Friday, March 30, 2012

Just in from Washington

AFBF, Others File Sage Grouse Comments
WASHINGTON—This week, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Western Energy Alliance and Public Lands Council questioned the administration’s commitment to job and economic growth in comments submitted to the Bureau of Land Management on greater sage-grouse policies in the West.
In December 2011, BLM released a short- and long-term conservation strategy for the greater sage-grouse on public lands. BLM intends to update 68 Resource Management Plans by September 2014 before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s court-ordered 2015 deadline for making a decision about whether to fully list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, BLM will allow state sage-grouse conservation policies that have been approved by the USFWS to supersede their policies. The three organizations believe that rather than top-down, federal directives, greater sage-grouse conservation must be guided by initiatives developed at the state and local levels to achieve practical and common-sense management policies.
“Western Energy Alliance supports the development of management policies that protect greater sage-grouse and avoid an ESA listing. However, BLM’s short- and long-term guidance for greater sage-grouse habitat goes above and beyond what is necessary to preserve the species and will unreasonably restrict oil and natural gas development on public lands,” said Spencer Kimball, manager of government affairs for Western Energy Alliance. “BLM’s strategy may ultimately lead to excessive restrictions across the West that fail to balance investment and job creation with reasonable species protection.” Click here to view Western Energy Alliance’s scoping comments.
“Local community groups in several states with sage-grouse populations have been working together to develop plans for preserving sage-grouse habitat while at the same providing a viable economic climate for ranchers," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "It’s important that the BLM plan recognize these local efforts and not override the work that has already been done.
“If BLM and Forest Service are serious about their plans to enhance habitat for the greater sage-grouse, the agencies must take into account the on-the-ground conservation carried out by America’s ranchers every day,” said Dustin Van Liew, executive director of PLC. “Two of the biggest threats to a healthy and sustainable habitat for the greater sage-grouse are the loss of open space and catastrophic wildfires. Through ranchers’ efforts to continually improve the range and to responsibly manage the land’s resources, they reduce those threats and make multiple other significant contributions to improving the greater sage-grouse habitat, such as providing water sources and improving forage. As the agencies finalize their greater sage-grouse management policies, PLC strongly encourages them to work with America’s livestock producers to achieve a management plan that incorporates grazing as a habitat conservation tool so ranchers can continue their roles as range stewards and as producers of safe, wholesome and nutritious beef and lamb.” Click here to view AFBF and PLC’s scoping comments.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Idaho Legislature Adjourns

Boise-The Idaho Legislature adjourned this week after 81 days of intense debate on everything from mandatory ultrasounds for abortion seekers to evicting Occupy Boise campers to dedicating $35 million in tax cuts for corporations and top earners. Those plans passed in the final hours of the session.

The ultrasound bill stalled in the House without a hearing; but supporters promise its return in 2013.

Occupiy Boise tents are still on state property, after a judge stalled Republicans' efforts to remove them earlier this week.

But tax cuts cleared the Senate in the final hours, part of a compromise package negotiated with Gov. Otter that includes $35 million to restore teacher salaries and $34 million in rainy-day savings.

The 28-7, tax-cut vote late Thursday drew heated debate by Democrats who argued that the cuts go to the rich and really don’t amount to much.

For instance a family of four earning $100,000 annually will see $71 in tax relief, according to state calculations.

Part of the compromise that led to Thursday's adjournment was the surplus legislation in which Idaho lawmakers agreed to restore at least $35 million to teacher salaries over the next five years.

Just in from Boise

Animal Cruelty Law Passes Legislature

Boise--Idaho Lawmakers approved a felony animal cruelty law.

If the Bill can get by Governor Butch Otter's veto stamp, Idaho and the Dakotas would be the only states in the Union without an animal cruelty law.

The Governor's Chief of Staff told reporters that Governor Otter won't consider the bill until next week.

The Idaho Senate approved the legislation on Thursday morning and enhances penalties for cockfighting and multiple misdemeanors for animal cruelty convictions. The House passed the plan earlier this month.

The bill exempts normal animal production practices, earning its support from livestock producers

Senate lawmakers backed the measure in a 24-11 vote.

Read more:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just in from Washington

U.S. Appeals WTO Ruling Against COOL

The United States has filed an appeal against a World Trade Organization dispute panel ruling against parts of the U.S.

Country-of-Origin Labeling program.

Washington--The ruling, announced in November, was in response to a complaint made by Mexico and Canada that U.S. COOL requirements resulted in imported hogs and cattle being treated less favorably than cattle and hogs from the U.S. Specifically, the WTO panel found aspects of the COOL program to be in violation of part of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Canada and Mexico argued that U.S. COOL requirements are a protectionist barrier and unfairly distort competition between imports and domestic cattle and hogs, resulting in lower prices for Canadian and Mexican cattle and hogs.

