Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just in

USDA Announces No Actions in Early 2015 Under the Feedstock Flexibility Program

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Credit Corporation announced today that it does not expect to purchase sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program in the first quarter of 2015. CCC is required to announce quarterly estimates of sugar to be purchased for the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts.

Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. Upon loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral (sugar) to USDA to satisfy the loan.

The Feedstock Flexibility Program was reauthorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill as an option to avoid sugar forfeitures. USDA’s Dec. 10, 2014, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report ( projects that domestic fiscal year 2015 ending sugar stocks are unlikely to lead to forfeitures. 

USDA closely monitors domestic sugar stocks, consumption, imports and other sugar market variables on an ongoing basis, and will continue to administer the sugar program as transparently as possible using the latest available data. The next quarterly estimate regarding the Feedstock Flexibility Program will occur prior to April 1, 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Just in

Just in

Idaho Potatoes top National list
Washington--When it comes to potatoes, Idaho is #1. Results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture confirmed it. According to the census, Idaho farmers led the United States in acres of potatoes harvested, at 345,217 acres. And believe it or not, this was done by only 794 farms. On these farms, 58 percent of the potato harvested acres were for the fresh market and 42 percent were for processing.
Of course, the other parts of our agriculture are no small potatoes either. Overall, in 2012 we had 24,816 farms in our state, and our farmers sold more than $7.8 billion worth of agricultural products. Nearly a third of that amount – $2.3 billion – came from milk sales. Only three states, California, Wisconsin, and New York, had more milk sales than Idaho. Idaho’s Gooding County ranked fourth in the nation for milk cow inventory. The 2012 census counted nearly 179,000 head of milk cows there.
When it comes to crops, barley is one of the biggest commodities grown in Idaho. Nearly a quarter of all U.S. barley came from our growers. In 2012, they produced more than 51 million bushels of this important crop. Nearly 600,000 acres of Idaho farmland were dedicated to barley. We were also one of the top states for winter wheat, with more than 738,000 acres.
We also have plenty of less conventional agriculture, which was captured by the census. For example, 74 farms raised peacocks and peahens in Idaho in 2012. We also had 276 farms that raised llamas and 20 farms that raised bison. This less conventional agriculture was not limited to livestock. In 2012, the census also counted six farms growing boysenberries and 13 farms with currants.
This is just a snapshot of Idaho’s agriculture. Our state has a lot more to offer from both the conventional and the less traditional sides of agriculture. To see more of Idaho’s 2012 Census of Agriculture results, check out

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just in

USDA Releases 2013 Annual Summary for Pesticide Data Program

Report confirms that pesticide residues do not pose a safety concern for U.S. food 
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service has posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary. The PDP summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency and do not pose a safety concern. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at
The 2013 PDP Annual Summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern. 
Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2013, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater, and drinking water. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide chemical residue levels on selected foods. The EPA uses data from PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides. 
Statement from USDA: 
"The Pesticide Data Program provides reliable data through rigorous sampling that helps assure consumers that the produce they feed their families is safe. This report confirms again that pesticide residues are below levels deemed safe." 
Statement from FDA: 
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for assessing whether pesticide chemical residues found on food make the food unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA is able to conduct its own tests, interpret the reported violations, and determine if additional testing is needed in order to take enforcement action, as appropriate." 
Statement from EPA: 
"PDP is invaluable to EPA in its work to evaluate pesticide residues in food. EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based, and transparent regulatory program for pesticides that continues to protect people's health and the environment." 
Since its inception, the PDP has tested 112 commodities including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products, and water. In 2013, the program expanded to include samples of infant formula, raspberries and salmon. The data are a valuable tool for consumers, food producers and processors, chemical manufacturers, environmental interest groups, and food safety organizations. 
The findings of the Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2013 can be downloaded at Printed copies of can be obtained by contacting the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, Science and Technology Program, Monitoring Programs Division by e-mail request @

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Pressure easing on farmland conversion

By Stewart Truelsen

The Great Recession had many economic consequences, most of them bad, some still lingering, but the recession also helped slow the conversion of farmland to development. Typically, when farmland is developed it is turned into housing tracts, shopping malls, roads, other public works projects, golf courses and the like.  

All of these activities were impacted by the recession. Single-family housing starts peaked at 1.7 million on an annualized basis in 2006. They are just now returning to the 1-million mark. Retail construction suffered a similar fate. New shopping center construction plummeted in 2009, and 11 percent of retail space was vacant. A recovery finally began last year. Recreational development also declined. According to the National Golf Foundation, more golf courses are closing than opening. A little more than a dozen 18-hole courses opened in 2013, while 157 closed.  

Energy development has surged, but generally speaking it is compatible with farming and ranching because its surface footprint is small. It also benefits agriculture by spurring the rural economy.  
The recession’s effect on farmland conversion was the opposite of its impact on development. The full impact hasn’t been completely captured yet in the National Resources Inventory, a survey conducted every five years, but a mid-cycle release reported that the annual loss of farmland to development was down 38 percent from the period preceding the recession.  

At this point, the nation has around 300-million acres of prime farmland. This is farmland best suited to grow a crop because of soil quality, growing season and water supply. Not all farmland that is developed is prime farmland, thank goodness, but over a 25-year stretch, every state lost some of its prime farmland to development.

Now that economic growth is taking hold, does it mean that farmland conversion will accelerate? Not necessarily. Times have changed. Prime farmland is much more valuable today than it was in 1980, when farmland preservation first became an issue.  

Since then, federal, state and local programs were added to assist with preservation through agricultural land easements. The public also has a greater awareness and appreciation of local agriculture, which could prove helpful. Farmers and ranchers are more engaged with the public through social media and this relationship builds support for maintaining a healthy agriculture.  
Other trends also are favorable to reducing the pressure on farmland conversion. A recent analysis of housing trends found less interest in developing new suburbs and more interest in urban projects where transportation and public amenities are more accessible. Online shopping has taken a bite out of shopping malls, and big box stores are starting to be replaced by stores with smaller footprints.
Farmers have always said the best way to preserve farm and ranch lands is to make agriculture profitable enough to keep the land in farming and ranching. This maxim still holds true and is important for all of us.  

Stewart Truelsen, a food and agriculture freelance writer, is a regular contributor to the Focus on Agriculture series.
- See more at:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just in

Statement by Bob Stallman, President,
American Farm Bureau Federation,
Regarding Normalization of Relations with Cuba

WASHINGTON– “The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports President Obama’s move toward normalized relations with Cuba. Farm Bureau has long called for a removal of trade restrictions with Cuba, and we believe expanded trade with the U.S. can serve as a cornerstone for additional reforms.

“The president’s opening to Cuba promises to improve trade conditions by making it easier for Cuba to buy U.S. agricultural and food products. This is welcome news for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.

“Right now, U.S. farmers can export to Cuba, but third-party banking requirements and limited credit financing make it harder to compete in the market than it should be. We look forward to a prompt lifting of those restrictions.

“Improving trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba will expand access to a market of 11 million consumers for U.S. agriculture. That’s good for Cuba and good for America, too. We look forward to working closely with the administration on this issue.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just in

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Passage of Tax Extenders Bill 

 WASHINGTON – “Passage of H.R. 5771 means farmers and ranchers are one step closer to tax laws that will let them reinvest in their businesses. Farm Bureau now urges the President to sign these temporary provisions into law for 2014.

 “Thanks to tax provisions like Section 179 small business expensing and bonus depreciation, hard-working Americans will be free to put their money directly back to work on their land and in their local communities.

 “The domestic energy market will continue to grow and innovate, thanks to the renewal of fuel and power tax incentives. A boost in our clean, renewable energy market here at home will help farmers, ranchers and consumers alike as more affordable energy is available.

 “Farmers and ranchers need more than just a temporary tax fix, however. They need certainty that these provisions will be there in the coming years as they make long-term business decisions. Farm Bureau looks forward to working with Congress to ensure agriculture can count on these tax provisions not just this year, but every year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Just in

USDA Improves Forest Health by Harvesting Biomass for Energy

2014 Farm Bill Program Generates Renewable Energy, Helps Reduce Forest Fire Threats
WASHINGTON– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that more than
200,000 tons of biomass were removed from federal lands through the Biomass
 Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP, reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill,
provided incentives for the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests
 and Bureau of Land Management lands for renewable energy, while reducing the
risk of forest fire. This summer, 19 energy facilities in 10 states participated
in the program.
"This initiative helps to retrieve forest residues that are a fire risk, but otherwise
 are costly to remove," said Vilsack. "In just three months, working with private
partners across the country, the program helped to reduced fire, disease and
 insect threats while providing more biomass feedstock for advanced energy
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency administered
the program earlier this year. Eligible farmers, ranchers or foresters participating
in BCAP received a payment to partially offset the cost of harvesting and delivering forest residues to a qualified energy facility.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just in

USDA Provides Greater Protection for Fruit, Vegetable and Other Specialty Crop Growers

WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that greater protection is now available from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for crops that traditionally have been ineligible for federal crop insurance. The new options, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, and energy crops.

“These new protections will help ensure that farm families growing crops for food, fiber or livestock consumption will be better able to withstand losses due to natural disasters,” said Vilsack. “For years, commodity crop farmers have had the ability to purchase insurance to keep their crops protected, and it only makes sense that fruit and vegetable, and other specialty crop growers, should be able to purchase similar levels of protection. Ensuring these farmers can adequately protect themselves from factors beyond their control is also critical for consumers who enjoy these products and for communities whose economies depend on them.”

Previously, the program offered coverage at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Producers can now choose higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price.

The expanded protection will be especially helpful to beginning and traditionally underserved producers, as well as farmers with limited resources, who will receive fee waivers and premium reductions for expanded coverage. More crops are now eligible for the program, including expanded aquaculture production practices, and sweet and biomass sorghum. For the first time, a range of crops used to produce bioenergy will be eligible as well. 

“If America is to remain food secure and continue exporting food to the world, we need to do everything we can to help new farmers get started and succeed in agriculture,” Vilsack said. “This program will help new and socially disadvantaged farmers affordably manage risk, making farming a much more attractive business proposition.”

To help producers learn more about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and how it can help them, USDA, in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, created an online resource. The Web tool, available at producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for coverage. It also gives them an opportunity to explore a variety of options and levels to determine the best protection level for their operation.

If the application deadline for an eligible crop has already passed, producers will have until Jan. 14, 2015, to choose expanded coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. To learn more, visit the Farm Service Agency (FSA) website at or contact your local FSA office at The Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers the program, also wants to hear from producers and other interested stakeholders who may have suggestions or recommendations on the program. Written comments will be accepted until Feb. 13, 2015 and can be submitted through

These new provisions under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program were made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.  For more information,

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just in

USDA Seeks Public Comment on New
Environmental Quality Incentives Program Rule

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Agriculture is publishing a rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of USDA’s largest conservation programs. The interim final rule includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.

USDA established a 60-day comment period for the rule. The rule is expected to be available in the Federal Register and on Friday, Dec. 12.  Beginning Friday, the public can submit comments through or by mailing them. Comments are due by Feb. 10, 2015. Full details are in the Federal Register notice. 

“This interim final rule provides a roadmap to help streamline and simplify EQIP for farmers and ranchers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “We strongly encourage agricultural producers, private forest landowners and stakeholders to provide comments on our implementation processes.  This feedback will help us improve our operation and deliver technical and financial assistance more efficiently to our nation’s agricultural producers and forest landowners.”   

The changes are intended to simplify the EQIP regulation regarding conservation practice scheduling, payment limitations and other administrative actions. Vilsack said USDA has enhanced EQIP by streamlining the delivery of technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide.

Highlights of program changes in this rule include the following:

·        Requires at least 5 percent of available EQIP funds be targeted for conservation practices that promote wildlife habitat;
·        Establishes EQIP as a contributing program for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program;
·        Increases the advanced payment from 30 percent to 50 percent for eligible historically underserved producers, including  beginning farmers, to help purchase material or contract services;
·        Targets assistance to veteran farmers and ranchers including eligibility for the new 50 percent advance payment and up to 90 percent of the cost to implement EQIP conservation practices;
·        Increases the payment limitation for EQIP from $300,000 to a maximum of $450,000 for benefits received during 2014-2018 and removes the option for a waiver to exceed payment limitations;
·        Eliminates the requirement for a program contract to remain in place for one year after the last practice has been implemented, allowing practices to be scheduled through the tenth year of a contract;
·        Includes an option to waive the irrigation history requirement under certain conditions;
·        Incorporates the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program functions into EQIP.  

This rule follows the publication of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule in the Federal Register on November 5. USDA is also seeking comments for the CSP rule.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers EQIP, a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners to help them address soil, water, air and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. Resulting conservation and environmental benefits include improved water and air quality, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved energy conservation, improved grazing and forest lands, and created or improved wildlife habitat on working farms, ranches and non-industrial forestlands.

EQIP has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of agricultural producers and forest landowners since its launch in 1997. From that time through 2014, USDA has invested in 596,481 contracts for a total of nearly $11 billion on nearly 232 million acres nationwide.

For more information about interim final rules for USDA NRCS’s Farm Bill conservation programs, visit EQIP Rule Page.

For more information on technical and financial assistance available through EQIP, visit the EQIP Web page.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just in

Farm Bureau member asks House subcommittee to pass Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

Forshee-Stacy_KFB WashingtonFarm Bureau member Stacey Forshee today called on Congress to help consumers understand the difference between real food safety concerns and marketing ploys by passing the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 4432). Forshee, who is also a Kansas Farm Bureau board member, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.    

“As a hard-working American family who lives off the land and the products it provides, we would never allow a product we grew or raised to enter the food supply unless we knew it was safe,” Forshee said. A farmer and cattle rancher with her husband in north central Kansas, Forshee has seen firsthand the marked benefits of biotechnology crops, including higher yields over fewer tillable acres, reduced pesticide use and improved soil conservation.    

The Forshees are not alone in seeing these benefits. Since 1996, more than 17 million farmers have added in excess of 110 million tons of soybeans and 195 million tons of corn to the world’s food supply. Farmers also avoided using 1.2 billion pounds of pesticide by choosing to grow genetically enhanced crops over conventional corn and soybeans.     
Forshee praised the Food and Drug Administration’s science-based approach to labeling food products for safety, health and nutrition information. Labeling foods with biotechnology traits “will mislead consumers into believing such food products are materially different, create undue risk and should be avoided – all of which are scientifically false,” she said. Veering from FDA’s safe and proven approach would undermine the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers across the country, while doing nothing to further food safety, Forshee said.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Just in

Farm Bureau: Significant costs, no meaningful benefits with proposed power plant standard

Washington—EPA’s proposed standard for existing coal-fired power plants will not only jeopardize the reliability and affordability of electricity nationwide, but also punish farmers and ranchers, who are doing more than their part in supporting energy independence and reducing fossil fuel use, Farm Bureau said in recent comments to the agency.   
In the proposed rule, released on June 2, EPA is targeting a 30-percent reduction in GHG emissions (from 2005 levels) by the year 2030 from existing power plants.   

The biggest problem with EPA’s plan is the significant cost for utilities in complying with these planned rules.  Utility companies can and will pass these costs on to their customers, who will then pass the costs down the line.  That’s not an option for farmers and ranchers.  
“Farmers and ranchers are price takers, not price makers, so they lack the ability of many other sectors of recouping their costs by passing them onto customers,” Farm Bureau said. “Higher energy costs for farmers and ranchers mean higher farm input costs.”  

EPA projects the proposed standard will cause electricity prices to go up nationwide between 6 and 7 percent in 2020 and up to 20 percent in some areas. But these high costs don’t come with the benefit of meaningfully reducing carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale.   

“Imposing added energy costs on our own economy while other economies are not held to the same standard not only puts U.S. producers and consumers at a disadvantage, it serves little environmental purpose,” according to Farm Bureau.   

 The proposed standard is expected to eliminate an additional 54,000 megawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity—greater than the entire electricity supply of New England. Most of these retirements are projected to occur within the next five years. Such a tight timeframe further increases the threat to electric reliability, which is a must for farmers and ranchers who use electricity to care for their animals, irrigate their crops and power many other essential tasks on their farms and ranches.   

Another big problem is that the proposed standard will drive up demand for natural gas, the principal feedstock in the production of nitrogen fertilizer, which many farmers rely on to grow crops. The cost of fertilizer could very well climb right along with the natural gas prices.   
Though this rule specifically targets existing coal-fired power plants, EPA’s assertion that it has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions across the economy means manufacturers, refiners and many other sectors including agriculture could be in the agency’s crosshairs next.    

“Increases in other energy prices, fertilizer and machinery will hold negative consequences for agriculture while at the same time making U.S. farmers and ranchers less competitive internationally. In many cases, higher production costs due to increased energy prices lower net producer returns and farmers will respond by reducing overall production,” Farm Bureau warned.   

