Thursday, August 31, 2017

Deep snow had just melted off in the Valley County high country

USDA Designates Three Counties in Idaho as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

WASHINGTON— In response to a request from Aaron Johnson, Farm Service Agency’s acting State Executive Director in Idaho, the USDA has designated Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis counties in Idaho as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by last winter's excessive snow, frost and heavy rainfall that started Oct. 1, 2016, and continues this summer.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are Adams, Lemhi, Shoshone, Latah, Nez Perce, and Valley County.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 25, 2017, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for FSA’s emergency (EM) loans, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA service centers for further information on eligibility.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Just in

2017 Wheat crop: Good quality, lower yields

Boise—The combines across the state are heading for the barn.

Idaho’s 2017 wheat harvest is finishing up on the last dry-land farms in Caribou, Bannock and Bingham counties.

“Southwest Idaho is 100-percent in,” said Blaine Jacobson of the Idaho Wheat Commission.

“Statewide we’re better than 95-percent in. Theres some harvesting on the dry farms in Eastern Idaho. The farms outside of Soda Springs are just finishing up winter wheat and starting spring wheat. Farms in Bingham, Bannock and Bonneville counties still have spring wheat out. Up north around Grangeville, there’s a few still harvesting,” added Jacobson.

The first hard white wheat was harvested in Canyon County Aug. 1, thats the earliest harvest date Jacobson remembers in all his years at the Commission.

“It’s been hot and it ripened up the crop. Once the crop started to grow we didn't have the wild swings or excessive moisture at harvest. Those are the primary factors of falling numbers, so there will be no falling numbers this year in Idaho,” said Jacobson.

Jacobson says there is no evidence of falling number in the state.

“All the numbers are high 300’s even in the low 400’s. I haven’t heard of anywhere in the state with falling number, I think we’re all relieved with no reports of falling number,” said Jacobson.

Falling number is a test that measures starch damage in wheat that reduces the quality of baked goods and noodles. Idaho farmers were caught off guard last year when nearly 44-percent of soft white wheat samples and 42-percent of club wheat samples tested below 300, the industry standard. The Wheat Commission says Idaho farmers lost more than $30 million in lower prices last year.

Eric Hasselstrom farms just over 2-thousand acres of wheat, barley and garbanzo beans outside of Winchester. He got his wheat crop in last week.

“Our fields in Nezperce averaged about 75-95 bushels to the acre, At our Craigmont fields we did just 65 bushels. Last year I had 140 per acre bushels but that’s not normal. So production is off and thankfully the quality is very good and the test weights are heavy,” said Hasselstrom.

The lower Palouse had a very wet, long winter, just two weeks of spring and then summer hit. Hasselstrom said the rain turned off like a faucet and the bushel count shows it.

“There’s a lot of 30-40 bushel wheat around here and thats tough. Thankfully I have crops up here in a lot of different places both in the hills and down in the prairie,” said Hasselstrom.

Statewide early numbers show that quality and yields are excellent on all the winter wheat.

“The spring crop was so late, it went in late and it didn't get enough moisture before we got the hot temperatures. The heat stressed the crop and our spring harvest is not going to be what it is normally. Thats where the lower yields are coming in this year so far on the spring wheat,” said Jacobson.

The real factor for the Idaho’s 2017 crop according to Jacobson is the protein content of wheat. Some producers are getting protein bonuses.

“We got the desirable low protein on our soft white wheat, but our hard red winter is also low-protein, and that’s not so desirable,” he said. Overall, protein levels are good across the wheat classes, and yields are down a little from last year, Jacobson said. Quality is good.

But Hasselstrom says in his part of the state with lower yields it is going to be tight.

“It’s been a tough one this year with the hard winter and hot summer and a flat market, it’s not going to be a fun fall when its time to do our year end refinancing,” said Hasselstrom.

According to the Idaho Wheat commission, average test weights are coming in at 61 to 62 pounds per bushel statewide.

“We don't have an overall yield average yet. We were told by elevators in southern Idaho that yields are at the five year average. This is both winter and spring wheat, we thought they’d be less. But in Northern Idaho and Southwest Idaho the overall yields are down just 10 percent from the 5-year average. Everything is off from the bumper year, but there are farmers out there that are still having bumper crops, but as an average we are not close to matching up to last year,” said Jacobson.

Hasselstrom says he’s not thrilled with market prices and if prices hold at these levels theres little room for profit right now.

Soft white wheat prices range from $4.96 to $5.27 per bushel at Portland. Hard red winter wheat is $4.50 to $4.80 per bushel. Dark northern spring wheat is $7.50 to $9.06 per bushel, depending on the protein content.

Jacobson says prices are under valued and things could change dramatically on the world market and especially when the Midwest wheat comes in.

“I think there’ll be upward pressure on prices as traders evaluate the crop and get a better handle on inventory. I don't know if theres as much inventory out there as being reported. The Canadian harvest is running behind schedule, they were having problems in the Dakotas with drought and they might have a smaller crop. And Australia has had drought problems so I think these factors will affect the market place,” said Jacobson.

If one thing is consistent statewide, Jacobson says Idaho has quality wheat.

“Overall, the crop is terrific this year. Other than the issues with spring wheat this is a quality year, and overall its probably one of our better crops,” said Jacobson.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fuel prices on the rise

Just in time for harvest, Fuel prices jump dramatically

Boise--At least 10 refineries have shut down in the Houston areas and gasoline prices could jump 10 percent or more by Labor Day weekend, based on the hurricane Harvey shut down according to the AAA.

The price hike is expected to be temporary if refineries can get back up and running. But there's a risk that prices could go much higher if there's damage to major refineries, pipelines – or it takes a long time to bring the refineries back online.

More than 2 million barrels of refining capacity was taken offline, as the storm threatened Texas with unprecedented rain and flooding.

Industry analysts expect to see gas prices start going up on Tuesday or Wednesday as retailers make adjustments to rising wholesale prices.

The Gulf Coast could see prices go approximately 15 cents to 30 cents per gallon. Prices for some parts of the Midwest like Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio will probably rise about 15 to 25 cents, Idaho could jump as much as 30-cents.

Gas prices in the Coeur d'Alene area are pushing the $2.50 per gallon mark, Boise is at $2.75 and Pocatello at $2.65.

Farmer Eric Hasslestrom of Winchester says with flat markets, their input costs are already cutting into thin profit margins. "Gas prices going up right at harvest is not a good thing, I got the wheat in already, hopefully, I can get the garbanzo beans in before they really go up."

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service thinks motorists could see a 10- to 15-cent rise in the national average – at $2.36 per gallon of unleaded fuel Tuesday. According to AAA, the price of unleaded is three cents higher per gallon than it was a week ago.