“Canada and Mexico’s problem with COOL was specific to the part of the program that applies to the ‘born and raised in the U.S. classification,’” explained Dave Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation trade specialist. “They argued that meat from an animal processed in the U.S. should be considered a product of the U.S., even if the animal was born in Mexico or Canada.”

The WTO is expected to respond to the ruling by this fall.

Drovers Cattle Network article

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excellence in Agriculture

A few words with Leah Clark

Governors Award for Marketing Innovation

Jake Putnam sat down with Leah Clark after winning her Governors Award for Excellence in Agriculture. Clark has worked every aspect of Idaho vast marketing program the past decade.

Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, my name is Leah Clark and I am at trade specialist here at the Department of Agriculture. I have the pleasure of being the person that manages the Idaho Preferred Program. The Idaho preferred is a program that maintains and identifies Idaho products so I work with a large diverse group of producers, chefs schools whatever I do to bring local food and and consumers together.

Could we do a better job telling Idaho Ag success stories?

Yes. That's true the greatest stories are not being told and that's one of the greatest parts of my job. I get to work every day with farmers and ranchers and provide them with marketing opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise. It's also fun working in this industry right now because the local food movement is so hot. It's not a hard sell anymore like it was 10 years ago when you had to knock on doors and ask them to consider using the Idaho products. People are looking seriously for local products. It's a great opportunity right now for local producers to take advantage of that and look at opportunities for marketing their products locally and maybe look at changing their product mix.

Is Farming cool again?

It is! in fact; there was market research done recently that showed that that at one time the focus was on celebrity chefs and then next couple years it'll be celebrity farmers. Farmers are the celebrities and it's already happening. You know I don't really know that technology has that much to do with it I really think that people have got to the point to where they really want to have a closer connection to their food they want to know where it comes from they want to support the local economy. Our research shows to 70% of consumers are willing to pay more for local. And we know the reason that is it's not because our products are the best or better than any others although we think that they are.

Where did this marketing zeal come from?

When I went to graduate school I went to graduate school with a very specific goal in mind and I wanted to work in the beef industry and I went to work in marketing. When I finished my graduate program and was hired by the Idaho beef council and that was perfect. That was my dream job and I learned so much in that position. Things like handling finances and doing a financial accountability and a lot about advertising. And, because of the opportunity of serving on national advertising committees where you learn a lot about market research and how to integrate data in the campaigns. The Beef Council for 15 years was a great opportunity for me. It allowed me to make connections in retail or food service and even within the health care industry and a lot of those relationships I was able to bring with me to the Idaho Preferred program. I was able to move it along rather quickly.

How did you market beef, what was the sell? Was it a hard sell?

What happened during that time was great timing for me. Coming into the industry in 1988 was an exciting time because the check-off had just passed and with that check came the funds that beef industry needed to do a lot of work in identifying the health benefits of beef. So I think we had a good research basis to start with and try to rebuild the story of beef nutrition. So that was the focus of a lot of things we did, just talking about nutrition and how it fit. And so I was able then to use that research to make connections to the health care community and start relationships with the heart association. That hadn't happened in the past. Also, working with the Physicians Association and they at first were skeptical but I think that we had good science-based research, giving us the credibility we needed to begin to build a better reputation for beef and the beef industry.

All of your successful marketing was research based?

It is and that crosses over into Idaho Preferred. You know that's the fun thing about Idaho Preferred. We have such a diverse agricultural industry here in Idaho with 185 crops, so every day is different. One day I may be promoting cheese, the next day its garbanzo beans and tortillas, turkey and wine and so we have this huge breadth of products. All of those products find a place in consumers grocery shopping carts. So it gives us a lot of flexibility in the marketing techniques needed to market those products. Its not just advertising and television radio you know, it's food shows and trade shows, its also direct consumer events. So there's a lot of opportunity with the breadth of products we have to really take advantage of our marketing opportunities.

So in marketing, it takes a little money to make a little money?

I think that's another reason that Idaho Preferred has been very successful. We provide a marketing service that if a producer wants to go out and that service might not be within their budget; this program might allow them to take advantage of some of those marketing opportunities. So through state funds and through specialty crop grants we have the dollars to be able to provide the marketing opportunities and marketing events and activities that producers can take advantage of them for membership fee.

Our Farmers are the best in the world--

Its not only us telling them that, but we have chefs seeking them out and telling them that. We have retailers that are just competing, that's right competing for local products. We see the big retailers, aggressively courting local producers because they want their products in their stores. Consumers are demanding it. So its really not just us preaching to our selves, ‘Hey we’re the greatest out there,’ our customers are telling us its the best and are competing for those products.

Just as the local movement was taking hold, the giants of retail were also interested in our local producers?

