Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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Farm Bureau Supports Death Tax Repeal

Washington— Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this week would repeal the death tax, a priority for Farm Bureau members.

AFBF Senior Director of Congressional Relations Pat Wolff says this a critical time for passing the legislation before Congress starts on comprehensive tax reform in April.

“Legislation to repeal the death tax has been introduced in Congress. And it’s important that it’s happening because Congress is about to write comprehensive tax reform. The legislation says repeal estate taxes and we want that to be in the tax reform package,” said Wolff.

Wolff says that while the estate tax exemption level of $5 million is beneficial, it does not help all farmers and ranchers.

“Farmers and ranchers are worried about growing and going over that level. So, we need to get rid of the tax once and for all. We don’t need it hanging over people’s heads and we don’t need farmers having to pay their attorneys to write them estate tax plans just in case,’ explained Wolff.

Wolff says farmers and ranchers need to make their voice heard and tell Congress to repeal the death tax.

“Farmers everywhere need to call their representatives and tell them to cosponsor H.R. 631 or S. 205, the bills to kill the death tax once and for all,” said Wolff.

Monday, January 30, 2017

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Farmer of the Year Looking to Honor Outstanding Farmers
Washington—The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farmers’ Almanac are searching for outstanding farmers and ranchers from all over the country to share stories of how they actively contribute to the agricultural community, embrace and explore innovations and technologies, and are true leaders and inspirations in their respective farming fields. 

Nominees who have figured out how to keep their centuries-old, family-run farms alive and thriving, as well as newcomers who may have just started out in farming or ranching, are sought.

Judges from AFBF as well as the Farmers’ Almanac will review all of the entries and select three winners who best exemplify outstanding farming practices, farming tradition, and are worthy of the title of “Farmers’ Almanac Farmers Of The Year.” Winners will be offered reimbursement for a one-year membership to the Farm Bureau in their county of residence, a lifetime subscription to the Farmers’ Almanac, and have their farm and story featured in the pages of the 2018 Farmers’ Almanac.


All nominations must be received by Jan. 31, and can only be submitted online at http://FarmersAlmanac.com/FarmerOfTheYear.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

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USDA Makes it Easier to Transfer Land to the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
DES MOINES– Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam announced that  the U.S. Department of Agriculture  will offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program contracts, making it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members. The land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP. 
This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015. The subcommittee was asked to identify ways the department could use or modify its programs, regulations, and practices to address the challenges of beginning farmers and ranchers in their access to land, capital and technical assistance. 
“The average age of principal farm operators is 58,” said Baccam.  “So, land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land is an increasingly important issue for the future of agriculture and a priority for USDA. Access to land remains the biggest barrier for beginning farmers and ranchers.  This announcement is part of our efforts to address some of the challenges with transitioning land to beginning farmers.” 
Baccam made the announcement while touring the Joe Dunn farm in Warren County, located in central Iowa near Carlisle. Dunn is the father-in-law to Iowa native and former Marine Aaron White, who with his wife, are prospective candidates for the early termination program.  Baccam was joined by Farm Service Agency Iowa State Executive Director John Whitaker when meeting with Dunn and White. 
“The chance to give young farmers a better opportunity to succeed when starting a farming career makes perfect sense,” said Baccam. “There are Conservation Reserve Program acres that are rested and ready to be productive, an original goal of CRP. The technical teams at USDA will tell us which ones can terminate from the program with little impact on the overall conservation efforts. When they do, we’ll be ready to help beginning farmers like military veteran Aaron White.” 
Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.  The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.  With CRP enrollment close to the Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere. 
“Starting the next generation of farmers and ranchers out with conservation and stewardship in mind is another important part of this announcement,” Baccam said.  “The land coming out of CRP will have priority enrollment opportunities with USDA’s working lands conservation programs through cooperation between the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.” 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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USDA Announces $18.9 Million Available to Support Agricultural Education at 1890s Land-grant Institutions 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $18.9 million in funding for eligible 1890 land-grant colleges and universities to obtain or improve agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment. The 1890 Facilities Grant Program helps the eligible institutions educate the future workforce in the food, agricultural and human sciences job sectors.
"This funding signals our ongoing commitment to create future leaders and skilled professionals in the field of agricultural innovation," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "By building adequate facilities we help 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Institutions sustain their programs in agriculture, food and human sciences."
The  1890 land-grant institutions were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890 to foster higher education opportunities for African-Americans and other underrepresented student populations. This funding opportunity aligns with NIFA's strategic goal to develop human capital, communities and a diverse workforce through research, education, extension and engagement programs in food and agricultural sciences to support a sustainable agriculture system.
Eligible applicants include Alabama A&M University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Southern University, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Lincoln University, Alcorn State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Central State University, Langston University, South Carolina State University, Tennessee State University, Prairie View A&M University, Virginia State University, and West Virginia State University.
The application deadline is March 21, 2017.

