Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Exports rally

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on Latest Quarterly Export Forecasts for 2016 and 2017

WASHINGTON–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement on the first forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2017 and a revised forecast for fiscal year 2016. Both forecasts indicate U.S. agricultural exports have begun to rally and will continue the record-setting pace that began in 2009. 
"These numbers once again demonstrate the resiliency and reliability of U.S. farmers and ranchers in the face of continued challenges. The projected $133 billion in total exports for FY 2017 is up $6 billion from last forecast and would be the sixth-highest total on record. The United States' agricultural trade surplus is also projected to rise to $19.5 billion, up 40 percent from $13.9 billion in FY 2016. The United States has continued to post an agricultural trade surplus since recordkeeping began in the 1960s. 
"The projected growth in exports in 2017 is led by increases in overseas sales of U.S. oilseeds and products, horticultural goods, cotton, livestock, dairy and poultry. And with a rise in global economic growth, global beef demand is expected to strengthen. While USDA continues working to eliminate the remaining restrictions on U.S. beef exports that were instituted by some trading partners as a result of the December 2003 BSE detection, U.S. beef exports have recovered. U.S. beef exports are expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2017, well above the $1.5 billion exported in FY 2004. This progress is due to USDA's work under the Obama Administration to eliminate BSE-related restrictions in countries around the world, including 16 countries since January 2015.  BEEF FACT SHEET
"China is projected to return as the United States' top export market in 2017, surpassing Canada as the number one destination for U.S. agricultural goods.
"USDA also revised the forecast for FY 2016 exports to $127 billion, up $2.5 billion from the previous forecast. This would bring total agricultural exports since 2009 to more than $1 trillion, smashing all previous eight-year totals. 
"Exports are responsible for 20 percent of U.S. farm income, also driving rural economic activity and supporting more than one million American jobs on and off the farm. The United States has the opportunity to expand those benefits even further through passage of new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Such agreements are key to a stable and prosperous farm economy, helping boost global demand for U.S. farm and food products, increasing U.S. market share versus our competitors, and ensuring that our farmers and ranchers have stable and predictable markets for the quality goods they produce."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Puncture Vine, Russian Knapweed High Priority On Area Noxious Weed Eradication List 

 Boise--County noxious weed managers in the Treasure and Magic Valley areas have set their sights on trying to eradicate two very troublesome invasive noxious weeds, including one that can be the curse of bicyclists, bare feet and pets, state noxious weed officials said today.

 “County weed superintendents are zeroing in on attacking Puncturevine and Russian Knapweed, infestations of both of which are very common in southwestern and southern Idaho,” said Roger Batt, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign coordinator.

Puncture vine, perhaps better known by its other name of “goathead,” is the particular bane of cyclists because the plant’s seeds have sharp, pointed spines that can easily puncture bike tires reducing the recreational potential of many areas. Goatheads can stick painfully in the bare feet of humans and animals, penetrate shoe soles and puncture light automobile and ATV tires.

 Puncturevine is most often found on sandy, dry, or gravely sites. It is a summer annual broadleaf weed that generally grows low to the ground forming dense mats 2 to 5 feet in diameter. The stems radiate out from a central point at the taproot. Flowers are bright yellow with 5 petals. Cutting or pulling puncturevine at the root crown can effectively eliminate the plant. However, constant monitoring is necessary as this is a very rapidly growing plant.

Well-established populations have a large seed bank in the soil that can remain viable for up to 25-years according to weed control experts. Puncturevine can be controlled by hoeing or shallow cultivation. This should be initiated prior to flowering and seed production. Be sure to place all plants and their seeds into a trash receptacle.

 A pre-emergent herbicide, such as Telar XP® can also be applied in the early spring to prevent this weed from growing. If the plant does become established, puncturevine is very susceptible to products containing 2,4-D. On driveways, sidewalks or other areas where you wish to have bare ground, herbicides containing Glyphosate, like Roundup®, are effective.

Russian knapweed is a bushy perennial, up to 4 feet tall. Its flowers are pink to purplish, about 1/2 inch in diameter and appear during the summer and fall. Russian knapweed is toxic to horses and causes chewing disease. It also can block out native vegetation and reduce grazing for animals. Russian knapweed can be very long-lived because it is so deep-rooted.

 It can produce from 6 to 27 roots shoots per square foot, and roots may grow to a depth of 23 feet. It also likes to form dense colonies. “Controlling Russian knapweed can be a challenge. These plants spread by shoots (rhizomes) so controlling it by mechanical means such as hand pulling, shovel, plow, disk, etc., is fairly useless.” Batt noted.

 Herbicides are generally recommended as the best course of action against Russian knapweed. Herbicides such as Milestone®, Curtail®, Redeem®, Transline®, and Telar DF® are the best ones to use. People using herbicides to control either puncture vine or Russian knapweed must be careful to always follow the label and safety instructions on that herbicide label and if necessary consult with a local pest control professional or their County Weed Superintendent.

