Monday, June 30, 2014

Just in

Simpson and Walden Move to Stop Closure of Idaho Sheep Research Station

Washington – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, and other western members of Congress have asked the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture to stop the closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.   In a letter, the members ask that Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt not approve the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) request for reprogramming of funds from the sheep station in Dubois.  Reprogramming of funds would result in closure of the facility.

"We were disappointed to learn that ARS has plans to close the US. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois and frustrated that ARS did not notify Congress or the sheep industry until the decision had been made," Congressman Simpson said.  "In our letter to Chairman Aderholt, we explain that closure of the Dubois Sheep Experiment Station would have a substantial impact on the western sheep industry and express our concern that people involved in the industry were not consulted before ARS made this decision."

"I was shocked to learn that the USDA is attempting to close the Dubois Sheep Experiment Station without consulting western farmers and ranchers or having a plan to ensure the station's important research continues.”  Congressman Walden said.  “No other station conducts research into the unique challenges that confront sheep producers in Oregon and across the west, like grazing techniques, diseases, or developing new breeds.  That's why we are working hard with other western representatives to keep this station open so this innovative ag research can continue."

Congressman Simpson and Congressman Walden state in the letter that the ARS sheep center at Dubois conducts critical research on the interaction between domestic and bighorn sheep, and that “it would be difficult, if not impossible, for this research to continue if the Dubois center was closed.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

Just in

Crapo Focuses on Wildfire Mitigation in Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Washington-U.S. Senator Mike Crapo is encouraged by the focus on wildfire mitigation strategies in the Homeland Security appropriations bill and call on their colleagues to pass the PREPARE Act, which would make targeted investments for pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness.

The Senate Appropriations Committee included language in the Homeland Security appropriations bill today instructing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to devise a strategy with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to better mitigate the devastating effects of wildfires. The bill also requires FEMA to coordinate with state and local officials on cooperative efforts to mitigate and prepare for wildfires. The language stems from a report produced by FEMA that was requested by Crapo in last year’s Homeland Security appropriations bill.

“Common sense dictates that as we ensure disaster funding is available to fight our worst fires, we also have on hand the ability to help homeowners and local officials plan for recovery and prevention efforts,” Crapo said. “With more than 1,000 fires and 1.6 million acres burned last year in Idaho alone, the need for this preparedness and planning is clear.”

Last year Crapo introduced a bipartisan bill to enhance wildfire mitigation efforts with a dedicated funding stream for mitigation projects. The Prepare, Ready, Equip, and Prevent Areas at-Risk of Emergency (PREPARE) Wildfires Act would authorize an additional $20 to $30 million per year for a five year wildfire mitigation pilot program, as part of agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation fund. Senator Crapo also proposed an offset elsewhere in the budget to ensure the proposal is fully paid for.

Studies have shown that targeted investments in mitigation will prevent and reduce large-scale wildfires and save money in the long run. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study of FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program found that a very small share of the agency’s mitigation funding went to wildfires. Yet, in the same report, CBO concluded that these infrequently funded fire mitigation projects have one of the highest returns on investment out of all the different FEMA mitigation categories, saving more than $5 in future disaster losses through every $1 in mitigation funding.

The PREPARE Act would provide a funding stream for FEMA, in consultation with the U.S. Forest Service, to award competitive grants to states for projects related to wildfire mitigation and preparedness. States that have received a large number of Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) declarations from FEMA in the past decade would be eligible to apply. States and local governments would provide matching funds, leveraging federal dollars for maximum efficiency. Recognizing the reality that wildfires don’t respect jurisdictional boundaries, the bill also prioritizes flexibility, permitting local officials to use the mitigation dollars for priority projects on federal, state, or private land.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Just in

Simpson Supports Bills to Create Jobs, Increase Energy Independence

Simpson supports legislation promoting energy independence

Washington-Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson this week supported legislation that will lower energy costs and promote U.S. energy independence.  H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, eliminates the requirement that oil and gas pipelines and electric transmission lines that cross U.S. borders with Mexico or Canada obtain a Presidential Permit in order to begin such projects. 

H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, would set a timeframe for the Energy Department to review applications for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and to require applicants, as a condition of approval, to publicly disclose the specific export destinations of such LNG exports.  H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014, would require at least 25 percent of eligible federal land be made available annually to lease for oil and gas exploration. 

