Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just in from Boise

Biodiesel Production Hits 1 Billion Gallons

Washington--The U.S. biodiesel industry produced more than 1 billion gallons of the renewable fuel in 2011, according to year-end numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency. The total volume of nearly 1.1 billion gallons beat the previous record of 690 million gallons in 2008 and exceeded the 800 million-gallon target under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of stories about setbacks in the renewable energy sector recently, and I think our success in 2011 reflects the bigger picture reality, which is that strong energy policy is working to stimulate production of clean, American-made energy,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, in announcing the industry’s milestone last Friday.

The NBB said the industry’s success shows that the RFS and the $1-per-gallon biodiesel production tax credit worked as intended to create jobs and reduce America’s dependence on imported fuel while improving the environment.

The tax credit expired at the end of last year. The biodiesel industry is urging Congress to reinstate the tax incentive and calling on the Obama administration to finalize an EPA proposal to boost the biodiesel volume requirement under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013.

NBB News Release

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just in from Washington

New School Lunch Standards Unveiled

Washington--First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday unveiled new standards for school meals that, according to USDA, will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation.

The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than 15 years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the first lady as part of her Let's Move! campaign and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The new rules will:Ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;Substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods;Offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;Limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; andIncrease the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

"http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-01010_PI.pdf">USDA final ruleUSDA news release and blog

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jerry Kramer and Idaho YF&R Collegiate Members

Pro Football legend Jerry Kramer took time to pose with the University of Idaho's Young Farmer and Rancher Group, Saturday in Boise.
Kramer was the featured guest, telling the YF&R group that excellence is an acquired skill.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference

Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley addresses the Young Farmer and Rancher Conference Friday evening at the Idaho Hotel and Conference Center. Priestley urged YF&R members to stay active and to keep up on issues this legislative session. Priestley says a number of Ag issues will be followed and tracked throughout the session.

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference

Boise--Members of the Idaho Young Farmer and Rancher Group tour the Idaho Statehouse on Friday morning. The tour consisted of the new wings, along with the old sections of the historic building.

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference

Boise-Idaho Senator Melinda Smyser of Parma addresses the Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Group at the Idaho Statehouse on Friday. Smyser is the Vice Chairman of the State Senate Agriculture Committee.

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference

Boise--House Ag Chairman, Rep. Ken Andrus addresses the Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Group at the Statehouse on Friday morning. Andrus gave a preview of the 2012 Legislative session and key issues that could come in front of the Agriculture Committee.

Young Farmer and Rancher Conference

YF&R Conference Underway in Boise

Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Group is gathering in Boise for their annual meeting at the Boise Hotel and Conference Center.

This morning the group will tour the Idaho Statehouse and meet with lawmakers.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of young farmers and ranchers (between the ages of 18 and 35) in the state of Idaho, commonly attracting over 200 attendees. The organization was established to cultivate future Farm Bureau leaders.

This year’s conference theme is “Engage – Act – Win.” The group will tour the Idaho Statehouse and attend workshops on planning for success and sustaining profitability on beef cow / calf operations. The workshops will be led by Colorado State University Extension Agriculture and Business Management Specialists Rod Sharp and Jeff Tranel.

A grain marketing workshop will be hosted by Clark Johnston, a grain marketing specialist and owner of JC Management Co., of Ogden, Utah. The group will also attend an evening banquet and participate in a scholarship auction.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

County News

Ada County Farm Bureau Gets National AFBF Award
Honolulu--The Ada County Farm Bureau received the County Activities Excellence award at the American Farm Bureau convention in Honolulu, Hawaii. The awards were presented to 25 county Farm Bureaus from around the country that had programs to educate and promote
Each county received $2250 from the American Farm Bureau
Foundation for Agriculture and were given space for a display in the exhibit
hall. The exhibits presented by the counties allowed members to interact
and exchange ideas to better present our message assuring the public that the
food they purchase is safe, wholesome and affordable.

