Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just in from Boise

Cal Croen says goodbye--Wally Butler photo

Boise--Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Cal Groen attended his retirement party Tuesday night in Boise.

For the last 4 years Cal Groen brought reasoned and steady management to Fish and Game. One of his biggest challenges was wolf management. "I think the wolf population has fully recovered, I think we've done a great job. But having it tied up in court over legal technicalities was extremely frustrating." Groen says the department did everything right.

Groen worked for Fish and Game 21 years and wildlife management for more than 30. He says one of the challenges for the department is funding “we need a broader funding base. 90 percent of the people love wildlife, yet only the hunters and fishermen, 20 percenty are paying for it. Everybody should be allowed to contribute if you play, you pay." Groen said.

Just in from Washington

House to Consider Bill Ending Overlapping EPA Permits

Washington--The full House is expected to take up H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, when it returns from recess. Farm Bureau strongly supports the bill and is seeking co-sponsors.

Last week, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved the legislation by a vote of 46-8. Two weeks ago, the House Agriculture Committee passed it by unanimous consent.

Introduced by Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Joe Baca (D-Calif.), the bipartisan bill would eliminate the burdensome and overlapping permit requirements resulting from the National Cotton Council v.EPA (6th Circuit 2009) case. H.R. 872 would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to clarify that CWA permits are not needed when a pesticide is applied in accordance with a FIFRA-approved label.

In National Cotton Council v.EPA, the court gave EPA until April 9 to implement a permit system. EPA has asked the court to extend this until Oct. 31. Environmental groups filed in opposition to EPA’s request. If the court does not grant EPA’s request, regulated pesticide applications will require permit coverage by April 9. During the period while the court is considering the extension request, permits for pesticide applications will not be required under the CWA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just in from Washington

House Vote on Pesticide Bill Expected Thursday

Washington--The House is expected to debate H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, tonight with a vote expected Thursday morning. AFBF supports the bill and is seeking additional co-sponsors.

Introduced by Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Joe Baca (D-Calif.), the bipartisan bill would eliminate the burdensome and overlapping permit requirements resulting from National Cotton Council v.EPA. H.R. 872 would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act to clarify that CWA permits are not needed when a pesticide is applied in accordance with a FIFRA-approved label.

Ag Coalition Sends Response to House Budget Committee

Washington--Last Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee sent its budget views and estimates letter to the House Budget Committee outlining budget recommendations for the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction for fiscal year 2012.

On Friday, the American Farm Bureau Federation joined The collation letter stressed that the cost of farm policy has decreased over the past 10 years and that agriculture has already taken cuts, providing savings to the federal government. The letter pointed out that agriculture is cyclical and cannot rely on the current high prices for most commodities to continue.

“Agriculture has always contributed to deficit reduction in the past when called upon,” the coalition letter stated. “However, we do feel strongly that any contribution must be commensurate with our effect on the budget. Disproportionate contributions have already been exacted from the agriculture sector. We are optimistic that in the development of the budget a much more equitable methodology will be utilized.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Intervenes in Pesticide Lawsuit

WASHINGTONThe American Farm Bureau Federation, along with other agriculture groups, has filed a motion to intervene in federal court in a lawsuit aimed at imposing needless restrictions or bans on pesticide use.

AFBF filed in Center for Biological Diversity v. Environmental Protection Agency, a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) lawsuit alleges that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing the use of nearly 400 pesticides without conducting consultations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) regarding potential impacts on 214 listed species.

“This case aims to use the Endangered Species Act to impose restrictions, if not outright bans, on hundreds of pesticides,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “To protect the interests of growers nationwide who rely on the availability of safe, affordable and effective pesticides, we have sought to intervene in the lawsuit in order to participate fully in how the case is resolved.”

America’s famers, said Stallman, are committed to conserving and protecting endangered species in and around farmland and use pesticides in an environmentally sound manner, as authorized by EPA. But, CBD’s massive lawsuit seeks to restrict or even ban the use of pesticides while EPA and the Services engage in consultation, on the mere chance that a protected species might be affected. The sweeping scope of the lawsuit and the lack of regulatory framework to complete consultations efficiently threatens to impose additional and unnecessary pesticide use restrictions for years, if not decades.

