Friday, September 29, 2017

Just in from Nampa

 The NMID Boise River diversion near Barber Park will be closed October 11 shutting off  the water supply to the District’s historic Ridenbaugh Canal. 


Nampa--The Treasure Valley’s largest irrigation district will shut down flows in its 500 miles of canals on October 11 marking the end of the second best water supply year in the valley in nearly 75 years, water managers with the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District announced today.

“The Bureau of Reclamation told us that 2017 is the second highest water run off year on record in the Boise River system trailing only the 1943 water year. The good river flow gave us a full irrigation season and will also result in a good water carry-over in the reservoirs going into 2018,” said Greg Curtis, NMID water superintendent.

The closing of the NMID Boise River diversion near Barber Park also brings to a close the end of the 2017 irrigation season in which water users received a full supply.

District employees will close the headgates of the Ridenbaugh Canal on the Boise River near Barber Park in early morning of October 11 to let the system slowly bleed down. It could take up to two to three days for the canal system to empty completely in its furthest reaches, Curtis added.

The Nampa & Meridian Board of Directors made the decision to end water deliveries at a recent regular board meeting. Last year the NMID system was shut down on October 6.

The canal water cutoff means residential water users using pressurized urban irrigation systems managed by the District will need to switch to another water source such as a municipal system if they want to continue to irrigate lawns and landscaping.

Curtis said the District will launch several large construction projects as soon as the canal system has dried out before freezing temperatures arrive. Projects will include new concrete lining of 1,500 feet of the Ridenbaugh Canal plus several other lining and piping projects to be completed before the beginning of the 2018 irrigation season.

“These projects provide for a more efficient system which saves water and requires less maintenance,” Curtis noted.

The Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District is a water storage, conveyance and distribution system founded in 1904. The District supplies irrigation water to some 69,000 acres of farmland, residential and commercial lands, including pressurized irrigation for more than 16,000 individual parcels of land in Ada and Canyon counties. More information is available at the District’s website:          

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Public Comment period on WOTUS comes to close

AFBF to EPA: Time to Rescind WOTUS Rule

Washington—Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal that eliminates the 2015 Waters of the US rule and allows the EPA to develop a rule that doesn't create a regulatory burden for farmers.

The public comment period deadline on the WOTUS rule closed on Sept. 27. The EPA reconsidered the rule after the nations agricultural sector supported rescinding the 2015 rule. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says its time to ditch the rule once and for all.

“As today’s deadline for comments on rescinding the fatally flawed Waters of the U.S. rule is upon us," said Duvall. "Farm Bureau applauds the Environmental Protection Agency’s formal proposal to ditch the rule. We do not stand alone in our assessment that the WOTUS rule was much more about seizing land control than about protecting water, and in official comments today we joined several broad-based coalitions expressing those sentiments. It is clear that this WOTUS rule violated the law while creating legal risk and enormous uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and others who work with the land."

The President of the nation's largest Agricultural organization added that the rule lacked common sense and clarity.

“It is time for EPA to take the final step of repealing the WOTUS rule. The agency should then move forward with a new rule that provides farmers, ranchers, towns, states and small businesses with clarity and certainty they need. The new rule should rely on common-sense directives that don’t require teams of consultants and lawyers to navigate a maze of federal regulations. We will follow this process closely over the coming months to ensure that the new rule is based on law, that waters are protected and that farmland can be farmed.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

FDR visits Idaho Harvest

President Franklin Roosevelt visits Idaho

Boise--September 27th 1937, this was a special week in Idaho and It was FDR's first visit to Boise.. He visited Pocatello by train and then it was onto Boise by rail. A presidential visit was rare, and people were dressed in their Sunday finest. Shops and schools were close, but the harvest continued with most farmers too busy to take a day off.

The country was pulling itself out of the grip of the great depression. Unemployment had dropped to 14 percent, its 2 percent now. If you had a job back then, the average yearly wage was $1700.00 a year. You could buy a new house for 41-hundred dollars, a gallon of gas was just .10 cents and a new car was about $760.

On the historic trip, Roosevelt gave a speech in Pocatello, never leaving the train. By 11:30 am He was in Boise giving a speech from his car on 8th and Bannock Street and it was broadcast live over KIDO. The President and his motorcade took off from Boise and toured the backroads all the way to Ontario, Oregon and hundreds followed the motorcade by car. Roosevelt wanted to see the harvests. He had a passion for the working man and his timing was good because beets were going full steam, and so were spuds.

Roosevelt was on his way to Washington State for the dedication of the Grand Coole Dam. He later said that "Idaho is quite a place."

Thats the way it was, 80 years ago to the day.

