Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Coeur d'Alene

Steadman's Awarded the President's Cup

Coeur d'Alene-Susan and Lynn Steadman were award the Idaho Farm Bureau's highest honor:
The President's Cup. The Steadman's joined Farm Bureau back in the early 80's, in 1982 they were first honored as Outstanding Young Farmers and Ranchers.

A respectful and hushed crowd listened intently as President Frank Priestley made the President's Cup announcement. When the Steadman's were the announced winners, all 300 members in attendance burst into a standing ovation.

"Some of my dearst friends are Farm Bureau members," a chocked up Steadman, whispered into the microphone. "I have so many friends here tonight."

Rick Keller of the Farm Bureau has known the Steadman's since the early days of Farm Bureau. He recalls when the couple first served in Young Farmers & Ranchers that they gravitated to shy, new members. "They were inclusive, anyone standing by themselves they would go over to them embrace them and bring them in."

Lynn Steadman has the distinction of holding leadership positions at every level of the Farm Bureau, starting with the YF&R, The County Board and rising to Vice President. He still serves on the State Resolutions Committee and is still active in his County.

"He's touched everyone in this room," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. He's has done so much for us through the years, he and Susan, its fitting that he won the Cup tonight."

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Coeur d'Alene

Clark Johnston gave a seminar on the 2012 Market Outlook, video highlights from his talk! Johnston says there's money to be made, but patience and timing are the keys in 2012.

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Coeur d'Alene

Gwen and Greg Anderson take home the YF&R Achiever Award and a new Polaris! (Ritter photo)

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Coeur d'Alene

Jake Anderson of Power County wins the IFBF State Discussion Meet, at The Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Coeur d'Alene. (Ritter photo)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

72nd Annual Convention Underway in Coeur d'Alene

New Caribou County President Ready for Challenges
Coeur d'Alene--Caribou County President Lori Anne Lau is making her first trip to the Farm Bureau Annual Meeting as a President. The 10 year board member took over the reins of CCFB earlier this year. The Farm Bureau's Jake Putnam caught up with her and Caribou County member Tracy Lakey:

FB: Are you excited to be at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting?

Lau:This is my first Annual Meeting as a President.

FB:So here you are a new woman President jumping into a House of Delegates meeting with all the other Presidents, are you nervous?

Lau: No, you know this organization is pretty good that way, they treat you right and equal. Ive felt very welcome, but no problems being a woman, Ive been to the House of Delegates and the fact that I might wear a skirt sometimes is no problem.

FB:What issues are you tracking?

Lau: Nothing too monumental, but there are a few healthcare resolutions that Im following, one of which was tabled. Caribou County did make a resolution dealing with the possibility of the s of a mileage tax, we get taxed extra depending on how many miles we drive, we get taxed plenty already, plus we pay fuel tax already.

FB:Other issues out there of note like brucellosis, tracking anything like that on the radar screen?

Lau:We are as producers, but our County is not dealing with that right now. A couple of years ago when we were trying to figure out what the new plan was going to be we were engaged, because there was a plan to divide the state and we thought that was a horrid idea. I think the current system seems to be working well, we've been watching the elk situation but the current master plan is working well.

FB:Tracy Lakey of Lakey Farms, what issues are you following here at the convention:

Im here learning, so not watching anything particularly...


I'm more interested in the Social Networking workshop, It's the way of the future all politics will eventually flow through social networks. I think you can fight it and stay in the dark or get online and get informed.

FB:Farm Bureau is old school politics from the ground up, your thoughts being here and being involved.

Lau: In the past I have been involved in other organizations and I felt like, because I wasn’t involved in a long-standing family or from a big enough operation or we were too weird that we didn't have a seat at the table. The Farm Bureau and Caribou County has welcomed me 10 years ago and every time I've showed up here at convention or the House of Delegates that I get a chance to speak my mind and sometimes they all agree with me and sometimes they don’t. Its been nice, and anyone that chooses to be active can have a powerful voice.

Lakey: I agree completely. You don’t have to be somebody, you can just be yourself, speak your mind and have a say, its nice to know that you have that.

72nd Annual Convention Underway in Coeur d'Alene

Coeur d'Alene--The 72nd Annual Meeting of the Idaho Farm Bureau kicked off at the Coeur d'Alene resort this morning with registration and a full slate of workshops and speakers.

