Thursday, February 28, 2013

Legislative intern

Boise-Lori Shafer from Rogerson, Idaho is serving a legislative internship at the Idaho Statehouse. The University of Idaho graduate and full time rancher says she's enjoying learning the legislative process.

"I've heard so much about what lawmakers do and don't do, I'm learning its a lot different than what many think. These lawmakers work long, hard hours and I think most have the best interests of constituents in mind on each and every vote," said Shafer.

Shafer, and her husband operate the Point Ranch in Rogerson and run cattle on the Idaho and Nevada range. "It's hard being away this time of year because we're calving and thats a 24-hour a day job right now."

The Idaho Legislative intern program is an excellent opportunity for Farm Bureau members to get involved in farm policy development with the Idaho Farm Bureau and Ag industry. Members can apply with their County President.

Interns will have the opportunity to:
  • research legislative bills of significance to Idaho agriculture and write reports to inform Farm Bureau leadership and staff of pending legislation,
  • accompany Idaho Farm Bureau personnel to legislative sessions at the Statehouse and to Farm Bureau meetings during their weeklong tenure.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Safe food

USDA Releases Annual Summary for Pesticide Data Program

WASHINGTON--USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has posted data from the 2011 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found

The 2011 PDP report confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by EPA and do not pose a safety concern.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fairness on Mainstreet?

Support Urged for Internet Sales Tax Bills
Washington--Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and 19 other senators introduced S. 336, theMarketplace Fairness Act, to promote fair competition between local and main street retailers and Internet-only sellers by allowing states to apply sales tax laws across the board. Companion legislation, H.R. 684, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, was introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and 36 original cosponsors.

The bills allow states to enforce their existing sales tax laws on remote sellers but does not create new taxes or increase existing ones. Farm Bureau supports the legislation and is urging members of Congress to approve it because businesses in small and rural towns provide essential goods and services to the farmers and ranchers who work the fields that surround them. However, those businesses are at a disadvantage when they compete with online-only retailers that are not required to collect sales taxes.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Agriculture sector facing ‘man-made' problems as drought continues, Vilsack says | AgriPulse

ARLINGTON - The agriculture sector is facing a number of “man-made” problems this year as it continues to contend with the damage from the ongoing drought, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Speaking at the USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, “Managing Risk in the 21st Century,” Vilsack said the looming across-the-board cuts from the scheduled March 1 sequestration has created great uncertainty among farmers who rely on the department’s programs.
USDA will need to cut about five percent from all its programs if Congress fails to act to avoid sequestration. Vilsack said the department would have to make “line-by-line” reductions to each of its programs.

He said he has asked Congress to “give us some flexibility” when deciding what cuts to make. Vilsack stressed that while the SNAP program, formally known as food stamps, will not be subject to cuts, some food safety inspections may “stop for a day or so” each week.
Vilsack said furloughs would begin at the USDA anywhere from 30 to 120 days after March 1.
“It’s complicated because we have lots of different labor agreements,” he said.
Another issue facing farmers this year, Vilsack said, is the possibility of an immigration reform package becoming law. He said “a good portion” of the nation’s farm workers “are not legal” and that more workers are needed.
“We had crops that were grown, but not harvested, because there were not enough hands,” Vilsack said. 
Also, Vilsack said farmers continue to wait for Congress to act on a five-year farm bill, which would give them and the bankers who provide loans to farmers some long-term certainty.
Despite the issues facing farmers, Vilsack said the farm sector remains strong, which he said “is pretty amazing.”
For his part, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber told forum participants that he expects the agricultural economy to remain strong with farm incomes nearing record highs.
“U.S. agricultural exports are expected to break records again this fiscal year and the financial outlook for the sector remains solid, with debt measures low relative to assets and equity, and asset values at record levels,” Glauber said.
Glauber said the outlook for 2013 calls for a rebound in crop yields with record production for corn and soybeans. Later in the year, he said, USDA expects lower prices for most grains and oilseeds.
“Lower crop prices should lead to lower feed costs and improved profitability for the livestock, dairy and poultry sectors,” he said.
Glauber noted that exports to China are projected to be $22 billion, which would be down $1.4 billion from last year’s record high. Still, China should edge out Canada, projected at $21 billion, for the second straight year as the top U.S. market.
Brazil is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest corn exporter, he said.
“While the United States will likely regain its position as largest corn exporter in FY 2014, the low levels of exports projected for FY 2013 reflect the magnitude of this year’s drought on the U.S. corn balance sheet,” he said.
Corn use for ethanol is projected at 4.675 billion bushels for 2013-2014, which would be up 175 million bushels from last year, but below 2011-2012 levels.
Glauber said the key uncertainty to the USDA projections is whether the drought continues.
“Another year of drought would likely result in large liquidation and hardship for livestock producers,” he said.
Also speaking at the forum, former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who now serves as senior policy advisor for DLA Piper, said global warming is causing less land to be suitable for agriculture.
“So we need to do more with the land we have,” Daschle said.
Daschle said the seven billion people on earth already use the “equivalent of a planet-and-a-half” of resources.
“Yet 870 million people worldwide still go to bed hungry,” Daschle said. “And by the year 2050, there will be over two billion more mouths to feed, many of them in the developing world.”
Daschle noted that between 30 percent and 50 percent of the food produced in the world rots or goes uneaten.
“That’s not sustainable,” Daschle said.   

