Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Canyon County Farm Bureau Legislative Lunch

Canyon County holds Annual Legislative Lunch

Boise--Canyon County Farm Bureau held their annual Legislative Lunch at the Idaho Farm Bureau Offices at 500 W. Washington in Boise today.

Lobbyist and Member Roger Batt briefed fellow members about the 2012 Legislative Session.
The County holds the annual event to match farm members with lawmakers from their home districts for the annual briefing.

Just in from Washington

Ag Groups Speak Up on Conservation Title

Washington--In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) this week, a group of national agriculture organizations spoke up about the conservation title in the farm bill. The letter was sent just prior to the committee’s hearing “Strengthening Conservation Through the 2012 Farm Bill,” which took place yesterday.

The American Farm Bureau Federation co-signed the letter along with nine other national agriculture organizations.

In the letter, the groups expressed support for the conservation title, which was developed as part of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction process. “That framework, as we understand it, contained provisions strongly supported by the farmers our organizations represent: simplification, flexibility and consolidation,” said the letter.

“The number and complexity of USDA conservation programs is daunting to many growers,” continued the letter. “Consolidating 23 programs into 13—reducing the number almost by half—is welcome news.” The group applauded Sens. Stabenow and Roberts for simplify the conservation programs by keeping the same tools but merging them into fewer programs.

The groups also said they supported the conservation title’s focus on working lands conservation. “These programs have grown to be the largest in the conservation portfolio, and for good reason,” said the letter. “Farmers value their ability to partner with USDA in protecting and conserving soil, water and other natural resources, particularly as a tool to help them prevent and/or comply with regulation. Agricultural conservation programs truly provide a win-win in this respect.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just in from Washington

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack: Tax Laws Create ‘Land Lock’

Washington--Congress needs to change the tax code so that farmers and landowners are better able to sell their land to beginning farmers and ranchers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week at USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum.

“There’s really no reason for someone with land that appreciates in value to consider the sale of that land to anybody until after they have passed away, under our current system,” Vilsack said. “That creates a land lock we need to address. And there are opportunities, should Congress so desire, to take a look at both estate and income taxes to free up opportunities for transfer.”

A handful of Bush administration tax cuts, already extended twice by Congress, will expire at the end of this year. Estate taxes will rise to as much as 55 percent, from the current 35 percent, and the individual exemption will plunge to $1 million, from the current $5 million. Capital gains taxes will go from zero to 10 percent for those in the lowest tax brackets (15 percent or lower) and from 15 percent to 20 percent (or 18 percent for assets held longer than five years) for those in higher income brackets. The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging Congress to extend the current estate tax and capital gains tax levels.

Vilsack, himself a farm owner, said he sympathizes with farmers’ and ranchers’ concerns about the estate tax, “because if something doesn’t happen at the end of the year, the estate tax [exemption] goes down to a point where with land values increasing it doesn’t provide the protection that we have always wanted to provide for farmers and small business owners to be able to transfer that opportunity without having to sell the farm itself just to pay the tax.”

DTN/The Progressive Farmer Article

Just in from Washington

Court Backs Need for Science in Federal Water Rules

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation scored a victory for sound science in federal environmental regulations. A U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Fla., ruled that Environmental Protection Agency-imposed nutrient criteria for Florida streams and unimpaired lakes are unlawful because they are arbitrary and have no scientific basis.

The ruling resolves several challenges to federal numeric nutrient criteria imposed by EPA on Florida waterways. The court upheld EPA’s ability to issue federal standards under the particular facts at issue in Florida and upheld some of the particular EPA standards. However, the court agreed with arguments raised by AFBF and its co-plaintiffs that two key types of restrictions were unlawful. This aspect of the ruling underscores that sound science must support such costly, federally imposed actions, according to AFBF.

One of the key concerns of the court, and a central theme asserted by the AFBF group, was that EPA could not show that the streams criteria were needed to prevent harm to the environment, as required by Florida law.

“EPA attempted to impose standards that would prohibit any increase above naturally occurring nutrient levels in pristine waters,” explained Ellen Steen, AFBF general counsel. “The court recognized that EPA was arbitrary in assuming that any increase above pristine nutrient levels is harmful.”

EPA has until May 21 to revise the numeric nutrient criteria. AFBF is working with Florida and other industry groups in urging EPA to approve an alternative set of numeric nutrient criteria recently developed by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

AFBF News Release

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just in from Washington

AFBF Economist: Rising Fuel Prices ‘Not a Surprise’

Washington--Some recent reports show average gas prices have climbed to the highest February levels on record, hitting $3.53 per gallon last week. But according to AFBF Chief Economist Bob Young, the rising prices aren’t a big surprise.

