Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Potato wrap

Potato Market prices looking good well into 2018

Boise--Potato production in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon fell 6.3 percent this past year on 21,000 fewer planted acres, according to the USDA's December crop production report but nationwide production fell just 1 percent.

In 2017,  Idaho along with Washington and Oregon made up 60.9 percent of national production. But that number dropped to 57.5 percent in 2017, according to NASS.

United States production decline is significant because the region produces 78 percent of all potatoes processed in the U.S. and 61 percent of fresh russets produced in the U.S. Market experts think that russets make up about 85 percent of the PNW crop this year. And shortages should keep the market steady and should climb slightly into 2018.

The Pacific Northwest potato stocks on Dec. 1 were down 9 percent. Processing from June through November was up slightly and fresh usage was down only 0.8 percent – meaning the market crunch is ahead because the US did not cut back on usage during the first six months, so a shortfall could come in the next six months.

US potato processors and fresh buyers will compete against one another for the existing supply. Fryers already locked up what they need shifting the competition between fresh buyers and dehydrators, according to market watchers.

The US Market is already reacting to the tight supply and that's spiked russet prices more than 50 percent compared to 2016. Prices in Idaho for Russet Burbanks for the fresh market are averaging $18.57 a hundredweight, and Russet Norkotahs are running $17.34. Prices to growers are close to $9 a hundredweight, compared with about $4 this time last year, he said.

Across the nation, production is down nearly 8 million hundredweight and 5.7 percent in Idaho, 6.6 million hundredweight and 6.3 percent in Washington and 2.2 million hundredweight and 9.4 percent in Oregon, NASS reported.

For five long years, prices were below the cost of production, especially table potato growers. Idaho farmers were faced with tough planting decisions last spring, there was also a lot of uncertainty with a large processing operation in eastern Idaho changing hands.

While prices on competing crops were weak, the situation decreased planted acreage. In addition, yields weren’t quite as good as they have been according to marketers.

Growers planted 15,000 fewer acres in Idaho, 5,000 fewer acres in Washington and 1,000 fewer acres in Oregon. Yields per acre were down 5 hundredweight in Idaho, 25 hundredweight in Washington and 40 hundredweight in Oregon, NASS reported.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Just in

Wolfpack detected in Boise Foothills

Sean Ellis, Capitol Press
BOISE — Idaho Wildlife Services is keeping its eyes on a pack of seven wolves that has been detected recently in the foothills north of Boise.
News that a pack of wolves has been detected in that area was not welcomed by the state’s cattle industry.
There have been lone wolf sightings in the Boise foothills over the years but this is the first time a pack has been detected in the area.
IWS State Director Todd Grimm said seven different sets of wolf tracks have been found near Avimor Subdivision, which is located in the foothills north of Boise, by far the state’s largest urban area.
Wildlife Services is a USDA agency that solves conflicts between humans and animals.
Grimm said there have been no reported livestock depredations associated with the pack, “but there are cattle in that vicinity, as well as pets, so the possibility is certainly there for a conflict.”
Idaho Cattle Association Executive Vice President Cameron Mulrony said he has not heard of any problems associated with the pack from cattlemen in the region but the news is certainly not welcomed by them.
Just having wolves in the area can cause cattle to put on less weight and reduce their breed-back percentage, both of which can cost ranchers a significant amount of money, he said. 
“Any time there is an additional predator around that can cause a hit on a rancher’s bottom line, that’s not great news,” Mulrony said.
Jennifer Struthers, a regional wolf biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said there is typically one or two wolf sightings a year in the foothills area during the winter time when elk and deer come down onto winter range.
Outside of those sporadic sightings, not much is known about the predators, she said. 
“The wolves come down because the game come down,” Struthers said. “We get a few sightings most winters by the public or when we fly. Where they go in the spring and summer time, we really don’t know.”
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Broadcast Services Manager Jake Putnam said local sheepherders reported a couple wolf sightings in March but no depredations were associated with the animals. 
“It doesn’t come as a surprise to Idaho Farm Bureau that wolves are that close to the city,” he said. “There have been sightings of wolves there in years past, but this is the first time a pack has been reported and this is a concern to us.”
According to Wildlife Services, there have been seven confirmed wolf-livestock depredations in Ada County since the predators were re-introduced to Idaho in the mid-1990s. 
Those depredations have occurred higher up in the mountain areas, said IDFG spokesman Mike Keckler.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Grass Root Politics

American Farm Bureau VP Julie Anna Potts Visits Idaho

Pocatello—The Executive Vice President of the Nations most powerful Agriculture Lobby visited the Idaho Farm Bureau last month.

Julie Anna Potts addressed the Idaho Farmer Bureau’s 78th Annual Meeting and talked about the importance of State and County Farm Bureaus to the American Farm Bureau’s lobby efforts. Potts says she’s been working on Capitol Hill since graduating from College and says the success of Farm Bureau is unmatched. We talked to Ms. Potts at the Annual Meeting.

Have things changed with the Trump Administration?

From the start, I saw the opportunities to affect change and influence issues on the Hill like never before and I’m talking Administration issues and court cases. Specifically,  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Farm Bureau with a greater opportunity to influence with the Executive Branch as we do right now. No matter how you feel about the President, we have opportunities we haven’t had before.  We have an open door to us and that's incredibly important. We’ve seen movement on the issues that we’ve been dealing with for decades. Our top issues, the issues you’re not reading in the paper, we're finally invited to the table in ways we haven’t been in the past. I’d venture to say that right now the American Farm Bureau is the most influential voice in agriculture.

