Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Warmer Temperatures Forecast this weekend
Idaho Falls--The Snake River continues to rise along the Snake from Ashton to Heyburn--The river has hit floodstage and is expected to crest, depending on temperatures and melting snow. A sudden heatwave, could prove disasterous, according to county emergency managers.
Since mid-May the Snake River has invaded the lowlands around Blackfoot, some homes are threatened and the call for sandbags have gone out in the neighborhoods along the river.
Bingham County officials said the river rose above 12 feet over the Memorial Day weekend.
“It was 11.97 (Monday) morning at 9 o’clock and it’s dropped a little bit since then,” Bingham County's Director of Emergency Management Craig Rowland said.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Flood Concerns and Water levels rise
Boise--The Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security is keeping a close eye on weather and flooding conditions throughout the state and preparing for flooding after heavy rainfall yesterday and more storms expected over Memorial day
After heavy rainfall yesterday there is a higher-than-average potential for damaging flooding due to record snowpack in many areas of the state, many rivers have reached flood stage.
Hydrologist Troy Lindquist of the National Weather Service in Pocatello, said a weekend storm that could run through Sunday night could bring "significant" accumulations of snow to the high country. He said as much as six inches could fall in the mountains at 8500 feet and above, he said, "and that's more that's got to melt off, extending the runoff season."
Continued heavy rain will also add to potential flash floods here, Lindquist said. Lindquist says its important to keep an eye on local streams and creeks, especially those that are already at capacity.
Backcountry snowfall is already at record levels, particularly in northern and eastern Idaho. The cooler spring weather has delayed snow from melting, increasing concerns that runoff could be devastating when summer comes. Reservoirs throughout the state are releasing water to make room for the additional runoff.
Idaho rivers now at flood stage include the St. Joe in northern Idaho; the Bruneau and Boise rivers in southwestern Idaho, and the Snake, Henry's Fork and Portneuf rivers in eastern Idaho. The Kootenai River close to Bonners Ferry is near flood stage, as is Lake Coeur d'Alene. Local and state officials will continue monitoring river and lake levels as they fluctuate with the varying weather and runoff conditions.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Options for Farmers with Delayed Planting from Wet Conditions
SPOKANE--Cool and extremely wet weather in the inland Northwest has caused crop damage and slowed planting this spring. Dave Paul, Director of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) Spokane Regional Office, encourages producers faced with questions on prevented planting, replant or crop losses this spring, to contact their agent for more information.
Producers who are unable to plant an insured crop by the final planting date due to an insurable cause, such as excess moisture and flooding have a number of optionsProducers may plant the insured crop during the 25 day late planting period with a reduction in the production guarantee of 1 percent a day for each day planting is delayed after the final planting date.
Producers may leave the acreage idle and receive a full prevented planting payment or the producer may be able to plant the acreage to another crop after the late planting period and receive a reduced prevented planting payment.
"Producers with double cropping history can receive a full prevented planting payment within the guidelines of the policy.
Prevented planting coverage will not be provided for any acreage that does not constitute at least 20 acres or 20 percent of the insurable crop acreage in the unit. Producers need to keep in mind that group policies do not provide prevented planting coverage.
Producers who are unable to plant due to excess moisture need to contact their insurance company to discuss prevented planting policy requirements related to their specific coverage and farming operation.” said Paul. “The producer’s insurance company will make the final determination of acres eligible for prevented planting payments
Paul encourages producers to contact their crop insurance agent for assistance. Producers can also get crop insurance information on the web at: www.rma.usda.gov.
A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers throughout the U.S. or at the web site: http://www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Stallman Outlines Ramifications of E-Verify on Farmers
Washington--In a letter sent Friday to members of the House Judiciary Committee, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman outlined the potential ramifications for U.S. farmers if Congress passes legislation to broaden the E-Verify program for hiring workers. The Committee is expected to consider a bill that would require the program for private sector firms, rather than just for federal contractors as currently required.
“One thing, we believe, is imperative: if E-Verify is to be made mandatory for agricultural employers, it is critical that Congress address our labor force needs in the same legislative vehicle,” Stallman stressed. “Farm Bureau urges the committee not to approve any E-Verify requirement for agriculture unless it is coupled with provisions that provide farmers and ranchers the assurance that they will in fact have a supply of legal workers available.”
