Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Priestley says Idaho Farmers have many things to be thankful for after a successful harvest statewide and favorable commodity markets nationwide. "When Idaho Agriculture does well, the state does well despite the sluggish economy," said Priestley. "Agriculture is the jewel in the state's economic crown. We also pay taxes that fund schools, police and fire departments, Agriculture is a big part of Idaho's Economic Foundation."
Priestley told Farm Bureau members that Ag contributes more than $4.4 billion dollars to the state economy each year, and reminded members that over 100,000 Idaho jobs and fuel the economy.
Rep.Lucas Plans Farm Bill Hearings
Washington--Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla; the next chairman of the House Agriculture Committee plans to hold hearings “looking at how every penny is spent” in anticipation of writing a farm bill in 2012 to replace the current $288 billion, five-year plan.
“The federal budget is still going to be tighter than anything we’ve seen in my 20 years up here,” Lucas said. “It’s going to (take) some tough decisions,” Lucas said. “When we have to write a farm bill, we’re going to have to write it with the money that will be available to us. Who knows what it will be. But I’m almost certain it won’t be as much as the last farm bill.”
Monday, November 29, 2010
Durbin: Congress Will Tackle Estate Tax This Week
Washington--In a speech to the Illinois Commodity Conference in Bloomington, Ill., last week, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he expects Congress to take on the estate tax this week as part of debate on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
Durbin said waiting to settle the estate tax issue until after January, when the new Congress is seated, will only cause further delays. “Unfortunately, then it’s gonna take months, and that’s not fair to you,” Durbin said.
The estate tax was on top of the minds of conference attendees. “I get it. I hear what you’re saying,” Durbin said.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
AFBF Urges Repeal of Form 1099 Requirement in Health Law
Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote to members of the Senate today urging them to support legislation, including pending amendments to S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, to repeal Form 1099 tax reporting requirements that are part of the massive health care law.
“Beginning in 2012, farms, ranches and other businesses will be required to complete an IRS Form 1099 for all payments, including goods and services, aggregating $600 or more in a calendar year to a single non-employee payee. The negative impact of new reporting requirements on farmers and ranchers is further compounded by increased penalties for the failure to comply that were passed as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010,” Stallman wrote.
“Farm and ranch businesses are overburdened with tax paperwork and reporting obligations, and the additional reporting requirements will further increase the cost and complexity of complying with the tax code. In addition to increasing costs, added paperwork will consume valuable time that would be better used to manage farm or ranch businesses,” Stallman wrote.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
September 2010 milk production was revised to 1.09 billion pounds, down 6 million pounds from the preliminary level. Average milk production per cow in October 2010 was
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The short-film explains the inner-workings of Idaho's largest farm organization, explaining the history, purpose and function of the farm group now in its seventh decade. The release comes just in time for the 71st annual meeting at the Red Lion Riverside November 30th to December 2nd.
"The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and Insurance always get confused, we wanted to make a distinction between the two," said Jake Putnam who wrote and directed the film. "The Federation was formed by and for farmers, it's one of the great grass root organizations of the state and the impact of the organization on Idaho is incalculable."
In the film, there's little narration, instead members explain in their words how Farm Bureau works. "It's interesting to get all the different takes, one thing is for sure Farm Bureau is bottoms up, all policy decisions come from the members, the Federation is a political force with a mission of letting Idaho Farmers, farm," added Putnam.
The film will premiere at the Annual Meeting, with a version also premiering on the Idaho Farm Bureau Channel on YouTube sometime next week.
Winter storm warning remain in effect across Southern Idaho as a new cold front moves in packing high winds, cool temps and another round of snow. The first single digit temperatures are forecast tomorrow with below zero readings expected in Eastern Idaho.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Dairy Briefs from the Milk Producers of Idaho:
· NEW AG COMMITTEE CHAIRS coming. Senate Ag chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) defeated. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) possible Lincoln successor. Republicans to control House. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) likely to head House Ag panel.
