Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grain & Livestock Report
POCATELLO — White wheat 6.30 (up 30); 11.5 percent winter 6.02 (up 6); 14 percent spring 9.72 (up 16); barley 11.35 (steady);
BURLEY — White wheat 6.15 (down 5); 11.5 percent winter 6.08 (up 2); 14 percent spring 9.52 (up 16); Barley 11.25 (steady);
OGDEN — White wheat 6.60 (steady); 11.5 percent winter 6.35 (up 1); 14 percent spring 9.64 (up 16); Barley 12.25 (up 50); corn 12.82 cwt (up 27);
PORTLAND — White wheat 6.78 (up 8); 11 percent winter 7.44-7.64 (up 1 to steady); 14 percent spring 10.70 (up 17); corn 292.25-294.00 (up 5.50);
NAMPA — White wheat 9.67 cwt (up 9); 5.80 bushel (up 5);

___< LIVESTOCK AUCTION — Cottonwood Livestock Market on Friday. Utility and commercial cows 60.00-73.00; canner & cutters 55.00-61.00; heavy feeder steers 110.00-118.00; light feeder steers 120.00-140.00; stocker steers 125.00-141.00; heavy holstein feeder steers n/a; light holstein feeder steers n/a; heavy feeder heifers 95.00-112.00; light feeder heifers 110.00-135.00; stocker heifers 117.00-130.00; bulls 75.00-85.00; stock cows 850-1035/hd; stock cow/calf pairs 950-1250/pr; Remarks: Light test on feeder cattle. Slaughter cows & bulls 2-4 lower.

Just in from Washington

Agriculture Facing Challenges on Capitol Hill
Washington--The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reports today on the challenges agriculture is now facing in Congress. “Federal belt-tightening has worried Washington lobbyists across the board, but perhaps no sector is more nervous these days than the agriculture industry,” the publication states.

Roll Call reports that farm program direct payments are particularly vulnerable in the current environment and cuts in farm payments will “almost inevitably be part of whatever budget deal comes out of bipartisan negotiations between Vice President Joseph Biden and congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling.”

It is generally accepted that there will be less money in the next farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee is holding a series of subcommittee hearings labeled as “audits” that indicate the committee is preparing for farm program cuts.

“This farm bill will be developed under a very different fiscal climate than recent farm bills,” House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said. “Obviously, there is going to be no new money. Every program in every title will be on the table, and we will have to make some difficult decisions.”

Roll Call article

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The 2011 Season

Bryan Searle is a potato farmer outside of Shelly, Idaho. He took the time to reflect on farming and illusive 'perfect' season with editor Jake Putnam:

What are the biggest assets that make Idaho potatoes great?
Soil is number one, the soil is perfect. You got certain areas…to grow the russet Burbank you have to have the right soil to get the Burbank. The volcanic soil is a piece of the pie, but its also the weather with it. We don’t have the heat that Western Idaho gets, or Washington gets. The get the tonnage, but to grow the Russet Burbank you have to have a little sand, some heavy river soil, mixed with the volcanic element.

What about the temps?
We cool off at night, it’s a factor, the spud shuts down when it’s too hot. The way Western Idaho, Oregon and Washington gets around that is that they plant the norkotah, we have some norkotahs and they do well, but the russet Burbank that people like to eat in the restaurant, if you’re growing they don’t like to get much above 95-degrees

Last year we had a cool, wet summer and we thought we’re not going to have much of a crop, but we had a great crop, what gives?
I think a good supply of water can’t be overlooked. It’s a huge factor, next to having good dirt to grow in you have to have a good water supply, you need reservoirs. We can supply water when we want it, where we want it. We can adjust the water all summer and next to the soil, water is a huge factor.

From year to year each crop is different?
From Hailstorms to disease, to white mold, to insect problems to late blight, we are always going to have issues to deal with. First and foremost we deal with Mother Nature. She always has something out there for us to deal with. If the season was a book there are many plot twists and turns to deal with and most people don’t get that, it’s hard to bring a crop in.

