Monday, October 31, 2011

Just in from Washington

Lawmakers Work to Stop Overregulation of Farms, Ranches

Washington--Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) this week led 30 of their Senate colleagues in asking Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to allow farmers and ranchers adequate time to comment on a proposed rule that would limit their ability to hire youth to work in agriculture. The rule also threatens the education and training of future farmers. At issue are the Labor Department’s proposed changes to regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Included in the proposed rule change are restrictions that severely limit what youths can do on a farm or ranch not directly owned or operated by their parents.

The senators asked for a 60-day extension of the comment period on the proposed changes given that the current comment period falls during the fall harvest season. Moran and his colleagues believe farmers and ranchers were given inadequate notice and insufficient time to comment on a rule that could fundamentally disrupt agriculture practices across the country.

“Not only would this regulation, as currently drafted, have far-reaching effects on youth agricultural education programs, farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses, it could greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities in the states we represent,” the senators wrote in a letter to Solis. “It is particularly concerning that DOL would publish a proposed rule in September and set the comment period during the fall harvest season.”

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over DOL, recently sent a similar letter with 77 of his House colleagues to Soli about their concerns with the rule and also asking for an extension of the comment period.

DOL officials on Thursday told Congress that it will extend the comment period for the rule by 30 days (from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1). AFBF supports a 60-day extension of the comment period and joins the lawmakers in requesting this from DOL.

Moran news release

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just in from Washington

‘Healthy Food, Healthy Planet’ Summit Explores Food Policy

Washington--On Wednesday, National Journal held a summit in Washington, D.C., called “Healthy Food, Healthy Planet,” which looked at emerging food policy topics. A spokesperson from the Barilla Center for Food Nutrition, which sponsored the event, opened the summit with issues the center has determined to be significant.

According to Barilla, modern agriculture production and farm policy can be directly linked with the following: global malnourishment, domestic obesity, limited water resources because of livestock, climate change and limited food supplies because of biofuels.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who was the keynote speaker, dropped his prepared speech and instead answered the paradoxes that were presented by Barilla. He said that USDA has made malnourishment a high priority, working on such initiatives as the Feed the Future program, which focuses on post-harvest losses in undernourished countries. As far as domestic obesity, USDA has made the issue a priority by revamping dietary guidelines and reforming the school lunch program, according to Vilsack.

Vilsack went further to say that there’s an untold story in U.S. farmers’ efforts to feed the population and produce new technologies. He said that farmers don’t get the credit or respect they deserve with what they’ve done to expand food production. “Biofuels is an opportunity to redefine our entire economy,” said Vilsack. “It’s not a competition with food, but complements food production.”

Triple Pundit article

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just in from Washington

Funding Announced for Anaerobic Digester Projects

Washington--The Agriculture Department on Wednesday announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution.

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the biodigesters announced on Wednesday will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, Wis. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year, enough to power 400 average Wisconsin homes per year. Digesters also will be constructed in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Vermont.

USDA news release

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just in

BOISE – Idaho agricultural producers and landowners interested in improving or protecting natural resources on their land are encouraged to visit their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field offices to discuss potential applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP is a voluntary program that supports conservation practices on agricultural lands. Through EQIP, farmers may receive financial and technical help with structural and management practices and incentive payments may be made to encourage a farmer to adopt beneficial land management practices.
“EQIP funding helps producers complete conservation plans and projects they choose to do on their farms or ranches. Funded projects have included improving irrigation efficiency, protecting water quality, reducing erosion, and many other kinds of activities,” said Jeff Burwell, NRCS State Conservationist. “This is a popular program that has funded many conservation activities in Idaho.”
In 2011, Idaho NRCS received 970 applications of which 359 were funded for a total of $13.8 million provided in financial assistance. “Implemented practices produced numerous on- and off-site benefits including improved water, air and soil quality, as well as improved irrigation efficiency,” Burwell said.
NRCS accepts applications for EQIP all year, with one or more ranking periods set annually. The fiscal year 2012 application and ranking periods have not yet been determined, but applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Because applications are funded through a competitive process, producers are encouraged to start working with the District Conservationists in their local field office as soon as possible for guidance on program requirements and priorities.
For specific information on EQIP and eligibility requirements, stop by your local USDA service center or visit NRCS online at

Just in from Washington

New House Bill Prevents EPA Dust Regulation

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging members of the House to support a bill that would exclude from federal regulation dust that occurs naturally in the course of normal farming activities.

