Saturday, July 30, 2011

Boise Farmers Market

DSC_0356, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

Veggies are coming on strong at the Boise Farmers Market, especially beets and carrots!
Putnam photo

Friday, July 29, 2011

Canyon County Fair

IMG_6171, originally uploaded by Steve's Photo Library.

The Canyon County Fair is underway in Caldwell, The 4H livestock show continues through the weekend. Steve Ritter photo

Just in from Washington

New Funding Expands Broadband Networks

Washington--Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that USDA’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Loan Program is now offering nearly $192 million in loans to rural telecommunication companies, for projects that extend broadband services to rural customers. Administered by USDA’s Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service, these loans are expected to add thousands of miles of cable across rural portions of eight states.

“A significant portion of America still does not have adequate broadband for job and economic development activities,” Vilsack said in a USDA press release. “Working with our partners, including cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, USDA delivers broadband to rural areas, creating jobs and providing critical financial, education and health care services.”

This recent investment of $192 million in loans to telecommunication companies is just part of an overall $690 million investment during the 2011 fiscal year, and is in addition to the $3.5 billion in broadband funding provided by the RUS under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Telecommunication Infrastructure Loan Program is designed to provide funds for facilities, equipment upgrades, expansions and maintenance of rural telecommunications networks. Funding for each recipient is contingent upon the needs of the rural communities in which they operate and upon their ability to meet the conditions of the loan agreements.

USDA news release

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just in from Washington

Higher Energy Prices Hitting Farmers’ Bottom Line

WASHINGTON– While farmers are benefiting from positive commodity prices, rising production costs remain a concern, according to economists with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“These are encouraging times for the U.S. farm economy,” said AFBF Chief Economist Bob Young. “Higher prices for corn, cotton, wheat and soybeans are helping farmers, but higher energy prices are impacting profit margins. It’s important to remember that farming is still a very capital intensive occupation and that high input costs affect the bottom line, even in good times.”

AFBF economist Matt Erickson outlined the impact of high energy prices on farmers in a new white paper “Cost-of-Production Report: the Rising Costs of Inputs.” High oil prices will drive up the cost of production of corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton in 2011, according to Erickson. Higher fertilizer prices are also impacting net farm income.

“The effects of higher oil prices are reducing profits to the agricultural sector,” Erickson said. “From seed to fertilizer, each commodity is projected to experience higher yearly production costs from 2010 to 2011.”

USDA is forecasting 2011 total operating costs to climb 18 percent for corn, 13 percent for soybeans, 18 percent for wheat, 15 percent for rice and 9 percent for cotton, compared to last year. Erickson said a major factor impacting these higher production costs are higher energy prices and higher fertilizer prices.

“One reason fertilizer prices have increased is demand for fertilizer given the current tight supply for grain commodities, primarily corn,” Erickson said. “In the current situation of tight supplies for grain, fertilizer is a necessity as acreage production in the U.S. is at a max. Similarly, high grain prices increase the demand for fertilizer in international markets.”

High diesel prices hit farmers hard at planting because farm tractors run on the fuel and it will also impact the bottom line at harvest because combines and cotton pickers also run on diesel, according to Erickson.

“With diesel a byproduct of crude oil, farm diesel prices are expected to continue to increase with projections of increased crude oil prices from the Energy Information Administration,” Erickson said.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just in from the range

Winmill Reverses Grazing Ban on the Jarbidge

Twin Falls--U.S. Federal District Judge Lynn Winmill overturned his previous ban on grazing permits Southwest of Twin Falls.

Late yesterday afternoon Winmill decided that ranchers could continue to graze on 17 allotments in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Jarbidge Resource Area.

Grazing permits within the Jarbidge area have been contested for several years. Winmill’s latest decision in March suspended grazing on the 17 allotments. Shortly after the ban ranchers filed a motion to reverse the decision.

The ranchers argued that they and the BLM help protect both the land and sage grouse habitat. A decline in the grouse population, they argued, comes from wildfires, not grazing. The most damage to habitat they argued came from the 2007 Murphy Complex Fire, that burned more than 650,000 acres on the range.“The experts on both sides agree that the (grouse) decline is due largely to the destruction of habitat by wildfire,” Winmill wrote in his order.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just in from Washington

Spud Acreage up

Boise--Idaho potato farmers planted more than 320,000 this year according to the US Department of Agriculture, that’s 25,000 more acres than last year. Strong prices and contract commitments fueled the jump in acreage this year.