Monday, September 25, 2017

AFBF Comments on Regulatory Reform

AFBF Submits Regulatory Reform Priorities

Washington—The Farm Bureau submitted regulatory reform priorities this week to the Department of Agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Federation used comments from Farm Bureau members to submit suggestions for regulatory reform to USDA as part of the agency’s efforts to implement the president’s regulatory reform agenda. Paul Schlegel the AFBF’s Director of Environment and Energy Policy says overregulation by federal agencies is burdensome to agriculture.

“It’s hard to look at it nationally and say there’s X amount of dollars,” said Schlegel. “ But it’s significant. It runs from environment to natural resources to labor to endangered species, there’s a whole range of things. And, it is widespread and it takes place everywhere.”

Schlegel says regulatory creep has chipped away at the exemptions for normal farming practices under the Clean Water Rule.

“How an agency would determine what is normal can affect whether you’re exempt or not,” sad Schlegel. “So, if you’re changing from one crop to another, an agency might say that they don’t consider that normal. Those things have the effect of making farmers subject to regulations whereas Congress has said they shouldn’t be.”

The Department of Agriculture will continue to accept comments over the next year. Schlegel says this is a good opportunity to ease the overregulation burden on farmers and ranchers.

“Unfortunately, it’s a long list of challenges, but we’re grateful for the opportunity we have. On Capitol Hill, there’s legislation we’re pushing and the arena downtown at EPA, at USDA, Department of Interior, we’re trying to get them to focus on things and make some changes,” said Schlegel.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Idaho Wheat Export Deal

Idaho and Taiwan ink wheat deal

Boise-Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a half billion dollar wheat deal with the Taiwan Flour Mill Association Wednesday morning at the Statehouse.

Taiwan Flour Mills Association Chairman Tony Chen and Director General Vincent Yao of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle were joined at the Statehouse ceremony with Governor Otter, Idaho Wheat Commission Vice-Chairman Bill Flory and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould.

“The United States has long been Taiwan's most important supplier of agricultural products,” said Yao. “That makes Taiwan the seventh largest overseas market for US agricultural exports. Among the states, Idaho is one of the most important and reliable partners of Taiwan in terms of agricultural trade. Taiwan’s consumers benefit a lot from the high-quality agriculture products of Idaho.”

Taiwan prefers Idaho's soft white wheat for noodles, cookies, and crackers according to the Idaho Wheat Commission. But over the past few years Taiwan has also bought more of Idaho’s hard red wheat for bread. To date at least 5 percent of Idaho's wheat production is purchased by Taiwan.

“Export markets are critical to Idaho’s economy and our wheat growers,” Otter said. “We welcome the Taiwan Flour Mills Association back to Idaho and appreciate their loyalty as a customer. We appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat.”

US wheat producers have had a working relationship with Taiwan buyers for more than four decades according to the Wheat Commission. The Taiwan Flour Millers Association imports wheat for twenty flour mills. The United States supplies more than 80 percent of Taiwan’s total wheat imports each year.

"The consumption of wheat foods in Taiwan now surpasses rice and we appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat," Otter said.

Bill Flory grows wheat in Idaho's Palouse prairie and says the deal benefits producers.

"The partnership between Taiwan's millers and US wheat producers is enduring and very successful," said Flory who also serves as the vice chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission. "The importance of maintaining a trade relationship with this valued customer can't be overstated."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Range Tour

Central Idaho Range Tour 

Challis-The Lost Rivers, Lemhi and Custer County Farm Bureaus invited the Idaho Fish and Game and other State agencies on a Range Tour. Each winter ranchers in the area lose tens of thousands of dollars in hay to elk herds. Last winter damage was extensive and with projections for another hard winter, ranchers are looking for ways to cut their losses.

This past summer some ranches have spent thousands of dollars building fencing. This fence is 10 feet high.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Net Farm Income: up

Net Farm Income Does a Dead Cat Bounce

Washington—A common phrase used often when talking about markets that recover slightly after a precipitous drop is “dead cat bounce.” A quick Google search suggests it was coined following a slight recovery after a large market drop in the Singapore and Malaysian markets. The idea is that if you throw even a dead cat on the ground, it will bounce a little.

Farm incomes in 2012 and 2013 were high relative to historical standards, but have dropped substantially since then. The recent projections of farm income released by USDA’s Economic Research Service in their 2017 Farm Sector Income Forecast suggest that we may have hit bottom in 2016 and are looking at an uptick in both net farm and net cash income in 2017 to $100.4 billion and $63.4 billion.

ERS last released farm income projections at the end of February, so it is interesting to compare and contrast this projection versus their earlier forecast. Both crop and livestock sectors are projected to have higher cash receipts than ERS projected in February. Crop cash receipts are now projected at $190 billion versus $187 billion earlier this year, an increase of 1.6 percent. The changes in crop cash receipts are spread throughout a number of crops and are all relatively minor.