Surveys from the Labor National Agricultural Workers Survey have placed the percentage of workers without authorization at greater than 50 percent, according to Stallman. Using these figures, Farm Bureau economists estimated that $5 billion to $9 billion of annual production would be at risk were this labor not available.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Corn Supply Tight Despite Projected Record Crop
Washington--The Agriculture Department projects a record U.S. corn crop this year, but despite the expected increase in production, American Farm Bureau Federation economists emphasize that stocks are still tight and corn farmers will need strong yields to meet demand and build stocks to more comfortable levels.
USDA released its May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates on Wednesday, which pegs U.S. corn production at 13.5 billion bushels in 2011. If realized, this would be the largest U.S. crop ever, outdoing the record 13.1 billion bushel corn crop in 2009.
“It’s important to remember that this is a preliminary estimate from USDA. A lot can change from now until harvest,” explained Todd Davis, AFBF crops economist. “We still don’t know the impact late planting in Corn Belt states east of the Mississippi will have on this year’s corn crop. We’re going to need a warm summer with timely rains to realize this 13.5 billion bushel corn crop.”
AFBF news release
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Free Trade Talks Continue on Capitol Hill
Washington--The inability of Congress and the administration to move three stalled free trade agreements is hurting U.S. economic growth, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman who testified Thursday before the House Agriculture Committee. Combined, the Korea, Colombia and Panama agreements would add nearly $2.5 billion to the U.S. economy through agricultural trade.
Once fully implemented, the Korea free trade agreement would trigger $1.9 billion annually in agriculture exports. Gains in exports through the Colombia agreement are estimated at $370 million, while the Panama agreement is estimated to increase U.S. agricultural exports by more than $46 million.
“These trade agreements are not only important to the bottom line of America’s farmers and ranchers but the economic health of our rural communities and the overall U.S. economy,” said Stallman. “There is a long supply chain made up of American workers who get products from the farm gate to foreign consumers. A decline in our exports means a decline in work for those who are a part of that supply chain.”
AFBF news release
Monday, May 16, 2011
President Obama Calls for Revamping Farm Programs
Washington--In a town hall meeting on CBS’s “The Early Show,” President Barack Obama said it may be time to put a cap on federal farm program payments. “Our system of farm support needs revamping,” he said.
In response to a question from Matt Harsh, a fruit and vegetable farmer, the president said, “Part of what we want to do is to make sure that help is going to family farms in crisis situations. Drought, disaster and so forth, that we're not just giving ongoing subsidies to big agri-business. Which is the way that a lot of our farm programs work right now."
Farm Bureau supports extending the concepts of the 2008 farm bill and backs policy that provides a strong and effective safety net that does not necessarily guarantee a profit, but protects crop and livestock producers from catastrophic occurrences. Farm Bureau opposes income means testing and targeting of benefits applied to farm program payment eligibility.
CBS News Online article
Washington--Exports of U.S. beef and pork continued on a record-setting pace in March, with beef posting a 65 percent gain in value versus year-ago levels and pork showing an impressive 40 percent increase, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF.
On a per-head basis, both pork and beef exports achieved record value levels. The U.S. exported 29.4 percent of total pork production with a per-head equivalent value of $56.52.For the first three months of 2011, beef exports are up 32 percent in volume and 53 percent in value while pork exports are up 18 percent in volume and 25 percent in value compared to the first quarter of 2010.
“We are seeing rebounding global demand for high-quality U.S. red meat products, particularly as consumer trust recovers in key markets like Japan and South Korea,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO.
“Certainly, we still are facing obstacles in the international marketplace, such as China’s ban on U.S. beef, Mexico’s NAFTA-related tariff on U.S. pork, technical issues in Taiwan and age restrictions on beef exports to Japan, but even without the resolution of any significant access issues, we’re finding increased opportunities to expand market share for U.S. red meat products.
U.S. Meat Export Federation news release
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Winter wheat up 7%
Boise--Idaho’s 2011 winter wheat production is forecast at 62.4 million bushels, 7% higher than last year and 10% higher than 2009. Yield is estimated to be 79 bushels per acre down 3 bushels from last year. Total acreage is expected to be 790,000 up 80,000 over last year.