“The pesticides listed in the complaint have already been approved by EPA as safe for use under stringent federal pesticide laws,” continued Stallman. “If consultation between EPA and the Services is required, then EPA should move forward with that process. But farmers should not be denied the use of important pest control products to protect their crops in the meantime.”

Other groups who filed the motion to intervene with AFBF include: National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of Corn Growers, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Potato Council, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, USA Rice Federation and Washington Friends of Farms and Forests.

Food news

High Vegetable Prices Expected to Drop

Washington--High vegetable prices are expected to ease in the coming weeks as farmers send more produce to the supermarket.

Prices shot up nearly 50 percent in February due to cold weather that destroyed much of the vegetable supply. Lettuce in Arizona, tomatoes in Florida and other crops were impacted.

USA Today article

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wheat Market news

2011 Global Wheat Production Should Grow 3.4 Percent

New York--The March 2011 Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released Wednesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates world wheat production this year will be 676 million metric tons, a 3.4 percent increase over 2010. This production level would still be below the bumper harvests in 2008 and 2009.

Cereal output in the low-income food-deficit countries rose 5.6 percent in 2010, which will result in reduced cereal imports this year, according to the FAO report. But this will not necessarily spell much relief for these countries as their overall cereal import bill is estimated to increase by 20 percent because of higher international prices.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just in from Washington

USDA Decisions Boost Biotech Crops Over Organic Crops

Washington--An article in Thursday' Washington Post says a trio of decisions by the Agriculture Department in recent weeks has clouded the future of organic crops and boosted the position of biotech crops.

The Post reports that USDA’s decision to approve biotech alfalfa and biotech corn for ethanol and grant limited approval of biotech sugar beets was applauded by the biotech industry. But organic supporters were furious, saying their hopes that the Obama administration would protect their interests were dashed, according to the Post.

“To a growing cadre of consumers who pay attention to how their food is produced, the agriculture wars are nothing short of operatic, pitting technology against tradition in a struggle underscored by politics and profits,” Post reporter Lyndsey Layton wrote.

American Farm Bureau Federation policy calls for state and national political leaders to develop a positive national strategy for biotechnology research, development and consumer education.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Legislative News

Jim Cleary of El Paso Western Pipeline groups talks to Senator Bert Brackett Wednesday afternoon at the Idaho Statehouse, Ritter photo

El Paso Group grilled by Idaho Lawmakers

Boise-Representative Judy Boyle, R-Midvale blasted the El Paso Western Pipeline group on Wednesday in front of a joint-legislative committee for entering into agreement with Western Watershed group.

Boyle didn’t sugarcoat her comments to El Paso Group President Jim Cleary. She called WWP a group of “domestic terrorists,.” while Representative Lenore Barrett took it step further: “You dodged a bullet, but you funded the firing squad that’s coming for the rest of us.”

Cleary’s company is in the middle of building the Ruby gas pipeline that runs from Wyoming to Nevada. Last year the company triumphantly announced that they had reached a deal with WWP, paying $15-million into a WWP program in exchange for a 10-year lawsuit moritorium.

Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon Ranchers were outraged fearing that the astronomical settlement agreement will fund environmental group lawyers with no oversight and worse yet, fund a group hell-bent on their destruction. Senator Bert Brackett R-Twin Falls, warned that WWP is looking to buy up grazing leases, and take cattle off the land, despite wording in the agreement that the fund would buy permits from willing ranchers.

“This is just another tactic,” said Brackett. He’s told Cleary. He said WWP is in the business of threatening lawsuits, “That’s how you get a willing seller,” he said. He also warned that taking cattle off the land and leaving it empty, “destroys the tax base.”

