Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just in

Pennsylvania farmer warns lawmakers about EPA’s ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposal

Nagle testimony smallAltoona-Just because a homeowner's lawn or a farm field collects water after it rains does not mean EPA has the authority to regulate those puddles as "waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act, Pennsylvania beef and grain farmer Tommy Nagle told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today at a field hearing in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Speaking on behalf of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Nagle testified that farmers are concerned about the possible consequences of EPA's proposal on farms and the viability of family businesses. Nagle and farmers and ranchers across the country worry that EPA's expanded authority could result in the elimination of accepted farm practices, new permit requirements for controlling pests or mowing grass across a ditch, and much worse. 

"What if the ultimate effect of this rule prevents farmers from passing their operations on to their children or prevents young people-like me-from becoming farmers?" asked Nagle.
Farm Bureau maintains that Congress clearly intended regulations under the Clean Water Act to focus on navigable waters, not ponds, ditches or puddles that occur on land during a heavy rainstorm. In addition, two Supreme Court rulings have affirmed that the federal government is limited to regulating "navigable" waters.  
Nagle on farm"Those of us in agriculture believe that the authors of the Clean Water Act included the term 'navigable' for a reason," said Nagle, who with his wife, Tracy, raises a herd of beef cattle and grows corn, soybeans and other grains on 775 acres in Central Pennsylvania.  

Farm Bureau notes that the proposed regulatory language effectively erases current limitations on EPA and Army Corps authority. The proposed rule is supposed to be a clarification, but it seems to only provide more confusion and less clarity for farm families whose land will be judged by these agencies. 

"If I guess wrong on their judgment, I could face fines of up to $37,500 per day. If they guess wrong, I have to go to court to correct it. That's a scary thought," added Nagle.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, like the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, is questioning the validity of EPA claims that agricultural exemptions currently provided under the federal Clean Water Act should relieve farmers of any need to worry about the proposed rule. Exemptions provided in the act are mostly limited to plowing and earth moving activities and do not apply to the use of fertilizers or similar farm inputs on farm fields.  
If the proposed rule becomes final, many practices in fields could require government approval through a complex process of federal permitting.

AFBF and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau are asking EPA and the Corps to extend the comment period on the proposed rule from 90 days to 180 days in order to allow farmers, who are actively engaged in planting their crops, time to fully review how the proposed changes will affect their businesses and provide feedback.

Additionally, Farm Bureau is calling on EPA and the Corps to voluntarily withdraw the proposed rule. In the absence of voluntary withdrawal, Farm Bureau is seeking the help of Congress to take political and legislative action to have EPA and the Corps "ditch the rule."
Farm Bureau recently launched the Ditch the Rule website at Focused on topics and analysis related to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers’ recent release of the “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule, the easy-to-navigate site includes several sections: Take Action, Go Social, Find Answers and Get Resources. Visitors may also sign up to learn more, comment on the proposed rule and send tweets using the hashtag #DitchTheRule.   

Photo caption: Pennsylvania beef and grain farmer Tommy Nagle  (pictured testifying and on his family farm) and farmers nationwide worry that EPA’s proposed rule could ultimately eliminate the use of accepted farm practices. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just in from Ada County FB

2014 Ada County FB scholarship Awarded

Meridian--The Ada County Farm Bureau awarded a Meridian senior the organization's annual scholarship.  Justin Nesbitt of Meridian High School is active in the FFA. Nesbitt is shown here with i board member and Vo-Ag instructor Shane Stevenson and Don Sonke Ada County President.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Just in

Retail Gas Prices Forecast at $3.57 per Gallon for Summer

Los Angeles--Drivers will pay an average $3.57 per gallon for regular gasoline this summer, close to last year's level, according to the Energy Information Administration's April Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook. The summer's monthly average gasoline price is expected to peak at $3.66 per gallon in May and then steadily decline to $3.46 in September. Gasoline prices will vary by region, with the West Coast average price expected to be as much as 48 cents per gallon higher than the Gulf Coast price.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Just in from Weiser

Spring Branding Complete at Chandler Ranch                                     (Dalley photo)

Weiser--Cody Chandler has the weight of the world off his shoulders, spring branding is done and now he can move his cattle to the summer range.