The big change in expectations for farm cash receipts comes on the livestock side. Livestock cash receipts are now projected at $176 billion, compared to $168 billion in February, an increase of 4.8 percent, Figure 2. Cattle cash receipts are now projected $4 billion higher than in February, with hogs and poultry up by $2 billion and just under $2 billion, respectively. Despite projections for higher milk prices, dairy receipts are surprisingly slightly lower than February figures.

Cash expenses are also essentially unchanged from the earlier figures and still hold at $309 billion. While up $5 billion from 2016 costs, cash expenses are $30 billion below that observed in 2014. But do not forget that one of the larger categories of cash expenses are feed costs – money that comes out of one of agriculture’s pockets only to go into another.

One other interesting feature of the August numbers is on the debt side. Total farm debt is projected at a record-high at $390 billion, with $242 billion representing real estate debt and $148 billion representing non-real estate debt, Figure 3. An interesting observation on the non-real estate debt is that ERS projected this figure $7 billion lower this month than they did earlier this year - $148 billion as opposed to the earlier $154 billion figure. No details are provided to back up the change but it does suggest farmers and ranchers are continuing to keep an eye on the debt side of the ledger. The net impact of lower debt levels and higher farm income in 2017 is the debt to asset ratio in 2017 is projected at 12.68 percent, marginally higher than 2016, but well below levels experienced in the 1980’s.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Health Insurance Tax

Farm Bureau Urges Lawmakers to Stop the Health Insurance Tax for 2018

Washington-Citing a recent report that estimates the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance tax will force families purchasing coverage in the small group market to pay an additional $500 on average in premium costs next year, the American Farm Bureau Federation and 20-plus other organizations representing small businesses are urging the Senate Finance Committee to suspend the HIT for 2018.

“Absent immediate congressional action, our members, as well as seniors, Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals purchasing coverage on their own will face a $14.3 billion tax hike, driving up the cost of coverage for those struggling to afford the cost of care,” the groups—all members of the Stop the HIT Coalition—wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The groups noted that previous congressional efforts to provide HIT relief—including bipartisan action from nearly 400 Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to suspend the HIT for 2017—represented a significant step forward for small businesses.

The House this spring approved legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628) also repealed the health insurance tax, ended penalties on employers that fail to purchase health insurance for their workers and eliminated penalties for individuals who fail to purchase health insurance.

While efforts to pass an ACA repeal and replace bill fizzled out in the Senate earlier this summer, some lawmakers in that chamber are pressing on. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has teamed up with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in an effort to draft legislation geared toward stabilizing health insurance markets.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Onion Harvest

Mixed Onion Harvest in Idaho and Oregon underway

Wilder—After one of the most disastrous winters in history, The regions battered onion industry is back up and running.

Despite a slow start and low yields, strong market prices have growers enthusiastic.

“This is the second highest price I’ve ever seen,”said Shay Meyers of Owyhee produce. “Onions are selling for $10.00 per 50-pound sack. Last year they were going for $4 dollars. We have a long way to go but we’re cautiously optimistic this season because we think we have a manageable crop,”

Last winter Idaho and Oregon suffered through non-stop, freakish storms. By the end of January more than 6 feet of snow collapsed 60 onion storage sheds in Canyon, Washington and Malheur Counties.

The storms also wiped out a good chunk of last year’s onion bumper crop causing more than a $100-million dollars of damage to the crop and smashed buildings.

Last year at this time onions were selling for $3.50 a sack. When a third of the crop was lost, demand in February pushed the crop past the $10 mark.

This year the onion trucks started rolling two and a half weeks late. The crop suffered from a very cold spring with the last snow storm coming the 13th of May. In just four weeks the weather changed drastically and the crop then weathered a 6-week heat wave. Meyers says because of the challenges this crop won’t top last season’s bumper crop yields.

“We’re late with harvest this year because of that cold spring. It was hard to get planted in all of that mud. Right now we’re starting to lift the onions out of the dirt and the hot days are good for drying them on the warm ground,” said Jon Watson of the JC Watson Company out of Parma.

Packers are dealing with the lower yields, rebuilding sheds and budgets are tight.

Myers said Owyhee Produce lost four storage sheds. The main packing house was damaged but continued operations through the winter. Myers said Eastern Oregon was hit first so their buildings were the first to be rebuilt and they’re off to an earlier start than Idaho neighbors. He says when they start storing onions, they are ready.