You know we have a broad variety of retailers in this community and in this state. And I think that they're all trying to get on the bandwagon as far as getting more local product in stores. But we find is that the big guys are here to stay and they sell a lot of groceries. We need to take our share of that business and Walmart and Albertson's as two big chains are aggressively working with our local producers and it's not always easy they are large corporations. But they're finding ways to make it doable for local producers as well as the smaller chains like Paul's. All they really do want to is to support the local farmer and they want to meet the needs of their customers, they want local product.

Where is this all heading?

Well, market research says that this is a trend and not a flash in the pan trend. The trend to buy local and eat more locally is longer-term for sure. Not just in United States but abroad. So I think that we set a precedent. I think people are recognizing the value of eating locally they're recognizing the value of keeping their dollars in the local economy and supporting agriculture because it's such a large part of our Idaho economy. So I think that we will continue to grow. I think it will continue to expand in our offering to consumers, and I see it maybe taking agriculture back to a little bit more diverse than the days of just being potatoes and sugar beets, wheat and barley. We're great at all of those things but I do see the opportunity for us to start producing, instead of carrots seeds, the actual carrots and lettuce and those types of things that we can produce here locally on a seasonal basis and be available to our consumer base.

Any innovations and surprises from producers out there?

I just recently learned we're starting to grow soy beans. That wouldn't be a big deal if you are back in Midwest but that doesn't really seem like an Idaho product. I love the fact that we are starting to do some specialty vegetables as well as lettuce is kind of returning because when you think about it, what one product is on every menu on every restaurant that you go into, its some kind of salad and we can grow that is here and so I think I'm really excited to see some of that happening we're growing tomatoes were seeing hot house tomatoes. I am really excited about growth in the nursery industry as far as products. if you go into any grocery store and buy poinsettia most likely it was grown right here in Idaho. So there's just a lot of unique products out there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just in--

FSA Reminds Dairy Producers of MILC
Program Requirements

(Boise, Idaho) March 22, 2012 -USDA Farm Service agency in Idaho, reminds dairy producers that they must meet Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program requirements in order to maintain program eligibility in the event that prices drop and trigger a MILC payment.

MILC compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. Eligible dairy producers can apply for program benefits anytime through September 30, 2012.

“It is important for Idaho dairy producers to understand some of the important requirements that make them eligible for this program,” said Dick Rush, State Executive Director. “At this
time, prices haven’t fallen to a level that would trigger a MILC payment. However the selected start-month is critical to eligibility,” he said.

When producers enroll in the program, a payment start month is selected. This month remains the same through each program year, unless a change is requested on the appropriate form.
Producers who wish to change their program start month can do so an unlimited number of times throughout their enrollment in MILC, provided:
Changes must be made on or before the 14th
of the month before the start month on record and
Before the 14th day of the month
prior to the new start month. (i.e. if your current start month is March you
would have had to make your changes prior to February 14)
Changes cannot be made if the new month
being selected has already begun.

To maintain program eligibility, MILC participants must notify their local FSA office of any operation changes, such as a change in producer, shares, address or bank routing number. In order for dairy producers to receive a MILC payment, they must meet adjusted gross income (AGI) requirements by completing, the “AGI Certification and Consent to Disclosure of Tax Information" form.

New dairy producers who want to enroll in MILC must fill out the appropriate forms and select a
start-month. for which the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will begin issuing payments to the dairy operation.

For more information about the MILC program, please contact your local County FSA office or visit us on the web at:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Just in from Washington

House Republican Budget Resolution Would Slash Ag Spending

Washington--House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2013 budget blueprint, released on Tuesday, instructs the House Agriculture Committee to reduce spending by $33.2 billion over 10 years. The budget resolution breaks the reductions down as follows: $8.2 billion in the first year and $19.7 billion in the first five years, with the ultimate reduction of $33.2 billion in 10 years.

The committee passed Ryan’s budget resolution on Wednesday.

The specifics on agriculture are limited, although the 99-page document proposes reducing the fixed payments that go to farmers irrespective of price levels and reforming “the open-ended nature of the government’s support for crop insurance, so that agricultural producers assume the same kind of responsibility for managing risk that other businesses do.”

The spending reduction targets are the only numbers the House Budget Committee will pass along to the Agriculture Committee. It is Agriculture Committee members who decide how the reductions are implemented, as committee chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) alluded to in his statement on the budget resolution.

“I would caution people about reading too much into the numbers or policy proposals in either the president’s budget or the Ryan budget,” Lucas said.“They are only suggestions.During our process, both policy and deficit reduction targets will be developed in conjunction with Ranking Member [Collin] Peterson [D-Minn.] and members of the committee as we write a fiscally responsible farm bill that ensures Americans continue to have a safe, affordable and stable food supply.”

Peterson, ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, said Ryan’s proposal leaves the farm bill “high and dry.”