The increase in potato acreage mirrors nationwide statistics. The government reports potato plantings are up an estimated 6 percent overall.

Despite stronger potato prices in the marketplace, producers are coping with skyrocketing input prices that will drastically cut into profits come harvest time.

Just in from Washington

WSJ: High Crop Prices Erode Farm Program Payments

Washington--A page one story in yesterday'sWall Street Journal reports that high grain prices mean that the price support formula of the farm program is not kicking in. “The market, in other words, has done what decades of political wrangling couldn’t: slash farm subsidies,” according to the Journal.

The newspaper reports that farm program payments have always ebbed and flowed with commodity prices, but many economists believe an upward shift in crop prices means that Midwestern farmers won’t need price support payments in the future.

“There remain other types of subsidies, which continue to pay out because they aren’t linked to market prices. But high prices are undermining political support for those programs, especially as Congress and the White House get serious about restraining federal spending, amid trillion-dollar deficits and a political brouhaha over the federal debt ceiling,” according to the Journal.

Wall Street Journal article

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just in from Washington

US Farmers and Rancher Alliance Addresses Food Concerns

Washington--The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, comprised of prominent national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners, today announced plans to lead a conversation with Americans, addressing concerns about their food, where it comes from and how it’s raised.

This movement will give farmers and ranchers a voice in traditional and social media conversations about agriculture—where it doesn’t exist now—as well as with key influencers who are shaping the “good food/bad food” debates in popular culture. Farmers and ranchers will ask consumers about their greatest concerns with today’s food production practices and share the agriculture community’s dedication to continuously improving how food is raised in order to provide healthy choices for people everywhere.

“No matter the cause, a knowledge and credibility gap has formed between the American people and their food,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Farmer- and rancher-led organizations have joined forces to create USFRA because it is vital that those closest to the farm, work together and lead the conversation about raising food,” Stallman said. “Our industry is continuously changing—improving how we care for the land, our animals and our communities. Farmers and ranchers want to, and need to, do a better job of answering Americans’ questions about their food. With this new movement, we are making a commitment, starting today, to listen to consumers and having vigorous two-way conversations.”

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance news release

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF, Other Groups Urge Timely Action on Deficit Reduction

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation and 33 other farm groups sent a letter this week to President Barack Obama and House and Senate leaders urging action soon on a long-term, comprehensive solution to reduce the federal budget deficit.

In the letter, the farm groups stressed that last year’s $6 billion reduction in the budget baseline for agriculture, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office, makes it clear that the farm sector has and will continue to do its part to reduce the deficit. “Agriculture is prepared to take its proportionate share of the budget cuts provided everything is on the table,” the letter stated.

The groups also called for the House and Senate Agriculture committees to determine how reductions would be made because lawmakers on those committees have the expertise “to best evaluate specific programs and to include any changes in the 2012 farm bill in a manner that does not disrupt long-term commitments reflected in current farm legislation.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer President's Meeting

Getting a hedge on high input prices, Clark Johnston of JC Management says the best thing to do is to stay on top of diesel fuel prices:

Steve Ritter video

Johnston addressed the annual Idaho Farm Bureau Summer Presidents Meeting in McCall, Idaho on Tuesday afternoon.

Summer Presidents Meeting

McCall--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley opened the annual Summer Presidents meeting in McCall calling for fiscal responsibility in Washington. Priestley praised Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson for cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Simpson is on the right track, cutting out all of these expensive programs. It's the way to save money; we can't afford to fund them!" Priestley told the IFBF County Presidents.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One stitch at a time--

Steve Ritter photo

The National 9/11 Flag is one of the largest American flags to fly above the wreckage at Ground Zero. It has become our generation’s Star-Spangled Banner. Today the flag was at the Idaho Statehouse.

Boise--Destroyed in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11 and stitched back together seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensburg, Kansas, The National 9/11 Flag is a living testament to the resilience and compassion of the American people.