“Lowering the price Americans pay at the pump and achieving energy independence will lead to a stronger economy and increase our national security,” said Simpson.  “Since the Obama Administration took office, they have offered more roadblocks than solutions toward these goals.  For example, although our country still heavily relies on imported oil, the Obama Administration continues to block and delay permits for increased domestic energy production on our public lands as well as for job creating oil and gas pipeline projects and increasing LNG exports.  These bills will help get us back on the right track.”   

H.R. 3301, H.R. 6, and H.R. 4899 passed the House with bi-partisan support, and will now move on to consideration in the U.S. Senate. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Just in

USDA Announces Landmark Commitment to Improve Sage-Grouse Habitat

WASHINGTON-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a ground-breaking commitment
 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accelerate and focus conservation efforts
 that will benefit ranchers and also the distinct population of greater sage-grouse population that
 lives in the Intermountain West. The population of sage-grouse is being considered for protection
 under the Endangered Species Act.

"With proactive conservation investments, we're helping farmers and ranchers who are
 improving habitat through voluntary efforts to stabilize this population of sage-grouse," said
 Vilsack. "Through action such as this, along with the support of our partners, we can
help secure this species' future and maintain our vibrant western economies."

USDA will provide up to $25.5 million of conservation investments over the next five to ten
 years as part of its contribution to delivering the federal, state and local 2012 Action Plan,
a conservation strategy that will benefit the sage-grouse population in both states. The plan,
sanctioned by the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),
 aims to focus resources on cost effective and efficient solutions that could avert the need
to list the bi-state population as "threatened" or "endangered" under the Endangered
Species Act.

Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) also announced a $6.5 million commitment
over the next ten years to implement a wide range of priority conservation activities on the
public lands it manages to improve sage-grouse habitat. The BLM is coordinating with the
U.S. Forest Service to amend resource management plans that will include standards and
guidelines designed to conserve and enhance sage grouse habitat.

"We have made it a high priority to engage in voluntary partnership with ranchers, farmers
 and other landowners to conserve the wildlife and habitat that are so important to our
heritage and way of life," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "I applaud the NRCS,
USFS and the BLM for their very significant commitments, which will help provide
certainty that important conservation actions in key areas of the bird's habitat will continue
 to be implemented. Together, we can make our landscapes work for both agriculture and
 the bi-state sage-grouse."

The U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), both USDA
 agencies, are leading the Sage-Grouse Initiative (SGI) and will have the means to fully carry
out conservation practices and policy changes agreed upon by the Bi-State Local Area
Working Group in its action plan.

The announcement comes at the conclusion of an extended public comment period on the
USFWS proposal to federally list the bi-state population of greater sage-grouse as a
threatened species. A final decision on the proposal is expected by April 28, 2015.

Since 2010, USDA has funded $27.5 million of conservation efforts, primarily through
working with farmers, ranchers and other land managers in on-the-ground projects that
 address critical threats identified in the action plan. Conservation easements on private
lands are keeping working ranches intact that provide important wetlands for growing
sage-grouse broods. Removal of conifers that have invaded sagebrush-steppe is restoring
 sage-grouse habitat on private and public lands.

The Bi-State Executive Oversight Committee estimates it will cost about $38 million more
to fully implement the remaining priority actions identified in the action plan for California
and Nevada. The U.S. Forest Service and NRCS will provide over 80 percent of that
estimated need under the new agreement with a focus on high impactful projects.

The Sage-Grouse Initiative teams up with partners in 11 western states to achieve wildlife
conservation through sustainable ranching. From 2010 to 2013, the initiative enrolled more
 than 950 ranches and conserved 6,000 square miles through NRCS investments of $247
million that generated $107 million in partners' matching funds for a total of $354 million
of on-the-ground sage grouse conservation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just in

USDA Provides $8 Million to Help Boost Declining Honey Bee Population

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $8 million in
Conservation Reserve Program incentives for farmers and ranchers who establish
new habitats for declining honey bee populations. 
More than half of the commercially managed honey bees are in these five states
during the summer. The announcement comes in addition to $3 million USDA designated
to the Midwest states to support bee populations earlier this year through the Natural
Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
"American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honey bee population,"
said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In recent years, factors such as diseases,
parasites, pesticides or habitat loss have contributed to a significant decline in the
honey bee population. This $8 million is part of the Administration's ongoing strategy
to reverse these trends and establish more plant habitat on Conservation Reserve
Program lands to restore the bee population."
The new CRP pollinator initiative is designed to further enhance current CRP land,
allowing it to provide better access to nutritious pollinator forage. The program
allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as 'covers', with
lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles
of plants that benefit pollinators.
Honey bees, the pollinator workhorse of U.S. fruit and vegetable agriculture, will have
 more blooms from which to collect nectar and pollen to sustain and promote colony
growth and honey production throughout the growing season. By assisting honey bees,
 the pollinator initiative helps USDA continue to secure the food supply. More than
$15 billion worth of agricultural production, including over 130 fruits and vegetables,
depend on the health and well-being of honey bees.