“The Ryan budget proposes significant cuts in the farm safety net and conservation programs, and slashes spending on nutrition programs that provide food for millions of Americans,” Peterson said in a statement. “It is appalling that in an attempt to avoid defense cuts the Republican leadership has elected to leave farmers and hungry families hurting.”

Ryan’s budget resolution

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just in from Washington

Statement by Bob Stallman, President,
American Farm Bureau Federation,
Regarding Court Ruling in Sackett v. EPA

WASHINGTON— “The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased with the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on behalf of property owners in Sackett v. EPA. AFBF filed amicus briefs in the case to educate the court about the legal and on-the-ground consequences of Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act policies.

“The Sacketts’ homebuilding was halted by EPA in 2007 based on the agency’s assertion that the Idaho couple’s home site was a wetland. Although the couple believed their land was not a wetland, they were denied any opportunity to challenge EPA’s ‘compliance order’ and faced up to $37,500 per day in potential fines until the matter was settled.

Today’s decision vindicates the rights of landowners like the Sacketts to challenge EPA compliance orders that improperly assert jurisdiction over their land. The decision gives landowners like the Sacketts their day in court, overriding the position taken by EPA and many prior courts that have denied them that right.

“We agree with Justice Alito’s concurring opinion that the federal government has too often ‘put the property rights of ordinary Americans entirely at the mercy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s employees.’ We also agree with Justice Alito that, while allowing landowners to sue is a start, Congress needs to clarify the reach of the Clean Water Act.

“Farm Bureau is optimistic that today’s decision will help curtail EPA’s efforts to illegally expand its regulatory jurisdiction over farming and other land-based activities. At the very least, landowners have another tool to hold EPA accountable.”

Just in from the University of Idaho

Irrigation Research at Parma bears fruit
Parma--Consumer choice, always a fickle commodity, is becoming a more rapidly
moving target for orchardists, particularly apple producers. Modern grocery
stores carry multiple apple varieties to cater to customers’ tastes.
At the University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center, research begun
23 years ago on the best ways to irrigate and deliver nutrients to apple trees
is bearing fruit.

Professor Essie Fallahi there began the study to find ways to produce the
highest quality fruit, reduce water use, and ensure the trees fully use applied
fertilizers to protect water quality and save growers money.
It turns out the irrigation strategies paired with high-density plantings and
new tree canopy designs speed harvests, too. Dwarf rootstocks help pack in more
trees per acre, up to 1,300.

Last week, Fallahi showed growers his latest experimental high-density
plantings of Fuji apples. Growers learned that the orchard began producing
saleable fruit last year, which means growers began to recoup their investment
in the orchard’s second year.

A major production is expected this year. And the orchard is expected to reach
peak production in the fourth and fifth years after planting. The majority of
apples are high quality, packable fruit, Fallahi said. The rapid return on
investment allows apple growers to recover the high costs of orchard planting
early and to replace varieties quickly to respond to markets.

CONTACT ESSIE FALLAHI at or call 208.722.6701.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just in...

Improving erroneous water management reports

Kimberly--University of Idaho Extension’s Kimberly-based water management expert Richard
“Rick” Allen joined internationally known water management consultant Harald
Frederiksen to warn policy makers that the over-commitment of water in many
global river basins may lead to incorrect predictions of water conservation

These incorrect reports lull leaders into thinking that all conservation programs will reduce the over-commitments. Frederiksen and Allen made waves last May with a paper published in Water International Journal. Their paper launched a debate with one of the leading proponents of water conservation strategies including drip irrigation
and low-volume toilets.

“It’s not that all water conservation measures are good or bad,” Allen said. “What it boils down to is where water users are. In the Snake River Plain, for example, if water users flush a lot of water in toilets, the water is treated and a similar amount of water ends up to be used
downriver to maybe irrigate barley. But in San Francisco, treated water won’t be re-used. It ends up in the ocean.

“You have to follow the water,” Allen said, adding that science and hydrologic realities are often kept in the back seat during decision-making, resulting in inefficient investment of public monies and even wrong decisions. “Wrong ways of thinking impact studies by entities
ranging from sophisticated nongovernment organizations in California to governments of the poorest developing countries,” said Allen.

Their paper, “A common basis for analysis, evaluation and comparison of off-stream water uses,” outlined a simple formula that can show the impact of a water use on the water resource. It accounts for how much diversion water can be reused. Read the article at
CONTACT RICHARD ALLEN at or call 208.423.6601

Just in...

Congress Needs to Get Moving on Transportation Bill

Washington--Will the highway project in your county be shut down soon? It depends on whether or not Congress beats a looming deadline. The current transportation bill expires on March 31. If Congress does move quickly to pass new legislation, many state transportation projects will grind to a halt. And there will be no mechanism to collect the federal gas tax that funds the Highway Trust Fund.