Over 160 Million Americans have experienced The National 9/11 Flag through national and local TV coverage, public displays in small town gatherings, and major cultural and sporting events. The flag has been stitched by soldiers and schoolchildren who survived the shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas, by World War II veterans on the deck of the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, by the family of Martin Luther King Jr., and by thousands of everyday service heroes nationwide. On President Lincoln’s Birthday, a piece of the flag that Abraham Lincoln was laid on when he was shot at Ford’s Theater was stitched into the fabric of The National 9/11 Flag. In May 2011, The National 9/11 Flag was presented as the official flag for The Kentucky Derby.

Currently on a journey across America through the 10th Year Anniversary of 9/11, an Honor Guard presented the colors at the Idaho Statehouse. Locals were allowed to stitch the flag.

The goal of The National 9/11 Flag Tour is to display this historic flag at leading venues nationwide, to empower local service heroes in all 50 states with the privilege of stitching the flag back to its original 13-stripe format, and to inspire 300 million Americans with the flag’s rich visual history in order to deepen our sense of citizenship and national pride and bolster the spirit of volunteerism on the 9/11 Anniversary and year-round.

When complete, The National 9/11 Flag will become a part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum being built at the World Trade Center.

Restore. Empower. Inspire.

Mid term farm outlook

Penn Peterson of Emmett rates the farm season this far--with a late start, crops are late but everything is looking up.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just in from the range

YF and R's Jerica Meyer from Filer helped the Chris and Kimmel Dalley with their annual summer roundup in Nevada. Jerrica roped, vaccinated and branded cattle during the weeklong operation earlier this month. (photo by Kimmel Dalley)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ag Research

Aberdeen Celebrates Centennial During Twilight Tour July 21

Written by Bill Loftus
ABERDEEN, Idaho – Dreams of bountiful harvests of potatoes, wheat and other crops provided the seed that grew into the University of Idaho’s field station at Aberdeen a century ago.

The University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center now supports state, regional and national research teams that have worldwide impact.

A centennial celebration is planned for Thursday, July 21, at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center during its Twilight Tour from 5 to 8 p.m. The tour is held every other year as the center’s invitation to community members to visit and learn about its programs. The center is located at 1693 S 2700 W in Aberdeen.

The tour, which is free and open to the public, will stick with tradition by combining food, fun, games, live music and the chance to hear from researchers about their work.

University and city leaders will gather to help celebrate its centennial and the success of potatoes, wheat and Idaho agriculture.

Aberdeen and University of Idaho leaders joined forces in 1911 to help agriculture prosper as an economic force in the area’s future. They knew science would help make their vision reality.

Aberdeen, the center of potato breeding research in the Northwest, will present visitors with a new challenge this year: a potato sack lifting contest.

A century ago, the Aberdeen Commercial Club wanted to build a partnership with the University of Idaho that would help the area’s major industry: agriculture. The club, Bingham County Commission, Aberdeen Valley Land and Development Co., and individuals contributed $4,500.

They donated a $4,500 to fund a 15-year lease on 80 acres and three or four buildings to the university to establish a research center. “From that tiny donation, the center has grown to include 460 acres and 22 scientists who lead teams that help keep Idaho agriculture productive. There’s a lot of work going on,” said Steve Love, center superintendent at Aberdeen.

“The partnership between the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the university’s Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station helps make Idaho agriculture one of Idaho’s economic powerhouses and a leader worldwide,” said John Hammel, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences dean.

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and its critical outreach branch, University of Idaho Extension, work closely with state commissions devoted to potatoes, wheat, barley and other crops.

College-based teachers and researchers prepare the state’s growers and agricultural leaders for the future. Extension researchers develop better production methods, plant breeding and pest control methods that help growers compete economically and provide a safe, nutritious food supply.

“A hundred years ago,” Hammel said, “Aberdeen’s leaders understood the promise of agriculture and the value agricultural scientists could bring to the community and to the state. The Aberdeen Research and Extension Center and Idaho agriculture continue show how wise Aberdeen’s leaders were to make that investment.”

Every potato variety developed for production in the Northwest by scientists at the University of Idaho, Washington State University and Oregon State University undergoes field testing at Aberdeen. The USDA Agricultural Research Service-led breeding program delivers new varieties that fit market needs. State researchers help refine selections and develop variety-specific production methods.

The federal Agricultural Research Service chose Aberdeen as the base for its National Small Grains Collection, dedicating a modern building to house research in 1988. In 2006, officials dedicated a new wing, the Germplasm Research Facility and Advanced Genetics Laboratory at Aberdeen.

