Tuesday, December 3, 2013

President Frank Priestley's Annual Farm Bureau Address



THE VOICE OF IDAHO AGRICULTURE
BY FRANK PRIESTLEY, 

AS THE IDAHO FARM BUREAU EMBARKS ON ITS 75TH YEAR IT’S A GREAT PLEASURE FOR ME TO BE PART OF THIS ORGANIZATION AND TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOU TODAY.

THE IDAHO FARM BURUEA IS A GRASS ROOOTS, GENERAL FARM ORGANIZATION. THAT MAKES US UNIQUE. OUR POLICY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS BEGINS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AND WE DEAL WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES SURROUNDING OUR CORE PRINCIPLES OF PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, TAXES, AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES.

I WOULD LIKE TO TOUCH ON A FEW OF THE IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING OUR ORGANIZATION AT THIS TIME. FIRST, THE GATEWAY WEST POWER TRANSMISSION PROJECT IS A VERY REAL THREAT TO PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN OUR STATE. THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT RECENTLY APPROVED A ROUTE FOR THIS PROJECT THAT WILL SEVERELY RESTRICT FARMING ACTIVITIES IN POWER AND CASSIA COUNTIES. THE ROUTE SELECTED IS ON 75 PERCENT PRIVATE LAND IN THESE TWO COUNTIES AND THE FARMLAND AFFECTED IS SOME OF THE MOST PRODUCTIVE GROUND IN THE STATE. 

UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE COUNTLESS EXAMPLES OF THE RELENTLESS ACTIVITIES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN OUR STATE OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. THIS IS YET ANOTHER. IT’S CRITICAL THAT OUR ORGANIZATION STICKS UP FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS AND PLAYS A CENTRAL ROLE IN THIS ISSUE. IF THE BLM AND UTILITY COMPANIES ARE ALLOWED TO TROMP ON PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN THESE TWO COUNTIES IT WILL SET A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT FOR PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN OUR STATE. 

THIS POWER PROJECT COULD EASILY BE ROUTED AROUND FARMS ON PUBLIC LAND. HOWEVER, FEDERAL LAND MANAGERS HAVE CHOSEN A ROUTE LARGELY ON PRIVATE LAND BECAUSE THEY FEAR SAGE GROUSE HABITAT WILL BE HARMED. IN THE BLM RECORD OF DECISION THERE ARE SEVEN CRITERIA LISTED AS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS. AMONG THOSE ARE SENSITIVE SPECIES HABITAT AREAS SUCH AS BALD EAGLE HABITAT, BIG GAME WINTER RANGE AND WILDERNESS STUDY AREAS.

IT’S ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING THAT A WILDERNESS STUDY AREA, AND SIX OTHER DESIGNATIONS ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAN SOMEONE’S PRIVATE PROPERTY. AS WE ALL KNOW, PRIVATE PROPERTY – ESPECIALLY FARM AND RANCH LAND, IS WHAT DRIVES OUR STATE’S ECONOMY AND IT OUGHT TO BE THE HIGHEST PRIORITY.

N EARLY NOVEMBER IDAHO FARM BUREAU CELEBRATED THE THIRD ANNUAL SALUTE TO IDAHO VETERANS, HOLDING A CEREMONY AT THE HOME OFFICE IN POCATELLO. ONCE AGAIN IT WAS A HEARTWARMING EVENT THAT MADE ME PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. 

THERE WERE OVER 150 VETERANS SIGNED UP TO ATTEND THE EVENT AND NEARLY 500 PEOPLE WERE SERVED A DELICIOUS LUNCH.

ASIDE FROM THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE THANKS TO VETERANS FOR THE SACRIFICES MADE IN DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY, OUR FREEDOM AND OUR WAY OF LIFE, THIS EVENT MAKES ME THINK ABOUT VETERANS COMING HOME FROM OVERSEAS AND THE DIFFICULTIES MANY OF THEM FACE IN ADJUSTING TO LIFE HERE AT HOME. TO ME THEY ARE ALL HEROES BUT MANY OF THEM ARE BROKEN IN WAYS WE CANNOT SEE. 

I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED IF THERE IS ANY WAY WE CAN HELP IN THAT TRANSITION PERIOD VETERANS GO THROUGH IT WOULD BE WORTH PURSUING. THAT’S WHY AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT CAME FROM THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU RECENTLY GAVE ME A GOOD FEELING.

AFBF RECENTLY UNVEILED A NEW RESOURCE GUIDE TO HELP VETERANS GET INVOLVED IN AGRICULTURE. AFBF AND THE FARM VETERAN COALITION KICKED OFF THE NEW PROGRAM THAT IS DESIGNED TO HELP VETERANS START A NEW CAREER IN AGRICULTURE.

THE NEW RESOURCE GUIDE HAS SET UP SIMPLE PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS THAT ARE ALREADY OUT THERE FOR VETERANS TO TAP INTO.

VETERANS RETURNING FORM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ARE THE LARGEST GROUP IN NEED OF JOBS RIGHT NOW. IF YOU KNOW A VETERAN WHO FITS IN THIS CATEGORY PLEASE DIRECT THEM TO THE WEBSITE FARMVETCO.COM

WE AS AMERICANS CANNOT FORGET THE SACRIFICES THESE VETS MADE IN DEFENDING OUR COUNTRY AND DEFENDING OUR FREEDOMS.