Analysts said it is unclear if Houston area refineries have had serious damage, those refineries account for 16-percent of the US supply, but operators are not providing much information. It is also unclear how soon workers will be able to return but for now, refineries are closed.

"There's some catching up to do. Corpus Christi looks as though everything is fine, and they're restarting in two or three days. Bottom line is less than week's worth of refining capacity was lost in Corpus and it's coming back," Kloza said.

After hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, Ike and Isaac, gasoline prices peaked within two weeks of landfall, at 20 to 80 cents per gallon higher, according to PIRA Energy.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Just in

AFBF, AFBIS, Others, Propose Dairy Revenue Protection Insurance Concept

Washington--A proposed revenue protection insurance for the dairy industry would provide better risk management for dairy farmers.
 A proposal submitted to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farm Bureau Insurance Services and others would provide a revenue-based insurance option for dairy farmers, different from the current margin-based insurance options available. AFBF Market Intelligence Director John Newton explains how the Dairy Revenue Protection insurance concept will work for dairy farmers.

" For the last year, we have been working on developing this new concept plan of insurance," said John Newton. "And it allows a farmer to insure the revenue from sales of milk during a particular quarter. So, they would use futures market prices and expected production to identify an expected revenue, and then purchase insurance protection on that expected revenue. And if the actual revenue happened to fall below that guarantee, a farmer would receive an indemnity for that."

Currently, insurance programs offered to dairy farmers all use margin-based instruments. The margin insurance programs protect the difference between the milk price and the feed cost, not revenue. Newton says the most successful tools that farmers are utilizing today are revenue-based instruments, like the AFBF proposal.

"We’ve built a product that allows them to select a value of the milk in the insurance contract, either based on Class III and IV milk prices, or based on the milk components, recognizing that a majority of farms across the county are paid for the components in the milk, not a standardized price for the milk that they produce," said Newton.

Newton says says the American Farm Bureau has talked with farmers across the U.S. that support the insurance concept, which he expects will be submitted to USDA for review later this fall.

"A lot of farmers really think a revenue based approach would really work well for their operation, especially in years like 2015 and 2016 when we saw milk prices fall by nearly 50 percent. And we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the survey that we have online to further develop the product and make sure that we ultimately present something to the FCIC that’s going to work for dairy farmers. The FCIC board of directors did vote to fund partial development of this and we expect to deliver this producer later this fall to the USDA for additional consideration," said Newton.

Dairy farmers can learn more about the proposal and provide their comments at

Friday, August 25, 2017


Idaho Economy Booming because of Foreign Trade

Op-ED By
Mathew Winkler

(Bloomberg) -- Idaho has fewer people than Houston, still grows the most potatoes, and outperforms all 49 other states with a 21st-century economy that shows that the U.S. does best when it puts the world first.

President Donald Trump, whose White House website touts an "America First Foreign Policy," may be surprised to learn that Idaho, which he won by a two-to-one margin last November, relies heavily on international trade for its economic success. It's had the best combination over the 12 months that ended on March 31 of robust personal income, job growth, stock-market gains and home-price appreciation because its largest employers sell the bulk of their products overseas, count the world's biggest multinational companies among their customers and suppliers, and make most of their money from the technology driving globalization.

Idaho eclipsed No. 2 Washington by almost four percentage points as its economic health improved 9.7 percent, according to the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of the States, an index measuring employment, personal income, home prices, mortgage delinquency, tax revenue and the stock market.

Personal income among Idahoans, which increased 4.89 percent to within two-tenths of a percentage point of No. 1 Utah and No. 2 Washington, is growing at the fastest rate in the nation since 1948, when the data was first compiled. The 2.65 percent expansion of the job market was more than 44 states, with Idaho's 3.1 percent unemployment rate dropping below Utah's for the first time since 2008 and remaining 1.2 percentage points less than the national average.

By contrast, the economy of Idaho's southeastern neighbor, Wyoming, is driven more by domestic industries like metals and mining, which provided 20 percent of its gross domestic product. It was the worst U.S. economy during the 12 months ended March 31, with the largest job and tax-revenue losses and second-worst stock market and mortgage delinquencies. Wyoming was the only state to suffer a decline in personal income, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Unlike Wyoming and West Virginia, which have lagged the rest of the country in population growth since 1990, Idaho surged more than 60 percent to 1.65 million people, climbing to No. 39 among most populous states from No. 42, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Idaho's transformation to manufacturing and services from commodities and agriculture is reflected in its increasingly dynamic companies. Almost 78 percent of the state's publicly traded equity consists of technology firms, up from 57 percent a decade ago.

Global investors made Idaho a favorite: Its 16 companies tracked by Bloomberg gained 120 percent in the 12 months ending on March 31, dwarfing the total return (income plus appreciation) of 17 percent for the S&P 500 and 18 percent for the Russell 3000 index.

Micron Technology Inc., the Boise-based maker of memory chips and semiconductor components, returned 176 percent to shareholders, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Micron, which has 31,400 employees, also is outperforming the 10 largest semiconductor companies with a 12-month return that is double the average, and revenue growth quadrupling the average. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg say Micron sales will grow 62 percent this year, or three times the average forecast for the group. Micron is positioned where growth is greatest. Asia, which accounts for 73 percent of the company's property, plant and equipment, up from 59 percent three years ago, delivers 75 percent of Micron sales. Three years ago, that was 69 percent.

The Micron business chain is increasingly global. While 10 percent of company sales are derived from Apple Inc., 66 percent of Micron's customers are outside the U.S., compared with 49 percent five years ago. Some 63 percent of the company's suppliers are non-U.S. firms, up from 56 percent in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Idaho's traditional industries are finding a way to prosper through globalization. As recently as 2012, Hecla Mining Co., based in Coeur D'Alene, derived 45 percent of its sales from Canada. That percentage has grown to 67 percent, with 30 percent from Asia and only 3 percent from the U.S., Bloomberg data show.

Even the state's famous potatoes are modernizing. Earlier this month, in another sign of Idaho's embrace of science and technology to expand its markets, J.R. Simplot Co., the closely held supplier of french fries for McDonald's and 1,000 other food products, received permission from Canada to sell potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish famine in the 19th century.

Education, infrastructure and quality of life are necessary for Idaho's increasingly diverse economy, says 75-year-old Butch Otter, who was elected governor in 2007 just before the financial crisis and who this year became the nation's longest-serving incumbent state chief executive. He credits the state's Tax Reimbursement Incentive for expanding the mix of businesses by rewarding companies for their long-term commitments. "It's about promises made, performance established and promises kept,'' Otter said in an interview earlier this week, citing Chobani's 2012 completion of the world's largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls, the more recent Idaho State College of Osteopathic Medicine — the first medical school in the state — and the expanding aerospace industry.

