Friday, March 29, 2013

Just in

EPA: More Than Half of U.S. Rivers and Streams in Poor Condition
 Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency this week released the results of the first comprehensive survey of the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half—55 percent—are in poor condition for aquatic life. 

The study found that nitrogen and phosphorus are at excessive levels, vegetation cover has decreased and mercury levels have increased.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just in from Gem County

Famous Idaho Potato kicks off tour
Emmett--The 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Tour stopped in Emmett, Idaho today to kick-off the 2nd annual nationwide tour.

The 48 ft long flatbed trailer features a 28 ft long, 12ft wide and 11.5 ft tall Idaho russett potato.  The 2013 tour will visit 28 states this year. (Steve Ritter photo)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Just in

Dry winter could affect water supply

Pocatello – A series of storms have covered Pocatello and Southeast Idaho in snow. 

A series of storms combined with below normal temps have camouflaged a nagging fact in Idaho: snowpack levels are below normal. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service says that two months of below normal precipitation across most of Idaho will affect water supply in the late summer months according to the latest agency report.  

“The snowpack is lagging from below normal precipitation in January and February. March had storms and freezing temps slowed the melt off, but won’t greatly affect streamflow forecasts,” said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist. 

Right now, the majority of streams across snow-covered Idaho are forecast in the 70-90% of average range. After the dry summer of 2012, layover water was used at the tail end of the season and reservoir levels has water managers concerned this year.

“We’ve learned from the past that when we get two dry winter months in a row, that’s when negative impacts on the water supply start to occur,” Abramovich said.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just in from Washington

Simpson Cosponsors Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act 
Bill removes duplicative regulations on pesticide applications

Washington--Idaho Congressman Simpson is a cosponsor of H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013. 

H.R. 935 removes duplicative requirements that have added layers of paperwork on top of day-to-day operations for small businesses, farmers, and local governments by clarifying that pesticides which are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are not also regulated under the Clean Water Act.

In 2009 a federal court overturned the EPA’s long-standing positions that the application of pesticides, which are regulated under FIFRA, did not require a Clean Water Act permit.  Under the court ruling, pesticide users, which include not only farmers and ranchers but cities and counties, mosquito control districts, and other water users, are now required to obtain a duplicative and unnecessary permit.

 “Adding an additional layer of regulation on an already-regulated activity doesn’t make applying pesticides safer,” said Simpson.  “Instead, it adds more paperwork, cost, and increased risk of litigation for cities and counties, farmers and ranchers, and irrigation and drainage districts.  These new regulations do nothing to protect public health or the environment.  In fact, since the new regulations have made mosquito control operations more costly and forced municipalities to curtail pesticide applications, cases of diseases like West Nile Virus have tripled since 2011.” 

H.R. 935 is a bipartisan, widely-supported bill that addresses this issue of pesticide regulation by removing redundant red tape while ensuring the health and safety of communities are protected.  Identical legislation, also cosponsored by Simpson, was passed by the House of Representatives in 2011; however, while it advanced out of the Senate Committee by a unanimous vote, it was not taken up on the Senate floor during the previous Congress.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Amendment to Farm Bill Sugar Program Expected this Week
Washington--An anti-sugar program amendment is expected to be introduced in the Senate this week, probably during budget discussions taking place now through Sunday.

AFBF policy supports the current program and believes now is not the time to “undo” it. Further, discussions should take place during consideration of the 2013 farm bill.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just in from Washington

AFBF Estate Tax Letter to Thune
Washington--The Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, of which AFBF is a member, sent a letter on Thursday to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in support of his efforts to permanently repeal the estate tax. Thune offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Senate Budget Resolution adding a deficit-neutral fund to provide for the full and permanent repeal of the estate tax.

“In recent years, the FBETC has supported permanently extending the $5 million estate tax exemption, indexed for inflation, preserving a lower applicable rate, as well as permanently providing for spousal transfer and stepped-up basis,” said the letter. “However, the FBETC continues to believe that repeal is the best solution to protect all family-owned businesses from the estate tax.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just in

Farm Bureau Applauds New Waterway Bill
Washington--The recently introduced Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency and Environment Act of 2013 (WAVE 4) will equitably address the critical needs of the inland waterways system, create American jobs, enable growth in U.S. exports and continue to encourage economic benefits that the nation’s waterways generate, according to Farm Bureau. 

The Port of Lewiston is another inland port that stands to benefit from this legislation.

“Over 60 percent of America’s grain exports and many other important commodities such as fuel, coal and agricultural inputs also move through our inland waterway system,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote to Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), original sponsors of the bill. “Due to this importance, Farm Bureau policy explicitly supports the maintenance and improvement of our transportation infrastructure including the lock and dam system and waterways.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just in

NYT Questions Need for Biotech Labels
New York--After Whole Foods’ recent announcement that it would require labels for all products sold in its stores that contain biotech ingredients, the New York Times is asking if the labels are necessary.

“Any private company has the right to require its suppliers to meet labeling standards it chooses to set, and consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they are buying. But there is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers,” the New York Times editorial board recently wrote.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just in

FB Letter on Capital Gains

Washington--The House Ways and Means Committee has begun the process of writing a fundamental tax reform bill by creating working groups to review current law and collect stakeholder input on 11 topics. 

