Monday, February 29, 2016

Just in

USDA Invests $25 Million in High-Priority Watersheds to Improve Water Quality

Seventeen New Watersheds Added to National Water Quality Initiative
WASHINGTON– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced an investment of $25 million targeted to help agriculture producers improve water quality in high-priority streams and rivers across the country. Through the  National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will help agricultural producers in 187 priority watersheds apply conservation measures that contribute to cleaner water downstream.
"Clean water is in everyone's interest, and the National Water Quality Initiative has been successful because it brings together multiple partners in strategic areas to work towards a common goal," said Vilsack. "Restoring health to waterways benefits not just farmers and ranchers, but it also gives their communities safe drinking water and provides healthy habitat for fish and wildlife."
The goal of NWQI is to implement conservation practices in sufficient quantity within a concentrated area so that agriculture no longer contributes to the impairment of water bodies within these priority watersheds. NRCS and partners work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices, such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces and buffers, that improve water quality in high-priority watersheds while maintaining agricultural productivity. Water quality-related conservation practices enhance agricultural profitability through reduced input and enhanced soil health, which results in higher soil organic matter, increased infiltration and water-holding capacity and nutrient cycling.
USDA's targeted approach to improve water quality is working across the country. In Arkansas, conservation efforts improved the water quality to the point that portions of the  St. Francis River and the Illinois River are no longer considered impaired streams by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In coastal Mississippi, focused efforts led to  Orphan Creek's removal from the list of impaired streams, and in Louisiana, two watersheds, Big Creek and East Fork Big Creek, are on track for delisting.
This year, NRCS added 17 new watersheds to NWQI, and because of marked progress in some watersheds, "graduated" 13 watersheds from the initiative.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Just in from Capitol Hill

Chief Tidwell shares budget priorities for USFS in House testimony

WASHINGTON-In today before the House Interior Appropriations Committee, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell offered his unwavering support to Congress for their efforts to find a long-term solution that addresses the growing problem of paying for catastrophic wildfires. Funding has not kept pace with the cost of fighting wildfire.

“Our primary budget priority remains finding a way to fund growing fire suppression costs without further eroding resources for restoration, water, recreation and other management priorities, and without the need for mid-season transfers,” said Tidwell.  “The year 2015 was a record year in terms of acres burned and dollars spent. Based on the 10-year average, historically used to calculate fire suppression funding, the cost for fighting fire increased by $237 million from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2017. In a constrained budget, no agency can absorb this level of increase in costs.”
In fiscal year 2016, however, Congress approved a single-year funding boost for the agency’s fire suppression budget--beyond the historical formula used for calculating funds. But there is no long-term solution to the funding challenge. This includes both the transfer of funds from other programs to pay for firefighting and the rising costs for fire suppression, which erodes the agency’s annual budget for other land stewardship purposes. The U.S. Forest Service is the only federal government agency that is required to fund its emergency management efforts through its regular appropriated discretionary budget.   
Meanwhile, the President’s proposed overall budget for discretionary funding for the Forest Service totaled $4.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2017.  That is $787 million less than the FY 2016 enacted level and reflects strategic investments to reduce wildfire threats to communities and maintain forest restoration investments. 
Chief Tidwell also stated, “Our budget priorities highlight the need to strengthen cooperation, collaboration and public/private partnerships that leverage our investments to reach shared goals.” 
Other key investments  to deliver benefits to the public include: landscape scale restoration  - with an increase of $9.5 million above the FY 2016 enacted level to fund about 20 more innovative, cross-boundary projects that target high-priority areas; recreation, heritage and wilderness  - with an increase of $2.2 million above the FY 2016 enacted level that will modernize the recreation special uses program, expand access to the National Forest System, and increase the capacity of community service and volunteer programs; facilities - to maintain developed recreation sites and fire, administrative, and other facilities; and forest health management  - to address forest health on both federal and cooperative lands by treating 644,000 acres with mechanical, prescribed fire or other tools.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Just in


Simpson Challenges Obama on EPA Cap and Trade Regulations
Congressman Simpson joins 171 Representatives and 34 Senators in supporting states challenge to EPA’s Clean Power Plant Rule

Washington- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson signed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief in support of 27 states that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule on existing power plants. The Clean Power Plant rule was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and is awaiting further consideration by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. 

“I am extremely disappointed, but sadly not surprised that the President is using his final months in office to promote costly regulations,” said Simpson. “The Obama Administration’s rule on existing power plants impose a regulatory structure on our nation’s energy sector that is simply not viable, and even worse, it forces the American people to foot the bill.”

Simpson has long opposed efforts to impose unworkable regulations on the energy sector that would do little to improve climate conditions but would impose prohibitive costs to consumers. In December, Congressman Simpson supported legislation that would employ the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the rule on existing power plant regulations would not go into effect. This bill passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by President Obama. Congressman Simpson has also supported language in appropriations bills that would block the EPA from implementing these regulations on new and existing power plants.  The primary argument of the brief involves an Article I v. Article II controversy regarding the discretion of the executive branch to make rules without authority.

“With an executive branch that has shown little regard for the coequal legislative branch, Congress must do everything within its authority to protect the American people from regulations that will impact their finances to this degree,” said Simpson. “The amicus brief filed today is a message to President Obama that regulations that reach this far into the lives of Americans will be challenged.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Just in


Farm Bureau: TPP Will Boost Farm Exports, Income
WASHINGTON– The Trans-Pacific Partnership will tear down trade barriers and help level the playing field for U.S. agricultural exports to 11 nations across the Pacific Rim. Ratifying TPP will boost annual net farm income in the United States by $4.4 billion, compared to not approving the pact, according to an economic analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“TPP will mean a boat-load of expanded exports and increased demand for America’s agricultural products,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Clearly, America’s farmers and ranchers have much to gain from approval of TPP and we support its ratification. American agriculture is a growth industry, and to continue that trend, we must expand our market opportunities.”

Not approving the trade deal would have adverse effects, too.

“While our farmers and ranchers have a lot to gain with passage, the consequences of not approving the deal would be harmful,” Duvall said. “Every day we delay means lost markets as other TPP countries implement the deal’s advantages with each other. We are already arriving at the party late because, right now, expanded trade due to TPP is going on across the Pacific Rim – just without us.”

While procedural steps along the way will take time, Duvall said “the sooner TPP is ratified, the better it will be for American agriculture.”

AFBF’s analysis forecasts farm-price increases for corn (5 cents per bushel), soybeans (12 cents per bushel), wheat (2 cents per bushel) and rice (16 cents per hundredweight). While cotton prices are not projected to change, cash receipts are projected to increase by $21 million.

AFBF also predicts price increases for beef ($2.66 per hundredweight), pork ($2.45 per hundredweight) and poultry ($1.40 per hundredweight). In the dairy sector, prices will increase for butter ($2.81 per hundredweight), cheese ($1.68 per hundredweight), nonfat dry milk ($1.29 per hundredweight) and all milk (21 cents per hundredweight).

Net trade is expected to increase for rice, cotton, beef, pork, poultry, butter, cheese, soybeans and products and non-fat dry milk, according to AFBF’s analysis.

While the analysis projects that the net trade for corn will decline by 45.3 million bushels, overall demand and use for corn is forecast to increase by 54.2 million bushels. Corn revenues are expected to rise by $680 million per year and prices are projected to rise by 5 cents per bushel, due to higher domestic feed use from additional beef and pork exports created by TPP.

The agreement has been approved by negotiators from the 12 TPP nations. The U.S. International Trade Commission is preparing an official analysis for the administration, which will formally ask Congress to ratify the deal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just in



USDA Initiative Restores Forests, Reduces Wildfire Threats Through Local Partnerships

LITTLE ROCK- Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie today announced a federal investment of over $40 million for restoration of forests near growing communities to reduce wildfire threats, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat and support rural economies. This is the third year of the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet.

“The health of our forests and our rural communities very often go hand in hand,” Bonnie said. “USDA works with other public and thousands of private landowners through a range of programs and partnerships to decrease the threat of wildfire, restore forest habitat and increase economic and other opportunities for the families and businesses that make their homes near woodlands.”

Bonnie unveiled 11 new Joint Chiefs projects totaling $7 million for 2016 and committed additional investments totaling nearly $33 million in 27 projects launched in 2014 and 2015. Local partners plan to invest up to an additional $11 million in financial, technical and in-kind assistance for the 38 projects.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Just in


Statement by Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Chairman Roberts’ Biotech Labeling Proposal

WASHINGTON – “Farmers and ranchers need innovative tools, technologies and improved methods to meet the demand for food, today and in the future. The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports Chairman Pat Roberts’ solution and action to secure uniform, voluntary biotech labeling standards across the country.

“This issue must not be put off any longer. We need the Senate to act now to protect consumers from misleading labels and the increase that state-by-state labeling rules can impose on food prices. We also need to protect farmers and the food industry from the patchwork of state labeling laws being stitched together, which would stigmatize a valuable agricultural technology and have a chilling effect on future innovation.

“We stand ready to work with Chairman Roberts, the members of his committee and the rest of Congress to legislate a solution that provides helpful and scientifically accurate information about the food we grow and enables farmers to meet the demand and desire for affordable food choices for all consumers.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Just in from Washington

President’s proposed farm program cuts, tax hikes worry farmers


Budget 2017Washington-President Barack Obama's recently released 2017 budget includes proposals to slash funding for more than two dozen USDA programs and raise capital gains and other taxes, none of which sits well with farmers and ranchers. 