It was in the 1980s at Simplot, where Otter spent three decades, that he realized what would come to drive Idaho today. "We were advised to harvest the company'' amid waning demand for potatoes and beef, he recalled on Wednesday in his Boise office. Instead, he recalled: "We said, 'Find more mouths to feed.' That's when we went international.''

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Just in from Boundary County

Boundary County Farm Bureau members help Montana ranchers

Bonners Ferry—The Lodgepole Complex Fire in Montana has destroyed more than 270,000 acres of prime rangeland near Jordan, Montana and it’s creating a hardship for ranchers.

North Idaho farmers and ranchers heard about the urgent needs of ranchers and decided to pitch in. Boundary county Farm Bureau member Kristy Kellogg put together an Idaho hay lift to help.

“We have a lot of neighbors that are ranchers here in Boundary County and they wanted to help out, so they donated hay. We also had Farm Bureau members that donated semi-trucks and they even hauled the hay over there at their expense,” said Kellogg.

Kellogg says the response was so over-whelming that they had more hay than trucks.

“Its sad that couldn’t get all of it over there. It was hard getting it delivered but we ended up sending more than 135 tons of hay,” said Kellogg.

Montana ranchers need at least 34,000 tons to feed 7,700 head of cattle this winter, up till the grazing turnout date of June 1, 2018.

Emergency hay donations started coming in since July 24, not only from Idaho but throughout the West.

“The first rounds came from the drought stricken neighbors who provided hay despite having none to spare,” said Montana rancher Deena Shotzberger. “Caravans of hay continue to come in from all over Montana and adjacent states, some as far away as New Mexico.”

Thousands of cattle survived the wildfire after ranchers cut fences, allowing herds to escape but now face the threat of starvation and dehydration. Ranchers are trying to collect their herds but they have no where to graze and the challenges are just starting.

Kellogg is spreading the word of rancher hardships through social media. Hooking up ranchers with volunteers to help drive cattle, share pastureland and donate hay.

“With the help of Kristy Kellogg, who called farmers and ranchers that we didn’t reach by social media,” said Shawn Watt of Kalispell. “I feel like we are going to make a difference to ranchers over there. We have had offers of Drivers and offers of fencing supplies and of course we have had offers of hay. Getting hay there is the biggest hurdle we have. It is over 1200 miles for the Boundary County folks, so this is no small ask.”

Kellogg says the slideshow went viral and she’s humbled by the out pouring of help from Idahoans.

“All I did is make a little slide show on my County Facebook page and tons of people shared it,” said Kellogg. “It’s really cool because we started hearing all the comments back from the people in the affected areas. Things like ‘thank you so much’, we were called angels and that they were grateful for the help.”

Federal assistance and emergency loans are available to producers in fire areas.

“Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) is trying to expedite the process, but the funds are still several months out, and will only cover a portion of the losses,” said Shotzberger. “So Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana must continue to step up and help our brother and sister Montanans until then.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Just in from Washington

WOTUS Comment period extended

Washington—Comments on the proposed rescinding of the controversial Waters of the US rule are now due September 27th.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a 30-day extension late Wednesday afternoon.

Comments on the proposed ending of the Obama-era WOTUS rule were originally due August 28 but that will be extended by the action to give environmental groups, industry advocates and the public more time to weigh in.

When the proposal was officially released, the 30-day comment was a point of contention for supporters of the Obama-era rule.

EPA has proposed rescinding the WOTUS rule and putting back in place the Clean Water Act guidance in place prior to the updated version from the Obama administration. It’s not clear what the Trump administration will propose to put in place but expectations are there will be a plan released some time yet in 2017.

In developing the replacement for the WOTUS rule as part of a two-step process, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “are consulting with state and local government officials, or their representative national organization” to gather information to develop that effort.

'16 Season Over

Rigby Rroduce outside of Rigby reached a milestone this past week. The 2016 season just ended. The last potatoes of last years crop were packaged and shipped.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2017 Potato crop

2016 Packing season over, 2017 outlook bright

Rigby—Rigby Produce outside of Rigby reached a milestone this past week. The 2016 season just ended and the last potatoes of the season were packaged and shipped last Friday.

“We’re just finishing out the 2016 crop and we’re done as of today” said Stephanie Mickelsen, CFO of Mickelsen Farms. “Starting this week we’ll start the 2017 crop through the warehouse and packing shed and start shipping potatoes throughout the United States.”

Mickelsen says Rigby Produce will transition right into the 2017 season without a break.

“There will be no down time this year. We seem to go have gone from one season to the next. In the past we've had a week or two, but there is no downtime from when we finish the crop and start with the new,” said Mickelsen.

Last year Idaho producers planted 325,000 acres of potatoes, with good size but only fair prices. Mickelsen says the 2017 crop is different.

Since 2000, the average national price for fresh potatoes has ranged from a low of $7.34 per hundredweight for the 2003 crop to a high of $14.44 for the 2008 crop, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Following the cycle of one to two years of high prices, followed by a period of low prices, potatoes were primed for higher prices this marketing year, according to Ryan Larsen, an extension farm management specialist at Utah State University. He looked at three different forecasts earlier this year.

The USDA baseline forecast is for $6 per hundredweight. Another source gave a single moving average of $6.50 to $6.60 per hundredweight, while the third — indicating more risk — ranged from $7 to $8.

“If you’re looking for a bright spot,” he said, “potatoes have a good chance of breaking even,” said Larsen. “And if acres are down, we can add onto that.”

While that’s a far cry from the 2008 year, growers that can capitalize on market timing can capture high prices as some did in 2015 and 2016. Growers also had good weather that produced a uniform crop the past two years. Eighty-two percent of the crop graded No. 1, that's up from 73.7 percent in 2015.

“I think 2017 is going to be a bit more challenging than last year. The crop is two weeks behind schedule because of the type of spring we have had. The size is just not going to be there but it should mean a better market for growers this fall,” added Mickelsen.

The USDA reports that Idaho’s 2016-17 crop was marketing throughout the year, with top shipment months noted in September (12% of annual marketings), October (12%), April (11%), March (9%) and May (9%). The comparatively lower volume months were July (6%) and this past August (6%).

“I think we should see higher prices than in ’17 because of the challenges we’ve had with the growing season and we need that to make up for the past 3-4 years the prices we've had in the potato market the last few years,” said Mickelsen.