One of the working groups is assigned to tax policy that impacts working capital. Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), who chair the working group on debt, equity and capital, concerning capital gains taxes.

In the letter, AFBF said that raising capital gains tax rates would increase taxes on a significant portion of farm income and create an additional barrier for young farmers and ranchers to enter agriculture. 

The letter also said that capital gains taxes amount to a “retirement tax” on agricultural producers and is unfair to those who invest in their businesses rather than traditional retirement vehicles. The tax also impacts the ability of ongoing farms and ranches to remain efficient and profitable and to be responsive to market signals from American and overseas consumers.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just in

Senate ropes in EPA Enforcement Powers
Washington--During a series of votes last week on H.R. 933, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, the Senate approved a Farm Bureau-supported amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule against farmers through the end of the fiscal year.

“The agricultural community has attempted to work with EPA on this rulemaking and urged the agency to conduct greater outreach to farmers to educate them on this regulation,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Unfortunately, EPA has only held three national outreach programs for farmers to come into compliance with the rule, and the last outreach program was in 2011.”

According to Stallman, allowing more time for education among farmers and ranchers would help eliminate the large amount of confusion that surrounds this rule.  Moreover, AFBF believes such an approach is appropriate, particularly given the fact that there is no history of problematic spills from agricultural operations.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just in

American Farm Bureau More Optimistic On Immigration Reform
Washington--Speaking with AgriTalk Radio’s Mike Adams on Wednesday about the likelihood of immigration reform, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said, “I am more optimistic this year than I have been maybe for the past 10 years. The elections in November created a political environment that is now the most conducive I’ve seen in that 10-year period for us to try to get it fixed.”

Much work remains ahead, though. Strong opposition to any guest worker program—which is a vital component for farm interests who rely on migrant labor—continues. Stallman said Farm Bureau will stand firm on a workable guest worker plan before agreeing to other provisions of any immigration reform package

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just in from Washington

‘Threatened’ Listing Not Needed for Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Washington--The Lesser Prairie-Chicken, a species of grouse found in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, should not be added to the “threatened” list under the Endangered Species Act, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

FWS can reasonably and responsibly withdraw its proposal to list the bird as threatened, while continuing to meet its legal obligations to protect it under the ESA, according to AFBF.

A number of interested parties in both the public and private sector, including the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Working Group, farmers and ranchers, oil and gas companies, environmental organizations and conservation groups, are working collaboratively to protect the species without having to resort to an ESA listing, AFBF noted in written comments submitted to FWS.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Just in

Documentary to Look at New Generation of Ag

Allentown--Oscar-winning and two-time Emmy-winning filmmaker James Moll is proud to announce the production of a feature-length documentary about the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. 

The yet-to-be-titled documentary will profile farmers and ranchers in their 20s, all of whom have assumed the generational responsibility of running the family business.

Made in cooperation with the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, the film will give us an up close and personal look at some of the young farmers and ranchers who grow and raise the food we consume daily, and into the latest farming practices and technologies that are changing and improving the landscape of modern agriculture.
For more information about the film, visit

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dry winter months to affect summer Water Supply
Boise – Two months of below normal precipitation in most parts of Idaho are likely to affect water supply according to the most recent report released this week by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“The snowpack is lagging from below normal precipitation in January and February. If March is dry that will affect streamflow forecasts,” said Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Water Supply Specialist. Currently, the majority of streams in the state are forecast in the 70-90% of average range.
“We’ve learned from the past that when we get two dry winter months in a row, negative impacts on the water supply start to occur,” Abramovich said. “Abundant March precipitation would help but short of that, preserving the snow that already exists is the best we can hope for.”
High elevation snowpack is adequate and carrying the snowpack average. The low elevation snowpack lacks volume and will melt out quickly as seasonal temperatures increase. “Knowing what elevation your water supply comes from will help you prepare for this season’s water supply,” Abramovich said. “Lower elevations will melt out sooner and runoff will be low translating to a decreased water supply.”
Abramovich pointed out this year NRCS switched to a new time period to calculate normal snowpacks. Percentages may seem higher than last year because the new normals for the 1981-2010 period are lower than the 1971-2000 period. The new normals allow comparison to the most recent climatic norms. Comparing the actual water content of the snowpack (the snow water equivalent) provides a true measure between years; a link to this data is available in the March Water Supply Outlook Report.  
The complete March 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report is available online at and click on the ‘March 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report’ link. The report includes snowpack, precipitation, runoff, and water supply information for specific basins.
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.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friend of Farm Bureau Awards Announced

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle accepts the Friend of Farm Bureau Award from Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke
Representatives Moyle and DeMordaunt Awarded Friend of Farm Bureau
Boise--Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke awarded Representatives Mike Moyle (R-Star) and Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) the coveted Friend of Farm Bureau Award for 2013.

"The Ada County Representatives have shown support and understanding of Ag issues, and both are willing to sit down, roll up the sleeves and solve Ag problems," said Ada County President Don Sonke. They truly are friends of Agriculture," said Sonke.