· CWT EFFORTS WILL FOCUS solely on export assistance with no more herd retirements. Funding level will be 2 cents per hundredweight. Participation of 75 percent of milk supply needed to make it go. Annual total would be $40 million.
· STILL A BILLION POUNDS of cheese on hand. Stocks up 6.3 percent over 2009. Butter supply down sharply from last year but above 2007 and 2008 levels.
· NEXT YEAR’S ALL-MILK PRICE expected to average about the same as this year’s . . . around $16.50 per hundredweight, says USDA. Class III price expected to average just under $15. Class III futures for 2011 averaged $14.50.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
FAO Calls for Significant Increase in Major Food Crops in 2011
Washington--In its latest Food Outlook report, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization warned the international community to prepare for harder times ahead unless production of major food crops increases significantly in 2011.
Food import bills for the world’s poorest countries are predicted to rise 11 percent in 2010 and by 20 percent for low-income food-deficit countries, according to the FAO report. “With the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating, the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks in 2011 and be prepared,” the FAO said.
Contrary to earlier predictions, world cereal production is now forecast to contract by 2 percent rather than to expand by 1.2 percent as anticipated in June. Unexpected supply shortfalls due to unfavorable weather events were responsible for this change in direction, according to the report.
Global cereal stocks are forecast to decline sharply and FAO calls for cereal production to be stepped up to replenish inventories. World cereals stocks are anticipated to shrink by 7 percent, according to the FAO, with barley plunging 35 percent, maize 12 percent and wheat 10 percent.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Consumer Appetite, Tight Supplies Push Up Turkey Prices
Sacramento--A growing consumer appetite for turkey plus a tighter supply is pushing up producer prices for the turkeys as the holiday season approaches.
Producers cut back production in 2009 when consumer demand slowed, but the market has exhausted supplies in cold storage and processors are now scrambling for turkeys to meet improving demand, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Turkey prices at the producer level are expected to rise 18 percent this year, to 90 cents a pound, compared with 2009, according to USDA’s latest projections released this week.
Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, said farmers have sold all of their turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday at profitable prices. But he warned that escalating feed costs could dampen the recovery in the turkey business.
Consumers won’t pay a noticeably higher price for turkey at the cash register because retailers are offering discounts on turkeys if shoppers buy a certain amount of other groceries, he said.--California Farm Bureau
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
AFBF Urges President Obama to Push for Tax Relief This Year
Washington--Now is the time for congressional action on estate tax relief, preserving capital gains tax breaks and extending other important tax provisions, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Stallman said, “No matter is more pressing for our nation’s farmers and ranchers than prompt passage of legislation” that extends tax provisions that expired in 2009 or are set to expire at the end of this year.
“Farm Bureau calls on you to work with Congress to enact legislation before the end of the year in order to avoid the economic damages that will be caused by tax increases and the uncertainty that surrounds the tax code,” Stallman told the president.
On Thursday, President Obama is set to meet with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the legislative agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Boise--The Legislature's budget chief warned lawmakers on Monday that the 2011 budget plan they wrote relies on more than $270 million in one-time and temporary funding.
Budget director Cathy Holland-Smith says that money in the budget this year won't be there in 2012. Smith briefed the Senate and House Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in annual pre-session meetings at the Statehouse.
She says the problem will only get worse because state programs like public schools and Idaho's health insurance programs will need another $70 million to fund growth. Smith says legislators will have to come up with at least $340 million if they want to build a budget for the next fiscal year if they are going to addresses all the budget items for this fiscal year.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Cost of Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Up Slightly in 2010
WASHINGTON--Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 1.3 percent in price this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF’s 25th 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 $43.47, a 56-cent price increase from last year’s average of $42.91. This year’s meal is actually $1.14 cheaper than what shoppers paid two years ago, when the total was $44.61.
“While this year’s meal remains a bargain, at less than $4.35 per person, America’s farmers and ranchers are perhaps most proud of the quality and variety of the food they produce for America’s dinner table,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “Our farm and ranch families are honored knowing that again this year Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering with their families around the traditional feast. It is fitting that the food we produce from our land is a focal point of our nation’s thankful celebration of its collective bounty.”
