Friday, October 30, 2015

Just in

USDA Ranks High in EPA Report on Renewable Energy Use

WASHINGTON,—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to lead in the use of green power according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Top 100 list of the largest green power users nationally. USDA ranked eighth among federal agencies and 92 among all sectors.

"Our goal is to support domestic production and use of renewable energy," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Using green power helps grow American jobs, helps USDA programs and services become more sustainable, and demonstrates to every level of government and private industry that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice to help reduce climate risk."

In Fiscal Year 2014, USDA bought and produced a total of 57 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy, up from 42 million kWh in fiscal Year 2013 and 37 million in 2012. USDA generates green power where feasible from a growing portfolio of on-site solar, wind, biomass, low-impact hydro, and geothermal energy systems. The Department also supports local clean energy production by buying green power products and renewable energy certificates from local utilities.

"EPA applauds the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its commitment to using green power and for taking a leadership position on the environment," said James Critchfield, Manager of the Green Power Partnership. "USDA is helping to reduce carbon pollution and provides an excellent example for other government agencies to invest in environmental progress."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Just in

UI Partner in $1.2 Million Grant to Lead New Food Safety Center
MOSCOWThe University of Idaho will lead efforts across Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska through a newly funded $1.2 million food safety center to help small and midsized farms and food processors improve food safety.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a national initiative to help farmers and food and animal feed producers comply with requirements established under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The virtual center, based at Oregon State University, is one of four new regional hubs across the country.
"It is critical that we provide relevant training and assistance to farmers, processors and wholesalers, especially to those who may struggle to meet the requirements,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture director.

UI, Oregon State and other universities across the 13-state western region will train others to teach food safety and regulatory compliance. They also will conduct workshops for small and midsized farms, beginning farmers, small-scale food processors, wholesale produce vendors and others.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just in

Simpson Votes to Support Idaho Farms and Business
House Reforms and Reauthorizes Ex-Im Bank to Protect Taxpayers and American Companies
Washington- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of H.R. 597, the Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act. This legislation reauthorizes the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank through 2019, while making key reforms to limit taxpayers’ liability and increase the Bank’s focus on small businesses.  The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S., with a mission to finance and promote exports of U.S. manufactured goods and services.  H.R. 597 passed by a vote of 313-118.

“I strongly believe that Idaho’s farmers and businesses can compete and win on a level playing field,” said Simpson.  “Why would we want to put American companies at a disadvantage against their foreign competitors?  That is exactly what has occurred since the Bank’s charter expired on July 1st.  Since then, the U.S. has not been able to finance exports, leaving American companies to lose out on business to their foreign competitors.”

More than 80% of trade worldwide requires financing, and most countries that we trade with have established export credit agencies, which often support their companies much more generously than the Ex-Im Bank has ever done.  China alone has provided its exporters with at least $670 billion in export financing over the last two years.  In comparison, the Ex-Im Bank has provided about $590 billion in financing since its inception—81 years ago. 

“Numerous American businesses have told me that allowing the Ex-Im Bank to expire would be tantamount to unilateral trade disarmament, conceding billions of dollars in orders to other nations that maintain their own export credit agencies,” said Simpson.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, U.S. nuclear energy suppliers compete against international rivals that are supported by their governments, and the availability of export credit agency support is almost always a bidding requirement for nuclear power plant tenders. 

“For 70 years, the Ex-Im Bank has been reauthorized without issue,” said Simpson.  “In fact, since I have been in Congress, the Ex-Im Bank has been brought up for reauthorization 25 times and has passed with overwhelming support, including mine, each time.  However, many are now arguing that the Ex-Im Bank serves as “corporate welfare,” puts taxpayers at risk, and only benefits big businesses.  This cannot be further from the truth.” 

Last year, fees and interest collected by the Bank brought in a total $675 million to the U.S. Treasury.  The Bank itself has credit assessment procedures that are more rigorous than commercial banks and, as of March 2015, a historical default rate of below 1%. Large companies do use the Ex-Im Bank to finance exports and make up 40% of its balance sheet.  However, 90% of the service products provided by the Bank are made to support small businesses.  From 2009-2014, the Ex-Im Bank has supported $169 million in exports from Idaho, with 71% of support going to small businesses. 