Representative JoAnn Wood, R-Rigby asked Jim Cleary if he was aware that under current environmental law that rehabilitation is already required by law. Lawmakers also reminded the El Paso Group that other groups not bound by the agreement can still sue.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just in from Washington

Ag Coalition Sends Response to House Budget Committee

Washington-The House Agriculture Committee sent its budget views and estimates letter to the House Budget Committee outlining budget recommendations for the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction for fiscal year 2012. On Friday, the American Farm Bureau Federation joined a coalition of other farm and commodity groups in a follow-up letter.

The collation letter stressed that the cost of farm policy has decreased over the past 10 years and that agriculture has already taken cuts, providing savings to the federal government. The letter pointed out that agriculture is cyclical and cannot rely on the current high prices for most commodities to continue.

“Agriculture has always contributed to deficit reduction in the past when called upon,” the coalition letter stated. “However, we do feel strongly that any contribution must be commensurate with our effect on the budget. Disproportionate contributions have already been exacted from the agriculture sector. We are optimistic that in the development of the budget a much more equitable methodology will be utilized.”

House Agriculture Committee news release

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dairy News

Dairy Industry Still Struggling With Aftermath of Difficult Years

Sacramento-Milk prices continue to rise but dairy farmers are still struggling with the aftermath of several difficult years. Dairy farmers are facing high corn prices and many are finding it difficult to get production loans.

Farm gate milk prices are expected to average $17 per hundredweight this year, compared to about $12 during the recession of 2009 that hit many dairy farmers hard.

Tom Barcellos, Tipton, Calif., dairy farmer, said the value of dairy cows has slipped, which makes it hard for many farmers to get credit. “It’s hand to mouth,” he said. “They have no feed, they have used up equity and they have to buy a load of feed at a time to try to hang on.”

Associated Press article

Monday, March 21, 2011

More EPA news

Peterson: Time to Clean Up EPA

Washington--House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), has penned an op-ed on the committee’s website saying now is the time to clean up the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Farmers and ranchers are not happy with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They see an agency that does not understand agriculture and imposes burdensome and confusing regulations,” Peterson wrote. “EPA may be the federal agency charged with enforcing the Clear Air and Clean Water Acts but when it comes to agriculture their policies are unclear and the process murky at best.”

Rep. Peterson’s Op-Ed

Wolf Decision

Wolf Protections Lifted

Boise-After months of vocal opposition from Congress and Western Governors, the Department of Interior decided Friday to lift protection status of gray wolves in Idaho and Montana.

The decision will allow hunting seasons in the two states to resume.

The settlement agreement - opposed by some environmentalists - will resolve years of litigation that have blocked hunting despite the fact that populations have dramatically grown.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson opposed protections and fought to lift protections. Simpson included language in H.R. 1, legislation continuing operations for the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, to overturn Judge Donald Molloy’s decision and return management of wolf populations in the region to states with approved management plans, putting pressure on environmental groups to settle.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the states, not the federal government, should be managing these animals,” said Simpson, who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. “The Fish and Wildlife Service made the right decision in delisting wolves and returning management authority to the states. Idaho and Montana have effective, approved plans in place for managing wolves and should regain control over management.

"For too long, wolf management in this country has been caught up in controversy and litigation instead of rooted in science, where it belongs. This proposed settlement provides a path forward," said Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes.

Court documents detailing the proposed agreement were filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

It would keep the species on the endangered list, at least temporarily, in four states where they are considered most vulnerable: Wyoming, Oregon, Washington and Utah. And the deal calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set up a scientific panel that will re-examine wolf recovery goals calling for a minimum 300 wolves in the region - a population size wildlife advocates criticize as inadequate.

There are an estimated 1,651 wolves in the region following a costly but successful restoration effort. That program stirred deep antipathy toward the predators among western ranchers and hunters, who blame wolves for livestock attacks and a recent decline in some elk herds.

Court rulings blocked prior efforts by the Bush and Obama administrations to lift wolf protections.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Just in from Washington

Waster enhancement FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR east Idaho Farmers
BoiseFarmers in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region can apply for special Agricultural Water Enhancement Program funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to carry out water conservation practices. The sign-up period runs through April 15, 2011.

The Idaho Water Resources Board received special funding through USDA’s Agricultural Water Enhancement Program to help stabilize the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. The project is a joint effort by the Idaho Water Resources Board and the NRCS.