Just in from Boise

AFBF Urges Congress to Reject Antibiotic Restrictions

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging congressional members to oppose legislation that would restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. In letters sent Wednesday to Senate and House members, AFBF said the legislation would handicap veterinarians and farmers in their efforts to maintain animal health and protect the nation’s food supply.

“Farm Bureau members use antibiotics carefully, judiciously and according to label instructions to treat, prevent and control disease in their flocks and herds,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “These products are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced from these animals.”

AFBF went further to say that antibiotic use in animals does not pose a serious public health threat.

“Proponents of the bill suggest that antibiotic use could constitute a public health threat through antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals being passed along, creating a similar resistance in humans,” said Stallman. “However, in more than 40 years of antibiotics being used to treat animals, such a public health threat has not arisen, and recent government data shows the potential that one might occur is declining.”

Pending bills H.R. 965 (House) and S. 1211 (Senate) would remove specific antibiotics and classes of antibiotics that are important for use in animals from the market.

AFBF news release

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just in from Boise

NFL Legend to Address Idaho Young Farmers and Ranchers
BOISE - Former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer will address the Idaho Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher’s Annual Leadership Conference at 10 a.m. on Saturday January 28th, at the Boise Hotel and Convention Center.
Kramer was born in Montana but lived most of his early years in Sandpoint.
After graduating from Sandpoint High in 1954, he accepted a football scholarship to the University of Idaho. Kramer’s good size, speed and athletic ability elevated him to star status for the Vandals. After graduation Kramer played in the East-West Shrine Game and the College All-Star Game, defeating the defending NFL Champion Detroit Lions. Kramer had his jersey retired by the University of Idaho.
Kramer was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and won the starting right guard position his rookie year. With the Packers he won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. Kramer also was the team’s kicker in ’62, 63, and part of 1968.
Kramer was named All-Pro five times and is the only member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time team who is not a member the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Near the end of his career in 1967, Kramer collaborated with Dick Schapp on his first book, the best-selling Instant Replay, a diary of the season which chronicled the life of an offensive lineman in the NFL.
Kramer and Schaap would write two more books together. Kramer played his last year under new head coach Phil Bengtson in 1968. After that season, which saw the aging Packers fall to a losing record of 6-7-1, Kramer wrote a second book, Farewell to Football. After retiring, Kramer briefly worked as a color commentator on CBS National Football League telecasts.
The Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of young farmers and ranchers (between the ages of 18 and 35) in the state of Idaho, commonly attracting over 200 attendees. The organization was established to cultivate future Farm Bureau leaders.
This year’s conference theme is “Engage – Act – Win.” The group will tour the Idaho Statehouse and attend workshops on planning for success and sustaining profitability on beef cow / calf operations. The workshops will be led by Colorado State University Extension Agriculture and Business Management Specialists Rod Sharp and Jeff Tranel.
A grain marketing workshop will be hosted by Clark Johnston, a grain marketing specialist and owner of JC Management Co., of Ogden, Utah. The group will also attend an evening banquet and participate in a scholarship auction.
Kendall Keller is the IFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers coordinator. He can be reached atkkeller@idahofb.org.

County News

Latah County Farm Bureau Board of Directors meet for annual Board training last week. The Board met in their offices in Moscow. (Bob Smathers photo)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just in from Washington

Lawmakers Hold EPA to Task for ‘Sue & Settle’ Tactic

Washington--Republican leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson accusing the agency of choosing to settle activist lawsuits under terms EPA then uses to expand its regulatory authority.

EPA reportedly is negotiating with environmental groups to settle two lawsuits concerning the agency’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. One of the lawsuits alleges that EPA has a duty to regulate groundwater pollution under the CWA. The other lawsuit alleges that EPA must mandate that states regulate nonpoint source pollution.

