Steadman's Awarded the President's Cup
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Steadman's Awarded the President's Cup
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
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: http://www.lifeontherange.org/range-stories/upper-salmon- 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. www.lifeontherange.org,
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Farm Bureau event honors those who served
BY TAMMY SCARDINO
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.