For instance?
When I want 80 degrees, its 50 and when I want 50 its 80. Like a good book, there are many highs and lows throughout a season. Many of the factors I have no control over. I can apply fertilizer and chemicals to control weeds, but that can be washed out by a single afternoon thundershower. So, we’ve had amazing crops, but to say perfect? We have never achieved perfect, we deal with too many factors.

Never a perfect season?
There are seasons when you think it’s going pretty good, with ideal conditions, and then it freezes on September 1st. In this game there’s never been a perfect year, not a single year when all the stars are aligned. There never has been, and I don’t think there ever will be because we are dealing with Mother Nature and she’s holding all the cards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer BBQ’s - getting more expensive.

Washington--In a revised forecast, the U.S. Agricultural Department says consumers will see higher prices for ground beef and steak at the supermarket. Retail prices have surged the last nine months as animal supplies shrink, exports grow and feed-grain costs soar.

Overall, the USDA said meat prices will climb 6% to 7% this year compared to last, up from its March 25 forecast for a 4.5% to 5.5% increase.

Beef prices are projected to jump 7% to 8%, up sharply from the government’s March estimate of a 4.5% to 5.5% rise. Beef prices are already running 12% higher than they were a year ago.

Pork prices, which gained more than other meats last year, will be a half-percentage point higher, rising 6.5% to 7.5% over 2010.

The USDA left unchanged its food-at-home inflation forecast that calls for grocery-store prices to run 3.5% to 4.5% more than they did a year ago.

Meat makers have benefited from a recipe of lower supplies and higher prices, following a painful restructuring when corn prices spiked in 2008.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Welcomes Committee Passage of NPDES Permitting Bill

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased that the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday passed H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, in a strong bipartisan vote. The measure clarifies that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits are not required when applying pesticides according to Environmental Protection Agency-approved labels.

For most of the past four decades, water quality concerns from pesticide applications were addressed within the registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. H.R. 872 amends both the Clean Water Act and FIFRA in order to restore the previous regulatory framework.

Under a federal court ruling in 2009, pesticide applicators would have to apply for an NPDES permit if the chemical reaches a body of water, which could include ditches and culverts. While NPDES permits will not provide any additional environmental benefits, the complex new requirements would have exposed farmers to potential citizen action suits for something as simple as paperwork violations.

The House passed the bill that was sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) on March 31. Gibbs is a past president of the Ohio Farm Bureau.

Los Angeles Times article

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just in from Washington

USDA Releases Disappointing Report on Crop Progress

Washington--USDA’s weekly crop progress report released Monday revealed disappointing numbers in crop conditions for cotton, winter wheat and soybean crops. The crop progress report currently rates 39 percent of the 2011 cotton crop as very poor to poor. This is a major shift from this time last year when only 5 percent of the 2010 cotton crop was rated as very poor to poor.

Winter wheat is also showing a major shift in crop conditions from a year ago. Just over 40 percent of the 2011 winter wheat crop is currently rated as very poor to poor, compared to only 9 percent last year at this time.

While soybean conditions have remained on track with last year’s numbers in most categories, there is a notable 4 percent drop in the percentage of the crop classified as excellent compared to 2010.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just in

Farm Bureau Urges Repeal of Health Insurance Provider Fee

Washington--Farm Bureau is urging members of the House to support, introduced by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.). The bill would repeal the annual fee on health insurance providers enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The bill addresses a major concern that farmers and ranchers have about health insurance—the cost. The new tax will increase health insurance costs for farmers, ranchers and other small businesses by imposing a levy on the net premiums of health insurance companies. This additional cost will be passed on to those who obtain their health insurance through the fully insured market.