Do you think this administration is making progress on red tape? Cutting rules and regulations that’ll make farming and ranching less encumbered?

Yes. First of all, on a very positive note the Federal Lands issue, the Endangered Species Act, and Water Quality issues are all in the process of regulatory reform. The question is how do we change the ways rules are put in place to make real, permanent change in the process?  We have an open dialogue with the Department of Interior and we have a dialogue with the Environmental Protection Agency and we even have the ear of the West Wing of the White House. Having that connection gives us a voice and we know whats going on. We can call upon that connection when needed and that's huge.

The EPA’s Waters of the US was a great victory, but is it over?

In respect to Waters of the United States rule, we’ve been working diligently to help the Administration understand the legal technicalities of reviewing and renewing the rule. I don’t have to tell you that it’s a bad rule. Thankfully the Trump Administration is taking it off the table. But for us to have a real winner with WOTUS we all have to establish a clear understanding of where federal authority ends and where state authority begins regarding water quality. It’s very important that we put clear rules in place and simply repealing it is not enough. We have experts in our office to help articulate that and we have expert counsel with experience in water issues and environmental law. I think we have the greatest resources available in Washington for assisting this administration and getting it right and making it legally defensible. I’m so proud that we have that door open and we’re working hard with the Trump administration. We want to make sure it won’t be rolled back by future administrations.

One of the biggest AFBF successes in many years on the Hill was the WOTUS issue, why?

It was Grass root politics and it’s a tremendous story. The Waters of the US rule was a clear-cut example of Federal encroachment on land without Congressional approval. This issue is one that Farm Bureau had worked on for decades then all the sudden they introduced the rule and we had to mobilize.

This issue was a threat to our property rights and we saw what the government could do to the rights in a regulatory environment. So WOTUS got to a real emotional level and that was key to our success. There’s no other group in Washington who understood the technicalities of that regulation and could articulate it like the Farm Bureau. We involved our grassroots leaders who said: “I’m putting my name on this, we’re going to ditch the rule.” The second thing is that we put every tool and tagline into the mix and ran with it. We added some very creative videos from farmers that struck a cord.  I think the third thing when it came to a long-term strategy we added a delay action to keep the rule from being adopted and all that added up to a textbook example of grass root politics.

I was very proud that a difficult issue for property owners and industries was struck down and our members led the charge. Big business, small business, landowners, followed our lead and carried our message so much so that when the EPA engaged in illegal campaigning on behalf of the rule, they actually used language, ‘ditch the myth’ and that was directly responsive to our ditch the rule tag-line and we were extremely proud of that.

Are there other Issues as big as WOTUS on the horizon?

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Monuments of the US and the Bear Ears monument in Utah.That’s a huge issue we continue to do work on, even after President Trump’s announcement to cut back acres. That’s the result of the kind of conversations we’ve had with the White House and State Farm Bureaus. The Bears Ears National Monument will go from roughly 1.3 million acres to roughly 228,000 — only about 15 percent of its original size. And Grand Staircase will be diminished by roughly half, from its nearly 1.9 million acres to about 1 million.We teamed up with County and State Farm Bureaus and they helped us lobby and work the social media channels.

On the other hand, we still have a labor issue and that’s a huge challenge. State Farm Bureaus say it’s the single biggest threat to farm operations. I don’t have to tell you that we need an adequate, legal labor supply. That’s a priority and we are working on that non-stop on Capitol Hill but the challenges remain on the immigration side. And so our point man on these issues is our President, Zippy Duvall. He’s been invited to speak with the committees of authorization when we have difficulties with legislative proposals. He’s in constant touch with President Trump about the need to fix this agriculture and its tricky handling and understanding the other issues. But it’s happening. We need something in place that is workable while supplying labor to the farm and administered by the USDA. It’s critical to keep it under the USDA umbrella.

Whats the importance of States in affecting change on Ag issues in Washington?

States like Idaho are unbelievably important. I once worked on the Hill as Chief Counsel on the Senate Ag Committee. Constituents who came from states to talk about their issues in front of the committee have a big impact on the Committee members. Farmer testimony is more important than a lobbyist and those living inside the beltway. When it comes to testimony real voters make a difference. I think the Farm Bureau’s greatest strength is the fact that we have an organization in every county and political strength in every state. Also, think of it, every County Farm Bureau has a relationship with their Congressional Delegation and they have Statehouse contacts with their lawmakers and their Governors at the State Capitol so it gives us to influence and depth that other Ag organizations don’t have.

One of our Senators told us that our Ag Ambassadors are more powerful in many respects than paid lobbyists. Is that true?

That's exactly right. We have within Farm Bureau people with real stories. In terms of lobbying, you hear a lot about the importance of telling stories. Whether through social media or face to face visits on Capitol Hill. Senators need the ability to retell a story and do it authentically when they’re working an issue. Better yet, a story from the mouth of a farmer or rancher affected by an issue is real. Its also very authentic and I’d say its impactful. It packs more punch than a story from a lobbyist. I would add that when the Ag Ambassadors come to Capitol Hill in the spring you can see and feel the change on the Hill. The Farm Bureau both the State and AFBF gives members a strong briefing and the informational tools to lobby effectively. Through the visits and subsequent social media, the Farm Bureau is unmatched by other organizations.

Congress passed the historic tax cut before the Christmas break, But AFBF was focused on Tax Reform, Why?

Tax reform is something that we have been asking for, for many years, but only if its good for Farmers and Ranchers. We want a lower tax rate on farmers and ranchers and we want to keep the interest deductions that we have. We don’t want those deductions to go away, we want the expensing deductions that we have. We’re also worried about cash accounting and the elimination of the estate tax.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wheat rule change

Wheat and Grain Producers hope to change Database rules

BOISE — Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson nervously sat in the Idaho Farm Bureau’s House of Delegates at the Annual meeting last month.

The executive director of the Wheat Commission has worked non-stop on a commission rule change for years and needs approval from Idaho's largest farm organization.

At the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting, December 5th, The House of Delegates discussed, voted and passed the resolution that changes the way the Wheat Commission does business and Jacobson breathed a sigh of relief.

“We’re quite pleased with the resolution passed by the House of Delegates because that grassroots support from Idaho farmers will help us when we take this issue to the Statehouse this year,” said Jacobson.

In a time of high-tech communication, nonprofit organizations live and die with the strength of their database. Other groups might think it inconceivable that the Idaho Wheat Commission hasn't had a complete member database in years.

“When the Wheat Commission was originally organized we had that capability but by mistake, it got removed from our administrative rules at one point. Our rule change is simple it just puts the database requirement back in the rules,” said Jacobson. "Nothing more, nothing less."

When a referendum comes up or a vote on check-off dollars the Wheat Commission has only a partial database and many members are left out of the process and that's frustrated Jacobson for years.

“If we are going to be accountable back to the wheat grower then we need to know who the wheat growers are so we can include them in the periodic referendum. We also have a statutory responsibility to educate the grower and to develop research grants to respond to their needs,” said Jacobson.

So by having the grower database, the Commission will be able to educate growers and react to their concerns. Growers will have a voice on how checkoff dollars are used. Jacobson says the rule change ultimately will help the Commission be more efficient with grower dollars.

The database issue is not a new one and in fact, the proposed rule change had been delayed for more than two years. Jacobson will now go to the Idaho Legislature armed with grassroots support from the Idaho Farm Bureau and the Grain Producers.

In November the IWC and Idaho Grain Producers Association sat down and agreed to go forward with the proposed rule change, that came after the Idaho Attorney General’s office encouraged the Commission to fulfill their statutory responsibility and get a complete mailing list.

“The next step for the Commission is to take the proposal to the House and Senate Ag affairs committee and with their vote put it back in the administrative rules. So when we go forward in January we will have producer support," said Jacobson.

Other farm commissions have the ability to collect grower names and contact information in their administrative rules and the IWC rule change would give the commission the same tools that other commissions have had for years.

The IWC first brought the proposed database rule change up during the 2016 legislative session. But when grain elevator operators voice concerns the commission voluntarily pulled the proposal. Last session the operators asked the commission to hold off submitting the rule during the 2017 session after more questions were raised.

Since then the Idaho Wheat Commission has been through a total of six negotiated rule-making meetings.  IWC Board and Jacobson thinks the commission has answered all concerns that elevator owners and lawmakers raised the past two years. He thinks he can find a consensus at the Statehouse this legislative session.

One of the main issues raised by elevator operators and producers is that they didn't like the grower's information open to the State public records law. Exhaustive legal research by IWC revealed that it’s not.

Some elevators were also concerned about how the database would be used, so the IWC adopted a policy that specified that grower names and addresses will only be used by the Idaho Grain magazine and to conduct the periodic referendum, according to Jacobson.

With legislative approval, the Idaho Wheat Commission can finally build a grower database. According to the Commission, they’ll finally be able to educate producers and react to their concerns like other commissions.

Tax Reform Package

Idaho Farm Bureau Commends Delegation on Tax Reform Package

Pocatello--The Idaho Farm Bureau would like to recognize Idaho’s Congressional Delegation of Senator Mike Crapo, Senator James Risch, Congressman Mike Simpson and Congressman Raul Labrador for their work on HR 1, the tax reform package that was sent to President Donald Trump this week.

This legislation simplifies the U.S. tax code and helps middle-class families. It keeps family farms viable and as farmers age, it allows for the next generation to take over without massive tax burdens that in the past have forced farm sales rather than orderly succession.

“Running a farm or ranch is challenging even under the best circumstances,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle, a potato grower from Bingham County. “Farmers and ranchers face many factors beyond their control and they need a tax code that gives them the flexibility to adapt quickly so they can operate efficiently during good times and bad.”

Farm Bureau supports the complete repeal of estate taxes. The estate tax portion of the bill that passed this week doubles the exemption to $11 million but sunsets in 2025. The possibility of additional taxes at death creates a disincentive for the next generation, who might otherwise return to run the family farm but can’t shoulder the tax burden. Stepped-up basis encourages family businesses to continue from one generation to the next, by deferring taxes on farmland that continues to be farmed by sons and daughters.

“We believe the bill will lower taxes paid by the vast majority of farm and ranch businesses,” said Searle. “Although the final bill does not repeal the estate tax, the increase in the exemption will bring relief to many farm and ranch families and is a key installment toward repeal.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said the tax overhaul includes many changes to the tax code, most notably lower individual tax rates that will benefit farmers and ranchers. So thanks to a lot of hard work by Congress and the administration, farmers will have both lower rates and all the tools they always had to manage their businesses.

“Starting next year, farmers and ranchers will also be able to take a 20 percent deduction off their business income,” Duvall said. “That’s new, and it will reduce the taxes farmers owe. The bill also

doubles the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person, which will provide relief to the vast majority of farmers and ranchers. We look forward to President Trump signing this bill. Most of the provisions in this tax bill are temporary, lasting for only seven years, so Farm Bureau will now focus our work on making those important tax deductions, lower rates and the estate tax exemption permanent.”

Thursday, December 21, 2017

EPA to Finalize WOTUS Repeal in April

Washington--The Environmental Protection Agency will complete the formal repeal of the Waters of the U.S. Rule in April 2018.
An updated agenda from the White House also shows a replacement rule is scheduled for proposal in May. A final version of the rule is not expected until June 2019. President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this year repealing WOTUS. This was a move EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the American Farm Bureau Federation, at the time, would bring certainty in water regulation for farmers and ranchers. AFBF has been calling on the EPA to “ditch the rule” since it was proposed during the Obama administration.

"In respect to Waters of the US, we have been working diligently to help the Administration understand the legal technicalities of reviewing and renewing the rule and it’s a bad rule," said Julie Anna Potts of the American Farm Bureau. "They’re taking it off the table. But for us to have a real win with WOTUS we all have to have an understanding where federal authority ends and state authority begins regarding our water quality. Its very important that we put clear rules in place, but simply repealing it is not enough."

National Corn Growers Association public policy director Ethan Matthews has previously said it was important that the new rule does not say “everything under the sun” falls under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. He noted that corn growers farm over 90 million acres in the country, meaning they have a big role to play in the nation’s water quality.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Soda Fire grazing plan

Idaho and Oregon Ranchers Return to Range

Murphy— Owyhee County cattle ranchers have made an epic return to the range.

Cattlemen were burned off the land two years ago when the Soda Fire destroyed more than 270,000 acres of prime rangeland. The fire stretched from Owyhee County to Oregon.

Because of the 2015 fire, more than 40 ranchers and cattlemen were forced to find grazing land in Nevada and as far east as Burley but in September they started trucking their cattle back to the range.

Rancher Ted Blackstock says his operation was able to return cattle to three-quarters of his allotments.

“We were happy to get back on the range. In fact, we were able to use some of the allotments this fall. But there’s still a few allotments this spring that we will not be able to use, but the majority of them we can use and after trucking cattle, we hope to cut those costs,” said Blackstock.

Cindy Fritz of the BLM says rehabilitation of the range came back faster than expected.

“Our seeding did well this past spring and we’re seeing much better results than what we expected. Everything worked and we had favorable responses from our treatments and I’m pleased for the most part,” said Fritz.

The Soda scorched 84 pastures on 40 different grazing allotments. The BLM says the majority of the devastation occurred in Owyhee County southwest of Boise, but it burned all the way to Jordan Valley area in Eastern Oregon.

After the fire, the BLM told ranchers they couldn’t graze cattle on their allotments for at least two growing seasons. Initially, that was an optimistic estimate considering the threat of erosion.

“We were devastated when they said we’d be off the range for years. But the BLM found that the range naturally came back. The had a funny way of classifying it, they said on some of the allotments that they would never achieve their standards but they just opened them,” said Blackstock.

Grazing started on 48 affected pastures six weeks ago and the BLM range managers expect to make decisions on the remaining 36 pastures after the first of the year.

“It’s been expensive for us because it wiped out all of our feed for the last part of 2015 and then all of ‘16 and most of this year. It cost us a lot buying all that feed,” said Blackstock who said he’ll now be able to use some of the winter range initially burned in the fire.

The lightning-caused fire rolled rapidly across the range destroying everything in its path. “There were no unburned islands or in this fire, everything was burned,” he said. “Whatever it went across, it burned 100 percent of it and it killed hundreds of cattle,” said Blackstock.

Owyhee rancher Ed Wisley was burned off the range, he says the fire burned hot because range managers let the fuels buildup for generations.

“They kept taking cattle off the range and then the sheep and it resulted in all of this organic overburden. The duff was a foot deep under the sagebrush. There was nothing but fuel out there, add a strong wind and some lightning and you lose a hundred thousand acres real quick,” said Wisely.

The BLM has studied the fire and fuel loads on the range and developed a restoration plan that they hope will make the range more resistant to catastrophic fires in the future.

Instead of keeping cattle off the range, they plan on using them across 30 miles of targeted grazing on the once blackened range. The grazing fuel breaks will start this spring, Land managers will work with ranchers in a grazing program designed to break up the vast sea of grass and underbrush.

“We started this targeted grazing program that the BLM fire guys suggested and its starting to work for us. I think we can show results as the range opens up and we can cut down on fuels and disastrous fires. We can control the long runs, the mile long runs of fires by controlling the underbrush fuels in the controlled grazing breaks,” said Blackstock.

Another element is the use of county and dirt roads. The BLM wants additional grazing breaks along key roads on the range. Each road will have 200-foot grazed buffers on each side of the road. Under the plan, the cattle will graze the grass down to a 2-inch stubble height.

