Monday, September 30, 2013

Just in

In the Spotlight: Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals 

Washington--Antibiotic-resistant infections can be prevented in many ways and a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report focused on ways to do that. But a lot of the news coverage focused on just a small subchapter of that report. South Dakota rancher Josh Geigle said farmers and ranchers are getting unfair blame in a recent Newsline report.

“The report is over 100 pages and maybe three or four pages talk about antibiotics used on farms and ranches with food animals,” said Geigle. He went on to point out that people should be cautious when they hear information about this report, as there may be more to it than what’s being reported.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just in

AFBF Advocates for Port Expansion Projects

SEATTLE – Expanded capacity and access to markets on the West Coast is critical for U.S. agricultural products, which is why the American Farm Bureau Federation joined with the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports this week to show support for three proposed multi-commodity export terminal projects in the Pacific Northwest.
Located in Cherry Point and Longview, Wash., and Boardman, Ore., the three proposed port expansion projects under consideration in the Pacific Northwest are expected to bring thousands of jobs while strengthening the region’s trade infrastructure, benefitting coal, agriculture and other producers.
“Agriculture is very trade dependent. Last year alone, more than $141 billion worth of U.S. agriculture products were exported around the globe,” said Steve Baccus, president of Kansas Farm Bureau and chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation Trade Advisory Committee. “The Pacific Northwest is a crucial gateway for agricultural exports, and these export facilities will help our members meet the increased demand for their goods in burgeoning Asian markets.”
Trade is responsible for 40 percent of all jobs in Washington which is the most trade-dependent state in the United States.  Agriculture products are Washington’s third-largest export.  In Oregon, one in five jobs is dependent on international trade with agricultural products and services accounting for 10 percent of Oregon’s gross domestic product.
“We are glad to have the American Farm Bureau Federation as an important voice of support for these projects,” said, Lauri Hennessey, Spokeswoman for the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports.  “The American Farm Bureau Federation joins many of our local and state-wide Farm Bureaus in supporting these projects which will lead to the expansion of trade for all kinds of exports including wheat, grain, soybeans and corn.”
 Exports from these projects will travel by freight trains, the most fuel efficient means of ground transportation. In Washington alone, there are more than 3,200 miles of track that move goods to, through and from the state, including coal, timber, agriculture products and consumer goods. The increased investment associated with coal and agricultural exports will keep the trade doors open for decades to come by strengthening the rail presence in U.S. port cities, according to the Washington Research Council.
AFBF's Trade Advisory Committee is currently touring the Pacific Northwest looking at ports and waterways infrastructure. Members visited the Port of Vancouver earlier this week, and after Seattle are headed to Portland and Oakland. The group of farm leaders is urging Congress to pass the Waterways Resources Reform and Development Act to bring U.S. ports up to par with that of the Port of Vancouver and other international ports.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Resolutions meeting underway in Boise

Resolution Meeting convenes in Boise
Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau Vice President Mark Trupp called the State Resolution Meeting to order just after 10:00 this morning at the Farm Bureau headquarters in Boise. 

Representatives from the five state districts attended the meeting along with field staff and Executive Vice President Rick Keller.

The resolutions came from the five IFBF Districts and the result of a year-long grassroot effort, involving input from every county in Idaho.

The center piece of the Idaho Farm Bureau's annual meeting in December is the delegate resolution process. Those policy resolutions adopted by voting delegates will become IFB's 2013 policy roadmap for agriculture advocacy, city councils, county commissions, the state legislature and the U.S. Congress. 

Idaho Farm Bureau has represented grassroots agriculture since establishment in 1939, this non-profit advocacy organization supports farm families who earn their living on the farm.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just in

Pioneer Irrigation District To Increase
Irrigation Tax Assessment By $5 Per Acre
            Caldwell--Rising costs of electricity, fuel, chemicals, taxes and insurance have forced the Pioneer Irrigation District to raise its 2013 irrigation assessment by $5 per acre,  a 7.6 percent increase over the 2012 assessment and the first increase in five years, the District Board of Directors said today.

            “The Board really hated to raise the costs to our patrons; we have managed to keep the assessments the same for the past five years.  The District has absorbed the increasing costs with internal expense cuts. Pioneer has delayed equipment purchases, prioritized projects and not filled employment vacancies and has had to use some of our rainy day funds. But over the same period, power costs increased by 45.7 percent, ditch maintenance chemicals increased 59.3 percent and the District currently has some large maintenance projects that need to be addressed,” said Alan Newbill, Chairman of the Pioneer Board.