Chandler gets by with help from his friends, he invites best friends and kids for the spring outing. The group had a lot of work ahead of them branding more than two-hundred calves.

"I call them, and they come," said Chandler. "We invite the whole family, the kids run the branding iron back and forth, they help gather the cows in the morning, after that they do a lot playing," he laughs.

Chandler says ranching is demanding work, "With everyone working their own operations its the only time we can all get together. Its a good excuse to get together and have a good time."

Kimmel Dalley, her girls and husband drove in from Blackfoot for the annual event. "Its the hardest job you'll ever love and we love it."  Kimmel documented the event snapping photos that will soon become precious family lore.

"Their cousins showed, the Roberts and us," said Dalley. "The girls get to ride and play and they get to see their friends too."

The Chandlers we'll brand three times this year, "it just depends when the calves are ready and the pasture is ready to go," said Chandler. He says with great company the branding goes quick.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just in from Washington

American Farm Bureau Tells Members to ‘Ditch’ EPA Water Rule

WASHINGTON – The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking members to resist a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that it says will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms.
Published Monday in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word “Waters of the U.S.” proposed rule reflects the EPA’s latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.
“This rule is an end run around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike,” AFBF President Bob Stallman says. “Congress and the courts have both said that the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land uses should be restricted. It’s time to ditch this rule.”
Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.
EPA says its new rule clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA’s “clarification” is achieved by categorically classifying most water features and even dry land as “waters of the United States.”
If carried out, Farm Bureau says, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require a federal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outright prohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.
“Congress, not federal agencies, writes the laws of the land,” Stallman said. “When Congress wrote the Clean Water Act, it clearly intended for the law to apply to navigable waters. Is a small ditch navigable? Is a stock pond navigable? We really don’t think so, and Farm Bureau members are going to be sending that message.”
EPA contends that an entire set of exemptions will protect many farmers from the burdensome new rule. But Stallman counters that those exemptions will only apply to farming that has been ongoing since the 1970s, not new or expanded farms. Even for those farms, the exemptions do not cover weed control, fertilizer use or other common farm practices. The already narrow exemptions, Stallman says, have existed for years but have been further narrowed by EPA guidance issued simultaneously with the proposed rule.
“The EPA exemptions offer no meaningful protection for the hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers whose operations and livelihoods are threatened by this expansion of EPA’s regulatory reach,” Stallman says.
“EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have said the WOTUS rule provides clarity and certainty. The only thing that is clear and certain is that, under this rule, it will be more difficult for private landowners to farm and ranch, build homes or make changes to the land – even if the changes that landowners propose would benefit the environment. This is pure and simply wrong, and it is why we need to ditch the rule.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Just in from Boise

State Resolution Committee Meets in Boise

Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau Vice President Mark Trupp called the 2014 State Resolution Committee to order this morning at 10:05.

The group will consider the resolution book and resolutions from the  State's five districts, everything from ag issues to state legislative budgets. When a resolution is approved it becomes IFBF policy and included in the 2015 policy book that is published in January. The booklet is distributed to lawmakers  in Boise and Capitol Hill.

"We had a lot of discussion about what this group does," Trupp told the group this morning, "In the end there were a few changes, but its been enlightening and a great lesson in grass root politics."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Just in

Look for 2012 Census of Agriculture Full Report on May 2

Washington--The Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service will publish the 2012 Census of Agriculture full report on May 2, at noon Eastern. The complete data series will be available in multiple formats, including Quick Stats 2.0, an online database to retrieve customized tables with census data at the national, state and county levels.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just in

Washington--First it was the stink about common cheese names, now it's the baloney about "bologna," "black forest ham" and the names of other meats that the European Union says are "geographical indicators" and can only be appropriately displayed on products made in certain areas of Europe.