The Senate recently passed a version of the transportation bill with a strong bipartisan 74-22 vote. That leaves the ball in the House of Representatives’ court.

“There is strong feeling in the House to not just do a two-year bill, but a longer-term, five-year bill that would give some certainty to municipalities, to states so that they know that they can do their projects and have a timeline and have funding guaranteed,” said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation’s transportation specialist. He noted in a Newsline radio story that it’s likely Congress will agree on a short-term extension.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just in from Madison

USDA Ag Lab Closures Have Wide Impact

Madison--Scheduled agricultural research lab closures are having impacts beyond the dozen labs being shuttered, according to the Wisconsin Ag Connection.

The federal budget passed last fall by Congress requires the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Research Service to close the 12 labs this year. Closing the facilities and moving the approximately 300 employees who work in them comes at a cost, however—to the tune of about $40 million. Now, researchers at other labs are finding that their programs also will face cuts as the agency seeks to spread those costs across its budget.

“Flagship wheat research projects affected by these cuts include the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI), a landmark public-private-federal cooperative agreement, which will face a reduction of $1.4 million from a total budget of around $5 million,” the article says.

Wisconsin Ag Connection article

Monday, March 19, 2012

Just in--

Rising Agricultural Prices Could Drive Investment

Washington--Rising prices for agricultural commodities could have a silver lining, according to Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestle, the world’s biggest food manufacturing company. As incomes and demand for high quality foods increase, he said, so will interest in investing in agricultural research and infrastructure.

“Prices are getting to a level that may result in an effect that is positive for food production,” Bulcke said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “People are motivated again to be in agriculture.”

Global agricultural output must rise 70 percent by 2050 to keep up with demand, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

President's Op-Ed

Legislation Disregards Private Property Rights
Legislation that infringes on or compromises the rights of private property owners is viewed by our organization as government overstepping its authority.
Private property rights are the bedrock of liberty and are central to the principles and beliefs we hold most dear. If the heavy hand of government is allowed to meddle in this area our democracy becomes uncertain.
Matters pertaining to private property rights are often overshadowed by more visible issues. Consider the proposed moratorium on wind energy development (H.B. 561) sponsored by Rep. Erik Simpson (R-Idaho Falls). Some people may think windmills are ugly or distracting. Others argue that wind energy isn’t reliable or that it may be contributing to rate increases. The two major electric utilities in southern Idaho have made it clear that they don’t like windmills because wind power makes managing energy transmission more difficult. All of these points are valid and they provide an illustration of the difficult politics of our time.
In our opinion, the bottom line on development of wind energy is if the legislature decides to enact a moratorium, it will have taken away the rights of private property owners to lease or sell their land for wind development. The problems this legislation proposes to solve are evident but it remains an example of a government entity meddling where it shouldn’t.
Legislation that would provide uniform, statewide oversight of oil and natural gas development in Idaho is in a similar situation. In our opinion, regulations should be set and overseen by the state to enable development of natural resources and to allow landowners to manage private property to its fullest potential. Yet, some legislators, county commissioners, and others believe regulating oil and gas development should fall under local control. While a valid argument, local control of resource development would likely result in regulations that are inconsistent from one county to the next. Another concern is some counties could make regulations so onerous it would effectively ban development of oil and gas.
Oil and gas are state resources much the same as water, wildlife and other minerals. Inconsistent regulations will cause oil companies to seek more business-friendly states to do business in. And, more importantly, changes to this legislation will diminish opportunities for private landowners to allow development of these important natural resources.
Legislation prohibiting the use of eminent domain to develop a recreational path along the Portneuf River in Pocatello is another important, yet controversial matter that should be handled carefully. A community non-profit organization is bent on condemning private property along the Portneuf River to complete a bicycle / walking path. Yet several landowners along the river don’t want a path through their yards. Eminent domain is a tool that government entities commonly use to construct needed public infrastructure projects such as fire stations, schools or utility corridors. While we don’t disagree that the city of Pocatello would benefit from a recreation path along the river, it’s a clear violation of private property rights to condemn land for recreational purposes. The use of eminent domain, in this case, is yet another example of government overstepping its authority.
A clear difference exists between needs and wants, and when private property rights are in the crosshairs, our organization will always come down on the side of landowners retaining their autonomy and making decisions with regard to development of their property.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Just in