Arizona Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Rogers testified today on behalf of AFBF to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce regarding H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. Rogers called for passage of the bill, noting, “It makes common sense amendments to the Clean Air Act to prevent federal regulation of natural occurrences and naturally occurring dust from normal farming operations, unless there is a substantial evidence of adverse health impacts.”

Rogers pointed out that unlike other types of particulate matter that are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, dust is naturally occurring in rural areas.

“Further, unlike other types of particulate matter where the links to health effects are well-established, there is considerable uncertainty about whether or not dust from rural activities adversely affects human health,” Rogers said. “The bill would not prevent regulation of dust in rural areas if the scientific data on adverse impacts to human health becomes more evident,” he said.

AFBF news release

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Proposes ‘Systemic Risk Reduction’ Farm Program

Washington--Stating that government agricultural support programs traditionally were intended to provide a safety net to help farmers deal with “large systemic risk issues” rather than “smaller fluctuations in income” that can result from “average weather and market events,” the American Farm Bureau Federation on Friday sent a farm program proposal to Congress that is an alternative to earlier shallow-loss proposals.

A proposal to establish a “systemic risk reduction program” was approved by the AFBF Board of Directors as an alternative to “shallow loss” proposals that would provide government support after a region, or in some cases an individual farmer, faced some initial loss as little as 5 to 10 percent of expected revenue. But shallow-loss programs were structured to support “only a relatively small portion of a producer’s potential loss, should a major problem occur,” according to AFBF President Bob Stallman.

“Our systemic risk reduction program would help protect America’s farmers from catastrophic type losses that truly would endanger the economic viability and the core of their farms,” Stallman said. “The business of farming has always been risky and it always will be, but we firmly believe that farmers possess the business skills and have tools at their disposal to manage the shallow ups and downs associated with typical weather and market events. That is especially true as our nation wrestles with deficit and debt issues. Helping protect farmers from large systemic type losses, however, is entirely a different situation that warrants government support and is in the best interest of our nation.”

Stallman noted that the systemic risk reduction program is similar to the current Group Risk Income Protection approach but represents a radical shift in the structure of government support. “This approach to the safety net concept is to provide farmers with more down-side protection and allow them to deal with the upside end of the risk profile on their own,” he said.

Additional details regarding the proposed program were sent to members of Congress and are included in a document posted at:

AFBF news release

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just in

2011 Idaho Potato Crop Marks the 75th Anniversary for the Idaho Potato Commission

Milestone Year Kicks Off with a tribute to the Farmers and State's Rich Natural Resources

EAGLE- The 2011 Idaho potato harvest season is in full swing and the 319,000 acres that will be harvested are expected to yield more than 12 billion pounds of Idaho® potatoes. The majority of these potatoes (62%) will be used to make processed products such as frozen and dehydrated; 29% will be shipped fresh; and 9% will be grown for certified seed.

"The IPC could not ask for a better start to our 75th Anniversary year than with a quality crop of Idaho® potatoes," said Frank Muir, President and CEO, Idaho Potato Commission. "Idaho has a formula for growing potatoes that cannot be beat. Yes, our unique growing environment naturally produces a potato that is high in solids and has a lower moisture content, but the magic really belongs to the growers. They are the ones who know how to skillfully utilize Mother Nature’s gifts to grow a quality potato while maintaining the integrity of the great land on which they are grown."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Going to Market


Fall round-up at the Lazy R ranch in Boise county. Al Moses and family shipped 200 head of 500lb weight steers and heifers to the sale yard in Caldwell. With cattle prices still holding high, the family expects a good day at the sale. Al says "the calf crop looks good coming off summer range".

President's Editorial

Agriculture Labor Issues Troubling

By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

A Treasure Valley orchard owner who recently placed a help-wanted ad seeking workers to pick fruit for $12 to $15 per hour learned how difficult it can be – even during a period of relatively high unemployment – to hire farmworkers.

In a story reported by Mitch Coffman at, the orchard owner had about three months worth of work and based on production, pickers could earn upwards of $15 per hour. However, in spite of Idaho’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate and Canyon County unemployment pegged at 12 percent, workers did not surface and the farmer eventually ended up asking the local sheriff’s office to send out a work detail in order to get the fruit picked before it spoiled.

