Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just in from Washington

Energy Title of Farm Bill in Danger in 2012

Washington--Matt Erickson, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said there are a number of ways farmers and ranchers are incorporating renewable energy in their operations. Many use solar power to run the lights in barns, wind to power water pumps for livestock and irrigation, and biofuels to run equipment. Many hog and dairy farmers use anaerobic digesters.

“They [farmers] are taking the manure and they’re using it for electricity and for fertilizer,” Erickson explained. “The manure is going through the anaerobic digester and it’s taking the methane gas and using it as electricity for the farmer’s operation, which then can be sold back to the electric grid. Then you’re left over with some dry matter that can be sold back into the fertilizer industry or put back onto the field.”

But Erickson said programs that help farmers and ranchers with the initial investment to install equipment that can cost thousands of dollars are in danger. “There is an energy title within the farm bill. Eight of those programs within the energy title do not have funding after 2012. So where is this money going to come from to build that infrastructure, to build those digesters, those wind turbines, etc.? That’s going to be one of the biggest challenges, getting funding because of the budget situation,” he said.

AFBF Newsline

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just in

Higher Beef Prices Expected Next Year

Dallas--Due to severe drought in the southern U.S. Plains, cattle ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma and other states are liquidating herds at historically high rates, which is expected to increase beef supplies in the near term and help keep a lid on higher beef prices. But Barron’s points to tighter supplies of slaughter-ready cattle next year, which will likely lead to higher beef prices in 2012.

“As we go into 2012 and 2013, we’re seeing tighter and tighter supplies of valuable cattle to produce beef in this country,” John Nalivka, an economist at Sterling Marketing, an agricultural-advisory firm in Vale, Ore., told Barron’s. “The fact is, we’ve continued to reduce the inventory and we haven’t been building herds.”

Barron’s article

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crop News

Hot Summer Eroding Yield Prospects for Corn, Soybeans

Chicago--The hottest summer since 1955 in Iowa and Illinois is eroding yield prospects for corn and soybean crops. A survey of 2,000 fields in the Midwest by the Professional Farmers of America confirms that this year’s output will be diminished, according to Bloomberg. Pro Farmer will officially release the survey today.

A Bloomberg survey of 25 tour participants showed all expected the government to cut its corn-harvest forecasts and 21 participants predicted a reduction for soybeans.

“The crop tour is telling us what we already know, which is that the yields for soybeans and corn may be much, much worse than what the USDA said on Aug. 11,” Tim Hannagan, a grain- market analyst for PFG Best Inc. in Chicago told Bloomberg. “We had the fourth-hottest July in recorded history and very little rain. Something is wrong with this crop, which is what farmers have been telling us from the beginning.”

Bloomberg article

Friday, August 26, 2011

Harvest 2011

Eagle--On the backroads of Idaho sweet corn is ripe, and on the Combe family farm on Beacon Light Road north of Eagle they’re charging a bit more this year than last.

“Everyone else is charging $4 dollars a dozen, its time we did,” said 17 year old Jordan Combe, who handles marketing for the family operation.

“We’ve been stuck at three dollars a long time, its about time we changed, we were losing money I think. People don’t care, they don’t seem to notice the price change,” said Jordan.

The Combe corn operation is a labor of love that’s spanned 45 years and in the Southwest Idaho produce market, their corn is coveted by fresh food devotees.

“Jordan and I have been doing this since he was five years old,” said father Dean Combe. “He’s 17 right now and I have been doing this for 45 years. I started out with my oldest son and the next and soon we worked all down the line until Jordan, he’s been at it 12 years now.”

Dean and Jordan start planning for the season right after harvest each fall. The father-son team studies all the seed available on the market and can quote market prices going back decades and while price is important taste is their priority.

“We started out with golden jubilee when my older boys were in it, and the last six years, Jordan and I got interested in a seed called ‘incredible’. We looked at the new seed because my nephew told me about it, he said it does well told us it does well in sand, these fields are sandy and it grows good and people really love it because it lives up to its name because it’s incredible,” said Dean.