“The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer provides all or part of the water supply for more than two million acres of irrigated agriculture in eastern Idaho, said Jeff Burwell, Idaho NRCS State Conservationist. “This project aims to get more water into the aquifer to help sustain it for the farms, industries and towns that depend on the water it provides.”

The IWRB identified five actions to help reduce ground water withdrawals and increase water reaching the aquifer through infiltration and recharge: Aquifer demand reduction; Conversion to dry land farming; Transition to crops with lower water requirements; Conversion from ground irrigation water to surface water; and, Enhancing irrigation systems to improve water delivery.

Farmers can apply for funding to install conservation practices related to these five priorities. Financial support is available through the NRCS and producers apply to and contract directly with NRCS.

“Work that may qualify for funding includes converting irrigated crops to dryland, replacing leaky canals and diversion structures with pipe or concrete, converting ground water irrigation sources to surface water sources, or converting surface irrigation to sprinkler systems,” Burwell said.

Stop in your local NRCS field office to find out if this voluntary program can help you. For office locations go to the NRCS Web site at and look for “Find a Service Center.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just in from Washington

Farmers Prevail in Court Decision on EPA Livestock Rules

WASHINGTONIn a major court victory for the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm organizations, a unanimous federal court of appeals has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms actually discharge manure into U.S. waters.

The ruling was welcomed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council and several other agriculture groups that filed suit against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

“For the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA’s authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA’s unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act. The court has affirmed that EPA, like other federal agencies, can only regulate where it has been authorized by Congress to do so.”

In the ruling, issued March 15, the Fifth Circuit concluded “The CWA provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA’s attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority.”

According to the ruling, non-discharging CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) do not need permit coverage. In addition, CAFOs cannot face separate liability for “failure to apply” for permit coverage, as EPA’s rule provided. Instead, where a CAFO does not seek permit coverage, the Clean Water Act imposes liability only for discharges that occur from the unpermitted CAFO.

AFBF legal analysts are continuing to review the ruling to determine how it will affect livestock farmers and ranchers, including those currently engaged in lawsuits with EPA. It’s uncertain at this time what EPA’s next steps will be now that major provisions of its CAFO regulations issued in 2003 have been vacated by the court.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring thaw, Just in from Weiser

Flooding along the Weiser River in Washington County, Steve Ritter photo

Spring Flooding in Washington County
Weiser-The Idaho Transportation Department closed Highway 95 along the Weiser River after the river flooded its banks for a mile stretch this afternoon.

Flood stage for the Weiser River is at 9.5 feet. The National Weather Service reported Wednesday morning the river was already two feet over flood level.

Water started flowing over the banks and onto nearby streets near Weiser including Cove and Coopers roads. Both roads were closed to traffic due to the flooding.

ITD sent out the closure alert just after 1:39 p.m. today.

The sheriff's office and the fire department were getting ready to put sandbags in front of one home according to Washington County dispatch.

The National Weather Service predicts the Weiser River will drop below flood level Friday morning.

Gentleman Yields!

Assistant Majority Leader Bedke back to work after a close call, fellow lawmakers welcome him back with homespun humor. --Steve Ritter photo.
Bedke Back in the House

BOISE —Monday morning Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke returned to the House Floor after a farming accident earlier this month crushed his back and injured his spine.

Bedke told fellow lawmakers he'd been humbled by his experience and in the wake of the accident: "Every day is a holiday, every meal a feast."

The Oakley Rancher was injured a week ago when a hay bale weighing more than a ton fell on him. Bedke had his cellphone in a pocket and was able to call 911 for help and was transported to Cassia Regional Medical Center in Burley, where he was treated for minor fractures to his spine and sternum.

On Tuesday afternoon his colleagues presented him with a plaque to commemorate the ordeal with humor, the plaque reads 'Gentleman Yields'. Bedke says its great to be back but says he's 'still very sore.'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 2011 Farm Season

A farmer applies early-season fertilizer off Beacon Light road in Ada County, Steve Ritter photo

Stocks-to-use ratio favors farmers
Washington--Field crop market prices, specifically corn and wheat have been on a bull run since mid-2010.