 Puncturevine and Russian knapweed are two weeds among the 67 noxious weeds listed in Idaho. Invasive weeds have already infested 8 million acres of Idaho’s lands and pose a serious threat to Idaho’s economy, ecology and agriculture, causing an estimated $300 million annually in direct damages. State and private landowners annually spend upwards of $30 million to combat noxious weeds.

Just in


By Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

                Labor Day traditionally is a time for celebrating our working men and women, the folks who keep our society running, who keep us healthy, who build our communities, who feed and clothe us, who serve and protect us, and who sacrificed over the years to improve working conditions for all of us. 

                Work is the gold standard of self-determination and freedom. Work opens the doors to opportunity and helps us achieve our goals of independence and self-reliance. An appreciation of work is both a value to be passed from generation to generation and one goal among many to help us measure our success in life.

                Job growth is a metric aggregating those individual success stories into a measure of broader economic progress. So it’s great news, and not surprising, that Idaho has been leading the nation in job growth. Our statewide unemployment rate now is 3.8 percent, down sharply from 9.7 percent in June and July 2009.

                But it’s important to remember that while job growth is a primary indicator of an improving economy – especially when it raises per capita income levels in a community or a state – not all job growth is created equal.

                Don’t get me wrong; good-paying jobs are inherently valuable wherever they are created. But economically and politically, growing the number of government jobs in society generally is not considered real progress. After all, government is the ultimate service industry. Its focus is not on producing or manufacturing but rather on improving the underlying conditions for private-sector economic growth.

                The First Lady and I greatly value our hard-working State employees who strive every day to meet the needs of Idaho citizens. They have our deepest respect and gratitude for their labors, as do all whose bread is earned by the sweat of their own brow.  

                But except when the bottom fell out of the global economy in 2008-2009, job growth in Idaho’s State government has been consistently outpaced by private employment growth throughout my tenure as Governor. From my point of view that’s the proper dynamic between government employment and private-sector jobs, and it’s the way I am committed to keeping it while I hold this office.

                Even in 2009-2010, when the private sector was taking it on the chin to the tune of an actual 1.1-percent decline in Idaho jobs, our State government reduced its employment by 5.3 percent. And as the economy started to turn around, Idaho businesses began growing jobs at rates from two to four times that of the State. 
                That was and remains a result of entrepreneurs and business leaders expressing confidence in Idaho’s recipe for job growth and economic success: Keep government small, efficient and responsive; live within the people’s means, and keep more money in taxpayers’ hands.

                We still have a lot of work to do. We need more and better-educated, better-trained people to meet the growing demands of our employers. We are addressing that need through my K-through-Career focus on improving education and workforce development with sustainable investments in our public schools and post-secondary educational opportunities.

                Some critics also contend the Tax Reimbursement Incentive we enacted a couple of years ago goes beyond government’s proper role in Idaho’s economy. But it’s tough to take issue with public policy that in two years has resulted in 4,737 new jobs in Idaho and $2.1billion in new payroll generating an estimated $216.7 million in new State revenue and a 400-percent return on taxpayer investment.

                Add that kind of proven carrot to make our outstanding work force and world-class standard of living even more attractive to employers and the result is more jobs, higher wages, and the kind of economic environment that really makes Labor Day a time to celebrate Idaho! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Just in

U.S. Beef Exports Continue to Outperform Pre-BSE Levels

Following the discovery of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy back in December 2003, U.S. beef and beef product exports fell. Since 2003, USDA has led a multi-agency, full-court press, dedicating significant resources to restore foreign market access for U.S. beef. As a result, U.S. beef shipments had regained pre-BSE volumes by 2011 and even reached record values by 2014. Another central element of the U.S. strategy to maintain and expand foreign market access is insistence on policies that are based on the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). 
The past seven years have represented the strongest period in history for American agricultural exports, with international sales of U.S. farm and food products surpassing $1 trillion between fiscal years 2009 and the present.
Snapshot of the Beef Export Market in 2003
In FY 2003, U.S. beef exports (excluding beef products) totaled $3.0 billion (0.9 million tons) to 112 countries. As a result of the December 2003 BSE case, U.S. beef exports fell to $1.1 billion (0.3 million tons) in FY 2004.
Snapshot of the Current Market
In spite of some remaining restrictions, which USDA continues to prioritize, U.S. beef exports have recovered to pre-2003 levels. In FY 2015, U.S. beef exports totaled $5.8 billion (0.8 million tons) to 112 countries. 
USDA Forecasts for U.S. Beef Exports 
In 2015, U.S. beef production fell to the lowest level since 1993. A strong dollar has also dampened foreign demand for U.S. beef. These factors have contributed to recent volume declines in U.S. beef exports but longer-term forecasts are positive. Expanding production and declining wholesale beef prices will drive shipments higher, but a strong dollar remains a constraint. Global beef demand is expected to strengthen along with a pickup in global economic growth. U.S. beef exports are forecast to rise to $5.3 billion (0.8 million tons) in FY 2017, up from $5.2 billion in FY 2016, with additional gains in sales of beef products expected as well. This is well above the value of 2003 exports and marginally below on volume.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Just in

White Bryony & Musk Thistle - Noxious Weeds
Plaguing Eastern Idaho Landowners

            A pair of nasty, invasive noxious weeds, including one that closely resembles the smothering Kudzu vine of the southern United States, are creating difficulties for Idaho landowners, especially in the Eastern Idaho region, state noxious weed officials said today.