"A global glut of food production has sent U.S. farm revenues down sharply. With farm income down 56 percent in the past two years alone, America's farmers and ranchers face difficult times," American Farm Bureau Federation Zippy Duvall said in a statement. "Yet, the president's just-released budget would cut 27 USDA programs, including a 10-year, $18 billion cut to the federal crop insurance programs so important to farmers. And all this happens as farm income is projected to decline another 3 percent in 2016." 

Duvall noted that Obama's budget threatens farm and ranch families through capital gains taxes and special provisions that would force new generations to pay much higher taxes on any land and assets they inherit. "Such treatment is a recipe for farm fragmentation and an unnecessary obstacle for agriculture's next generation," he warned. 

Duval also highlighted some aspects of the proposal farmers were on board with. 
"The president's budget does include increases for food and agricultural research - a critical need in a world in which hunger remains a problem in many countries - as well as increases for research into antimicrobial resistance in humans and livestock. Each of these needs to be addressed in serious ways, and we appreciate the support for such research," he said. 

Duval pointed out that Obama's budget has already been panned by many congressional lawmakers-who will actually be putting the federal budget into law.

"Leaders in Congress have been clear in their negative views on the administration's proposed cuts, noting that they will be writing the budget on Capitol Hill. We will work closely with our elected officials as they begin their work on the budget to protect the interests of our farmers and ranchers," he said.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Just in



Boise--Gem County Farm Bureau hosted District 8 Legislators at a pizza lunch at Farm Bureau building near the Statehouse. Farmers asked questions about several issues pending before this years legislative session.

At the Statehouse

Boise--James Whittaker and IFBF Legislative Affairs Director Russ Hendricks testified at the Wildlife depredation hearings at the Idaho Statehouse Wednesday afternoon. Whitaker testified that farmers and ranchers are losing tens of thousands of dollars in lost hay and not being justly compensated for their loss. He asked lawmakers to take a look at depredation compensation guidelines and bring equity into state statutes.

Just in


Idaho’s Agricultural Interests Bolstered by Appointment of Former UI Dean

MOSCOW — Idaho’s agriculture initiatives are receiving additional attention this spring as former College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Term Dean John C. Foltz moves into a new position as assistant to the president for agricultural initiatives.

 Newly appointed CALS Dean Michael Parella, former chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology and associate dean of Agricultural Sciences at the University of California, Davis, started at UI on Feb. 1.

In his new position, Foltz is working in collaboration with Parella and Jack McIver, vice president for Research and Economic Development to lead statewide initiatives, including the Western Initiative for the Dairy Environment (WIDE), a large-scale research center focused on Idaho’s beef and dairy industry. The university has explored such a center in the Magic Valley of south-central Idaho for more than a decade.

“Being able to maintain the momentum for Idaho agriculture is vitally important to the industry, our citizens and our students,” Foltz said. UI agricultural economists projected cash receipts generated by beef and dairy producers totaled more than $4.5 billion in 2015. Agriculture, including both crop and livestock, accounts for about 25 percent of the state’s economy.

Other areas Foltz will work on include increasing collaboration and university research at the Rock Creek Ranch, a 10,400-acre spread owned by The Nature Conservancy and Wood River Land Trust near Hailey.

“Our leadership in agricultural issues is fundamental to our land-grant mission,” UI President Chuck Staben said. “John brings a wealth of expertise and insight that will help UI stay at the forefront of groundbreaking initiatives. It is an exciting time for agriculture in our state, and one of our critical missions as an institution is the help this industry thrive.” Foltz came to UI in 1991 and taught agribusiness and agricultural economics courses before moving into college leadership roles. He served as interim and then term dean for CALS since 2012.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just in from the USDA

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Research Showing Significant Improvement in Efficiency of Ethanol Production and Other Trends

WASHINGTON– Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released a statement on two recent research reports supported by USDA focused on ethanol and other renewable fuels, one published by USDA's Office of the Chief Economist and another published by the University of Missouri:
"These research reports demonstrate, once again, that America's renewable energy industry has quickly expanded and evolved since President Obama's administration embraced an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy beginning in 2009. Since then, we have more than doubled renewable energy production, and today we import less than half our oil. Improved and expanded ethanol and biodiesel production have saved Americans money at the pump. Our national security has been bolstered because we are more energy secure and also because our nation's military is a major commercial customer for U.S. biofuels. And, as today's reports demonstrate, U.S. farmers continue to improve their efficiency in the production of corn for ethanol while the impact of ethanol production on corn production has become marginal. Between 1991 and 2010, direct energy use in corn production has dropped by 46 percent per bushel of corn produced and total energy use per bushel of corn by 35 percent. Moreover, between 2005 and 2010, direct energy use fell by 25 percent and the total energy use by 8.2 percent per bushel—meaning that between 2005 and 2010, the energy required per bushel of corn produced dropped by about 5 percent. The bottom line is, today, more energy is being produced from ethanol than is used to produce it, by factors of 2 to 1 nationally and by factors of 4 to 1 in the Midwest. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the bio-economy and the role biofuels and advanced biofuels will play in that future, and I am confident this administration has acted aggressively to expand the groundwork to support that brighter future."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Just in

President’s proposed farm program cuts, tax hikes worry farmers 

Washington-President Barack Obama's recently released 2017 budget includes proposals to slash funding for more than two dozen USDA programs and raise capital gains and other taxes, none of which sits well with farmers and ranchers.