Monday, June 23, 2014

House passes small business expensing measure

Washington-The House last week approved a bill (H.R. 4457) to permanently extend the increased section 179 small business expensing limitations, which expired at the end of last year. For 2013, the maximum Section 179 deduction was appropriately set at $500,000 of purchased property reduced dollar for dollar when investments exceeded $2 million. 

The current maximum deduction is $25,000.

In a letter to House Ways and Means Committee members before they voted on the Section 179 bill, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explained that Farm Bureau puts a priority on tax code provisions that give farm and ranch businesses the ability to deduct expenses immediately instead of having to depreciate them over time so that they can improve cash flow and better match income and expenses.  

He also noted how Congress' practice of extending important small business tax provisions for one or two years at a time make its very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity. Long-standing tax provisions, such as Section 179 small business expensing, should be made permanent at the 2013 level, he said. 

Like their House counterparts, Senate Finance Committee members have also been working on tax extenders, although they've bundled them into one bill, Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act (S. 2660). That bill, which extends all the expired provisions for two years, including Section 179 small business expensing, has yet to hit the Senate floor because of a partisan disagreement about the amendment process.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Just in

EPA Rule Will Upend Farming and Livelihoods, Farm Bureau Says

WASHINGTON – A new Environmental Protection Agency rule will illegally expand EPA jurisdiction to millions of acres of once-unregulated farm land, exposing farmers to fines and penalties for ordinary farming activities, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today.
"The EPA isn't content with regulating just water – they want to control land use, too, even though Congress and the Courts have already told them no," Don Parrish, Senior Director Regulatory Affairs at the American Farm Bureau Federation said.
The agency's overreach, Parrish said, ignores the will of Congress and courts, alike. And as bad as the rule is, the agency compounds farmers' problems by calling into question dozens of exemptions for basic farming techniques through a separate, interpretative rule already in effect.
"Farmers face an impossible choice," Parrish said. The proposed rule that expands jurisdiction and the interpretive rule together are a bad idea that threatens livelihoods as well as local land-use and zoning authority. It's time to ditch this rule."
The Clean Water Act, signed into law in 1972, protects the nation's waters from pollution of all sorts. But Congress gave states, not the EPA, the primary responsibility to oversee land use. The latest proposal would turn that relationship on its head.
Farm Bureau, together with dozens of other farm and industry groups, is fighting the EPA's Waters of the U.S. overreach. Find out more at

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just in

Kansas City--Farm Bureau PR professionals from across the country are attending the American Farm Bureau Spark conference in Kansas City to network and exchange ideas and information. (Steve Ritter photo)

Just in

Farm Bureau: Estate Taxes Now Ripe for Repeal

WASHINGTON – With 218 co-sponsors – more than half of the House of Representatives – on board, legislation to repeal estate taxes is ripe for floor action, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.
Rep. Kevin Brady's (R-Texas) Death Tax Repeal Act, H.R. 2429, would repeal estate taxes, and maintain stepped-up basis.
“Although permanent law enacted as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 provided significant estate tax relief, repeal is the best solution to protect all farms and ranches from the estate tax,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
The estate tax burden falls heavily on farmers because it takes more capital assets, such as land and equipment, to generate the same level of income as other types of businesses.
If Congress fails to permanently repeal the estate tax, surviving family members may be forced to sell off parts of their farms, ultimately jeopardizing their livelihoods.
“Look at land alone,” Stallman said. “As it skyrockets in value, the chances of surviving family members having to sell some substantial acreage to pay estate taxes grows right along with it. This not only can cripple a farm or ranch operation, but also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just in

Idaho Weekly Hay Report

Tons: 6200 Last Week: 150 Last Year: 250 Boise--Compared to last week: a larger amount of trading and selection of quality grades. Trade moderate with strong demand. Most producers are busy in the field just getting 1st cutting in the bale and marketed. Good weather over the trade area has helped producers and hay buyers alike. All prices are dollars per ton and FOB unless otherwise stated. Tons Price Range Wtd Avg Comments Alfalfa Large Square Supreme 4000 250.00-250.00 250.00 Premium 950 250.00-250.00 250.00 Good/Premium 1050 225.00-225.00 225.00 Alfalfa Small Square Good/Premium 200 220.00-220.00 220.00