“Since neither allegation is true, we were very surprised to learn that EPA is choosing to settle these cases, rather than to honor the limits of its authority under the Clean Water Act and vigorously defend these cases,” wrote Reps. John Mica (Fla.) and Bob Gibbs (Ohio) and Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.). Mica in a news release said that the “sue and settle” tactic is becoming an EPA tool for “backdoor jurisdiction grabs.”

The lawmakers asked Jackson to respond to several questions, including whether the agency has the authority to command a state to regulate nonpoint source pollution. Pollution from nonpoint sources can come from farms, city streets, suburban lawns and logging, mining and construction sites. When Congress passed the CWA, it dictated that with the exception of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, agricultural compliance with water quality standards had to be voluntary and incentive-based.

Letter to EPA Administrator

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just in from Washington

AFBF Establishes Priority Issues for 2012

Washington--Congress will debate numerous issues this year. And the American Farm Bureau Federation has positions on a multitude of issues. But President Bob Stallman says the organization must focus its resources on a short list of priority issues to wield influence in Washington, D.C.

“It’s very important that we pass a farm bill in 2012,” Stallman said. “The current one expires at the end of 2012. Farmers need some certainty; they need to understand what the rules are about whatever safety net the government is there to provide for those calamities and instances where farmers’ and ranchers’ entire operations are at risk.”

Other priority issues for AFBF in 2012 include securing an adequate agricultural guestworker program, urging the Department of Labor to maintain the traditional exemption for family labor for children of farmers and ranchers, and estate tax policy reform.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just in from Washington

Forest Service Grants $52.2M to Protect Working Forests

Washington--The U.S. Forest Service is granting $52.2 million for 17 conservation and working lands projects across the U.S. in 2012. The Forest Legacy Program has protected 2.2 million acres through public-private partnership using federal and leveraged funds of more than $562 million.

The program works with private landowners, states and conservation groups to promote sustainable, working forests. According to the service, Forest Legacy is an important component of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative’s goal of conserving rural working farms, ranches and forests by accelerating locally driven landscape conservation priorities.

“The Forest Legacy Program helps keep working forests working across the country,” said Chief Tom Tidwell. “These projects will support rural economies and American jobs while protecting some of our most beautiful landscapes for our children and grandchildren.”

USDA Forest Service news release

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just in--


Boise – Despite heavy snow storms this week; Snow surveyors from the Natural Resources Conservation Service say that measured snowpacks around the state are still below average.

“That extended dry spell from Thanksgiving to mid-December gave us blue skies during the day and cold nights but little else,” said Ron Abramovich Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist.

The Gem State’s twenty-two snow telemetry sites registered record low levels of snow in December and early January. But storms in mid January finally pushed out the static weather pattern and raised monthly precipitation measurements across the state but not enough to bring snowpacks to average levels, yet.

Abramovich says that La Nina high pressure ridges that dominated in November and December that form during these cycles break down, but still can give snowpacks time to build up.

“We’ve seen a few catch up models,” said Abramovich. “Especially the past few years, with this weather pattern we can get close to average levels as long as this storm track stays in place and the high pressure system stay’s north.”

“Long term climate forecasts still predict La Niña conditions will bring above average precipitation to the Pacific Northwest for the next several months,” said Abramovich. “But we need La Niña and 12 weeks of winter to salvage the year.”

Northern Idaho snowpacks are the best at 75-90% of average for this time of year. Southern and central Idaho snowpacks range from 35 to 65% of average. “The big storms have hit the driest parts of the state, things are looking up in Central Idaho,” added Abramovich.

The January storms tripled snowpack in the McCall and Bogus Basin area. Ski Areas that got off to a slow start, opened a month late. “They’re playing catch up too, but most should be okay the rest of the season,” said Abramovich.

Abramovich says that even if snowpacks remain below average this winter, there’s till excellent carryover water from last year. Reservoirs don’t need as much water as years past. He says there should be more than enough for for irrigation, power generation and recreation.