“The economic growth of our state depends on the ability of our high tech and manufacturing sectors to ship their products globally, and I will not support threatening the competitiveness of these American companies by dismantling the Ex-Im Bank,” said Simpson.  “Not only does the Bank level the playing field, but it also supports job growth, capital investment and helps reduce the national debt.  It is a win-win for Idaho.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just in

USDA Issues Safety-Net Payments to Farmers Facing Market Downturn 

WASHINGTON— The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that beginning today, nearly one half of the 1.7 million farms that signed up for either the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs will receive safety-net payments for the 2014 crop year.

“Unlike the old direct payments program, which paid farmers in good years and bad, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized a new safety-net that protects producers only when market forces or adverse weather cause unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “For example, the corn price for 2014 is 30 percent below the historical benchmark price used by the ARC-County program, and revenues of the farms participating in the ARC-County program are down by about $20 billion from the benchmark during the same period. The nearly $4 billion provided today by the ARC and PLC safety-net programs will give assistance to producers where revenues dropped below normal.”

The ARC/PLC programs primarily allow producers to continue to produce for the market by making payments on a percentage of historical base production, limiting the impact on production decisions.

Nationwide, 96 percent of soybean farms, 91 percent of corn farms, and 66 percent of wheat farms elected the ARC-County coverage option.  Ninety-nine percent of long grain rice and peanut farms, and 94 percent of medium grain rice farms elected the PLC option. Overall, 76 percent of participating farm acres are protected by ARC-County, 23 percent by PLC, and 1 percent by ARC-Individual. For data about other crops, as well as state-by-state program election results, final PLC price and payment data, and other program information including frequently asked questions, visit

Crops receiving assistance include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, and wheat.  In the upcoming months, disbursements will be made for other crops after marketing year average prices are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Any disbursements to participants in ARC-County or PLC for long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice) will occur in November, for remaining oilseeds and also chickpeas in December, and temperate Japonica rice in early February 2016. ARC-individual payments will begin in November. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by Congress, requires USDA to reduce payments by 6.8 percent. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local Farm Service Agency office. To find a local Farm Service Agency office, visit

The Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs were made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. 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, visit

Monday, October 26, 2015

Just in

Simpson Supports Domestic Mineral Development

Washington-Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported H.R. 1937, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act when it came before the House of Representatives last week.  The legislation would ensure the availability of domestic minerals and mineral materials that are essential for national security, technological innovation, and economic growth by streamlining the permitting process for mineral exploration and development projects.  Simpson is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1937.

“The United States is increasingly dependent on mineral materials for everything from technology to national security and defense,” said Simpson.  “In spite of this, the permitting process has become more and more difficult to navigate, and today we are almost completely reliant on countries like China for the rare earth minerals we need for energy production, national security, and communication technology.  I don’t like the idea that we are subject to the legal and political whims of other nations for strategic minerals, which is why I cosponsored H.R. 1937 and am pleased that the House has taken it up.” 

H.R. 1937 was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 254-177.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Just in

Canyon County Farm Bureau Elects New Officers

CALDWELL-- Matt Dorsey, a fifth generation farmer from the Canyon County’s Sunny Slope Area, has been elected as president of the Canyon County Farm Bureau, the state’s largest county farm bureau organization, the group announced.

Dorsey was elected at the CCFB’s recent Annual Membership Meeting.  At that meeting Sid Freeman from Caldwell was elected as the 1st Vice President and Greg Payne of Caldwell was elected as the 2nd vice president.  Payne was also re-elected to the group’s 11- member board of directors.

Newly elected members of the board of directors were John Ihli, Mitch Bicandi and Danyele Jansen-Van Beek (all from the Caldwell area).  Van Beek will serve as the chairman of the County’s Young Farmer & Rancher program.  Those re-elected to the board were Dick Taggert from Nampa and Michael McEvoy from Middleton.

Allison Bicandi was selected by the Board as the vice chairman of the county’s Young Farmer & Rancher program.

Steve Truesdell from Wilder and Maurine Johnson from Greenleaf chose not to run for re-election and the time they spent serving on the board over the past 6-years was praised by the Bureau members.

The Canyon County Farm Bureau represents more than 7,300 members including 1,509 farming and ranching members.