            Pioneer’s 2013-14 budget is actually $71,884.00 less than it was for 2012-2013. The District now operates with one less employee than it did five years ago. In the meantime over the past five years, the District’s annual chemical costs went up $105,000, electricity costs jumped $81,000 annually and employee health and life insurance costs increased by $43,000, Newbill added.

Pioneer’s Board of Directors set the 2013 operation and maintenance assessments at $71 per acre.  The Board did not increase the Assessment Expense charge of $20 per account. The 2013 assessment means the cost for a 1-acre or smaller lot will be $91 total while cost for an 80-acre parcel of land will go up by $400, according to Erica Slayton, Pioneer Secretary/Treasurer.

            “The District has always run extremely lean in its operation but there was just no more fat that could be cut to make up the difference.  The Board agonized over what course to take but really had no choice but to pass some of the costs along to our patrons,” Slayton added.

The assessment notices will go out to Pioneer patrons in October. Property owners will have the option of paying their 2013 assessments in full by December 20, or in two payments: the first half by December 20 and the remainder by June 20, 2014.  For more information about the assessment visit the Pioneer website at or contact the Pioneer office at 459-3617.

Pioneer Irrigation District has provided irrigation and agricultural drainage services to Ada and Canyon County land owners for more than a century.  The District currently maintains about 5,800 accounts providing irrigation water to approximately 34,000 acres of residential and farmland in Canyon and Ada Counties.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 Farm Bill?

Congress Must Finish a Farm Bill This Year

KANSAS CITY – The farm bill is an economic stimulus bill that creates jobs and helps small businesses and rural communities every year, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. Congress can – and must – finish a farm bill this year, Stallman said in remarks presented to the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City.
“It’s obvious that we will not have a new farm bill in place by the time the current one expires, about two weeks from now,” Stallman said. “The only extension Farm Bureau supports is a five-year extension that looks a lot like the new farm bill that is working its way through Congress,” he added.
Although many political pundits in Washington and around the countryside are skeptical about the odds for passage of a farm bill in 2013, Stallman is optimistic.
“I am confident that Congress can pass a five-year farm bill this year,” he said.
Touching on another issue important to Farm Bureau, Stallman said the U.S. will lose billions of dollars in agricultural production to other countries if problems with the current immigration system are not solved.
“We need to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to hire the foreign workers they need,” he said. “We need Congress to pass immigration reform now.”
Authorization and funding of lock and dam projects is another critical issue on Farm Bureau’s agenda.
“More than $20 billion worth of farm exports travel on our inland waterways,” Stallman said.
“More and more of those waterways transportation structures are aging, failing or just plain outdated and obsolete,” he concluded.
AFBF is conducting an organizational campaign during September called, “The Heat is On,” designed to communicate with members of Congress the importance of the farm bill, immigration reform and waterway and port infrastructure improvements.
The ABC of Kansas City is an alliance of individuals, businesses and organizations that advocate growth and awareness of the food, fiber, agri-science and related industries in the Kansas City region.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Just in


The Pioneer Irrigation District Board of Directors announced today that all irrigation deliveries will end on October 1, 2013.

The end of water deliveries marks the closing of a difficult 2013 irrigation season. Despite the limited water supply the Districts season lasted almost a month longer than anticipated. Pioneer would like to thank its Patron’s for its conservation efforts. With constant monitoring and tweaking of diversion flows by the District manager, Pioneer was able to keep water flowing. 

            “We are all glad the season is lasting longer than we first thought. We knew that 2013 was going to be a tough year with the low snow pack. I stand by the early decision by the Board to try to reduce deliveries and lengthen the irrigation season. I am glad Pioneer patrons focused on conserving water during this difficult season and am pleased with the District’s staff in their constant efforts to save water, ” noted Alan Newbill, President of the Pioneer Board of Directors.

            Last year Pioneer ended water deliveries on October 5.

Boise River water will continue to flow into Pioneer’s division for a couple of additional days before it is closed.  That allows water flows to flush any debris from the District’s hundreds of miles of canals, laterals and drains before they dry up, according to Mark Zirschky, Pioneer’s water superintendent.