The BLM thinks the breaks will keep fires from making runs and will slow the explosive spread of fires. The agency started using this tactic a few years ago in the West, but not on this massive scale and not without fencing.

The new grazing plan that incorporates the fuel breaks are part of the BLM’s innovative plan to protect the millions of dollars of restoration work done over the past two years. There was a time when cattle were considered a problem on the range, now according to ranchers, they're a part of the wildfire solution.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Just in

President Trump to Address Farm Bureau Members in January at Annual Convention in Nashville

WASHINGTON – Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will address farm and ranch families from across the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention, Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is honored to host our nation’s president,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a beef and poultry farmer from Georgia. “President Trump has said all along that he would make sure agriculture has a seat at the table when it comes to the top issues facing America’s farmers and ranchers. Now, it is our privilege to reserve a spot for him at our podium.”

Duvall considers President Trump’s announced speech as a sign of the high regard in which the nation’s chief executive holds America’s farm and ranch families.

“Farmers and ranchers and our rural communities are the bedrock of our nation. President Trump knows that, and his willingness to devote his time to talk directly with Farm Bureau members will be a memorable occasion,” Duvall said.

After three consecutive years of decline in farm sector profits, President Trump will speak to Farm Bureau members during a period of prolonged economic challenge across farm country. Profits have fallen and many farmers have seen declines in equity. Though the Agriculture Department forecasts that farm profits will be relatively stable in 2017, action on key issues on the president’s agenda could help farmers turn the corner as they head into the new year.

“President Trump is fully aware of the economic difficulties farmers and ranchers have gone through these past few years,” Duvall said. “The economic issues he has outlined, including reform of our nation’s tax and regulatory systems, match many of the issues on Farm Bureau’s agenda.”

President Trump’s executive order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, led by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, highlights the importance his administration places on rural America, according to Duvall.

“President Trump has assigned his team to focus on the important pocketbook and quality-of-life issues to strengthen rural America, and those issues are front and center on his to-do list,” Duvall said. “We look forward to hearing the strategies that he and Secretary Perdue share for taking agriculture and rural America down the road toward renewed prosperity.”

ATA Reports Shortage of National Truck Drivers to Reach 50,000 by End of 2017

Washington--The American Trucking Association released the findings of their latest study on the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. The report, released October 20, 2017, indicates that the trucking industry is expected to have a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers by the end of 2017.

In addition to the general lack of new applicants, the lack of qualified drivers is a significant factor in the overall problem. This is a serious concern for the industry as a whole, as well as a concern for the supply chain infrastructure and the U.S. economy.

This is the first study that has examined the truck driver shortage since 2015. Researchers found that the truck driver shortage decreased from 45, 000 in 2015 to 36,500 in 2016 but has increased to an expected 50,000 in 2017.

The reason for the decrease in 2016 was a reduction in the demand for cargo deliveries, triggered by the collapse of oil prices at the end of 2014. When fuel prices drop, carrier revenues fall due to declining fuel surcharges. This is called a “freight recession.” Freight volume and rates finally started to come back in mid-2016 and a boom market in November and December 2016 for the demand for truck freight boosted truckload rates.

If the current trends continue the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. could increase to more than 174,000 by 2026. In addition to the overall lack of drivers and lack of qualified drivers, the ATA study found the following contributors to the current truck driver shortage includes:
an aging driver population
lifestyle issues
regulatory challenges.

In order to address this increasing shortage, fleets are increasing wages and offering other incentives. Fleets are also reaching out to women and other non-traditional workforce demographic populations. Industry advocates are calling for policy changes, such as reducing the age of drivers while simultaneously putting in place a graduated licensing system and making it easier for returning veterans to qualify for a CDL. These, and other innovative programs are working to make it easier – and more attractive – to enter the truck driving profession.

Cline Wood is more than just an insurance agency. We tailor insurance and risk products and services that improve your bottom line. As a Cline Wood client, we care about your business; you can depend on the knowledge and experience of Cline Wood to help analyze and solve your needs. To learn more about how Cline Wood can help your trucking business, click here

Monday, December 18, 2017


Barging lets Idaho’s grain growers compete in the world market


I grew up in Eastern Idaho where the Snake River winds its way through the landscape, bringing water and verdant green where it flows. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I traveled farther west and viewed with awe the big barges moving down the Snake and Columbia rivers. Now that I represent Idaho’s wheat and barley growers, I’ve learned just how critical those barges are.

In 2016, Idaho was the seventh largest wheat-producing state in the nation, producing 102.8 million bushels of wheat. More than half of Idaho’s crop is used domestically and is the main ingredient in pasta, tortillas, bread, cereal, crackers, and cookies you and your family likely enjoy. The other half of Idaho’s wheat crop is exported and makes it to those export markets by one of three ways: road, rail or river.

To move approximately 100 million bushels of wheat requires:

▪ 109,890 semi-trucks (each transporting 910 bushels).

▪ 286 100-car unit trains.

▪ 204 barge tows (each tow is four barges).

Barging on the river is the most efficient mode of transportation wheat growers can use to get their wheat to overseas markets. Idaho’s grain growers compete in the world market because we efficiently move large quantities of wheat via the river. And honestly — does anyone really want that many additional trucks on our highways? Also, without the river system, grain growers would pay higher rail rates because of the lack of competition, and in North Idaho, there is essentially no train service.