Representative Reed DeMordaunt accepts the Friend of Farm Bureau award.

Friday, March 8, 2013

AFBF President Bob Stallman Op-Ed

For Smart Agriculture Policy, Give Farmers the Right Tools

Washington--“Agriculture plays an integral role in our nation’s society, economics and global competitiveness,” began American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman’s op-ed published by The Hill. Further, Stallman said, “Looking ahead, farm policy will continue to evolve and change. And while it’s hard to forecast exactly what it will look like 20 years down the road, there are essential tools in the agriculture policy toolbox that we need to maintain.

Risk-management tools, continued research and technology, fiscal reform, nutrition programs and expanded trade opportunities must be in place for farmers and ranchers to stay competitive with other countries, while meeting global food demand and continuing to contribute to our nation’s economy, Stallman explained.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Just in from Washington

Congressional Budget Office: Farm Bill More Expensive Than Last Year
Washington--The Congressional Budget Office released newly scored estimates of the farm bills passed by both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee last year. 

The Senate bill, originally estimated to save 2.3 billion annually, would actually only save $1.3 billion annually, according to the CBO. The House Agriculture Committee bill would save $2.7 billion, compared to the $3.5 billion per year that was originally estimated.

Just in

New Taxes Burdensome for Farm and Ranch Families
WASHINGTON—New Medicare taxes, the health insurance tax and penalties for failure to meet coverage requirements will harm the nation’s farm and ranch families, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today.
The new Medicare Contribution Tax, which is a tax on unearned income such as capital gains, will burden farmers and ranchers more than many other taxpayers because farming and ranching is a capital-intensive business, AFBF noted in a statement submitted to the House Subcommittee on Oversight of the Ways and Means Committee. 
Further, the imposition of the Medicare Contribution Tax when a farm or ranch is sold amounts to a “retirement tax” on agricultural producers because it will go into effect when farmers sell their businesses to fund retirement. Beginning farmers could be affected as well, as adding this tax on top of capital gains taxes will make it more difficult for them to acquire land needed to get started in business. 
Farm Bureau supports repeal of the 3.8 percent Medicare Contribution Tax that will be applied to “unearned” income of so-called high-income taxpayers and the new 0.9 percent Medicare tax that will be imposed on wages and self-employment income above established thresholds for high-income individuals.
Farm Bureau also supports legislation to repeal the Health Insurance Tax as it will raise insurance costs, making it harder for farmers and ranchers to purchase coverage for themselves, their families and their employees.
In addition, the health insurance coverage mandate accompanied by the threat of a tax penalty for noncompliance is only making the situation worse for people unable to afford health care coverage in the first place, according to AFBF.
“Rural American families already pay a greater percentage of their after-tax family income on health insurance than urban American families,” noted AFBF. According to the Council of Economic Advisors, nearly one-quarter of families in rural areas spend more than 10 percent of their income on health insurance coverage, compared with 18 percent in urban areas.
Protecting farmers’ and ranchers’ interests in debates on tax reform is a priority included in AFBF’s strategic action plan for 2013.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just in

Chicago Tribune: Farmers Good, Lobbyists Bad

Chicago--An editorial this past weekend in the Chicago Tribune criticizes agriculture lobbyists as opportunists who are facing their day of reckoning. The opinion piece says that, “Farmers deserve all the credit they get for supplying the nation with wholesome, plentiful food. 

Their lobbyists, however, have exploited the heartland’s good name for too long. Their greed for money and power on Capitol Hill is feeding a backlash against farm subsidies and other government support for a business that plainly doesn’t need it.

“It’s time for taxpayers to look past the bucolic images. Support the farmer. Curb the farm lobby,” concludes the editorial.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Just in

Antibiotics Remain Important for Animal and Public Health

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation and other members of the Coalition for Animal Health last week hosted an educational briefing for congressional staff on meat production, public health and the importance of antibiotics. The briefing focused on helping legislators understand how and why farmers and ranchers use antibiotics.

Presenters included Dr. Scott Hurd, a veterinarian and epidemiologist at Iowa State University; Dr. Christine Hoang with the American Veterinary Medical Association; and Dr. Rich Carnevale from the Animal Health Institute.

Friday, March 1, 2013

World Record Hereford Bull sold at Colyers!

BRUNEAU, Idaho --Members Guy and Sherry Colyer set a world record for Hereford bull at auction this past week.

C Miles McKee, their hereford bull sold for $600,000 at the Bruneau ranch's annual bull sale. The bull nearly doubled the breed's previous record sale of $301,000.

The Colyers knew there was a lot of interest in the bull because of breeding scores and phenotypes that determine successful offspring.

The bull was renamed just before Monday's livestock sale, when it was bought by the Miles McKee Syndicate in Dunlap, Iowa. The Colyer family secured breeding rights before the sale and hope to bolster what many consider the best  breeding stock in the country on their Bruneau ranch.

Sherry was a Farm Bureau woman of the year in 2011 and remains active in the Owyhee County Farm Bureau.

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program

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