PNTR With Russia is Significant for U.S. Ag
WASHINGTON—Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s top trade priority this year, said the organization in a statement sent today to Congress. AFBF submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee for its hearing looking at extending PNTR for Russia.
Long negotiations on Russia joining the World Trade Organization resulted in the country being able to enact many trade-related reforms. Russia is expected to complete the adoption of the measures and formally join the WTO this July. But, PNTR for Russia must be enacted by Congress in order to guarantee U.S. access to the market opening and legal aspects that are part of the Russia-WTO agreement.
“Russia PNTR is a critical step towards ensuring the U.S. benefits from Russia’s accession to the WTO and remains competitive in that market,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “U.S. farmers will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia’s commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply international food safety standards in a uniform and transparent manner.”
Russia has a strong capacity for growth in food imports from the United States. U.S agricultural exports to Russia are forecast at $1.4 billion for 2012. Russia has potential for significant increases in poultry, pork and beef consumption, which were the top U.S. agricultural exports to the country in 2011.
“With this potential for expanding meat exports, obtaining PNTR with Russia is even more important,” said Stallman. “Russia’s membership in the WTO will provide significant commercial opportunities for U.S. agriculture.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First sign of Spring

Pioneer Irrigation Deliveries start April 16

Caldwell--Irrigation water deliveries to approximately 5,800 Pioneer Irrigation District customers should begin about April 16 as the 2012 irrigation season gets underway,
according to Pioneer water superintendent Mark Zirschky.

Pioneer will actually start filling the Phyllis Canal from its diversion on the Boise
River on April 11. However it takes several days for Pioneer’s 38 main
and lateral canals to completely fill. Pioneer employees also have other
duties such as debris removal that cannot be completed until water is actually
flowing in the canals delaying the start of irrigation water deliveries
approximately five days.

Work crews will also closely inspect all Pioneer canals for any sign of rodent or
other issues that might result in leakage or a breach in the canal wall.
Gopher activity is believed to have caused a Phyllis Canal breach in April
2011. That section of the Phyllis Canal was completely repaired in November.

Water users on the Pioneer system should have a relatively normal water supply
for the 2012 irrigation season, Zirschky said. Pioneer has a full supply
of storage water thanks to winter snow melt plus 45,000 acre feet of water in
Boise River reservoirs carried over from 2011. Pioneer uses both natural flow
and storage water during the irrigation season. Irrigation water deliveries
typically end about the middle of October.

Pioneer water users should contact their local ditchrider after April 16 to determine
exactly when irrigation water will be available at individual diversion points,
Zirschky added. Contact information for the individual ditchriders also
will be posted by April 16 on the Pioneer website –
Patrons can also contact the Pioneer business office at 459-3617 after April 16
to get current ditchrider contact information.

“We really encourage all Pioneer customers to sign up for the District’s email
information system called Pioneering Communications. This is the first
time the program will be able to provide water users with email notifications
about system problems or delivery interruptions that can affect the flow of
water to delivery points. This email information system will keep our patrons fully informed about the problem, what we
are doing to cure the problem, and how long they can expect that to take,” said
Dawn Fowler, Pioneer Treasurer.

The email information system, believed to be the first of its kind in the state,
also features regular email newsletters, and a means of asking questions or
providing feedback to the Pioneer managers and the Board of Directors. More
information about the Pioneering Communication program plus instructions how to
join is available on the Pioneer website.

The start of irrigation season also marks the beginning of a heightened canal
safety effort by Pioneer. Young people, even adults, regularly drown
in Idaho irrigation canals. Canals are also situated on private property
which makes it trespassing for people to go near canals.

Pioneer workers will be posting special signs over the next couple months on
the canals, drains and laterals to notify people that the facilities are for
Pioneer Irrigation District and authorized personnel only.

“As the water comes in to the system, our ditchriders and other employees will
begin their traditional few months of intense monitoring of our canal
properties to watch for people who are where they don’t belong. We want
to make sure that no one is putting themselves or their loved ones at the awful
risk of drowning in a canal,” Zirschky said.

Pioneer Irrigation District is a non-profit irrigation district based in Caldwell that
has provided irrigation water to more than 34,000 acres of farm and residential
lands in Canyon County and extreme western Ada County for 109 years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just in

AFBF Supports Farm Truck Transportation Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2012 – The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting measures to make certain farm vehicles exempt from federal motor vehicle regulations that are appropriately aimed at the long-haul trucking industry. AFBF is urging senators to support two amendments to the pending transportation bill (S. 1813).

The first amendment, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), would provide an exemption for farm trucks. That measure is co-sponsored by Sens. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). If based solely on weight limits, even a one-ton pickup truck pulling a trailer could be subject to the long-haul regulations.

“The amendment is important because some states exempt farm vehicles while others do not,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Under the current situation, merely the act of crossing state lines can trigger conflicting requirements for some farmers who are doing nothing more than hauling their own crop. These regulations can be particularly burdensome for farmers and ranchers living in counties bordering another state where their best market might be just across the state line.”

The second Farm Bureau-supported amendment to S. 1813 would exempt certain farm truck drivers from regulations on maximum driving and on-duty times during harvest and planting seasons. It is sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

“This measure is particularly crucial during the two busiest times of a farmer’s year,” Stallman said.