Canyon County is a rather small county geographically but one with a huge agricultural economy.  The country ranks 17th out of 44 Idaho counties in terms of land area in agriculture, but ranks 4th in the state in terms of the overall cash receipts from agriculture which exceeds some $520 million.  Approximately 84 percent of Canyon County’s land is allocated to agriculture across more than 322,000 acres.  Specialty crops such as seed are raised in this County and certain varieties are only grown in this area to supply the world with food.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Just in from Capitol Hill

Simpson Pushes for Better Federal Land Management

Washington– Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has signed onto legislation to give federal land managers better tools to improve sage-grouse habitat.  H.R. 1793, the Sage-Grouse and Mule Deer Habitat Conservation and Restoration Act of 2015, would create a categorical exclusion from the NEPA process in order to remove pinyon-juniper from sage-grouse and mule deer habitat.

“Some of the major threats to sage-grouse habitat are wildfire and invasive species, and controlling these threats requires good, active land management practices,” said Simpson.  “Unfortunately, the environmental review process has grown so cumbersome for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management that it has gotten in the way of their efforts to conserve the species.  H.R. 1793 addresses this problem by providing the agencies with the tools they need to remove pinyon-juniper on sage-grouse and mule deer habitat throughout the west.”

H.R. 1793 is currently under consideration by the House Natural Resources Committee.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Just in

‘Bringing Biotechnology to Life’ classroom resource launches at World Food Prize Symposium 

Bring Biotechnology to LifeWashington-The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and the International Food Information Council Foundation recently announced the global launch of "Bringing Biotechnology to Life ,"   a free educational resource that aims to facilitate learning about agricultural biotechnology and its role in food production. The new curriculum was unveiled at the World Food Prize 2015 Borlaug Dialogue international symposium.

"'Bringing Biotechnology to Life' is a science-based classroom resource with applicable lessons related to agriculture," said Julie Tesch, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. "This resource is fact- and research-based and has been reviewed by an array of scientists, so the science behind it is very sound."

"Many consumers do not understand the impact biotechnology makes on agriculture and our lives," Tesch said. "Our goal is to have this resource provide students with the tools they need to make informed decisions about the practical uses of biotechnology. "

Noted Kimberly Reed, president of the IFIC Foundation, "We are honored to debut this educational resource at the World Food Prize symposium, where the world's foremost experts are convened to discuss cutting-edge issues in food security. As we mark the 101st anniversary of the birth of Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the 'Green Revolution' and the man who saved a billion lives, we want to engage and inspire students as they consider future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to help us feed our growing planet."

The resource includes seven sequential lesson plans for educators which address national learning standards for 7th to 10th grade students. Lesson topics include: 
·         What is DNA?
·         How can we examine DNA?
·         What is Selective Breeding?
·         What is Biotechnology?
·         The Technology of Life
·         How is Biotechnology Used?
·         How do researchers compare DNA?
·         Where would we be without GMOs?

A research and public presentation module also is included.
Bringing Biotechnology to Life guides the learner through the process of understanding DNA, selective breeding, biotechnology and GMOs. Students also are presented with tools to evaluate the reliability of information they see and hear.

Tesch and Reed unveiled the new curriculum at a World Food Prize side event hosted by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.   

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just in

Farm Bureau urges quick action to avoid major rail service disruption

Washington-With the very real prospect of a nationwide Class I rail shutdown looming, farmers, ranchers and many others are calling on Congress to act now to extend the Dec. 31 deadline for implementation of positive train control. 

"U.S. agriculture depends on efficient and safe transportation involving all modes-truck, rail, barges and vessels-to move commodities to domestic and international customers," the American Farm Bureau Federation and 47 other agricultural organizations wrote in a recent letter to the House and Senate. "We are deeply concerned that failure to extend the current deadline for installation and implementation of PTC technology will result in severe service disruptions in moving a projected near-record harvest during the peak fall shipping season." 

Positive train control is a GPS-based train control system designed to prevent collisions and over-speed derailments. Under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, railroads are required to implement PTC systems by the end of this year on mainline tracks that carry "toxic by inhalation"  and "poisonous-by-inhalation" (TIH-PIH) materials like anhydrous ammonia-a key fertilizer ingredient-as well as passenger traffic. 

BNSF, Union Pacific and other large rail carriers say they've been working on PTC since the mandate was put in place in 2008, but it's a very large, complex system made up of multiple independent technologies, many of which didn't exist seven years ago. 

According to a Government Accountability Office study issued in September, no Class I freight railroad will be in compliance with PTC requirements by the end of the year.  In addition, both BNSF and CSX have made it clear that the deadline will affect all freight service-not only TIH-PIH and passenger trains-on lines where PTC is not fully installed and implemented. 

The organizations are urging lawmakers to quickly consider legislation to extend the PTC deadline. They noted their support for the bipartisan approach taken in the recently introduced Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3651). The bill would extend the PTC implementation deadline to Dec. 31, 2018. 

In addition, the measure would require railroads to submit updated plans for implementing PTC for approval by the Secretary of Transportation before any further extensions beyond three years are granted, which would ensure implementation would occur as quickly as possible to enhance rail safety, while still taking into account real-word technological and implementation challenges. 

"Further, such legislation would avert potential unnecessary disruptions in rail service that would harm U.S. agriculture, the national economy and U.S. jobs," the groups wrote.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Just in from Washington

USDA Invests in Global Food Security

Washington--Today, 795 million people around the world do not have access to a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food. The United Nations estimates that worldwide demand for food will increase 70 percent by 2050. To meet this need, production in developing countries will need to almost double.
Establishing global food security is important not only to hundreds of millions of hungry people, but also to the sustainable economic growth of developing nations and the long-term economic prosperity of the United States. As we help countries become more food secure and raise incomes, we also expand markets for American producers. For example, between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, U.S. agricultural exports to developing countries grew 44.3 percent for developing countries, significantly outpacing the 33.4 percent for developed countries. Exports to Southeast Asia grew 56.5 percent. 
In 2009, G8 nations committed to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security and to be accountable and coordinate with country development plans. In the subsequent years, the United States has invested over $3.75 billion to address global food security, exceeding the President's commitment, and launched his Feed the Future Initiative. USDA is a key member of the whole of government effort on Feed the Future and supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis. Around the world, USDA has helped to train small farmers and foreign officials on plant and animal health systems, risk analysis, and avoiding post-harvest loss; completed assessments on climate change; and helped to increase agricultural productivity.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Just in

Sagebrush Seedlings Packed for Fire Recovery

BOISE, Idaho – The Lucky Peak Nursery has just completed packing more than 400,000 sagebrush seedlings grown on site to send to a burned area in the Twin Falls District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  

This was accomplished using a 16 person contract crew. It took 3.5 days to pack the seedlings into cardboard boxes. Tomorrow, the BLM will bring two large vans to the nursery and begin the process of hauling the plants to Twin Falls. It will take a total of 6 vans to get them all. 

The order for the sagebrush seedlings was received in January of this year. The Twin Falls District staff collected the seeds (it averages 2,000,000 seeds per pound) and sent them to Lucky Peak Nursery where they were cleaned and put into cold storage until May. At that time, the tiny sagebrush seeds were sown in the greenhouse. They germinated quickly and grew from May until October with regular irrigation, fertilization, and encouragement from the Lucky Peak Nursery staff. 

On Monday, October 19, a contract crew will begin planting the sagebrush seedlings in the Grassy Hills, Shoshone Basin and Clear Creek areas of the Twin Falls District. 

These are areas that have burned in previous years.  With a 12 person planting crew, it will take about 20 days to plant all the seedlings. This fall, government agencies throughout the Western States will begin to submit orders for seedling to plant on this year’s fires.

This year, the nursery has received sowing requests for over 2.8 million sagebrush seedlings for BLM field offices in California, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Just in

Workshop in Idaho Thursday will examine stewardship of 
 antimicrobial drug use in food animals

OAK BROOK, IL--There is still time to register for the workshop on stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drug use in food-producing animals planned for Thursday, Oct. 15, at the College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, ID. 

Organized by Farm Foundation, NFP, the workshop is an opportunity for participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of two Guidance for Industry (GFIs) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, as well as the FDA's revised Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). These actions mean some drugs will see label changes allowing only therapeutic uses, and use of some drugs will require veterinary oversight in the form of a veterinarian's prescription, direct administration by a veterinarian, or a veterinary consultation on disease management protocols.  

The Oct. 15 workshop will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. MDT in the Rick Allen Room of the Herrett Center for Arts and Sciences on the campus of the College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls. The Idaho State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a cooperating partner for this workshop.  

This workshop is targeted to all pork, cattle, poultry and sheep producers, as well as veterinarians and feed suppliers in Idaho, Washington, eastern Oregon, northern Utah, northern Nevada, western Wyoming and western Montana. The workshop is also an opportunity for the staff of state and federal agencies, colleges of veterinary medicine and the Cooperative Extension Service to gain insights into the changes, and tools needed to meet the requirements. 