Forecasters across the Northwest say that the storm track pattern is changing and the ridge of high pressure or the "bubble of warm air" that had deflected storms northward into Canada and buried Alaska has broken down for now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hay Prices hit Record levels

Meridian--Idaho hay prices have reached last years peak prices, and are expected to stay above the two-hundred dollar mark according to market experts.

Idaho Hay and Forage Association Director Rick Waitley says that prices are at an all-time high, with average prices leveling out at $240 to $260 a ton.

Market experts say increased demands from feedlots and dairies combined with higher, out-of-state demand and good spring cuts in 2011. Growers say if they can get a good first cut this spring, prices could stay at record levels through the summer because market demand is strong.

Asian Markets Will Benefit Ag in 2012

Washington--As global demand for U.S. agricultural products continues to grow, American farmers can expect to see an increasing number of opportunities in China and other Asian markets in 2012, according to William Westman, Vice President for International Trade at the Meat Institute, speaking at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting.

“There are tremendous opportunities in China,” said Westman. “You have four times the population of the United States on two-thirds the size of the land and 225 cities anticipated to have populations of at least 1 million people by 2025. And just like us, they want what is best for their families. They want safe food and, with their emerging middle class, they now want more proteins and higher quality food.”

China also has more than $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and is starting to use it. The country’s agricultural production isn’t adequately keeping pace with its rapidly growing population, even in areas where farmers are producing multiple crops per year on intensively utilized land.

Westman explained that the Chinese government is trying to improve the nation’s agricultural infrastructure and productivity by investing in new technologies,

heavily subsidizing machinery and changing the efficiencies of the way farmers plant and harvest crops. However, water shortages in northern portions of the country hinder this progress and make the nation increasingly dependent on agricultural imports.

“China is our largest market for ag exports in all commodities and our trade with the country is up more than 1,000 percent since 2002,” said Westman, “But this remains one of the world’s most challenging markets. Even as interest in U.S. commodity exports rises, the Chinese government is going to continue to invest primarily in pork and poultry.”

The consumer market in China is shifting, too. Consumers are not only concerned about the quality of the food they are buying, but are also increasingly demanding high-quality presentations for that food. This becomes more apparent when factoring in the number of five-star hotels opening in China – and could become the missing piece needed for U.S. beef exports to succeed.

“The demand for our beef is accelerating in north Asia, but we have to have patience,” said Westman. “Our U.S. products have a wonderful image in China. They want what we are producing, but, for now, pork and poultry still reign.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just in--

Boise--The National Weather Service office in Boise issued a Winter Storm Warning for Wednesday for nearly all of southern Idaho. The latest update warns as much as 5-10 inches of snow could fall at lower elevations, with three feet or more in the higher elevations.

The snow level will start out at the valley floor level, and rise throughout the day with rain mixing into lower elevations. Snow level by Thursday should be 5,000 feet. Forecasters put the chance of precipitation in the Boise area at 100 percent for Wednesday.

The brunt of the storm is expected Wednesday afternoon and into the evening as a warm front moves over.

After Wednesday, the storm will primarily mean rain for the valley areas and mountain snow. The stormy pattern isn’t expected to let up – with much of the 7 Day Forecast filled with rain and snow icons.

Just in--

'Farmers Feed US' movement Expands to Mid-Atlantic

Chicago--A coalition of agricultural commodity groups and farmers from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware are launching the Mid-Atlantic Farmers Feed US.

The program is a great opportunity to introduce consumers to the hard-working men and women in their region who raise healthy, nutritious and affordable food, according to Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. “We need to show that even though our systems have changed and our use of technology has increased, the farmer’s commitment to do what’s right has never been stronger.”

Open to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington, D.C., residents, the program will offer consumers the chance to win one of four “Free Groceries for a Year” sweepstakes prizes, while introducing them to 10 of the region’s farmers.

Since July 2009, Farmers Feed US has been connecting growers and consumers in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. The programs have accounted for more than 1.35 million consumer sweepstakes registrations, with each one introducing consumers to farmers from their state.