A five week heat wave stretching from July to mid August stressed potatoes. One farmer said he's doing everything he can to revive what he calls tired plants.

“I think that's a very fair assessment,” said Mickelsen. “We met with the chemical company yesterday and they said all the farmers around here are trying to put anything they can on the vines to try and revive them. They're tired this summer, especially lately because it’s extremely hot. We've had weeks and weeks of heat and dry temperatures.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Just in

Reuters: Negotiators Should Do No Harm to Agriculture, Says Duvall

Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was quoted by Reuters in an article on NAFTA negotiations that began this week. During a press conference Wednesday, Duvall emphasized how important the trade agreement is to U.S. agriculture. “We do not want them to use us as a trading tool and to do harm to the agricultural sector in all three countries,” he said, referring to the negotiators.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jefferson County Fair

At the Jefferson County Fair in Rigby its fair time and all the action on this day is in the livestock barn.

Range Tour

Ranchers, BLM Meet to Tour Morgan Creek Allotment

Article and photo by John Thompson

In 1976, there were about 30,000 head of cattle in Custer County. Today there are about half that many.

Restrictions applied by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have taken cattle off of the land in Custer County and throughout the western states. Ranchers contend the restrictions, in many cases, are arbitrary.

A group of Custer County ranchers and state and federal agency land managers recently toured the Morgan Creek Allotment west of Challis to discuss conflicts on federal land and to look at the health of the land.

Ranchers repeatedly questioned the federal officials about stubble height requirements along streams. They say the land is healthy and that is a long-term trend – a claim the BLM officials agreed with. However, stubble height requirements are limiting the number of cattle ranchers are allowed to turn out and that is threatening the future of several ranches.

In the Morgan Creek Allotment ranchers were penalized last year because stubble height measurements were at 3.5 inches, rather than the required 4 inches. Ranchers who attended the tour said overall the allotment is healthy and to restrict grazing because of half inch arbitrary measurement of grass in a creek bottom is harmful to many families and the overall economy of Custer County.

In addition, the grazing allotment is restricted because of the presence of salmon, steelhead and bull trout but the reasoning behind the restrictions is admittedly dubious.

Tom Curet, Idaho Fish and Game Salmon regional supervisor, said steelhead occasionally make it past a natural barrier in lower Morgan Creek but Chinook do not and have not been documented in the creek’s upper reaches. Curet acknowledged that Idaho bull trout populations are healthy and the fish should not be receiving special management considerations. He added that bull trout populations in other parts of the Intermountain region are in danger, which is the reasoning behind the listing. Bull trout, chinook and steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act which requires special management restrictions that frequently result in cuts to the number of cattle allowed to graze on public land.

Ranchers believe that special restrictions for fish management in the drainage are illogical and unreasonable – especially in the case of bull trout when the numbers of fish present in Morgan Creek and many other rivers, indicate a healthy population.

Curet said Idaho is “lumped” with other regions in regard to bull trout management and in those other regions populations are not robust, which makes the potential for de-listing remote. However, the recent de-listing of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear population gives hope that distinct population segments of other threatened or endangered species may be released from ESA oversight.

“There are over a million bull trout in Idaho,” Curet said. “They have never been in trouble in Idaho and never should have been listed.”

The latest Census of Agriculture, completed by USDA in 2012, shows 16,400 cattle in Custer County. Estimates show each cow returns about $900 per year to the respective ranches. Custer County is 96 percent federal land, which limits the tax base and in turn the services the County provides its residents. Economic return from cattle is one of the most important income sources in Custer County.

Ranchers and federal land managers discussed a few options for solving problems in the allotment during the tour. It was suggested that flash grazing, or high intensity, short duration grazing may be a solution along Morgan Creek. They agreed that the allotment is healthy from a land management perspective, but cows tend to congregate along streams because of feed availability and shade. Fencing along streams was also discussed as a possible solution.

Rancher and Morgan Creek permit holder Jim Martiny said stubble measurements are a poor indicator of range health. “We are managing the allotment in one small space as opposed to looking at the big picture,” he said. “In year’s past we haven’t met the stubble height standard in a couple of places along the creek and our numbers have been reduced because of that. The end result is we lose numbers because of a half of an inch of grass but in the long run the allotment isn’t gaining anything.”

Rancher Gary Chamberlain asked the federal officials on the tour to take a close look at Morgan Creek. “I want you to pay special attention to the grass right here,” he said. “Last year it was grazed down to 3.5 inches and to look at it today, we didn’t hurt a thing.”

Regarding bull trout, steelhead and Chinook salmon, Chamberlain said ranchers are being forced to submit to more regulations that don’t and likely won’t ever provide any benefits to the fish or the land.

“We are told the range looks good and to keep doing what we’re doing but then every time we turn around we have new impositions put on us like stubble height,” Chamberlain said.

Todd Kuck, BLM Challis Field Manager, said the agency is focused on outcome-based grazing and sometimes the terms and conditions written in the permits “don’t necessarily get at the objectives we want out on the ground.” He said the BLM is looking into new projects and strategies that will help meet the objectives they have set.

“We want to come up with objectives for allotments and management strategies that allow more flexibility to permitees on how they manage cattle,” Kuck said. “We do realize there are issues with restrictions in the permits and we are looking at that. It will take some work to come up with how we write objectives and how we monitor to show how we are meeting or measuring what we want the allotment to look like.”

Kuck added that permit holders in the Morgan Creek drainage are doing a “really good job of managing on the ground.” “We are going in the right direction as far as management here,” he said.

Just in

Ag leaders agree to show united front in latest farm bill

By Ron Sterk

SAN DIEGO – Leaders of the nation’s two largest farm organizations shared the stage at the International Sweetener Symposium and said they would help rally agriculture during the upcoming farm bill debate.

“This is not a time to be divided; this is a time to be united,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. At the opening session of the American Sugar Alliance’s annual meeting Duvall said, “It’s our time. We have the right people in the right places and we need to write a food security bill to benefit all Americans.”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, agreed and explained that it’s important for agriculture to come together and work closely with members of the nutrition and conservation communities, who will be essential to the farm bill’s passage.

“A farm bill should address needs, not a budget,” Johnson said, adding that the 2018 farm bill is particularly important given today’s tough economic times in agriculture. “The economic situation facing farmers is pretty tough right now and has been for the past several years. This financial pain is felt very broadly across farms of all sizes.” He noted that agricultural loan repayment delinquency rates, bankruptcies and restructured debt were up.

Johnson said he expected the farm bill would be approved “on time” and without cuts, adding that it needed support from farmers and ranchers, conservation groups and nutrition groups.

