Washington

House Adjourns With no Action on Estate Tax

Washington--The House adjourned last week without addressing the estate tax and expiring tax cuts that will increase next year unless Congress takes action. Votes on tax cuts will now be taken up in a lame duck session set to begin Nov. 15, some two weeks after the election.

Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio urged the House not to adjourn until action was taken on the expiring tax cuts. The motion to adjourn squeaked by with a 210-209 vote, with 39 Democrats, most in tough re-election bids, joining Boehner and the Republicans. Boehner said a vote to adjourn for the campaign trail was akin to “a vote to raise taxes.”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Picking Up Onions

Picking Up Onions, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

Parma--The Idaho Onion harvest is wrapping up this week. Farmers say prices are good and quality excellent despite the crop coming in two weeks late.

Idaho onion acres harvested up 3 percent. Idaho growers expect to harvest 9100 acres of onions in 2010, up 3 percent from last year, according to the USDA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wind Power

Companies to build Gem State wind turbine plants

Boise--In the old days windmills like these ruled the Palouse but one day soon they'll be replaced by three-story wind turbines that produce enough energy to light up small towns.

Officials with Pavilion Energy Resources released preliminary details revealing that the company and its business partners are planning to build a new wind turbine manufacturing facility in Idaho, but the location hasn't been released yet.

In a press release that just hit the streets today, the company said the plans call for a facility that will build enough three- to five-megawatt turbines to fill a $100 million order, and that another $300 million in orders could come based on the number of new wind farms currently planned in the region.

Pavilion Energy Resources officials say the effort is part of a joint venture, but they didn't release further details.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ag Summit in the field

Ag Summit in the field, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Potlatch--Bob Smathers and John Thompson of the Idaho Farm Bureau meet with legendary farmer Potlatch Joe Anderson at his farm outside of Potlatch, Idaho. Anderson recently won the Governors Award for Agriculture in his lifetime work in Ag Education and Advocacy.

Export news

Wheat Exports reach 20 Year High
Chicago--USAgNet reports the 2010 crop year is turning out better than expected for many U.S. producers, due to expanding demand for U.S. wheat which is pushing prices higher. USDA is currently projecting exports to reach 1.25 billion bushels, up more than 40 percent from the very low 2009 level and similar to 2007 when exports reached 1.26 billion. Still many analysts feel the latest estimate is conservative and anticipate final exports could rival the 1992 level of more than 1.35 billion.

As of mid-September, of U.S. wheat sales have reached 570 million, up nearly 60 percent from last year, and ahead of the pace needed to reach USDA's goal. Hard red winter and hard red spring have been the biggest benefactors so far. Hard red winter sales are at 265 million bushels, compared to only 125 million a year ago, as they have gained the most by the shift in demand from the Russian export ban. Recently, more competitive prices from French wheat into North Africa and some pullback in other markets, has slowed the weekly sales pace for the U.S., but demand is expected to remain as strong as our rail and export capacity allows.

The U.S. achieved strong yields nationwide on the 2010 crop and overall grade parameters on the hard red crops are high as well, despite below average protein levels on both the winter and spring crops for a second consecutive year. Comparatively, U.S. protein levels are still at the high end of the world wheat mix. USDA's latest production estimate is 2.26 billion bushels, about 50 million bushels higher than 2009, despite nearly 2 million fewer acres. A record national yield estimate of 46.9 bushels per acre is 2 bushel higher than last year. The stronger production and large carryover supplies from 2009 will push available supplies in the current marketing year to 3.3 billion bushels, up from 3 billion last year. Imports are expected to fall to 100 million bushels, compared to 119 million last year, and are likely to drop further, on weaker demand from U.S. millers for Canadian wheat due to a stronger Canadian dollar and a sharp drop in anticipated Canadian quality.

Total demand for U.S. wheat in the 2010 marketing year could exceed 2.4 billion bushels, higher than production and imports, supporting a net decline in year-end inventories. Domestic use is expected to grow to 1.19 billion compared to 1.14 billion last year. Food use accounts for 940 million bushels, up from 917 million in 2009, and feed use should rise marginally to 170 million bushels, compared to 149 million last year.

Year end inventories at the end of May 2011 will remain large at 902 million bushels, compared to a mere 306 million at the end of May 2008, but it is certainly more supportive to prices than earlier projections which had U.S. inventories exceeding 1 billion by the end of the marketing year. Average producer prices are expected to range from $4.95 to $5.65 per bushel, compared to $4.87 last year. Higher protein hard red wheat and higher grades of durum will average more, but the rise in world wheat prices has benefitted all classes. This should make for a strong profit year for most producers, especially when combined with above average yields.

House Passes Interior Bill with Idaho Priorities

Simpson authored provisions would benefit Idaho and the West Washington,- The House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2019 Inter...