"A global glut of food production has sent U.S. farm revenues down sharply. With farm income down 56 percent in the past two years alone, America's farmers and ranchers face difficult times," American Farm Bureau Federation Zippy Duvall said in a statement. "Yet, the president's just-released budget would cut 27 USDA programs, including a 10-year, $18 billion cut to the federal crop insurance programs so important to farmers. And all this happens as farm income is projected to decline another 3 percent in 2016."

Duvall noted that Obama's budget threatens farm and ranch families through capital gains taxes and special provisions that would force new generations to pay much higher taxes on any land and assets they inherit.

Such treatment is a recipe for farm fragmentation and an unnecessary obstacle for agriculture's next generation," he warned. Duval also highlighted some aspects of the proposal farmers were on board with. "The president's budget does include increases for food and agricultural research - a critical need in a world in which hunger remains a problem in many countries - as well as increases for research into antimicrobial resistance in humans and livestock. Each of these needs to be addressed in serious ways, and we appreciate the support for such research," he said.

Duval pointed out that Obama's budget has already been panned by many congressional lawmakers-who will actually be putting the federal budget into law.

"Leaders in Congress have been clear in their negative views on the administration's proposed cuts, noting that they will be writing the budget on Capitol Hill. We will work closely with our elected officials as they begin their work on the budget to protect the interests of our farmers and ranchers," he said.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cattle prices down

U.S. Cattle Inventory Up 3 Percent from 2015
WASHINGTON –As of February 1, there were 92.0 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms, according to the Cattle report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). This is the highest U.S. cattle inventory since 2011.
U.S. Cattle Inventory Up 3 Percent from 2015
Other key findings in the report were:
  • There were 92.0 million cattle and calves, in the United States as of January 1, 2016, up 3 percent from last year. Of this total 39.6 million were all cows and heifers that have calved.
  • There are 30.3 million beef cows, up 4 percent from last year.
  • The number of milk cows in the United States increased slightly to 9.32 million. 
  • All cattle on feed increased to 13.2 million, up 1 percent from 2015.
  • U.S. calf crop was estimated at 34.3 million head, up 2 percent from 2015.
To obtain an accurate measurement of the current state of the U.S. cattle industry, NASS surveyed about 38,000 operators across the nation during the first half of January. NASS interviewers collected the data by mail, telephone, internet, and through face-to-face personal interviews. NASS asked all participating producers to report their cattle inventories as of January 1, 2016.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Just in

USDA Secretary Vilsack Announces $58.25 Million to Protect Agriculture and Plants from Pests and Diseases Through 2014 Farm Bill Section 10007

WASHINGTON—U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has allocated $58.25 million from Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill. This money will support 434 projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment and ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean plant stock in the United States. Funding will be provided to 50 States plus Guam and Puerto Rico to implement projects suggested by universities, States, Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, non-profits and Tribal organizations. 
"Through the Farm Bill we are working with our partners and stakeholders to not only ensure the global competitiveness of our specialty crop producers but to fight back against the destruction caused by invasive pests," said Vilsack. "The projects and centers funded through this effort are helping to develop and put in place the strategies, methods and treatments that safeguard our crops, plants, and natural resources from invasive threats."
Since the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted, APHIS has funded more than 1,200 projects that have played a significant role in our efforts to protect American agriculture. Collectively, these projects make it possible for us to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests. 
They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary for making sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers. 
This year, funded projects include:
  • Old world bollworm (Helicoverpa Armigera): $420,725 to delimit the infestation in Puerto Rico and collect and study samples of the pest; and $470,004 for survey and response planning activities in Florida; 
  • Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer/Fusarium Dieback in avocado: $175,000 for survey, early detection, and educational outreach in California; 
  • Bark beetle: $157,793 for a Regional Identification Center for Bark Beetle and other wood boring beetles in Oregon; 
  • Giant African land snail: $2,203,080 to support ongoing eradication efforts in Florida;
  • Spotted lanternfly: $1,666,612 million to support eradication and education efforts in Pennsylvania;
  • Coconut rhinoceros beetle: $1,649,384 to respond to infestations in Hawaii and Guam;
  • Honey bees: $1,068,988 to survey honey bee populations and study bee health; 
  • Invasive pest control on Tribal lands: $504,786 for six projects to support Tribal outreach and education initiatives and projects to mitigate and control invasive pests on Tribal lands;
  • Grapes: $465,145 to enhance surveys for grape commodity pests and diseases in 15 states.
  • National Clean Plant Network: $5 million to support 22 projects in 17 states that focus on providing high quality propagated plant material for fruit trees, grapes, hops, berries, citrus, roses and sweet potatoes free of targeted plant pathogens and pests. 
The Farm Bill provided $62.5 million for these programs in fiscal year 2016, though funding was reduced by sequestration. The FY 2016 Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill spending plan is available on the APHIS Web site at  www.aphis.usda.gov/farmbill.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Just in