Mid-Atlantic Farmers Feed US

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just in--

AFBF Delegates Approve Flexible, Fiscally Sound Farm Policy

HONOLULU– National farm policy should be rewritten this year to establish a program that protects farmers from catastrophic revenue losses by using a flexible combination of fiscally responsible tools, said voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting.

In approving the organization’s farm policy for 2012, the farmers and ranchers endorsed a multi-pronged policy proposal, including a provision for catastrophic revenue loss protection that works with a flexible range of crop insurance products, as well as amending the current farm bill’s marketing loan provisions to better reflect market values.

The adopted policy calls for a farm bill that “provides strong and effective safety net and risk management programs that do not guarantee a profit and minimizes the potential for farm programs affecting production decisions.”

“Our delegates approved a program to help farmers manage the many different types and levels of risk they face today, in particular catastrophic revenue losses that can threaten the viability of a farm or ranch,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “That is consistent with what we believe is the core mission of the federal farm program.”

Stallman was re-elected as AFBF president for a seventh two-year term. He is a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas. In addition, Barry Bushue was re-elected to a third two-year term as AFBF vice president. Bushue produces berries and nursery plants in Boring, Ore., and also serves as Oregon Farm Bureau president.

The delegates defeated a proposal to retain the current farm bill’s direct payments. In addition, by almost a two-to-one margin, the delegates defeated an amendment that would have allowed a patchwork of support through multiple programs for different commodities and regions.

“Delegate action against the patchwork approach recognized that it is impossible to ensure equity between diverse programs for various commodities,” Stallman said. “Without that assurance, one program would inevitably provide more government protection than the next program and we would inadvertently be encouraging producers to take their signals from government programs rather than the marketplace.

“Our delegates approved a policy that is flexible enough to work within the funding constraints we, as a nation, are facing, and the fiscal challenges we have a duty to address,” Stallman said. “Our delegates recognize we need to move beyond the policies of the past and to move toward programs to help producers deal with risk.”

One of the big advantages of the new AFBF farm policy position is that it offers a much simpler approach to farm program design than other farm policy proposals, according to Stallman.

The AFBF farm policy also encourages farmers to manage their farms using available risk management tools. According to Stallman, farmers should be allowed and encouraged to make individual management decisions to purchase crop insurance coverage that suits their farms and individual levels of risk.

Another positive aspect of the Farm Bureau farm policy proposal is that it can be applied to specialty crops.

“Our new farm policy position also includes the possibility of providing a farm bill risk management program for producers of fruits and vegetables,” Stallman said. “This is just one positive aspect of the proposal that we believe not only will broaden its utility to all farmers but will also appeal to an American public that is more interested in the wholesomeness, safety and variety of our domestic food supply.”

In a related discussion on dairy policy, delegates voted to move away from the current dairy price support and Milk Income Loss Contract programs and toward a program that bases risk protection on milk prices minus feed costs. This takes production costs into consideration, as well as recognizes the dairy industry’s regional differences, according to Stallman.

On renewable fuels, the delegates reaffirmed support for the federal Renewable Fuels Standard by defeating an amendment to strike that support.

“The RFS remains critical to the viability of ethanol as an alternative to imported petroleum fuel,” explained Stallman, “and the delegates felt that continuing to support production and use of domestic renewable fuels was a national security issue.”

The delegates opposed the Labor Department’s proposed expansion of the list of jobs deemed too hazardous for minors.

“The proposal has raised serious concerns in farm country about our ability to teach our children how to farm and instill a good work ethic,” Stallman said. “There is a great deal of concern about federal regulatory overreach, but few issues have piqued farm families more than this. It goes to the very heart of how agriculture works, with farmers and ranchers, who were taught by their parents how to do farm work safely and responsibly, training the next generation to follow in their own footsteps.”

The delegates also supported a moratorium on new regulations on small businesses and agriculture.