A recent Congressional Budget Office report confirms that the health insurance tax “would be largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.” Health insurance costs for small businesses are already rapidly trending higher, increasing 103 percent since 2000. This new tax will raise insurance costs even more, making it harder for farmers and ranchers to purchase coverage for themselves, their families and their employees.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just in

Farm Subsidies Targeted in Budget Cuts

Washington--Farm subsidies continue to be targeted in budget proposals as members of Congress and White House officials look for ways to trim the national deficit. Previously protected by members of both parties, the GOP plan includes a $30 billion cut to direct payments over 10 years, while President Barack Obama has outlined a plan to scale back payments to farmers with incomes of more than $250,000 a year. These terms are currently being considered in debt reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.

Although no budget deal has been reached, senior officials at the Agriculture Department and leaders on Capitol Hill appear confident that direct program payments to farmers, at a minimum, will face major cuts.
Farm Bureau opposes means testing to determine farm program eligibility.

Washington Post news article

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Government Reports Slight Rise in Food Inflation for May

Washington--According to the latest Consumer Price Index reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food index rose 0.4 percent in May, the same increase as in April. For food eaten at home, the index increased 0.5 percent and has risen 3.7 percent since December. The food at home index has risen 4.4 percent over the last year, with increases in all major grocery store groups.

The most recent CPI numbers track closely with the American Farm Bureau Federation’s second quarter Marketbasket Survey results, which were released last week. AFBF reported a 4 percent retail price increase for 16 staple foods compared to the prior quarter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Just in--

House Panel to Take Up Bill Retaining State Authority on Water

Washington--The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to consider H.R. 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, within the next two weeks. AFBF strongly supports this bill as it retains the state’s authority to determine water quality practices and prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from mandating new water quality regulations or expanding current regulations.

H.R. 2018 would restrict EPA from interfering with state water quality policies in a number of ways, including restricting EPA from rewriting state water quality standards that have already been approved by the agency and the state.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just in from Washington

Senate Ag Committee to Consider EPA Permitting Bill

Washington--Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has scheduled a business meeting of her committee next week to consider H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. Farm Bureau strongly supports the bill and is pushing for committee passage.

H.R. 872 would eliminate the burdensome and overlapping permit requirements resulting from the National Cotton Council v. EPA case. It 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.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Century Farms

American Century Farms the Focus of New, Interactive Site

Virginia Beach--The American Farm Bureau Federation launched a new, interactive website that celebrates the contribution of century farms to the heritage of our nation at the AFBF annual Public Affairs Conference.

Century farms are family operations that have been farming in the same family for more than 100 years. Appropriately named “Agriculture’s Lasting Heritage,” this website tells the story of American farm and ranch families who have shaped the history of our nation.

“Farms and ranches that have been in the same family, and supporting family members and local communities for generations stand as testament to the true sustainable character of American agriculture today,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Farmers and ranchers, by nature, are always committed to leaving the land in better condition for the next generation. We are proud to help raise awareness of that through this new website."

"On the website,, parents, teachers and volunteer educators can enjoy the free educational resources that support continued learning. Lesson plans that intricately combine American History standards with the progression of the agriculture industry are provided complete with all required resources.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How the other half, farms--

Farm Bureau Visits Cherrystone Farms in Virginia
Cape Charles, Va--Cherrystone Aqua Farms raises some of the best Oysters and Clams on the Eastern seaboard.

The American Farm Bureau Federation Public Affairs conference toured the farm Monday afternoon.The farm is a division of Ballard Fish and Oyster Company and been in business since 1895.

The clams and oysters are grown in the high-salinity waters of Cherrystone Creek on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The clams and oysters are unique because they're grown in the creek that flows into the Chesapeake bay where workers carefully handle, then immediately refrigerate, pack and ship worldwide.