“In terms of storage, all of our buildings have been rebuilt. We were fortunate in our misfortune and were able to rebuild first. We’re ready now for storage. We were effected first, our storages are complete, so today we are not affected and can move on,” said Meyers.

In Parma JC Watson Company had a partial collapse of one of their main sheds in January.

“We rebuilding and everything is updated and state of the art. Over the past 5 years we’ve building new multi-tasking storing sheds that can handle the heat and the cold and we can change the climate at different times of the year for a reason. We have the ability to turn storage climates into weather conditions that we don’t have at the time, things like turn night into day,” said Watson.

Because of all that snow Watson got off to a late start because of cleanup and construction.
“With the losses and a late spring we’re 3-4 weeks behind this fall,” said Jon Watson. But Watson is confident they’ll have enough storage for the last of the onions in October and hopes the prices will stay up.

“Market prices are up today because of the late harvest. California got done early and Washington is just getting started and we’re going to be late. Because of the late start we are probably going to see a smaller size profile and add the lateness to harvest and there’s not as many onions offered for sale right now,” said Watson.

Spanish bulb onions make up a third of the total US crop. They’re sold later in the year and need storage. Because of that, the crop needs storage sheds for the 2017 harvest.

Treasure Valley and Eastern Oregon Onion farmers grow more than 1- billion pounds of the bulb onions each year, making this the nation’s largest onion-growing region in terms of volume and one of the biggest in the world.

At least 90 percent of the onions grown in the region are yellows, while the rest are red and white varieties. Harvest usually starts in August and finished by the end of October.

There are 36 packing sheds in the valley and the industry’s annual economic impact is an estimated $1.3 billion, making onions a major economic player in the region’s economy.

Onion acreages are close to 20,000 this year but production numbers are well off last years record season.

“Compared to 2016 we’ll see a 30 percent reduction in yields. Last year we had record yields that were 15 to 20-percent over normal yield averages. And this year we’re 10-15 percent below an average year,” said Meyers.

From restaurants to big box stores, Jon Watson says this year’s crop will impact major retailers across the nation.

“We ship our product all over the country. We’re servicing outlets like Walmart and Taylor Farms. Taylor makes fresh cut onions for all of the major restaurant chains. Today we’re packing for Outback restaurants and they’re big onions but not as many as last year,” said Watson.

Producers stress that its still early in the season and the most worrisome part of the year will start when they move onions into storage. They say storage will be tight with no guarantees that prices will hold.

“The market today is between $9 and $10 dollars. We hope they’ll stay. We hope that stays throughout the storage process. We haven't harvested one onion for storage yet, they’re still out on the ground and some of the crop is still growing,” said Watson.

2017 is a year of wild contrasts for onion producers. They had one of the biggest crops ever in storage followed by 40 inches of snow. The collapses took a big chunk of the bumper crop and caused a $100 million in shed damage.

“Prices are good, but like I said before we need two years profit this fall to make up for last years losses. I know it is a lot to hope for but it’s all we got,” said Meyers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Homegrown energy

Wind Generation Benefits Farmers, Environment

Washington--U.S. energy production is undergoing rapid transformation, with substantial impacts to the agriculture and rural economies. Many farmers already produce renewable energy by growing corn to make ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. Now, more farmers and ranchers are harvesting the wind blowing over their land to make electricity.

Large wind turbines increasingly dot the countryside, and, like ethanol and biodiesel production, wind energy is yet another example of how agriculture is becoming a significant provider of renewable energy.
Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

From the late 1800s through the 1930s, farmers used wind to pump water, grind grain and, to a small extent, generate power for self-sufficiency. Although most are no longer functional, old metal windmills still stand as quaint symbols of farm life before the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 paved the way to extend electrical service to rural America.

In recent years, about $143 billion has been invested in U.S. wind energy, and the investment is growing. U.S. wind energy production has grown by seven times in the last decade, with more than 53,000 turbines in 41 states generating more than 84,000 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power nearly 25 million homes nationally. Wind energy currently contributes about 6 percent of the nation’s power grid, but is expected to grow to as much as 20 percent in the near future, according to the Energy Department’s “Wind Vision” report. In some states, the percentage is much higher. In Texas – a state normally linked to petroleum production – wind accounts for 12 percent of the state’s electrical generation. Iowa leads the nation with 31 percent.

Employment related to wind turbine technology is among the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S., supporting more than 73,000 jobs. Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

Rural communities benefit not only from the added jobs, but also from payments farmers and ranchers receive to host turbines on their property.

Each turbine uses less than half an acre, so farmers can plant crops and graze livestock right to the turbine's base. Most can continue to use about 95 percent of the land around wind turbines. Some farmers have also purchased wind turbines, and others are starting to form wind power cooperatives. The payments farmers receive from wind power developers or utility companies can help offset long periods of low commodity prices and increase spending power in rural communities. Additionally, most wind power developers pay property taxes to counties, separately and above the taxes paid by local farmers.