The wheat from North Idaho is going mostly to customers in Pacific Rim countries — Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Idaho generally has a very consistent wheat crop, which helps us meet the needs of these customers. But we must also meet their shipping needs to maintain a premium market for our crops; the river transportation system is key to doing that. Grain buyers in Portland can purchase grain in Idaho, have it loaded on a barge in Lewiston, and know to within the hour when it will arrive to be sorted and loaded on a vessel. A small amount of wheat can be sourced in Portland by semi-truck out of the Willamette Valley, and some unit trains of wheat are railed in. But having three modes of transportation provides competition and flexibility that helps us trade in the world wheat market.

One grower in Genesee estimates that it is 36.5 cents per bushel cheaper to truck and barge his wheat to Portland than it is to use truck and rail. With his average yields, that would equate to over $30 an acre more in transportation costs to truck his wheat to the closest unit train facility and get it to the port of Portland by rail than it is to truck it to Lewiston and barge it down the river. To say that taking away the river transportation system would be costly and disruptive is a vast understatement.

The good news for everyone concerned with dams and the survival of salmon is that salmon recovery efforts are working. Since 1978, the Northwest has spent over $14 billion on increasing salmon runs. Improvements at the dams, such as turbine upgrades, mechanical bypass systems, and fish ladders, help salmon safely travel down the river and back up to spawn as adults.

And as a result, fish runs on the Snake River have seen record returns in recent years. In 2014, salmon returned to the Columbia River Basin in the highest numbers in over 75 years. Between 2002 and 2011, average wild Chinook salmon populations more than tripled, and average wild steelhead populations doubled.

So, on the question of where we go from here — in Judge Simon’s recent decision, the Action Agencies have been instructed to issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and to consider dam breaching as an option. This process has to play out between now and 2021 when the EIS is completed. But we think there’s a strong case for the dams, and for salmon and dams coexisting.

Idaho’s grain growers will also continue to support the Nez Perce Water Rights Agreement and the limits that it places on flow augmentation from Idaho’s irrigation reservoirs. Those continued water supplies are critical for agriculture.

Idaho’s grain producers urge the Trump administration to continue investing in the locks and dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers. We recommend staying the course on salmon recovery efforts, continuing to get affordable and clean energy via hydropower generation at the dams, and continuing water storage to prevent flooding and to irrigate our crops so that we can feed ourselves, our neighbors and the world. We also support continued fishing, waterskiing and recreation on the water with our families at the reservoirs the dams provide. And of course, we support barge transportation on the river.

Stacey Katseanes Satterlee is executive director of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, representing grain producers at the county, state and federal levels. She and her husband live in Meridian with their three kids and dog, Spud, and she loves to play outside with her kids and, especially, take them fishing.

Friday, December 15, 2017

School Milk Program

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would provide more access to milk in schools.

Washington--The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017 introduced by Representative Glenn Thompson would allow schools to give students more milk choices. American Farm Bureau Federation market intelligence director John Newton says the bill gives schools the flexibility to bring back low-fat flavored milk.

"Students in the school lunch program currently have access to low-fat milk," said John Newton, American Farm Bureau Market Intelligence Director. skim milk, but don’t have access to that low-fat flavored milk. So, this would allow them to bring that chocolate milk that was so popular in my childhood at the lunch table back into the lunch program.

Newton says the legislation provides a market opportunity for dairy farmers.

" For a number of years, consumption of fluid milk in the United States has been declining. So, this is a great step forward in trying to reverse that trend. You have an opportunity to work with potential consumers at a very young age. By introducing them to low-fat flavored milk, you could potentially have a dairy consumer for life," said Newton.

Allowing schools to provide more milk options also benefits children.

“We welcome the proposed pilot program to increase milk consumption through school venues such as classroom breakfast programs, athletic facilities, la carte sales, vending, etc. Grants offered through this pilot program will help school nutrition officials find new and creative ways to provide children with nutritious, wholesome meal and snack choices,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennslyvania.

"Dairy has so many nutritious ingredients in it. To provide the opportunity for low-fat flavored milk in school gives all those vitamins and minerals that’s in the milk available to the school kids. So, putting it on the plate is definitely a step forward for the lunch program," said Newton.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rural Infrastructure

USDA Highlights $40 Million in Infrastructure Investments in Rural Communities

Washington– Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today highlighted U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investments in Fiscal Year 2017 that will help construct or improve infrastructure and boost economic growth in rural communities.
“USDA is focused on improving rural America’s infrastructure,” Perdue said. “Investments such as the ones I’m highlighting today will improve the quality of life, create jobs, grow our economy and foster prosperity in rural areas.”
In Fiscal Year 2017, USDA used funding from the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program to invest more than $40 million in 31 projects to repair, enhance or build infrastructure. These investments were for projects such as surface transportation, aviation, ports, water and stormwater resources, energy production and generation, and electricity transmission. They will benefit nearly 265,000 residents.
The investments are supporting projects in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Below are some examples of infrastructure projects that Rural Development funded in FY 2017:
  • Wyoming: Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board received $3,985,000 to construct a natural gas pipeline from Sheridan, extending 17 miles along County Road 98 and County Road 67 to the communities of Dayton and Ranchester. Construction will include distribution lines throughout both communities.  These improvements are expected to save the average household approximately $1,729 annually by switching from electric heating to natural gas, and $953 annually by switching from propane to natural gas.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety, and healthcare; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trade Policy and Negotiations

AFBF President Zippy Duvall Appointed to White House Trade Advisory Committee

Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall has been appointed to the White House’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Members of the ACTPN advise the president on the potential effects of proposed and current trade agreements. The ACTPN, which is administered by the U.S. Trade Representative, is the main trade advisory committee that provides policy information and advice to the president.