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. There is also plenty for leftovers.
The big ticket item—a 16-pound turkey—was actually cheaper this year, at $17.66. That was roughly $1.10 per pound, actually a decrease of about 6 cents per pound, or a total of 99 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2009. While the whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, it was also the largest price decline compared to last year.
“Turkey prices are down some this year despite the fact that, according to Agriculture Department estimates, turkey production has been slightly lower in 2010 than in 2009 and supplies of turkey in cold storage are below last year’s level,” said John Anderson, an AFBF economist.
“This suggests that retailers are being fairly aggressive in featuring turkeys in special sales and promotions,” Anderson said. “Overall, the change in the price of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is basically in line with the modest changes that we’ve seen in the overall price level this year. At $4.35 per person, our traditional Thanksgiving feast is still a better deal than most fast-food value meals, plus it’s a wholesome, home cooked meal.”
A gallon of whole milk increased in price by 38 cents per gallon, to $3.24. Other items that showed a price increase from last year were: a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.62, up 17 cents; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.46, up 12 cents; ½ pint of whipping cream, $1.70, up 15 cents; three pounds of sweet potatoes, $3.19, up 7 cents; a one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, 77 cents, up 5 cents; a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.12, up 4 cents.
“Some of the Thanksgiving dinner items have rebounded from quite low price levels in 2009,” Anderson said. “For example, last year’s milk price was at its lowest level since 2001. Dairy product prices have climbed some in 2010, largely reflecting better consumer demand as the economy has gradually improved this year.”
Friday, November 12, 2010
Farm Groups Urge Estate Tax Relief This Year
Washington--The American Farm Bureau joined a coalition of 29 other agricultural organizations in asking members of the House and Senate to urge congressional leaders to reform current estate tax laws before the end of this year.
“This action will strengthen the business climate for farm and ranch families while ensuring agricultural businesses can be passed to future generations. Allowing estate taxes to be reinstated without an exemption and rate that protects family farms puts many operations at risk and threatens succession to the next generation of farmers,” the coalition of 30 farm groups said in a letter sent to members of Congress on Tuesday.
“If estate taxes are allowed to be reinstated at the beginning of 2011 with only a $1 million exemption and top rate of 55 percent, the negative impact on our industry will be significant. We support permanently raising the exemption to no less than $5 million per person and reducing the top rate to no more than 35 percent. It is also imperative that the exemption be indexed to inflation, provide for spousal transfers and include the stepped-up basis,” according to the letter.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Boise--On this Veteran's day 86 year-old Joe Goicoechea of Boise has mixed feelings. He never joined the Marines, but fought with the leathernecks shoulder to shoulder on Wake Island back in 1941. He manned a machinegun fending off Japanese marines for two weeks from December 8th till the 23rd. During those frantic days he was wounded, captured and held as a prisoner of war. Here’s Joe’s story.
While the attack on Pearl was a clear cut victory for the Japanese; the invaders were stopped dead in their tracks for the first time by U.S marines and construction workers on the windswept white coral island.
Idaho Construction workers like Goicoechea fought side by side with the Marines only to fall to the Japanese invaders, spending more than four years in brutal captivity. But the darkest part of remembering December 8th in Boise is the fate of the 98 laborers, cat skinners and carpenters cut down in cold blood by their captors.
By 1939 the U.S. Navy started building an airport and submarine base on the island and MK Contractors from across Idaho were brought in to help bolster Island defenses. MK bosses sent the call across the Gem State for laborers, iron workers, and heavy equipment operators.
“There was a lot of recruiting in Idaho and the west because MK had offices here,” said Goicoechea, of Boise. With the Depression still lingering good paying jobs were hard to find.
“They offered us $120 per month and we thought that we were millionaires,” said Goicoechea. “We didn’t have to pay taxes, we got room and board all we had to bring was our personal gear and we had the chance to learn a trade; but we knew we'd have to fight the Japs.”