This experience is unsettling on many fronts and it shores up a long held belief among the agricultural community that migrant workers aren’t taking jobs away from American citizens. It also helps to solidify the need for a guest worker program that rewards immigrant workers who are willing to fill a need. It’s also interesting how trends point toward increasing demand for local food but not many people, even unemployed people, are willing to perform the hard, often tedious labor required on Idaho’s farms and ranches.

“I just look at these reports that say there are 10,000 unemployed in Canyon County, but there really aren’t many people that want to work,” the farmer, who requested anonymity, said according to

When existing programs fail to satisfy labor needs, the Idaho Farm Bureau supports a system under which supplemental labor from other countries could be imported on a timely and flexible basis to work on farms and ranches. The current H-2A program does provide several thousand temporary farmworkers in Idaho every year. However, H2-A is overburdened with needless paperwork and bureaucratic roadblocks that make it inefficient. The program badly needs to be streamlined in order to allow workers to cross the border legally, to go to work, and then return to their homes in their native countries.

While H2-A does provide workers on hundreds of Idaho farms every year, workers are often detained or turned back at the border. Employers are frequently unable to find the workers they need when they need them. Complicating the matter is the fact that Idaho’s dairy industry, the largest sector of Idaho’s workforce to employ immigrant farmworkers, needs those workers for 12 months of the year.

Idaho Farm Bureau does not condone going around the system that’s in place to provide farmers with a steady, reliable workforce, nor do we condone workers taking matters into their own hands and violating the borders of this nation. However, finding people, regardless of their citizenship, willing to put in long hours working on the land is a difficult proposition, as this incident in Canyon County demonstrates.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just in from Washington

Jackson Says EPA Plans No Additional Farm Dust Regulations

Washington--Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson stated in a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), released Monday, that EPA is “prepared to propose the retention—with no revision—of the current PM10 [coarse particulate matter] standard and form when it is sent to OMB [Office of Management and Budget] for interagency review.” According to Jackson, no additional farm dust regulations are planned by EPA.

AFBF welcomes the announcement from Jackson, but believes farm dust should be entirely exempt from EPA regulation. AFBF strongly opposes any change in the current PM10 standard.

“PM10 is found mainly in rural areas, naturally occurring from driving on unpaved roads or working in farm fields,” explained Rick Krause, AFBF clean air specialist. “Many rural areas have difficulty meeting current standards, and many more areas would not be able to meet more stringent standards. Farmers and ranchers in Arizona and southern California, where current standards are not being met, are regulated right now. The announcement by Administrator Jackson will not change that.”

Farm Bureau strongly supports two bills currently pending in Congress—H.R. 1633, introduced by Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Robert Hurt (R-Va.) and S. 1528, introduced by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)—that would prohibit EPA from revising the PM10 standard for at least a year and would also exempt dust from normal activities raised in rural areas from regulation under the Clean Air Act. Kevin Rogers, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau, is set to testify in support of the legislation on behalf of AFBF before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next Tuesday.

Associated Press article

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photos from the Road

A cowboy-up or cowboy-down moment at the Lazy R ranch in Boise county
Clancy Moses wants to be a cowboy, and at age four he is trying to figure out how to get off a horse. Or maybe how to get back on. Steve Ritter photo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just in from Washington

Ag Committees Miss Deadline to Submit Cuts

Washington--The House and Senate Agriculture committees missed the Friday deadline to report ideas for savings from agriculture to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

Although their suggestions have yet to be submitted, the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees have reportedly reached an agreement to suggest a 10-year savings target of $23 billion in agriculture programs to the Joint Committee, which must recommend a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package before Thanksgiving.

The details of the $23 billion target are not yet public, but it is widely believed to include total elimination of direct payments and target prices, a new revenue program that would provide shallow loss assistance, no reductions in the crop insurance program and small cuts to nutrition programs.

Newsline (AFBF’s farm bill recommendations)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just in from Capitol Hill

Ag Committees Eye $23 Billion, 10-Year Farm Program Savings

Washington--The House and Senate Agriculture committees are set to report their ideas for savings from agriculture to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

“While nothing is official and we have not seen anything in writing, it appears the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees have reached an agreement to suggest a 10-year savings target of $23 billion to the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee must recommend a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package next month,” explained Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist.

“While the exact assumptions behind the $23 billion target are not yet public, we understand the agreement includes total elimination of direct payments and target prices, and a new revenue program that would provide shallow loss assistance. We do not believe any reductions will be required in the crop insurance program. Nutrition will be required to take a small reduction in funding,” Thatcher said.