Many communities also benefit from capital investments by companies choosing to locate facilities in areas served by wind generation. In Iowa, wind electricity helped attract billions of dollars in capital investment from Facebook, Microsoft and Google data centers, creating hundreds of jobs.

Wind energy also has no emissions and preserves water compared with other power generation methods, saving some 87 billion gallons in 2016 alone.

Some critics contend that farmers should be in the business of growing food and fiber, and not producing fuel or energy. But energy and food needs are ever-increasing, and U.S. agriculture has the capacity for both. The potential for 80,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners increases farm economic stability and benefits rural communities. Renewable energy and agriculture are a winning combination.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Just in from Washington

Farm Bureau, Livestock Groups Request Waiver for Log book Mandate

Washington—Concerned about livestock haulers’ readiness to comply with a problematic electronic logging device mandate, as well as how the mandate will affect the transported animals’ well-being, the American Farm Bureau Federation and seven livestock organizations are asking the Department of Transportation for a waiver and exemption from the fast-approaching Dec. 18 ELD implementation deadline.

Unless Congress or the administration 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.

In their petition, the groups pointed out livestock haulers’ strong commitment to ensuring the safety of both the animals they’re transporting and the drivers they share the road with. In addition, livestock haulers often receive specialized training beyond that required for their counterparts driving conventional commercial motor vehicles. The pork industry’s Transport Quality Assurance Program and the beef industry’s Master Cattle Transporter program provide detailed instruction on proper animal handling and transportation methods.

“As reflected in FMCSA’s data, the emphasis these programs place on animal welfare benefits driver safety as it encourages livestock haulers to slow down, be more aware of their surroundings and road conditions, and avoid rough-road situations that could result in animal injury,” the groups noted.

Another major roadblock to implementation for livestock haulers is their lack of awareness of the rule. Because the livestock hauling industry is small compared to the overall trucking industry, it isn’t well-represented before or strongly engaged by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As a result, livestock drivers who are aware of the program have had difficulty researching the ELD marketplace and identifying cost-effective solutions that are compatible with livestock hauling. In addition, as with the agriculture industry as a whole, livestock haulers are likely significantly older than the average American truck driver, making them less familiar with the use of ELD technology and in need of more training on ELD use.

In their petition, the groups also asked DOT to address the incompatibilities between FMCSA’s hours of service rules and the structure and realities of the U.S. livestock sector.

“For many drivers, there is concern that there are those, with no understanding of or concern for animal welfare or livestock hauling, who will arbitrarily penalize them for choosing the proper care of animals over stopping in excessive heat or cold because of an arbitrary HOS cutoff,” the groups said.

While FMCSA’s recent change to include livestock in its interpretation of the 150-air mile exemption for agricultural commodities is a positive development, it doesn’t fully address livestock haulers’ struggles.

The organizations are committed to working with industry and FMCSA to address the issues presented by the ELD mandate and hope that FMCSA will grant additional time and flexibility for haulers who have a responsibility to care for the animals they are transporting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Brazilian tariff on imported fuels

Brazilian tariff bad for US Biofuels industry

Washington– US Agriculture organizations want the Trump administration to address a Brazilian tariff on imported biofuels.

Brazil imposed a tariff that cuts more than $750 million in US exports and American jobs. In August, Brazil instituted a two-year tariff rate quota for ethanol imports that includes a 20 percent tariff after a 600 million liters of imports.

According to a report from the Energy Information Administration, the US exported 28 million barrels of fuel ethanol in 2016 and at least 6.6 million barrels went to Brazil. So far this year exports to Brazil stand at 1.17 billion liters, according to Census Bureau trade data.

Tom Sleight of the US Grains Council President said the Brazilian tariff “will ultimately hurt the global industry and our collective ability to reap the benefits of biofuels.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the tariff is a violation of a longstanding U.S.-Brazilian agreement and “the United States should not take this lying down.”

In a statement, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the U.S. Grains Council called on the administration to “immediately engage their Brazilian counterparts on the future of our relationships with regard to biofuels.” The groups said the administration should “consider all avenues to encourage Brazil to either revoke the TRQ or substantially increase the tariff-free quota level to better reflect the current ethanol market and trade realities.”

In individual statements, leaders of the three organizations offered more pointed comments about potential outcomes if the Brazilian action is left unchecked.

“Brazil’s actions undermine the zero-ethanol tariff arrangement between our two countries that has been in place for several years,” she said. “President Trump has been a strong supporter of America’s biofuels producers, and decisive action to defend this crucial domestic industry will be a clear reminder of the administration’s continued commitment to strengthen the American economy.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said both the U.S. and Brazil “have benefitted greatly from the free and fair trade” between the two countries, but that’s now at risk.