EPA in September 2013 released a related rule that addressed new power plants, proposing a standard of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.  This proposal would basically eliminate the approval of any new coal-fired powered plants in the future.  For farmers and ranchers in a large part of the country, coal supplies all or most of their electricity.  Coal is an inexpensive, abundant and reliable source of energy – the very type of electricity source that agriculture needs in order to remain viable and competitive.   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Just in

Idaho Farm Bureau Observes 75th Anniversary
Boise –The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation celebrated 75 years as an organization during its annual convention in Boise, December 2-4.
The organization got its start back in September of 1939 in Murtaugh.
Delegates representing 41 of Idaho’s 44 counties discussed policy and set the organization’s course for 2014 debating a wide range of agriculture and natural resources matters. 
Delegates to the 75th Annual Convention adopted new policy on fuel taxes to help improve Idaho’s roads and bridges, endangered species with regard to sage grouse, opposed establishment of new free-roaming herds of bison outside Yellowstone Park and adopted new policy language on the establishment of national monuments and wilderness areas.
Idaho Farm Bureau’s annual banquet drew more than 325 members that packed the Riverside Hotel banquet room. The group enjoyed a historical retrospective video spanning the Farm Bureau’s 75 years and another video that featured remembrances from former Farm Bureau Presidents Dale Rockwood, Tom Geary and former first lady, Frances Field. 
President Frank Priestley awarded the President’s Cup Award to Tim and Rosemary Lowry of Owyhee County. Lowry is a lifelong rancher and won a landmark water rights case in the U.S. Supreme Court that preserved stock water rights on public lands throughout the West.
Winner of this year’s Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet was Lanae Nalder of Minidoka County. Nalder is a cattle rancher. She received a Polaris Trailblazer ATV and an all-expense paid trip to San Diego to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in January. 
Shaun and Hattie Blaser of Rexburg won the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award. Ben and Amy Gittins of Weston received the Young Farmer and Rancher Achiever Award. For the past several years Polaris Motorsport dealers of Idaho made a generous donation to the Farm Bureau Achiever Award winner.
Recognized as Women of the Year were Nancy Asay of Malad, Susan Johnson of Leadore, Maria Brown of Burley, Pattie Chandler of Weiser and Sheila Hasselstrom of Winchester.

Luke Pearce of Payette County was elected to the State Board of Directors. Judy Woody of Twin Falls County was elected as the new Women’s Leadership Committee chair. Allis Chandler of Washington County was elected vice chair. Cole Smith of Montpelier was elected Young Farmer and Rancher Committee chairman.

Just in

USDA Joins Global Partners to Kick Off International Year of Soils in 2015
Boise – The USDA joins nations from across the globe to kick off the International Year of Soils, an effort to highlight the importance of soil in everyday life. Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, addressed members of the 68th United Nations General Assembly, which designated 2015 for the yearlong celebration.
“We are pleased to work with the United Nations to help raise awareness and promote the importance of conserving our soil resources,” Bonnie said. “USDA is embracing this unique opportunity to tell the world about the importance of soil conservation and how we’ve worked with private landowners since 1935 to protect and improve this priceless natural resource.”
Congress established the Soil Conservation Service as a permanent USDA agency in 1935. The agency, now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service, works with farmers and ranchers across the country to protect soil and other natural resources on their land.
“Taking care of the soil resource is vital to sustainable agricultural operations and NRCS conservationists offer technical assistance to agricultural producers to ensure that sustainability,” said Jeff Burwell, NRCS State Conservationist in Idaho. “As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance.”
To learn more about the contributions NRCS has provided to the citizens of the U.S. and to the world, visit the newly created International Year of Soils webpage on the NRCS website.”

Friday, December 5, 2014

Just in

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program to Dec. 19

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the application deadline for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) will be extended until Dec. 19, 2014.  The program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant.

“The 2014 Farm Bill created these safety net programs to provide safeguards against the uncertainty of weather and markets, but this safety net is not automatic. Producers must visit their local Farm Service Agency office to enroll before December 19,” said Vilsack. “Despite the best forecasts, weather and markets can change, so a modest investment today can protect against unexpected losses tomorrow.” 

“For just $100, a farmer can cover 90 percent of production at $4 margin swings, and with affordable incremental premiums, dairy farmers can cover up to $8 margin swings,” said Vilsack. “Those who apply this year will receive a slight increase in production protection that will not be available in the future. Farmers who do not sign up for the Margin Protection Program for 2015 will forfeit the 1 percent base production increase. For a 400 cow operation, this would equate to an additional 80,000 pounds of milk that are eligible for coverage. It's a small step to take to ensure your business is covered.”

Vilsack encourages producers to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. They can type in specific operation data and explore price projections and market scenarios to determine what level of coverage is best for them. They can also compare the data to see how the program would have helped in previous years, such as 2008, when margins dropped from $8 to $3 in just three months. The online resource is on a secure website that can be accessed from computers, mobile phones or tablets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014 Annual Meeting

Rancher Tim Lowry awarded the President's Cup

Garden City--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley awarded rancher Tim Lowry the Organization's highest honor at Wednesday night's annual banquet.

Lowry joined the Farm Bureau back in 1969.

“I decided to go with the Farm Bureau. I've always been impressed with the Farm Bureau and everything they've accomplished. I was always impressed with their strength, their numbers and their philosophy and positions. You read their policy book and its very proactive with positions in defense of what I call the American System.”

Lowry was a due-paying member of Farm Bureau for a couple of decades when suddenly he found himself in a situation where he needed the organizations help. In the late 90's the BLM challenged his water rights and it not only threatened his ranch but water rights on every ranch across the western US.

"I’ve had help on a number of issues," said Lowry, "But the one I'll never forget is the Farm Bureau's help on the water rights battle. It was great because the Idaho Farm Bureau and various county farm bureaus helped support us financially. Without that kind of backing its very difficult to make a stand. With the backing by the Farm Bureau you have the opportunity to not only stand-up but to prevail."

Lowry won the landmark water rights case with a spirited fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lowry says his years as a Farm Bureau member have paid off many times over and he's not afraid to tell ranchers coming up to get involved.

"A young person can get involved at the county level and work their way up and actually have input and be able to affect the direction of their career," said Lowry

Lowry changed the face of ranching in the United States with that court victory, and many agree that he single-handedly kept ranching alive. But the Owyhee County rancher cautions that the Federal Government will not give up and a new generation will have to step up to keep the nation's rangeland open.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

YF and R Discussion meet finals

YF and R Discussion Meet Finals: Public Land Management

Garden City--The 2014 YF&R Discussion meet came to a rousing end this evening in Boise with a timeless, controversial, provocative topic:

How would Idaho's federally-owned land would look like if held locally.

Most of the Gem State is owned by the federal government.

"Sixty-three percent of all land in Idaho is owned and managed by the government. One thing is for sure, if some of that land was managed locally agriculture statewide would surge," said Brett Wilder.

The panel seamlessly discussed pros and cons of the controversial issue.

"One thing we must not forget is the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, these small communities, especially where I live in Butte County have no tax money coming in, take away federal PILT payments and these small towns will suffer," said Lanae Nalder.

The panel discussed the problem of a federal government too big, with too much control and yet vulnerable.

"I remember the federal government shut down a few years back, it illustrated the problem of federal ownership of local land, they were completely shut down," said Erica Louder.

One panelist made the point of stewardship.

"Shifting the land, bringing it closer to privatization may not be the best extreme, but it might be better for the land," said Dusty Clark. "We have a vested interest in making the land productive to stay in business, we're the best stewards of the land. We aren't going to let cattle graze down to the dirt."

2014 Annual Meeting underway!

Garden City--The 75th Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting is underway the Ice Cream Social, Monday night at the Riverside Inn in Garden City. More than 250 members and staff are expected to attend the Silver Anniversary of the organization.

Registration gets underway at 9-am, the meeting will wrap up Thursday.

(Steve Ritter photo)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Just in

Farmers disappointed with delay on 2014 renewable fuel standards

Ethanol pumpWashington – The American Farm Bureau Federation registered its disappointment with EPA’s decision to once again delay action on the 2014 standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.    

“Renewable fuels have been a tremendous success story for the nation by reducing our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil, reducing air pollution and providing good-paying jobs within rural America,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.    

“This significant delay and inability of the EPA to set standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program creates unneeded uncertainty in the marketplace,” Stallman continued. “Even though EPA took the appropriate course in reconsidering its proposed rule after receiving substantial pushback from rural America, Farm Bureau continues to believe that adhering to the framework of the RFS2 remains the best approach.”  

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...