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just in

The Economist: Farm Prices Soaring Despite Mother Nature
Washington--The Economist reports in its upcoming Feb. 23 print edition that in spite of dire headlines this past year about negative impacts of the weather on farming, commodity markets are booming and prices are soaring.

“The drought has helped, not hindered, profits,” states the article. “For farmers able to produce corn, it raised prices dramatically. The average price of corn was about 20 percent higher last year than in 2010, and reached $8.49 a bushel in August. For everyone else crop insurance payments have stepped in, reaching a record $14.2 billion in payments in mid-February.... This year, according to a report from the USDA on Feb. 11, farm profits may rise by 14 percent to $128 billion, the highest in real terms since 1973.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Just in

Vilsack Addresses Access to Credit for Young & Beginning Farmers

Washington--Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talked with veterans, young, beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers at an event in San Antonio, Texas.

Its about USDA's work to expand credit for their farming operations. USDA is hearing from excited producers all across the country about USDA's new microloan program, designed to help small and family operations secure loans under $35,000. Since 2009, said Vilsack, USDA has continued to expand the overall number of loans to beginning farmers and ranchers as well as its lending to socially-disadvantaged producers by significant margins.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just in

Stallman: Proposed Farm Program Cuts Raise Concerns
WAshington--While farmers and ranchers were initially encouraged that a new $110 billion fiscal policy proposal from Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would help put the country on the long road toward greater fiscal responsibility, the details on how he proposes to do so raise strong concerns, AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a statement on Friday.

“It appears the lion’s share of budget reductions will come from cuts to agricultural programs that will create much harm in farm country,” Stallman said.  “More than $27.5 billion in net spending reductions are earmarked for farm programs—with all the cuts coming from the elimination of direct payments with no provision to allow use of some of the savings for reinvestment in new safety-net or risk-management concepts. The magnitude of these proposed cuts will hamstring the House and Senate Agriculture committees from crafting a farm bill that includes the safety-net and risk-management provisions that our farmers need.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just in

Farmers are Reminded of Corn Yield and Revenue Insurance
and Upcoming Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Program Date
SPOKANE--USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reminds Pacific Northwest corn producers of the several options they have available through Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI). 
“During these winter months is the best time to plan for spring-time planting and we want to remind all Pacific Northwest farmers of the Friday, March 15 sales closing deadline for their 2013 seeded spring crops,” said RMA’s Spokane Regional Office Director Dave Paul. 
“MPCI policies for many spring crops were transformed and improved in 2011. The changes simplified the application process and gave choices of yield and revenue protection for producers insuring corn, canola/rapeseed, feed barley, malting barley, and certain types of dry peas and lentils. The participation response for barley and wheat has been very positive,” said RMA’s Spokane Regional Office Director Dave Paul. “However, participation in the corn MPCI has continued to remain stagnant.”
MPCI programs in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington:
Acres Insured
Percent of Total Insured Acres to Total Acres Planted
Acres Insured
Percent of Total Insured Acres to Total Acres Planted
The corn policy insures all of a producer’s field corn planted for harvest as grain or silage. Under the simplified program, one policy for each crop provides the choice of three plans:
·         Yield Protection: Insurance coverage only providing protection against a production loss.
·         Revenue Protection: Insurance coverage providing protection against loss of revenue due to a production loss; price decline or increase; or a combination of both. 
·         Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion: Insurance coverage providing protection only against loss of revenue due to a production loss, price decline, or a combination of both.
Both the revenue and yield protection plans use market exchanges to develop the projected price used to establish the insurance guarantee and premium for the crop and the harvest price used to value production to count under the Revenue Protection Plan. RMA’s Prices Discovery Web site is:
Producers are encouraged to work closely with their crop insurance agent and review the choices available for coverage level, unit division, and insurance plan that best fits their farming operation. Producers may find a significant difference in premium costs between unit and insurance plan choices.
Current policyholders and uninsured growers must make all of their decisions on crop insurance coverage before the sales closing date.  If there is no coverage in a county for a specific crop under the traditional MPCI program; producers may ask a crop insurance agent whether they would be eligible for coverage under a written agreement.
Producers are encouraged to visit with their crop insurance agent to learn specific details for the 2013 crop year. Federal crop insurance policies are sold and delivered solely through private insurance companies and agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers in the United States or on RMA’s web site at

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just in from Washington

New Bill Repealing HIT Good for Farmers, Ranchers
Washington--Legislation introduced in the House today is a major step for farmers, ranchers and small businesses that would otherwise be negatively impacted by healthcare reform, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.  The Jobs and Premium Protection Act of 2013, introduced by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Jim Matheson (R-Utah), would repeal the Health Insurance Tax (HIT).