“Congress needs to show voters in rural America they can get something done,” Johnson said, calling the farm bill “a heavy lift” but easier than some other legislation.

It was the first time in many years that the president of the Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farm organization, spoke at the sugar meeting, and Duvall said his appearance underscores the need for all of agriculture to come together ahead of the 2018 farm bill.

“We’re telling Congress we need a food security bill for this country,” Duvall said. “It’s not a safety net (for farmers).”

Both farm group leaders said the atmosphere in Washington under the Trump administration was conducive to strong farm policies, and that the current farm economy of mostly low commodity prices and declining farm income would make it easier to get the farm bill passed than in 2013 and 2014, when the farm economy was more robust. They also agreed that grassroots politics was key, urging producers to actively contact their elected representatives during the farm bill process.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rate change

Theres change brewing on the Idaho range

Boise-The Idaho Department of Lands wants to modify the grazing rate charged to ranchers on Idaho Endowment Lands and rancher Cody Chandler wants ranchers to get involved and comment on the IDL website before September 1st.

From Capitol Hill

New Legislation Would Delay Log-book Device Requirements for Truck Drivers

Washington—A new bill on Capitol Hill will bring a much-needed delay to the problematic electronic logging device mandate for certain drivers, which is set to go into effect in December, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Farm Bureau-backed ELD Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 3282) delays the mandate for two years to allow drivers and truck companies to address a lot of unresolved issues.

“This delay is necessary to adequately account for costs, allay technology concerns, minimize impacts to livestock and other live animals under our members’ care and allow for the proper training to ensure uniform compliance and enforcement,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas).

Unless Congress acts, carriers and drivers who are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD rule must install and use ELDs by Dec. 18. While most farmers and ranchers should be exempt because they can claim covered farm vehicle status, drivers who haul livestock, live fish and insects are likely to fall under the requirements.

Drivers who have to use ELDs would be limited to current hours of service rules, which restrict a driver to only 14 “on duty” hours, with no more than 11 active driving hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, he must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours, which would be problematic when transporting livestock and other live animals.

The requirements imposed by the mandate would be harmful to both small business owners, who could be forced out of the marketplace, and livestock, which could suffer if they were no longer hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers and stockmen, Duvall wrote.

“Time spent on a truck can be stressful for cattle and other live animals. Unnecessary stops or multiple loads and unloads add additional stress resulting in potential livestock weight loss and increased animal sickness and death,” he said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eclipse 2017

This road north of Weiser is dead center in the eclipse path of the totality, its also on the Chandler ranch

Eclipse County Prepares for Worst

Weiser—As the eclipse nears, Washington County officials are bracing for the crush of people expected to gather under the path of eclipse totality. 

Next Monday the population of the county could triple and  beside that, their biggest fear is wildfire.

“The main thing we’re concerned with is the fire danger and our ability to fight fires. We worry about law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services to meet the needs of people. This is a hard thing to prepare for because we don't know whats going to happen,” said Washington County Commissioner Kirk Chandler.

Chandler says his office could see as many as a 100,000 visitors, another study predicted just 10-thousand. Nonetheless, Chandler says just 10-15-thousand visitors could grid lock tiny Washington County. One study shows that Weiser is the closest eclipse location in the path of totality for the 38-million people living in nearby metro areas Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“It’s frustrating because we don't have any idea how many people, we hear of new groups and more people everyday and we have to plan for that, we hope this week when people start showing up that we can get an idea and plan accordingly,” said Chandler.

After record snowfall and precipitation this spring, tall grass in Washington County is at record levels and in some places is over a foot high. Ranchers met with Commissioners last week. Some wanted to close roads to keep people from touching off wildfires on the range.

“We’ve considered that but most of those road access public lands and it would put the County at a huge liability to close off public lands. The Sheriff is meeting with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. The Forest Service is not closing any of their roads, we know people are getting maps and they intend to go there,” said Chandler.

Chandler says in Washington County landowners can post no trespassing signs on their land and protect it, but for the most part roads will be open as usual. Rancher, next door neighbor and son, Cody Chandler says his land is at ground zero. It is touted as the most optimal spot in the Pacific Northwest to view the eclipse.

“My biggest concern is the fact that ground on both sides of the road have fuel loads more than a foot high. This is where we graze our cattle, especially in the fall. A lot of this feed will get us through the middle of winter and there is a lot of fuel for fire. All it takes is a single car pulling off the road with a hot muffler touching off a range fire. I think if it happens, it would be just about unstoppable,” said Cody Chandler.

Chandler urges motorists to stay on the roadside and do not drive off gravel shoulder. If you see tall grass, don’t drive into it. 

“Keep hot exhaust pipes and anything that can ignite wildfire away from the tall grass. We will have visitors that have never been around brown grass. A cigarette butt or anything like that could ignite this grass in an instant and it’s our worst fear,” added Chandler.

Commissioner Chandler says his ranch is bordered by two county roads and says he's been burned out in the past because of careless motorists. With all the threats at home and in the county they’re taking no chances next week.

“We’re setting up an Incident Command Center that starts this Friday. We’ll set up HAM radios in case the cell towers get over loaded and we’ll be in touch with the Idaho Command Center. We declared a disaster in our county due to the eclipse way back on the 19th of June just as a precaution,” said Kirk Chandler.

Washington County suffered through a four-month disaster when buildings started collapsing under the weight of deep snow starting last January. The County had 228 buildings collapse and it took out $2.4 million dollars in County assessed value. Their command center operated all winter from the snow and into June with spring flooding.

“We have an idea of what to do, but a fire is much more complex for the Country.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

USDA Supply and Demand Estimates report

USDA says Wheat, Corn yields up this year

Washington-Farmers hoping for a good crop report last Thursday had their hopes dashed by the USDA’s predictions of strong wheat and corn yields. So much that the report dropped the futures market on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“This is a pretty big shock to the market,” said John Newton, the director for market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Market watchers expected the new forecasts in USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report to push yield estimates down for both crops, Newton said, but it was the opposite.

The new USDA report – the forecast for this year’s corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton – is predicting the average corn yield at 169.5 bushels per acre. That slightly below the August prediction, but up sharply from market expectations of about 166 bushels, Newton said.

“We’re right on the trend line in terms of yield, but that puts us above the trade expectations,” USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson said today about the new corn numbers.

The report pegged total corn production at 14.2 billion bushels, a 102 million bushel decrease from the July projection. If achieved, that would represent a 7 percent drop from last year, but still the third highest yield and production on record for the US.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service interviewed more than 21,000 farmers in the largest farming states that make up 75 percent of US. production.