“County weed control experts in Eastern Idaho are reporting infestations of both White Bryony and Musk Thistle,” said Roger Batt, Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign coordinator.

White Bryony is a vigorous perennial climbing vine that poses a major destructive potential to native vegetation.  This noxious weed (also known as Western Kudzu) forms dense mats, which shades out all vegetation that it creeps upon, eventually killing it.  It’s rapidly growing vines can reach a length of 50-feet that can cover the tops of trees in a single season.

White Bryony is a very difficult weed to control and has a large tuberous root system that resembles a beet or turnip. So far the best tool is to simply dig up this root system; bearing in mind that each fibrous root-hair left behind may develop into a new tuber.

“Be sure to place the tuber and other parts of the root system into a garbage bag because if you leave it on the ground it can actually re-root itself,” Batt said.

Another invasive noxious weed, Musk Thistle (also known as Nodding Thistle), is a very distinctive biennial plant.  It is a tall thistle (generally around 6-feet in height) with a baseball size flower head that droops.  In its first-year it forms a rosette and in the second-year produces multiple stalks that produce pink flowers.  A single flower head may produce approximately 1,200 seeds.
“This thistle is very invasive. It spreads by wind so it can easily migrate to nearby lands. In pastures and other grazing lands the sharp points of this thistle will force livestock away which can eventually lead to the loss of food for these animals.” Batt added.

Musk Thistle can be controlled with a shovel but at least 4 inches of the root need to be taken up or it will grow back.  Herbicide recommendations for the control of Musk Thistle include Opensight ® by Dow AgroSciences for earlier season control and management, and Telar XP ® by Bayer for late season applications to significantly reduce seed viability. When using an herbicide always follow the label and safety instructions on that herbicide label.

These weeds are two of the 67 noxious weeds listed in Idaho. Invasive weeds have already infested 8 million acres of Idaho’s lands and pose a serious threat to Idaho’s economy, ecology and agriculture, causing an estimated $300 million annually in direct damages. State and private landowners annually spend upwards of $30 million to combat noxious weeds. 

For more information about White Bryony, Musk Thistle and the rest of Idaho’s noxious weeds logon to the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign’s website at: or follow us on Facebook @IdahoWeedAwareness.  Idahoans can also contact their County Weed Superintendent or a private applicator for technical assistance in dealing with noxious weeds.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Just in

USDA Forecasts Record-High Corn and Soybean Production in 2016
WASHINGTON– Both U.S. corn and soybean growers are expected to harvest record-high crops this year, according to the Crop Production report issued today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). U.S. corn production is forecast at 15.2 billion bushels, while soybean growers are expected to harvest 4.06 billion bushels in 2016.
Aided by excellent field conditions, corn growers are expected to increase their production by 11 percent from the 2015 harvest. Average corn yield is forecast at 175.1 bushels per acre, setting a new record-high. NASS forecasts record-high yields in 10 of the largest corn-producing states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. Acres planted to corn, at 94.1 million, remain unchanged from the NASS’ previous estimate. As of July 31, crop progress report showed 76 percent of this year’s corn crop was rated in good or excellent condition. 
U.S. soybean growers also took advantage of the favorable weather conditions and are forecast to increase their production by 3 percent from 2015. Soybean yields are expected to average 48.9 bushels per acre, reaching another record-high mark. Just as with corn, the acres planted to soybeans remain unchanged from the June estimate. Record soybean yields are expected in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Growers are forecast to harvest 83.0 million acres of soybeans this year. 
Wheat production is forecast at 2.32 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2015. The increase is especially due primarily to winter wheat. Growers are expected to harvest 1.66 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, up 21 percent from 2015. Durum wheat production is forecast at 91.7 million bushels, up 11 percent from last year. All other spring wheat production is forecast at 571 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2015. Based on August 1 conditions, the U.S. all wheat yield is forecast at 52.6 bushels per acre, up 9 bushels from last year. Yields for winter wheat, Durum, and other spring wheat, are all forecast to set record-high yields at 54.9 bushels per acre, 44.1 bushels per acre, and 48.3 bushels per acre, respectively. Today’s report also included the first production forecast for U.S. cotton. NASS forecasts all cotton production at 15.9 million 480-pound bales, up 23 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 800 pounds per harvested acre, up 34 pounds from last year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dairy Assistance

USDA to Purchase Surplus Cheese for Food Banks and Families in Need, Continue to Assist Dairy Producers 

WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories to assist food banks and pantries across the nation, while reducing a cheese surplus that is at its highest level in 30 years. The purchase, valued at $20 million, will be provided to families in need across the country through USDA nutrition assistance programs, while assisting the stalled marketplace for dairy producers whose revenues have dropped 35 percent over the past two years.
"We understand that the nation's dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions and that food banks continue to see strong demand for assistance," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need. USDA will continue to look for ways within its authorities to tackle food insecurity and provide for added stability in the marketplace." 
USDA received requests from Congress, the National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau and the National Milk Producers Federation to make an immediate dairy purchase. Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to utilize fiscal year 2016 funds to purchase surplus food to benefit food banks and families in need through its nutrition assistance programs.
USDA also announced that it will extend the deadline for dairy producers to enroll in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy to Dec. 16, 2016, from the previous deadline of Sept. 30. This voluntary dairy safety net program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the producer. A USDA web tool, available at, allows dairy producers to calculate levels of coverage available from MPP based on price projections.
On Aug. 4, USDA announced approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance to U.S. dairy producers enrolled in MPP-Dairy, the largest payment since the program began in 2014. 
"By supporting a strong farm safety net, expanding credit options and growing domestic and foreign markets, USDA is committed to helping America's dairy operations remain successful," said Vilsack.
While USDA projects dairy prices to increase throughout the rest of the year, many factors including low world market prices, increased milk supplies and inventories, and slower demand have contributed to the sluggish marketplace for dairy producers. 
USDA will continue to monitor market conditions in the coming months and evaluate additional actions, if necessary, later this fall.
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Just in

New Poll Shows Strong Support for Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON-- A new poll from Morning Consult shows most voters favor fair trade – something all candidates should keep in mind as a congressional vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement comes closer to reality.

“Most Americans support free trade,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “and most farmers do, too. Exports account for almost a quarter of American farm receipts, so opposing fair trade agreements like TPP doesn’t make a lot of sense to rural America.”

Among other things, the August poll found:

·       Fifty-seven percent of registered voters have a favorable view of “fair trade.”

·       Fifty percent said they would be more likely to support TPP if they knew it would provide new markets overseas for U.S. farm products.

·       After Americans were told TPP would increase net farm income by $4.4 billion and agricultural exports by $5.3 billion, 52 percent said they would be more likely to support TPP. More than half (51 percent) say an estimated increase of 40,100 jobs resulting from the agreement would make them more likely to support TPP.

·       Fifty-two percent of voters say they would be more likely to support TPP if they knew the deal would increase annual income in the U.S. by $131 billion.

·       Sixty-nine percent of voters support trade policies that will open new markets for U.S. products and U.S. farmers while less than one in 10 (8 percent) oppose.

“Most trade deals start out with loud opposition, only to fade away once the details become known,” Duvall said. “We are convinced TPP is no different: The more people know, the more they will support this vitally important agreement.” 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Just in

Secretary Vilsack Announces $36.5 Million for Specialty Crop Research and Extension Investments

WASHINGTON–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 19 grants totaling $36.5 million for research and extension to support American farmers growing fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture. The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. 
"America's specialty crop farmers face many challenges ranging from a changing climate to increasing production costs. Investing in cutting edge research helps uncover solutions to keep their operations viable and ensures Americans have access to safe, affordable and diverse food options," said Vilsack. "The universities, state departments of agriculture and trade associations that partner with USDA address challenges at the national and local levels to help sustain all parts of America's food and agriculture system, whether the farms are small or large, conventional or organic."
USDA's  Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) develops and disseminates science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. The funded projects address research and extension needs that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production from researching plant genetics to improving crop characteristics; identifying and addressing threats from pests and diseases; improving production and profitability; developing new production innovations and technologies; and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Just in

Farmers’ Almanac Launches Farmer of the Year Contest 

LEWISTON– Farmers’ Almanac, in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation, announces its search for three farmers or ranchers to be recognized as “Farmers’ Almanac Farmer of the Year.” The contest, announced in the special 200th Collector’s Edition of the 2017 Farmers’ Almanac, seeks to recognize and share the dedication, hard work and contributions farmers make to our world and society. Stories of outstanding individuals who work hard to bring food to our tables are sought.

“We’re looking for farmers and ranchers who have figured out how to keep their centuries-old, family run farms alive and thriving, as well as newcomers who may have just started out in farming or ranching,” said Farmers’ Almanac Managing Editor Sandi Duncan, Philom.

“The people who work in agriculture are vital to our everyday life and we’d like to honor them in the pages of the Farmers’ Almanac.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall added, “Farmers and ranchers have long used their ingenuity and tireless work ethic to preserve natural resources and build up local communities while producing food, fiber and fuel for consumers here at home and around the world. We’re pleased to join the Farmers’ Almanac in launching the Farmer of the Year program.” 

Nominations must highlight, in 300 words or less, the following criteria:

· Supporting the Tradition: How long has the nominee been in their field? How did he or she get involved in agriculture and why?
· Innovation in Agriculture: How the nominee has embraced technology or new ways of farming and ranching;
 · Community Involvement: How has the nominee engaged his/her community to support agriculture and/or teach us more about farming overall; and
· Inspiration: How the nominee is a true leader in agriculture and deserves to be recognized.