"Our advantages are year-round availability, consistent grade, quaranteed count and shelf life, and best of all our stable pricing," said Dee Pierson. "Our littleneck clams could, quite possibly, be the perfect food. High-protein and low-calorie, littleneck clams from Cherrystone Aqua Farms are grown without the use of antibiotics, steroids or other feed additives."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just in--2011 AFBF PR Conference--Virginia Beach

We neeed to be better listeners--P. Allen Smith

Virginia Beach--Renowned garden guru P. Allen Smith says that America has a new lost generation.

Its millions of housewives that long for information on their food and knowledge--little things like how to plant a tree.

Smith's Garden Home show on PBS is in 98-percent of American homes. He told the AFBF's Annual PR Conference that consumers want honesty, and that Farm writers need to have a conversation with their readers, not only that but they need to have a dialogue and embrace it.

Smith is an award-winning garden and lifestyle designer and host of the public television program, and the syndicated 30-minute show P. Allen Smith Gardens.

Smith says Americans are interested in garden successes and failures, "We reached out to consumers and we got to know them, any success I have had, its because I've had to be a good listener," he told the group. "Our customers are overwhelmingly females, they make the buying decisions at home."

In these times Smith says Consumers are looking for less-expensive food and garden products but cautions that they are more discriminating. "Bigger is not better, high quality is better and accountability is crucial in the market place," Smith said.

Smith is one of America's most recognized and respected garden design experts, providing ideas and inspiration through multiple media venues. He is the author of the best-selling Garden Home series of books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House, including Bringing the Garden Indoors: Container, Crafts and Bouquets for Every Room, published in 2009.

2011 Market Outlook

Weather Challenges Reflected in Latest USDA Crop Report

Washington--A challenging weather year for farmers and ranchers all across the country is clearly reflected in today’s crop report released by the Agriculture Department with drops shown in production, stocks and acreage forecasts for corn compared to the May report.

And with the expected drops in both production and supply, USDA is forecasting record prices not only for corn but also for wheat and soybeans. Prices for all three commodities were moved upward from the May estimates due to weather challenges. The cotton price remained the same as the May estimate, but it is still a record.

In its June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates released today, USDA reduced planted corn acres by 1.5 million acres from its March planting intentions survey to 90.7 million acres. USDA is projecting U.S. corn production to be 13.2 billion bushels this year, still a record, but down 305 million bushels from the May estimate.

AFBF news release

Sunday, June 12, 2011

President's Editorial

Reasonable Immigration Reform Essential for Agriculture

by IFBF President Frank Priestley

Farmers and ranchers face a shortage of workers who are willing and able to work. Reforming the immigration system must assure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and the long-term. This includes attracting a sufficient number of competent, willing and able employees; allowing the recruitment and hiring of non-resident agricultural workers when the need is demonstrated; and allowing an opportunity for some current non-resident agricultural workers to apply for legal resident status.

American agriculture faces a shortage of workers every year. A Farm Bureau economic analysis concluded that $5 billon to 9 billion in annual production is in jeopardy if the employee shortage cannot be met. Jobs in agriculture are physically demanding, conducted in all seasons and often transitory. To most U.S. residents seeking employment, these conditions are not attractive. Yet, for many prospective workers from other countries, these jobs present real economic opportunities.

Employment of those who are in the U.S. illegally is a violation of federal law and consequences for employers can be severe. Effective reform must begin at the border, with greater efforts to prevent the entry of illegal non-residents. While employing illegal non-residents is a violation of law, determining the legal status of prospective employees can be difficult, if not impossible, for growers. An employer is strictly limited in what he or she may ask of prospective employees to determine if they are authorized to work. If the employer requests more or different documents than allowed by law, or more than the original documents provided by a prospective employee, then the employer could be subject to a Department of Justice investigation or a lawsuit for unlawful discrimination.

When no domestic workers can be found to work on farms and ranches, agricultural employers may recruit and hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. But the H-2A program is bureaucratic, expensive, does not cover all parts of agriculture and does little to encourage grower participation. It requires employers to provide free housing and transportation from a worker’s home country and to pay a base wage rate that is historically well above market levels, making it expensive. The program properly requires employers first to recruit domestic workers before bringing in foreign guest workers, but it unreasonably favors domestic workers even after the H-2A workers arrive and begin to work.