Bad weather around the world has limited crop supply, add growing populations, better income levels and demand for food should be strong in 2011, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

These factors have led to a tight supply-demand market for multiple crops. According to the latest estimates released by the USDA. The stocks-to-use ratio (a measure of supply and demand that historically exhibits negative correlation with crop prices) for U.S. corn is 5.0%, its lowest level since the 1995-1996 growing season. For soybeans, the U.S. stocks-to-use ratio stands at 4.2%, the lowest figure on record. Low stocks and high crop prices send strong signals to farmers that agricultural inventories must be rebuilt.

The USDA thinks farmers will plant more acres in 2011. The USDA's chief economist expects 9.8 million additional acres, a 4% increase over the prior year, and the largest year-over-year increase in the U.S. since 1996. With more acres planted, we expect sales volumes for crop inputs, such as fertilizer, seed, and crop chemicals, will increase. High prices also motivate growers to increase yields through greater use of agricultural inputs. Additionally, higher crop prices improve farmer economics, giving crop input producers leeway to raise prices.

Just in--

AFBF Applauds House Passage of Veterinary Health Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2011—The House this week passed a bill that would help increase the number of veterinarians working in livestock and food animal practices and in key public health fields. The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Senate to follow suit.

“Many recent studies have shown dramatic shortfalls of veterinarians in food animal practice in rural areas and in key public health practice areas, including food systems, veterinary medicine and at several federal government agencies protecting the nation’s food supply and keeping a watchful eye out for bioterrorism and foreign animal diseases,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The national pool of 2,500 new veterinarian graduates a year is not enough to meet the demand.”

AFBF applauded the House’s passage of H.R. 525, the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Amendments Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

The bill would amend the Public Health Service Act and add veterinary public health as one of the professional groups eligible for grants to train the public health veterinarian workforce. The legislation also makes veterinarians studying public health eligible for student loan repayment.

Stallman said the shortage of large animal veterinarians needs to be addressed to ensure the health and welfare of animals and to ensure a safe food supply.

“From dairies in Maine to sheep flocks in Montana, fewer veterinarians are available to help farmers and ranchers care for their animals in both routine and emergency situations,” Stallman said. “National efforts such as this legislation are needed to address these critical deficits.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just in--

Simpson Critiques BLM Budget that Robs Resource Management

Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman questions BLM budget decisions, policies

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, questioned BLM Director Bob Abbey regarding a number of issues, including the Wild Horse and Burro program, grazing on public lands, and the Administration’s new “Wild Lands” policy. Simpson’s subcommittee examined the President’s FY2012 budget request for the Bureau of Land Management.

One of Simpson’s biggest criticisms of the budget request is the fact that it diverts funding from land management accounts in order to fully fund land acquisition accounts. “With the current budget crisis facing our country, I find it puzzling that the BLM requests $50 million for land acquisition and $1 billion for the new America’s Great Outdoors initiative when it has difficulty managing the land it already holds,” said Chairman Simpson. “I’m deeply concerned that this proposal will exacerbate an already out-of-control problem facing the BLM, and that is the increasing cost of litigation. When you shift resources from land management to acquisitions, you are unable to provide the land managers in your field offices with the resources they need to make environmentally sound decisions, leaving the door wide open to groups looking for any opportunity to sue.”

Chairman Simpson also expressed concern about the fact that the BLM is unable to track payments that go out under the Equal Access to Justice Act, which allows those who win lawsuits against the government to recoup their legal costs. “I find it incredible that these fees come out of your budget, but you can’t track them,” said Simpson. “How can you possibly operate responsibly when you have no idea how much money is coming out of your budget to pay for lawsuits?”

Simpson recently joined other Western members in requesting a study by the Government Accountability Office on payments under EAJA.

During the hearing, Simpson also spoke about his frustration about the ever-increasing costs of the BLM’s Wild Horses and Burros program. The President’s budget request includes a $11 million increase over current funding, and Simpson questioned whether the agency would be able to put the program on a sustainable path in the future.