"It's always great to see everyone again," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "We have some excellent workshops and we love the opportunity of giving the members the not only the chance to learn, but to grow."

The list of workshops included everything from Social Networking to Direct Marketing, to Farm Safety and the Idaho One plan.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just in from Washington

Research Shows Global Food Demand Could Double by 2050

New research by the University of Minnesota shows that global food demand could double by 2050, while producing that amount of food could significantly increase levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the environment and cause the extinction of numerous species.

But the research points out that this can be avoided if the high-yielding technologies of rich nations are adapted to work in poor nations, and if all nations use nitrogen fertilizers more efficiently.

The research reveals that if poor nations continue current practices, they will clear a land area larger than the United States (two and a half billion acres) by 2050. But if richer nations help poorer nations improve yields to achievable levels, that could be reduced to half a billion acres.

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Coeur d'Alene

Join us at the:

Ice Cream Social
Category: State Conference
Coeur d'Alene Resort

Ice Cream Social for Annual Meeting attendees.
Date: November 28, 2011
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Coeur d'Alene Resort

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just in from Washington

Farm Bill Returns to More Deliberative Process

The failure of the 12-member congressional supercommittee to reach agreement on how to achieve $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction has stopped further “fast track” consideration of the 2012 farm bill.

House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairs, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), have indicated that work on the new farm bill will now return to their respective committees for further discussion under a more deliberative process than was not possible under the time constraints imposed on the supercommittee.

“We understand this return to what some are calling ‘regular order’ for fashioning the farm bill will include a careful evaluation of the policy decisions reached under the ‘fast track’ process, including those titles and provisions that were simply reauthorized with no changes from current law,” explained Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation farm bill specialist. “However, both chairs have been careful to give no indication on timing or process, other than to assure all interested parties they will be evaluating the work done to date and determining how best to proceed.”

Regardless of whether discussions on farm programs return to current law as the starting point or begin from the “fast track” version, AFBF will be conducting expanded analyses on the Systemic Risk Reduction Program (SRRP) to provide a full, factual comparison with other proposals, such as those included in the language provided to the supercommittee. AFBF also will be working to ensure all its farm bill priorities are well-prepped and provided to the committees and their members well in advance of their decision process.

Delta Farm Press article

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just in from Washington

EPA’s Crushing Regulatory Burdens Threaten Family Farms

Washington--In just the last three years, the Environmental Protection Agency has set in motion a significant number of new regulations that will significantly change the face of agriculture. The coming changes threaten the continued operation of family farms and ranches, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Testifying Thursday on behalf of AFBF before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, Carl Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said EPA proposals to exert greater regulatory control over agriculture will drive up the cost of producing food, fiber and fuel.

“EPA proposals are overwhelming to farmers and ranchers and are creating a cascade of costly requirements that are likely to drive individual farmers to the tipping point,” Shaffer said. “The overwhelming number of proposed regulations on the nation’s food system is unprecedented and promises profound effects on both the structure and competitiveness of all of agriculture.

“In contrast to EPA’s heavy-handed approach of issuing crushing regulatory burdens, agriculture and the Agriculture Department have worked together over the last few decades to make enormous strides in agriculture’s environmental performance by adopting a range of conservation practices and environmental measures,” Shaffer said.

Philip Nelson, president of Illinois Farm Bureau, also testified at the hearing on behalf of farmers and ranchers in his state. He testified to the subcommittee regarding a new regulation, the Pesticide General Permit, that went into effect Nov. 1. “This new permit is a needless duplication of existing law. We do not need this entirely new permit program,” Nelson said, noting that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act has covered pesticide labeling and application very effectively since 1947.

AFBF news release AFBF Newsline

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just in

Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Costing More in 2011

Washington--The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF’s 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year’s average of $43.47.

“The cost of this year’s meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America’s diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our contemporaries around the world. It is an honor for our farm and ranch families to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item—a 16-pound turkey—came in at $21.57 this year. That was roughly $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound, or a total of $3.91 per whole turkey, compared to 2010. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared to last year.