“Unfortunately, Brazil’s recent protectionist actions are turning back the clock to an era of isolationism and inefficient global trade,” he said. “In the end, Brazil’s new trade policy not only harms U.S. ethanol producers, but also penalizes Brazilian consumers who will be forced to pay more for their fuel.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Idaho Hop Harvest

Idaho Hop Harvest in full swing

Wilder—Smokey skies hang over one of the biggest hop harvests in the Pacific Northwest.

At Obendorf Hop farm outside of Wilder trucks started rolling in August and they’re still running sun-up to sundown. They'll keep this pace until workers cut the last vines and strip the hop fields bare.

“All and all, it’s a good to average year,” said Brock Obendorf. “Our baby crop was below average due to the wet spring. The Hot summer has brought some mites and it’ll be interesting to see how this harvest turns out.”

Idaho hop producers will take an average year after one of the most challenging growing seasons of the decade. They faced a cold, wet spring then a dry, scorching hot summer. But through it all, hop growers are optimistic in a very tough year.

Thats because the craft brewer market has pushed hop demand to new highs and there's no end in sight.  Obendorf says brewers wants the taste and aroma that hops bring to beer and they're constantly looking for new and different brews.

“We’re now farming 2800 acres, we’re trying to keep up with demand. Our harvest is a lot longer because we planted more acres this year. But we should be done by September 25th, as long as the weather holds and we can keep the trucks rolling,” said Obendorf.

A report from Hop growers of America reported an 11 percent increase in production last year. The nation’s hop farmers grew 87.1 million pounds of hops and this years harvest could be close to that mark. The rise of American craft breweries and their heavy use of hops means each barrel uses 10-times more hops.

Because of that, Idaho hop growers now rank third in the nation and pushing Oregon for total hop acreage. This year producers strung a record 7,000 acres in hops in Idaho according to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Brock Obendorf is the current president of the Idaho Hop Commission and he says to keep up with the craft beer demand, Idaho planted 15-hundred more acres than last year, an increase of 27-percent.

“There are more breweries every year and there’s a higher hopping rate in the craft beers, this new crop of brewers have completely changed the industry especially in the past five years,” said Obendorf

Obendorf Hop Farm and Idaho producers have no trouble finding a market for quality hops.

“We sell to brokers out of Washington and from there they go all around the world, with all these breweries springing up it’s a competitive market, beer drinkers are always looking for the next great IPA," said brother and partner, Eric Obendorf

The grueling, month-long harvest is progressing at break-neck speed. Workers cut the 14-30 foot vines in the field and drop them onto waiting trucks. Once loaded, the trucks rush to a giant hop shed where the vines are lifted and stripped. The hops fall onto a conveyer belt and then sent to the giant dryers. They’re heated up to 140-degrees and then cooled to 70 degrees in a chilly warehouse.

“Once they’re baled they go to the processor or even directly to the brewer and added into the brew. Before that in our process we cool them off for 12 hours, we have a slot in the floor that we pump fresh air to cool them off faster. We have to cool them down before we bale them,” said Eric Obendorf.

The giant bales stand in the cool warehouse until they're loaded onto Washington bound trucks. Brock Obendorf says they pack different varieties and different grades of hops.

“We sell by the pound and it ranges everywhere from a $1.50 a pound to $6-bucks. Prices have been good, but this time of year they level off. And all the acres we put in to keep up with craft demand could level off the market but we won’t know until we get past harvest,” he said.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cattle prices improving!

Cattle Prices Moving Up this Week

Chicago—After a new low last week in the futures market, live cattle futures were much higher on Wednesday with help from improved wholesale beef prices according to traders on the Mercantile exchange.

“I think the market is where it should be,” said Cameron Mulrony of the Idaho Cattle Association. “This summer the seasonal dip we usually see in August happened earlier and it took away any price momentum we’d normally see heading into Labor Day weekend. Hopefully we’ll see increases like we’ve seen today but there is still a lot of speculation at this point in the cattle market and those low prices.”

December futures got added support from buyers after the contract topped the 10-day moving average of 109.648 cents. October live cattle finished up 0.275 cents per pound at 104.700 cents, and December closed 0.425 cent higher at 109.800 cents.

According to the Mercantile exchange, Some grocers bought beef to avoid shortages after plants closed on Monday for the US Labor Day holiday, and that spiked prices.

Mulrony says the beef demand softens after Labor Day because it’s the last big BBQ holiday of the summer and shoppers buy more back to school-type food.