Earlier this month, more than 50 senators sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to defend common meat names, especially in negotiations with the EU on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

"This trade barrier is of great concern to meat and other food manufacturers in our states," the senators wrote in the Farm Bureau-supported letter. "We urge you to continue to push back against the EU's efforts to restrict our meat exports, particularly to nations with which we already have free trade agreements."

The EU's recently implemented FTA with countries in Central America includes provisions that restrict the use of "bologna," shutting down an export opportunity opened by the U.S.'s own FTA with those countries. Similar trade barriers are being imposed in other parts of Latin America and are also under discussion in many Asian countries negotiating with the EU.

European GIs encompass many food and beverage categories, threatening many areas of food trade worldwide with the EU's unfair claims to the exclusive use of common food names and even common-place terms such as "classic," "ruby" and "chateau."

The Consortium for Common Food Names, of which Farm Bureau is a member, supports the goal of ensuring that legitimate GIs like Idaho Potatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano are appropriately protected. However, overly restrictive GIs for meats could hit smaller U.S. businesses particularly hard, since they often specialize in artisan and other specialty meat products. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just in from the Camas Prairie

Greencreek--Dozens of  4th and 5th graders from schools across the Camas prairie in North Idaho learned first hand where milk comes from. The students attended the annual Farm and Forest Fair held at the Greencreek Community center. (Steve Ritter photo)

Just in

Senators Push Back on Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Washington--A group of senators, all members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter Wednesday to President Barack Obama expressing concern that the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Water Act rule reveals the agency is attempting to "obtain de facto land use authority over the property of families, neighborhoods and communities throughout the United States."

In a statement released last week, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman noted that 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," Stallman said. Further, "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."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just in from Washington

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Protects Consumers 

Washington--Food prices are already on the rise, but a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients could send costs skyrocketing by as much as 30 percent, without improving the safety of the food supply, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a recent op-ed on The

In their column, the lawmakers explain that climbing food prices are one of the many reasons they introduced the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, H.R. 4432. The Farm Bureau-supported bill will make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration is the nation's foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has issued an FBACT Action Alert to support H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The FBACT Action Alert can be found at this link:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Urges for Certainty in PILT Payments
Pushes federal government to meet obligations to states and counties

Washington – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has other Western Members of Congress in urging House leadership to fully fund the federal government’s obligations to counties with a high percentage of federal land.  They recently sent a letter to leadership pushing for full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.  PILT compensates local governments for the loss of income due to the presence of federal land in their state or county, since the federal government does not pay property taxes.  Full funding for PILT payments was extended in the Farm Bill but expires at the end of the current fiscal year.

“For almost 40 years, PILT payments have provided compensation to local governments to offset the loss of tax revenues that result from the presence of federal lands within their jurisdictions,” the letter states.  “PILT payments are distributed to 49 different states and nearly 2,000 counties throughout the nation.”

It continues, “In Fiscal Year 2013, the national average for PILT payments was 66 cents per acre. This figure pales in comparison to the amount of revenues that would be generated for states and local governments if economic development and value-based taxation was allowed to occur on these lands.  The federal government has an obligation to reimburse local governments for large quantities of federal lands found within their jurisdiction.”

The letter was signed by 51 Members of Congress.  Simpson, who is vice-chairman on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, has long supported permanent full funding of PILT.

Just in from Elmore County

Elmore County Farm Bureau and D&B help FFA

Mountain Home--Elmore County Farm Bureau President Paul Shrum went to work helping the Future Farmers of America class at Glenns Ferry. They needed tools and had a limited budget. He approached D&B Supply Manager Steve Wilson.

"I was approached a few weeks back by Paul Shrum. He wanted to purchased tools for the Glenns Ferry FFA class with a $800 dollar budget. As luck would have it the PBR was coming up soon and we were going to have a DEWALT sale. After some good times shopping, trading in some old tools and someextra help from our own donation budget, I was able to present Rick Hance (FFA teacher) with over $1200 dollars worth of tools and accessories. It was awesome working with both Paul Shrum of the Idaho Farm Bureau and Rick Hance to get the Glenns Ferry FFA class some much needed and appreciated tools."