Reform of U.S. Immigration Law is Essential for U.S. Agriculture. Farm Bureau has supported comprehensive immigration reform legislation and endorsed bills that came to the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2006 and 2007. In the end, only reform through legislation can solve this problem. In seeking a meaningful legislative solution to agriculture’s worker shortage, Farm Bureau believes that comprehensive immigration reform must include an effective, usable, foreign worker program.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Just in from Washington

Ag Appropriations Bill Includes Problematic Amendments

Washington--The full House is expected to take up the fiscal year 2012 agricultural appropriations bill as early as next week. The version passed last week by the House Appropriations Committee includes several provisions AFBF considers problematic.

Among them is an amendment to lower the adjusted gross income test to $250,000, limiting farm program payments to producers. Farm Bureau policy opposes means testing for government farm programs.

Another is an amendment to secure the $147 million annual payment to Brazil under the U.S. settlement of the World Trade Organization cotton case from cuts in the cotton direct payment program. A third is an amendment that prohibits any agricultural appropriations from being used to make payments under the U.S. settlement with Brazil and uses the “savings” of that $147 million in the cotton case to fund the Women, Infants and Children’s program.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) intends to go to the Rules Committee next Monday to strip those three provisions from the bill. AFBF believes he will be successful in convincing the Rules Committee that those amendments are not germane.

AFBF also believes Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will offer two alternatives on the House floor to the payment limit amendment and the Brazil cotton case amendment if Lucas is successful at the Rules Committee.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just in--

Energy Cost Drives Up Retail Food Prices in Second Quarter

Washington--Retail food prices at the supermarket increased during the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.17, up $2.10 or about 4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 14 increased and two decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter.

The recent rise in retail food prices is largely attributed to the continued rise in raw energy cost.

“The effects of continued raw energy cost increases are reverberating throughout the food industry and consumers are bearing the brunt of it,” said John Anderson, an AFBF economist. “After food leaves the farm, costs for transportation, marketing, processing and storage come into play. As energy prices continue to run up, shoppers are feeling the pinch at the supermarket.”

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly Marketbasket Survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The year-to-year direction of the Marketbasket Survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home.

AFBF news release

Just in from Washington

Collaboration needed to feed 9 Billion people by 2050

Washington--The challenge of feeding a growing population of 9 billion by 2050 requires collaboration across all stakeholders on a scale never seen before and it has to start now, according to the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity for the 21st Century. The committee released a report on Tuesday that details recommendations for closing the food productivity gap.

In 2010, DuPont assembled an external committee, which is chaired by former Sen. Tom Daschle to examine the best public policy mechanisms and business practices to tackle the global challenge to increase agriculture productivity in a sustainable manner.

“Addressing the food and nutrition needs of a growing population is the defining challenge of this century,” said Daschle. “The complexity of this challenge—substantial urbanization, diminished resources such as arable land and water, increased rates of malnutrition—are complex and can only be addressed with the kind of innovation that comes from partnerships and collaboration on a whole new level. Governments, private sector, universities, research institutions, NGOs and farmers must come together with a common purpose.”

DuPont news release

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Just in

FAO: World Food Prices Set to Remain High

New York--High and volatile agricultural commodity prices are likely to prevail for the rest of this year and into 2012, according to the latest analysis published Tuesday in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s biannual Food Outlook.

The report cites a sharp rundown on inventories and only modest overall production increases for the majority of crops as reasons for continuing strong prices.

The next few months will be critical in determining how the major crops will fare this year, the report noted. Although prospects are encouraging in some countries such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine, weather conditions, featuring too little and in some cases too much rain, could hamper corn and wheat yields in Europe and North America.