“I am deeply honored to be called to serve as a member of the White House’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.” Duvall said. “I look forward to taking a seat at the table on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers as we look to further our agricultural trade opportunities. We must keep building on our current gains in markets abroad, foster lasting relationships with our international partners and, of course, effectively enforce current trade agreements to ensure agriculture continues to boost our economy and create jobs for all Americans.”

Duvall has been appointed by the president for a four-year term. Established by the 1974 Trade Act, the ACTPN brings together up to 45 individuals from the private sector who represent key economic sectors affected by trade. The committee evaluates trade policy issues by considering their effect on the overall national interest.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wake Island

Joe Goicoechea of Boise fought at Wake and was a POW for the duration of the war. Goicoechea passed away in January of 2017. Jake Putnam photo
The Battle for Wake Island, A Veteran's Story
By Jake Putnam

Boise-Almost a year ago, Boise lost a brave son. Joe Goicoechea passed away, and the Wake Island survivor took with him memories of that great battle and the brave men that fought beside him. He never joined the Marines, he just had some ROTC and National Guard training but fought with the leatherneck's shoulder to shoulder on Wake Island back in 1941. 

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

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

 Goicoechea readily volunteered for action and fought fiercely with the Marines when the invasion came this week 76 years ago, and a week after Pearl Harbor. To this day the memory of the epic battle is fading away. The families of the workers still observe December 8th, the invasion of Wake,  and still remember the 98 laborers, cat skinners, carpenters, ironworkers cut down in cold blood by the Japanese.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We got sunburned that first afternoon and at night it was freezing cold, we got burned again and the nights were pure hell, we had no cover at all, no way to get out of the sun and no way to get out of the wind at night," said Goicoechea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

DOI Recommendations

Risch, Crapo, Simpson Applaud DOI’s Final Decision on Craters of the Moon National Monument

Washington–After a nearly eight-month review of National Monument designations under the Antiquities Act, U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and U.S. Representative Mike Simpson today applauded the Department of Interior’s (DOI) decision to follow the delegation’s recommendation to make no modifications to Craters of the Moon National Monument.

"The monument review was about hearing local voices and the people of Idaho, along with Senator Risch, Senator Crapo and Congressman Simpson made it clear where they stand,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “I'm grateful for their continued participation in the review and look forward to visiting Idaho again sometime soon."

“I have long held that state Governors and Legislators should have substantial input in the monument review process - not bureaucrats who live on the banks of the Potomac,” said Senator Risch. “I was pleased that DOI followed the delegation’s unanimous recommendation to make no modifications to Craters of the Moon.”

“Effective federal land management decisions require meaningful input from the local stakeholders that live, work and depend on those lands in order to foster both acceptable natural resource protection as well as resilient, self-sustaining economies in our rural communities,” said Senator Crapo. “ The Department of the Interior has made the right decision to honor the input and feedback from Idaho’s communities in not modifying Craters of the Moon.”

“I applaud the Department of the Interior for honoring the local consensus Idahoans have created with Craters of the Moon,” said Congressman Simpson. “I worked with a diverse group of stakeholders over ten years ago to ensure Craters reflects Idaho values and can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts. I am grateful Idahoans voices were heard and that this review reflects our local solution.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Idaho Farm Bureau Honors Madison County Volunteers

FORT HALL - Dean and Shirlene Schwendimann of Madison County are the 2017 recipients of the Idaho Farm Bureau President’s Cup Award. The Schwendimann’s received Farm Bureau’s most prestigious award on Wednesday, December 6 during the organization’s 78th annual convention.

The Schwendimann’s are lifelong farmers from Newdale and have volunteered their time and effort to the organization and their fellow farmers and ranchers for the last 40 years. Shirlene served in leadership on the Women’s Leadership Committee for more than 15 years. Dean served on the State Board of Directors for nearly 20 years. Prior to that they were both involved at the county level.

About 350 Farm Bureau members representing 36 county Farm Bureaus attended the Annual Meeting. Delegates to the convention set policy to ensure all water agreements protect Idaho’s longstanding water doctrine, first in time, first in right. Delegates opposed fire rules proposed by the Idaho Department of Lands which will impose regulatory burdens on small landowners and supported additional measures to reduce wolf depredation. Delegates also adopted language calling for a study on Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) to determine whether rural counties, burdened with high percentages of federal land, are getting a fair shake from the federal government.

Bryan Searle of Bingham County was re-elected as president of the Idaho Farm Bureau. Mark Trupp of Teton County was re-elected vice president.

Gerald Marchant of Cassia County, Luke Pearce of Payette County, Marjorie French of Latah County and Dan Garner of Franklin County were re-elected to the Idaho Farm Bureau State Board of Directors. Travis McAffee of Lost Rivers Farm Bureau was elected to serve as a state director from District 2. He replaces Danny Ferguson who retired.