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Just in

EPA Greenhouse Gas Plan Harmful to Economy, Agriculture

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest greenhouse gas proposal will harm the nation’s economy, rural communities and America’s farm and ranch families if implemented, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.
The EPA’s attempt to impose a 30-percent reduction in carbon dioxide on the nation’s power plants will lead to higher energy prices. Farmers would face not just higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. Rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would be especially hard hit.
“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”
Today’s announcement follows EPA’s April “Waters of the Unites States” proposal that would unlawfully increase the agency’s role in regulating America’s farms under the Clean Water Act. AFBF responded with a formal campaign to “Ditch the Rule.”
"The greenhouse gas proposal is yet another expensive and expansive overreach by EPA into the daily lives of America's farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “Our farmers and ranchers need a climate that fosters innovation, not unilateral regulations that cap our future."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Just in from Washington

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding International Commitment to Innovation, Biotechnology in Wheat

 WASHINGTON–“The American Farm Bureau Federation is proud to be among the 16 forward-looking organizations from the U.S., Canada and Australia united in ensuring wheat supplies remain abundant, while meeting the highest quality and nutrition standards.

Representing about 20 percent of human calorie intake, wheat is an essential part of the global diet and critical to food security. “Unfortunately, wheat production is on a downward trend around the world because net returns per acre often favor other crops.

Wheat demand could very well outstrip the supply in the not-so-distant future. As such, further innovation in research and biotechnology is key to realizing the promise of improved products, more sustainable production and environmental benefits.

 “AFBF supports the effort to synchronize the commercialization of biotech traits in wheat. While acknowledging the importance of commercializing biotech wheat to ensure farmers can meet worldwide demand, we are equally adamant that customer choice is paramount. Where there is demand for non-biotech wheat, we will work to see it is met."

 “In addition, we are urging the governments of wheat growing and importing countries to maintain sound, science-based regulatory systems, as well as to adopt reasonable low-level presence policies to keep trade flowing. ”

Friday, June 13, 2014

Emmett--Gem County cherries are ready for picking.  A late March freeze impacted the yields but helped the quality of the 2014 crop.   Growers say the next two weeks is the best time to get your cherries. (Steve Ritter photo)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ditch the rule update

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Extension of Clean Water Rule Comment Period

WASHINGTON – “The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased the EPA has extended the time available to comment on new and highly burdensome clean water rules. This is a victory for farming families and a clear signal that America’s farmers know how to stand up and be counted.
“EPA has misled the regulated community about the rule’s impacts on land use. If more people knew how regulators want to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged.
“This latest rule broadly expands federal jurisdiction and threatens local land-use and zoning authority. Simply put, it is an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court. I look forward to expanding on our position in testimony tomorrow before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment.
“The new schedule gives us until October 20 to comment on the Waters of the United States rule, and until July 7 to comment on the accompanying interpretive rule. Rest assured we will use that time to its best advantage. We will ditch this rule.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Just in

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Bill
Legislation targets funding to nuclear national security efforts, energy security, and infrastructure projects to boost American competitiveness

WASHINGTON– The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2015 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.

The bill totals $34 billion – a $50 million reduction from the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and an increase of $327 million above the President’s request.

“The bill holds the line on spending, while prioritizing programs with the highest national need. This includes bolstering our national defense by ensuring the safety and readiness of our nuclear weapons, and increasing economic opportunity with critical infrastructure projects such as those through the Army Corps of Engineers,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said. “This is a well-balanced, responsible bill that reflects thoughtful budget decisions and makes the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson also commented on the importance of the bill:

"This bill reflects the tough decisions necessitated by our challenging fiscal environment, while placing emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure," Chairman Simpson said.  "It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth."  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just in


BOISE – The water supply outlook for Snake River irrigators looks adequate according to the June Water Supply Outlook Report just released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, there will be shortages for irrigators in central and southern Idaho. 

Most of May’s moisture came early and the area that needed it most – Central Idaho’s Big Wood, Little Wood and Big Lost basins – recorded a fraction of their normal May amounts.

“The lack of snow and spring rains in the mid-elevations resulted in limited runoff and soil that is already drying out,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist with the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Additional moisture during the spring snowmelt season would have benefited dryland farmers.”