The 4-acre corn operation will produce 3-thousand dozens, according to Dean. And the corn operation has a unique life of its own. The modest family veggie stand off Highway 16 brings out fanatical foodies that drive from Payette and Boise for the sweet corn, and they’ve done it for decades.

“It works very well, we have more customers now than we have ever had and each year it keeps getting better. If you have tender corn people keep coming back,” added Dean.

Jordan Combe handles the marketing and has free rein to experiment. “We put the corn on Craig’s Llst and we’ve announced it at church, we have signs everywhere on the surrounding roads and most importantly friends tell friends,” said Jordan.

As the 2011 season got underway the decision to raise their prices 50-cents a dozen cast a dark cloud over the operation. With high input costs the Combe’s had to raise prices to operate in the black.

“One customer thought it was too much and he turned around on the first day we raised our price and brought it back, he said he thought it was too much. Jordan gladly gave his money back and he took off after that. It was a bit nerve wracking the first day but its been nothing but positive ever since,” said Dean.

Each year the Combes give back to the community, they supply the corn at the Western Idaho State Fair 4-H appreciation dinner for the exhibitors. They consider it an honor to be asked and their corn is the centerpiece of the annual feast.

“All the kids that participate in 4-H feast on our corn,” said Dean. “They love it and it’s good for them. We’ve been doing this since 2005. The kids are a big part of the fair so this is their celebration and we’re pleased to have our corn singled out for the annual event.”

Jordan Combe will graduate next year with real world marketing experience. He’s run a farm and thriving retail operation, while the Combe family corn is gaining a market niche and is thriving despite higher prices and tough economic climate.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Grain Harvest

photo, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

The grain harvest is three weeks late but rolling full speed in Burley, Idaho. Grain is stacking up waiting for rail cars to haul it away.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just in


Boise, Idaho, August 22, 2011 — Six agricultural projects received funding through the Conservation Innovation Grant program from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program helps accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising agricultural methods that address natural resource loss on cropland.

“The Conservation Innovation Grant program is designed to demonstrate new techniques that have potential to solve natural resource problems,” said Jeff Burwell, State Conservationist for Idaho NRCS. “By funding these on-the-ground conservation projects, we hope to find creative solutions to common problems that producers can use.”

Idagold Farms received $29,325 to demonstrate a biofuel production project in southern Idaho. The project will show that oilseed crops can provide both a feed crop and biofuel crop without taking the land out of food production.

Hamanishi Farms received $6,497 for using cover crops in mint to address nutrient needs and weed problems in conventional and organic mint production. The project will determine which annual legumes will suppress weeds enough to eliminate herbicide treatments and evaluate available nitrogen supplied by cover crop types.

Jon Fabricius, Hamanishi farm manager said “the grant process helped me think through the project and map out how to do it, including the project’s benefits. That helped me commit to getting the project done.”

The University of Idaho received grants for projects that will develop best management practices as well as demonstrate new conservation technologies.

The University was awarded $21,934 for an on-farm composting trial of grape prunings and manures to enhance soil and reduce waste. Mike Medes, owner of Rocky Fence Vineyard, offered his vineyard as a test location. “There will be three sites to show three different ways of composting the prunings,” Medes said. “I’m looking forward to using the compost. Burning is an easy way to dispose of the prunings but grinding and composting the material will enrich the soil. If the soil is improved the quality of my grapes improves.”

The University also received $74,705 to develop best management practices for insecticide application on dry bulb onions. The integrated pest management practices will improve insecticide effectiveness and reduce pesticide impacts in targeted watersheds.

Another grant of $66,202 will help generate best management practices for dairy operations using zeolite to retain nitrogen in manure while reducing odors, ammonia and air emissions.