It will take several days after the headgates are closed before water is out of the canals.  Shortly after that, Pioneer crews will launch their annual winter maintenance program. Pioneer officials are encouraging anyone who has plants, trees, sheds, pumps, etc., encroaching on a canal easement to remove those items. If not removed, state law authorizes Pioneer maintenance crews to do so.  Anyone with questions regarding maintenance plans or activities are asked to call the Pioneer office at 459-3617. 

            Pioneer also routinely burns weeds along canal banks as a part of its annual weed control activities. An increasing problem that the District has encountered is property owners who allow weeds to grow very tall around their private fences and close to the easements.  That creates a situation in which flames from routine weed burning can jump to those overgrown patches and create a fire hazard.  

            The District does not spray or mow up to the edges of fences and property lines because of liability issues.  The only remedy is for property owners to correctly maintain weeds on their property.

Zirschky said Pioneer typically needs at least 25 feet of clear passage way from the edge of a canal or ditch to ensure room for maintenance equipment and other vehicles.  However, easement requirements can vary by location, so questions about easement widths should be directed to Pioneer’s office.  In addition to trees and brush, the District also sometimes encounters situations in which fences and even sheds have been built on the canal maintenance easement and must be removed.

For more information about the end of water delivery, Pioneer’s maintenance operations or easements, contact the District at 459-3617.  There is also information available on Pioneer’s website at:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just in

Managing The UAV Madness: 5 Keys To Success

Idaho grower and precision practitioner Robert Blair is bullish on the future of unmanned aerial vehicles, but manufacturers and investors need to proceed with caution and work closely with farmers to ensure their successful integration into the crop production process.

Agriculture has a bright future and the word is out. In July, I had the privilege of speaking at the InfoAg Conference about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs.

Seven years ago, I was just learning about UAVs and their potential and the concept was in its infancy. So I was amazed at how many people packed the room for this year’s breakout session and UAV panel. There was seating for over 300 people, and every one was filled. Not only that, but there were people two- and three-deep in standing in back and along the side of the room.

But why do I think agriculture and UAVs have a bright future? Because of the people in attendance. There were people there outside of agriculture looking at our industry — people from the Department of Defense, the Air Force, global consulting companies and Microsoft, to name a few. In addition, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) had a booth. Agriculture looks real sexy to those outside of our immediate circle.
Attracting A Business Crowd
With this type of success and exposure to our industry come people who are used to the business world, with professional ranks, college degrees and corporate affiliations that make people do a double take. This is great for agriculture because outside money is looking to invest. However, agriculture has seen a similar scenario before and not too many years ago.

When starting in precision ag and UAVs I had to learn the hard way. I didn’t have a good support system for the precision ag equipment, and being the first in anything brings one heck of a learning curve. During my travels as an Eisenhower Fellow, my study topic was precision agriculture, remote sensing and UAVs, and involved world travel. Speaking at different venues around the U.S. and the world has provided me some tremendous insight into what is taking place and needs to happen in order for UAVs to be successful in ag.

Here are my top five bits of advice for folks looking to stake a UAV claim:
1. Proceed with caution. I will start with a word of caution to those outside of ag that believe there is money to be made. There is, but not at the expense of the customer. I saw that path in the early stages of UAVs and broke away from the company I was trying to work with because money is not everything. In ag, it’s about building a relationship.

Look at the word — Agri-Culture. It is a culture. It is a way of life for most people involved, especially the farmer. When it comes to UAVs, at this point in time you are being “invited into their home for a visit,” so to speak. How you handle it from here is up to you.

It was great to see six different UAV vendors with booths at InfoAg, and the interest farmers had in those products. However, when talking with most of the vendors and looking at the products, I fear they will frustrate the end-user during this crucial “courting” stage, potentially giving UAVs a bad name.

There’s a corollary to the earlier stages of precision ag — some salespeople sold products to generate cash flow without looking at it as a relationship. This is one of the reasons precision ag didn’t take off like it should have.
UAVs have gained momentum in the last couple of years in the U.S. and globally. The products, knowledge of the salespeople and product support has also increased. There is a direct correlation between the approach taken by the company selling something and the trust a farmer has at all of the levels.

There is a saying in ag: “In order to work cows quickly, you must go slow.” In other words, UAV companies: Please do your homework and treat farmers like friends, not customers.

2. Partner with agriculture. In order for UAVs to be successful, a UAV company needs to partner with a person or company with in-depth knowledge of on-the-ground ag and UAVs. As I stated before, agriculture is a unique business sector with many different facets. What might work on one crop, segment, or area might not work in another. This partnership can save many hours, days and years of research.