“Traditionally, prices dip throughout the winter and then begin to creep up from there,” Young said in a Newsline radio story. “It’s just the nature of the game that as you get into the summer season, people are driving more, you get that upside pressure on prices.”

The Energy Information Agency, which is the Energy Department’s economic unit, recently forecast national gas prices of $3.60 to $3.70 for April through August, according to Young. That’s about the same as last year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Child Labor Laws Troublesome on the Farm

MIDDLETON -- For some, working on a farm may have been your first job as kid. In an agricultural state like Idaho, lots of youngsters spend their summers and after school hours doing farm chores and earning cash. But, proposed federal rules could threaten that age old aspect of farm life.

Recently the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule that would prohibit children under the age of 16 from working on a farm owned by anyone other than their parents.

After an outcry from many farmers and parents, this rule has been put on hold for further discussion, but many are worried this could become law.

“We think that's preposterous, we think that it’s un-American and we don't like it,” said Jake Putnam, spokesperson for the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Farm bureaus and lawmakers across the country have banned together in opposition of the proposed rule that they say goes too far.

“They cannot work around any sort of equipment. They can't move pipe,” said Putnam. “They can't stack hay, they can't even ride horses in confined areas.”

Sid Freeman of Middleton, a longtime farmer, employed many of his children’s friends over the years.

“Those kids parents loved it because their kids learned how to work,” said Freeman.

Freeman says the life skills and work ethic provided by working in the fields is something that can’t be learned anywhere else.

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in detailing their concerns and requesting the Department of Labor withdraw the proposed rule.

The Department of Labor is currently taking comment. No word on when they could make a decision.

President's Op-Ed

New Labor Regulations Threaten Agriculture
By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

A farm or ranch is one of the best possible places for young people to learn how to work and to learn the life lessons that build good citizens.

However, new regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor threaten to drastically reduce opportunities for youth to work on farms and to learn the many time-honored traditions that are passed from one generation to the next.

It’s been a common occurrence under the Obama Administration for federal agencies to increase their regulatory authority through rulemaking. We have seen it with federal land management agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the Department of Labor has a plan that would drastically limit what work children under the age of 16 are allowed to perform. But what many of us who live in western states would like the Washington D.C. bureaucrats to know is that we don’t believe the federal government knows what’s best for us.

The Department of Labor’s existing Fair Labor Standards Act includes a parental exemption that allows children to work for their parents. However, under new rules children wouldn’t be allowed to perform many traditional tasks on a neighbor or relative’s farm. It would also severely restrict opportunities for students in agricultural education programs across the country.

Specifically, the new rules would prohibit youth under 16 from operating or working around tractors including cleaning, oiling or repairing, connecting or disconnecting farm implements. Further, it places major restrictions on the use of power tools, including battery-powered drills and even screwdrivers. The federal definition of power-driven equipment includes “all machines, equipment, implements, vehicles and/or devices operated by any other power source other than human hand or foot power.

To illustrate how absurd this definition is consider that under these new rules no one under 16 working on a farm owned by someone other than parents would be allowed to stack hay in a barn using a conveyer. They wouldn’t be allowed to move wheel lines used for irrigation or to turn on a center pivot sprinkler system; they wouldn’t be allowed to check the oil on the tractor or air up a low tire. With regard to livestock, youth would be prohibited from branding, castrating, dehorning or vaccinating calves. They would be prohibited from herding animals in confined spaces such as feed lots or corrals, or to work from horseback herding animals in confined spaces.

The rules are also vague in their attempt to define arduous work conditions and they prohibit youth from working in buildings where fruit, forage or grain is stored.

We appreciate that federal bureaucrats care about keeping kids safe on farms and ranches. But when rules such as these throw roadblocks in front of time-honored traditions that are passed down from one generation to the next on farms and ranches throughout the nation, we view it as a threat to the future of agriculture in this country.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just in from Washington

Statement by Bob Stallman, President
American Farm Bureau Federation,
Regarding Supreme Court Decision
In ‘PPL v. Montana’ Streambed Case
Washington--“Farmers and ranchers prevailed this week when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of landowner property rights in the case of PPL v. Montana. This decision puts ownership of streambeds and stream banks in the hands of their rightful owners.
“This decision also helps ensure that farmers and ranchers will not have to pay government for the use of land or water from streambeds that run alongside or through their property. This week’s decision is a win for Farm Bureau members, farmers and ranchers nationwide and all private property owners.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation filed a friend-of-the-court brief along with the Montana Farm Bureau in the case. Colorado Farm Bureau and Utah Farm Bureau also filed briefs in the case in support of the petitioning landowners.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just in from Washington

Surface Transportation Bills on Hold for Presidents’ Day Recess

Washington--Work on surface transportation reauthorization bills was stop and go last week in the House and the Senate, with both chambers ultimately putting their bills off at least until lawmakers return to Capitol Hill the week of Feb. 27, after the Presidents Day constituent work period.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is committed to getting the Senate reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (S. 1813), passed in March.