A project to demonstrate the use of subsurface drip irrigation as a reasonable alternative to surface or sprinkler systems for corn, alfalfa or grain crops received $10,137.

Additionally, the University of Idaho received national NRCS grant awards for two projects that address air quality issues on confined animal feeding operations.

For the application process, applicants must describe what makes their project innovative; grantees also have to provide matching funds.

For more information on the projects, visit the NRCS web site at

Monday, August 22, 2011

just in

Hay Prices Still Strong

Boise--Hay supplies in the Pacific Northwest are tight. The 2011 season began with low hay inventories, and the cool, wet spring significantly delayed the first cutting. Although the region is now moving toward the third cutting, hay yields and quality have been impacted by adverse weather. Strong demand for new crop hay is driving prices toward levels not seen since 2008

“We came into a tight hay market in the first place," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "We sold almost all of our hay last year so we came into the first crop hay with no carry- over from last year.We had a very late spring and it delayed us two or three weeks and to top it off it off it got rained on, so the quality of the hay was not there and numbers were down. There wasn’t much quality hay out there, then you have the drought in Texas and across the south, that’s a shortage that has to be made up so there’s a shortage and prices are high,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cattle News

Written by Bill Loftus
Conference Will Help Improve Northwest Beef Herds’ Reproduction, Genetics

, Idaho – Beef producers will learn how to increase the quality and efficiency of their herds through use of modern breeding technologies to improve genetics at a conference in Boise Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

University of Idaho animal scientist John B. Hall said the conference, “Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle – Northwest,” will draw together top beef experts from across the nation and is one of two planned nationwide this year.

The conference will focus on the technology of artificial insemination and the genetic and economic benefits for beef operations that adopt the practice, Hall said.

“The group that ramrods this is the beef reproduction task force, a consortium of land grant universities that work on beef cattle reproduction,” Hall said.

Hall is superintendent of the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center operated by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences near Salmon and focused on beef cattle research. The ranch maintains a herd of nearly 400 cows on more than 1,000 acres at Carmen along the Salmon River.

“The primary focus of this group is to increase reproductive efficiency in beef cattle but also to promote and increase the use of artificial insemination in beef cattle,” Hall said.

About three-quarters of the conference is geared to beef operations that use artificial insemination or natural service in their breeding programs. “A lot of what we talk about is the basic reproductive biology of cattle as well as those factors such as nutrition, handling, diseases and genetics that influence reproductive efficiency in cattle,” Hall said.

The group promotes artificial insemination as an asset because it provides access to proven sires that have thousands of calves that can be assessed for their genetic merits, Hall said.

“So through artificial insemination we capture superior genetics that we couldn’t afford to if we had to buy the animal itself,” Hall said. Another advantage, and its most popular aspect among cattle producers, is that it allows producers to breed heifers with bulls that produce smaller calves, easing the stress of first-time births.

Another technology, estrus synchronization, increases the reproductive efficiency of the herd, Hall said. “We end up getting cows that may not be cycling to cycle and shift them to the front end of the calving season so that calves are older and weigh more at weaning time, and therefore are of greater value,” Hall said.

Producers will find that one of the greatest values of attending the conference, Hall said, is the opportunity to spend time individually with top experts before or after their presentations.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

2011 Harvest

Eagle--Sweet corn is finally on across the state. This ear is the "incredible" variety grown on the Combe corn farm on Beacon Light Road in Ada county. Farmer Dean Combe reports sweet corn was late in 2011 which has been the standard with all crops this year. --Steve Ritter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just in!

Maslyn Highlights Expectations of Deficit Super Committee

Washington--In an interview Friday with Delta Farm Press, Mark Maslyn, executive director of public policy with the American Farm Bureau Federation, discussed expectations regarding the work of the 12-member congressional “super committee” that will find ways to reduce the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion by 2021.

Maslyn said he expects the House and Senate Agriculture committees will develop a list of savings to agriculture spending that the two bodies will forward to the super committee. He said he expects the recommendations to be specific.