Thank you to all FFA members and supporters in all communities, we appreciate you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Just in from Boise

Idaho Farm Bureau Expands Social Media Reach
Boise—The Idaho Farm Bureau added two new social media properties while re-launching their smartphone application this spring.
“Research has shown that people want their news media delivered on their time,” said Public Relations Director John Thompson. “People want to listen on their schedule, and they want content delivered to their smart phone.”
Earlier this month Idaho Farm Bureau built a new podcast site for their growing radio audience. The Farm Bureau’s Buzzsprout site went live late in March and features statewide agriculture news, feature stories and the latest news from Washington.
The Idaho Farm Bureau also launched a podcast site in Apple iTunes store, bringing Idaho agriculture to a worldwide audience. The new podcast dovetails with Iphone App also available in the Itunes store, and in the Droid store.
“Having our podcast in both sites has quadrupled our audience and the demand for our news product is very strong. We went from a respectable Idaho audience to a worldwide audience,” said State Media Manager Jake Putnam.
The new podcast sites are cutting new ground as the radio marketplace continues to change. Local programing, news and talk shows are disappearing while specialty podcasts and local radio programming are turning to the internet.
“Our listeners are finding us on itunes,Facebook,Twitter, Buzzsprout and the Farm Bureau website. The pace of change is dizzying. We’re inventing as we go and we’re finding listeners and our challenge is keeping up with demand,” added Putnam.
“We had to rebuild the app to handle radio operations, we added new graphics and streamlined it. It’s a classic, one-stop app, meaning that all our properties are there, in one place, on the smartphone,” added Putnam
The app carries Farm Bureaus award winning video reports, the daily blog and the podcast. You can also check out IFBF’s latest Tweets, along with the latest photos posted on Flickr. There’s also new feature in the app called Buzzfeed.
“Buzzfeed has a search engine that searches the internet for anything mentioning the Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho potatoes, crops, cattle and dairy. “It’s amazing to see all the things written about us from around the country,” said Thompson.
The Idaho Farm Bureau’s innovation is also expanding to traditional airwaves. The new Farm Bureau podcast is available to local radio stations across Idaho.
“Local radio stations can download our radio content from the IFBF website, free of charge. We recognize there’s a lack of agricultural based programming on the local airwaves, we’re addressing that demand. I see it as filling a void and we’re doing it for free,” said Putnam.
You can download the latest podcasts here:
IFBF podcast:
Idaho Farm Bureau website:

Just in from Washington

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Protects Consumers 

Washington--Food prices are already on the rise, but a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients could send costs skyrocketing by as much as 30 percent, without improving the safety of the food supply, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a recent op-ed on The In their column, the lawmakers explain that climbing food prices are one of the many reasons they introduced the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, H.R. 4432. The Farm Bureau-supported bill will make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration is the nation's foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has issued an FBACT Action Alert to support H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The FBACT Action Alert can be found at this link:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Just in from Washington

GMO Labeling Bill Introduced

Washington--"Our farmers and ranchers are encouraged by the bipartisan leadership of Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) for introducing H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement Wednesday. 

The measure makes it clear that the Food and Drug Administration should be the nation's foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just in from Washington

House Committee Holds Hearing on ESA Reform Proposals

Washington--On Tuesday the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on four bills designed to update, improve and modernize the 41-year-old Endangered Species Act. The proposals outline the starting point for the committee's planned legislative efforts on the ESA. Moving forward with these simple, narrowly focused proposals would help bring needed transparency for significant federal ESA decisions that could affect farmers and ranchers. 

The bills, introduced by Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) and Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), focus on the need to make ESA decisions more transparent, including strengthening state/local involvement in listing decisions and use of state data, transparency on litigation costs and payment of attorney's fees and ensuring attorney fees are reasonable.

Farm Bureau supports efforts to amend and reform the ESA and encourages Congress to advance legislation to accommodate the needs of both threatened and endangered species and humans with complete respect for private property rights within the framework of the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Just in

Payette County holds Candidate Forum

Payette--Payette County Farm Bureau held a candidate forum earlier this week. With the May primaries just weeks away the 2014 political season is heating up. 

Six House and Senate candidates showed up from the two county district.

"We invited the candidates that are running for legislative positions," said Mike Shoemaker, Payette County Farm Bureau Vice President. We wanted those running in this district to come and present their platform and answer questions from voters so we could get acquainted with the candidates. Farm Bureau invited all members from Payette and Washington counties.

Payette County Farm Bureau told the candidates to expect between 5 and 50 people at the event and easily exceeded the number as word spread through the district.

"I was impressed with candidates, all have educated themselves on issues important to farmers and the Bureau, the gave the kind of answers that we find encouraging," added Shoemaker.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just in

American Farm Bureau’s Stallman Calls for Tax Changes

WASHINGTON–Farmers and ranchers need tax certainty to thrive in a modern economy, and making permanent deductions that expired in 2013 is a good first step, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the House Ways and Means Committee today.
“One of the major goals of tax reform should be to provide stable, predictable rules for businesses so that they can grow and create jobs,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes that Congress should end its practice of extending important business tax provisions for one or two years at a time. This practice makes it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity.”
Stallman addressed the committee as part of a hearing addressing the economic disruption caused by the end of a series of tax deductions over the past several years. Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently introduced a discussion draft of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in an effort to stimulate discussion of how the tax code could be simpler and fairer, while at the same time aiding economic growth, job creation and wages.
In written testimony submitted to the Committee, Stallman called for extensions of several now-expired deductions to benefit the economy as a whole, including:

·       Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000 instead of depreciating them over several years;
·       Bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment;
·       Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit: a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities;
·       A $1.00 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels;
·       The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit and
·       A provision encouraging donations of conservations casements.

Stallman reiterated the importance of Section 179’s immediate expensing to farming. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business,” he said. “In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced. This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

“Smart business planning that anticipates and budgets for annual capital improvements proves challenging for farmers and ranchers because they operate on tight profit margins. The immediate expensing provided by Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to cash flow purchases that otherwise might be delayed or incur debt expense that impact profitability.”

Just in

Crews repair Northside Canal just in time for 2014 season

Emmett--Gem County Agriculture came to a screeching halt last June when leaking water from the Northside canal above Highway 52 triggered a landslide onto the roadway outside of Emmett.

The Canal was immediately closed and repaired and last fall crews made large scale returns to prevent leaks and landslides that threatened to cut off 18-thousand acres of crop last summer.

"We drilled 80 hollow soil nails into the bank under the canal, they're 20 feet long. They filled them full of concrete and then hung mesh on the outside with rebar then sprayed about an eight inch wall of concrete to seal it up," said Mike Mitchell of Emmett Irrigation District.

 Water started flowing in the canal this week, and so far the repairs are working. "We shouldn't have any more slides in that area," added Mitchell.

Monday, April 7, 2014

March Snowpack numbers in

Snowpack continues to Improve

Boise--its been raining and snowing since the first week of February across Idaho and a cool spring is keeping snowpack in the mountains.With back to back months of above normal precipitation, thats completely changed the dire forecasts in January.

 March precipitation brought more rain in the lower elevations and snow to the high county and even a few storms in early April added more moisture to the pack. March precipitation levels were 170-190% of normal in the Spokane, Clearwater, Weiser, Payette and Henrys Fork basins. 

The least amount fell in the Little Lost basin, only 103% of normal while other southern Idaho basins were 120-140% above normal except for Goose Creek and the Upper Snake basins at 160%. Snowpacks are the highest at 145-160% of normal in the Upper Snake above Palisades and to 131% above American Falls. The Clearwater basin is 135% of average followed by the Bear and Henrys Fork at 125%. 

The lowest snowpacks remain in the Owyhee at 46% of normal, and 50-70% in the Bruneau, Little Wood and Weiser basins. 