 All nominations must be received by Jan. 31, 2017, and must be submitted online at Three winners will be announced in the 2018 Farmers’ Almanac and will be offered reimbursement for a one-year membership to the Farm Bureau in their county of residence and a lifetime subscription to the Farmers’ Almanac. Each of their stories will also be featured in the pages of the 2018 Farmers’ Almanac and on the web site.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Just in

Secretary Vilsack Awards $17.8 Million to Cultivate the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers, Sets Stage for Continued New Farmer and Rancher Support

AMES–In a meeting with new and beginning farmers at Iowa State University today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new investment of $17.8 million for 37 projects to help educate, mentor, and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. The investment is made through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA)  Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $126 million into projects targeting new and beginning farmers and ranchers through BFRDP. 
In order to build upon the strong foundation of programs available to new and beginning producers, Vilsack also announced a series of Fall Forums that USDA will host in the coming months to highlight the progress made on the top issues facing the future of agriculture and set the stage for the next Administration to continue to support a strong future for American agriculture. The series of USDA Fall Forums will be hosted in partnership with leading universities across the country. Each forum will focus on a pressing agricultural issue, including land tenure and the next generation of agriculture, climate change, export markets, local and regional food systems, and groundbreaking agricultural research. High-ranking USDA officials will lead the forums and facilitate discussions with regional stakeholders to lay the groundwork for the next Administration to build on the progress USDA has made over the past seven years.
"Looking back on the past seven years, I am extremely proud of what USDA has accomplished for rural America. Even as this Administration ends, the important work of USDA will continue for the next generation and beyond," said Vilsack. "We see new and beginning farmers and ranchers as a critical force in sustaining food security, food safety, and many other aspects of agriculture that will become even more challenging as our global population grows. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and the forums that we are planning, will be important steps in helping young people, returning veterans and others access the tremendous opportunities in the agriculture sector." 
With the  average age of the American farmer exceeding 58 years, USDA recognizes the need to bring more people into agriculture. Over the course of this Administration, USDA has engaged its resources to provide greater support to the farmers of the future by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities; offering appropriate risk management tools; and increasing outreach, education, and technical support. 
Through lending assistance programs, like the Farm Service Agency's new microloan program, USDA prioritized support for new farmers, providing improved access to credit, land, and equipment. USDA has also provided greater access to quality crop insurance coverage to over 13,500 new and beginning farmers and ranchers with special crop insurance benefits designed just for them. Thanks to this program, beginning farmers and ranchers have saved more than $14 million in premiums and administrative fees. More information on USDA's assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers can be found at
BFRDP, administered through USDA's  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), has been a key part of this effort and supports educational programs to assist beginner farmers and ranchers who have less than 10 years of experience in the industry, including veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. The program supports workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance throughout the United States. 
This year's awards will be made in 27 states and the District of Columbia to help fund a range of projects by partner organizations, like the Iowa-based National Farmers Organization (NFO) that will use $588,948 in funding to assist 900 beginning organic dairy and grain producers over the next three years. NFO will provide workshops, mentoring and other assistance in 11 states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Just in

Farm Bureau Asks USDA for Emergency Dairy Assistance

WASHINGTON-- Against a backdrop of plummeting farm-level milk prices and farm cash receipts for milk sales, the American Farm Bureau Federation this week asked the Agriculture Department to provide emergency assistance for the nation's dairy farmers.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said AFBF supported a recent request from 61 members of Congress asking USDA to provide emergency assistance.
Duvall noted the U.S. all-milk price fell to $14.50 per hundredweight in May, the lowest level since 2009. In addition, he told the USDA, dairy farm cash receipts from milk sales have fallen $16 billion since the record highs of 2014.
"The decline in dairy farm revenue has led many dairy farm families to exit the industry," Duvall wrote. "In 2015 we lost 1,225 dairy farms - many of those small dairy farm operations where the average herd size is fewer than 200 milking cows."
The AFBF President said lower dairy exports, increased production in Europe, expansion of the U.S. dairy herd due to economic signals in 2014 and a record high domestic cheese inventory continued to weigh on domestic markets. USDA is projecting a 2016 average milk price of $15.70 per hundredweight, down 35 percent from 2014 and the second lowest level in the past decade.
U.S. dairy producers, meanwhile, have been slow to adopt USDA-sponsored tools to manage dairy market price risk, due to the program costs and benefits being less attractive to some production segments. In 2015, just 25,000 of the 45,000 U.S. dairy farms signed up for the new Margin Protection Program enacted in the 2014 farm bill. Only 23,000 enrolled this year - a majority of them at catastrophic coverage only.
Duvall said AFBF was "extremely appreciative" of USDA's deadline extension to sign-up for MPP as well as the expansion of a farm's production when new family members join the business. He noted AFBF also believes the $11.2 million in MPP assistance announced last week will help, but more can be done.
Duvall asked USDA to buy additional dairy products to be used in USDA's nutrition programs and for donations to food banks.
"Specifically, we believe cheese could be purchased in a quantity that would help the dairy industry and yet not negatively impact our exports of cheese products," Duvall said. "If the Department spent $50 million, it could purchase 28 million pounds of cheese for domestic feeding programs. This would not only be beneficial to those in need of food, but also would help reduce the record high inventories and would provide a positive price impact for dairy producers." "