AFBF news release

Monday, November 21, 2011

Annual Banquets

Gem County Annual Banquet a hit!
By Steve Ritter
Emmett--Gem County Farm Bureau members gathered Friday night in Emmett for the annual county banquet. President Vaughn Jensen welcomed about seventy people to the ham and roast beef dinner provided by Timbers catering of Emmett. Honored as "Gems" of Gem County this year were three county residents that combined have lived in the county for 222 years. Pictured left to right..Al Moses, Phyllis Houtz and Bob Benson.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just in

Ranchers restore fish habitat in Pahsimeroi Valley with help from multiple agencies

By Steve Stuebner

Rancher Jim Martiny remembers his grandmother talking about the loud noise made by salmon spawning in the creek next to their ranch. Legend had it that Native Americans had speared salmon in the area as well. Clearly, Big Springs Creek had a strong history of supporting strong fish populations.

"She said it sounded like horses crossing the creek, there were so many of them," said Jim Martiny, a fourth-gen- eration rancher in the Pahsimeroi Valley.

Chinook salmon return to Big Springs Creek for the first time in decades to spawn a new generation of wild fish. Photo courtesy Idaho Fish & Game

For the last 100 years, however, Big Springs Creek (also known as Pat- terson/Big Springs Creek) has been dried up in drought years during spawning season because ranch- ers diverted water (as per decreed water rights) to raise hay and other crops. After years of creative work, the Custer Soil & Water Conserva- tion District and the Idaho Depart- ment of Fish and Game, among other agencies, have worked with ranchers to restore water flows to Big Springs Creek.

"Now, the fish are back," Martiny says, standing by the flowing stream. "It's a pretty cool deal. It took a lot of effort from a lot of different people to get them back. But it's a huge success story."

In the summer of 2009, a major irrigation canal known as the P-9 Ditch was closed and about 10 miles of Big Springs Creek were restored. The fish responded quickly.

"We got 10-20 cubic feet per second of water flow in the creek, and that ended up pulling a whole bunch of chinook salmon in there, something like 68-69 redds that first year," said Eric Leitzinger, fish habitat program coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. "Pretty amazing."

Fish habitat improvements in the Pahsimeroi Valley are part of endangered salmon and steelhead recovery ef- forts in the Columbia River Basin. Plans focus on increasing fish survival through improving habitat, tweaking hydro system operations, hatchery production and controlling harvest.

More than 75 ranchers have been involved in improving fish habitat in the Upper Salmon River Basin, including the Pahsimeroi Valley area, in the last 15 years. Life on the Range covered a similar story last year, focusing on projects in the Lemhi River Valley. See this web link: river-basin-model-watershed-project.aspIdaho Department of Fish and Game redd counts (shown in red) show the distribution of salmon spawning beds in the fall of 2009. Below, the old P-9 irrigation ditch.

A big part of the success in the Pahsimeroi Basin is that BPA fish-habitat funds paid for the capital costs of ac- quiring pivot sprinklers for ranchers to convert to pivot irrigation, and another pot of federal money paid for the cost of pumping water uphill to the pivots. With- out those funds, ranchers wouldn't be able to afford such expensive improve- ments to help fish.

Karma Bragg, District Manager of the Custer Soil & Water Conservation District, notes that a high priority of the district is to keep ranchers in production and ensure that there is no net loss in their water rights. "We haven't harmed the ranchers, and we haven't reduced the water that they have available. From our perspective that's good news in addition to having the fish come back," she says.

Bragg and the Custer SWCD have been actively involved with the complex water conversion projects in the Pahsimeroi Val- ley from Day One. It all started in 1994 with Doug Parkinson, owner of Parkinson Seed Farm, whose property is located next to the area where the Pahsimeroi River flows into the Salmon River near Ellis. Parkinson ex- pressed interest in shifting his water diver- sion from the P-9 Ditch in the Pahsimeroi Valley to pumping from the Salmon River. BPA paid for a new pivot sprinkler, and the Idaho Water Resources Board approved the change the point of water diversion.

Up and down the Pahsimeroi Valley, Bragg and others worked with numerous ranch- ers to change their points of diversion from the P-9 ditch to the Pahsimeroi River and convert to pivot irrigation. One by one, the landowners made the switch.

The final leg needed to retire the 12-mile- long P-9 ditch included four main landown- ers, River Valley Ranch, LLC, (Bowles and Lawrence families), Jimmie L. Dowton, Sr., Glenn Elzinga and Chuck and Claudia Charlton, Bragg says. Once the ditch was closed, it breathed life back into Big Springs Creek as well as Muddy Springs Creek and Duck Creek.