The MK’ers dug revetments, runways, and fortifications with urgency. Goicoechea and his high school buddies worked long hours. “I learned a trade there and I loved it, I learned how to be an ironworker, most everyone was older than me. I was just 19, most were as old as my dad, but all had worked all the big projects of the time like Boulder Dam.”
The 1,146 Construction workers took orders from MK’s Dan Teters while the 449 Marines got their marching orders from Major James Devereux. Major Paul Putnam took charge of the Marine Fighter Squadron. Captain Harry Wilson commanded the 71 sailors but overall command of the Island fell under Commander Winfield Cunningham.
Wake was important because our heavy bombers could easily strike the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands. For the Japanese a base on Wake made Hawaii and the West Coast vulnerable. The Pentagon wanted to set up a defensible line in the Pacific to keep the Japanese from striking range.
On Sundays workers played softball, went to church and visited the camp library but for the most part there were few distractions on the island. They lived in barracks and ate at the company mess hall; many had paychecks sent home.
“Late that summer the Marines came in and started putting up the 3-inch antiaircraft guns and they asked for volunteers to take instruction on guns so evenings after dinner, I did that and I’d go over there and practice on the .50 caliber machine gun”. Abruptly the practice sessions ended on December 6th.
“I was on Peale working on a bomb-proof generator next to the Pan-Am offices and we heard that Pearl had been hit and we didn’t give it much thought,” said Joe Goicoechea."But across the lagoon the alarm sounded after the radio shack picked up a dispatch from Pearl saying that Hickam Field had been bombed. Minutes later Devereux sounded general quarters across the three small islands in the atoll. The Marines took up arms and the construction volunteers followed.
“This was about 10 or 15 minutes to Noon,” recalled J.O. Young from Nampa. “We thought they were our planes coming in. We ran outside looking toward the airstrip and could see these bombers coming in and then the strip started to explode and the planes were flying right toward us. As they come close above the roar of the engines we could hear a steady "tut-tut" and realized that they were machine-gunning us.”
36 Japanese Mitsubishi Nell bombers roared across Wake in three V-formations. “They came in with the sun and you couldn’t see them the sun was so bright and they leveled Wake. When then got close I could see their faces they were so low, those pilots just played hell with us,” said Goicoechea.
The twin engine bombers dropped fragmentation bombs spewing razor sharp shrapnel and coral everywhere, buildings burned, in seconds men were bleeding, smoke bellowed and confusion reined. In a mater of minutes the terrifying daylight attack shredded the island.
On Peale, not far from Goicoechea, the bombers blew up the Pan Am Building killing 10 civilian workers. Enemy fighters strafed equipment and trucks and they burned brightly. The three and five- inch guns emplacements were favorite targets for the attackers but survived. The marines rallied, manned their guns and started shooting back.
“We suffered quite a few casualties,” said Goicoechea. “Our hospital was hit and quite a few were killed there. That was the day I was knocked around a bit.” Goicoechea ran to a gun emplacement and was helping the Marines load the 5-inch guns when an explosion nearby knocked him and a Marine corporal Ken Marvin off their feet. Both survived, suffered shrapnel wounds from the coral and though bloodied they kept on fighting.
“The pounded us all afternoon and then high-tailed it home from then on it was day after day of attacks,” recalled Goicoechea. Before each raid, a few battered American Wildcat fighters met the enemy and proved they were up for the task undaunted the Japanese made their move. At 3-am on December 11, the Japanese invasion task force moved in for the kill. Offshore a light cruiser, six destroyers, two troop carriers and two armed merchant ships made a run for Wake's beaches in the cover of darkness.
Marine gunners stalked them to 4,500 yards then opened up with spotlights and the 5-inch naval guns. Their aim was deadly blasting a Japanese destroyer in half with a ball of fire and it sunk so fast that there were no survivors. The defenders also damaged a cruiser and sent three destroyers. The force turned tail; it was the first retreat of in the Pacific and the first U.S. victory of the young war. “We were mad as hell,” recalled Goicoechea.