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Just in

Senators say Wildfires are disasters

Boise--Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are urging Congress to treat wildfires as natural disasters, making them eligible for emergency funding through FEMA.
Congress allocates funds taken from land treatment to pay wildfire supression costs, a process known known as fire borrowing.
But the money seldom gets repaid.
"We need to recognize that this one percent of the fires that causes 30 percent of the cost are catastrophic," said Sen. Crapo at a press conference Monday at Boise's National Interagency Fire Center with Senator Risch. "They're disasters just like a hurricane, a flood, or a tidal wave."
After years of lobbying Western Senators finally have a powerful support from the East.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, says a beetle infestation is killing trees in upstate New York used to produce bats for major league baseball. Schumer says federal funds to fight the beetle are used to pay for wildfire expenses.
Schemer says fire borrowing, is hurting baseball.
It's an example, the senators say that the effects of wildfire are felt far beyond the West.
"it's a wake up call," said Wyden. "The reality is it is such a drain on resources, the baseball bat is just one example, people probably wouldn't have thought that, but it is an actual industry for one of our colleagues."
The senators from the West hope Schumer's support will help swing a vote in Congress after the summer recess to scrap fire borrowing practices.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Just in

Labor shortage Threatens 2016 Crops 

 Hazelton-Farmer Rick Brune has dodged hail, rain, heat and infestations this summer but he says he can’t dodge the toughest calamity this summer, the lack of farm labor.

“In the Magic Valley its become a big issue because bigger companies like Cliff Bar, Chobani, and Stanlee Hay have taken a lot of the part time employees and made them full time workers.” Brune says competition pushed up labor wages and the supply of workers has dried up even more this year because of H-2A paper delays earlier this year. He says farmers are not seeing the young first time workers from Mexico anymore. “It’s really difficult if you can find workers and even if we found them we can’t compete with $18-$20 dollars an hour, The pool of available labor has dried up,” added Brune.

The Department of Labor delays in processing visas for workers have led to a chronic worker shortage not only in Idaho but across the nation. The American Farm Bureau got involved saying they fear that crops will rot in the nation’s fields this year and communication with state Farm Bureaus across the nation have revealed worker shortages in more than 20 states.

"Many farmer members have called us and state Farm Bureaus asking for help," Duvall said. "They face serious hurdles in getting visas for workers in time to tend and harvest this year's crops. Paperwork delays have created a backlog of 30 days or more in processing H-2A applications at both the Department of Labor and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

Farmers have relied on the H-2A agricultural visa program to fill gaps in the nation's Ag labor system but Duvall says the program is far from perfect. Processing and procedural delays, such as the government use of US postal service instead of electronic communications mean losses from unharvested crops. Duvall says this is a serious issue that won't go away without wholesale changes. "If you have a crop that's ready and your harvest window is narrow and your workers show up late-you'll lose your crop. We're going to have to make a choice, we either have to import our labor, workers to harvest our crops-or we'll have to import our food.”

An informal survey of state Farm Bureaus revealed that farmers in at least 22 states using the H-2A program have been affected by administrative delays that have caused workers to arrive days and even weeks late, leading to a variety of fruits, vegetables and other crops rotting in the field. The situation is just as dire for Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle. He says labor is a huge concern in Idaho and says the H-2A program is broken.

“But we’ve used it and still do. There’s encouraging developments in Washington and I hope its in time, we’re relying on friends and family to help us this year. We’re reaching out to people to see if they can take a week off in the fall to help out. We have family coming back to the farm that haven't been back in years. Migrant labor means a lot to US Agriculture, the paper work is discouraging us its difficult to find someone that wants to do hard work,” said Searle.

Duvall said the Labor Department too often fails to comply with rules that require it to respond to farmers' requests before crews are needed. "Crops can't wait on paperwork," Duvall said. "DOL is routinely failing to approve applications 30 days prior to the day farmers need workers. That delay, coupled with delays occurring at USCIS, places farmers in an impossible situation. We've heard from members who are already missing their window of opportunity to harvest. They are already facing lost revenue.”

Duvall repeated AFBF's call for Congress to pass responsible immigration reform that provides farmers access to a legal and stable workforce. He also outlined possible solutions to the challenge, including modernizing agency H-2A approval procedures. He said DOL and USCIS both rely on sending documents to farmers by regular mail, which he called "unacceptable in 2016.”

Illegal Mexican immigrants living in the US has dropped by a million since 2007, according to a Pew Center report. Meanwhile the US Census Bureau reveals the number of new immigrants crossing the border was down to 240,000 last year. The number of illegal migrants peaked in 2000 at 875,000. The numbers reveal that strict border enforcement under the Bush administration started the decline, plus Mexico’s economy is stronger while generating more jobs plus a decrease in births, according to the Migrant Policy Institute.

None of these stats are alarming to Idaho farmers, they’ve seen fewer illegal Mexican workers between 2002 and 2012, thats when the number of new field workers on U.S.farms fell by 75 percent according to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

“The AFBF has worked tirelessly on labor reform for 20 years now, we’ve held our ground, we’ve improved a few things and we hope to move forward,” said Searle who attended the AFBF Labor meetings in Washington in July. Duvall said AFBF is also working with the Agriculture Department "to be an advocate for farmers and take whatever steps it can to ensure farmers get the workers they need to harvest this year's crops.” Farm Bureau is calling for Congress to pass responsible immigration reform that provides farmers access to a legal and stable workforce.

Friday, August 12, 2016

U.S. Agriculture Production Costs Sharply Decline in 2015
WASHINGTON– U.S. farmers spent $362.8 billion on agricultural production in 2015, down 8.8 percent from 2014, reversing a long-term trend of growing costs, according to the Farm Production Expenditures report, published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 
Farm Production Expenitures, Toal and Average Per Farm by Year - United States: 2006 - 2015
Feed and farm services, the two largest expenditure categories for U.S. farmers in 2014, both declined 8.2 percent last year. Producers spent $58.5 billion on animal feed, and $41.6 billion on farm services in 2015. One of only two expenditure categories that increased last year was livestock, poultry and related expenses, on which the producers spent $45.4 billion last year, an increase of 0.7 percent from 2014. The other was miscellaneous capital expenditure at 700 million, an increase of 16.7 percent. 
Unlike the previous years, in 2015, the livestock sector accounted for the larger portion of the production expenditures. Livestock producers spent $182.6 billion, down 6.6 percent from 2014. Crop growers spent $180.3 billion, down 10.9 percent from 2014. 
Per farm, the average expenditures total $176,181 compared with $191,500 in 2014, down 8.0 percent. Last year, an average U.S. farm spent $28,408 on feed, $22,047 on livestock, poultry and related expenses, $20,202 on farm services, and $15,443 on labor.
Regionally, the largest decrease was in the U.S. Midwest region, where agricultural production expenditures decreased by $11.0 billion since 2014. Total expenditures by region in 2015 are: 
  • Midwest $113.1 billion 
  • Plains $93.5 billion 
  • West $74.9 billion 
  • Atlantic $44.2 billion 
  • South $37.1 billion
The Farm Production Expenditures summary provides the official estimates for production input costs on U.S. farms and ranches. These estimates are based on the results of the annual Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), conducted by NASS. The entire Farm Production Expenditures 2015 summary is available online at

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Just in

Farm Bureau backs Farm Regulatory Certainty Act 

Washington-Farm Bureau is urging support for legislation that clarifies congressional intent regarding the inappropriate application of regulations under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 to agricultural nutrient management.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), was prompted by a January 2015 ruling in which a federal judge in Spokane, Washington, sided with environmental activists who brought a lawsuit against several dairies in the state for what they claimed was inappropriate storage and handling of animal manure.

Specifically, the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act (H.R. 5685) would reaffirm and clarify congressional intent regarding the inappropriateness of subjecting agricultural byproducts to RCRA; codify the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations regarding the treatment of agricultural byproducts under RCRA; and prevent farmers who are already engaged in legal action or are making a diligent attempt to work with state or federal governments to address nutrient management issues from being targeted by citizen lawsuits.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Just in

USDA Announces Safety Net Assistance for Milk Producers Due to Tightening Dairy Margins

May/June 2016 Average Margins Below $6
WASHINGTON- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance to American dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). The payment rate for May/June 2016 will be the largest since the program began in 2014. The narrowing margin between milk prices and the cost of feed triggered the payments, as provided for by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"We understand the nation's dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions," said Vilsack. "MPP-Dairy payments are part of a robust, comprehensive farm safety net that help to provide dairy producing families with greater peace of mind during tough times. Dairy operations enrolled in the 2016 MPP-Dairy program will receive approximately $11.2 million this month. I want to urge dairy producers to use this opportunity to evaluate their enrollment options for 2017, as the enrollment period is currently scheduled to end Sept. 30, 2016. By supporting a strong farm safety net, expanding credit options and growing domestic and foreign markets, USDA is committed to helping America's dairy operations remain successful."
Dairy producers who enrolled at the $6 through $8 margin trigger coverage level will receive payments. MPP-Dairy payments are triggered when the national average margin (the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed) falls below a level of coverage selected by the dairy producer, ranging from $4 to $8, for a specified consecutive two-month period. All final USDA prices for milk and feed components required to determine the national average margin for May/June 2016 were released on July 29, 2016.
The national average margin for the May/June 2016 two-month consecutive period is $5.76277 per hundred weight (cwt.), resulting in the following MPP payment rates:
Margin Trigger Coverage LevelsPayment Rate/cwt.
State specific payment amounts can be found at
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit
To learn more about the Margin Protection Program for dairy, visit the Farm Service Agency (FSA) online at or stop by a local FSA office. Producers may visit calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. To find an FSA office near you, visit

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Just in

Boise Farmers Mobile Market, UI Extension Celebrate Farmers Market Week Aug. 7-13
BOISE — Fresh produce for less and more nutritious meals for families will be the focus of a Boise Farmers Mobile Market stop at Boise’s Franklin Grove Apartments from 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, as part of a state and national celebration of farmers markets.