“It’s just completely bearish news across the board for corn and soybeans at a time when farm income and commodity prices are already so low,” Newton said. The reports sent commodity prices in a tailspin. September corn finished the day 15 cents lower; September soybeans dropped 32 cents.

Thursday’s reports also projected a one percent decrease in wheat production from July estimates. Yet yields could make up for the cut back in wheat production. This month’s WASDE is based on pre-Aug. 1 data, so the situation could still change, according to a Farm Bureau analysis released today.

“With the 2017/18 crop still in the ground, a significant amount of uncertainty remains,” the AFBF report stressed. “Given that many fields are far from maturity, these yields and production numbers are subject to revision in the coming months.”

USDA’s Johansson agreed, saying: “We still have a month of weather to push the soybean numbers around a little bit.”

For now, though, the situation is grim.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty left, but I certainly think that a lot of folks were hoping to see yields come down a little bit and provide an opportunity to lock in some more favorable prices for some of that new crop,” Newton said. “That’s certainly not the case after Thursday’s report.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farm Bureau Scholarship Winner

Boise--Beth Carter of the Ada County Farm Bureau presents Ross Blattner of Kuna a Farm Bureau state scholarship. Blattner will attend the University of Idaho this fall with hopes of earning an Ag Systems Management degree.


Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle takes the floor at the AFBF House of Delegates
AFBF Policy Analysis Versus Policy Development

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation has a long and proud history of carefully evaluating the economics of policy proposals in order to understand potential pitfalls and other unintended consequences. At the same time AFBF has, since its inception, had a well-defined process for determining the organization’s policy positions. Each year the organization’s delegate body of farmer and rancher members deliberates and responds to challenges facing agriculture.

Following the Delegates work, the AFBF Board of Directors interprets and gives direction to AFBF staff to proceed with advocacy actions to communicate the message from farmers and ranchers to leaders in all branches of government.

With Congress moving past the opening days of debate on the next farm bill, AFBF economists will once again take up the challenge of analyzing the effects of various policy alternatives. Two recent analysis pieces look at two specific commodities – cotton and dairy – that are facing challenges in terms of the federal safety nets (Are MPP Dairy Improvements on the Way? and Cotton Coming Back in Title I?). These commodities have been subjected to considerable discussion by Farm Bureau members, as well as by AFBF’s Board of Directors.

The Congressional Budget Office’s June 2017 Baseline for Farm Programs reveals that both of these commodities, under the current Farm Bill, have very limited safety net support: 2017 to 2027 budget outlays for dairy are estimated at $839 million and for cotton these outlays are estimated at $874 million. Based on these CBO projections, program payments for cotton and dairy represent 1.5 percent and 0.18 percent of the of the farm value of these commodities, respectively.

This means that in order to provide additional support in the near term, as is being proposed in the Senate Ag appropriations measure, resources will need to found and likely to also require finding 60 votes when the measure comes to the Senate floor. These political realities point to why the analysis has been done and critical to helping Farm Bureau, from the grassroots members to leadership, evaluate and determine our position and advocating from that decision.

To state it another way, the purpose of economic analysis is to help inform the membership and the leadership of Farm Bureau on the potential effects of these proposals on farmers and ranchers. It is not a Farm Bureau policy position, which is the purview of the membership and the Board. Analysis can help inform that process, but will never – should never – replace it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cricket infestation

Crickets invade Southwest Idaho

Weiser-Washington County rancher Cody Chandler says he's not only running cattle on his ranch but millions of Mormon crickets on the range north of Mann Creek reservoir.

“When they graze on the range they strip the wheat grass of everything, including the seeds,” said Chandler. “In the aftermath the wheat grass is gone and next year we won’t be able to get enough feed off it, so we might have to feed hay and that’ll cost us a lot of cash.”

Mormon crickets have hit parts of Southwest Idaho hard, especially in Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties. But there are also scattered damage reports coming in from Gem and Elmore County according to the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

Washington County Ranchers face the creepy Mormon cricket every 4-5 years. Chandler says the destruction is very fire-like in that they move in paths where they’ll take out a 10 yard swath and the rest of the field is fine. They lay eggs as they go and have turned some roadways into stinky, bug slicks. A few years ago crickets caused car wrecks on Highway 95 where they crossed the road by the millions.

Mann Creek Camp ground north of Weiser is gearing up for the eclipse and will have a full house during that weekend. The prime facility is not only in the path of totality for the eclipse but also for Mormon crickets.

“There’s a lot of crickets but it’s manageable,” said Forest Service Host Dean Kessler. “It was worse a few days ago, they’re back near the creek in the Northwest corner. We’re going to try and bait them away from the campsites, but the numbers are declining.”

Cody Chandler says that the infestation is bad. “This years infestation is worse than 2013. They’re bigger this year, about 3 inches long and where they’re bunched up, there’s an odor.”

The bugs are named after Mormon pioneers who moved west in the late 1840’s and suffered an infestation during their first crop. The pioneers saw firsthand the devastating effect on pastures, gardens and grain fields.

Localized cricket infestations happen every year in Idaho, different cycles in different places according to Lloyd Knight of the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

The USDA says that spreading bait is the best way of killing crickets. Since the crickets are cannibals, they’ll kill other crickets and eat them when they run short of food.

Chandler said that he first noticed the crickets two weeks ago when he was riding his range north of Weiser. He said the crickets showed up over night but says they’re thinning out right now and should be gone in a week or two, but the bugs have destroyed prime range land.

“The crickets are the biggest I’ve seen, they’re all over three inches and jet black. I can’t get over the smell. They baited them up over the hill by air. I rode over there and it smelled like dead cattle,” said Chandler.

A USDA website says the crickets do the most damage to alfalfa and wheat fields and says farmers can curb crop damage by baiting insects. The State Department of Agriculture is passing out carbaryl bait to farms 5 acres or larger for free.

“The bait works as long as you can get the crickets to stop and eat. When they're moving they’ll crawl right over it. But if they stop and eat, you got ‘em,” said Kessler.

Chandler says the crickets are finally in decline.

“I’ve counted up to 50 per square yard when they first came out, but they’re dying off now and you’ll only see about five per square yard,” said Chandler.

The crickets have moved away from the Chandler ranch house, but they’re still on the move three miles north. For now the rancher and his family are breathing sighs of relief.

“I hate those stinky bugs,” said Chandler.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sage Grouse ruling

Sage Grouse ruling will re-open the Western Range

Washington--Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants the Bureau of Land Management to look at different ways to open up more sage-grouse habitat to grazing, oil and gas development.