“There’s been tremendous agronomic and breeding work done here,” Love said. “We’ve had a tremendous impact on the state’s agriculture, and potato programs have been a significant part of the growth of Idaho’s potato industry.”

More information about the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center and its history is available at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Branding

Levi Chandler ropes while Chris Dalley brands a calf last week on the summer range near Star Valley, Nevada. (Kimmel Dalley photo)

Cattle Market looks Bullish

Washington—A just-released United State Department of Agriculture report has ranchers rejoicing.

“Yes, everyone’s happy as long as we can keep the input prices down,” said Wyatt Prescott of the Idaho Cattle Association.

Cattle prices are up while supply is down. But the best part of the report says that consumer demand remains steady despite high prices.

According to the USDA retail prices have surged because of the diminishing cattle supply and skyrocketing feed costs. The report shows that 11% fewer cattle have moved from the range to feedlots this spring. The smaller number of "feeders" reflects fewer calves, smaller herds as ranchers tighten their operations because of skyrocketing corn prices.

“Especially in the feeding segment, added Prescott. “The cost of grain is astronomical along with high feed prices and specifically high corn prices. It’s a challenge for feeders to break even with the current input costs. I’m talking about the price of fuel, our ranchers are struggling with $4-dollar plus diesel prices and they could go up again in the fall.”

Overall, the USDA says meat prices are running 12% higher than a year ago, that’s up from their March 25 forecast for a 4.5% to 5.5% increase. 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 says its food-at-home inflation forecast is unchanged from the March report which calls for grocery-store prices to run 3.5% to 4.5% more than a year ago.

Kevin Penner of Ag Trader Talk in Des Moines says they started seeing strong market prices before the 4th of July rush and prices have stayed strong, surprising market analysts who worried those high prices and a shaky economy could scare off grocery store consumers, but so far that hasn’t happened.

According to the USDA, a “thrifty” family of four spent an average of $612.70 on food prepared at home, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s an increase of 4.6 percent over last year.

But the “thrifty” family’s monthly grocery bill pales compared to the $1,209.20 spent last month by families on a “liberal” budget, the USDA says. That’s an increase of 4.4 percent from 2010.

And the USDA says households will continue to pay more for groceries this year —because of rising energy and agricultural prices and increased demand for food around the world.

Idaho is capitalizing on the trend, exporting more beef than previous years while demand continues out-pace supply.

“Our exports are up and we’re up 60 percent from a year ago. Those are huge numbers and right now we have a competitive advantage, we have the best beef in the world and with the economic status of the dollar, its relatively low, American beef is a good buy on the world market,” said Prescott and adds that thanks to great feed in the State of Idaho and good moisture, Ranchers can expect to see a greatest herd retention rate in at least a decade.

Just in--

Study: Evidence Doesn’t Link Ethanol to High Food Prices

Washington--There is no statistical evidence to support the argument that growth in ethanol production is driving consumer food prices higher, according to a comprehensive study released Monday by Informa Economics.

Rather, the report concludes that retail food prices are determined by a complex set of interrelated factors, including supply chain costs for energy, labor, transportation, packaging and other market-related expenses.

The new study, titled “Analysis of Corn, Commodity and Consumer Food Prices,” concludes that “the statistical evidence does not support a conclusion that there is a strict ‘food-versus-fuel’ tradeoff that is automatically driving consumer food prices higher.”

“Ethanol is not the only driver influencing corn prices, and corn prices have not been the only factor driving consumer food prices,” said Bruce Scherr, CEO and chairman of Informa Economics. “Rather, there is a complex and interrelated set of factors that contribute to corn and food prices. Further, the farm share of the retail food dollar is relatively small. Increases in other marketing bill component prices are contributing to food price increases.”

Renewable Fuels Association news release

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

USDA Deadline to Apply for SURE Crop Disaster Benefits is July 29

Boise–USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), has announced that the deadline to apply for assistance for 2009 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program is July 29, 2011.

The SURE program compensates producers for production and/or quality losses during times of disaster. All producers who have experienced crop production and/or crop quality losses must apply for SURE program benefits by the July 29th deadline. To meet program eligibility requirements, the farming operation must be physically located in a county that was declared a primary or contiguous disaster county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a 2009 Secretarial Disaster Designation.

Producers located in designated disaster counties must have suffered at least a 10 percent loss on a crop of economic significance and purchased crop insurance through the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).

However, an operation located in a county that did not receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation, can still qualify for SURE benefits if the actual farm production was less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to the a qualifying disaster event.

"For 2009 Idaho had no Primary designated counties," said Dick Rush, State Executive Director. There were however five counties within the state; Bonner, Shoshone, Lemhi, Clark, and Fremont that qualify because of disaster designations in contiguous counties," he said. "Additionally, Idaho producers with farming interests in the Washington counties of Spokane and Whitman as well as Teton County, Wyoming are eligible."

Producers and legal entities collectively cannot, directly or indirectly, receive more than $100,000 in SURE and other FSA disaster assistance payments. FSA disaster programs include SURE, Livestock Forage Program (LFP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP).

Producers or legal entities, whose nonfarm income is more than $500,000, are not eligible for SURE program payments.

For questions regarding the SURE program, please contact your local county office.

Just in from Capitol Hill

Simpson’s Interior Appropriations Bill Approved by Committee

Washington-The House Appropriations Committee today marked up the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2012. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who chairs the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, put forth a bill that responds to our nation’s fiscal crisis by cutting $2.1 billion from the current fiscal year’s level. The bill shifts the focus away from efforts to grow government and back on proven, core programs.

“This subcommittee has made very difficult choices in preparing this budget proposal, but at the end of the day, what this Committee is attempting to do is all about reducing spending, creating more certainty in the marketplace, and promoting an economic environment conducive to job growth,” Chairman Simpson said during the markup today. “If there’s one thing we should have learned from the last Congress, it’s that we can’t spend our way to economic recovery. That didn’t work. All it did was make the hole we’re in much deeper.”

The FY12 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act funds agencies under the bill at $27.5 billion, a 12% cut from the President’s budget request and 7% below the FY11 enacted level. To do so, the bill prioritizes funding for agencies’ core missions and programs that have demonstrated value to the taxpayer. For example:

  • The bill fully funds wildfire suppression at the 10-year average.

  • The bill also restores funding to core science programs at the US Geological Survey, rejecting the administration’s proposal to transfer new, unfunded programs to the agency.

  • The bill includes increased funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hire new inspectors and move forward with offshore oil and gas permitting while also improving safety.

  • The bill also ensures that land management agencies like the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Park Service have adequate funding for achieving land management goals, including ensuring that our national parks remain operational and fully staffed.

While the bill aims to provide adequate funding for fundamental programs, it makes deep cuts in programs that have received unsustainable funding increases in recent years and dramatically reduces funding intended to grow government. The EPA, which received a $1.6 billion cut in FY11, is cut by an additional $1.5 billion. Taken together, funding for the EPA has been reduced by nearly a third during the current calendar year.

“I recognize that the agencies funded under this bill are of keen interest to Idahoans, who live in a state where the federal government owns nearly two-thirds of the land, and I recognize that these cuts will be felt by many, even those who recognize that we need to rein in spending,” said Simpson. “The reality is that getting our economy back on track requires us to make difficult and sometimes unpopular choices. With this bill, we’ve shown that we are willing to do what it takes to make our nation healthy again.”

The FY12 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act passed committee and it will be considered on the House floor in the coming weeks.

just in

ACE Act Corrects Discriminatory Distribution of Title I Funds

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation supports legislation that would correct a major flaw in the formula used to allocate Title I funds for the education of disadvantaged students. The All Children are Equal Act of 2011 was introduced today in the House by Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), along with several co-sponsors.

AFBF supports the bill because a cornerstone of the organization’s rural development policy is the belief that strong rural schools are vital to enhancing the lives of rural Americans and will foster development of robust and prosperous rural communities.

AFBF President Bob Stallman commended the introduction of the legislation and pledged to work with lawmakers to achieve passage.

“Title I funding was intended to send funds to school districts with high concentrations of poverty,” Stallman said. “Instead, the current formula used to allocate Title I funds systematically discriminates against the school districts it was intended to benefit—rural, small town and moderate-sized urban districts with a high concentration of poverty.”

AFBF news release

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just in--

2011 Drought Could Go Down as Nation’s Worst

New York--A page one story in today’s New York Times discusses the impact of severe drought on agriculture in 14 states from Florida to Arizona. The Times reports that the drought in southwestern Georgia rivals the Dust Bowl days while in Texas, no part of the state is immune.