For two and a half weeks the outmanned Americans fought back and had turned the tide but they were low on ammo and needed medical supplies. But the air raids continued. At 2:15 am on December 23 the Marines spotted another Japanese assault force. Wake radioed Pearl: "Enemy apparently landing." It was the final showdown on Wake.
The Marines, assisted by construction volunteers opened up on Japanese Patrol Craft 33 and their 5-inch gun hit the powder magazine of a landing ship the explosion turned night into day and fighting intensified and gave hope to the defenders.
Over on Wilkes island a company of 100 Japanese landed and overran a gun position at Battery F. Just a dozen Marines fixed bayonets and counterattacked. They drove the surprised enemy back toward a skirmish line held by 24 Marines; who counterattacked into the enemy flank, causing the Japanese to panic. The 37 U.S. Marines completely gutted the elite Japanese company, killing 94 and capturing two.
Everywhere the fighting was desperate; a Japanese marine charged Cpl. Alvie Reed with a bayonet both fell on the battlefield. A few feet away Platoon Sergeant Edwin Hassig shot a charging enemy soldier between the eyes at point blank range.
On the main island of Wake more Japanese troops charged ashore. With no infantry in reserve, the Marine aviators and construction workers fought where they stood; "This is as far as we go," yelled Major Putnam to his airmen, and they met a platoon enemy marines with raised hands.
On other parts of the atoll the U.S. marines had turned the tide and controlled their sectors only to learn that the command post had surrendered. As noon broke under a blazing sun; the Japanese captured all 16-hundred people on the island.
In two weeks the island’s brave fighter squadron shot down 21 aircraft, damaged 51 others. Island defenders sunk four warships and damaged eight others, and killed more than 850 Japanese sailors and more than 200 soldiers of the landing force.
“It’s always an argument over who talked to Hawaii that day recalled,” Goicoechea, “Commander Cunningham or Major Devereux , I think Devereux told Cunningham he was the commander of the Island and it was up to him to make the decision to surrender, but I thought we had ‘em.”
The captured Americans were marched to the airstrip with bayonets at their backs and forced to their knees in long rows. They were stripped naked in the hot sun eye to eye with Japanese machine-gunners for two days and nights.
On Christmas day Goicoechea said they were allowed to bury their dead and moved out of the sun and wind. They were marched to the north end of the island and jammed into their old barracks. In January they were shipped off to Japan and China as slave laborers. But the Japanese kept 98 construction workers behind to fortify the Island.
By 1943 the Pacific war by-passed Wake. It had no strategic value and it was cut off and used for target practice by the U.S. Pacific fleet. The USS Yorktown arrived offshore on October 5th, 1943 and during a two day exercise dropped 340 tons of bombs on the atoll. The group’s cruisers and destroyers blasted the island with 3,198 eight-inch and five-inch projectiles. The raid flattened the island and 31 Japanese planes were destroyed on the ground.
Commander Sakaibara thought that that the taskforce offshore would send landing craft and worried that the 98 workers would rise up and fight; so he issued an execution order.
When Wake fell to U.S. Forces in September of 1945 Commander Sakaibara claimed that the American raid of ’43 killed the civilian construction workers but his own men confessed to the execution. He was hung after the War Crimes Tribunals on Guam in June of 1947.
The families of the 98 didn’t know of the execution until January 1946. With the help of Senator Larry Craig, Joe Goicoechea was awarded the Purple Heart five decades after he took up arms for his country. He is retired from MK and lives in Boise.
World War II magazine, Idaho Press Tribune, J.O. Young, Joe Goicoechea, MK survivor, Marine Corps Association, Leatherneck Magazine.
USDA Crop Report Shows Production, Stocks Tightening
Washington--The Agriculture Department’s November crop report released today projects a further tightening of U.S. production and stocks compared to the October report.