Simpson Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision on Clean Power Plants
Washington-Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block one of the EPA’s rules regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
“The Obama Administration’s rules impose a regulatory structure on our nation’s energy sector that is simply not viable, and even worse, it forces the American people to foot the bill,” said Simpson. “That is why I am pleased that the Supreme Court has put a hold on this rule before it has a chance to do irreparable harm to our economy. Republicans will continue to examine EPA’s overzealous rules through the legislative process so we protect American energy consumers from these burdensome costs and increased energy bills.”
Simpson has long opposed efforts to impose unworkable regulations on the energy sector that would do little to improve climate conditions but would impose prohibitive costs to consumers. In December, Congressman Simpson supported legislation that would employ the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the rule on existing power plant regulations would not go into effect. This bill passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by President Obama. Congressman Simpson has also supported language in appropriations bills that would block the EPA from implementing these regulations on new and existing power plants.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2016 Legislative Conference

Idaho Governor Addresses Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Conference

Garden City--Idaho Governor Butch Otter delivered the keynote address at the 2016 Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Conference at the Red Lion Riverside in Garden City.

Otter opened up his 30 minute speech updating Farm Bureau members on Sage Grouse Endangered Listing. "We're gonna fight the listing, we thought we had it all worked out but the Federal Government but they moved the goal line. Hell, they moved the field, so we're back to square one. Its unfortunate because we put a lot of good effort into it, but we'll get there."

Wildfires ravaged the Gem State last summer, Otter says before we hand over our lands to the Federal Government we need to consider what a two month fire season costs the State.

"Wildfire this year was real tough on Idaho," said Otter. "We protect 6.1 million acres, thats our contract with the Federal Government. Thats Federal and state ground along with forrest and BLM land. Our fire bill this year was three times the amount of the last 5 years combined. We spent $61-million dollars, thats $61 million we could do incredible things in Idaho, building our economy, giving citizens tax relief, but its money we spent on the fires.  More than 742-thousand acres burned and it happened on our watch."

Otter says that Idaho's actual fire bill was $303-million dollars. "So we got to be careful on what we ask for, I understand those folks that want to get ownership back and under our control, but we can't afford a bad fire season."

But Otter told the crowd that we need to get a better handle on the land we're responsible for, and turn it into an asset not a liability.  The 2014 Farm Bill called for Governors to study these lands and in turn allow greater management of the land.

"So we have 21 million acres of forest land, 14-million of BLM land so our forester went out and did that study and found 18 million acres that are stressed, bug infested and diseased. Twelve million of that was critical," said Otter. "We asked for the opportunity to manage 1.8 million acres and we now have two projects that we're working on under our management. We can survive a court test and if we want to go in and cut a tree or build and turn an asset, that we will get that opportunity if they don't burn down first."

Otter added that he's asking the Legislature to fund more wildland fire funding for volunteer ranchers who can react to fire. The state funds six rangeland districts now at a cost of $150-thousand dollars. "We need more, they see a puff of smoke they can knock it down with a Cat or disk before the BLM can leave the garage. We just want the chance to do battle on our own resources."

Otter says he worries about the EPA and Waters of the US initiative in which that agency seeks control of everything from irrigation ditches to mud holes on public and private land. He said its well established in the courts that Idaho has full control and ownership of its water and will continue that fight forever.

The 3-term governor stressed that his administration continues to operate a lean state government but a government thats necessary and provide a role what a proper government is and is not.

"Figures show that we led the nation out of that recession, we had to deal with less money coming in so we cut budgets, that caused pain and heartache but thats what we did and led the nation out of recession," said Otter. "We just got word that we're the number one job creator in the nation, thats why."















Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Women's Leadership Committee at the Statehouse


Food Check-off day at the Statehouse

Boise--Legislative pages  TJ Ruiz (Murtaugh) and Austin Thomason (Weiser) delivered snack bags to Idaho lawmakers today on behalf of the Idaho Farm Bureau Womens committee.
The bags contain healthy snacks for legislators and each year the women of Farm Bureau provide them in honor of food check-off day.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, on average, American consumers spend 10.9 percent of their disposable income on food -- about 40 days' earnings. This is the third consecutive year Food Check-Out Day has fallen on Feb. 9. In sharp contrast to the 40 days it takes the average American to pay for his or her food supply for the year, it took Americans 131 days to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes last year. The trend is for food to continue to require a smaller percentage of annual income -- perhaps the most amazing aspect of food affordability in America.