“The super committee isn’t giving—or hasn’t yet given, anyway—the Agriculture committees a target to reach,” Maslyn told the publication. “There may be some informal discussions going on. But they haven’t told the committees ‘you’ve got to come up with $10 billion or $15 billion (in cuts).’

“Absent that number, I think what will happen is the Agriculture committees will determine what they see is a reasonable offer. There’s probably a lot of back-and-forth, right now, to try and determine what the parameters are going to be.”

Delta Farm Press article

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wheat Harvest underway on the Palouse

Kendrick--The 2011 Wheat harvest is underway on the Palouse, farmer Robert Blair started cutting Monday. The Eisenhower fellow is chronicling the harvest in his blog which can be found here:

Just in!

ARS Scientist Working to Halt Bumble Bee Decline

Washington--A scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is trying to learn what is causing the decline in bumble bee populations and also is searching for a species that can serve as the next generation of greenhouse pollinators.

Bumble bees, like honey bees, are important pollinators of native plants and are used to pollinate greenhouse crops including peppers and tomatoes. But colonies of Bombus occidentalis used for greenhouse pollination began to suffer from disease problems in the late 1990s and companies stopped rearing them. Populations of other bumble bee species are also believed to be in decline. Entomologist James Strange is searching for solutions at ARS Pollinating Insects—Biology, Management and Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah.

USDA Agricultural Research Service news release

Monday, August 15, 2011

Idaho Farm Bureau's Beef Committee Meets

Boise--Beef Committee Chairman Gerald Marchant gave opening remarks of the Beef Committee annual summer meeting at the IFBF Boise office. The group is discussing pressing issues including Sage Grouse habitat,GISPA, Beef Checkoff, the Animal Cruelty bill and IFBF's policy on the Grazing Fee Formula.
(Steve Ritter photo)

Just in

August USDA Report Confirms Tight Corn Crop

Washington--As expected, the Agriculture Department lowered the corn production forecast in its August crop report released Thursday due to heat stress over much of the Corn Belt. Economists with the American Farm Bureau Federation continue to stress that tight supplies mean the U.S. needs every bushel of corn that farmers can produce this year.

“Analysts were expecting to see a drop in both average yield and production compared to the July report, but the yield and production numbers actually came out lower than what market watchers were anticipating,” said Todd Davis, AFBF crops economist. “This tells us we still have a very tight supply situation in corn this year. We will need a good harvest this fall to meet market demands and add to our very tight stocks.”

USDA forecast corn production at 12.9 billion bushels in its August report, which is 4 percent larger than 2010 production, and if realized, will be the third largest corn crop on record. However, the August estimate is 5 percent lower than USDA’s July crop estimate, when production was forecast to be 13.5 billion bushels.

“The big drop in production, compared to the July report, is clearly due to the summer heat wave that slammed the corn crop during pollination,” Davis said.

AFBF news release

Friday, August 12, 2011

Just in from Capitol Hill

Simpson Takes Lead on Dairy Reform

Simpson works with Rep. Peterson on reform proposals

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., today announced that Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has joined efforts to reform dairy programs. Simpson is the lead Republican proponent of discussion draft legislation released by Peterson earlier this month. The draft language is based on reform proposals put forward by the dairy industry.

“I look forward to working with members of the Idaho dairy industry and Representative Peterson to prevent another economic disaster like the dairy industry suffered in 2009. I believe we can do better for Idaho dairy farmers,” said Simpson. “This legislation starts a conversation, that I intend to help lead, on how to build a more effective economic safety net for the U.S. dairy industry.”

“Reforming dairy programs now will ensure producers have a strong safety net in place during tough times. Current programs are not working and if we have another dairy crisis like we had in 2009 the outcome could be devastating. Rep. Simpson’s support allows us to continue to develop legislation in a bipartisan way and ensure Americans continue to have access to a safe and abundant supply of fresh milk. I appreciate the feedback we’ve received from the dairy industry thus far and look forward to continuing that dialogue as we move ahead,” Peterson said.