Show Season

Rupert--It's fair season across Idaho and its a busy time for farm families. The Nalder family out of Rupert is in the thick of showing livestock. Three members of the Nalder family showed prized pigs at the Minidoka County this past week and they all brought home ribbons!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hay market prices on the rise

Drought Deepens, Ripples Hay Market

Washington—The Northern Plains continues to have very dry conditions and over the last month has progressively worsened on the drought monitor.

Last week, it was estimated that as much as 30 percent of the High Plains region, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas are experiencing moderate to severe drought.  Montana has also been greatly impacted with as much as 50 percent of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, and almost 25 percent in the extreme drought category.

Not only are these drought conditions impacting corn, soybean, and spring wheat conditions, this intensity is also reflected in the pasture and range conditions released weekly by USDA NASS. Over 50 percent of the pasture and range is in critical conditions, rating poor and very poor, in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Inadequate pastures have led to cattle moving south much earlier and at lighter weights than are typically seen. Cattle on Feed for June showed large increases in the year over year figures in categories under 800 pounds. Cattle placed under 600 pounds were up 30 percent compared to 2016. In addition, USDA had announced multiple initiatives allowing for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands and there have been reports of roadside baling.

One of the signposts of inadequate pasture conditions is supplemental feeding, and although some cattle have moved, other livestock may still require additional feed supplies. Other hay prices have risen dramatically in the Dakotas and surrounding states. Average other hay prices from January through June are 15 percent and 16 percent higher than last year in Montana and North Dakota, respectively. South Dakota, although year-to-date is below year ago levels, has seen other hay prices increase 22 percent in the month of June. Minnesota other hay prices are up 25 percent in June.

Hay prices will likely increase in surrounding states as the drought continues and deepens. Similar to droughts seen in the Midwest and the Southern Plains, this drought will likely have a lasting effect. Because of the short growing season in the Northern Plains and lower cuttings per acre, the implications are likely to affect stocks going into the next winter and over a much larger footprint than the drought area as supplies are drawn from other areas of the country. The High Plains corridor is typically the highest producing other hay states in the country. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana all fall within the top 10 all hay producing states in a typical year.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tax Reform

Tax Reform Crucial for America’s Farmers, Ranchers

Washington—Congressional leaders and administration officials have released a statement on tax reform that addresses many issues of importance to America’s farm and ranch families.

The following statement about that action may be attributed to Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation:

“America’s farmers and ranchers are encouraged to see that key congressional leaders and the administration understand how important tax reform is to all Americans. Fixing our tax system now is crucial to creating economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other family-owned businesses. This is especially important as farmers continue to face down tough economic challenges.”

“This move sets the stage for Congress to put tax reform on its agenda. Not only will reform strengthen our economy, but by addressing key issues like overall tax rates, capital gains taxes and enhanced expensing, it will be good for farms and other businesses.”

“Our farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges and it is important to recognize this creates special circumstances in regard to taxes. We look forward to working with Congress to move tax reform forward and do it in a way that benefits farm and ranch families and all Americans.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 21 Solar Eclipse

Idahoans gear up for the Solar Eclipse 

Mackay-The long awaited solar eclipse is now just three weeks away.

No one knows how many people will come to Idaho to see the state's only total solar eclipse of the 21st century.

Some Idaho ranchers are getting involved in the eclipse. The Zollinger Ranch near Mackay leased out a 100-acre field along the Big Lost River 10 miles outside of town.

“We're letting Gem State Entertainment do the project,” said Jolene Zollinger. “It’s going to be a music festival with camping, vendors and it should be a real good time.”

The Zollingers don’t have an idea how many people will show up for the event.“We can accommodate 3,000 easily but can handle up to 5,000 people,” said Zollinger.

Gem State Entertainment will have porta-potties to accommodate the crowd. Campers will bring their own supplies while food vendors will help feed them. The festival will be on a harvested grass field with no campfires, fireworks or weapons and Zollinger stresses that there’ll be security at the event. She says it should be a good experience.

People can buy tickets online at under the event, Mackay Eclipse Camp-out. Tickets are $80.00 for a single ticket or $250 for a weekend family admission.

“We are centerline, just above the MacKay Dam. If you look at the map we are dead center of totality and theres not a better place on earth to see the eclipse. We’re putting all the family to work, we will have some medical staff and hopefully it’ll go smooth. There’ll be cellphone service, and enough amenities to make it a comfortable music festival,” said Zollinger.

The path of totality — where a total solar eclipse will be visible for more than 2 minutes — passes north of Boise while going through towns like Weiser, Smiths Ferry, Stanley, Mackay, Rexburg and the Driggs Victor area. The center line runs between Idaho 75 and Redfish Lake Lodge, just south of Stanley and through Mackay.

The only major metro area within the path is Idaho Falls, which will get about 1 minute, 45 seconds of totality.

The total eclipse will be the first on the mainland United States since 1979 — when Idaho was one of five states in the path of totality — and the first to cross America from coast to coast since 1918. It’s the only total eclipse that will touch Idaho this century.

Idaho communities have scurried to get ready. While some communities are excited, others worry about the number of people that will crowd the path of totality.

Two Idaho counties have sought disaster declarations three weeks before the August 21st full solar eclipse.

Payette and Washington counties are in the path of eclipse and County Commissioners declared a disaster declaration and local emergency, three weeks before the event.

County commissioners in those counties said the declaration will span from now until September 5th. The declaration covers public safety risks, financial damage and excessive costs of labor, cleanups and property damage. They hope the declaration will help the county respond to emergencies leading up to the eclipse and the aftermath weeks after the fact.

Payette County Emergency Manager Andy Creech said that the disaster declaration was a first step they had to take. “It’s something we had to do in anticipation of a disaster. This is a precautionary measure that activates response plans in preparation of the eclipse.”

The eclipse is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to the county as they head to the Weiser Payette areas, and officials are ready to handle congested traffic, car wrecks and increased medical calls along with potential range fires because of the crowds.

Across the state, Idaho Falls is also in the path of the eclipse. City officials there ordered hundreds of extra porta-potties that they’ll set up around South Tourist Park, Noise Park and Sandy Downs, all of which have been converted into temporary campgrounds during the long eclipse weekend.

“We heard that every porta-potty in the State of Idaho has been reserved for the eclipse week,” Kerry Harmon of the city of Idaho Falls.

“We ordered the porte-potties last spring, We’ve been planning for this a long time and we hope it goes off okay.”

In Portland Gov. Kate Brown activated the Oregon National Guard to help deal with tourists during the eclipse.

The National Guard will stage six aircraft and about 150 troops and airmen the weekend before the event and a few days after, if needed.

