Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just in

Dairy Farmers Struggle with MILC Expiration

Madison--Small dairy farmers in the Northeast and Wisconsin say the Sept. 30 expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract program (a part of the farm bill) adds insult to the injury of an already hard year that brought low milk prices and high fuel and feed costs, the Associated Press reports.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just in

September Poultry Production Down 7 Percent
Washington--According to the Agriculture Department, poultry production in September was 3.433 billion pounds, that’s down 12 percent from the prior month and 7 percent lower than a year ago. 

Chickens averaged 5.88 pounds per bird, turkeys averaged 29.33 pounds and ducks averaged 6.77 pounds, according to USDA.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Romney Increases Lead Among Rural Voters, Poll Shows
Washington--Rural voters in swing states are showing strong support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a National Rural Assembly poll released earlier this month. The poll shows Romney’s lead increasing in rural areas in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Read more about the election and the poll in this recent AFBF Focus column and Farm Futures articleAnd check out this short video from AFBF President Bob Stallman about the importance of casting your ballot.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Feed the Future Reaching Millions
Washington--The first progress report for Feed the Future, the Obama administration’s global hunger and food security initiative, shows the organization is already making a difference in people’s lives in the developing world. 

So far, Feed the Future has helped 1.8 million food producers to adopt improved technologies or management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields and increased incomes. The initiative has also reached nearly 9 million children through nutrition programs, which can prevent and treat under-nutrition and improve child survival.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friends of Agriculture Award

Congressman Mike Simpson Awarded Friends of Agriculture Award
Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley awarded Congressman Mike Simpson the Farm Bureau's Friend of Agriculture Award for 2012.

Idaho Farm Bureau grants Friends of Agriculture Awards to Idaho lawmakers who’s voting record is supportive of agriculture and other natural resource related industries.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

USDA Announces Renewable Energy Funding

Boise--Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced funding for 244 projects nationwide that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs, and use renewable energy technologies in their operations.

Funding is made available through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just in

The Hill: Farm Subsidies Could Get Pushed Off ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Washington--Farm subsidies could be a target if congressional lawmakers take action to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff,” according to The Hill’s On the Money blog.

The subsidies were among dozens of other budget items that might be on the chopping block based on: President Barack Obama’s budget proposal; discussions last year between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); the proposal from the Senate’s “Gang of Six;” the House’s sequestration bills; and the deficit talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.

“Lawmakers involved in the Biden group found $33 billion in cuts to farm subsidies and conservation programs, while the sequester alternative from House Democrats cuts $24 billion,” Erik Wasson wrote in the blog post.

Monday, October 22, 2012

USDA Report Shows Increasingly Tight Beef Supplies

Des Moines--USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report shows the number of cattle sold for slaughter in September was down 12 percent, and the number of cattle moving from pasture to feedlots dropped 19 percent.

With traders and producers forecasting increasing tight supplies, beef prices are likely to jump 5 percent to 6 percent, according to a Des Moines Register article.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feed Corn Harvest Continues Across Idaho
by Steve Ritter

Emmett--Shelled Corn is loaded into a semi at Walton farms in Gem County.
"All we take is the kernal," said farmer Tracy Walton. He says shelled corn is very different from silage corn. "Silage corn takes the whole plant, stock, cob and kernal," he explained. 

  • Around 80 million acres of land are planted in corn, with the majority of the crop grown in the midwest.
  • Most of the crop is used for livestock feed.
  • Corn is also processed into food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.

  • The United States is a major player in the world corn trade market, with approximately 20 percent of the corn crop exported to other countries. 

Domestic corn inventories totaled 988 million bushels as of Sept. 1, the lowest level in eight years, the Department of Agriculture said yesterday in a closely watched quarterly grain-supplies report. Corn supplies were below the average analyst forecast of 1.126 billion bushels in a Dow Jones Newswires poll this week.
The report, which mainly reflects stockpiles of corn harvested a year ago and stored on farms and commercial sites, shows how U.S. supplies were tight even before farmers in much of the Midwest began harvesting this fall's drought-stricken crop.
Corn futures leapt to a record in August as the worst U.S. drought in decades battered crops from Nebraska to Ohio. The USDA earlier this month projected that this fall's corn harvest will be the nation's smallest in six years. Idaho farmers are seeing record prices for their corn this year.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

USDA Announces Nation's Sixth Regional Biofuels System

Washington--The Agriculture Department on Tuesday awarded Pennsylvania State University a five-year research grant valued at roughly $10 million to develop biomass supply chains for the production of liquid transportation and aviation biofuels in the Northeast. This is the sixth such award made through USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, aimed at developing regional, renewable energy markets, generating rural jobs and decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil.

In September 2011, USDA announced five major AFRI grants for the formation of five regional systems in the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest, Northern states, Southern states and the Southeast.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Slight Uptick in Food Index
Washington--The Consumer Price Index’s food index increased 0.1 percent in September.

 The index for food at home was unchanged as major grocery store food indexes continue to be mixed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, released on Monday. 

The overall CPI for all urban consumers rose 0.6 percent last month. 

Just in from Washington

Shoppers Find Higher Prices for Breakfast Items

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 15, 2012 – Shoppers paid slightly more for food at the grocery store during the third quarter of the year, with many popular breakfast staples showing an increase in retail price. Higher retail prices for eggs, bacon, orange juice, milk and toasted oat cereal, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Quarterly Marketbasket Survey.

 Follow this link to download video clips.
 Listen to a Newsline report.
The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.90, up $1.00 or about 2 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012. Of the 16 items surveyed, 9 increased and 7 decreased in average price compared to the prior quarter. The cost for the overall basket of foods decreased about 2 percent compared to one year ago.
Most of the slight quarter-to-quarter increase in the marketbasket of foods can be attributed to higher retail prices for breakfast staples, apples and bagged salad.
“While prices were up from the second quarter, compared to a year ago, the marketbasket price was actually lower, by about 2 percent,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “For most of this year, food prices have been relatively stable. This is consistent with the very slow but steady growth in the general economy that has been seen throughout the year, along with fairly stable energy prices.”

Click on the image for a PDF version.
Items showing retail price increases for the third quarter included apples, up 36 cents to $1.86 per pound; large eggs, up 33 cents to $1.94 per dozen; bagged salad, up 20 cents to $2.94 per pound; bacon, up 19 cents to $4.23 per pound; whole milk, up 19 cents to $3.55 for one gallon; orange juice up 13 cents to $3.30 for a half-gallon; boneless chicken breasts, up 8 cents to $3.17 per pound; sirloin tip roast, up 5 cents to $4.74 per pound; and toasted oat cereal, up 1 cent to $3.00 for a 9-ounce box.
These items showed modest retail price declines: ground chuck decreased 19 cents to $3.47 per pound; white bread decreased 13 cents to $1.75 for a 20-ounce loaf; vegetable oil, down 7 cents to $2.91 for a 32-ounce bottle; flour decreased 5 cents to $2.57 for a 5-pound bag; Russet potatoes decreased 5 cents to $3.01 for a 5-pound bag; sliced deli ham decreased 4 cents to $5.20 per pound; and shredded cheddar decreased 3 cents to $4.26 per pound.
Several items showing an increase in retail price from quarter-to-quarter also showed year-to-year increases: sirloin tip roast, up 11 percent; eggs, up 9 percent; bagged salad, up 8 percent; and apples, up 2 percent.
The year-to-year direction of the Marketbasket Survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said. Details about USDA’s new Food Dollar Series may be found online at
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $51.90 marketbasket would be $8.30.
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly Marketbasket Survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The mix of foods in the marketbasket was updated in 2008.
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 79 shoppers in 26 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in August.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beet Harvest 2012

Beet Harvest Approaches record levels

Burley -- Idaho sugar beet growers are reporting near record yields with excellent sugar levels thanks to a dry harvest.

“These beets are normal sized but we’re getting more per acre and that increases yields and we’re having an awesome year,” said Jeff Schow of Amalgamated Sugar Company of Paul. 

Schow says sugars are high. “When you have dry harvest conditions you tend to have better sugar because when the beets are moist they got more water in them which loses the concentration of sugar.”

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service increased its August forecast of Idaho's yield on Sept. 12 from 34.7 tons per acre to 35.4 tons, which would be 1.1 tons above 2011. Idaho's sugar beet production is forecast at 6.44 million tons, up 2 percent from the August forecast and up 6 percent from 2011. Idaho's 182,000 harvested acres will be up 6,000 acres from last year.

U.S. yield, forecast at 29.3 tons per acre, up 5.5 tons from 2011, would also set a record if realized. U.S. sugar beet production for this season is forecast at 35.6 million tons, up 23 percent from last year.

Grower Cloy Jones says it's been a great year so far. "The beets look good, the sugar looks as good as its ever been. Whether it pans out that way, it's looking good.”

Schow says the market has softened this year. "Last the growers received right around $60 to $65 dollars a ton and we’re thinking its going to be right around 55 dollars per ton this year. It’s has softened but on an average 55 dollars per ton is still pretty good.”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Businessweek: Dinner Costs More

Washington--A Businessweek graphic shows how much the cost of dinner has increased since January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office. 

According to Businessweek, “Food prices fell during Obama’s first year in office, a small blessing for families struggling with unemployment. But as the economy began to heal, prices headed back up.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food and beverage costs have increased 7 percent since 2009.

AFBF’s July quarterly Marketbasket Survey found the total cost of 16 traditional food items was $50.91, down $1.56 or about 3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012. The next Marketbasket Survey will be released Oct. 15. AFBF’s annual Thanksgiving survey will be released Nov. 8.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Just in...

Court Allows AFBF to Join Farmer Lawsuit Against EPA

Washington--The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia has ruled that the American Farm Bureau Federation has a right to join in a lawsuit over the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate poultry and livestock farms under the Clean Water Act. In July, AFBF asked for permission to join on the side of West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt, who brought suit to challenge an EPA order demanding that she obtain a CWA discharge permit for storm water runoff from her farmyard. The West Virginia Farm Bureau has also joined the lawsuit. EPA aggressively opposed Farm Bureau’s participation.

“The court clearly recognizes the importance of this case for thousands of other livestock and poultry farmers threatened by EPA’s unlawful restriction of the agricultural storm water exemption,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The court flatly rejected EPA’s argument that other farmers facing similar EPA demands should be forced to file their own lawsuits. We are pleased that Farm Bureau will be allowed to challenge EPA’s actions on behalf of all our farmer and rancher members,” he added.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Important Message!

Just in

USDA Releases 2011 Certified Organic Production Survey

Washington--U.S. organic farmers sold more than $3.5 billion organically grown agricultural commodities in 2011, according to the results of the “2011 Certified Organic Production Survey,” which was recently released by the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. NASS conducted the survey for USDA’s Risk Management Agency to help refine federal crop insurance products for organic producers.

This is the first time USDA has conducted a survey focused solely on USDA-certified organic producers. According to Hubert Hamer, chairman of NASS’s Agricultural Statistics Board, the survey results will enable policymakers to better assess the Federal Crop Insurance program and how it influences the organic industry.

Corn leads organic field crops in sales and accounted for more than $101.5 million in 2011. The only other field crops to have more than $50 million in sales were alfalfa, dry hay and winter wheat, accounting for $69.5 million and $54 million in sales, respectively.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just in

Idaho Corn Maze Features Presidential Candidates
Boise--An agritourism destination in southwest Idaho that includes an 18-acre corn maze with images of the two presidential candidates is attracting nationwide attention. 

The field with images of President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney was created by corn and wheat farmer Jim Lowe, who says the maze is “politically neutral.” In prior years, theFarmstead Corn Maze and Pumpkin Festival held at Lowe’s farm featured likenesses of a bumblebee, Abraham Lincoln, the Boise State University logo and a trout.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just in

Improving Electric Service in Rural Communities

Washington--The Agriculture Department on Thursday announced funding to modernize and improve the efficiency of rural electric generation and transmission systems. Click here for a list of state recipients.

USDA announced last month that it had met its goal of financing $250 million in smart grid technologies during the past year. Thursday’s announcement includes support for an additional $9.8 million in smart grid technologies. The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America’s electric infrastructure.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Be on the Lookout for New Wheat Variety

Pullman--Farmers can look forward to a new wheat variety that can be planted in the fall. 

The hard red wheat variety, which has tentatively been named “Sprinter” for both “spring” and “winter,” will do well in dry areas and irrigated regions, and would expand some cropping system rotations for farmers interested in planting later, according to Capital Press.