A recent Congressional Budget Office report confirms that the HIT Tax “would be largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.”  The new tax would raise insurance costs even more, making it harder for farmers and ranchers to purchase coverage for themselves, their families and their employees.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just in from Washington

Senate Ag Committee Discussing Weather Disasters

Washington--The Senate Agriculture Committee will examine the drought, weather and other economic disasters facing America’s farmers at a hearing next week. Testimony will be provided by Dr. Roger Pulwarty, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’sIntegrated Drought Information System, and Joe Glauber, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist. Three farmers and ranchers also are scheduled to testify.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Warmer weather has moved into the valley

Emmett--John Kienitz owner of the Tin Cup Ranch in Gem county feeds his cattle along the Payette river below Squaw Butte. 
He's enjoying the warmer weather that has moved into the valley, after six weeks of unusually cold conditions. (Steve Ritter photo)

Just in from Phoenix

Farm Bureau Raises Record Food, Funds for Feeding America

Phoenix--The farm and ranch families of Farm Bureau raised a record $971,235 and donated a record of more than 24 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program in partnership with Feeding America. Combined, the monetary and food donations also reached a record level of the equivalent of more than 28 million meals.

The California Farm Bureau took top honors for donating the most food in 2012, 10,143,570 pounds. Illinois Farm Bureau raised the most money, $786,949. And, Michigan Farm Bureau tallied the most volunteer friend hours, 6,410. Thanks to the generosity of Chevrolet/GM, each of those state organizations received a $1,500 grant to donate to a local food bank of their choice. Five state YF&R committees received $500 grants from Chevrolet/GM for “most innovative” programs. Those winners included Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and New York.

The awards were presented Sunday during AFBF’s Joint National Leadership and YF&R Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just in from Washington County

Weiser--Clark Johnston unveils the new web-based agricultural management software program called GrainBridge at a marketing seminar held in Weiser, Idaho.  A new program offered by Idaho farm Bureau.  On Wednesday, Johnston will be in Gem county to introduce the service to farmers of Gem county. (Steve Ritter photo)

Just in

Farmer Donations Help Local Ronald McDonald Houses

PHOENIX – The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee donated food and funds to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Phoenix as a kick-off to Farm Bureau’s annual Food Check-Out Week. During the week, which runs Feb. 17-23, farmer and rancher members of many local Farm Bureaus will talk with consumers about how to cut costs while putting nutritious meals on the table for their families.
Last week the Idaho Farm Bureau's Women's Leadership committee made their donation to the Ronald McDonald House in Boise. The Idaho women showed up with two SUV's full of groceries, a sizable check and then cooked dinner for the house.
“Farmers and ranchers remain committed to producing safe, healthy food for all Americans,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee.
“And we do share with many American families concerns about putting nutritious meals on the table on a tight budget.”
Over the past few years, rising energy costs for processing, packaging and transportation have been the driving forces behind modest increases in retail food prices, Gilbert noted.
“Plenty of options are available so that consumers do not have to turn to less-nutritious foods that lack essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, to make ends meet,” said Gilbert.
“Tips for better nutrition on a stretched budget, making sense of food labels and understanding USDA’s MyPlate guidelines are among the topics Farm Bureau members will be talking about with consumers, at supermarket demonstration stations, farmers’ markets and other venues,” according to Gilbert.
“Stretching Your Grocery Dollar With Healthy, Nutritious Food,” the official theme of Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Week, reflects the fact that many Americans continue to look for ways to deal with an economic squeeze. Shopping for food to prepare more meals at home and dining out less frequently are two strategies people are using to cope with the situation.
“Now more than ever before, farmers and ranchers are committed to participating in conversations with consumers, to answer their questions about food,” Gilbert said. “This holds true during special observances such as Food Check-Out Week, as well as when farmers go about their day-to-day routines and engage in social media.”
Two Ronald McDonald Houses in Phoenix provide a “home-away-from-home” for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment at area hospitals.
The Food Check-Out Week connection between Farm Bureau and Ronald McDonald House Charities was forged more than a decade ago. Since the program was initiated in the mid-1990s, Farm Bureau members have donated more than $3 million in food and monetary contributions to Ronald McDonald Houses and other charities during Food Check-Out Week.
Participating county and state Farm Bureaus will hold similar events throughout Food Check-Out Week. Links to state Farm Bureau websites may be found at:
The third week of February was selected for Food Check-Out Week as a way to celebrate American food and as a bridge to National Nutrition Month in March.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

USDA Projects increased Milk Production in 2013

WASDE report projects still-strong milk prices, higher milk-cow numbers and larger milk-per-cow forecasts.