Representatives from FDA and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will be at the workshop to answer questions and gain feedback from participants. The program will also include comments from Marty Short of the Intermountain Farmers Association, as well as a producer and a veterinarian from the region.   

There is no charge to participate. Advance registration is requested but not required. Registration can be completed online or by going to the Farm Foundation website.  

To gauge awareness of the changes being put in place by FDA, and to learn more about the potential implications of these changes, Farm Foundation is asking stakeholders to complete a brief survey. The survey is open to all livestock producers, feed suppliers and veterinarians, whether or not you attend the workshop. CLICK HERE to complete the survey. Survey results will only be gathered and reported in the aggregate. Survey results will be shared with workshop participants.

The Twin Falls workshop is one of 12 Farm Foundation is conducting across the country. Comments gathered at the workshops will be the basis of a report assessing the economic and physical challenges facing producers as they implement the GFIs and revised VFD. Informational and educational needs will also be evaluated, as well as the role of veterinarians in monitoring and managing antimicrobial drug use. The report will be presented at a national summit to be convened by Farm Foundation in late fall 2015.  

FDA's GFI 209 and GFI 213 call on animal drug sponsors of approved medically-important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove production uses (i.e., to promote growth or improve feed efficiency) from their product labels, and bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products--to treat, control, or prevent disease--under the oversight of a veterinarian. Manufacturers of products containing these medically-important antimicrobial drugs have voluntarily agreed to submit changes to their product labels to comply with the GFIs. FDA's revised VFD addresses the increased veterinary oversight of medicated feeds called for by GFI 209 and 213.  

Farm Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been serving agriculture, the food system and rural communities since 1933. Farm Foundation is a non-advocacy organization--it does not lobby or advocate positions. The Foundation's action comes in bringing industry leaders together to address evolving issues that will shape the future of the industry. Stewardship of medically-important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals is just such an issue.

In addition to Farm Foundation's leadership, individual producers and many companies are providing financial support for this educational effort. These include JBS United, Hormel Foods Corporation, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Rose Acre Farms, Elanco Animal Health, J.R. Simplot Company, Irsik Farms, Hardin Farms, C-ARC Enterprises, National Pork Producers Council, the National Pork Board, North American Meat Institute, the National Turkey Federation, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Western Dairy Association,. BARN Media and the National Western Stock Show. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Just in

USDA Reminds Fruit Producers of Crop Sales Closing Deadline
Producers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington Need to Make Decisions Soon

SPOKANE-USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reminds fruit producers of the November 20 deadline to purchase crop insurance in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. This deadline applies to insurance policies for apple, blueberry, sweet and tart cherry actual revenue history, cranberry, grape, pear, table grape, and stone fruit crops (apricots, nectarines, freestone peaches, and plums/prunes) for the 2016 crop year.

Fruit producers need to buy, review, or modify their crop insurance policies before the sales closing date has passed. If there is no coverage in a county for a specific crop, fruit producers may be eligible for coverage under a written agreement. Crop insurance provides protection against crop production losses due to natural perils such as drought, hail, and excessive moisture.

Fruit producers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent to learn specific details for the 2016 crop year. Federal crop insurance policies are sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance companies and agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Fruit producers can use the RMA Cost Estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

Monday, October 12, 2015

WOTUS on hold

Court halts WOTUS rule enforcement

Washington –The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered the EPA to stop enforcement nationwide of the Waters of the United States rule. In doing so, the Cincinnati-based court recognized that this rule has serious flaws and cannot go forward until the courts have had an opportunity to understand its effect on farmers, ranchers and landowners of all kinds, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement.

“The judges expressed deep concerns over the basic legality of this rule. We’re not in the least surprised: This is the worst EPA order we have seen since the agency was established more than 40 years ago. The court clearly understood our arguments,” Stallman said.

The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed in August, the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states.

While farmers and ranchers are confident the courts will strike down this rule, cases like this almost always take years to win—and stays don’t last forever, Stallman noted. “So we again ask the Senate to pass legislation to nullify this rule just as the House has already done. Farmers and ranchers cannot afford to wait.”

A copy of the court order can be found here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Spud harvest in full swing

Randy Brown of Rexburg harvested this pile of early Norkotahs earlier this week. 
"This is a good crop this year, they're all fresh pack." Brown said he did 50 sacks to the acre this year, "we have variable size thats good, and thats what they want." (Steve Ritter photo)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Just in

Farm Bureau eager for in-depth look at Trans-Pacific Partnership

Pacific Rim

Washington—The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations today formally agreed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest regional trade pact in history. The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to reviewing the details of the agreement to guarantee it fulfills the promise of opening restricted markets for American businesses around the Pacific Rim, AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a statement.

“We hope the agreement will bring a more level playing field for farmers and ranchers by reducing tariffs and removing non-science based barriers to trade,” Stallman said. “The agreement covers markets that are expected to grow rapidly for decades to come. We expect to see increased access for our agricultural products, particularly some meats.”

Stallman commended U.S. Trade Representative Froman and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Vetter for their longstanding support and determination to reach an agreement.

“Now it is up to us to figure out exactly what we have and how we should work with Congress to improve international market opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers through the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Stallman said.

The full 30 chapters of the agreement, which was seven years in the making, will not available immediately.

Though the deal is done, President Barack Obama cannot sign the pact until 90 days after he officially announces his plan to do so. During that 90-day period, there will a great deal of back and forth over the details between the White House and Congress.

Congress earlier this year granted the president trade promotion authority, which means lawmakers are allowed only a yes-or-no vote without amendments for trade agreements.
Along with the U.S., the countries party to the agreement are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Just in from Washington

New USDA Fact Sheets Illustrate State-by-State Benefits of Trans-Pacific Partnership

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a series of fact sheets illustrating how the newly reached  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement can boost the U.S. agriculture industry, supporting more American jobs and driving the nation's rural economy. Created by the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the fact sheets graphically depict how  each state and individual commodities stand to benefit from increased agricultural trade with the 11 other TPP countries. 
Trade ministers from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam concluded TPP negotiations on Oct. 5 in Atlanta, Ga. Trade with these countries accounted for 42 percent of U.S. agricultural exports in 2014, contributing $63 billion to the U.S. economy. 
"Increased demand for American agricultural products and expanded agricultural exports as a result of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will support stronger commodity prices and increase farm income. Increased exports will support more good paying export-related jobs, further strengthening the rural economy," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "All of this activity benefits rural communities and keeps American agriculture on the cutting edge of global commerce. The TPP agreement will contribute to the future strength of American agriculture and helps to ensure that the historic agricultural trade gains achieved under President Obama since 2009 will continue."
The United States runs an agricultural trade surplus which benefits farmers, ranchers, and all those who live, work and raise families in rural America. Agricultural trade supports more than one million American jobs. TPP will remove unfair trade barriers and help further the global expansion of American agricultural exports, particularly exports of meat, poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains, oilseeds, cotton and processed products.

Just in

Fall Roundup

Leadore--Fall roundup at the 2 Dot Ranch in Leadore. The Whittaker family is busy bringing home the herd for the annual fall health check. (Steve Ritter photo)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

President's Op-Ed

SRM Conference Yields Surprising Advice for Ranchers
By Frank Priestley, IFBF President
A recent column published in Beef Magazine by noted author, autism activist and animal science professor Temple Grandin, shows significant misunderstanding on livestock interaction with wolves.
Grandin is a well-known and respected consultant to the livestock industry who has done solid work on livestock handling and reducing livestock stress. However, her reporting on a recent meeting of the Society for Range Management (SRM) included a section titled “Four steps to coexist with predators,” that leaves us befuddled.
Step 1 recommending removal and disposal of all dead animal carcasses seems sensible. Step 4 recommends more human presence around herds. Both of those recommendations we can get behind. 
Step 2 is where the confusion ensues. The panelists who spoke to the SRM conference included Kent Reeves of Whole Picture Consulting, Montana cattle rancher Hillary Zaranek and Matt Barnes of Keystone Conservation. They claim indiscriminate killing of wolves and coyotes is counterproductive. They say because these animals form stable territories and individual packs develop tastes for specific foods, they shouldn’t be shot if seen among livestock herds. A wolf pack that prefers elk will leave cattle alone and keep other wolf packs out. The same principle applies to coyotes, they said.
This theory sounds humane and progressive in the context of an air-conditioned meeting room at a fancy hotel in front of a group of people with no financial risk in the livestock industry. But to believe a livestock owner should trust that the good wolves and coyotes will protect their herds from the bad wolves and coyotes is beyond foolish. Trying to tell a “good” wolf from a bad one is like looking into a box of chocolate covered candy. You might pick the delicious caramel center, but then again, you might pick the slimy cherry. 
Our advice remains the same. Ranchers who plan on ranching next year and beyond don’t have the luxury of trusting one wolf and distrusting another. If you see a wolf – any wolf - among your herd, do not waste time attempting to determine what its intentions may be. Hold the rifle firmly against your shoulder, place the animal in the center of the crosshairs, inhale deeply, and then exhale slowly while applying steady pressure on the trigger. Repeat if necessary.
Step 3 is another that doesn’t seem to bode well for anyone thinking ranching could be a vocation with some longevity. Cattle breeds today are too docile and independent. The experts that spoke at the SRM conference said cattle need to learn to stand together and rekindle the herd instinct that protects bison from wolves. To some readers this suggestion may seem like a step backwards. After all, we haven’t been breeding for traits that make cattle wilder all these years. Most livestock owners appreciate cattle that are docile. We wonder if these experts gave any thought to the longevity of the average cowboy before they adopted the “re-wilding” of cattle policy. How many Americans go to work and get advice like “Hey you need to find some ways to make your job more dangerous?”
In 1996 our government led by Bill Clinton and Bruce Babbitt, turned out wolves and started a war against ranchers in Montana and Idaho. Another perspective might be that reintroduction of wolves was just another battle in a long line of land and wildlife management decisions designed to ultimately ruin the economy of the rural West.
These suggestions for coexisting with predators presented in the Beef Magazine article are examples of how one dumb idea begets another. We’re way beyond fed up with being told to find another way to comply with the dumb decisions that get passed west from Washington D.C. Idaho has the largest wolf population in the lower 48. The government’s count puts wolf numbers at around 800. We believe it could be double that. The wolf population here has grown faster than anyone could have predicted. It’s grown to the point where it has arguably become the greatest success story in the history of the Endangered Species Act. We have complied and we have adapted to living with wolves.
If you take a realistic look at where we are today, according to this article we have a group of our most respected range management experts meeting to discuss ways to comply with dumb ideas foisted upon us by our government. Reintroducing wolves was a colossal mistake. Compounding that mistake by changing management practices to better suit a vicious predator is not a solution to a problem that is much better solved with a hollow-point bullet.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lower retail prices

Dairy and bacon prices down, apples too

Marketbasket Fall 2015-LargeWashington – Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:
• whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
• bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
• apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
• shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
• flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
• bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
• vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
• Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
• white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
• chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:
• eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
• orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
• ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
• toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
• sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
• sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Just in

Cattle Prices Dip
Blackfoot--Rancher Todd Cook says beef prices have dipped the past four months. Thats after unprecedented years of high market prices.
"We're not going to do anything different, just monitor prices and wait for the market to adjust itself." he says.
Cook is moving cattle, something he says is routine for this time of year. "Things are going well and we're doing a lot of planning for next year."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Just in

Poll Shows Broad Support for Endangered Species Act Reform

WASHINGTON– Most Americans think the Endangered Species Act is outdated and needs to be revised, a survey by Morning Consult shows.

The poll conducted in early August adds impetus to congressional efforts to overhaul the increasingly outdated 1970s-era statute. The survey shows:
 · 63 percent of Americans support modernizing the ESA;
· 62 of Americans believe the act should help with species recovery, as opposed to merely cataloguing changes in their populations;
 · 69 percent of Americans want the federal government to offer resources to third parties to help species recovery; and
 · 49 percent of Americans believe that state or local authorities, rather than the federal government, lead in recovery of endangered and threatened species.

Only 31 percent of Americans favor the federal government taking the lead. “The intent of the Endangered Species Act is inspiring, but results have been less so,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said.

“Farmers, ranchers and environmentalists agree that we must save wildlife facing preventable extinction, but the current recovery rate of less than 2 percent shows the law is a failure. “Today, many landowners hesitate to establish habitat that would help endangered species. That’s so because the law itself makes it impractical for them to use their land once they have made the effort to help in the first place.

 The ESA can and must be modernized to protect endangered species and respect private property rights. Neither agriculture nor the endangered species have time to wait.” A statistical summary of the poll can be found here. Detailed questions and answers can be found here.

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...