Reservoirs are in good shape and are ready to capture the runoff from this year’s mountain snowpack. Some reservoirs will fill and some won’t. Streamflow forecasts mirror the snowpack with above average volumes forecast in the Upper Snake and Clearwater basins.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Just in

Bacon Prices Up, Eggs Too

Washington--Higher retail prices for several food items used to prepare breakfast, including bacon, eggs and bread, among other foods, resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation's latest Semi-Annual Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.27, up $1.73 or about 3.5 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 increased, five decreased and one remained the same in average price.

"Several typical breakfast items increased in price, accounting for much of the modest increase in the marketbasket," said John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist. "The 3.5 percent increase shown by our survey tracks closely with Agriculture Department's forecast of 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent food inflation for 2014," he said.

Friday, April 4, 2014

From Capitol Hill

Dairy Industry Up Against EU Geographic Indicators

Washington--Geographic indicators are a way of labeling products to tie them to particular places in an effort to enhance marketability. Through the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, the European Union is trying to get the United States to accept this approach. Dave Salmonsen, the American Farm Bureau Federation's trade specialist, explains how this would harm America's dairy farmers in Tuesday's Newsline.

More than 50 U.S. senators have written a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opposing the use of geographic indicators. Farm Bureau is working to ensure the U.S. government is fully aware of the industry's concerns as negotiations move forward.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just in from Washington

Simpson Pushes for Better Wildfire Budgeting
 Washington–Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today discussed funding for wildfire suppression with Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Tidwell testified on the Forest Service’s FY15 budget request before the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, on which Simpson serves.  They talked at length about Simpson’s legislation to end the practice of fire borrowing as a way to pay for wildfire suppression.

When Simpson questioned Chief Tidwell about perceived concerns about his proposal, Tidwell confirmed that it would not provide more discretionary funding, but would instead allow the agencies to budget better for both fire suppression and forest management.

“Really what we’re trying to do is to not decimate non-fire budgets with fire borrowing,” said Simpson. “We’re either going to pay for fires by taking the money from other budgets and try to repay them later, which doesn’t work, or we are going to find a better way to manage this account.”
Simpson thanked the Forest Service for the good work it did during fires in Ketchum last summer.  “There is absolutely no reason some of those homes should still be standing, except for the good work that your people did in protecting them,” he said.  But he also warned Chief Tidwell that unless his wildfire disaster funding proposal passed, the Forest Service would be in worse shape under the President’s budget request than it is now. 

After the hearing, Simpson reiterated the importance of managing these accounts in a way that doesn’t rob non-fire accounts each year. “We need to be able to manage federal lands. In order to manage them, we need to stop using funding intended for land management to fight fires. This is a devastating cycle and is destroying our forests. I’m hopeful my bill will pass so Congress can write a reasonable and responsible wildfire fighting budget.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Just in

AFBF Responds to EPA's Proposed Rule on 'Waters of the U.S.'

Washington--The American Farm Farm Bureau weighed in on the EPA's proposed rule on 'waters of the US.'
"The results of our review are dismaying," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule on "waters of the U.S," which was released March 25. "Clean Water Act jurisdiction over farmlands amounts to nothing less than federal veto power over a farmer's ability to farm," Stallman said in a statement.

"The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners," explained Stallman. "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."

The American Farm Bureau Federation is dedicated to opposing this attempted end run around the limits set by Congress and the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

YF&R News

Pioneer Equipment Delivers New Tractor to the Littles

Newdale--Pioneer Equipment of Rexburg delivered a new Case IH Farmall 65A Tractor this past week to Dwight and Jamie Little of Newdale.

The Littles won the tractor after making it to the AFBF National Achiever Finals last January. They also pocketed a $3,000 cash prize from STIHL along with a chainsaw and merchandise.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled and exhibited superior leadership abilities.

AFBF Endorses 2018 Farm Bill

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation’s board of directors today voted unanimously to endorse final approval of the 2018 farm bi...