Snowpack, photo by Steve Ritter.


COUNCIL--Snowpack on Cuddy Mountain in Adams County 110 miles north of Boise, continues to pile up. More than 7 feet of snow is on the ground with another 2 feet expected before the first melt off in the coming weeks. This photo was taken yesterday afternoon.

Export News

AFBF: Drop in Wheat Exports Biggest News in Report

WASHINGTON– The biggest news in the Agriculture Department’s crop report just released is the drop in projected U.S. wheat exports and the subsequent bump in stocks, according to Dr. Bob Young, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Most traders expected little change in today’s report and that’s pretty much what happened,” Young said. “The big report to look at will be USDA’s planting intentions report that will be released March 31. USDA still sees very tight global grain stocks, and we are going to need to see big U.S. and world grain crops to make up the balance.”

USDA’s March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates or WASDE report showed no changes in corn or soybean stocks, but USDA did lower projections for U.S. wheat exports for the 2010-2011 marketing year by 25 million bushels from the February estimates. USDA forecasts increased global supplies of wheat, particularly in Australia, and a slower than expected pace of shipments into the final quarter of the wheat marketing year that ends May 31.

“Wheat was the big news in today’s report,” Young said. “I found the fact that USDA did not change China’s wheat production numbers at all to be very interesting. Many were suspecting at least some reduction.” China is the world’s largest wheat producer. USDA forecasts China’s wheat production at 114.50 million metric tons in the March WASDE, unchanged from the February report.

USDA forecasts global ending wheat stocks at 182 million metric tons, up nearly 3 percent from February estimates. U.S. wheat stocks are forecast at 843 million bushels, up from 818 million bushels in the February estimate, according to USDA.

Young expects USDA’s March 31 planting intentions report to show increases in several crops as U.S. farmers respond to tight supplies and strong demand.

“Throughout history, America’s farmers and ranchers have responded when the world needed more grain, and I have every expectation they will respond again this year,” Young said. “Then the weather needs to cooperate so we can achieve strong yields, but I know U.S. crop producers will do their part.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Major Earthquake Hits Japan

Tokyo--The quake that hit Japan was a magnitude 8.9, the biggest earthquake to hit the country since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s, and one of the biggest ever recorded in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast, the agency said. The area is 240 miles northeast of Tokyo.

A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities ordered an evacuation of coastal communities.

“Japan’s earthquake will be considered a great quake,” said Dale Grant, a geophysicist with the Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

Damage from such a quake can span hundreds to thousands of miles.

A few days earlier, Japan was hit with a 7.2 earthquake. “A 7.2 quake has 80 or 90 times less energy than an 8.9 quake,” Grant said.

As of 3 a.m. Chicago time, there were at least 12 aftershocks following the earthquake, with the greatest aftershocks measuring 7.1 and 6.8, Grant said.

“This is what we’d expect from an 8.9 earthquake.”

The greater concern is the tsunami triggered by the quake, he said. “Tsunamis can travel up to 450 miles per hour,” he said.

“Warnings have been issued for the Hawaiian Islands,” he said. “We’ll probably see an impact.”

Market News

Ag Economis: Chance of Global Food Crisis in 2011 Has Increased

Washington--The world is consuming grains faster than farmers are growing them, draining reserves and pushing prices to the levels that fueled food riots in poor countries three years ago."A big U.S. crop will be needed to meet the demand," according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The stage is set for very serious disruptions, should weather disasters happen,” said Keith Collins, the former chief economist of the Agriculture Department. “It seems clear to me that the chance of a more widespread global food crisis has increased.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food prices on the rise

Food and Ag Policy Research Group:4 Percent Rise in Food Prices in 2011
Washington--Food prices could increase by more than 4 percent in 2011 as the farm sector recovers from

a sharp downturn in the recession, University of Missouri economists reported to Congress Monday.

The annual MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute baseline shows net farm income may reach a record $99 billion in 2011.