Washington--USDA raised its 2013 projection for milk production in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report today. 
The increased forecast of 201 billion pounds reflects an increase 1.1 million pounds over January’s estimate. If achieved, it would be only the second time that U.S. dairies have produced more than 200 billion pounds in a single year.
USDA also narrowed the range of the All-Milk price for 2013 to $18.90 to $19.70 per cwt.
The market has shown little reaction today to the report’s dairy numbers, analysts said.
Milk cow numbers rose as USDA’s cattle report indicated that the number of cows on Jan. 1 was about unchanged from 2012. USDA also raised its milk-per-cow forecasts as last quarter-2012 estimates were higher than expected and lower forecast feed costs support higher milk yields in 2013.
Fat-basis trade estimates for 2013 remained unchanged from January’s WASDE report. The skim-solids export estimate for 2013 increased largely on expectations of stronger nonfat dry milk (NDM) shipments, but the import forecast is unchanged.
The WASDE report left cheese prices unchanged from last month, but the price range is narrowed. NDM and whey prices are raised reflecting stronger demand, but the butter price is lowered.
Despite a higher whey price, the forecast Class III price is unchanged although the range is tightened to $17.70-$18.40 per cwt. Lower butter prices are more than offset by higher NDM prices, resulting in a slightly higher forecasted Class IV price in the range of $17.00-$17.80. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Just in from Washington

FDA Reorganizing Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program

Washington--The Food and Drug Administration is reorganizing its Foods and Veterinary Medicine program. 

Under the reorganization, FDA’s veterinary medicine role has been incorporated into the former Office of Foods. The new Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine is under the direct authority of Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. 

The new structure maintains the two major centers that are responsible for daily food safety and veterinary medicine functions, respectively—the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, and the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Farm Bureau has not formally commented on the reorganization. AFBF staff continue to work with FDA to ensure that critical decisions are made in a timely manner.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Too early to tell if dry January will affect summer Water Supply
Boise – January precipitation was below normal across most of Idaho according to the latest water supply outlook report released this week by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The report shows the snowpack decreased by up to 30 percentage points from a month ago.
“If February is dry, the snowpack and streamflow percentages will decrease like they did in January,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “That could affect the water supply this summer.”
Currently, the snowpack ranges from a low of 75% to 128% of normal. Low elevation snowpacks that were below normal last month are still well below normal while higher elevation snow is in better shape and maintaining higher percentages.
“Most basins started the season with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions,” said Abramovich. “We’ve learned from the past that we can usually get by with one month of below normal precipitation, especially after a good start like this year. When we get two dry months in a row, negative impacts on the water supply start to occur.”
The report also shows streamflow forecasts decreased across most of the state, matching snowpack declines. Reservoir storage south of the Snake River is below average due to below normal runoff in 2012. However, elsewhere across the state reservoir storage is near average or above.
For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff, and water supplies for specific basins, please view the complete February 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report online at and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.  
NRCS conducts snow surveys at the end of each month from December through May to make snow runoff predictions and water supply forecasts used in managing Idaho’s water resources.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just in

Activists Bemoan New State Hidden Camera Laws
Salt Lake--Animal rights activists working for the Humane Society of the United States and Mercy for Animals have admitted that they have stopped conducting undercover camera investigations into alleged animal cruelty in five farm states, including Iowa and Utah, where new laws went into effect last year. 

So-called “ag gag” laws, which vary from state to state, generally apply to individuals who obtain work at farms through fraud, deception or lying. Activists fear arrest with the new laws in place.

Just in

EU Dropping Some Bans on U.S. Meat
Washington--The European Union recently lifted its ban on some U.S. meat imports, effective Feb. 25. Bans on the import of live pigs and beef washed in lactic acid will be lifted. 

The removal of the ban on lactic acid, which is used to treat microbiological surface contamination on bovine carcasses, will help increase U.S. beef exports to the EU.Restrictions on imports of animal tallow used in biofuels also may be lifted.

The changes are viewed as a goodwill gesture by EU officials in advance of free trade negotiations with the U.S. that will improve market access for both trading partners.


Boise– Governor Butch  Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke announced an agreement today between water users and water managers on prioriti...