At the AFBF annual meeting, 369 voting delegates representing every state and agricultural commodity deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policies approved at the annual meeting will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization in its legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2012.

Farm Bureau Elects Grassroots Leaders

In addition to voting for president and vice president, the delegates elected three state Farm Bureau presidents to the AFBF board of directors: Kevin Paap of Minnesota and Craig Hill of Iowa to one-year terms for the Midwestern region and James “Hank” Combs of Nevada to a two-year term for the Western region.

Fourteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to represent their regions on the AFBF board of directors:

Midwest Region – Steve Baccus, Kansas; Blake Hurst, Missouri; Philip Nelson, Illinois; and Scott VanderWal, South Dakota.

Southern Region – Mark Haney, Kentucky; John Hoblick, Florida; Randy Knight, Mississippi; Jerry Newby, Alabama; Randy Veach, Arkansas; David Winkles, South Carolina; and Wayne Pryor, Virginia.

Northeast Region – Patricia Langenfelder, Maryland; and Richard Nieuwenhuis, New Jersey.

Western Region – Bob Hanson, Montana.

Glen Cope, a beef cattle producer from Missouri, was elected the new chairman of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, which also makes him a member of the AFBF board of directors during his one-year term.

Terry Gilbert of Kentucky continues to serve as chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee and on the AFBF board of directors. Committee members Isabella Chism of Indiana and Beth Pool of New Jersey were re-elected to two-year terms on the committee. Denise Hymel of Louisiana and Lillian Ostendorf of Montana also were elected to two-year terms.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Just in from Washington

Retail Food Prices Moderate Slightly in Fourth Quarter

Washington--Retail food prices at the supermarket declined slightly during
the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the latest American Farm Bureau
Federation Marketbasket Survey. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16
food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $49.23, down $3.89
or about 7 percent compared to the third quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items
surveyed, 14 decreased and two increased in average price compared to the prior
quarter. The overall basket of foods was up about 5 percent compared to one
year ago.

“Since about the last quarter of 2010, we have seen consistently higher
prices quarter-to-quarter on a broad range of marketbasket items,” said AFBF
Senior Economist John Anderson. “With this survey, that trend appears to have
reversed. While the marketbasket price was still higher year-over-year, the
pull-back from recent highs on most of the items in the basket suggests that
food price inflation is slowing down substantially.”

Meat and dairy products accounted for about half of the quarter-to-quarter
retail price decrease. Sliced deli ham decreased 74 cents to $4.69 per pound,
shredded cheddar decreased 38 cents to $4.32 per pound, bacon decreased 36
cents to $4.05 per pound, sirloin tip roast dropped 13 cents to $4.15 per
pound, ground chuck dropped 10 cents to $3.17 per pound, boneless chicken
breasts decreased 9 cents to $3.24 per pound and eggs dropped 6 cents to $1.72
for one dozen.

AFBF news release

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, Honolulu

Jacob Andersen makes Final Four, YF&R Discussion Meet Final

Honolulu--Heather Barnes of North Carolina won the Discussion Meet. She will have her choice of either a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2012 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2012 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.

The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet are Jacob Andersen of Idaho, Katie Pratt of Illinois and Chelsea Good of Kansas. Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 55A, courtesy of Case IH, a $5,000 Savings Bond and a STIHL Farm Boss, courtesy of STIHL.

The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

AFBF Annual Meeting wrap-up

Annual Meeting Wraps Up With Laughter and Awards

Honolulu--During the closing session of the 93rd American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, members heard remarks from the United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He discussed how important agriculture was to our country and the important role it plays in every American’s life. He pledged USDA would continue to listen to farmers and ranchers on rules and regulations and the impacts they may have before finalizing any new rules and regulations. He stressed the importance of helping young people return to the farm and the growing need to promote and talk about agriculture with consumers. He also addressed the reality of a farm bill that will focus on catastrophic losses and low commodity prices.