The 2011 drought could go down as one of the nation’s worst.

Climatologists are comparing this year’s drought to the one that hit the nation in the early to mid-1950s. Many are saying the 2011 drought will have the same cultural impact of the great 1930s drought that burdened the nation during the Great Depression.

New York Times article

Just in

Stallman: ‘Trade Deals Heading in Right Direction’

Washington--Both the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee completed “mock” mark-ups on the three pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama last week. The implementing legislation was reported out of committee without any amendments.

“The process toward finalizing these important trade deals is heading in the right direction,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “The next step is for the administration to send the implementing legislation to Capitol Hill for a congressional vote. It is imperative that the process promptly move forward to ensure the agreements will be completed by August recess. Inaction on these trade agreements over the last four years has opened the door to our competitors in these markets. Further delay will only exacerbate the losses for U.S. agriculture and the U.S. economy.”

Combined, the three FTAs represent nearly $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports and could generate support for up to 22,500 U.S. jobs. These gains will only be realized if the three agreements are passed by Congress and implemented.

AFBF statement

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Welcomes Agreement in Mexican Trucking Dispute

Washington--AFBF is pleased that a memorandum the U.S.’ and Mexico’s secretaries of transportation of Wednesday signed to end the long-running dispute over Mexican truck access north of the border.

“This is the first step in the process for Mexico to remove its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods, with 50 percent of the tariffs being lifted upon signing and the remaining tariffs being removed once the first Mexican truck that meets U.S. requirements enters the United States,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Mexico’s retaliation has resulted in duties ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent on targeted fresh and processed U.S. agricultural products destined for the Mexican market.

“It is important that the U.S. live up to its trade agreement obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement allowing for the cross-border delivery of international cargo from Mexico into the United States. Any effort by Congress to prohibit this from moving forward will cause Mexico to once again put tariffs in place, putting the burden of non-compliance back on U.S. farmers.”

AFBF statement

Friday, July 8, 2011

Garden News

The Gardening Bucket List

Boise--Master gardener Heather Glass of Boise, never met a bargain she didn't like.

When buckets were handed out free at a local greenhouse, she hauled them off and started a gardening method that emphasizes less to get more.

“I started the bucket system six years ago because when I was at Edwards I saw all of these 5-gallon pots in the ‘free’ pile so naturally, I had to make use of something free!”

Glass constantly adapts her lush hillside garden to the changing climate, soil conditions and bugs. One of her strictest rules is to use just enough water, never wasting drop.

“I thought, hey, I could cut out the bottom of the buckets, bury them, put my plants in them so the water would go only in the area of the bucket.”

Glass found this new bucket system had its advantages. It cut down on weeds, cut her water bill and best of all; saves time.

“First of all,” she says, “I can water 90 tomato plants in 20 minutes because I have a drip line going to each bucket. It takes far less water than my soaker hoses.”

Another advantage is that Glass can dump all of the household compost, bone meal and different types of fertilizer right in the buckets instead of spreading expensive fertilizer where there are no plants.

“It’s a nice way to contain different needed nutrients for different types of plants. Another feature with the buckets is that water only goes down into the bucket and the rest of the garden remains dry and I'm not fighting weeds all summer,” said Glass.

“They are easy to hand water because I just fill up the bucket with water and know all of that water is directly going to the plant instead of dribbling off somewhere else,” added Glass.

Sprinklers and row irrigation are things of the past for Glass as she can hand water 50 plants in under ten minutes.

“It helps with weeds because when I hula hoe, I can just bang into the buckets and don’t have to worry about hitting the plants protected by the bucket edge,” said Glass.