North Idaho received below average precipitation as well but with the above normal snowpack this winter, streamflow forecasts are at or above normal,” said Abramovich.  “The flows will provide excellent whitewater rafting opportunities.” 

Reservoir operators in southern Idaho are in the process of completing final fill while other reservoirs have peaked and are being drafted. Magic, Mackay and Salmon Falls Reservoirs are likely to run out of irrigation water in July. The natural lakes and reservoirs elsewhere in the state will fill or come close to filling and should provide adequate irrigation supplies. Carryover storage for next year will depend on summer temperatures and precipitation that affect irrigation water demand.

For information on specific basins, streams and reservoirs, view the full report online at June Water Supply Outlook Report.

The June Water Supply Outlook Report is the final report of the 2014 season.

Friday, June 6, 2014

President's editorial

EPA’s Proposed ‘Waters’ Rule is Unworkable
By Frank Priestley, IFBF President
The American Farm Bureau Federation recently reviewed EPA’s March 25 release of the ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposed rule. The results of the review are dismaying.
The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners. Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters – even ditches – are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.
Under this proposed rule, farmers, ranchers and every other landowner across the countryside will face a tremendous new roadblock to ordinary land use activities. This is not just about the paperwork of getting a permit to farm, or even about having farming practices regulated. The fact is there is no legal right to a Clean Water Act permit – if farming or ranching activities need a permit, EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers can deny that permit. That’s why Clean Water Act jurisdiction over farmlands amounts to nothing less than federal veto power over a farmer’s ability to farm.
EPA accompanied its proposal with a new ‘interpretive rule’ claiming to clarify certain statutory exemptions for agricultural conservation practices, including activities as commonplace and essential to farming as building a fence. But these exemptions apply only to ‘dredge and fill’ permit requirements. They do not protect farmers from federal veto power over pest and weed control, fertilizer application, and other essential farming activities that may result in the addition of ‘pollutants’ to ‘navigable waters,’ – providing one views every ditch and wet spot across the landscape as ‘navigable waters.’
The American Farm Bureau Federation will dedicate itself to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that Congress meant what it said: ‘navigable waters’ does not mean all waters. This proposed rule shows that EPA refuses to accept those limits.
For more information on this issue go to All Idaho landowners, farmers and ranchers are encourage to fill out a comment form and send it to EPA.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Just in

USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may now sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The Secretary also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP). 

“CRP is one of the largest voluntary conservation programs in the country,” said Vilsack. “This initiative helps farmers and ranchers lead the nation in preventing soil erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat, all of which will make a difference for future generations.

Vilsack continued, “The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger. The cost of buying land is one of the biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started.”  

The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands.  For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

CRP consists of a “continuous” and “general” sign-up period. Continuous sign up for the voluntary program starts June 9. Under continuous sign-up authority, eligible land can be enrolled in CRP at any time with contracts of up to 10 to 15 years in duration. In lieu of a general sign-up this year, USDA will allow producers with general CRP contracts expiring this September to have the option of a one-year contract extension.  USDA will also implement the 2014 Farm Bill’s requirement that producers enrolled through general sign-up for more than five years can exercise the option to opt-out of the program if certain other conditions are met. In addition, the new grassland provisions, which will allow producers to graze their enrolled land, will enable producers to do so with more flexibility.

The Transition Incentives Program provides two additional years of payments for retired farmers and ranchers who transition expiring CRP acres to socially disadvantaged, military veteran, or beginning producers who return the land to sustainable grazing or crop production.  Sign up will also begin June 9.  TIP funding was increased by more than 30 percent in the 2014 Farm Bill, providing up to $33 million through 2018.

As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, participants meeting specific qualifications may have the opportunity to terminate their CRP contract during fiscal year 2015 if the contract has been in effect for a minimum of five years and if other conditions are also met. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Just in

EPA Greenhouse Gas Plan Harmful to Economy, Ag

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest greenhouse gas proposal will harm the nation’s economy, rural communities and America’s farm and ranch families if implemented, the American Farm Bureau Federation said today.
The EPA’s attempt to impose a 30-percent reduction in carbon dioxide on the nation’s power plants will lead to higher energy prices. Farmers would face not just higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. Rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would be especially hard hit.
“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”
Today’s announcement follows EPA’s April “Waters of the Unites States” proposal that would unlawfully increase the agency’s role in regulating America’s farms under the Clean Water Act. AFBF responded with a formal campaign to “Ditch the Rule.”
"The greenhouse gas proposal is yet another expensive and expansive overreach by EPA into the daily lives of America's farmers and ranchers,” Stallman said. “Our farmers and ranchers need a climate that fosters innovation, not unilateral regulations that cap our future."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Just in

Economist Finds EPA Analysis of Water Rule Flawed
Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Water Act rule is rife with errors, lacks transparency and would greatly expand strict federal control over land that was previously not regulated by the federal government, according to a report by economist and University of California-Berkley faculty member Dr. David Sunding.
Sunding’s report, Review of 2014 EPA Economic Analysis of Proposed Revised Definition of Waters of the Unites States, raises the blinds on the controversial proposal by detailing how EPA failed to provide a realistic explanation of the scope, costs and benefits of the rule.
The proposed EPA rule represents an expansion of the “Waters of the United States” to include waters such as small, isolated wetlands, ephemeral drains and many ditches. In the proposed rule’s economic analysis, the EPA systematically underestimated the impact on affected communities and businesses, according to the report.
Sunding documents how EPA excluded costs, under-represented jurisdictional areas and used flawed methods to arrive at much lower economic costs of the proposed rule. Sunding’s report also notes that the lack of transparency in the report makes it difficult to understand or replicate EPA’s calculations, examine the agency’s assumptions or understand discrepancies in its results.
Sunding has concluded that the errors in the EPA’s analysis are so extensive as to render it useless for determining the true costs of this proposed rule. His report underscores the need for EPA to withdraw the rule and complete a comprehensive and transparent economic review.
“The EPA’s proposed waters of the U.S. rule is irreparably flawed from an economic standpoint,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “The rule is also an end run around Congress and two Supreme Court rulings, and in their official comments, farmers and ranchers across the national are calling on EPA to ditch the rule.”
This rule will also have a huge impact on communities and businesses across the country, according to Stallman. He said it is not just businesses trying to expand that will suffer. This proposed rule would impact everything from local governments trying to start or expand infrastructure projects to community gardens.
“The rule will dictate land use across the United States,” Stallman said. “And EPA has not been forthright about the costs to our communities and businesses, including countless small businesses.”
Dr. Sunding prepared this report with support from the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which represents Americans involved in construction, real estate, mining, agriculture, wildlife conservation, forestry, manufacturing and energy. As a member of the coalition, AFBF will continue to push for a better rule that balances the needs of affected communities with protections for our nation’s waters.
To learn more, you may visit Farm Bureau’s “Ditch the Rule” website at

Just in

Farmers Strike a Chord with #DitchTheRule Song, Video

WASHINGTON– A farm family, a Disney tune, an EPA reg and a handheld camera: Who says life’s slow in the country?
Life is anything but boring for Andy and Kacey Clay and their family, who energetically break into song, telling the Environmental Protection Agency to ditch its recently proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule in “That’s Enough,” a parody video that draws on the song “Let it Go” from the popular animated movie “Frozen.”

The Clay family of Missouri and other Farm Bureau families around the nation are working to draw attention to the proposed EPA rule, charging that it is rife with errors, lacks transparency and would greatly expand strict control over private land that was previously unregulated by the federal government.
“There’s no water flowing, but the government doesn’t care,” sings Kacey Clay, while her family “navigates” a dry ditch on their farm in a canoe.
Farm Bureau formally launched its #DitchTheRule campaign at the end of April, asking its members to resist the proposed EPA water rule, which will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms.
Follow the social media hashtag #DitchTheRule and visit the Ditch the Rule website ( to learn more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Just in

Simpson’s Potato Language Included in House Appropriations Bill
Language allows fresh potatoes in WIC

Washington–Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s language to include fresh potatoes in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program passed the House Appropriations Committee today. The language was included in the Fiscal Year 2015 House Agriculture Appropriations bill which passed 31-18. Simpson is a member of the committee and voted in favor of the bill. 

Congressman Simpson’s language allows states to include fresh, white potatoes in the WIC nutrition program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Congressman Simpson successfully thwarted an attempt to strike his provision from the bill. 

“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” said Simpson. “This bill corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families.”

Potatoes are currently excluded from the WIC program despite being nutrient dense, affordable, low in calories, and free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A medium-sized potato contains more potassium than a banana and is a good source of dietary fiber—both of which are “nutrients of concern,” meaning those nutrients most lacking in Americans’ diets, according to USDA’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

The bill now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Congress considers Farm Bill this week

Washington--House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway finally get the House farm bill to the Senate this week, but it all depends on House Republic...