3. Use the farmer’s knowledge. Some of the most intelligent and savvy business people on the planet are farmers. When you look at how a farmer is able to make a profit when they pay the freight for both their inputs and their outputs, the business acumen they have to possess is amazing.

To go along with that, most have been farming the same pieces of land for 20, 40 or more years. That is too much knowledge to just disregard. They have a tremendous understanding and feel for their crops, land, nutrient management, pest management, etc. that can be used to make UAVs become successful.

Just because you built it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will come. During my UAV journey, I clearly saw the potential uses and information that they could provide. I would get excited and the wheels would start turning until I was asked to “quantify” my thoughts. Most farmers, including myself, are not geared that way. If there is a problem, we find the solution, and then do it.

4. Create products farmers want, not what you think they need. While this seems very simple and is broken all the time in the business world, agriculture is different. You have already piqued a farmer’s interest by having a UAV. Now you need to create the products that they need, from airframes to autopilots, to software and everything in between. Listen to the farmer. While there will be many different opinions, after a bit you will find out what they want.

Use that knowledge to create the best products that will withstand abuse and that farmers will share with their neighbors. It’s all about word of mouth. If a neighbor is doing it and being successful (the early adapter) then others will follow.

Price will also be a factor in your product. If a farmer has $30,000, he knows what a tractor, combine or sprayer will do. This newfangled toy is a novelty. You have to show him how it can benefit his pocketbook, not just yours.

5. Use the power and voice of farmers to create pressure for FAA rules that are timely and make sense.This is the biggest roadblock keeping UAVs out of ag. Until this gets resolved, the fledgling commercial UAV industry is going nowhere.

The potential benefits this new technology brings to not only agriculture but society is tremendous. However, without ag at the table stating what they need and want as far as regulations, it will still flounder.
Agriculture has a great seasoned voice in the halls of Congress and Legislatures. Use that voice and listen to their concerns for privacy while they have a need for information on their farm. It can be a difficult balancing act, but it can be done.

AUVSI needs to team with American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, and the list goes on.

When we look at the economic impact agriculture has on most states, it has been the difference between cutting programs and/or raising taxes. Ag still has a strong voice, but if the UAV industry were to team with them now, many different sectors and votes are represented.

These are some exciting times in ag and I am happy to be in the middle of it. I believe that the potential UAVs have in agriculture is off the charts. We are in the information age and the better and timelier information a farmer has, the better the decisions are that he makes.

While there are more technical things that I could make a UAV list on, I believe at this stage in the game we need to create the industry first.
Blair is a wheat grower based in Kendrick, ID.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just in

Simpson’s Statement on EPA’s New Rule on Non-Navigable Waters

Washington. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule yesterday which would establish federal regulatory jurisdiction over non-navigable streams, wetlands and other water resources.  Currently, non-navigable waters are regulated by the states.

“Like many people who have watched this issue carefully, I’m very concerned about this proposed rule.  Most farmers and ranchers I talk to are scared to death about the possibility that the Environmental Protection Agency would be able to regulate their irrigation ditches, drainage ponds, and even groundwater, and I understand why,” said Simpson.  “In the West, water is critical to our way of life.  Allowing the federal government to claim jurisdiction over state waters would have a devastating impact on rural communities throughout our state and the food supply throughout our nation.  For that reason and others, I have included language in the FY14 House Interior Appropriations bill that will prevent any attempt by the EPA to claim additional jurisdiction over state waters and increase its already excessive authority over Western farmers, families, and businesses.” 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just in from Colorado

Colorado Disaster Fund Established for Farmers and Ranchers

Denver--Colorado Farm Bureau has set up a disaster fund to aid farmers and ranchers affected by the recent flooding in northeast Colorado. All of the funds collected will go directly to aiding producers. Flood damage in the state includes damaged fields, stranded livestock, and damaged facilities and infrastructure including roadways and waterways.

Checks payable to Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, cash and online credit card or PayPal donations are being accepted. Please note Disaster Fund-Colorado Floods in the memo line. Donations may be sent to: Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation, Attn: Disaster Fund, 9177 E. Mineral Circle, Centennial, CO 80112.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just in

Affordable Care Act Deadline for Farm Employers

Pocatello--Farm employers are facing a deadline relative to the Affordable Care Act. By October 1, employers are required to provide each employee with an Exchange Notice.