Aside from the bucket system, Glass’s gardening success comes from what she puts in the buckets to help her plants grow. I’ve found that Zamzows ‘Thrive’ and ‘Therm-a-grow’ to be excellent soil amendments and fertilizers and they’re both certified “organic.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Time: Want to Become Rich? Become a Farmer
New York--The July 11 issue of Time magazine reports that if you want to become rich, become a farmer.
The article quotes investment guru Jim Rogers, who predicts that farm income will rise dramatically in the next few decades, faster than other industries. “The essence of his argument is this: We don't need more bankers. What we need are more farmers. The invisible hand will do its magic,” Time declares.
“The world has got a serious food problem,” said Rogers. “The only real way to solve it is to draw more people back to agriculture.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Corn, coming along slow and steady

Gem County--Corn throughout the Valley failed to make the 'knee-high by 4th of July' standard in Emmett, but Steve Ritter reports the hot temps and good irrigation water could see the corn crop catch up and surpass the age old standard.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just in

Farmers Must have AGI Forms Turned In
Boise - USDA Idaho Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Dick Rush reminds producers that, in order to receive USDA program payments, each payment recipient must have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) verification consent form on file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

According to Rush, "This provides more confidentiality to the producer and replaces the old system where producers gave their financial information directly to county employees."

The consent form authorizes IRS to verify for FSA whether a payment recipient’s AGI meets the eligibility requirements for FSA programs. The form became a requirement for payment eligibility beginning with the 2009 crop year, however many program participants have not complied with this requirement.

These forms are available at all FSA County offices in Idaho and can be downloaded from or .

Producers should also realize that these consent forms are required for payments received from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as those received through FSA. Completed forms must be returned to the IRS.

For more information on AGI eligibility requirements or the AGI verification process, contact your local FSA office.

Just in

Purchasing Your Idaho Home with a USDA Loan
by Kevin Pearia
Boise--Idaho is almost synonymous with farming as when most people think of Idaho they think of potatoes, and for many rural residents farming is their livelihood.The USDA Home Loan has long been known as the “farmer’s loan,” yet many farmers don’t even know the USDA Home Loan program exists.

Affording the purchase of a home isn’t always possible – especially for those like farmers who can expect to pay premium sales prices for premium land. The typical conventional loan requires that an interested borrower provide a down payment of at least 20 percent in order to secure financing, and not every interested homeowner can afford that. To help make homeownership more affordable and accessible to those seeking rural living,the United States Department of Agriculture developed the USDA Home Loan Program.

What is the USDA Home Loan Program?

The USDA Home Loan Program was established by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Department of Rural Development to provide 100% government guaranteed mortgage loans to those interested in purchasing rural real estate. The best cater to rural residents, the USDA Home Loan program distributes two types of mortgage loans, the Guaranteed Loan and the Direct Loan for lower income households.

Why Choose a USDA Loan?

Unlike most conventional loans, USDA loans offer a variety of benefits which can save a prospective farm owner thousands in up-front, out-of-pocket expenses. Not only are borrowers able to purchase a home with zero money down which alone can save a buyer tens of thousands of dollars, but they are also able to attain several other benefits exclusive to the USDA Home Loan which will also save them money including:

  • No mortgage insurance

  • High loan limits

  • Low, fixed interest rates

  • High debt-to-income ratios allowed
Who is Eligible for a USDA Loan?

Although the focus of the USDA home loan program is to alleviate the financial burden purchasing a home can often place on a family, it also desires to make homeownership more accessible by enforcing lenient eligibility requirements. Nearly all homes in Idaho qualify under the USDA Home Loan Program, and for an Idaho resident to become eligible for the program, he or she simply must:

  • Be living in a home that is currently inadequate for the family’s needs

  • Be able to afford the monthly payments of the new home
The USDA home loan program does have some of the most lenient eligibility requirements in the lending industry; however, most USDA-approved lenders will require a mid-range credit score of at least 620 to secure financing. Even potential applicants with imperfect credit histories are still encouraged to apply for a USDA loan, as even those who have been a victim of bankruptcy or foreclosure have been approved in the past.

Fuel Storage

Senators Urge EPA to Fix Fuel Storage Rule

Washington--Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and a bipartisan group of 31 other senators sent a letter this week to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to ease a confusing and overly burdensome rule affecting farmers and ranchers. In the letter, the senators call for an extension of the compliance deadline for the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule. The federal regulation mandates that agricultural producers have a plan in place to prevent oil spills and better protect water resources on farming operations.

“The SPCC rule is confusing and compliance under the EPA’s timeline is putting an added burden on North Dakota’s family farmers and those all across rural America,” Conrad said. “We are asking the EPA to seek additional conversations with the agricultural community to create a regulation and a timeline that makes sense for all parties involved.”