The amendment would apply to drivers transporting agricultural commodities within 100 miles of the farm that produced them, or those carrying farm supplies for agricultural purposes within 100 miles of the wholesale or retail distribution point. Each state would determine its own planting and harvest periods.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just in

Dick Baker, inducted to the Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame

Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame – 2012

Idaho Falls--Five of eastern Idaho’s most distinguished leaders in the agriculture industry will be inducted into the 40th Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame during the annual Recognition Dinner

March 23.

This year’s inductees are Dick Baker, a long-time rancher and conservationist from Clayton; V. Don Olson, cattle rancher from Salmon; Daniel H. Mickelson, dairy producer from Grace; Pete McGarry, horse and cattleman of Hamer, and Stan Gortsema, longtime Power County Extension Agent from American Falls.

The Recognition Dinner will be held at O’Callahan’s in the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn Convention Center. A no-host social hour begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The event is open to all interested persons. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce at 630 W. Broadway or from any of the 30 members of the Hall of Fame Board of Directors.

The nominees’ biographies appear below.

Dick L. Baker

Clayton, Idaho

Dick Baker of Clayton is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his contributions to outstanding environmental stewardship for private and public lands. He has proven that raising cattle and environmental stewardship go hand in hand.

Baker gren the East Fork of the Salmon River just a few miles upriver from where he and his wife Betty live today. Born in 1922, Dick grew up on his family ranch helping from a very young age feeding and milking cows, irrigating, harvesting and stacking hay. As a young man, Baker served in the military and was honorably discharged after being called home to help run the ranch following a horse and wagon accident that left his father crippled. Along with his older brother, Baker took over management of the ranch at an early age. The original homestead, which has been in the family for six generations, remains in the Baker family today.

Baker’s ranch is located in the middle of Custer County which is comprised of 97% public land. As a result, the use of public lands is essential to the survival of his family’s ranch. Without the ability to graze his cattle on federal allotments, the ranch would not be able to sustain his operations and family. To help ensure the future of agriculture, Baker has been a long-term, active member of the Challis Experimental Stewardship Program, one of three in the country established under the Public Rangeland Improvement Act in 1978. This action led to the development of allotment management plans, mitigation of stocking reductions, range improvements providing better livestock distribution, and development of irrigated early spring use pastures to relieve pressures on lower range and privately owned hay land and pastures.

Working alongside numerous state and federal agencies, Baker’s commitment to environmental stewardship has included long hours in the saddle, ensuring his cattle were utilizing uplands and not disturbing riparian watersheds, packing salt, fixing fence and improving watering sites. His management techniques not only increased the productivity of his cattle and rangelands, but also increased wildlife habitat on thousands of acres of rangelands in the Custer County area.

Due to the hard work of six generations of Bakers, including Dick, the public is able to enjoy wide, open spaces. The true grit, perseverance, determination and hard work of Dick Baker and his family has made the East Fork what it is today, including the green, lush fields, abundance of wildlife and clear water full of fish.

V. Don Olson

Salmon, Idaho

V. Don Olson of Salmon is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to conservation, community involvement and ranching in the Lemhi Valley.

Although he would rather be known as a cowman, Olson is an excellent crop manager. He is considered to be among the leaders in native and improved wet meadows operations in Central Idaho. He also has a keen interest in draft horses and mules. Along with his family, Olson participates in parades, gives rides, feeds cattle and enjoys various competitions. Olson, his family and their livestock have been featured in various publications including “The Draft Horse Journal” and “Western Mule Magazine”.

Always the cattleman, Olson was able to purchase a portion of the Joe Tonsmeire Ranch on Geertson Creek in 1995. The transaction was brokered by the Nature Conservancy. This was the first transaction in the Lemhi Valley in which the value of a non-development conservation easement was used to reduce the value of a ranch so it could be purchased for its agricultural value.

Active in public life, Olson was elected to the ASC County Committee where he served as a member and chairman for several years. He was elected to the Lemhi County Cattle and Horse Growers Board of Directors and served in all offices for that organization. In 1988 he became a director of the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of the Board.

Of all his public involvement, however, Olson is best known as chairman of the Model Watershed Project Advisory Committee since its formation in 1993. This project has developed into the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program. Since its inception, the program has sponsored or been involved in over 600 projects to enhance wildlife, particularly Endangered Species Act listed species in the Salmon River Basin. Don has also been involved in the negotiating committee attempting to reach a conservation agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service for the past 11 years. This proposed agreement must be practical, achievable and protect all ranchers in the Lemhi Basin. Olson’s practicality and knowledge of the Lemhi Basin has been invaluable in representing ranching interests in these negotiations.

Daniel H. Mickelson

Grace, Idaho

Daniel Mickelson of Grace will be inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his efforts in improving the Holstein breed and dairy industry in Idaho.