Growers want to make sure the Senate legislation includes an amendment offered by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow farmers and ranchers who live near state borders to transport their products to the closest processing facilities, even if it may be in a neighboring state.

The House transportation bill (H.R. 7) contains Farm Bureau-supported provisions that would clarify the hours of service exemption for agriculture and exempt farm vehicles, including the individual operating the vehicle, from any requirement related to commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing and hours of service.

Another important provision would allow farmers and custom harvesters with a Class A commercial driver’s license to transport up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel without having to obtain a hazardous material endorsement if the service vehicle is clearly marked with a label reading “Diesel Fuel.”

Farm Bureau News

Monday, February 20, 2012

From the Blackfoot Morning News:

Bingham County Farm Bureau offers scholarships

Blackfoot--The Bingham County Farm Bureau Federation is offering $8,000 worth of
scholarships to local high school and college students as well as $500 grants
to each of the five school districts located in Bingham County.

“We want a lot of people to apply,” said Joyce Dalley, Bingham County Farm Bureau Scholarship Chair. Six scholarships will be offered. Three are
agriculture related scholarships; three are non-agriculture related

Awards for the agriculture related scholarships are 1st place $2,500; 2nd $1,500 and 3rd $1,000. Each applicant must be a Bingham County resident and a high school senior graduating in 2012. Recipients must enroll in at least one
agriculture related course.

Awards for the non-agriculture related scholarships are 1st $1,500; 2nd $1,000 and 3rd $500.
Each applicant must be a Bingham County resident and may also be attending college.
Each application must be received by the Bingham County Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee by March 1, 2012.
Applications can be downloaded at, click on events and registration in the left-hand column. In this application process, applicants must submit a completed application form and a letter about how the scholarship will benefit him or her. The letter needs to be addressed to the Scholarship Committee.

An electronic submission is preferred at or it can be mailed to Bingham County Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee, Attn: Joyce Dalley, Bingham County Farm Bureau, 686 N. Meridian, Blackfoot, Idaho 83221. Applicants will be notified by email regarding the status of their application.

Scholarship funds will be awarded to each student upon evidence of registration
in an accredited post-secondary institution.

The Bingham County Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee
invites teachers in Bingham County to apply for a $500 classroom mini-grant.
These grants are for teachers, grades K-12. Grants, up
to $500, will be awarded in each of the five school districts in the county.
Each request must be submitted in digital format,
preferably in any version of Microsoft Word.
Each application must have one inch margins on all
sides, be double-spaced in Times New Roman Font size 12. Please include a title
page with name, grade level taught, building and district and the date.
This mini-grant is not limited to agriculture related projects;
however, preference will be given to agriculture related projects that are
typically not covered by traditional funding.
Please explain how you will incorporate agriculture
education into your classroom.
Committee members would appreciate knowing how funds
benefitted teachers and students. Please report to the committee in person,
through email or by personal invitation to visit your classroom.
Email mini-grant requests to by
Wednesday, May 1, 2012. Funds will be available by May 15.
Contact your school district office for more
information or call Joyce Dalley at 684-4097. Any questions can be directed to
These scholarships and grants are sponsored by the
Bingham County Farm Bureau Federation, not Farm Bureau Insurance, said Dalley.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just in from Washington

AFBF Applauds House Action on Energy Security
WASHINGTOn—Passage by the House on Thursday of a bill to increase domestic energy supplies, including development of a vast new source in the oil shale deposits of the American West, helps provide the type of energy solutions America needs, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In a letter to the House prior to passage, AFBF President Bob Stallman explained that increasing U.S. energy security is an important issue for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Farm Bureau believes finding comprehensive energy solutions can only strengthen American security while helping agriculture’s long-term economic health,” Stallman said.

The bill, as approved by the House, would end bureaucratic delays facing development of oil shale resources and direct the Interior Department to move ahead with a leasing program. It also allows for the development and recovery of new energy resources in the Outer Continental Shelf, and will open less than 3 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to responsible energy development, Stallman said.

“Supporting these components will strengthen U.S. energy security, create jobs, promote economic development and benefit America’s farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said.

Farm Bureau’s long-standing policy is that the United States should pursue a policy of energy development to help strengthen national security and promote economic opportunity at home.
“We support the development of a comprehensive national energy policy that provides for the domestic production of oil and gas, biofuels and coal, as well as increased conservation and investment, research and production of alternative and renewable sources of energy,” the organization said.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just in--

Adoption of Ag Biotechnology Up More Than 8 Percent

Because of their tremendous environmental and economic benefits, farmers around the world continue to adopt genetically engineered crops, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. The ISAAA report, Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011, says a record 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries are growing biotech crops on 395 million acres.

According to the report, “such adoption represents a 94-fold increase in hectares planted since 1996, making biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history.”

“This year’s ISAAA report further confirms what we have known all along: that agricultural biotechnology is a key component in sustainable crop production,” said Dr. Cathleen Enright, executive vice president of food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. “When you look at the rising number of acres of biotech crops planted each year (395 million in 2011 compared with 366 million in 2010), and the increasing number of farmers who have chosen this technology (16.7 million in 2011 compared with 15 million in 2010), it’s obvious that biotech crops are delivering value to more and more growers around the world,” she said.

BIO release

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just in--

Bloomberg Survey Shows Farmers are Planning Big

Chicago--A recent survey by Bloomberg indicates that farmers this year will plant the most acres since 1984, sowing corn, soybeans and wheat on 226.9 million acres. Bloomberg compared the added 2.5 percent gain to an expansion the size of New Jersey.

Farmers are planning big because of the historically high crop prices this year, which the Agriculture Department estimates increased net farm income 28 percent to $100.9 billion and boosted average farmland value to a whopping $2,350 an acre.

“There is unlikely to be any ground that won’t be planted this year,” said Illinois corn farmer Todd Wachtel, who plans to expand his corn fields by 21 percent. “Farmers know that they have to plant more when prices are high because they may not last.”

Corn and soybeans top the list of crops farmers are looking to increase. The survey shows that farmers will plant corn on 94.329 million acres, up 2.6 percent from last year. This is the greatest increase since 1944. Soybean acres will likely reach 75.309 million—the fifth highest in history.

“The area is available to have huge crops this year,” said Paul Meyers, a vice president at Foresight Commodities Services, Inc. and the former head of grain-market analysis at USDA. “We are headed for a surplus-supply situation.”

The Bloomberg survey included insight from farmers, bankers and analysts nationwide.

Bloomberg article

Just in from Washington

Expanded E. Coli Testing on Hold Until June

Washington--The March deadline for meat processing companies to start testing raw ground beef for six strains of potentially deadly E. coli bacteria has been moved to June 4. The extension will give processors additional time to ensure that testing methods are accurate, according to the Agriculture Department. According to USDA, testing for the strains will result in 110,000 fewer cases of foodborne illness each year.

The additional regulation and testing will “needlessly cost tens of millions of federal and industry dollars,” according to James Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute.

Bloomberg article

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just in from Washington

FSA Can Help New Farmers Buy Land

Washington--A new post to the Rural Community Building Blog notes that the Agriculture Department has announced the nationwide launch of the Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher Land Contract Guarantee Program. The program is administered by the Farm Service Agency and is designed to help new farmers buy land by providing sellers a federal guarantee on land contract sales of up to $500,000. In this way, it shields sellers from the risk of buyer default and encourages them to enter into such agreements with new and disadvantaged farmers.

The program was initially established in nine states through the 2002 farm bill. The 2008 farm bill expanded it nationwide and made it permanent. USDA’s Farm Service Agency issued the final rule for the program last December. In order to find out more about the program, contact your local FSA office.

Farm Bureau has various initiatives to support beginning farmers and ranchers. In 2009, Farm Bureau partnered with USDA’s National Agricultural Library to provide information and training to beginning farmers and ranchers through the Start2Farm website, a resource site funded through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The American Farm Bureau Federation is also hosting the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Conference in conjunction with the national Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference, Feb. 18-20, in Grand Rapids, Mich. For a variety of succession planning tools, visit Legacy by Design.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just in from Washington

California FB’s Wenger Calls for Immigration Solutions

Washington--Focusing on the lack of a workable, effective program to allow immigrant workers to earn legal authorization to work on U.S. farms and ranches, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation told Congress on Thursday that without such a program, passage of a proposed employment-verification rule would severely disrupt harvests of locally produced food.