It’s common practice for farms and ranches across the nation to have fuel storage tanks and containers. The SPCC program calls for these producers to develop and implement oil spill prevention and control measures. However, there have been numerous concerns expressed regarding the new regulation. Many farmers do not have access to the professional engineers needed to bring them into compliance. And other producers, who were previously not subject to the EPA rule, may now have to comply on very short notice due to EPA’s draft guidance document.

Senate Letter on SPCC

Monday, July 4, 2011

Just in from Washington

June Farm Price Index Up 4 Percent From May

Washington--The index of prices received by farmers was up in June to 181 percent of its 1990-1992 base, up 4 percent from the May index and 34 percent above the June 2010 index. For all crops, the index stands at 213, up 6 percent from May and 49 percent above June 2010. For all livestock and products, the June index is 152, unchanged from last month but up 18 percent from June 2010.

On the crops side, the corn price, at $6.58 per bushel, is up 28 cents from last month and $3.17 above June 2010. The soybean price, at $13.30 per bushel, increased 10 cents from May and is $3.85 above June 2010 and the June all wheat price, at $7.85 per bushel, is down 31 cents from May but $3.69 above June 2010. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for milk, cattle, hogs, eggs, turkeys and calves. Broiler prices are down from last year.

June Report

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free Trade

Stallman Urges Senate Finance Committee to Approve FTAs

Washington--In a letter to members of the Senate Finance Committee, AFBF President Bob Stallman on Wednesday expressed support for the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama and encouraged the committee to “report the final trade packages.”

“Failure to advance and pass the Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements will be at the detriment of U.S. farmers and ranchers and American jobs,” Stallman said. “We have estimated that these three agreements combined represent the opportunity to increase U.S. agricultural exports by $2.5 billion per year after full implementation. Those additional exports would generate support for as many as 22,500 U.S. jobs. These gains will only be realized if these three agreements are passed by Congress and implemented.”

Stallman also said that inaction over the last four years on the trade agreements has opened the door to U.S. competitors in those markets.

“U.S. agriculture has lost significant exports and market share in Colombia due to Brazil and Argentina’s trade agreement with Colombia through MERCOSUR,” Stallman said. “Our producers are bracing for implementation of the European Union-Korea trade agreement expected in July. The reality of future losses does not stop there. These same countries and others, such as Canada and Australia, continue to move forward, through current negotiations or pending implementation, with these three U.S. trading partners.”

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Direct payments

FAPRI: Much Direct Payment Savings Would Be Offset

Washington--Cutting direct payments to farmers appears to save $4.9 billion per year in the federal budget. However, cutting that USDA program could boost farmer participation in ACRE, a program that offsets losses in farm income, according to a new report from the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. The report, released Wednesday, compares payment cuts to expected expenditures in the 2012 MU FAPRI baseline. The think tank maintains computer models of the farm sector.

“Much of the budget savings from cutting direct payments could be offset by sharp increases in ACRE program expenditures,” said FAPRI’s Pat Westhoff. “Cutting direct payments would have important effects on federal budgets, farm income and farmland value. Impacts on crop production and prices would be small.”

Westhoff said that cuts in direct payments would lower farm income and prices of farmland. Depending on ACRE enrollment, net farm income could drop $1.9 billion to $3.2 billion per year. Farmland values decline an average of 1.8 to 2.7 percent compared to baseline.

FAPRI News Release

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just in from Washington

USDA: More Corn Planted in 2011

Washington--Despite floods and bad weather that pushed many farmers to the brink this planting season, the USDA says 5 percent more corn was planted this year than last. They added that 92.28 million acres were planted to corn, roughly 4 million more acres than were planted last year.

Corn was by far the biggest surprise in the report, with the official report exceeding all major trade analyst estimates. The 2011 planted corn crop is the second largest since 1944, eclipsed only by 2007. USDA also expects 84.88 million acres of that corn to be harvested this fall, which is up 3.44 million acres from last year.

Planted soybean acres, on the other hand, are pegged at 75.2 million acres, which is down 3 percent or about 2.2 million acres from last year. USDA expects that 74.25 million acres of soybeans will be harvested this year, a 2.35 million acres decline from last year.

Other highlights show: wheat acres at 56.4 million acres, up 5 percent from 2010; cotton acres at 13.7 million, up a whopping 25 percent from last year; and rice acres at 2.67 million, down 960,000 acres from 2010.

DTN Story

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