Idaho hay stocks estimated to be 280,000 tons, down 64% from last year and down 38% from 2009.
All hay stored on the farm nationally as of May 1st totaled 22.2 million tons, up 6% from a year ago.
Cedar Falls–As farmers head back to the field this spring more use global positioning, computers and other electronics to help make the most of seed, fertilizer and other inputs critical to a successful crop.
And as the wet spring drags on, those growers – ones with the right equipment – may be getting set to pull a few “all-nighters.”
"Precision ag technology helps growers get more acres planted within their window of opportunity,” explains George Huber of Trimble Navigation. “Precision ag allows them to plant 24-hours a day if they choose.” That’s just one of many factors fueling the accelerated adoption of the high-tech tools of precision agriculture, according to those close to these growers.
Higher crop prices are going to be central to the accelerated adoption of precision,” says K. Elliott Nowels, director of the PrecisonAg Institute. “But we’re hearing from top growers that there are other reasons driving adoption as well, including the desire to prove their environmental stewardship.
“Many growers feel that regulatory scrutiny of crop production is not going to lessen,” he explains, “and the ability to document by computer what they do on their farms is going to be important to them.”
Huber says adopting precision tools can lower production costs as well. “The current economic times demand lowering the risks of growing a crop and this is an excellent time to invest in the tools of precision agriculture,” he says, adding that larger operations will benefit from the increased efficiency of using computer technology to spread effective management over more acres.
Nowels sees the age of farmers and generational transfer as another factor influencing the adoption of new technology in agriculture.
'As the younger, more tech-savvy growers begin to lead those family operations they are going to be more likely to put new technology to use on their farms,” he says. “Another key issue is that the equipment works well now. The technology has been refined to a point where we can count on it to do what’s promised.”
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Robert Blair's tractor sits idle, waiting for soils to dry out. Blair photo
Insurance Deadline loom large in North Idaho
Kendrick--Robert Blair has fixed, repaired every piece of equipment on the farm, now all he can do is look at the skies and hope for sunshine, he's been waiting for weeks but rainfall every day has ground his farm operation to a muddy halt.
What’s the situation in Northern, Idaho?
Well, it’s wet. Some people are getting crops seeded, shot-gunning wheat, and legumes in. You get an area like Potlatch ridge, we had over a half inch of rain through the weekend and it’s still wet.
How’s it playing out?
Not much has been seeded and the deadline for insurance is coming up. Farmers are looking at different options they can do. It’s windy so we can’t spray Roundup for our wheat. Airplanes are booked up, custom operation rigs are booked up and we’re starting to get into that time crunch.
What's the long-term forecast?
It’s supposed to be warm here today but we’re going to have showers tonight with rain next week it doesn’t get better, they’re calling for cloudy skies with more rain this weekend depending on what forecast you’re looking at. We’re supposed to get up into the 70’s and they’re calling for thunderstorms. The topsoil is drying out but it’s wet underneath, even a four-wheeler is sinking deep into the dirt, we have nothing but mud. Once you get past the crust, that soil will hold water.
That’s creating stress?
We’re fighting a lot of issues up here, we’re trying to farm but it’s just too wet, you go to the higher elevations and the wheat crop is not looking good. We have not had enough warm days and with all the cool rain that we had it’s no wonder the crops are behind too.
Any idea how far behind you are at this point?
Behind that’s for sure, they’re definitely is a major concern up here just to get crops in the ground. I’m hearing that half the acreage up here will not have wheat planted by the weekend and that’s the insurance deadline. In our county it’s roughly two thirds planted
What about contracted wheat?
They won’t be excused from the contracts; they might be able to roll them over, the guys that have grain contracts. You can still put crops in; you just start losing insurance coverage each day after the ending period. So you’re paying a hundred percent of your premium but you are only getting x-percent of coverage each day that you go past the seeding deadline date. If it keeps raining like they are saying and they say rain until the end of June.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Washington--Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senate Agriculture Committee chair, said changes will need to be made in the direct payment program in the 2012 farm bill, but a strong safety net is still needed and support is strong for strengthening crop insurance and expanding the number of commodities it covers.