California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger testified in Washington, D.C., at a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. Congress has been considering a proposal to require all employers to check employees’ work status with a database known as the E-Verify system. Farmers rely on an immigrant workforce and say many of their employees might not qualify to work under E-Verify, even though the employees have worked in this country and become part of their communities.

“E-Verify without a workable, economical way to ensure a legal agricultural workforce will be a disaster for American agriculture,” Wenger told the committee, adding that experience has shown that “there is no realistic prospect of a domestic workforce for agriculture, even with current high unemployment rates.”

As the U.S. labor force has grown older, more urban and focused on year-round jobs with predictable work hours, Wenger said, “our native-born seek other jobs outside the agriculture sector.” That means that farms and ranches rely on hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers—and experts estimate many do not have legal authorization to work in the U.S.

AFBF newsline

CFBF news release

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Another reason to Admire Bill Gates...

Bill Gates Speaks Out for Ag Research

Seattle--The relative lack of money devoted to agricultural innovation and research
was a key point in this year’s annual letter from Microsoft founder Bill Gates
on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2012 priorities. “Given the central
role that food plays in human welfare and national stability, it is
shocking—not to mention short-sighted and potentially dangerous—how little
money is spent on agricultural research,” Gates wrote.

According to a foundation study, only $3 billion is spent each year on
research dedicated to the seven most important crops, which include wheat,
corn, rice, cassava, sorghum, legumes and sweet potatoes. Out of that total,
about half comes from countries’ public funds, $1.2 billion is from private
companies and $300 million comes from the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research. In 2010 alone,
the foundation made
$2.4 billion in grant payments to a number of agricultural development programs.

In his letter, Gates noted that the world population is projected to grow to
9.7 billion by 2050, which makes it imperative to help poor farmers sustainably
increase their productivity so they can feed themselves and their families. But
this will be possible only if agricultural innovation is a priority, he

Farm Report article

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Otter Addresses the IFBF Leadership Conference

Idaho Governor Butch Otter addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau's Legislative Leadership Conference this morning in Boise. Otter discussed the State Budget, Endangered Species act and this Legislative Session.

IFBF Annual Legislative Leadership Conference

Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau's Annual Legislative Leadership Conference on Tuesday. Hill reminded Farm Bureau members that election rules have changed and this year voters will have to declare their party affiliation before casting a vote in the primaries this May. "After that you are a member of that party until you change that affiliation with the county clerk."

IFBF Annual Legislative Conference

House Speaker Lawerence Denney addresses the Idaho Farm Bureau at the annual Legislative Conference. He quoted Adrian Rogers: 'You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity, what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without recieving. The government cannot give to anybody what it first takes away from somebody else...You can not multiply wealth by dividing it'.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

IFBF Annual Legislative Leadership Conference

Idaho Cattle Association talks Animal Welfare Legislation

Boise--Wyatt Prescott of the Idaho Cattle Association addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Leadership Conference concerning ICA’s effort to add a felony provision to the state's animal welfare law during the 2012 legislative session.

After consulting with other producer groups in Idaho, ICA members passed a resolution last Nov. 15th during their annual meeting in Sun Valley.

The ICA thinks that adding the felony provision to Idaho statute would eliminate the need for the ballot initiative and make the state less of a target for the Humane Society of the United States.

Farm Bureau members grilled Prescott asking about normal livestock practices like branding, removing horning and castration are exempt from the state's animal cruelty provisions, but ICA officials are concerned that if the HSUS gets involved in the ballot initiative, it would be much more severe and could seek to redefine animal welfare.

Prescott told Farm Bureau members that there are no guarantees, "we believe (the legislation) will take a significant amount of attention away from out state."

That’s because Idaho is just one of only three states that doesn't have a felony provision for animal cruelty, Idaho is ranked 50th of 51 states and the District of Columbia on the HSUS hit list of those most friendly toward animal rights.

The Idaho Farm Bureau did not take a stand on the issue during their annual meeting in December opting to see the language of the legislation before making a stand.

The resolution was printed this week with a hearing scheduled next week, according Prescott.

Idaho Farm Bureau's Boise Marketing Seminar

Markets Good, but Volatile: Clark Johnston

Boise--At the Idaho Farm Bureau’s Annual Winter Marketing Seminar, Annalyst Clark Johnston told a packed house that despite favorable market conditions, farmers are still cautious.