“We’re not overly concerned right now, prices will come back. Beef is the best protein in the world and people enjoy a good steak. We know that demand is still there and in the meantime we’ll continue to improve our market,” said Mulrony.

Rancher Kyle Wade out of Downey is holding on his cattle until prices improve.

“I’m holding on right now just trying to stay pat right now. I might have the opportunity to buy a few more cows. I’ve looked down that avenue and waiting seems the right thing to do until prices get back to where they were in the spring,” said Wade.

Allendale Market strategist Rich Nelson says that buyers may want to see if cash prices can stabilize before making any further moves on the futures end of the market.

Cattle buyers waited until Tuesday’s sale of market-ready cattle in the US to buy and the market fetched $103 to $105 per hundred weight. Bullish traders think packers will pay at least $105 per cwt for supplies with better wholesale beef prices and higher profit margins for packers.

Low prices are expected at this time of year at any auction yard in America. But Wade knows things will turn around and he’ll wait for the best time to sell.

“There’s a lot of promise in the future. As of right now we have seen a little dip in the past two weeks or a month with cattle prices as well as meat prices but there could be a good future in the long run. Hopefully, we’ll see that sooner than later,” said Wade.

Skeptical market players say too many slaughter cattle at heavier weight means more meat in the retail sector and that means weak prices. But on Wednesday technical buying and live cattle futures advances pulled up the feeder cattle contracts. Wednesday closed at 1.250 cents per pound higher at 143.300 cents.

“I’ll sell all of my calves by November. We come off our range in November and we try and sell that first two weeks after we are home. So I think prices will be better by then. With hurricane Harvey recovery and the opening of the Chinese market, I think there will be pressure on the futures market to move prices up. There’s another storm off the Atlantic and I think the future for beef is bright, but right now we’re holding on,” said Wade.

Tax Reform

Farmers, Ranchers Need to Deliver Strong Tax Reform Message To Congress

Washington--Republican congressional leaders, just returning from their month-long August recess, are geared up to revamp and modernize the tax code, making it all the more urgent for farmers and ranchers to share their tax reform priorities with lawmakers.

“While September brings cooler temperatures for most of the country, including Washington, D.C., the heat is on Capitol Hill leaders to make good on the tax reform promises they made just before the start of recess and during their campaigns. For farmers and ranchers, it’s time to send those email messages, make those phone calls or meet with in-district and Capitol Hill staff to share your personal tax reform message,” said Cody Lyon, American Farm Bureau Federation director of advocacy and political affairs.

Among farmers’ and ranchers’ top priorities are comprehensive tax reform that helps all farm and ranch businesses; the reduction of combined income and self-employment tax rates to account for any deductions or credits lost; cost-recovery tools like allowing businesses to deduct expenses when incurred; and a continuation of cash accounting, Section 1031 “like-kind exchanges,” and the deduction for state and local taxes.

Share Your Tax Reform Message with Congress

Key lawmakers, along with President Donald Trump, are pushing to make headway on tax reform over the next several weeks, making this a key time for farmers and ranchers to share with their representatives and senators why reform is so important for people involved in agriculture. 

You can easily send your tax reform message in a few clicks using AFBF’s “Take Action Now” web page. In addition, this AFBF-produced video, which features Farm Bureau members talking about tax provisions that are critical to them, is a good informational tool.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Just in

Farm Bureau Calls on EPA to Up the Advanced Biofuels Requirement for 2018

Washington:The American Farm Bureau Federation is giving the Environmental Protection Agency a thumbs-up for its proposal to keep the 2018 conventional biofuels level at 15 billion gallons, as called for in the Renewable Fuel Standard. At the same time, the organization warned that EPA’s plan to reduce the level of required advanced biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply will undermine the goals set by Congress to create a more robust renewable fuels industry and greater energy independence.

“Renewable fuels have been a tremendous success story for the country and for the rural economy. The Renewable Fuel Standard has reduced our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil, reduced air pollution, increased farm incomes and provided good-paying jobs in rural America,” Dale Moore, AFBF executive director of public policy, noted in comments to the agency.

EPA’s proposal includes an overall 2018 biofuel mandate of 19.24 billion gallons, with 15 billion gallons of that in conventional biofuels, or ethanol, and 4.24 billion gallons in advanced biofuels.

EPA’s intention to reduce the 2018 requirements for advanced renewable fuel to 4.24 billion gallons, down from 4.28 billion gallons this year, not only dampens the prospects for reduced emissions and increased energy security, but also inhibits investment in cleaner, domestic fuels and the infrastructure needed to accommodate higher biofuel blends—all of which are goals of the RFS.