In a meeting with farm broadcasters on Capitol Hill last week, Stabenow emphasized the importance of a workable safety net in the next farm bill. “I’ll make a strong case for that,” she said.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Stallman: Room for All in Agriculture
Washington--American Farm Bureau President fired off a letter to the Washington Post on Friday in response to a column written by Eric Schlosser. “When it comes to the state of America’s food and agriculture systems, it is unlikely we will ever agree with Eric Schlosser,”
Stallman was responding to the column, “Healthy food for all: Why is that elitist?,” by Schlosser published last Sunday. Schlosser is the author of “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” and co-producer of the documentary “Food Inc.”
“There is no doubt that a handful of thought leaders aspire to dictate what is placed on America’s dinner tables. That’s not name-calling; it’s the context of our nation’s ongoing food debate,” Stallman wrote in his letter.
“What should be un-debatable is that today Americans have more food choices and spend less of their disposable income on food than practically anyone else on Earth. Americans are living longer than ever; part of that progress must be attributed to the quality and safety of our food production system,” Stallman wrote. “Family-owned farms make up more than 97 percent of our nation’s farms, and there is plenty of room for those who choose to farm for fancy stores and high-end restaurants. We also want to make sure that food choices are preserved for Americans who want to make the most of their food dollars.”
Readers may post comments on the Post’s website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/debating-whats-on-the-dinner-table/2011/05/03/AFFacD2F_story.html">website.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Washington--Testifying Tuesday before two congressional committees, American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Barry Bushue said the process for crop protection registration is “hopelessly broken.” Bushue, who testified before a joint public hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Natural Resources, cited the need for reconciliation between two federal agencies that both perform crop protection risk assessments.
Because both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act specifically require the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Services, respectively, to perform risk assessment procedures, AFBF says that legislation is needed to reconcile the roles of these agencies and to mesh two risk assessment requirements into one.
“The duplication of the risk assessment requirements for crop protection registration by EPA and for consultation by the Services is a prime example of the duplication and waste that exists in our federal agencies,” said Bushue. “The current process is not effective for anyone, including growers, regulators and endangered species.”
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Redundant Rules Make Life Hard for Farmers
Washington--This week members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committees will be asking questions about rules on pesticide use, particularly when they deal with the Endangered Species Act. Tyler Wegmeyer, American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist, says redundant rules make life hard for farmers, but don’t help preserve endangered species.
“We have three government agencies that are responsible for pesticide registrations to protect the endangered species and this process is broken,” Wegmeyer said. “It’s dysfunctional. It’s duplicative. It’s going to cost farmers money and it’s going to cost farmers the ability to put crop protectants on their products, which ultimately could increase food costs.”
Wegmeyer said the Environmental Protection Agency already conducts thorough studies about potential impacts on humans and wildlife before registering any pesticide, and it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars to have the departments of Interior and Commerce do the same thing. And all the additional red tape causes problems for farmers.
“Farmers should not be unnecessarily handicapped in order to use a crop protection product that’s gone through the proper registration process. They are directly impacted if they can’t use that product when a weed infestation pops up or a disease pops up. They need to be able to use the product how it was registered to be used,” Wegmeyer said
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Snowpack across Idaho Above Average
Lowman--Proof positive that it's still winter in the mountains. Ron Abramovich of the NRCS and IDWR snow survey crew measuring the snow at Mores Creek Creeek Summit in Boise County.
Mores Creek Summit, elevation 6,100 feet
Today’s Average Today’s Average
Snow Water Snow Water Depth Depth
37.0 inches 28.5 89 63
Bad Bear Snow Course, elevation 4,940 feet
9.7 inches 3.8 26 9
The snowpack at Mores Creek is 130% of average for today. Overall, the Boise basin snowpack is 119% of average while the Big Wood basin is 121% of average.
However, the Boise and Big Wood snowpacks are the lowest in the state. Concerns about this year’s snowmelt runoff are greater in eastern Idaho and the Upper Snake in Wyoming, where the snowpack is at or near record high levels for at 160-190% of average. Warmer temperatures are needed now to start melting the mid-elevation snowpack before the higher elevation snowpack starts melting in the second half of May.
Link to Idaho of map of today’s snowpack: