Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 Annual Meeting

Idaho Farm Bureaus 76th Annual Meeting

Fort Hall--Idaho Farm Bureaus 76th Annual Meeting is underway at this hour at the stylish Shoshone-Bannock Hotel in Fort Hall.

Farmer Delegates started streaming into the new hotel Monday night with the bulk of the 300 expected delegates checking in today.

The registration desk opens at 8-am, followed by General Session luncheon at 11-am. The first workshops get underway at 1-pm with Legislative Issues in the Arimo room and the New Technology  Ag panel discussion in the Racehorse room.

The next round of workshops starts at 2:15 and includes an aerial monitoring workshop,  market outlook and a discussion on the Equal Access to Justice Act.

Late in the afternoon the Young Farmers and Ranchers will hold discussion meets, followed by the Awards banquet at 7-pm.

Annual Meeting Starts Tuesday

Fort Hall hosts the Idaho Farm Bureau's 76th Annual Meeting

Boise –The Idaho Farm Bureau kicks of its 76 annual meeting this week at the new convention center in Fort Hall. 

The Farm Bureau is the state's largest farm organization with more than 13-thousand members actively involved in production agriculture. Delegates representing 41 of Idaho’s 44 counties will set the organization’s course for 2016.

This week farmer delegates will debate a wide range of agriculture and natural resources policy matters. Many of those policies will make their way to the Idaho Legislature in the form of legislation.

More than 300 farmers and ranchers are expected this week at Fort Hall. The meeting gets underway Tuesday afternoon and will wrap up Thursday.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Just in


WASHINGTON–Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch today joined a bipartisan group of senators calling for increased weight limit flexibility in the transportation and delivery of milk as part of a final Surface Transportation Bill.  In a letter to Senate negotiators, Crapo and Risch request the final bill include a provision recognizing food safety and time-sensitive considerations for trucks hauling milk.  

Negotiators are working to merge individual House and Senate measures into one final Surface Transportation Bill.  The bill passed by the House includes language that would designate fluid milk products as a non-divisible load for the purposes of federal truck weight regulations.  A non-divisible load is defined as cargo that cannot be easily dismantled or divided due to the risk of ruining the value of the load.  Current law sets federal truck weight limits at 80,000 pounds but includes a provision that allows states the option to issue overweight permits for non-divisible loads.  

Treating milk as non-divisible is important because truck weight limits currently vary between states and can create logistical challenges when milk is transported across state lines.  Once milk is loaded onto a truck, it is subject to stringent food safety regulations that require the container to be sealed and transported immediately.  Transportation disruptions resulting from varying truck weight limits could run afoul of these food safety guidelines and spoil the load, thereby destroying the value of the milk.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just in

US Farm income drops

Washington--Net farm income in the United States is forecast to plummet
38 percent to $55.9 billion this year from $90.4 billion in 2014, the largest
one-year decline since 1983, according to the U.S. Department of
The 2015 forecast for net farm income is lowest since 2002 and a drop of
55 percent from  $123.3 billion in 2013. The agency’s Economic Research
 Service on Tuesday cited lower crop and livestock receipts as the main
drivers of the decline.
“Crop receipts are expected to decrease by $18.2 billion, or 8.7 percent,
 in 2015 led by projected declines of $8.6 billion in corn receipts and $2.7
 billion in wheat receipts,” said Jeff Hopkins, ERS economist, on a
conference call. “Livestock receipts are forecast to decrease by $25.4
 billion, or 12 percent, in 2015.”
Hoskins said the primary reason for lower livestock receipts is lower prices
 for milk, hogs, broilers, and cattle and calves. Cash receipts increased by
 43.8 percent from 2005 to 2014, but are expected to fall 12 percent in
2015 to $186.8 billion. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just in

Administration support for biotech a victory for consumers and farmers

Washington- The FDA's rejection of petitions to the White House for mandatory labeling of GMOs is "a victory for consumers and farmers alike," according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. 

"This administration has long been a champion for nutrition, and this action recognizes how biotechnology is changing the way we grow food-for the better," Stallman said in a statement. 
"Farmers and ranchers are producing more with fewer resources, without sacrificing nutrition or compromising food quality and safety. The administration sees this, and so does the nation's leading authority on food safety," he continued. 

Earlier this week, FDA also placed its stamp of approval on a genetically engineered animal product, AquAdvantage Salmon. The agency's action "is a milestone for expanding farmers' and ranchers' ability to produce nutritious food critical to a healthy diet," Stallman said. 

In announcing its approval of AquAdvantage Salmon, the agency noted: Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA can only require additional labeling of foods derived from GE sources if there is a material difference - such as a different nutritional profile - between the GE product and its non-GE counterpart. In the case of the AquAdvantage Salmon, the FDA did not find any such differences.   

"Thanks to these decisions, consumers will continue to benefit from access to a variety of nutritious foods in the marketplace," Stallman said. "Consumers have a right to know what's in their food, but they should be given the facts - facts grounded in science. New voluntary guidance on labeling from the FDA will help companies provide more helpful information for those consumers looking to make the best choices for their families."
- See more at:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Just in

Bipartisan Group of Former Agriculture Secretaries Urges Congress to Pass Trans-Pacific Partnership

WASHINGTON– A bipartisan group of former U.S. Agriculture Secretaries, today issued an open letter urging Congress to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). 
The former secretaries note that opening new markets for exports is critical for farmers and rural communities. Agricultural exports provide 20 percent of farm income and support more than 1 million jobs, many of them in rural communities. 
TPP is a new trade deal that will create new opportunities for American-grown and American–made products in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. By opening new markets in Japan, Vietnam, and other countries, we are giving our producers access to new customers and expanding their sales. These sales will generate more farm production, and related activities, that will grow the U.S. economy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Just in


Boise– Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the availability of $350 million nationwide to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The funding is provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching. Through the voluntary sale of an easement, landowners limit future development to protect these key resources.

Wetland reserve easements, part of the ACEP, allow landowners to successfully restore, enhance and protect habitat for wildlife on their lands, reduce damage from flooding, recharge groundwater and provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities. Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts. In Idaho, there are currently 52 easements, encompassing 10,782 acres of wetlands.

In fiscal year 2016, the Idaho office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service has nearly $400,000 to assist farmers and ranchers who would like to take part in the wetland reserve easement program. The deadline to apply is Dec. 18. To learn more about the wetland program specifically or the entire easement program, visit your local Natural Resources Conservation Office, or visit .

“The benefits of restoring, enhancing and protecting these working agricultural lands and critical wetlands cannot be overstated,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to preserving working agricultural lands to help protect the long-term viability of farming across the country as well as to restoring and protecting vital sensitive wetlands that provide important wildlife habitat and improve water quality.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Just in

Thanksgiving Dinner Up a Tad, to Just Over $50

WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 30th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $50.11, a 70-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.41.

 The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at a total of $23.04 this year. That’s roughly $1.44 per pound, an increase of less than 9 cents per pound, or a total of $1.39 per whole turkey, compared to 2014.
“Retail prices seem to have stabilized quite a bit for turkey, which is the centerpiece of the meal in our marketbasket,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. “There were some production disruptions earlier this year due to the highly pathogenic Avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest. Turkey production is down this year but not dramatically. Our survey shows a modest increase in turkey prices compared to last year. But we’re now starting to see retailers feature turkeys aggressively for the holiday. According to USDA retail price reports, featured prices fell sharply just last week and were actually lower than last year,” he added.
The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.
Foods showing the largest increases this year in addition to turkey were pumpkin pie mix, a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells. A 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix was $3.20; a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.61; and two nine-inch pie shells, $2.47.
“Despite concerns earlier this fall about pumpkin production due to wet weather, the supply of canned product will be adequate for this holiday season,” Anderson said.
Items that declined modestly in price were mainly dairy items including one gallon of whole milk, $3.25; a combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour), $3.18; a half pint of whipping cream, $1.94; and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.29. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery (79 cents) and one pound of green peas ($1.52) also decreased slightly in price.
The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011. This year’s survey totaled over $50 for the first time.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are able to provide a bounty of food for a classic Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We are fortunate to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for just over $5 per serving.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Just in from Washington

WOTUS Guidance Would Result in Continued Confusion, Chaos 

WASHINGTON-- If federal agencies are left the task of developing implementation guidance for the Waters of the U.S. rule, the result will be a continuation of the rule's "liabilities, confusion and chaos." Issuing guidance can't fix a broken rule, according to a letter the American Farm Bureau Federation and other farm groups sent to members of the Senate who voted to oppose bipartisan legislation (S. 1140) seeking to revise the rule.
The groups encouraged the Senators to support any new effort in the Senate "to direct the agencies not to implement this rule and initiate a new, more responsible, balanced and lawful rulemaking."
According to the letter, if the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are allowed to issue guidance for the implementation of the WOTUS rule, such guidance will be of no assistance to address the rules flaws, since many stem directly from the language used by the agencies in the final rule.
The final WOTUS rule contains "flaws and ambiguities that create confusion and uncertainty rather than provide clarity," according to the letter. The rule also includes "vague terms and concepts, despite the numerous comments received" and fails to define a number of key terms that are "critical for determining whether a feature is a regulated 'water of the United States.'"
The letter pointed out that the confusion and inconsistencies will produce similar results in the field and the nation's courts. Already, the rule is has been challenged in multiple district and appeals courts in lawsuits brought by many dozens of states and stakeholders across the country.
The final rule's issues are not superficial, interpretational matters that can be corrected through guidance, the letter states. Guidance "will not stop agency overreach as the rule language itself is what matters; agency personnel now and in the future and the legal system will ultimately rely on what the law says, as it is now stated in the final rule."
The letter is posted at:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Safety-Net Program

USDA Safety-Net Programs Trigger for Idaho Farmers

Boise–USDA Idaho Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Mark Samson announced that approximately 1600 or 13% of Idaho farms who enrolled in the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill will soon begin receiving financial assistance for the 2014 crop year. The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns.  

“These new safety-net programs provide help when price and revenues fall below normal, unlike the previous direct payments program that provided funds even in good years,” said Samson. “For example, many Idaho wheat growers experienced revenue prices below the established guarantee for wheat in their county. Idaho also has 23 counties who harvest corn and these counties experienced a 30.1 percent drop in price below the historical benchmark price established by the ARC-CO program. For these counties payment distribution began in October. However, in counties where revenue from a combination of price and yield were the same or higher, no financial assistance occurred.”

No Idaho crops with a final marketing year average price calculated to date will receive PLC payments. Pulse crops could trigger payments once final marketing year average prices are determined. 

“Other crops that fell below the established guarantee included barley and oats. This is not a full list of the crops,” said Samson. “Payments by county can vary because crops and average county yields will differ.”   

Statewide, 2,768 farms participated in ARC-County for all crops; 7760 farms participated in PLC for all crops; 1,936 participated in ARC-County for some crops and PLC on others.  As of November 5th, PLC payments have not triggered because the effective price of the covered commodities has been higher than the respective reference price for that commodity. More details on the price and yield information used to calculate the financing assistance from the safety-net programs is available on the FSA website at

To view Idaho maps for ARC-County go to and select ARC-Co Maps.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Just in

USDA Helps Schools Connect with Local Farmers and Ranchers

Nearly $5 Million in Grants Will Create Healthier School Meals and Support Local Farmers in 39 States This School Year
WASHINGTON– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $4.8 million in grants for 74 projects spanning 39 states that support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to connect child nutrition programs with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program.
"Farm to school programs work—for schools, for producers, and for communities," said Secretary Vilsack. "By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating. With early results from our Farm to School Census indicating schools across the nation invested nearly $600 million in local products, farm to school also provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers."
USDA's Farm to School Grants fund school districts, state and local agencies, tribal nations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools' and farmers' capacities to participate in farm to school. Awards ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 are distributed in four different grant categories: Planning, Implementation, Support Service, and Training.
For the 2016 school year, grants will serve more than 5,211 schools and 2.9 million students, nearly 40 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Legislation is the only way to ensure EPA addresses flaws in WOTUS, Farm Bureau says

Washington-No amount of clearer and concise implementation guidance can address the flaws in the final Waters of the U.S. rule, the American Farm Bureau and 54 other organizations wrote to 11 senators who sent a letter to EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers asking the agencies for direction in implementing the rule. 

The senators who received Farm Bureau's letter are: Angus King Jr. (I-Maine); Bill Nelson (D-Florida); Tim Kaine (D-Virginia); Mark Warner (D-Virginia); Dianne Feinstein (D-California); Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii); Chris Coons (D-Delaware); Tom Carper (D-Delaware); John Tester (D-Montana); Michael Bennet (D-Colorado); and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota).           
The senators' letter to the agencies was transmitted the same day the lawmakers voted against advancing to debate on the Farm Bureau-supported Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140). The bill would force EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to scrap its own, extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress' intent. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, ranchers, home builders and others who would be affected by the new rule.

"While we agree that EPA and the Corps 'can and must do better to address the legitimate issues that have been raised in regards to the implementation of this rule,' as your correspondence states, the best way to ensure that EPA and the Corps address the fundamental flaws in the WOTUS rulemaking is by enacting and requiring the agencies comply with S. 1140," wrote Farm Bureau and the other groups representing a broad section of the construction, real estate, manufacturing, energy and other sectors.
The organizations noted that they've made the senators well aware that "EPA and the Corps have proven unwilling to address the concerns you raise and that we share. We do not believe that EPA's final rule can be fixed without further legitimate and transparent rulemaking process."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Just in from Washington

Farmers urge Congress to make tax extenders permanent 

Washington-With the year quickly coming to end, farmers and ranchers continue to ask Congress to reinstate and make permanent a number of expired tax provisions that help improve the economic viability and stability of food, fiber and fuel production.  Among those provisions are section 179 small business expensing and bonus depreciation, which farmers need to help them make business purchases while dealing with uncontrollable weather and unpredictable markets that farm profitability. 

Earlier this fall, Farm Bureau and more than 2,000 other companies and organizations sent a letter to lawmakers explaining why continuing these provisions, most of which expired at the end of 2014, is so important. 

"Failure to extend these provisions is a tax increase," the groups wrote. "It will inject instability and uncertainty into the economy and weaken confidence in the employment marketplace. Acting promptly on this matter will provide important predictability necessary for economic growth." 
More recently, in a letter to House and Senate leaders, Farm Bureau urged them to promptly pass legislation to permanently extend "tax provisions that are critically important to farm and ranch businesses as they engage in year-end business taxes and prepare to file their 2015 taxes." 
"Only with passage will farmers and ranchers have the certainty they need to make long-term business decisions that will grow and expand their operations," the group continued. 

In July, the Senate Finance Committee extended through 2016 a package of tax provisions, including a number of those important to farmers and ranchers. 

The Farm Bureau-supported provisions in the tax extender package include:
·         Section 179 Small Business Expensing: The maximum amount that a small business can immediately expense when purchasing business assets instead of depreciating them over time is $25,000. Last year, the maximum amount was $500,000, reduced dollar for dollar when expenditures exceed $2 million.
·         Bonus Depreciation: An additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment.
·         Incentives for renewable fuels and energy, including biodiesel, wind power and refueling property.
·         An enhanced deduction for donated food.
·         A provision encouraging donations of conservation easements. 
On the House side, in February lawmakers in that chamber passed the permanent extension of Section 179 small business expensing (H.R. 636), the tax deduction for donating food (H.R. 644) and the tax deduction for donating conservation easements (H.R. 644). 

In addition, the House Ways and Means Committee in September approved a bill (H.R. 2510) to permanently extend 50 percent bonus deprecation. The measure would also expand the provision to include fruit- and nut-bearing plants with pre-productive periods of two or more years.

- See more at:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

Joe Goicoechea of Boise, never joined the service, but fought at Wake and was was POW for the duration of the war. Jake Putnam photo
A Different Veteran's Day StoryBy Jake Putnam

Boise--On this Veteran's day 91 year-old Joe Goicoechea of Boise has mixed feelings. He never joined the Marines, but fought with the leathernecks shoulder to shoulder on Wake Island back in 1941. 

The Boise native manned a machinegun fending off elite Japanese marines for two weeks from December 8th till the 23rd. During those frantic days he was wounded, captured then held as a prisoner of war. 

While the attack on Pearl was a clear cut victory for the Japanese; the invaders were stopped dead in their tracks for the first time by U.S marines and construction workers on the windswept, white coral island.

Construction workers like Goicoechea readily volunteered for action and fought fiercely  with the Marines when the invasion came a week after Pearl Harbor. To this day the darkest memory for many Boise residents is observance of December 8th, the invasion of Wake and the fate of 98 laborers, cat skinners, carpenters, iron workers cut down in cold blood by the Japanese.

By 1939 the U.S. Navy started building an airport and submarine base on the island and MK Contractors from across Idaho were brought in to help bolster Island defenses. MK bosses sent the call across the Gem State for laborers, iron workers, and heavy equipment operators.

“There was a lot of recruiting in Idaho and the west because MK had offices here,” said Goicoechea, of Boise. With the Depression still lingering good paying jobs were hard to find.

“They offered us $120 per month and we thought we were millionaires,” said Goicoechea. “We didn’t have to pay taxes, we got room and board all we had to bring was our personal gear and we had the chance to learn a trade, none of us bargained for a fight against the   Japs.”

The MK’ers dug revetments, runways, and fortifications with urgency. Goicoechea and his high school buddies worked long hours. “I learned a trade there and I loved it, I learned how to be an ironworker, most everyone was older than me. I was just 19, most of the guys were as old as my dad, but had worked all the big projects of the time like Boulder Dam.”

The 1,146 Construction workers took orders from MK’s Dan Teters while the 449 Marines got their marching orders from Major James Devereux. Major Paul Putnam took charge of the Marine Fighter Squadron. Captain Harry Wilson commanded the 71 sailors but overall command of the Island fell under Commander Winfield Cunningham.

Wake was important because our heavy bombers could easily strike the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands. For the Japanese a base on Wake made Hawaii and the West Coast vulnerable. The Pentagon wanted to set up a defensible picket line in the Pacific to keep the Japanese from striking range.

On Sundays workers played in a softball league, went to church and visited the camp library but for the most part there were few distractions on the island. They lived in barracks and ate at the company mess hall; many sent paychecks home.

“Late that summer the Marines came in and started putting up the 3-inch antiaircraft guns and they asked for volunteers to take instruction on the guns so evenings after dinner, I did that and I’d go over there and practice on the .50 caliber machine gun”. Goicoechea and his Boise buddies took ROTC and even spent weekends in the Idaho National Guard. Abruptly the practice sessions ended on December 6th.

“I was on Peale working on a bomb-proof generator next to the Pan-Am offices and we heard that Pearl had been hit but we didn’t give it much thought,” said Joe Goicoechea."But across the lagoon the alarm sounded after the radio shack picked up a dispatch from Pearl saying that Hickam Field had been bombed."

Minutes later the Marines sounded general quarters across the three small atoll islands. The Marines took up arms in full battle gear and the construction volunteers followed. They didn't have to wait long.

“Then about 10 or 15 minutes to Noon,” recalled J.O. Young from Nampa. “We thought we saw our planes coming in. We ran outside looking toward the airstrip and could see the bombers coming in and then the strip started to explode and the planes were flying right toward us. As they come close above the roar of the engines we could hear a steady "tut-tut" and realized that they were machine-gunning us.”

36 Japanese Mitsubishi Nell bombers roared across Wake in three distinct V-formations. “They came in with the sun and you couldn’t see them, the sun was so bright and the white sand we could barely see them until they were right on top of us and they leveled Wake. They fighters came in so low I could see their faces and the big red meat ball on the side of the plane. Those pilots just played hell with us,” said Goicoechea.

The twin engine bombers dropped fragmentation bombs spewing razor sharp shrapnel and coral everywhere, buildings burned, cars, trucks equipment burned and in seconds scores were wounded, smoke bellowed and confusion reined. Survivors remembered the smell of burning oil and blood.

On Peale, not far from Goicoechea, the bombers blew up the Pan Am Building killing 10  workers. Enemy fighters strafed equipment, trucks and anything that moved. The three and five-inch guns emplacements were favorite targets for the Zeros and the bombers but survived. The marines were unscathed by the attack, they rallied, manned guns and fought back.

“As the smoke cleared after the first wave I could see we suffered quite a few casualties,” said Goicoechea. “Our hospital was hit and quite a few were killed there. That was the day I was knocked around a bit.” Goicoechea ran to a gun emplacement and was helping the Marines load the 5-inch guns when an explosion nearby knocked him and a Marine corporal Ken Marvin off their feet. Both survived, suffered shrapnel wounds from the coral and though bloodied they kept on fighting.

“The pounded us all afternoon and then high-tailed it home, thats the way it was for the next two weeks, every afternoon,” recalled Goicoechea. 

Before each raid, a few battered American Wildcat fighters met the enemy and proved they were up for the task, they fearlessly tangled with enemy fighters and bombers. A few enemy aircraft were shot down and transports were strafed. 

  At 3-am on December 11, the Japanese invasion task force moved in for the kill. Offshore a light Japanese cruiser, six destroyers, two troop carriers along with two armed merchant ships made a run for Wake's beaches under the cover of darkness.

Marine gunners stalked them to 4,500 yards then opened up with spotlights and the 5-inch naval guns. Their aim was deadly blasting a Japanese destroyer in half with a ball of fire and it sunk so fast that there were no survivors. The defenders also damaged a cruiser and sunk three destroyers. The force turned tail; it was the first retreat of in the Pacific and the first U.S. victory of the young war. “We were mad as hell and all we wanted to do was fight,” recalled Goicoechea.

For two and a half weeks the outmanned Americans fought back and had turned the tide but they were low on ammo and needed medical supplies. The air raids continued. At 2:15 am on December 23 the Marines spotted another Japanese assault force. Wake radioed Pearl: "Enemy apparently landing." It was the final showdown on Wake.

The Marines, assisted by construction volunteers opened up on Japanese Patrol Craft 33 and their 5-inch gun hit the powder magazine of a landing ship the explosion turned night into day and fighting intensified and gave hope to the defenders.

Over on Wilkes island a company of 100 Japanese landed and overran a gun position at Battery F. Just a dozen Marines fixed bayonets and counterattacked. They drove the surprised enemy back toward a skirmish line held by 24 Marines; who counterattacked into the enemy flank, causing the Japanese to panic. The 37 U.S. Marines completely gutted the elite Japanese company, killing 94 and capturing two.

Everywhere the fighting was desperate; a Japanese marine charged Cpl. Alvie Reed with a bayonet both fell on the battlefield. A few feet away Platoon Sergeant Edwin Hassig shot a charging enemy soldier between the eyes at point blank range.

On the main island of Wake more Japanese troops charged ashore. With no infantry in reserve, the Marine aviators and construction workers fought where they stood; "This is as far as we go," yelled Major Putnam to his airmen, and they met a platoon enemy marines with raised hands.

On other parts of the atoll the U.S. marines had turned the tide and controlled their sectors only to learn that the command post had surrendered. As noon broke under a blazing sun; the Japanese captured all 16-hundred people on the island.

In two weeks the island’s brave fighter squadron shot down 21 aircraft, damaged 51 others. Island defenders sunk four warships and damaged eight others, and killed more than 850 Japanese sailors and more than 200 soldiers of the landing force.

“It’s always an argument over who talked to Hawaii that day recalled,” Goicoechea, “Commander Cunningham or Major Devereux , I think Devereux told Cunningham he was the commander of the Island and it was up to him to make the decision to surrender, but I thought we had ‘em.”

The captured Americans were marched to the airstrip with bayonets at their backs and forced to their knees in long rows. They were stripped naked in the hot sun eye to eye with Japanese machine-gunners for two days and nights.

On Christmas day Goicoechea said they were allowed to bury their dead and moved out of the sun and wind. They were marched to the north end of the island and jammed into their old barracks. In January they were shipped off to Japan and China as slave laborers. But the Japanese kept 98 construction workers behind to fortify the Island.

By 1943 the Pacific war by-passed Wake. It had no strategic value and it was cut off and used for target practice by the U.S. Pacific fleet. The USS Yorktown arrived offshore on October 5th, 1943 and during a two day exercise dropped 340 tons of bombs on the atoll. The group’s cruisers and destroyers blasted the island with 3,198 eight-inch and five-inch projectiles. The raid flattened the island and 31 Japanese planes were destroyed on the ground.

Commander Sakaibara thought that that the taskforce offshore would send landing craft and worried that the 98 workers would rise up and fight; so he issued an execution order.

When Wake fell to U.S. Forces in September of 1945 Commander Sakaibara claimed that the American raid of ’43 killed the civilian construction workers but his own men confessed to the execution. He was hung after the War Crimes Tribunals on Guam in June of 1947.

The families of the 98 didn’t know of the execution until January 1946. With the help of Senator Larry Craig, Joe Goicoechea was awarded the Purple Heart five decades after he took up arms for his country. He is retired from MK and lives in Boise.

World War II magazine, Idaho Press Tribune, J.O. Young, Joe Goicoechea, MK survivor, Marine Corps Association, Leatherneck Magazine.

Just in

Garden Harvest: A Full Time Job

Boise--Teacher Heather Glass put her career on hold to take up gardening full time. Her goal was to produce enough food to last her family through the winter, with most of her garden harvested this year, she says she's accomplished that goal.

"To be self sustaining and truly eat all winter long from the garden you have to commit," said Glass. "You have to 
pre-cook meals and freeze them; you have to learn how to can the food. You can't eat out of the garden all year, you have to treat it, cook it to make it through the winter. I think we will make it this year."

Glass lives with retired dentist, Ted Glass, her father in Boise's northwest foothills on an acre of land. The garden is neatly laid out with a clever drip irrigation system 
that's stingy with water. Heather plants, weeds, stays on top of the latest bugs and pests while Ted runs the tractor and handles irrigation.

"I'd say we're up two-thirds from last year," said Ted Glass. "Our yields are up because of the irrigation, and because we planted more." Heather Glass says to be self-sustaining they have to have variety, plus herbs, fruit trees and foodstuffs that can be cooked, canned and frozen.

"About 80-85 percent of what we eat comes from the garden, that’s minus meat and staples like mayonnaise. Sometimes ill buy lettuce in the winter for a fresh salad, but for the most part everything comes from the garden. This year we are stocked with soups and stews, chili, so 
I'm spending a lot of time in the kitchen," said Heather.

Heather started cooking the first of August with the harvest and has been at it ever since. "I’m in the kitchen this time of year about 8 hours a day. I'm cooking things like spaghetti sauce, and eggplant p
armesan. I cut it into sections and section it off. I make green bean medley with green beans, carrots and corn. I measure it, seal freeze it, and so I prep a lot of stuff to get it in the freezer and in individual containers."

Brenda Schmidt of 
Jarden Home Brands, the Indiana company that makes Ball and Kerr canning jars and other supplies for home preservation, said retail sales increased by 30 percent in 2008 over 2007 and have increased another 30 percent so far this year over 2008.

''We have found that many people planted vegetable gardens or utilized locally grown produce, and now — canning season — they are fresh-preserving those products for year-round use and as a way to cut back on their grocery bills,'' she said.

However, the company's research shows that the recession is driving only part of the sales increase. The rest is due to the continuing interest in locally grown foods and a desire to control one's food sources. ''Canning allows you to create the foods you want on the terms that you want. You can control all of it,'' Schmidt said.

This is my first year," said the former teacher. "Since I moved to Boise I'
ve been freezing everything. I decided that if something happens, I don't want to depend on electricity, its another way to preserve. I wish I had learned about canning before. I've been teaching myself, carefully reading all the books on it. I’m taking a canning class from the U of I extension service. It’s a science, you have to be very careful."

Canning involves processing jars at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria, yeast and mold, which can contaminate food. Canning recipes contain processing time guidelines, which should be followed carefully. It's important to have up-to-date information. Glass says Grandma's 50-year-old recipe for canning tomatoes isn't the one you want to use today. Guidelines change over time because pH levels of fruits and vegetables vary as hybrids are produced.

Glass says even the soil a food is grown in can affect how it will react to home-canning methods. Scientific research is constantly being updated to provide the best information to prevent spoilage.

Ted and Heather Glass rarely eat out, they're on a tight budget. They report their garden has saved them thousands in food costs. "I think just this summer alone we cut at least $2-thousand dollars in groceries, we might save another $2-3 thousand this winter.

"It’s a commitment, its been one of my biggest pleasures of my life, growing a garden, preparing the food, watching things grow, coming down the stairs with a big basket of tomatoes, it’s absolutely a passion. I can't see doing anything else right now, especially in this economy," said Heather Glass.

Gardeners like Ted and Heather are part of an urban trend back to agriculture and home grown foods, due in part by the economy, and the growing concept of wanting to know where your food comes from. The Glass's have found out the hard way that gardening and growing your own food is time-consuming, back breaking work.

"It’s a commitment to grow a small garden and a few tomatoes here and there with a salad here and there, that’s nice and it’s nice to have fresh produce, but it isn’t sustainability. This is a full time job, it's my life and I love it," said Heather Glass.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

President's OP-ED

WWP Uses Rancher’s Death to Make Political Hay
By Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley
A fringe environmental group recently displayed its total lack of class, morals, ethics and intelligence by attempting to make political gain from the tragic death of Adams County rancher Jack Yantis.
The succession of events that led to Yantis’ death on November 1, will have a profound effect on the lives of hundreds of people for years to come. Yantis’ wife Donna suffered a heart attack after learning her husband was dead. For the two motorists injured after a collision on State Highway 95 with a 2,000 pound range bull owned by Yantis, family members who witnessed the shooting, the two Adams County deputies who shot Yantis multiple times and many Adams County residents, it was a tragedy that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
In spite of that, the next day, the Western Watersheds Project’s Idaho Director Ken Cole published an editorial blaming the incident on the open range law and calling on the State of Idaho to abolish the law. This attempt to make political gain from a tragic accident is despicable, sickening and crass.
Cole wrote: “These special laws, written solely to protect a special class of people (ranchers) are responsible for the incident in Adams County on November 1st. It is likely this incident would not have occurred if it was the responsibility of the ranchers to keep livestock off public highways.”
Cole’s written words not only take insensitivity to new heights, they demonstrate a true lack of understanding of open range and the laws of nature.
Open range laws in the West date back to the 1880’s. In a nutshell, the laws state that motorists are liable for accidents with livestock.
However, it’s a fact that even if Idaho never had an open range law on its books, nothing would be different today with regard to this tragedy.
It’s a fact that fences fail nearly every day due to unforeseen circumstances, such as floods, fires, snow drifts, fallen trees, and many others.
It’s a fact that livestock get spooked sometimes and four strands of barbed wire is not going to stop a large range bull if he decides otherwise. The same goes for elk, horses, deer, bears and wolves. 
It’s a fact that livestock owners can’t be everywhere they have a fence 24 hours a day seven days a week.
It’s a fact that livestock and wildlife will continue to cross and sometimes dwell on Idaho roads regardless of any law passed by the Idaho Legislature.
It’s a fact that a grand total of zero Idaho livestock owners want their animals out on roads where accidents could happen.  
Western Watersheds Project’s stated goal is to remove all livestock from public land. Over the last several years they’ve argued in court against delisting wolves, grizzly bears and various other wildlife and plant species, in order to meet their stated goal. They don’t care about saving wildlife but they’re willing to make any number of false claims if they think it will help their cause.
Now they’ve shown us they’re not above using human death, grief and trauma, as tools to reach their ends.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Just in

USDA Loan Repayment Awards $4.5 Million to Ensure Access to Veterinary Services in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Agriculture today awarded more than $4.5 million to 49 American veterinarians to help repay a portion of their veterinary school loans in return for serving in areas lacking sufficient veterinary resources. The awards, made through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will help fill shortages in 26 states.
"Rural America is challenged with recruiting veterinarians", said Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer for the USDA. "These professionals often face high student loan debt, leading them to work in locations with larger populations and higher pay. This program offers loan-repayment assistance to veterinarians, allowing them to fill shortages and work in rural areas, ultimately improving the well-being of livestock and providing an abundant and safe food supply for America."
Veterinarians are critical to America's food safety and food security and to the health and well-being of both animals and humans. Studies indicate there are significant shortages of food animal veterinarians in certain areas of the country, and in high-priority specialty sectors that require advanced training, such as food safety, epidemiology, diagnostic medicine and public health. A leading cause for this shortage is the heavy cost of four years of professional veterinary medical training which leaves current graduates of veterinary colleges with a mean debt burden of $135,283.
Recipients are required to commit to three years of veterinary service in a designated veterinary shortage area. Loan repayment benefits are limited to payments of the principal and interest on government and commercial loans received for attendance at an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited college of veterinary medicine resulting in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree or the equivalent. Loan repayments made by the VMLRP are taxable income to participants. Also included in the award is a federal tax payment equal to 39 percent of the loan payment to offset the increase in income tax liability.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just in

Lawmakers fight for stored water rights

BOISE —A group of bi-partisan Idaho legislators want the Idaho Department of Water Resources to stop counting flood control releases from Boise River reservoirs against their stored water rights.

“Whatever the game being played here is,” said Sen. Grant Burgoyne of Boise, “it has to stop now.  The Court has issued the decision and the director and the department he oversees has to accept and abide by it, rather than go against it so that Treasure Valley water is secure.”

Irrigators have fought the state over the issue in two different court cases and the issue has the support of both Statehouse republicans and democrats. They say they’re ready to intervene should Idaho Governor Butch Otter fail to take action.

“The water users in this Valley will take all legal and legislative steps necessary to prevent this unconstitutional taking of their property and secure their water for them and their children,” said Burgoyne.

Idaho Farmers like Lou Murgoitio says the economic impact to the Treasure Valley and the Idaho Economy would be disastrous.

“The amount of money that agriculture puts into State coffers is huge, let alone all the golf courses, all your lawns, all the housing developments that would run out of water and its monumental losing that water,” said Murgoitio.

“This refill proposal is an unconscionable and unfair attempt to reduce the water right, which will increase water costs for thousands of homeowners throughout the Treasure Valley,” said Rep. John Gannon of Ada County.

Special Water Master Theodore Booth of the Snake River Basin Adjudication Court ruled October 9th that the water that fills reservoirs following flood control releases is part of existing storage water rights and flood control releases do not count against our farmers storage water rights.

Six days later, IDWR Director Gary Spackman issued an order in a separate, department-initiated contested case hearing that backs the department’s position on the issue and was in direct contradiction to Booths ruling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Just in

Senate falls a few votes short in bid to send WOTUS rule back to the drawing board

Nov. 4, 2015-The Senate on Tuesday failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance to a full debate on a bill that would put in check the EPA and its attempt to broaden the definition of Waters of the U.S.   

"While the effort to send the flawed Waters of the U.S. rule back to the drawing board fell a few votes short, we applaud members of the U.S. Senate who today stood up for farmers and ranchers," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement. "While we are disappointed in the vote, we know this issue will remain a critical one for America's farmers and ranchers, and we will continue our fight to protect them from federal regulatory overreach." 

EPA's controversial WOTUS rule gives federal agencies new powers to regulate many normal farming, ranching and business activities, making it the largest federal overreach in memory. The rule went into effect in August, but in early October the   Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered the EPA to stop enforcement nationwide of the rule. The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states. 

Farmers and ranchers are confident the courts will strike down this rule, but cases like this almost always take years to win-and stays don't last forever, so they and many other landowners were urging the Senate to pass legislation that would nullify the rule, just as the House has already done. 

The Senate bill, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140), would force EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to scrap its own, extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress' intent. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, ranchers, home builders and others who would be affected by the new rule.
- See more at:

Just in

Senate votes to block EPA rule to take over control of water employing Congressional Review Act

Washington– Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted today to stop a federal rule seizing control over water, known as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule.  Crapo voted with the majority as the Senate utilized the Congressional Review Act to pass a resolution stopping the water rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The effort needed just a simple majority and was passed on a vote of 53 to 44  That vote against the WOTUS rule came after a similar measure fell just short of the 60 votes needed to clear a procedural hurdle.

Crapo, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with jurisdiction over the EPA, invited Idahoans to testify on the bill last year.  He said that despite today’s vote, the fight against the federal rule will likely continue because the president can veto the resolution.

“There was bipartisan support today to reject this extreme example of federal overreach, because it removes state’s rights over water and the private property rights of individuals,” Crapo said.  “For the federal government to try and manage every puddle and seasonal stream in Idaho clearly violates the constitutional rights of Idahoans.  The Clean Water Act—and subsequent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court—make it clear that ‘navigable’ waters can be regulated.  Temporary puddles, ditches and groundwater are not ‘navigable” waters.

“The EPA is engaged in what I consider to be nothing short of a federal government power grab and seizure of water rights,” Crapo added.  “This rule, which will effectively give the federal government jurisdiction over and control of all water in the United States is against the will of Congress.  The legislation under which it is being promulgated violates the time-honored principal that jurisdiction over the management, allocation, and use of water is a states rights’ issue. We are hearing unprecedented opposition to this rule from 31 states, including Idaho, agriculture, business and individuals.  This fight is far from over in Congress.  Fortunately, two federal courts have issued a temporary injunction against this unjust rule.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Just in

USDA Provides $314 Million in Water and Waste Infrastructure Improvements in Rural Communities Nationwide

 WASHINGTON – USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced loans and grants for 141 projects to build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities across the nation.

"Many rural communities need to upgrade and repair their water and wastewater systems, but often lack the resources to do so," Vilsack said. "These loans and grants will help accomplish this goal. USDA's support for infrastructure improvements is an essential part of building strong rural economies."

 USDA is awarding $299 million for 88 projects in the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program and $15 million for 53 grants in the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) program.

 ECWAG grants enable water systems that serve eligible rural communities to prepare for, or recover from, imminent or actual emergencies that threaten the availability of safe drinking water. Water and Waste program recipients can use funds to construct water and waste facilities in rural communities.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just in

USDA Announces $210 Million to be Invested in Renewable Energy Infrastructure through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

KISSIMMEE, Fla – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. 
In May 2015, USDA announced the availability of $100 million in grants through the BIP, and that to apply states and private partners match the federal funding by a 1:1 ratio. USDA received applications requesting over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With the matching commitments by state and private entities, the BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy.
"This major investment in renewable energy infrastructure will give Americans more options that not only will suit their pocketbooks, but also will reduce our country's environmental impact and bolster our rural economy," said Vilsack. "The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers. The volume and diverse geographic locations of partners willing to support this infrastructure demonstrate the demand across the country for lower cost, cleaner, American-made fuels. Consumers will begin to see more of these pumps in a matter of months."

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...