 Ten years ago, Food Check-Out Day would have been marked on Feb. 12. In 1980, it would have fallen on Feb. 18; in 1970, Feb. 20. And in 1960, Food Check-Out Day would have been celebrated on March 4. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ronald McDonald House donation


Farm Women Donate to McDonald House

Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee donated food and money to Boise's Ronald McDonald House Monday afternoon. 

The committee then unloaded more than 100 pounds of food that will help feed 17 families staying at the facility.

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a “home away from home” for families of sick a children receiving medical treatment at Saint Lukes Medical Center. Executive Director Mindy Plumlee says several hundred families stayed at the facility in 2015, and its booked just about every week.

“This 19 bedroom house is almost at capacity," said Plumlee. " We need the food and cash and always look forward to seeing the Farm Bureau Women this time of year. We really love it when they cook dinner, it’s a tradition we love.”

The Boise Ronald McDonald House is on Main St. across from St. Luke's Hospital and has provided affordable housing for out-of-town families since 1988.

Built in the early 1900s and purchased by the late J.R. Simplot for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Families are charged just $10 a night; the balance is paid with public and private donations to the Ronald McDonald house, and any family who is unable to pay the $10 is not turned away.

The Women's Committee filled three SUV’s with everything from produce, and canned goods to laundry detergent, all of which are needed desperately by visiting families according Plumlee.

“We're making dinner for the residents of the Ronald McDonald House tonight and we love the chance to help out. It’s a wonderful thing to help the residents while their kids are in the hospital. Through this event and the lunchbag project at the statehouse we get the chance to promote agriculture. Just our presence reminds people that their food comes from farms not grocery stores,” said Chairman Judy Woody.
Before dinner, Chairman Woody presented the House with a check collected from County Farm Bureaus across the state. Director Plumlee was thankful for the help. “We’ll spend it all on food, and things needed to sustain the families during their stay here.”

"This donation came from just about every county in the state,” said Woody, “and what started as a small donation from county to county ended up being a significant amount and we're honored to help out. Our farmers are productive and efficient, people we depend on."

The event is held annually on the fifth week of the New Year, that’s when most Americans will have earned enough money to pay for their families food supply for the year. By comparison Americans need to work until May to reach "Tax Freedom Day," the date when the typical family meets its tax commitment.

"Americans depend on the safe and affordable food supply we supply." said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation President Bryan Searle "We’re proud of those contributions, but just 22 cents of every dollar we spend on food goes to the farmers who grew it, but farmers are a generous bunch and the backbone of this great nation."

According to the Agriculture Department, Americans devote only about 10.6 percent of their disposable income to pay for food. The percentage of income spent for food in the United States has declined over the last 30 years. Food is more affordable today due to a widening gap between growth in per capita incomes and the amount of money spent for food, according to the USDA.

Just in


Weiser Student Wins Women's Leadership Committee Speech Contest
Boise—Jayce Watkins of Weiser won the Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee Speech Contest this morning at the Idaho Statehouse.

“This is a contest by design,” said Women’s Chair Judy Woody of Twin Falls. “We want students to learn a more about agriculture, we want them to research and build their speech and along the way develop an understand of what goes into our food.”

Jayce Watkins is a Senior at Weiser High School. He admits he did a lot of research and calls farming the next great technological frontier.

"I chose technology and agriculture as a topic because things are changing so fast in farming, I googled every article I could find on precision agriculture. At first I couldn’t find anyone in Washington County that uses precision agriculture, but finally found a farmer not far away that uses the technology. I decided to focus on three key areas, software, drones and GPS,”said Watkins. 

Idaho State Controller Governor Brandon Woolf welcomed the contestants to the West Wing of the Senate. He emphasized the importance of communication in agriculture and urged students to not only speak up but to serve and tell the world about Idaho agriculture and that's exactly what Watkins and other contestants demonstrated.

Watkins’ speech immediately caught the Statehouse Audience by addressing the economic importance of precision agriculture. He said through technological change, yields are larger and a new generation is finding out that almost all Ag is high-tech these days. 

“Precision farming is the answer, its cheaper, yields are higher and we can feed the world on less land, last year alone we saw an $11-billion dollar increase just because of changes in precision Ag, I think the future is bright and Ag is moving in the right direction," he adds.

The new President of the Idaho Farm Bureau watched the even with great interest.

“There’s a lot of hope and energy in these young people,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle. “It’s exciting!  As we advocate for agriculture and watch these young people carry the advocacy forward its an agriculture asset that continues into the future.”


 Watkins won $150, he'll use the money for his college fund. All the contestants went on a special guided tour of the Idaho Statehouse.

Snowpack looking good!