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, AFBF’s highest honor, was presented next. Missouri Farm Bureau past President Charles Kruse received the award with his wife Pam by his side. Kruse has dedicated his life to serving agriculture and has diligently worked to move agriculture forward.

Members enjoyed several laughs while listening to Dave Barry speak. Dave joked that he knew where our food really comes from today. He said our food comes from the trucks parked behind the supermarkets, not the supermarket shelves. He admitted not knowing a lot about agriculture but he expressed his gratitude for farmers and ranchers who produce the food he enjoys.

After much anticipation, it was finally time for the Young Farmers and Ranchers winners to be announced.

This year’s meeting was once again a great success! Next year the great state of Tennessee will host Farm Bureau members for the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau in Nashville.

Idaho Legislature Underway in Boise

Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter delivered his annual State of the State address on Monday. The second term governor wants to cut $60 million in income tax cuts, offer a pay raise for state workers, teachers and somehow give students laptops computers.

Otter's speech emphasized that he's more prone to make state budget cuts than adding costly new programs. His proposed income tax cuts greatly out weigh the paltry $5 million initiative to create technology jobs and spur university research.

Otter's proposed $41 million, 3 percent pay bonus for state workers and teachers has strings attatched -- they'll get the cash but only if tax revenues stay on track.

"There's a wide diversity of opinion on how best to target tax relief," Otter said. "But there's also broad consensus on the need to reduce the burden both on our hard-working taxpayers and on those employers who are looking for opportunities to grow our economy while creating careers and livelihoods."

Otter's 2013 budget will spend $2.65 billion in the next fiscal year, 4 percent more than this year when the state is expected to wind up with a roughly $100 million in state coffers till next June.

Lawmakers have at least three months to ponder all of the Governor's proposals before heading home.

Wheat News

Joe Anderson, a commissioner on the Idaho Wheat Commission stopped by the Farm Bureau offices in Boise to discuss the new Ag research endowment at the University of Idaho. Joe and wife Pam farm 3400 acres near Potlatch, Idaho.

A new $2-million dollar endowment was established at U of I for wheat research, what sorts of things do we need to sustain Idaho wheat?

Any crop impacted by weather influences has to have continuing research and development. Our ability to conduct agricultural research education has been impacted at federal, state, even county levels. I think Idaho Wheat Growers believe that we are in a new day and time and if we are going to compete for acres and the marketplace globally, we're going to have to maintain and enhance research to improve varieties of wheat. Specifically, we need to increase the efficiencies of production in this state. At the same time we’re vastly short of agricultural scientists in this country. The average age of a plant scientist working in the U.S. is 57 years old. Right now a plant breeder can name their salary because companies as well as universities are looking for them. So this era of cannibalizing researchers and constantly searching for plant breeders is bothersome. Hopefully this endowment will ease the problem and encourage some of the best and brightest students to get into plant science. We want to start a work study program as soon as possible, if they show promise, prospective students would get a 4 year scholarship for undergad work and work in wheat research programs. In just a few years we can turn out young plant scientists to replace that aging workforce.

What sorts of innovations do we need to stay sustainable in the world marketplace?

We need programs that have enough variability in the germ plasm base to be able to very quickly incorporate various types of germ plasm into varieties that are adapted. That's part of the incentive to partner with these companies, that we will have technology to do that. Its still plant variety development at this point but we need to speed up the process of getting genetics into a new varieties.

We as wheat commissioners are interested in bringing partnerships between the University of Idaho, School of Ag, Life Sciences and private companies. We were approached about the Lima Grain cereal seed in May, but couldn’t talk about it at the time because everyone wanted to make sure the agreements were in place. The Idaho Wheat Commission has a commitment and we believe that perhaps the capabilities of private companies and the university can be brought together in a much more timely fashion to address changing needs.

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program

Re-enrollment Continues Through June 22, Dairy producers urged to act now WASHINGTON– U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announ...