The reform proposal consists of three main components – a margin protection program, a Dairy Market Stabilization Program and reforms to the Federal Milk Marketing Order system. These proposals would provide a safety net based on margin protection, rather than price; and replace both the Dairy Product Price Support Program (DPPSP) and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wheat Harvest 2011

Notus--Treasure Valley motorists need to be alert on rural roadways as the 2011 harvest season is underway. From now until November big trucks and equipment will travel the backroads getting the harvest in. Near Notus trucks are off-loading harvested grain at a beet dump site. Steve Ritter photo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just in!

AFBF Pleased by DOT Guidance on Ag Transportation

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2011 – The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration listened to farmer and rancher concerns regarding changes to agricultural transportation regulations and commercial drivers license provisions.

As a result of comments received from AFBF and others, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that the FMCSA has no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products, and that the agency has released guidance to states so they clearly understand common-sense exemptions “to allow farmers, their employees, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market.”

“This public announcement and the guidance sent to states today by the FMCSA is great news for America’s farm and ranch families,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The key word is common-sense, and it was refreshing to see that our federal authorities heard the concerns we expressed. It lifts a big cloud of uncertainty in farm country and the action is greatly appreciated.”

Stallman said he was pleased by Secretary LaHood’s clarity in stating the department “had no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy.”

“Operating and moving the machinery necessary to tend and harvest crops and care for livestock is a vital part of farming and ranching,” Stallman said. “Long established protocols are in place at the state and local levels to ensure that safety is paramount, and that farmers are able to do their jobs and transport their goods to market.”

Just in from Washington

U.S. Adds 1,000 Farmers’ Markets

Washington--More than 1,000 new farmers’ markets have been recorded across the country, according to results released in the Agriculture Department’s 2011 National Farmers’ Market Directory. The annual report indicates a total of 7,175 farmers’ markets operate throughout the United States as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers than ever before. Last year, the USDA reported that 6,132 markets were operating across the country.

“The remarkable growth in farmers’ markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation's food system.”

Updated market listings were submitted to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service by farmers’ market managers on a voluntary, self-reported basis between April 18 and June 24 as part of USDA’s annual outreach effort. USDA invited market managers to submit desired changes in their market’s directory profile as well as new market listings. Information in the directory is also continually updated throughout the year in response to incoming requests.

The 2011 National Farmers’ Market Directory results were released in advance of National Farmers’ Market Week, which takes place from Aug. 7 to 13 as declared by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The directory reveals that several states have experienced rapid growth in farmers’ markets since 2010, reflecting a growing interest outside of the Far West and Northeast states, where the popularity of farmers’ markets is more well-established. Alaska and Texas ranked at the top for most growth in farmers’ markets at 46 and 38 percent, respectively.

USDA news release

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Latah County News

The new Latah County Farm Bureau Building is under construction in Moscow, Idaho. Bob Smathers reports that the expected completion date is December 20th.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just in from Washington

Peterson: Ag Fares Better if ‘Super Committee’ Whiffs

Washington--Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is suggesting that a stalemate by the so-called 12-member, bipartisan budget deficit “super committee” could work in favor of the farm program. Peterson told the recent annual meeting of the American Sugar Alliance that if the super committee is unable to pass an agreement to make further budget cuts, terms of the budget deal would kick in and there would be across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense spending. He said that would likely result in lower cuts for agriculture than if the super committee targeted specific programs.

Peterson said that if the broad cuts happen, only about $5 billion or $6 billion in ag cuts would take place. That amount would represent about a 4 percent or 5 percent cut from the agriculture budget, he said. According to Peterson, that amount is determined by dividing the $1.2 trillion in total cuts by the spending on all government programs, except those considered exempt.

He said the automatic cuts would be far smaller than the $11 billion reduction to ag programs that had been discussed during earlier budget talks. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which delivers food stamps, and the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program, that pays landowners to idle tracts of land for conservation, would be exempt from any across-the-board cuts.

Transcript of interview with Peterson

Just in from Capitol Hill

Republicans Push for Transparent ‘Supercommittee’

Washington--Republicans members in the House and Senate are urging transparency in the way the yet-to-be-appointed bicameral deficit-reduction “supercommittee” will go about its work. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), six GOP senators requested that supercommittee meetings not take place “behind closed doors.”

Reid and McConnell are each tasked with appointing three members of the Senate to the 12-member committee. Republican leaders are urging that all meetings of the committee “are done in a transparent manner through advanced public notification, public attendance and live television broadcasts.”

Aug. 16 is the deadline for appointment of six members from the House and six from the Senate to the committee. Its primary charge will be to come up with a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package for presentation to Congress before Thanksgiving, with an up-or-down vote on the proposal by Christmas.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fair Season underway in Idaho!

Rose Kienitz shows her pig at the Gem/Boise county fair in Emmett. Swine show judge Brent Dane chats with Rose as she moves around the show ring. The fair and rodeo runs through Sunday in Emmett. Steve Ritter photo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just in!

Congress Considers Debt Compromise

Washington--President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached the compromise that will raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.1 trillion and prevented the government from defaulting. Congress will consider the deal beginning today that is expected to reduce federal deficits by $2.5 trillion over a decade.

The agreement is expected to lift the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The plan calls for an immediate reduction in the deficit of $917 billion over 10 years. The proposal calls for both the House and the Senate to vote on a proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

In addition, a special joint committee will be formed to find ways to reduce the deficit by an additional $1.8 trillion by 2021.Tax increases are not part of the plan, however the joint committee could consider options for revenue increases, such as eliminating tax breaks or not renewing the Bush-era tax cuts for high earners.

Cuts to agriculture have yet to be determined.

Washington Post article

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just in!

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl replaces Humanitarian Bowl

Boise, ID, August 3, 2011—The Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl was unveiled today as the new name for the Humanitarian Bowl which features a top selection from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Mid-American Conference (MAC). The nation’s longest-running outdoor cold-weather Bowl, played since 1997, will take place on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. MST at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho and televised on ESPN.

The Idaho Potato Commission signed a six-year naming rights deal to sponsor the Bowl, beginning immediately and running through the 2016 game. As part of the package, the Bowl will be featured prominently in national and regional marketing campaigns conducted by the Commission. Four of the top five potato-consuming states are represented by the WAC and MAC conferences: New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

11-0726 CMYK

The 2011 Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl, formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl, will take place December 17 in Boise, ID.

“We’re proud to support a bowl that has become a national showcase for the State of Idaho,” said Frank Muir, President and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. “It’s the perfect opportunity to reinforce the health and quality benefits of Idaho® potatoes to a national audience while supporting a game that has generated significant funds for the local economy and associated charities.”

“Our new title sponsor ensures the longevity of the Bowl and means that fans around the country will continue to see exciting games on the blue turf in Boise,” said Kevin McDonald, Executive Director of the Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl.

The Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl continues the tradition of commodity-named bowl games with connections to a state’s top agricultural export. The Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl all took their namesakes from products critical to their respective state’s economic health. Idaho has been the nation’s largest producer of potatoes every year since 1957. The “Famous Potato” slogan was initiated by the Idaho Potato Commission and added to the State’s license plates in 1948.

Tickets for the Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl will go on sale to the general public through or the Bronco Stadium ticket office on October 1. Reservations for premium ticket packages are currently available, which include prime ticket locations, hospitality benefits in tent village and corporate exposure. For more information contact the Famous Idaho Bowl office at (208) 424-1011.

About the Bowl
The Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl recognizes the positive impact teams, coaches and student-athletes have in their communities and their leadership roles in promoting humanitarian efforts. Each year, the Bowl generates nearly $1 million in direct economic impact for the facilities and charities involved. For more information, visit

About the Idaho Potato Commission
The Idaho Potato Commission is a state agency that is primarily responsible for expanding the markets for Idaho-grown potatoes through advertising, promotion and research. The Commission also protects the use of the “Idaho® potato” and “Grown in Idaho®” seals, which are federally registered Certification Marks that belong to the IPC. These Marks ensure that consumers are purchasing potatoes that have been grown in the state of Idaho. For more information,

New regulations on certain fertilizers -

New regulations on certain fertilizers -

Just in...

RMA Announces Expanded Availability of Forage (Alfalfa) Seed Pilot

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, August 1, 2011 ---- USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announces expanded coverage availability for the Forage (Alfalfa) Seed Pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) program to all counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

In previous years, the pilot program only allowed for coverage availability in: Idaho: Canyon and Owyhee counties; Oregon: Malheur County and Washington: Grant and Walla Walla counties. Since the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board has approved expansion and conversion of the pilot to a permanent regulatory program, coverage is now available through the written agreement process.

Until the pilot program is made permanent through the Federal rule-making process, RMA has modified the Forage (Alfalfa) Seed pilot program for the 2012 crop year to allow written agreements for producers outside the pilot area.

Producers are encouraged to visit with their crop insurance agent by the September 30 sales closing date to learn if they would be eligible for coverage under a written agreement for the 2012 crop year. Federal crop insurance program policies are sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance companies and agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers throughout the United States or on the RMA Web site at

Just in from Washington

Ending Ethanol Credits Not Part of House-Passed Debt Measure

The bill passed by the House Monday to raise the debt limit and cut federal spending does not do away with the 45-cent tax credit for each gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on Brazilian imports that are both set to expire Dec. 31.

“The current deal to raise the debt limit does not include any revenue raising measures, including the compromise to reform ethanol tax policy,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen.

Bloomberg article

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just in!

Boise--The government is proposing a new rule to further regulate a certain type of fertilizer. It's all to make our country safer, but it also means paper work for farmers and suppliers.

The proposal is suppose to regulate ammonium nitrate, which is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it's also an ingredient for terrorist bombs.

The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a new rule to further restrict the sale of ammonium nitrate. "Ammonium nitrate is one of the more commonly used fertilizers that we use here in Idaho. It’s very common on the farm," said Jake Putnam, Idaho Farm Bureau Spokesman.

Anyone who buys 25 pounds or more of ammonium nitrate will have to register in advance and go through a terror threat screening. Local farmers say there are regulations already in place. "The new regulation being proposed is more retail level," said Local Farmer Sid Freeman.

In other words, there will be more paper work to go through for fertilizer dealers, farmers or anyone trying to purchase a small bag of the substance. "If you've got John or Jane Doe with the big yards and gardens, purchasing ammonium nitrate, a 50 pound bag, maybe that needs to be monitored as well,” said Freeman.

Many co-ops in our area do not sell ammonium nitrate anymore, because of some regulations that are already in place. Now the public will have 120 days to comment on the new proposed rules.

Just in from Washington

Congress Could Rewrite U.S. Farm Policy This Year

Reuters reports that Congress could rewrite U.S. farm policy this year under the deficit reduction plan that is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the president today. The special joint congressional committee established in the bill is expected to eye entitlement programs, including crop supports, for part of the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction measures.

“The farm bill rewrite may occur this year,” said Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), chairman of the House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, in the Reuters report.

“Changes should not be made just to save money,” Conway said. “Nutrition programs will be on the table along with everything else,” he added.

Reuters article

Monday, August 1, 2011

Garden Harvest

Our master gardener Heather Glass reports that the first part of garden harvest is underway. Right now beets are underway and she reports that canning will begin immediately, next up: tomatoes!


Boise– Governor Butch  Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke announced an agreement today between water users and water managers on prioriti...