Cornproduction is forecast at 12.5 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the October forecast and down 4 percent from last year’s record production of 13.1 billion bushels. As of Nov. 1, yields are expected to average 154.3 bushels per acre, down 1.5 bushels from the previous month and 10.4 bushels below last year’s record of 164.7 bushels.
Crop stocks are projected at low levels across the board. Corn stocks are estimated at 827 million bushels, down about 8.5 percent from the October forecast of 902 million bushels. Soybean stock forecasts of 185 million bushels showed a staggering drop of 30 percent, compared to the October forecast of 265 million bushels of ending stocks.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
25th AFBF Thanksgiving Survey to be Released Friday
Washington--As the American Farm Bureau Federation prepares later this week to release the 2010 survey results of how much the average Thanksgiving dinner will cost, Marsha Purcell, AFBF’s director of membership and program development, who helped created the survey, explains how it all started.
“I’ve always been interested in engaging consumers in what we’re doing in agriculture and that was one of the ways I thought we could really reach out to people who might not understand food and where it came from and have them have a better understanding of what it costs to purchase the food,” Purcell said. “Many times in the shopping cart there were a lot of things other than food items and that was one of the other messages we were trying to deliver.”
The Thanksgiving survey tracks the average prices of a turkey and all the basic fixings submitted by independent shoppers nationwide. This year’s survey will be released Friday.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Beef and Pork Exports Edge Higher for the Year
Washington--Combined U.S. beef and pork exports to date in 2010 total roughly $7 billion, up 16 percent in volume and 27 percent in value, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
According to Phil Seng, president and CEO of the USMEF, despite pork being much more competitive, U.S. pork exports are up 3 percent in volume and 9 percent in value. Mexico is the largest market for U.S. pork on a volume basis; Japan is No. 1 on a value basis.
Monday, November 8, 2010
The Idaho Farm Bureau unveiled its new i-phone App. The application publishes all of the latest news from the blog, the latest videos, photos and calendar events. The application utilizes push technology, in essence pushing the latest Ag news to users as it happens. The application is free and can be downloaded from the Apple i-tunes store.
Farm Bureau media manager Jake Putnam announced that work has started on the new Droid application.
The Idaho Statehouse--Jake Putnam photo
2011 Legislative Session
Boise--The 2011 legislature will have a very distinct challenge in developing a balanced budget. The Governor and most legislators have ruled out any consideration of a tax increase. With an anticipated budget shortfall that could top $300 million; that would mean more cuts to state agency budgets – including education. Sessions that have to tackle that difficult of a task tend to be longer sessions than normal.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Bull Trout Designation of Serious Concern to Water Users
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President
by Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President
In early October the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized its critical habitat designation for bull trout. The area of designation includes nearly every reservoir, river and stream in Southwest Idaho, including a significant chunk of territory where bull trout don’t even exist.
The Idaho Water Users Association and the Coalition for Idaho Water are opposed and alarmed at the scope and potential costs of this misguided effort. As IWUA Director Norm Semanko stated, “This couldn’t be much worse for Idaho water.”
A critical habitat designation adds another layer of government regulation for water users, livestock operators, logging companies and many others who depend on public lands. This designation requires federal agencies to restrict any activities which could potentially harm bull trout or bull trout habitat. The area under scrutiny includes massive sections of Washington, Oregon, Montana, and especially Idaho. The total area includes 488,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs and 19,700 miles of rivers and streams.
In Idaho it includes 8,772 stream miles and 170,218 acres of lakes and reservoirs. Of that, about 64 percent is on federal land, 33 percent on private land and almost 2 percent on state-owned land. About 823 stream miles and 16,700 acres of lakes and reservoirs included in the designation are not currently occupied by bull trout.
Among the biggest concerns listed in joint comments provided to the USFWS by the Idaho Farm Bureau and the Idaho Water Users Association is the economic analysis used by the federal government to determine the impact on water and natural resource users. While the USFWS used an estimate of $5 million to $7.6 million per year over 20 years, the private sector believes the cost to Idaho’s economy could exceed $1 billion, resulting in devastating consequences.