IDAHO’S WATER SUPPLY OUTLOOK REMAINS STRONG

BOISE – The Natural Resources Conservation Service has just released the second water supply outlook report for the 2016 water year. Idaho’s mountain snowpack ranges from 150% of normal across southern Idaho to near normal in the Bear River, Upper Snake, Central Idaho, Clearwater and Panhandle Region.

“Precipitation since the water year started October 1, 2015 closely mirrors the snowpack percent of averages,” noted Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “The lowest ones are about 95% of average in the Spokane, Upper Snake, and Bear River basins. Near normal precipitation has fallen across eastern Idaho to the Clearwater basin. The West Central Mountains along with the Panhandle Region have received 110 to 120% of normal. The highest water year precipitation totals are 130 to155% of average in the Owyhee, Bruneau and Salmon Falls basins. This is great news for these southern Idaho basins. Hopefully they will be able to start their recovery from the four year drought.”

Based on Idaho’s January’s Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI), irrigation supplies should be adequate across most of the state, but are still marginal at best in the Big Wood, Big Lost and Little Lost basins. 

With a near normal or better snowpack across the state, winter and summer recreationists should also be happy. Avalanche dangers are still present; backcountry skiers and snowmobilers should use caution and check current conditions before venturing into Idaho’s mountains. The highest snowpacks are across Idaho’s southern border at 150% of median and guarantees the whitewater runoff season will be much better than the past few seasons.

“The game’s not over yet, though,” Abramovich said. “Another round of storms is needed during February to maintain these streamflow forecasts and water supply outlooks.”

For information on specific basins, streams, and reservoirs, please view the full report online at February Water Supply Outlook Report.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Just in from Washington

Poll: Chesapeake Bay Residents Do Not Trust Federal Regulation, Putting Local Farmers in Federal Regulatory Peril Is Biggest Concern

WASHINGTON - Nearly three in four residents of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed say state and local government authority over water resources should trump federal authority. When health, safety and environmental regulations are needed, nearly half say they trust state and local governments, compared to only 28 percent who trust the federal government.
Those were two key findings of new Morning Consult polling conducted Jan. 21-24 of 1,042 registered voters who reside within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The poll was sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"Residents of the Chesapeake Bay region believe their local governments should have authority when it comes to protecting their water, and, understandably, they trust state and local authorities much more than they do the federal government," said Ellen Steen, general counsel for AFBF.
The Morning Consult poll looked at voter opinion on a range of issues related to the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory "blueprint" for the Chesapeake Bay that sets strict federal limits across the region for local land uses such as farming, forestry and development. AFBF has asked the Supreme Court to review the EPA rule, which it believes to be unlawful. The case is American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA (15-599)http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/american-farm-bureau-federation-v-epa/
According to the poll, 48 percent of respondents said that when health, safety and environmental regulations are needed, they trust state and local governments more than the federal government. Just 28 percent said they would trust the federal government more. When it comes to ensuring the quality of rivers, streams and creeks, 74 percent said that state and local communities should be primarily responsible and only 18 percent said the federal government should have the primary responsibility.
More than three in four respondents (77 percent) said local or state governments should be most responsible for regulating how people use land or produce food. Only 14 percent favored the federal government.
While six in 10 voters familiar with the EPA's regulations initially expressed their support, after being informed of how the rules might affect them locally, that support plummeted to just 39 percent, with 45 percent of the voters opposing them.
"In these days when people place a high value on local food, 62 percent of the respondents said they were less likely to support the EPA's Bay regulations because they would put a number of local farmers out of business due to restrictions and high regulatory costs," Steen said. "That's what this rule is all about; imposing federal restrictions that will make it impossible for many local farmers to continue to farm in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
"We all support better water quality in the Bay, but people living in the watershed care about local farmers, jobs and communities, too. There are better, more affordable and less intrusive ways for states to take the lead and get this important job done that also save room in the watershed for the people producing local food."
Results from the full survey have a margin of error of ±3 percent. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race, gender and educational attainment.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Just in


Enter American Farm Bureau’s #‎iAdvocate Photo Contest!

WASHINGTON
– Farmers and ranchers are invited to share their stories about advocating for agriculture with the American Farm Bureau Federation as part of the organization’s just-launched #iAdvocate campaign. Ten lucky contest winners will each receive a $100 Farm Bureau Bank gift card.

To enter, message a photo of yourself advocating for agriculture to the Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/FarmBureauPandEPhoto entries should include an #iAdvocate white board or sign with a brief explanation of what you’re doing.

Submissions will be uploaded to the “2016 #iAdvocate Campaign” album on the Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Facebook page. Once you have been notified that your photo has been posted, ask others to “Like” and “Share” it on Facebook. Contest winners will be determined based on the highest number of “Likes” received for pictures within the album.

“Advocating for agriculture is one of our key areas of focus,” said Chris Hoffman, a Pennsylvania hog and poultry farmer and chair of AFBF’s national Promotion & Education Committee. “We look forward to seeing creative #iAdvocate photo submissions from around the country.”