Reuters article

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just in from Washington

Simpson Supports Regulatory Relief for Job Creators
Votes for bills to ensure EPA regulations on Boiler MACT, Portland cement, are reasonable and achievable

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined his colleagues in the House of Representatives in supporting legislation to bring needed regulatory relief to America’s job creators. Last night the House passed H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, and last week passed H.R. 2681, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, with bipartisan votes. Both bills provide the EPA with the opportunity to re-propose and finalize achievable rules impacting the manufacturing sector.

H.R. 2250 would impact four rules announced by EPA earlier this year affecting boilers, process heaters, and certain solid waste incinerators in the United States and set standards, including “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT), under the Clean Air Act. As currently written, the rules would cost industry $14.4 billion and would put 224,000 jobs at risk. Even EPA recognizes that the rules are not practically achievable and requested a 15-month extension from the courts to re-propose the rules, but the request was denied. The bill provides EPA with a 15-month extension to re-write the rules, ensures that the new rules are achievable by real-world boilers, and extends the compliance deadline to allow industry adequate time to comply. Simpson is a cosponsor of H.R. 2250.

“As originally published, the Boiler MACT rules could strike a severe blow to the manufacturing economy. Not only are the rules far more restrictive than actually needed to protect the environment, but they are cost-prohibitive and not achievable in the real world,” said Simpson. “H.R. 2250 gives the EPA the time it has requested to re-examine these rules and come up with reasonable, achievable standards that protect the environment without further damaging our economy.”

H.R. 2681 proposes similar extensions and directives to EPA regarding rules impacting the Portland cement manufacturing industry. The rules currently proposed by EPA would impose extremely strict standards on the industry that are both cost- and technology-prohibitive and simply cannot be met by many facilities within the compliance period. The cement industry estimates that nearly 20 percent of domestic cement production would be shut down if the current rules were enacted. Simpson’s Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for FY12 includes language preventing the Portland cement rules from being implemented.

“I am concerned that, in spite of the industry’s efforts to collaborate with EPA on creating standards that would be achievable and beneficial, the agency has ignore the industry’s concerns and proposed to implement regulations that not only are cost prohibitive but for which no technology currently exists,” said Simpson. “These rules are clear examples of the impact that EPA’s overzealous regulatory agenda is having on job creation in this country. Companies impacted by these rules are paralyzed by uncertainty about whether they will be able to afford hire new workers or even to continue operating. In passing these bills, the House is taking important steps to provide for more job creation in this country.”

H.R. 2681 passed last Thursday by a vote of 262-161, while H.R. 2250 passed 275-142.

Just in...

AFBF Backs Bill to Eliminate Overlapping Pesticide Permitting

Washington--Farm Bureau supports H.R. 872, a bill that would eliminate the burdensome and overlapping pesticide permit requirements resulting from the National Cotton Council v.EPA (6th Circuit 2009) case. The bill 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.

Last week, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) filed the text of H.R. 872 as an amendment to S. 1619, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. The amendment was not called up for a vote.

“That decision was based on factors related to the underlying bill, not on the merits or level of support for H.R. 872,” explained Tyler Wegmeyer, AFBF pesticide specialist. “H.R. 872 likely will be offered as a rider to other bills that will come before the Senate. Thus, it is an important time to continue to ask for support from all senators.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just in from Capitol Hill

Farmers and Ranchers Welcome Ratification of Trade Pacts

WASHINGTON– Congressional ratification of three bilateral free-trade agreements between the United States and Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance, is welcome news for farmers and ranchers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Now that Congress has approved all the components of the trade package, swift implementation is critical, so we can restore a level playing field for U.S. farm exports to these three nations,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

“Over the past four years, Korea, Colombia and Panama have opened their doors to our competitors,” Stallman explained. “Congress and the administration have now given us the opportunity to improve our competitive position in these markets. The economic growth generated from the agreements will improve our economy and create jobs here at home,” he said.

Combined, the three FTAs represent nearly $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports for America’s farmers and are expected to create economic growth that could generate support for up to 22,500 U.S. jobs.

Just in...

Congress Passes 3 Free Trade Accords

Washington--Congress passed three long-awaited free trade agreements on Wednesday, ending a partisan standoff that has stretched across two presidencies.