Kyle Wade of Bannock County was elected as the Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher chairman. He replaces Lanae Nalder of Minidoka County, who aged-out of the program.

Sherril Tillotson of Bannock County and Doris Pearson of Twin Falls County were re-elected to serve on the Idaho Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. Sandy Daniel of Boundary County and Kristie Dorsey of Canyon County were elected to serve on the Women’s Leadership Committee.

Winner of this year’s Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet was Dusty Clark of Rigby. He comes from a ranching family and works as a veterinarian. He received a Polaris ATV and an all-expense paid trip to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in January.

LaNae Nalder of Minidoka County won the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award. Cole and Lynette Smith of Bear Lake County received the Young Farmer and Rancher Achiever Award. Nalder won a $5,500 credit toward a Polaris four-wheeler while the Smith’s won a Polaris Ranger. Nalder and the Smiths will also travel to the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville in January to compete for the national Excellence in Agriculture and Achiever competitions.

Dealers from 17 Idaho Polaris Dealerships donated the Polaris Ranger and Northwest Farm Credit and Idaho Farm Bureau donated the Polaris four-wheeler.

Recognized as Women of the Year were Karen Matthews of Bear Lake County, Carleen Clayville of Cassia County, Helen Percy of Elmore County, Sheryl Nuxoll of Idaho County and Stephanie Mickelsen of Bonneville County.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Common sense stewardship

AFBF Hails Bears Ears, Escalante Reforms

WASHINGTON– The following may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Today’s reduction in the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments marks a return of common sense to environmental stewardship.

“The 1906 Antiquities Act was clear in its purpose, even if the government has not always been. It was designed to stop theft and destruction of archaeological sites and other federal lands of historic or scientific interest. The act requires the president to reserve ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ Unfortunately, that law has been abused to quarantine millions of acres of already-scarce grazing land, harming farmers, ranchers and struggling small towns across the West.

“Other presidents have established and reduced the size of monuments. Presidents Taft, Wilson, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all shrank the size of established monuments. Farm Bureau is pleased to see President Trump doing likewise at Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. This is different from the previous administration, which created and expanded more new national monuments than any other in U.S. history, locking up 5.44 million acres of land and 545 million acres of water resources in the process.

“Rural America continues to struggle economically, even as large cities boom. We hope Congress will also move to improve accountability and transparency in the designation of national monuments so that we do not once again find ourselves at the mercy of a remote bureaucracy. With common sense public policies, we can preserve antiquities while providing prosperity and opportunity for rural America.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

President's Cup 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle presented Dean and Shirlene Schwendiman the 2017 Presidents Cup at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual meeting, Fort Hall, Idaho.

Idaho Farm Bureau's 78th Annual Meeting

Rigby’s Dusty Clark wins State YF&R Discussion Meet

Fort Hall—Dusty Clark from Rigby won the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion meet Tuesday in Fort Hall.

Clark is a veterinarian out of Rigby, He won a close and competitive discussion meet using a barrage of trade facts and figures. The Farm Bureau interviewed Clark after the meet:

Did you think you could win the discussion meet in such a strong field?

I’ve competed against several of the individuals before, I knew it was going to be a good discussion and I was excited about it.I think this competition is just another way of making friends with people and I have become friends with the fellow competitors over the years. It was just a good time and I think we had a positive discussion.

The question concerned the renegotiation of trade agreements, a timely topic?

The question dealt with overcoming negative public perception with regards to foreign trade and how we can negotiate new trade agreements with foreign entities to help our agricultural products. It's tough because there is such a negative perception in the public eye and that was something I touched on. I think its a big hurdle for us as a nation to overcome so we need those emerging markets because our products are safer and higher quality than most around the world. At the same time, we have to protect ourselves against cheap agricultural and manufacturing goods coming into the country. That's something we can't compete with here in the United States as far as production goes.

You were very knowledgeable about the Trade topic, did you research it?

Trade is interesting to me because it came up in the Presidential election. Trade was something that President Trump, then-candidate Trump hammered on, specifically some of the unfair deals we had with China. Especially some of the manufacturing of products we use in this country tends to be overseas. China is a major player, I thought this would be a good place to start as far as the discussion goes. Another area I looked at is cattle production. I researched Argentina, Brazil, and Austrailia. I was interested in what their laws and tariffs did to their trade economies.

Why did you single out Argentina as a trade policy example?

Argentina was a good trade example to use in the discussion meet because their farmers and ranchers switched to soybeans to make money because trade tariffs and restrictions made soybeans more profitable. It wiped out their cattle market, they dropped from the top ten in the world. They went from the number 3 cattle producer in the world to not even the top 10 because of their restrictive government policies. It stresses the importance of what we do here and what the Farm Bureau does.

The National Discussion meet is coming up next week, are you ready?

Getting ready for the national meet in Nashville, I won't do anything differently. I'm going to continue to read and study. I think so much depends on your opening and closing statements. Those are areas that can be polished specifically to each question and so my research will continue on each question. I'd like to polish my opening and closing statements better. I have offers from past winners to practice and do mock competitions with them, I'll touch bases with a few judges so I can get constructive feedback.

US pushes China to double Ag Imports

Washington—US Trade officials want China to increase US Ag imports each year. Trade negotiators want China to import at least $25 billi...