Because Sprinter starts growing quicker and is more productive than a typical winter wheat in the spring, it is “potentially a game changer,” said Rich Koenig, Washington State University Extension director.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Newsline: Congress Must Halt Tax Hike

Washington--You may have a plan for paying for the holiday presents you’ll buy this year, but have you planned for how you’ll afford the higher taxes that will hit most U.S. households if Congress doesn’t take action?

 Pat Wolff, an AFBF tax specialist, talks about efforts to encourage Congress to keep those tax hikes from happening in the latest Newsline.

Come Jan. 1, families all over the country will be paying higher taxes unless Congress gets cracking during the lame-duck session after the election. 

“There’s every reason in the world to believe that they will do a tax package in December. It will be a huge tax increase if they don’t, which isn’t good news for most people, and it will have an impact on the stock market and our financial situation and that has a lot of people worried,” said Wolff.

 “On the other hand, there’s every reason to believe they won’t because they’ve had almost two years now to try to figure it out and they haven’t got it done.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ag Tax relief

Tax Relief Available for Livestock Sold Because of Drought
Washington--Farmers and ranchers in designated disaster areas who were forced to sell draft animals, breeding livestock or dairy animals early because of drought, flood or other weather-related conditions have been granted more time to defer payment of capital gains taxes on replacement animals. 

The deferment for purchasing replacement animals is normally four years, but during an extended drought, the Internal Revenue Service can extend the replacement period until after it ends.

Last week the IRS announced the states and counties with a replacement period for livestock that was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012 but has been extended to the first taxable year after the drought ends.
Read IRS Notice 2012-62 for details.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just in

Farm Bill Uncertainty and Election
Washington--The 2008 farm bill expired this past weekend. Although many farm programs under the expiring farm bill are funded through March 2013, it doesn’t alleviate the ambiguity for farmers and their bankers who need to make important planting decisions soon.

“Right now the main issue is the uncertainty,” AFBF’s Dale Moore told Reuters. “By not knowing what the new farm program is when they are sitting down with their bankers to get their credit while planning for next year—they don't know what they are going to be dealing with.”

As far as to when a farm bill will be passed, a number of analysts are speculating. “The best angle I've heard is that if Obama wins, a farm bill completed during the lame duck is more likely; if Romney wins, they'll extend and save changes for 2013,” Gary Blumenthal, head of the agricultural consultancy World Perspectives, told the Reuters Global Ag Forum this week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just in from Washington

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman speaks out on the Farm Bill on Capitol Hill yesterday. He urged support of a single commodity option and a strong crop insurance option in the 2012 Farm Bill.

Just in from Washington

Bacon Scarcity is “Baloney”

Washington--According to The Washington Post, bacon lovers can relax. John Anderson, an American Farm Bureau Federation economist, has put to rest last week’s fear-fest of a global bacon shortage that had everyone “all a Twitter,” when widespread panic broke out across social and mainstream media. According to the Post, “the alarm was quickly dismissed by the American Farm Bureau Federation as ‘baloney.’”

“Pork supplies will decrease slightly as we go into 2013,” Anderson said. “But the idea that there’ll be widespread shortages, that we’ll run out of pork, that’s really overblown.”

Monday, October 1, 2012


Libby Blattner, left, views a baby quail up close and personal as she learned about agriculture from Meridian FFA member Ally Lerback, right, at the 2011 Meridian FFA Ag Expo Open House. Everyone is welcome to attend the 2012 Open House from 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Wednesday, October 3 at the Meridian Professional Technical Center.

Meridian FFA Invites the Public to 2012 Ag Expo Open House
Meridian--The public is invited to the Meridian FFA Chapter’s 2012 Ag Expo Open House on Wednesday, October 3 from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm at the Meridian Professional Technical Center at 1900 West Pine in Meridian. FFA members will be showcasing information on many agricultural commodities as well as livestock production and more. There will be live farm animals and many educational displays to learn more about natural resources and how our food is produced. There is no charge to attend and everyone is welcome. The FFA members will be conducting scheduled tours with approximately 4,000 elementary school students and teachers during the school day October 2-4.

USDA Partners to Improve Rural Water Infrastructure

Six Projects in Idaho Will Improve Quality of Life and Build a Foundation for Rural Prosperity BOISE– Assistant to the Secretary for ...