Final approval of the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama is a bipartisan victory for President Obama and proponents of the view that foreign trade can drive America’s economic growth, in the face of rising protectionist sentiment in both political parties. They are the first trade agreements to pass Congress since Democrats broke a decade of Republican control in 2007.

Read More:

Just in

USDA Reports Drop in Corn Crop, Harvested Acres

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2011 – The Agriculture Department’s October crop report released today shows a reduction in the U.S. corn crop compared to the September report, mainly because of a drop in the estimate for harvested acres.

USDA estimates farmers will produce 12.433 billion bushels of corn this year, down from 12.497 billion bushels in the September estimate.

In today’s report, USDA estimates corn farmers will harvest 83.9 million acres, a drop of 452,000 acres from the September estimate. Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, said USDA’s October harvested acreage number is important because it is the first that is based on actual certified acreage by USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

“The Farm Service Agency has been releasing certified acreage data monthly since August, but this information was not included in previous WASDE [World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates] reports because the data were not complete,” Davis explained. “By looking at the early released data, many analysts have predicted that the planted and harvested acreage would decline by as much as 500,000 acres.”

Davis said the drop in harvested corn acreage is not surprising because of the extreme weather conditions farmers experienced this year.

“Flooding this spring in parts of the eastern Corn Belt prevented farmers from planting and harvesting all of the acreage they intended,” he said.

The October WASDE showed an increase in beginning stocks by 208 million bushels reflecting the larger stocks from the Sept. 30 USDA Grain Stocks report. “The increase in stocks more than off-set the decline in production due to the reduced acreage. The only change in demand was for exports which declined by 50 million bushels from the September estimate,” Davis said.

Davis said the corn stocks situation showed a slight improvement in the October report, compared to the September estimate. USDA now estimates U.S. corn supplies for the 2011/2012 marketing year at 866 million bushels, compared to 672 million bushels in the September estimate. Still, Davis said, the corn supply situation is still tight and stocks remain at the lowest level since the mid 1990s.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Just in

Emmett--Fall round-up on the Lazy R Ranch is underway. Owner Al Moses and his family are spending a lot of time in the saddle flushing stubborn cows out of the brush and down the mountain. Warm weather is keeping the cows brushed up and in the timber and harder to find. "It's not cold enough for them to want to come home yet", said Moses. (photos and story by Steve Ritter)

Just in from Moscow

Zebra Chip Finds Its Way to Idaho’s Potato Fields

MOSCOW, Idaho – A potato pest from points south has reached Idaho, University of Idaho Extension specialists with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences confirmed this week. It was reported last month in Oregon and Washington. There are no known health safety or nutritional problems associated with zebra chip.

Zebra chip is named for the dark bands that develop in potatoes infected by the bacteria that are carried by psyllids. The tiny cicada-like insects related to aphids are normally found in warmer regions than the Inland Northwest’s prime potato country.

A threat to potato quality for growers and processors, zebra chip can reduce the value of both fresh and process potatoes. It particularly affects processed products such as French fries and potato chips by creating darker chips and fries.

The dark coloration results from changes in stored sugars that caramelize when the potatoes are processed. Potato products showing signs of zebra chip are removed before packaging due to their appearance.

The presence of zebra chip in Idaho was confirmed in Idaho by USDA Agricultural Research Service tests of samples from a potato processor. The affected potatoes were tracked to a field in Jerome County. Several confirmed reports also recently were made in Twin Falls County. Although the pest was found in several fields, the number of plants infected initially appeared low.

Intensive sampling at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center showed the insects had infected several varieties, said University of Idaho Extension potato specialist and storage researcher Nora Olsen.

“The question is whether this is an artifact of the unusual weather we had earlier this year or whether this is going to be a long-term problem,” Olsen said.

For potato growers and processors, zebra chip can present serious concerns because it will affect the quality of processed potatoes. Potatoes are Idaho’s top crop, generating an estimated $915 million in 2010, according to the USDA. Good prices and yields are expected this year.
Zebra chip has a smaller effect on markets for fresh potatoes, those baked or mashed by homeowners, Olsen noted, because the flaws are less noticeable.

For growers, zebra chip does not pose the economic threats presented by some other pests because it does not lead to field quarantines or major trade disruption. It can add significantly to their costs of production, however.

Joe Guenthner, a University of Idaho agricultural economist who specializes in potato economics, said zebra chip can cause growers in warm areas significant losses. Guenthner is a member of a research team studying zebra chip issues that was funded by a five-year, $7 million USDA grant.
“Finding a new pest is not good news for growers,” Guenthner said, “but they’re used to dealing with pests and they’ll find a way to manage it.”

Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idaho Potato Commission and University of Idaho Extension potato specialists met this week to determine the extent of zebra chip’s presence in Idaho and begin work to control it if necessary.

The potato disease was first detected in Mexico in 1994. Six years later zebra chip was found in Texas. By 2007, it was found in California, Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, noted Phil Nolte, University of Idaho Extension seed potato specialist at Idaho Falls.

Nolte has tracked zebra chip for several years. He wrote about the potato disease and the psyllids that carry the bacteria that cause it in 2009.
“Now all that remains is figuring out how to manage the problem,” Nolte said. Weird weather or time have brought zebra chip closer to home for University of Idaho extension researchers who were already on the alert for it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just in

Deer hunting season opens in Idaho.
This sportsman is looking for whitetail deer in the Drybuck area in Gem county. (Steve Ritter photo)

Just in

FAO Sees Tight Grain Stocks in 2011/2012

New York--Despite improved production prospects, world cereal markets are likely to remain fairly tight in 2011/2012, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report just released.

The overall year-on-year increase includes a 4.6 percent (30 million metric ton) rise in global wheat production, a 3 percent (14 million metric ton) rise in the rice harvest and a 2.1 percent (24 million metric ton) hike for coarse grains.

Despite the expected production gains, the report warns that because of the slowdown in the global economic recovery and increased risks of recession, there is uncertainty regarding the impact on world food security. Worsening economic conditions could result in higher unemployment and lower incomes for the vulnerable and needy in the developing countries.

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization news release

Monday, October 10, 2011

Potato markets projected stronger

Moscow--As the Idaho Potato harvest continues across the state, The Producer’s Jake Putnam visited industry insider Joe Guenthner at the University of Idaho, to get an academic perspective on this year’s crop. Guenthner is Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Idaho, where he specializes in the economics of the potato industry.

What’s been going on in this rollercoaster potato market this year?

“Prices have been volatile, they’re coming down from record high prices to prices that are still profitable but in the direction they’re heading they be in the ‘break even’ levels soon. That’s to be expected it’s harvest time. That’s when prices are the lowest and supplies plentiful. Growers have been making money on potatoes and I see that continuing, not all the time but in general it continues to be a profitable crop.

Contract potatoes are up and gone, now we’re moving into the harvest, what’s the outlook?

Some of the processers did not contract enough to meet their needs, demand is increasing for frozen fries, that’s good news and they have been out in the market across the continent buying on the open market just to supplement dwindling supplies, that’s good market news.

Looking ahead to late November and December, what does the market hold?

I think there will be extended periods of profit crisis, I think in general this crop will be a profitable crop.

With high input costs, a late start, what do you think about the 2011 crop overall?

I’m bullish on the 2011 potato crop. In the long run I’m bullish, I’m a former potato grower and I love the product and the people in that industry. This is one of a series of good years.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Inclimate weather stalls harvest

Ashton--A day of heavy rain that turned to snow has put a damper on harvest operations across Southeast Idaho. Snow stalled harvest operations from Shelly to Soda Springs and it could take days to dry out the fields and allow heavy equipment to resume operations.

Risk Management Agency Bulletin

RMA Announces Availability of Livestock Gross Margin Dairy and Swine
SPOKANE --The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announces the availability of sales for the Livestock Gross Margin insurance plan for Dairy Cattle ((LGM-Dairy) and Swine (LGM-Swine) in all counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
The first sales date for the 2012 crop year will be Friday, October 28, 2011. Sales will continue on the last Friday of each month until June 30, 2012 (or until the maximum underwriting capacity is reached).
LGM-Dairy provides protection against loss of gross margin (market value of milk minus feed costs) on milk produced from dairy cows. LGM-Swineprovides protection against the loss of gross margin (market value of livestock minus feed costs) on swine. Both policies use futures prices to determine the expected gross margin and the actual gross margin.
Dairy and pork producers are encouraged to contact a livestock agent for further details. Additional information can also be obtained at the RMA Web site: Federal crop and livestock insurance policies are sold and delivered solely through private crop and livestock insurance companies. A list of livestock insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers throughout the U.S. or at the RMA Web site:

FTA's Head to the House of Representatives

Trade Pacts Head to Full House for Approval

Washington--The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved implementing legislation for the Colombia (H.R. 3078), Panama (H.R. 3079) and Korea (H.R. 3080) free trade agreements.