We believe USFWS failed to properly analyze and calculate the costs that will be borne by irrigators, cities, industry and other water users. Farm Bureau and IWUA have called on the federal government to exclude Southwest Idaho river basins from the designation and the potential for lawsuits is likely.
Other costs the federal analysis missed include higher costs of hydropower due to changes in reservoir operations, lost recreation due to changes in reservoir levels and downstream releases, flood damage as a result of reduction in flood control capacity, attorney fees and other regulatory burdens.
The comments also point out that this designation violates the Nez Perce Water Settlement that went into effect in 2007. The Settlement which the U.S. government agreed to, established that 427,000 acre-feet of water from Idaho reservoirs would be used for flow augmentation for 30 years without the need for additional flows.
Farm Bureau and IWUA submitted 25 pages of comments and information on the potential impact of this designation. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to contact the Idaho Farm Bureau in Pocatello.
In conclusion, we believe the negative economic, small business, and social impacts of this designation of critical habitat in water storage reservoirs far outweighs the minor biological benefits to bull trout, if any exist.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Grain Prices Up
by Nishi Gupta
Idaho's NewsChannel 7
BOISE -- Dairy and grains are two staples Great Harvest Bread in Boise can't go a day without.
But recently the price of both has gone up.
"We go through 15 to 20 pounds of butter a day and butter's gone up about 30% so we may have to raise some of those prices," said Zach England of Great Harvest.
So far the Boise bakery has held the line and customers aren't paying more.
“We've pretty much absorbed price increases in the last six months," England said.
Jake Putnam of the Idaho Farm Bureau says the higher prices means customers will pay a little bit more for bread and dairy at the check-out line, but the difference will be pennies, if there's a difference at all.
"To the consumer you will see a small increase," said Jake Putnam of the Idaho Farm Bureau.
A bushel of wheat last year was $5.50, now it's about $6.20, it’s predicted it could be $7.00 by early next year.
Putnam says Idaho's wheat farmers are benefitting from the inflated costs caused by conditions overseas.
"In Russia we have a huge drought. All of a sudden on the world market, there's not as much wheat so our farmers here are exporting and all of a sudden, we're making a lot of money," Putnam said.
It's not the same case for bakery owners like Zach England of Great Harvest who would have to buy the more expensive wheat.
He doesn't expect wheat prices to get as high as they did two years ago.
"In 2008, they skyrocketed, they doubled and so we really felt the effects of that and we had to raise our prices then but they have since stabilized a little bit," said England.
Great Harvest Bread buys its grain more than a year in advance, so today's higher prices don't affect them too much.
And they buy a lot of their grain from Montana.
The wet spring also caused a smaller yield on other Idaho crops like potatoes and onions.
The farm bureau says as a result, prices of those will go up too, but it will be just a few cents higher.
Indexes Rally on Fed Move and Strong Retail Sales; Dow Gains 2%
New York--Stocks rallied strongly in the United States on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve's decision to buy more government securities to stimulate the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 219.71 points, or 1.96 percent, to close at 11,434.84, a two-year high, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 23.10 points, or 1.93 percent, in preliminary figures, and the Nasdaq composite gained 37.07, or 1.46 percent.
Equity markets have been rising steadily since early September, partly in anticipation of stimulative steps by the Federal Reserve, which announced on Wednesday that it would purchase $600 billion in Treasuries in an effort to push down long-term interest rates and spark lending. The Dow has risen more than 14 percent in the past two months, retracing its losses since the financial crisis took hold in September 2008, while the Standard & Poor's index is up 16 percent.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Stabenow, Lucas Likely Ag Committee Chairs
Washington--With the defeat Tuesday of Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is expected to take over the gavel as chair of the Agriculture Committee in the 112th Congress. And with Republicans gaining control of the House, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who coasted to re-election Tuesday, will likely be the next chair of the House Agriculture Committee.