"The complexity of the historic irrigation systems, number of landowners, number of partners and funding sources, and the

hurdles crossed to obtain water right trans- The new pivot sprinkler on the Martiny Ranch is increasing hay yields fers made this not only one of the most by 30 percent while using less water, leaving more in the creek for fish.

difficult but also most rewarding projects undertaken by the Custer SWCD," Bragg says. A key aspect of the water-conversion projects was to ensure that the water returned to the creeks would not be diverted by junior water rights holders. Idaho has a water transactions program that's tailor-made for projects like Big Springs Creek, explains Helen Harrington, planning section manager of the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

"The Idaho transactions program looked at keeping water in the stream while keeping the water right holder whole," Harrington says. "They changed the point of diversion from the creeks to the Pahsimeroi River and closed off the diversions so the fish could access the habitat all the way up from the Pahsimeroi River. It opened up a huge amount of habitat for them."

By the Martiny Ranch, two flood irrigation ditches that were literally just feet apart were consolidated into one, and a fish screen was in- stalled to keep resident and ocean-going fish out of the ditch. The landowners who participated in that project included Martiny, Kent Moen, Scott Whitworth and George Santee.

Martiny says the efficiency of sprinkler irrigation has increased his hay produc- tion by 30 percent. "We're raising as much as hay as we ever did, if not more, and we're doing it with less water," he says. "So that puts more water in the stream for the fish, and it doesn't take anything away from us. So it's a kind of win-win situation."

Ranchers now draw irrigation water from the Pahsimeroi River, which has plenty of flows throughout the growing season. This photo was taken in a new public fishing area managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

In the summer of 2011, four bridges were installed near Martiny's home to replace old culverts that posed a bar- rier to fish passage. That means more fish can spawn upriver, a goal of Idaho Fish and game. Each new redd, or salmon spawning area, is typically seeded with 4 to 5,000 eggs. New spawning areas should increase salmon populations. That's good news for Idaho anglers.

"We'd like to see enough fish coming back to fully fill the hatchery, fully seed the habitat and have a surplus available for sport fish- ing," says Leitzinger of IDFG.

Idaho Fish and Game has been a key player in the Pahsimeroi Basin, installing more than 20 irrigation screens to keep fish in the creeks and rivers. Many miles of buck fence have been built along the Pahsimeroi River and Big Springs Creek to protect spawning beds.

Anglers flock to the Salmon River during a recent salmon fishing season. Efforts to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in the Upper Salmon Basin is expected to increase fish populations and lead to more fishing seasons.

"Through better spawning habitat up here, the survival rates are higher," Martiny says. "The last couple of years they've had a salmon season in the river, hundreds of people come up and fish for the salmon, so it wins for them, it wins for the people in town, economically it's a good deal. It's just a real good project."

All of the water conversions and fish-habitat improvements have been voluntary, Bragg notes, but because the salmon spawning areas lie adjacent to private ranchland, she thinks it's wise for ranchers to be proactive.

"There are environmental laws out there to protect endangered species and there's bull trout in the system as well so we believe that moving ahead with these projects ahead of a take issue or an environmental issue is a protection for landowners, and I think the ranchers see that," she says.

"None of this could be done without the help and cooperation of the landowners," adds Leitzinger. "They've been really good to work with. Stay tuned, hopefully there's more to come in the future."

Idaho Fish and Game hopes to restore more fish habitat and rebuilt fish populations in the upper Pahsimeroi River Basin.

Steve Stuebner is a writer and producer for Life on the Range.,

Just in from Washington

Sales of ‘Local Foods’ Totals $4.8 Billion in 2008

Washington--A new USDA report reveals that sales of “local foods” totaled $4.8 billion in 2008, which is several times greater than earlier estimates. USDA predicts sales of local foods will total $7 billion this year.

The USDA report shows that the local food movement is dominated by fruit and vegetable growers. The report points out that 40 percent of vegetable, fruit and nut farms sell their products in local and regional markets, compared to 5 percent of other farms.

Associated Press article

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just in from Washington

USDA Targets $410.7 Million for Rural Broadband

Washington--The Agriculture Department announced on Monday funding for telephone utilities to build, expand and improve broadband in their rural service territories across 15 states. The announcement was made on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s behalf by USDA Rural Utilities Service Deputy Administrator Jessica Zufolo during an address at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in St. Louis, Mo.

The awardees will receive $410.7 million in funding, contingent on the recipient meeting the terms of the agreement with USDA.

USDA news release

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just in from Washington

AFBF Urges House to Repeal 3 Percent Withholding Tax

Washington--AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote to members of the House today urging prompt passage of H.R. 674 that would repeal the 3 percent withholding tax on government payments for goods and services that is scheduled to begin in 2013.

“The new 3 percent withholding tax will apply to many Department of Agriculture payments including: direct payments; countercyclical support payments; Average Crop Revenue Election, dairy support programs; and conservation programs (Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)),” Stallman wrote. “For example, if a farmer or rancher would receive an $11,000 payment for protecting streams or rivers under the Conservation Reserve Program, $330 would be withheld from the payment.”

Stallman said imposing a withholding on USDA payments will create a financial hardship on farm and ranch operations. “Farm profitability and tax liability fluctuate greatly from year to year due to weather and markets, but the tax will be withheld regardless,” Stallman wrote. “For agricultural operations that end the year without owing taxes, the withholding amounts to an interest-free loan to the government.”

Just in from Washington

AFBF Supports Clean Water Act Amendment
Washington--In a letter sent to senators on Monday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman urged senators to support an amendment introduced by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to the Energy and Water “Minibus.”

The amendment would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing their “Draft Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act” or from fast-tracking a regulation based on the draft guidance

The amendment is expected to reach the Senate floor as early as today or Wednesday.

If enacted, the EPA and Corps guidance would drastically expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The heart of the draft guidance is the agencies’ intent to expand the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to include ditches and other ephemeral features that have water flow only during, and for a short duration after, precipitation events.

“Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland drainage features as ‘waters of the U.S,’” Stallman wrote. “The draft guidance, if finalized or adopted through rulemaking, would allow the agencies to regulate, among other things, all linear features or similarly situated features that contain ‘standing water’ regardless of the frequency or duration of the ‘flow.’ This is an extremely broad view of the scope of ‘waters of the U.S.’ that would encompass many manmade and natural landscape features not readily recognizable as ‘waters.’”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

House, Senate Begin Farm Bill Negotiations

By John Thompson

U.S. House and Senate conferees are working on a new Farm Bill that would cut $23 billion over ten years to submit to a super committee charged with overall deficit reduction.

With regard to agriculture cuts, areas under consideration include cutting commodity programs by $15 billion, food stamps by $4 billion and conservation programs by $4 billion. Both House and Senate measures call for massive cuts of up to $1 billion to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The House bill also includes a provision prohibiting the rulemaking process of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA), while the Senate bill eliminates direct payments to farms with an average adjusted gross income in excess of $1 million.

The budget control act of 2011, passed in August, increased the debt ceiling by $400 billion and requires the federal government to make $917 billion in spending cuts over a ten year period as a first installment. It also created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction tabbed the “Supercommittee” and charged it with presenting a spending cut package to Congress by November 23. Congress then has until December 23 to act on the plan. If they fail to reach the designated timetable, $1.2 trillion will automatically be cut from discretionary defense and nondefense spending through 2021.

The Supercommittee is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in overall cuts by November 23, which may include: revenue increases, including raising taxes; tax reforms, such as simplifying the tax code and eliminating some tax breaks and loopholes; military spending cuts; and measures to reform and slow the growth of entitlement programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

If cuts to the CSP program come to fruition, the effect will be felt here in Idaho. Last year the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funded 202 CSP contracts covering 351,000 acres of forest, crop and pasture land. The program paid out $4 million. Under present rules, CSP payments are capped at $40,000 per year with a total of $200,000 maximum over the five-year contract.

Regarding the House proposal to prohibit GIPSA rulemaking to commence, Wyatt Prescott, executive vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association, said his organization has been working hard to change the Act, making it less burdensome. Prescott said a lot could change over the next few weeks but presently the proposed changes to GIPSA are not acceptable. ICA is opposed to funding the GIPSA rulemaking process.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union support moving ahead with GIPSA rulemaking and allowing USDA to act on more than a year’s worth of collecting public comment and studying ways to improve livestock marketing and limiting packer control of livestock.

Prescott said ICA is also concerned about potential cuts to conservation programs, mainly to funding of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). “We want to make sure we maintain the 60/40 livestock split that enables ranchers to be better stewards and to share those costs,” he said. ICA is also watching for any changes in dairy policy that could give dairy producers a competitive advantage in the marketplace with regard to purchasing feed, Prescott added.

AFBF has taken positions on a handful of other measures under consideration. AFBF opposes a provision in the Senate bill regarding the use of funds to provide direct payments to persons or legal entities with an average adjusted gross income (AGI) in excess of $1,000,000. AFBF opposes a provision in the House bill that prevents appropriated funds from being used to provide payments to the Brazil Cotton Institute. AFBF supports the broadband program provision in the House passed bill and the Senate provision that adds $100 million to the Emergency Conservation Program and Watershed Protection Program for expenses resulting from a major disaster designation under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

Farm Bureau also supports the Senate provision that would allow the U.S. Trade Representative to hire additional counsels for trade enforcement activities, such as filing WTO cases and other trade disputes, and negotiating with our trade partners to eliminate unfair market access restrictions.

Further, Farm Bureau supports the Senate provision that prevents any funds from being used to set maximum limits on the frequency of serving vegetables in school meal programs and opposes the House provision which precludes USDA from providing fee-for-service inspection of horse processing facilities.

The Agriculture Appropriations Bill provides funding for a wide array of federal agricultural programs, mostly within USDA. These programs include: agricultural research; education and extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; food safety, marketing and inspection activities; rural economic and community development activities; telecommunications and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities of the USDA.

Future Farmers in National News

NY Times: FFA Prospers by Looking Ahead

New York--A New York Times article examines the continued popularity of the Future Farmers of America, even as the total number of U.S. farmers has declined in recent decades. With 500,000 members and more joining daily, FFA is the largest vocational student group in the country. About 45,000 FFA members attended the group’s national convention last month.

“The group has succeeded in part by expanding well beyond agricultural science while also broadening that field to include genetics, logistics, landscape gardening and alternative fuels,” noted the Times.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just in from Washington

U.S. Farm Exports Reach Record High in Fiscal 2011

Washington--Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion—exceeding past highs by $22.5 billion—and supported 1.15 million jobs here at home, according to the Agriculture Department.

“Agriculture continues to bolster our nation’s economy by contributing a trade surplus year after year,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. This year, the surplus hit a record $42.7 billion. And next year looks equally strong for the U.S. agricultural economy, thanks in part to the signing of new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which when fully implemented will add an additional $2.3 billion to the U.S. export total and support nearly 20,000 American jobs.

Strong export performance means higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses owners, and jobs for those who package, ship and market agricultural products.

USDA news release

Friday, November 11, 2011

For those who served...


Farm Bureau event honors those who served


POCATELLO — Despite the brisk wind and cooler temperatures on Thursday morning, Cpl. Phillip Baldwin, of Fort Hall, received a warm welcome home.

Former members of the military in attendance at the Farm Bureau “Salute to Idaho Veterans” event did not pass up the opportunity to shake the young man’s hand.

“I’m feeling good,” Baldwin said. “I have no complaints.”

The local veteran’s legs were amputated after he stepped on a land mine during his first tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.

Baldwin indicated that he has been released from the hospital and has already started working with a physical therapist.

“It’s good to see such a high turnout today,” Baldwin commented. “There are a lot of veterans here locally, and they’re good guys.”

Baldwin, who arrived home on Tuesday, said he is learning how to get around just fine with help from his brothers.

“I encounter obstacles, but my brothers just pick up the wheelchair to get me over a small step (if need be),” Baldwin said. “They joke that it’s a good thing I’m not a big guy, or they might not be so inclined to do so.”

The program kicked off with an invocation and flag ceremony outside of the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho’s facility which overlooks the Gate City off Tierra Vista Drive.

Inside, James Hughes, the master of ceremonies, greeted the crowd of people, young and old alike.

“Many veterans in this room have stepped away from active duty decades ago, some of them for years and months,” Hughes stated. “Others in the room are in the midst of active duty, and I say thank you to you.”