An Exchange Notice is a written notice to inform employees of their ability to purchase health coverage through a state or federally administered exchange. Find complete information at the Idaho Farm Bureau website – PDF of ACA Exchange Notice Requirement is also attached.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Just in

AFBF Endorses House Waterways Bill
Washington--The House version of a bill to update the nation's marine infrastructure will help America's farmers and ranchers compete in global markets. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, repairs, construction and upgrades to America's waterways and marine transportation system will help ensure the reliability of the nation's most affordable, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable mode of transporting agricultural products.

Introduced by Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.), H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, will help modernize the lock and dam infrastructure on the inland waterways system while also making necessary investments in the nation's shipping ports.

"Farm Bureau believes having an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America's ability to provide affordable agricultural products domestically and to compete internationally," stated AFBF President Bob Stallman, in a letter to the four members of Congress. "Given their ability to move large amounts of cargo, the nation's inland waterways are a strategic, economic and military resource."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just in

AFBF Objects to Inflammatory Attacks in Privacy Suit

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation today responded to the inflammatory tactics of three environmental activist organizations who have asked to intervene in AFBF’s recent privacy lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. AFBF’s suit in federal court in Minnesota seeks to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information from disclosure by EPA under the Freedom of Information Act.

While AFBF did not oppose the groups’ request to intervene in the case, it filed a response objecting to the false accusations about poultry and livestock farmers. AFBF also objected to the groups’ efforts to detract the court’s attention from the important privacy questions presented in the case.

“Instead of addressing important issues of whether farmers and ranchers are entitled to the same privacy protections for their homes that other citizens enjoy, these groups are trying to make this case into a referendum on whether livestock and poultry farmers are adequately regulated under the Clean Water Act,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Their brief is filled with exaggeration and fabrication about how livestock and poultry farmers operate their farms and how they are regulated. Those statements have nothing to do with this case and are purely an effort to vilify family farmers in the court and in the press.”

AFBF filed suit in July to stop EPA from publicly releasing personal information about hundreds of individual farmers and ranchers and their families. The organization is asking the court to clarify EPA’s obligation to keep personal information about citizens private when responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. The protection of information such as farmers’ and ranchers’ names, home addresses and GPS coordinates, phone numbers and email addresses is at stake.

Co-plaintiff National Pork Producers Council joined AFBF in its response to the court.

Just in

Washington--The Council for Biotechnology Information has launched GMO Answers, an exciting new initiative to engage in dialogue with the public on agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified organisms – GMOs. The centerpiece of this initiative is a just-launched website, www.GMOanswers.comHere people may ask questions directly and get them answered by independent experts.

GMO Answers is funded by the members of BIO, which include BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Supporting partners include AFBF, the American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association and National Cotton Council.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Just in

Baucus, Camp Call for Fairer, Simpler Tax Code
Memphis--Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) met this week with family farmers and local business leaders in Memphis, Tenn., to talk about the critical need to overhaul the nation’s tax code in order to boost its fairness, reduce complexity and improve the economy.   

“Plain and simple, the tax code is broken. Fixing it is the best way to spark long-term growth in our economy, create good-paying jobs and make families’ lives easier,” Baucus and Camp said in a joint statement. 
Farm Bureau supports reform that includes a tax code that recognizes the financial challenges faced by farmers and ranchers. Visit to learn more.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just in from Washington

Immigration ‘Day of Action’ Today on the Hill
Washington--The business community, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, is holding a “Day of Action” today on Capitol Hill to promote immigration reform. For those out in the countryside, there are many ways to reach your representative today. In addition to calling, Farm Bureau members can use the following Facebook and Twittermessages to get out the word on ag labor reform.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Precision Agriculture Technologies Remain Popular

Washington--Precision agriculture technologies are used by more than 50 percent of U.S. farmers and ranchers. GPS and auto-steer guidance systems are two types of precision agriculture used to increase crop yields. Learn more about U.S. agriculture in the new Food and Farm Facts, available to order now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Just in

Farmers, ranchers turn up the temperature on Congress

 Washington-Through phone calls, emails, social media, in-district meetings, farm tours, town hall meetings and other events, farmers and ranchers used Congress' August recess to "Bring the Heat" to lawmakers on three key issues: the farm bill, ag labor reform and waterways infrastructure.

"Farmers and ranchers feel the heat from working outdoors, and they share heated views of Congress failing to get its work done," explained Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation executive director of public policy. "They get steamed when Congress delays authorization of waterways upgrades that are critical to U.S. agriculture's global competitiveness. Farmers get hot under the collar about a Washington that debates to death any reforms that would help us get the farm workers we desperately need, or becomes mired in politics regarding a farm bill that ensures a safe and plentiful food supply."