The Idaho Farmers Market Association, University of Idaho Extension’s Eat Smart Idaho and the mobile market will team up to celebrate Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s proclamation honoring Idaho Farmers Market Week, Aug. 7-13.
The Idaho Farmers Market Association is offering a “Double Up Bucks” program at 13 urban and rural markets this summer for families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Each dollar spent on fruits and vegetables using a SNAP electronic benefits card is doubled for produce purchases up to $10 or $20, depending on the market. More information about the Double Up Bucks program is online at

“The wins are three-fold,” said Eileen Stachowski, association director at Boise. “More food dollars stay in the local economy, local farmers gain more customers and families bring home more healthy food!”
UI Extension’s Eat Smart Idaho Program helps teach limited-resource families about planning, shopping and preparing healthy, low-cost food. Nutrition advisors visit farmers markets to provide recipe samples made with market produce. Advisors hand out recipes and nutritional information and answer questions. More information about Eat Smart Idaho is online at

The Boise Farmers Mobile Market is a cooperative effort by UI Extension, Boise Farmers’ Market, Let’s Move Boise, City of Boise, Partnership for Livable Communities, Idaho Farmer’s Market Association and Idaho Huger Relief Task Force. It began as a pilot effort last year and returned in June with a new wheelchair-accessible van purchased by the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation.

The mobile market operates Mondays to Wednesdays with stops at city parks, apartment complexes, a senior living center and the UI Extension Ada County office. A schedule is available on Facebook at

Monday, August 8, 2016

Just in

Local Properties Risk Sale At Public Auction
Due To Unpaid Irrigation District Taxes

            Meridian--Failure to pay their irrigation taxes for the past several years may prove extremely costly to three Boise homeowners whose properties are set to be sold at auction August 16 by the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District for just pennies on the dollar of their assessed value, District officials announced today.
            In one example, a Boise residence with an assessed value of $232,000 could be sold for $402.71 in unpaid taxes, an amount just less than one-tenths of 1 percent (0.0017%) of its assessed value. The three properties have a total assessed value of $501,600 according to Ada County tax assessor records. The three properties have a combined tax bill due of $1,122.94. 
            The tax deed auction comes because the owners have failed to pay their irrigation taxes for the years 2012 through 2015. The three properties are homes in Boise residential subdivisions.
A certified letter warning of the pending tax deed action was mailed in June to the property owners in addition to several other written notices. Legal notices listing the properties were also published in the local daily newspaper, according to Daren Coon, NMID Secretary/Treasurer.
Although not required, NMID officials also take an extra step by trying to find and personally notify the property owners by a final hand delivered notice. Coon plans to do that this coming week.
The tax deed sale, mandated under Idaho law, sets the minimum bid for each property at the amount of taxes owed plus expenses related to the delinquency.  However, the property owners can avoid their property being sold by paying the taxes due prior to the opening of the bids.  Most property owners do pay with just a few properties actually having been sold over the past several years, Coon said.
Local residents can find out if they have unpaid NMID irrigation taxes by visiting the District website at  They can also check with the District office at 466-7861 
“These extreme cases represent just a tiny fraction of the more than 37,000 patrons in our District. But the failure to pay the annual assessments has put the properties in jeopardy. We go to great lengths to try to avoid these types of tax deed sale situations but it’s out of our hands.  Idaho law is very specific about what steps the District is required to take to recover the tax money owed on the property,” according to Coon.
The problem arises in some instances because the property owner information is not changed with NMID when the property is sold. That means the annual tax assessment notice goes to the previous owners. In other cases property owners mistakenly believe they do not need to pay the annual NMID assessment because they do not receive or use irrigation water, Coon added.
Idaho law specifies that all property owners in the district are to help pay the costs of maintaining the irrigation system, whether they use water or not.   Also, some property owners wrongly believe the irrigation tax payment is part of their escrow tax payment being made by the mortgage company” Coon said.
            The taxes are used to pay for operation and maintenance of the canals, laterals, drains and dams that make up the District's water delivery system.  Levies also are assessed against individual subdivision parcels using pressurized irrigation systems in subdivisions around the valley.
            NMID delivers irrigation water to 69,000 acres of farm, residential and commercial land in the Treasure Valley including pressurized irrigation to more than 15,000 residential and commercial lots.  For information about the District call 466-7861.  Information is also available on its internet website:

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...