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited with tenacity and verve by all in the room.

Veterans of war from each era were recognized and honored.

“The intention of Veterans Day is to thank those who are living for their service ... to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated,” said Commander Richard Hollingsworth of the Veterans of Foreign Wars group and President of the Bannock County Veterans Association.

Courage, honor and integrity are three qualities Hollingsworth tacked on to members of the military, past and present, during his speech.

He summed up his war experience by saying: “I watched my friends die in the most horrible ways possible. We shared tears and laughter through bitter trials filled with pain, but I will always remember and hold true to the brotherhood. God bless America and I salute all of you veterans.”

The event coincided with the 236th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Ada County Annual Meeting

Shane Stevenson talks about Ada County Farm Bureau's ongoing Ag Education projects at the Annual Banquet.

Record crowd turns out for Ada County Annual Banquet
Kuna--A good parking spot was hard to find at Greg Nelson's Peregrine Steak House. More than 200 attended the banquet including Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley, State lawmakers and former county presidents.

"We had a good year," said Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke. "Our members always turn out in the good years and we've had quite a few now back to back." Sonke told members about on-going Ada County Farm Bureau projects, like the Ag display at Zoo Boise.
"We've had tens of thousands of visits," he said, "We're happy taking Agriculture to the people of Idaho."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just in

Farmers Alliance Undergoes Positive Change in First Year

Washington--In an interview with Farm Futures, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has undergone a positive change in its first year. Stallman serves as chairman of USFRA, which was formed last November.

“Obviously with an effort of this magnitude there was skepticism about us being able to pull it off,” Stallman told Farm Futures. “But we’ve shown through the activities of this first year that we’re very capable of raising the funds and resources that we need to, that we're perfectly capable of putting together strategic communications programs and implementing them, and we were certainly successful with our kick off in September with The Food Dialogues, and right now I think we’ve converted a lot of people and they believe we can be successful at trying to engage with consumers.”

Stallman said USFRA is putting together a comprehensive communications plan for 2012. Communication training for farmers and ranchers will be emphasized next year.

“We’ve known all along that for this to be successful we have to create that direct conversation with consumers and farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “Consumers want that direct connection with those who raise and grow their food. Farmers and ranchers sometimes are a little reluctant to step out of their comfort zone and have those kinds of conversations, so we are going to move forward and identify those farmers and ranchers who are willing to step up on behalf of the Alliance, on behalf of U.S. agriculture, to engage with consumers, listen to them, answer their questions, very directly, very openly, a lot of transparency.”

Farm Futures article

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just in from Washington

Farmer Plants 3 Billionth Acre of Biotech Crops

Washington--On Friday, a farmer somewhere in the world—most likely in South America where spring planting is already under way—made agricultural history by planting the world’s 3 billionth acre of biotech crops.

How big is 3 billion acres?” asked Brazilian farmerRichard Franke Dijkstra, a member of theTruth About Trade & TechnologyGlobal Farmer Network. Dijkstra explained in an editorial that 3 billion acres is bigger than the Amazon rainforest and all of Brazil. He went on to write, “It’s big enough to say with absolute certainty that biotechnology is now a thoroughly conventional variety of agriculture.”

Biotech by the Numbers

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Memorium

Wilder--State Rep. Patrick Takasugi, a republican two-term state lawmaker from Wilder, died at a Boise hospital after a three-year battle with appendix cancer. He was 62.

In 1979 Takasugi was honored as the "Outstanding Young Farmer" in Idaho by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and also received the state Jaycees' "Idaho Outstanding Young Farmer" award in 1980 and Canyon County Farmer of the Year in 2010.

He served in many organization leadership roles with the Farm Bureau, Food Producers of Idaho, Leadership Idaho Agriculture Foundation, Idaho Crop Improvement Association, University of Idaho Ag Consulting Council, Idaho Republican State Central Committee, Northwest Alfalfa Seed Growers Association, Idaho Alfafa Seed Commission, National Council of Ag Employers, Canyon County Sheriff Reserve Unit and several insurance company boards of directors.

Takasugi was a proud College of Idaho graduate and went on to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces. Governor Phil Batt named him director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture. He also farmed more than 1,500 acres near Wilder and Homedale.

Takasugi is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and three children. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Congress considers Farm Bill this week

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