“Producers are a little more mindful this year than in the past,” said Johnson. “We continue to see producers change the class of wheat or change to different commodities all together in an attempt to lower their costs.

He says Chicago wheat prices decreased by 18% while heating oil futures are up15% taking diesel prices with it. Johnston told the House at the Downtowner that: “Each year we see new challenges as we look for opportunities to sell our crops for the best prices but also manage our costs.”

Johnston says it’s shaping up to be a year where its smarter to spend more time managing input costs that will directly help the bottom line.

January markets held true to form, moving the corn market 40 cents lower than the day it was released. “It’s not that the market always moves lower but it’s making a volatile move whether higher or lower at that time,” said Johnston.

Johnston showed members a series of charts that showed interesting historical data looking at January and February reports from the past 13 years. The corn market traded 12 cents lower to 15 cents higher. Since 2007 the markets have experienced an increase in volatility during this same time frame. Volatility is the norm this time of year. The least volatile year was 2010 when the market only moved 30 cents lower. The remaining years the trading range has been 60 cents lower in 2009 to 80 cents higher in 2011. This year the futures traded 58 cents lower within the first 5 trading days after the report.

Johnson told the crowd over and over that markets are more volatile simply because prices are higher. “There’s some truth to the price model, but there’s other factors that contribute to the market movement. One of the contributors is the amount of contracts that have traded in the market before and since 2006.”

In the years leading up to 2006 large traders held positions totaling more than a 100,000 contracts. “Since then we’ve seen these large traders accumulate positions of 400,000 to 500,000 combined contracts. So of course we‘re seeing added volatility.” said Johnston. “We won’t debate whether or not the large traders are good or bad for the markets but let’s just say they do give us the opportunity to merchandise our commodities at better prices throughout the year and quite often if we miss the first one we will get another chance.”

Johnson went on to discuss wheat to a dead silent crowd.The stocks to use ratio is expected to increase this year. Baring something unforeseen in the world this will leave the wheat prices at the mercy of the corn market.”

Johnston says that’s not all bad. “We’ve seen the local feed wheat markets stay competitive with the domestic flour market in pricing since last harvest. With the carry in the wheat futures you should continue to look for your opportunities to sell either forward fixed price contracts or hedge to arrive contracts for new crop.” Johnston added that strength in the market will be quick and short lived so its important to have pricing objectives in mind and move quickly when the market reaches target prices.

Johnston says it’s always important to remember to sell when someone wants to buy. “Remember, each day that goes by moves us one day closer to 1st crop.”

Women's Leadership Committee

McDonald House Gets Women’s Leadership Committee Donation

Boise--Two Carloads of badly needed groceries pulled into the parking lot of the Ronald McDonald House in Boise Monday afternoon.

Members of The Idaho Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee cheerfully unloaded the carloads of food and when they were finished presented the House with checks totaling more than a thousand dollars.

“This donation is timely,” said Ronald McDonald House Director Mindy Plumlee. “People tend to donate around the holidays and then supply gets scarce, we really need the donations and Farm Bureau always comes through when we need it the most.”

Bags of groceries stacked in the House living room along with laundry detergent, gently used children’s clothes, diapers and even popcorn, “You have to have popcorn” said Carol Guthrie President of the IFBF Women’s Committee.

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a “home away from home” for families of sick and injured children getting medical treatment at Saint Lukes Medical Center across the street. Plumlee says more than 500 families a year use the facility and they're booked just about every week.

"We really appreciate the donations because we have a full house and most of our families have family members in their rooms, this donation couldn't have come at a better time," said Plumlee.

The Women’s Committee rolled up their sleeves and cooked dinner for the residents of the House, a ham dinner with all the trimmings. “We’ve been doing this for 16 years,” said Guthrie. “There’s nothing like a home meal.”

The McDonald House was built in the early 1900s and purchased by the late J.R. Simplot for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Families are charged just $10 a night; the balance is paid with public and private donations to the Ronald McDonald house, and any family who is unable to pay the $10 is not turned away.

“The grocery donation will go right into our pantry and will be used for dinner tonight," said Plumlee.

“The Ronald McDonald House donation is part of the annual ‘Food Check-Out Day’ that was started by American Farm Bureau. We have the best, most plentiful and cheapest food supply in the world, we're just sharing that good fortune with those who need it,” said Chairwoman Carol Guthrie. "It just gives you a warm feeling to help these families out."

The money donated to the house was collected from County Farm Bureaus across the state. “We’ll spend the cash donation on food and things needed to support families during their stay here," said Plumlee.

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...