The full House is expected to take up the three bills on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

The three trade agreements will be part of a package that includes renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides assistance for workers who lose their jobs to trade.

AFBF is pressing for passage of the Colombia, Korea and Panama trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance. Passing all three FTAs would create the economic growth that could generate support for up to 22,500 U.S. agricultural-related jobs. Combined, all three FTAs represent almost $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports.

Associated Press article

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FFA works to Educate

Meridian--Thousands of elementary school students have attended the annual Meridian FFA Ag Expo this week at Meridian High School. The kids visit various display stations manned by FFA students where they learn about agriculture and how it benefits the world. (Steve Ritter photo)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just in from Washington

Two Supreme Court Cases Relevant to Farmers, Ranchers

The Supreme Court began its new term on Monday and two cases on the docket have a direct relevance to U.S. agriculture, according to Danielle Quist, AFBF legal counsel. The first case is Sackett v. EPA. The second case is PPL Montana v. Montana.

Sackett v. EPA is an Idaho case where the Environmental Protection Agency told Mike and Chantell Sackett to stop building their new house and return the land to its original state or face possible jail time and more than $30,000 in fines per day under the Clean Water Act.

“The Sacketts asked for a hearing because they disagreed with EPA’s grounds for asserting federal jurisdiction over their private land and EPA said no,” Quist said. “They sued EPA and the courts told them that they didn’t have the ability to ask a court for review. They were not allowed their day in court. EPA would control when they had their day in court.”

In PPL Montana v. Montana, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the riverbeds were actually owned by the state of Montana and not by the private landowners. Quist said this is an important case for farmers and ranchers because in many states, riverbed ownership determines riparian and sometimes prior appropriation of water rights.

AFBF Newsline

U of I Discussion Meet

DSC_0050, originally uploaded by IdFarmBureau.

The District 5 Young Farmers & Ranchers held their fall discussion meet Tuesday night in Moscow. Erica Louder will be competing at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Coeur d' Alene.

Just in from Washington

Stallman Urges Congress to Expedite Trade Pacts

Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman welcomed President Barack Obama’s sending of implementing legislation to Congress on Monday to ratify three bilateral free-trade agreements between the United States and Korea, Colombia and Panama.

“America’s farmers and ranchers have much at stake and the fact these three agreements are moving forward is very good news for our economy,” Stallman said.

“Now that the administration has done its part, it’s up to Congress to expedite this matter,” Stallman stressed. “It is vital that this process move forward to ensure the agreements will be put in place as soon as possible so we can restore a level playing field for U.S. exports to these three nations. Without these agreements, over the last four years, Korea, Colombia and Panama have opened their doors to our competitors. A further delay will provide more benefits to our competitors at the expense of our economy.

“Combined, the three FTAs represent nearly $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports and would create the economic growth that 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, October 3, 2011

Just in

Idaho farmers growing more acres of corn than potatoes

Idaho farmers growing more acres of corn than potatoes

by Ty Brennan

Bio | Email | Follow: @


Posted on October 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Updated today at 8:57 PM

MELBA, Idaho -- Idaho has always been known as the potato state, but another crop has surpassed the spud when it comes to the number of acres devoted to growing it.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service says the number of acres devoted to growing corn has surpassed the potato. Growers in Idaho say the majority of the corn produced here is used as animal feed, mostly for dairies.

Travis Christensen, with Christensen Farms in Melba, is growing about 3,000 acres of corn this season. The majority of that corn will be cut down, chopped up and turned into silage for local dairies.

Christensen credits the number of dairies moving into Idaho as the reason why corn is in such high demand and why, for the first time ever, corn has surpassed the Idaho potato when it comes to the number of acres devoted to growing it.

“You know, fifteen years ago when I first started farming there weren't any dairies around here and now it's kind of covered by them,” said Christensen.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that Idaho corn planted for all purposes totaled 390,000 acres. That's a jump of almost 22 percent compared to last year.

“That's what they want, the corn, and that kind of drives the market,” said Christensen.

Just a few weeks ago, Christensen said the price for grain corn spiked to about $300 a ton.

In 2008 and 2009, Idaho growers planted about 300,000 acres of corn.

House Passes Interior Bill with Idaho Priorities

Simpson authored provisions would benefit Idaho and the West Washington,- The House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2019 Inter...