Lucas would be the first Oklahoman to serve as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Oklahoma Farm Bureau lobbyist Tyler Norvell called the expected move of Lucas to chairman the “story of the night” in Tuesday’s election.Oklahoma Farm Report article
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
USDA Releases Plan to Allow Planting of Biotech Sugarbeets
Washington--The United States Department of Agriculture Department just released plans to allow farmers to plant biotech sugarbeets next year, a move that would nullify a federal court ruling in August that invalidated the original approval issued by USDA five years ago.
Brian Darrington of Burley has anxiously waited for word from the USDA. He says the sugar decision is one of the most critical decisions in agriculture. "I don't know how else to say it, sugar is a national security issue, people survive in the world in part from sugar we produce." Darrington and other farmers will wait and watch this latest development closely and hope for the green light to plant in the spring.
The USDA’s proposal represents the preliminary stage of the process and will be followed by a 30-day comment period before the department makes a final decision. USDA laid out three possible options in the proposal, including an option not to re-approve the sugarbeets, but said its preferred course of action would be to “authorize the commercial production” of genetically modified sugarbeets under strict regulations.
Wall Street Journal article
Otter, 58, won despite sagging approval polls that dipped below 50 percent this fall because of the economy and sharp budget cuts at the Statehouse. Despite the contentious race Allred called Otter before midnight to concede. “I wish Governor Otter all the best as he works to guide our state through a difficult time,” he said.
Idaho’s Congressional Delegation is united once again under the Republican Party with the defeat of 1st term Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick. Labrador pulled in a comfortable 49.7 percent of the vote to Minnick's 42.5 percent.
The Puerto-Rico born immigration attorney came from behind and survived an onslaught of negative campaign advertising. Minnick raised more money, held a coveted seat on the House Agriculture Committee and won the American Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture award for his 100-percent Ag voting record, but couldn’t survive voter dissatisfaction.
Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson were not seriously challenged while Senator Jim Risch was not up for election this cycle. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the nation’s largest farm organization is ready to get back to work.
"Tuesday’s mid-term elections brought a lot of change to Capitol Hill and Washington," said Stallman. "The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to working with new and returning members of Congress on issues that are vital to the nation’s farmers and ranchers.”
Stallman says first and foremost the Farm Bill tops the Ag agenda. “There will be many important legislative issues for agriculture in the 112th Congress. A new farm bill will be written by new agriculture committee members who may not be that familiar with farm policy. Farm Bureau will work with these 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,” added Stallman
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Lugar Sees Farm Program Cuts in New Congress
Washington--Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) believes the expected power shift in Congress after today's election will have a major impact on U.S. farm policy. “We're likely to have curtailment of farm subsidies and other income support programs,” Lugar said.
Lugar said 70 percent of the Agriculture Department’s budget goes to food and nutrition programs and those programs will not be touched. He expects the cuts will come from farm programs.
Because of this, Lugar believes writing the 2012 farm bill will be very contentious. “The South will want to protect the subsidy programs for cotton, rice and sugar. My guess is that at the end of the day the subsidies will be curtailed,” Lugar said.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Washington--Farmers and ranchers would face burdensome federal regulatory control if provisions of a restrictive Senate water bill make it through the “lame duck” session of Congress, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF and a coalition of other groups are vowing to oppose any effort to attach the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act (S. 1816) to any bill that might be addressed during the lame duck session.
“While carrying a title that suggests it is limited in scope, provisions of this bill would have drastic negative impacts on agriculture,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The bill makes sweeping changes to the Clean Water Act and sets adverse water policy precedents that would impact watersheds throughout the nation.”
According to Stallman, the bill strips state and local governments within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed of their authority under the Clean Water Act and grants it instead to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Bigger federal government and expanded federal authority is not in the best interest of our nation,” Stallman said. “By granting EPA the authority to issue what are called Total Maximum Daily Loads without allowing states the opportunity to address water issues, this bill would give EPA greater control over land-use decisions that should be made at the local level.”