“After two years of very subdued U.S. food price inflation, food prices may increase by 4.2 percent,” said Pat Westhoff, director of MU FAPRI. “Projected food inflation drops to 2 percent, a level matching overall inflation, after 2012.”

Food prices will rise not only from higher prices paid at the farm level for food grains and livestock, but also due to recent increases in energy costs, according to FAPRI.

--University of Missouri news release

FAPRI report

Ada County News

Agricultural Literacy Mini-Grants Benefit Local Communities

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, along with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, has awarded 28 mini-grants of $500 to communities across the nation. The grants are awarded through the Foundation’s White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program.

Criteria for selecting the winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how effectively the programs encouraged students to learn more about agriculture and the food and fiber industry; and the procedures and timelines expected for accomplishing project goals.

“It is inspiring to see so many impressive and innovative agricultural literacy programs in use or being developed all over the nation. These projects help educate students about our nation’s food, fiber and renewable fuel production, in addition to encouraging inquiries about agricultural careers,” said Curtis Miller, director of education at the Foundation.

The White-Reinhardt Fund for Education is a project of the AFB Foundation for Agriculture in cooperation with the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee. The fund honors two former committee chairwomen, Berta White and Linda Reinhardt, who were leaders in early national efforts to expand the outreach of agricultural education and improve agricultural literacy.

2011 Mini-Grants Awarded

to State and County Farm Bureaus:

Ada County, Idaho

Traveling Man Who Fed the World classroom set and curriculum.

Alaska Ag in the Classroom

Portable white board system to write and review high-tech lessons on ag literacy.

Arizona Farm Bureau

Creation of a “petting zoo” with animal-sized cutouts and facts.

Brown County AITC, Wis.

Red Barn Learning Center kits for elementary grade students.

Calhoun County Farm Bureau, Ill.

Spring planting/fall harvesting program to show the growth cycle of corn and soybeans.

Calhoun County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Accurate Ag resource kits.

Gratiot County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Grow a pizza project—students grow their own plants.

Hiawathaland County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Incubators for hatching demonstrations and a lending library.

Huron County, Mich.

Placement of Ag Quest packets in schools.

Indiana Farm Bureau

Traveling flip cameras for filming farming operations, ag days and school demonstrations to share with students.

Isabella County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Portable greenhouses and gardening books.

Jackson County Farm Bureau, Wis.

Ag activity kits on apples, bees, cranberries, corn, soybeans, dairy, sunflowers, forestry and nutrition.

Kendall County Farm Bureau, Ill.

Professional display board on careers in agriculture, technology and food science.

Lincoln County Farm Bureau, W.Va.

Lincoln Learning Garden to increase student knowledge of where food comes from.

Manitowoc County Farm Bureau, Wis.

Traveling ag presentation and materials kit.

Marion County Farm Bureau, Fla.

Ag-Ventures event education stations and “make-and-takes.”

McHenry County Farm Bureau, Ill.

Seasons of Change displays with facts on food, fiber and fuel.

Michigan Farm Bureau

Captain Food Fabulous series: Exploring the Wonders of Michigan’s Natural Resources.

Missaukee County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Traveling book barn library.

Monroe County Farm Bureau, Ill.

Accurate Ag book library and Ag Mag prizes for schools at National Ag Week events.

North Dakota Farm Bureau

Ag Day at 30 local libraries with book reading and hands-on activities.

Rock Island Farm Bureau, Ill.

Horticulture outreach program.

Russell County Farm Bureau, Va.

Hands-on What’s Growing in Virginia? activities and From Cow to Carton program.

Shelby County Farm Bureau, Ohio

Watching the Seeds Grow school garden project.

Virginia Foundation for Ag in the Classroom

Donation of Ready, Set, Grow! books to 200 Classrooms.

Wexford County Farm Bureau, Mich.

Traveling book barn library.

Windham County Farm Bureau, Conn.

Planting a pizza garden project.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau

The Agriculture—Bringing Music to our Lives project takes ag-related songs and incorporates them into lessons.

Congress considers Farm Bill this week

Washington--House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway finally get the House farm bill to the Senate this week, but it all depends on House Republic...