Born in 1928 in Lago, Idaho, Mickelson started taking part in the family farm at an early age. By ten years of age, he was driving the horse teams that powered their family farm equipment. He often drove a team of four horses abreast to pull harrows and discs for field work. He also drove the four horses to help his father build farm roads and ditches.

Through his years of farming, Mickelson has experienced big changes in the dairy industry. His father’s family sold their milk in ten gallon cans. Then he saw the industry change to use small bulk tanks; and finally to large bulk tanks as dairies got bigger and the Holstein breed became high milk producers. Mickelson had a bulk tank that would hold 1600 gallons of milk. Mickelson’s dairy herd grew from a single cow, which he raised as a 4-H project on his father’s farm, to 250 head of his own animals. He sold only Grade A quality milk in all his years as a dairy farmer.

Mickelson developed his dairy herd into a purebred operation of all registered Holsteins. He had great success in selling young bulls for breeding stock. He also sold Holstein bulls in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. He showed his dairy cattle at shows all over the intermountain west including the Caribou County Fair for over 42 years and the Eastern Idaho State Fair for over 40 years. He has had great success in the show ring. His cows produced well and were also sold for excellent breeding stock. Mickelson has had cows sold to places as far away as New York state and Japan.

Mickelson has provided extensive service to the different dairy associations in Idaho and was elected as a delegate to the National Holstein Association six times. This opportunity allowed him to better help the Holstein breed in Idaho by bringing valuable information to the state’s dairy farmers.

Pete McGarry

Hamer, Idaho

Pete McGarry of Hamer is being inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for being a steward of the land and people in Eastern Idaho. His contributions to agriculture are in natural resource conservation, the cattle and horse industry, and as a spokesman for agriculture and ranching.

Growing up on the family ranch in Kilgore, McGarry rode a horse before he could walk. The ranch was an idyllic place for McGarry to learn range stewardship, how to operate a cow/calf operation and horsemanship. He became an expert at packing sawbucks and panniers to balance a load on the back of a pack animal. This skill was used often packing into remote areas when he worked on a dude ranch and for the Bridger National Forest where he packed in chemicals on horses to control pine beetles. McGarry later shared and taught his packing skills to 4-H Club Members and special interest groups.

After serving in the U.S. military, McGarry returned to McGarry Ranches in Kilgore to help his father. Due to his expertise he was appointed as the Clark County Assessor and served in this position for three terms.

McGarry has been very involved in soil and water conservation efforts in western Jefferson County. His leadership helped the Mud Lake Soil and Water Conservation District promote and secure funding to improve irrigation water management and reduce wind erosion. Improved irrigation water management is evident with laser land leveling and state of the art irrigation sprinkler systems. These irrigation improvements along with the implementation of best management practices have significantly improved crop yields and reduced wind and water erosion in the Mud Lake, Terreton and Monteview areas. Three years ago the Mud Lake District joined the Jefferson District and McGarry continues to serve as an elected member of the combined districts.

At his farm in Hamer, McGarry has raised grain, alfalfa and potatoes. Farming provided the means for the McGarry family operation to diversify and have a wintering area for their cow/calf operation.

Stan Gortsema

American Falls, Idaho

Stan Gortsema of American Falls will be inducted into the 2012 Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame for his extensive contributions to agriculture and community.

Growing up on the family owned ranch and farm near Grangeville, Gortsema learned how to raise wheat, barley, hay and to take care of one hundred head of Hereford/Angus cross cattle. He learned horsemanship skills in the local 4-H Horse Club led by his father. He was never too busy to find time to fish the Clearwater, Lochsa and Salmon Rivers.

After graduating from the University of Idaho, Gortsema secured a job with the Snake River Cattle Company in American Falls. From 1974-76 he was the confinement barn manager and lead rider of the cowboy crew.

With his passion for agriculture, Stan was hired by the U of I as the Extension Agent for Power County in 1976. He became Chairman Agent in 1984, retiring from the agency in 2010. For 34 years Stan was involved in anything and everything related to agriculture in Power County. He was in charge of the local 4-H Market Animal Program where Power County has one of the top grossing fat stock sales in Idaho. He helped organize the Power County Corn Growers Group which currently delivers approximately 412,000 bushels of corn to area markets. Gortsema has participated in many grain, sugar beet, corn and potato yield trials over the years.

He continues to serve as the ex-officio secretary of the Power County Fair Board and remains an active member of the Power County 4-H/FFA Livestock Sale Committee.

A hard red winter wheat variety called SRG is named for him. It is a dryland variety and is still in foundation seed production at the U of I Experiment Station in Aberdeen.

Gortsema has received many awards for his contributions to agriculture and community. Included in those awards are the Outstanding Service Award from the Southeast Idaho Chapter of University of Idaho Alumni, Grand Teton Council of Boy Scouts Salute a Community Leader Award, and National Association of County Agents Distinguished Service Award.

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...