“The general situation for agricultural crops and food commodities is tight with world prices at stubbornly high levels, posing a threat to many low-income food deficit countries,” said David Hallam, director of FAO’s Markets and Trade Division.

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization news release

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Court Decision Gives AFBF ‘Seat at Table’ in Pesticide Lawsuit

San Francisco--A June 3 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California allowing the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups to intervene in a major lawsuit over pesticide use and the Endangered Species Act gives the groups a “seat at the table” in settlement discussions, according to Ellen Steen, AFBF’s general counsel.

“The court’s decision in the lawsuit, Center for Biological Diversity v. Environmental Protection Agency, gives Farm Bureau and the other groups a voice in the lawsuit and allows us to object to any agreement that would limit the ability of farmers to use crop protection products,” Steen said.

On June 3, AFBF, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Association of Forest Owners, National Corn Growers Association, 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 Families filed the motion to intervene in the lawsuit. Other interested parties, such as Croplife America were also granted intervention and will take part in settlement discussions.

The CBD lawsuit seeks to impose use restrictions, or even outright bans, on hundreds of pesticides based on alleged risk to threatened or endangered species and “critical habitats” protected under the Endangered Species Act. CBD alleges that EPA violated the ESA by failing to consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service over the potential effects of 381 EPA-registered pesticides on 214 threatened and endangered species in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beef News

America’s Cattle Farmers & Ranchers Eager to Help Consumers Use New Icon
to Build Healthier Diets with Lean Beef

BOISE-The new my plate icon released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, offers simple steps to build healthier diets. This straightforward visual gets food back to the basics, illustrating how to create a healthful plate with a balanced mix of nutrition from a variety of food groups.

Recognized by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as a nutrient-dense food, lean meats – including lean beef – make it easier to “enjoy our food, but eat less” as the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage.

“More than 90 percent of Americans already enjoy the taste of beef. And now with the knowledge of how lean beef fits perfectly into the Dietary Guidelines recommendations and graphic, they have even more reasons to enjoy it and feel good about it,” said Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, executive director of human nutrition research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which contracts to manage programs for The Beef Checkoff.

"More significantly, nutrient-rich lean beef is an essential building block for building a satisfying and healthy plate that’s full of great taste and good nutrition. Just one 3-ounce serving of lean beef supplies nearly half of the Daily Value for protein, plus nine other essential nutrients, in about 150 calories.
In fact, research suggests that including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet provides more variety to the diet, which can help improve long-term adherence.

America’s farmers and ranchers, through the Beef Checkoff, look forward to helping families incorporate this tool into their lifestyles, as part of their long-standing commitment to help Americans build healthier diets with lean beef. Please visit to learn more about the favorite lean cuts of beef, find delicious recipes and discover how to lean on beef to build a healthful plate that meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendations.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just in from Washington

Horse Herpes Virus Appears Contained
Fort Collins--State and federal agriculture officials appear to have contained the spread of a potentially deadly equine herpes virus outbreak, which has been reported in 15 states. EHV-1 is an airborne, neurological variation of the herpes virus and is commonly spread though nose-to-nose contact with infected horses.

While the outbreak shows signs of being contained, it has still taken a costly toll on states like Colorado, where the equine industry is valued at $1.6 billion. Travel restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus have resulted in the cancellation of numerous horse-related events and auctions in affected states. With venues so tightly booked, rescheduling is often impossible and businesses do not get the opportunity to recoup losses.

“Basically, they’ve shut down the traffic of horses and many events,” said Jerry Black, director of the undergraduate equine sciences program at Colorado State University. State and federal officials continue to urge horse owners to keep a watchful eye over their horses and report any horse showing symptoms of EHV-1 to state officials.

North Forty News

Saturday, June 4, 2011

2011 Floods

AFBF Estimates 3.6M Ag Acres Hit by Floods

WASHINGTON After learning firsthand from state Farm Bureaus about recent flooding devastation in the southern United States the American Farm Bureau Federation now estimates that nearly 3.6 million acres of farmland has been impacted by the natural disaster. On a Farm Bureau nationwide call late last week, states also reported an estimated 40 percent of this year’s rice crop has been affected.