The contest is open through March 25.

Just in

Agri-Pulse poll: Trump leading the candidates in mostly Republican farm country


White House-smallFeb. 1, 2016-Most U.S. farmers and ranchers will vote Republican this November, according to a recently released Agri-Pulse poll. Among those who say they're backing a Republican, 40 percent want to see Donald Trump in the White House.  

The poll shows that regardless of age or farm size, farmers and ranchers want some big changes. 

"It's clear that GOP-leaning voters are very dissatisfied with the direction of the country, the way President Obama is doing his job and the way that Congress is doing its job. And there was not much variance by age or farm size, although a higher percentage of younger voters expressed dissatisfaction with how Congress is functioning," said Agri-Pulse Editor and founder Sara Wyant. "They want to elect someone who can make major changes." 

Among voters who identified as Republican or leaning Republican in the poll, 40 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, compared to 15 percent for Sen. Ted. Cruz, 11 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio and 10 percent for Ben Carson.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee received slightly more than 4 percent of support and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had about 2 percent, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was at 1.9 percent, businesswoman Carly Fiorina at 1.2 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 1 percent and Rick Santorum polling just below 1 percent. 

On the Democratic side, 19 percent of the 750 farmers and ranchers surveyed identified as Democrats or leaning Democrat.  Among those Democratic supporters, 49 percent favor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came in at 41 percent, while 10 percent of Democratic voters were undecided. 

The poll, conducted by Aimpoint Research, is part of the ongoing Agri-Pulse "Rural Route to the White House" series that is designed to help educate farmers and ranchers about how presidential candidates view national issues which are important to their livelihoods. The series is sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Just in


Fish and Game meetings today

Salmon--Lemhi county cattle ranchers meet today in Salmon to discuss the issue of how to deal with big game (elk,moose,deer) that have moved into the lower valley looking for food. This morning At the Two-Dot ranch in Leadore two moose have moved into the haystack looking for hay.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Just in

U.S. Forest Service Releases Findings on the Effects of Drought for Forests and Rangelands

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Forest Service today released a new report,  Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, that provides a national assessment of peer-reviewed scientific research on the impacts of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands. This report will help the Forest Service better manage forests and grasslands impacted by climate change.
"Our forests and rangelands are national treasures, and because they are threatened, we are threatened," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This report confirms what we are seeing, that every region of the country is impacted by the direct and indirect effects of drought conditions and volatile weather patterns. Sixty million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on our 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They support 200,000 jobs and contribute over $13 billion to local economies every year."
The report establishes a comprehensive baseline of available data that land managers can use to test how well their efforts to improve drought resilience and adaptation practices are working nationwide. Major findings from the report include:
  • Drought projections suggest that some regions of the U.S. will become drier and that most will have more extreme variations in precipitation. 
  • Even if current drought patterns remained unchanged, warmer temperatures will amplify drought effects.
  • Drought and warmer temperatures may increase risks of large-scale insect outbreaks and larger wildfires, especially in the western U.S. 
  • Drought and warmer temperature may accelerate tree and shrub death, changing habitats and ecosystems in favor of drought-tolerant species.
  • Forest-based products and values – such as timber, water, habitat and recreation opportunities – may be negatively impacted. 
  • Forest and rangeland managers can mitigate some of these impacts and build resiliency in forests through appropriate management actions.
"Since 2000, fire seasons have grown longer and the frequency, size and severity of wildland fires have increased," said Vilsack. "Among the many benefits of having this solid baseline data is the improved ability to identify where restoration work can help forests adapt and prosper while minimizing the threat and impact of future wildfires."
The assessment, a broad review of existing drought research, provides input to the reauthorized National Integrated Drought Information System ( NIDIS), established by Congress in 2006, and the National Climate Assessment ( NCA), produced every four years to project major trends and evaluate the effects of global climate change on forests, agriculture, rangelands, land and water resources, human health and welfare, and biological diversity. Together these serve as key, science-based, resources for anyone working to maintain or improve public and private lands in the face of a changing environment.
Edited by Forest Service scientists in partnership with Duke University, the document provides a valuable new tool to inform discussion, planning and implementation of adaptation strategies for land managers and policy makers. The collaborative effort, authored by 77 scientists from the Forest Service, other Federal agencies, research institutions and universities across the United States, examines ways to understand and mitigate the effects of drought on forests and rangeland including the 193 million acres of National Forest System lands.
The implications of the findings of this report are likely to have far-reaching effects on the environment for the foreseeable future. As climate change drives temperatures increases and precipitation patterns change, drought–and associated disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfires-will only get worse across many areas of the United States.

Resilient Federal Forests Act

House Committee Passes Resilient Federal Forests Act Washington—The US House of Representatives passed a bill that makes it easier to ...