Oregon is the first state in the Union that will see the eclipse and they expect up to 1 million visitors. There too, state and local governments have planned for months to prepare for the crush of people that could jam highways and stress local resources.

All along the path of totality city and county leaders urge residents to fill their cars up with gasoline, make sure prescriptions are up to date and buy enough groceries for two weeks.

Community leaders from Portland to Weiser and  Rexburg say they’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2017 Harvest

Storage tightens At Idaho Grain Elevators

Burley—John Evans of Evans grain in Burley spent most of 2017 getting ready for this month.
He's bought and stored last years grain and is now buying this years crop.

Combines started harvesting wheat this week in the Magic Valley but Evans has enough room for just 650-thousand bushels of soft white wheat.

Just down the road in Rupert Brian Darrington set a yield record of 145 bushels per acre and he says this year is going to be just as big on his farm.

“I’m on track for another record,” said Darrington.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Idaho set an all time record last year producing 101,855,000 bushels averaging a record 91.3 bushels per acre.

After Idaho’s record wheat harvest last year farmers and grain elevators struggled to find storage space for the record harvest. Piles of last years bumper crop are still sitting besides elevators across the state.

As the first wheat is harvested in the Magic Valley farmers worry about storing wheat that they hope to sell when the market is up.

“Farmers are in a bad spot in terms of storage of grain,” said John Evans of Evans grain in Burley. It’s mainly because we had a lot of white wheat carry-over.

Evans says the Ogden market where most of Eastern Idaho grains are trucked are already awash with wheat.

“Freight rates are so high we can’t ship it down the river anymore for export, That used to be our release but these days no one can afford to get the grain to Portland, competitive rates aren’t there,” said Evans.

To deal with the large crop, farmers, grain elevators, and co-ops are looking at temporary or emergency storage space. John Evans thinks the season is looking up and thats good. But the bad thing is that storage is going to be tight and storage could be the key in making money.

“If you can figure out a way to store your grain, find a place to store it,” said Evans. “Even if you got to pay 3-cents per bushel to store the stuff, you got to do it. This year is different kind of year than last year. Prices are going to be higher. We’re having some weather issues in the Midwest, the Dakotas, Canada and Australia. If you got some white wheat we’re pushing the markets at $4 1/4 to $4 1/2 I think producers better take advantage of it.”

Evans knows once the harvest is in he only has so much space, some producers will look hard at temporary storage.

“I don’t have that much storage, I have 225,000 out in Paul. We have 340,000 out in Heyburn so we have about 650 thousand bushels we can store but we already have carry-over and the grain is coming in fast,” said Evans.

Evans hopes some of the soft winter will get out on the rails and head east. He said last year producers had no where to go because the market was so over whelmed with record yields. And the brewing companies will play a factor this year.

“The Maltsters like Anheuser Busch over contracted, they sent out a letter in June saying they were not going to take their commitment until September of this year,” said Evans. “So that means that farmers that were hoping to empty their bins by harvest don’t have a place to go.”

Evans adds that producers need to be on their toes this harvest season.

“So producers need to shop around for your storage, if they see a decent price take advantage of it. We saw what happened with white wheat last year. Same thing might happen this year with some decent yields.There’s still so much carry over from last year, I’m telling producers don't get greedy, if you see a good price, sell,” said Evans.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Harvest, 2017

Beet harvest is still two months away, but Brian Darrington is optimistic that they'll have another good year.

Magic Valley Farmer waits for Magic Harvest

Rupert—Farmer Brian Darrington is throwing all caution to the wind.

The young farmer had the best season of his life in 2016, setting yield records for beets and wheat.

“I think we can out-do last year. In the Mini-Cassia area we had a very good spring,” he said. “I looked things over and I’m on track for another record.”

Darrington partners with his brother Jeff. “We farm 1600 acres. We have 580 acres of beets, 500 of wheat, 500 of beans and the rest is hay,” said Darrington.

Magic Valley farmers are in their third week of a heatwave. The high temps work as a double-edge sword, helping the wheat, hurting the beets. So he’s keeping a 24-hour watch on the crops and thus far things are working out.

“The heat can shut us down, but a beet is tolerant it has a big root to draw water for survival. But if it gets dry it just lays down and kind of burns up and doesn't do anything. But we had early rains this summer and I got behind on water and it took us weeks to get caught up. But we’re saturated again and things look great,” said Darrington.

Last year was a record setting year for beets. Idaho farmers harvested a record 7.2 million tons of sugar beets on 2,000 fewer acres and turned out 2.34 billion pounds of sugar. According to the University of Idaho, sugarbeet revenues were up 2-percent over 2015's crop year. As good as things look in terms of yields, inputs worry Darrington.

“We’re consuming fertilizer at an astonishing rate. We fully fertilized this spring and we’ve had to call the airplane to spray additional fertilizer because our levels were coming in low. The spring rains brought our beets out early, right after we planted them. So we have stellar stand counts, lots of plants per acre and I'm on track for another record. But the downside is that we're spending a lot of money doing it.” said Darrington.

In any given year a lot of things have to go right to make money. Darrington says production and yields will be there, he worries about the market and hopes prices will match the quality of his crop. Last year the Darringtons planted fewer acres and still set a record, but said sometimes yields work against farmers.

“We’re a co-op and they will dictate the number of acres we can plant. I don't know of any catastrophic losses, I do know of a few crop failures where my neighbors had to replant beets and they’re a little behind, but I would say we are on track for a full harvest,” said Darrington.

Amalgamated Sugar Company is owned by the Snake River Sugar Company. The company says their 750 producers will grow sugarbeets on about 182,000 acres in Idaho this year. ‘I’m very optimistic that we will have a good crop, and hopefully we will have a market that'll reward us for our labors,” said Darrington.

Darrington add that this is a rare year because he’s excited about both beets and wheat. Last year they had a once in a life-time bumper crop.

“I averaged a 145 bushels per acre, I hope to hit that that again. We get asked all the time how we do it. It's simple we spare no expense and we grow good crops. We'll see how many bushels we get this year and it just depends. My next best year was 125 bushels per acre. Our wheat is similar to last year, big stands, good water despite the two acres that we replanted, I’m set for another bumper crop.” said Darrington.

But USDA projections show that the '17 wheat crop across the board should fall short of last year. Late Crops have suffered from above-average heat and high temperatures has stunted growth in some areas. Darrington says the Mini-Cassia area started harvesting this week and looks good. According to the USDA Idaho might see the fewest planted acres of wheat in decades.

Summer Presidents Meeting underway in McCall

Farm Bureau County Presidents meeting is underway in McCall. The meeting is being held at historic Shore Lodge. (Ritter photo) McCa...