“The RFS was designed to give American consumers more choices at the pump and lower gas prices, and to utilize biofuel as more than just a gasoline additive with octane-boosting value. But EPA’s 2018 proposal fails to send the signal to the industry that greater infrastructure investment is needed and meaningful marketplace changes need to occur,” Moore said.

Farm Bureau is urging EPA to set the advanced biofuel requirements for 2018 at 5.25 billion gallons and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2019 at 2.75 billion gallons. EPA intends to finalize the rule by Nov. 30.

Cattle Market

With the cattle market flat, ranchers like Kyle and Jessica Wade are hanging on and waiting for the market upswing.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Harvey Relief Fund

Texas Farm Bureau establishes Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

WACO—The Texas Farm Bureau has established a relief fund to address the agricultural losses inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. The category four storm struck Texas with a vengeance, flooding Texas farm communities, small towns and major cities. Those farm and ranch families are now left facing overwhelming odds following high winds and unprecedented rainfall.

“It’s an historic storm and a disaster for many farmers and ranchers. The torrential rainfall wreaked havoc on Texas agriculture at the worst possible time—harvest season,” Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said. “Hurricane Harvey struck an area of the state known for cattle, cotton and rice, and other row crops.”

There’s much work ahead in rebuilding, but that’s what farmers and ranchers intend to do.

Texas Farm Bureau’s Agriculture Research and Education Foundation has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to aid in the recovery efforts following the devastating storm.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the foundation to assist farmers and ranchers. Donations to this fund will be dispersed via an application process directly to the farmers and ranchers affected by the hurricane.

The area declared as a disaster by Gov. Greg Abbott contains about 1.2 million cattle, which is roughly 27 percent of the state’s cowherd.

Boening noted the cotton crop on the Texas Gulf Coast was expected to be a good crop, which was needed after several years of low prices and high costs. The losses from Harvey will reduce the expected two million bale harvest by as much as 400,000 bales, according to estimates from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

“Texas agriculture suffered major losses,” Boening said. “Some of that will be covered by other means, but much of it will not. Farmers and ranchers are left to pick up the soggy pieces.”

Harvey was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. since 2004, dropping several feet of rain.

“Harvey roared into Texas and overstayed his welcome,” Boening said. “But now we look ahead—to recovery and rebuilding the farms and ranches in that part of our great state.”

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation:

Margin Protection Program

Milk producers can opt out of Margin Protection Program

WASHINGTON— Listening to milk producers, the USDA says it will allow dairymen to opt out of the Margin Protection Program for 2018.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue  said that the “the decision is in response to requests by the dairy industry and a number of MPP-Dairy program participants.”  He said he “is using his authority to allow producers to withdraw from the MPP Dairy Program and not pay the annual administrative fee for 2018,”

MPP, established by the 2014 farm bill, allows payments to participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the producer.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, pointed out that approximately 24,000 U.S. dairy farms, representing 80 percent of the U.S. milk supply, are currently enrolled in MPP. But he said that this year, only 2 percent of the milk enrolled participated at levels above the program’s basic coverage option.

“This low participation rate is due to the poor performance of MPP in providing a viable safety net to dairy farmers,” Duvall said yesterday from Washington.

Duvall said AFBF and its grassroots members are looking forward to working with USDA and Congress to “enhance the dairy safety net.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, praised Perdue for for allowing greater stability for dairy farmers enrolled in MPP.

“I applaud Secretary Perdue for providing additional flexibility for our dairy farmers,” Stabenow said in a statement. “As we work to improve the dairy safety net in the next Farm Bill, this is an important first step to ensuring producers have effective options to manage risk in the interim. I look forward to continuing to work with USDA to expand and improve coverage options for our dairy farmers.”

Details about the withdrawal option were included in a release by USDA’s Farm Service Agency announcing the Sept. 1 starting date for producers to enroll for 2018 coverage.

MPP-Dairy gives participating producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation, AMS said. Enrollment ends on Dec. 15, 2017, for coverage in calendar year 2018. Participating farmers will remain in the program through Dec. 31, 2018, and pay a minimum $100 administrative fee for 2018 coverage. Producers have the option of selecting a different coverage level from the previous coverage year during open enrollment.

To opt out, a producer should not sign up during the annual registration period. By opting out, a producer would not receive any MPP-Dairy benefits if payments are triggered for 2018. Full details will be included in a subsequent Federal Register Notice, FSA said. The opt-out decision would be for 2018 only and is not retroactive.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. FSA says the online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections.


Idaho Farm Bureau and Dairymen hold Dairy Revenue Protection Insurance meetings across Idaho

Boise—The American Farm Bureau Federation teamed up with Farm Bureau Insurance and Dairymen to develop a new risk-management insurance sa...