With Senate passage of immigration reform legislation, a farm bill and the Water Resources Development Act, over the past month, farmers and ranchers have really focused their efforts on House members.

 "The biggest hurdle to clear with these bills is House passage," Moore noted. "While the House and Senate will ultimately have to conference on each of these measures-and there will be some struggles during this part of the process-House action will bring us significantly closer to the goal line."
Farm bill 
    Where things stand: The Senate passed a farm bill in June that offers a basic-but-broad risk management platform supported by all types of farmers and ranchers in all regions. The first attempt to pass a farm bill in the House failed because so many lawmakers were unhappy with nutrition title provisions related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. House leaders brought the bill back to the floor after they stripped it of the nutrition title. While Senate leaders would like to move to conference on the farm bill, leaders in the House have said they want to hold off until they pass a separate nutrition bill. Lawmakers have only a few weeks before the Sept. 30 expiration of the 2008 farm bill extension and the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
    The message: Farmers and ranchers count on having farm programs in place when they're making planting and other planning decisions for the year ahead. The farm bill helps producers deal with the risks that threaten their ability to produce the food, fiber and fuel everyone needs.

Ag labor reform 
    Where things stand: The Senate earlier this year approved an immigration reform bill that includes a fair and workable farm labor provision. In the House, the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees have passed a series of immigration reform-related measures.
    The message: For too long, farmers and ranchers have had difficulty finding willing and able workers, resulting in agricultural losses of more than $300 million in 2010 alone. Without a system that provides adequate immigrant farm labor, thousands of U.S. citizens who work in sectors related to agriculture would lose their jobs, creating a ripple effect throughout the whole U.S. economy.

Waterways infrastructure 
    Where things stand: The Senate this spring passed its version of the Water Resources Development Act and House transportation leaders have been working since then to lay the groundwork for passage of a bill in that chamber.
    The message: With more than 60 percent of exported U.S. corn shipped via inland waterways and 95 percent of agricultural exports and imports moving through U.S. harbors, passage of the Water Resources Development Act is a must to ensure the reliability of the most affordable, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable mode of transporting agricultural products.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blue Thursday

Boise--Seventy Timberline High School students held a lunch hour observance on Thursday for Treasure Valley Farmers.

Waster managers shut down the Riddenbaugh Canal  on Thursday as water supply at Lucky Peak reached the allotted  acre feet after a shortened 2013 season.

"Ten years ago we had about the same allotment," said Norm Semanko of the Idaho Water User's Association, "but we shut down August 5th. We're getting much more efficient stretching water an additional month but Mother Nature didn't help us out."

Students donned thinking caps and tear drops to raise awareness that everyone needs to think about the wise use of water, and tear drops for farmers that will make do without irrigation water along the Riddenbaugh for the rest of the season.

"We'll make it through this season," said farmer Drew Eggars, "if we don't get at least 150-percent of normal snowpack this winter, we're in trouble next year."

"Agriculture impacts the state economy, if we have a bad year in 2014, the state will have a very bad year," said farmer Sid Freeman.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just in

EPA Proposes Changes to Water Quality Standards Regulations
Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to regulations related to federal water quality standards

If implemented, the changes could have implications for agriculture and economic growth generally. The standards define water quality goals for water bodies by designating uses, establishing criteria based on sound science that protect those uses and establishing anti-degradation requirements that prevent deterioration of existing water quality. 
AFBF is developing comments on the proposal. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Geddes Joins IFBF Governmental Affairs Team                   
POCATELLO – The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to announce that Bob Geddes has joined the staff in the position of Energy and Natural Resources Specialist.

In early 2011, Geddes was appointed chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission by Idaho Governor Butch Otter. From 1995 until 2010 Geddes served as a State Senator representing District 31.