Arkansas topped the list with a million acres affected, including 300,000 acres of rice and 120,000 acres of wheat. Illinois was estimated to have 500,000 acres of farmland under water, with Mississippi and Missouri coming in at 600,000 and 570,000 acres, respectively. Tennessee reported 650,000 acres and Louisiana was pegged at 280,000 acres.

“There is no doubt about it, the effect of the flooding on farmers and ranchers is being felt deeply across the south,” said AFBF Chief Economist Bob Young. “One is reminded of the ’93 or ’95 floods in terms of scale of affected area.”

But, said Young, it’s critical that the government acts quickly to rebuild the levees and allow producers to make plans for the future.

“In many of these areas, agriculture is the major economic driver for the region,” said Young. “While some may be able to get a crop in the ground this year, we need to also think about the long-term economic health of these farms and communities.”

Without the levees in place to protect homes and farms however, it may be hard to make those investments, added Young.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Snowpack: Highest in two years

Boise--Snow survey crews across Idaho have completed the last snow survey of the 2011 water year and found--plentiful snowpack. Cooler than normal temperatures has kept the snow around longer than normal, that means the potential for flooding.

"One way or another the amount of snowpack affects us all. The snowpack provides our annual streamflow for us so we constantly monitor it during the winter time to see how much runoff we're going to get," local hydrologist Ron Abramovich said.

Southwest Idaho rivers are running high and fast. Eighty-degree temps are forecast for this weekend and will continue to rise in the coming summer months, all that snow will melt. "Right now the way the snow is melting out is perfect. It's coming off slow and in a controlled fashion. If it melts too quickly and we have a rain on snow event and we lose this snowpack over the next two to three weeks we'll see it in Boise," watermaster Rex Barrie said.

Wednesday's snow survey yielded some uncharacteristic numbers for this time of year. There is more than 20 inches of water content within that snowpack, the highest number hydrologists have recorded in more than two decades.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just in from Washington

Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Bill

WASHINGTON– The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which will fund the various programs within the Department of Agriculture and related agencies. In total, the legislation includes $125.5 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, a reduction of more than $7 billion from the President’s request. The bill reduces discretionary spending by $2.7 billion from last year’s level – a cut of more than $5 billion from the President’s request.

“As in all our Appropriations bills this year, this legislation reflects hard decisions to cut lower priority programs, reduce spending in programs that can be scaled back, and target funds where they are needed most so that our nation can continue on the path to fiscal recovery,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. “While these cuts are significant, this bill also provides the funding needed to encourage the economic development of our rural communities, sustain the food and nutrition programs that assist our low-income families, and keep our nation’s food supply safe.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Backs Permanent Five-Year Depreciation for Equipment

Washington-The American Farm Bureau Federation supports legislation introduced in the House and Senate to reinstate and make permanent five-year depreciation for farm business machinery and equipment.

In a letter sent Friday to members of the House, AFBF said it supports H.R. 1747 introduced by Reps. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.). In a Friday letter to members of the Senate, AFBF said it backs the companion bill, S. 700, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D- Minn.), along with Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Debbie Stabenow (D- Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R- Kan.).

“Agriculture is an equipment-intensive industry with nearly $130 billion of stock equipment in use during any given year,” wrote AFBF President Bob Stallman in both letters. “The share of farm assets attributable to machinery and farm-use motor vehicles makes up 6 percent of total assets owned by farmers and ranchers.”

USDA Farm Service Agency surveys show that, on average, farmers and ranchers finance business equipment and machinery for five years. Aligning depreciation and debt service increases farm income by $850 million in a typical year, helps farmers and ranchers cover debt service and facilitates the replacement of worn-out machinery.

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...