ANOTHER CRITICAL ISSUE THAT OUR DELEGATES WILL DEBATE THIS WEEK IS HOW WOLF MANAGEMENT WILL TAKE SHAPE IN OUR STATE GOING FORWARD. AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS PULLED NEARLY $750,000 OUT OF ITS WOLF MANAGEMENT BUDGET IN IDAHO. THAT MEANS THE STATE CAN DO ONE OF TWO THINGS – EITHER PICK UP THE SLACK AND CONTINUE TO FUND AN AGGRESSIVE WOLF MANAGEMENT PROGRAM, OR LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY. THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE FOR OUR DELEGATES THIS YEAR. BUT IT IS ONE OF MANY AND WE SHOULD NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT STATE LAWMAKERS ARE CLOSELY WATCHING HOW OUR DELEGATES VOTE.

OUR HOUSE OF DELEGATES SESSION IS A BELLWETHER IN IDAHO POLITICS, ESPECIALLY IN AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES ISSUES. WE NEED TO BE WELL INFORMED AND MINDFUL OF BOTH SIDES OF EVERY ISSUE SO THAT OUR POLICIES REFLECT THE NEEDS OF OUR MEMBERS AND CONTINUE TO BE REGARDED AS BALANCED AND REASONABLE.

NEXT I WOULD LIKE TO TOUCH ON A FEW OF THE MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS OUR ORGANIZATION HAS MADE OVER THE PAST YEAR. 

THIS PAST YEAR THE IDAHO FARM BUREAU’S MOVING AGRICULTURE TO THE CLASSROOM PROGRAM WAS IN 79 SCHOOLS FOR 180 DAYS. NEARLY 20,000 CHILDREN RECEIVED HANDS-ON LESSONS ABOUT AGRICULTURE. MORE THAN 195 VOLUNTEER MEMBERS MADE THE PRESENTATIONS IN CLASSROOMS. MAC TRAILERS WERE IN COUNTY AND STATE FAIRS FOR ANOTHER 29 DAYS WITH OVER 24,000 ADDITIONAL CHILDREN GETTING THE CHANCE TO MILK ONE OF OUR COWS.

THE STATE BOARD OF DIRECTORS HAS RENEWED THEIR COMMITMENT TO MAC AND APPROVED FUNDING FOR A THIRD TRAILER TO BE ADDED TO THE PROGRAM. NEXT YEAR WE WILL BE IN EVEN MORE SCHOOLS SPREADING A POSITIVE MESSAGE ABOUT AGRICULTURE.

DURING THE 2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION A FARM BUREAU- SPONSORED BILL WAS PASSED THAT REQUIRES INITIATIVE SIGNATURE GATHERERS TO OBTAIN A REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE OF SIGNATURES FROM RURAL COUNTIES. THERE WERE OTHER MORE CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES THAT UPSTAGED THIS LEGISLATION. HOWEVER, THIS BILL IS SIGNIFICANT IN MANY WAYS. IT GIVES RURAL IDAHOANS A VOICE IN THE INITIATIVE PROCESS. SIGNATURE GATHERERS CAN NO LONGER CAMP OUTSIDE WAL-MART IN BOISE AND COLLECT ALL OF THE SIGNATURES THEY NEED. THIS LEGISLATION GIVES RURAL IDAHO A VOICE IN THE PROCESS OF CREATING CITIZEN’S INITIATIVES.

OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS VOTED TO EXTEND SUPPORT TO THE IDAHO FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA. IN OUR MAGAZINES WE HAVE HELPED PROMOTE FFA AND IT HAS HELPED THAT ORGANIZATION GROW. THIS IS ONLY ONE OF MANY EXAMPLES WHEREIN IDAHO FARM BUREAU HAS PROVIDED AID AND SUPPORT TO OTHER AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE STATE.

OUR ORGANIZATION CONDUCTED ANOTHER “HARVESTING WITH FARM BUREAU” EVENT THIS YEAR. WE INVITED URBAN LEGISLATORS TO VISIT GEM COUNTY FARMS DURING GRAIN HARVEST, TO RIDE ON THE EQUIPMENT AND MIX WITH OUR FARMER MEMBERS. THE PROGRAM WAS DESIGNED TO ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES AMONG URBAN OR CITY LEGISLATORS AND WE BELIEVE IT IS WORKING VERY WELL.

THE IDAHO FARM BUREAU WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE PRESENTED A CASH DONATION OF OVER $1,300 DOLLARS AND A LARGE DONATION OF GROCERIES AND OTHER HOUSEHOLD ITEMS TO THE RONALD McDONALD HOUSE IN BOISE. THIS GENEROUS WORK AND DOZENS OF OTHER CIVIC ACTIVITIES THAT IDAHO FARM BUREAU MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN EVERY YEAR MAKES ME PROUD TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS ORGANIZATION.


IFOR OVER SEVEN DECADES THE IDAHO FARM BUREAU HAS BEEN ‘THE VOICE OF IDAHO AGRICULTURE. WE’VE BEEN THERE AND FOUGHT GOOD FIGHTS, SOME WE WON, OTHERS WE LOST.

ALWAYS BE MINDFUL THAT BEING THE VOICE OF IDAHO AGRICULTURE CARRIES A RESPONSIBILITY. WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO TARNISH OUR IMAGE WITH SINGLE ISSUES, AND UNWARRANTED EMOTION.

AT THE SAME TIME WE MUST BE READY TO ACT. WE CANNOT BE AFRAID TO ACT WHEN NEEDED. WE HAVE A LEGACY TO PROTECT 

AND IT’S A LEGACY WE ALL SHARE.

THANK YOU


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