“I am thrilled that Bob has agreed to join the Governmental Affairs staff of the Idaho Farm Bureau.
He will bring immediate knowledge, experience and expertise to our team, particularly in the areas of natural resources and environmental regulations,” said IFBF Governmental Affairs Director Russ Hendricks. “Bob knows and has worked with a lot of people around the state. He will be a great asset to the farmers and ranchers of Idaho and our members.”
Geddes was born in Preston and spent the bulk of his career working as an environmental engineer for Monsanto in the Soda Springs area. He grew up on a wheat and barley farm in Franklin County and graduated from Preston High School. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Utah State University in 1981. 
Geddes was appointed to represent the voters of District 31 by Gov. Phil Batt in 1995. His father, Robert C. Geddes was a state representative in the same district for 24 years. 
In 1998 Geddes was selected as Majority Caucus Chair in the Idaho Senate where he served until 2000. He was elected by his peers as President Pro Tempore of the Idaho Senate in 2000 after the sudden death of Senate Pro Tem Jerry Twiggs. Geddes served as President Pro Tempore in the Idaho Senate until 2010, the longest any senator has ever held the position.
Geddes and his wife Tammy live in Meridian and have five children.
The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots organization with affiliates in all 44 counties and elected boards of directors in 38 county Farm Bureaus. It is the state’s largest general farm organization, representing 68,000 member families. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Farm Bill update

Vilsack Advocates Farm Bill, Labor Reform Passage
Washington--The Agriculture Department released its Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade yesterday. USDA projects that fiscal year 2013 agricultural exports will reach $140 billion, which if realized would be a new record.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on this news, while emphasizing the need for Congress to pass farm bill and immigration legislation:

"Driven by the productivity of U.S. farmers and ranchers, we have achieved five years of positive momentum for agricultural exports and [yesterday's] forecast is another promising development. Agricultural exports have a real impact on Main Street and beyond, supporting more than 1 million good jobs here at home. We're counting on Congress to help keep up this momentum. With just a few weeks left before expiration of many farm bill programs-including trade promotion programs that return $35 in economic benefits for every dollar invested-producers and rural communities need passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs bill as soon as possible. This would enable USDA to continue trade promotion, and carry out a wide variety of additional efforts to support a productive U.S. agriculture sector. At the same time, America's farmers and ranchers need a reliable and stable agricultural workforce to keep up production. Passage of the commonsense immigration reform measure, which was already approved by a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate, would further strengthen American agriculture and help put our nation on solid footing to maintain strong exports in the years to come."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Just in

The United States Needs a Thoughtful Energy Policy
By Congressman Mike Simpson

Boise, ID - “Since President Obama’s first presidential campaign, he has said that he supports an “all of the above” strategy for our nation’s energy policy.  Unfortunately, his rhetoric has not matched his policies.  In the nearly five years that he has been President, his Administration has offered more roadblocks than solutions to advancing our country toward energy independence.  For example, although our country still heavily relies on imported oil, the Obama Administration continues to block permits for increased domestic energy production on our public lands with bureaucratic hurdles and red tape. 

“We have the capacity to become energy independent if we can align our policies with safe development of our own resources.  Here are some interesting statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Congressional Research Service:

·         The United States has enough natural gas that is technically recoverable to sustain current consumption levels for over 90 years. 
·         During the years of 2011 and 2012, the U.S. added a total of more than 850,000 barrels per day of oil production from oil and gas development on non-federal land. 
·         U.S. oil production has reached levels not seen in more than a decade.  
·         On the other hand, between 2007-2012, U.S. oil production fell by almost seven percent on federal lands, where approval from the Obama Administration is necessary. 
·         Between 2007-2012, total U.S. private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, about one percent. Over the same period, the oil and natural gas industry increased by more than 162,000 jobs, a 40 percent increase.

“One way that President Obama could demonstrate that he truly supports an “all of the above” strategy would be to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  A new study released last week confirmed what the State Department’s initial assessment already found: the Keystone XL pipeline will not impact greenhouse gas emissions.  If this project does not move forward, Canadian oil sands will make their way to market through alternative means.  That would result in nothing more than a missed opportunity for billions dollars of investment, thousands of jobs created, and an unquestionable boost to the American economy. 

“As a nation, we must continue looking for ways to reduce energy prices and improve our energy independence.  Our efforts should be comprehensive in nature and that we should explore every opportunity to develop viable traditional as well as alternative energy sources.  I hope that the President can embrace a more realistic approach to our nation’s energy policy by taking steps towards realizing the potential of our own energy abundance.  By easing his Administration’s burdensome policies, we can decrease unemployment while increasing our national security; two things that should be a priority for all of us.”

Idaho grower featured in Smithsonian 'Precision Farming' exhibit

By Sean Ellis Idaho Farm Bureau Federation POCATELLO – Robert Blair’s North Idaho farm is one of four farming operations around t...