Monday, January 23, 2017

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USDA’s Farm Service Agency Expands Bridges to Opportunity Nationwide

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the expansion of a unique service for farmers and ranchers. FSA’s Bridges to Opportunity program provides a one-stop-shop that connects producers with resources, programs and educational services offered across the department, as well as from other USDA partner organizations. Bridges to Opportunity, which currently provides enhanced customer support to more than 150,000 customers in 20 states, will expand to serve customers across the country before the end of the month using fiscal year 2016 funds.

“By partnering with numerous local, state, regional and national agricultural organizations, FSA employees now can provide farmers and ranchers with comprehensive information about resources, grants, courses, events and activities provided throughout USDA and from external partner organizations,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “Bridges to Opportunity is another example of how USDA is working to reconnect people to their government and provide enhanced services to farmers and ranchers, who, in turn, provide our nation and the world with safe, affordable and reliable food, fuel and fiber.”

FSA’s presence in over 2,100 county offices, in nearly every rural county, puts the agency in a unique position to partner with non-governmental organizations to reach thousands of agricultural producers who can benefit from the programs and services.  Bridges to Opportunity allows FSA employees to search and obtain a list of all local, state, regional and national organizations that may be able assist local producers with their specific need.  For example, FSA’s Houston County office in Texas partnered with many agricultural organizations to serve producers affected by severe drought.  When drought-stricken agricultural producers came to the county office looking for assistance, FSA employees were able to provide traditional services, such as the Livestock Forage Program and the Emergency loan program administered by FSA, as well as connect local farmers with local, regional, and national organizations that provide drought assistance and education.

Bridges to Opportunity was developed by FSA to provide producers with a more comprehensive customer service experience by connecting them with other USDA agencies and nonfederal partners. Through Bridges to Opportunity, FSA county office employees have the tools to connect farmers, ranchers and anyone interested in agriculture with customized expertise on topics ranging including organic production, beginning farmer resources, integrated pest management, disaster assistance, conservation practices, agricultural educational courses, loans, grants and other financial assistance that can start, grow or benefit farming and ranching operations.

“Bridges to Opportunity embodies FSA's modernized approach to customer service. By providing a broader array of resources than FSA or USDA alone, FSA is bringing farmers and ranchers one step closer to achieving their version of the American Dream,” said Dolcini.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

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USDA Expands Grasslands Conservation Program to Small-Scale Livestock Producers
Helping Dairy, Beef and Other Producers Protect Working Grasslands in 43 States

WASHINGTON– U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that USDA will accept over 300,000 acres in 43 states that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment with emphasis placed on small-scale livestock operations. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits. Approximately 200,000 of the accepted acres were offered by small-scale livestock operations.

“Producers of all sizes are interested in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program,” said Dolcini. “This latest round of CRP Grasslands enrollment, where much of the acreage comes from small-scale livestock operations, shows that our nation’s family farmers and ranchers can have a big impact on environmental conservation.”

The most recent ranking period closed on Dec. 16, 2016, and included for the first time a CRP Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations to encourage broader participation. Under this ranking period and for future periods, small-scale livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. Larger operations may still make offers through the normal process. USDA met its goal of 200,000 acres under this small-scale initiative. The new practice for small-scale livestock grazing operations encourages greater diversity geographically and in all types of livestock operations. Visit http://go.usa.gov/x9PFS to view the complete list of acres accepted by state. 

Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g. grazing or producing hay), while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize conversion of grasslands either to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent of the cost of cover practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife.


USDA selects offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors, and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers not selected in a ranking period are rolled over into the next ranking period.

Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov. To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation.

Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has generated thousands of critical partnerships to conserve and protect our natural resources on working landscapes, while enrolling a record number of acres in conservation programs. Seventy-percent of the nation's land is owned and tended to privately, and America's farmers, ranchers and landowners have willingly stepped up to address the growing impacts of a changing climate. With USDA's support, they work to implement voluntary practices that improve air and water quality, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect land and water on over 400 million acres nationwide. Read more about USDA’s record conservation outcomes under this Administration at Caring for our Land, Air and Water: Preserving Precious Natural Resources for Tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just in


Crop Insurance Deadlines Near in Idaho, Oregon and Washington
Farmers Need to Make Insurance Decisions Soon

SPOKANE– USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reminds farmers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington that the final date to purchase or modify federal crop insurance coverage on most 2017 spring-planted crops is approaching. Farmers can also purchase the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy for 2017 crops.

For 2017 spring-planted onions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and cabbage in Oregon and Washington, the final date to purchase or modify crop insurance is February 1. The date for all other spring-seeded crops (excluding wheat in counties with fall and spring planted types) is March 15.

Farmers interested in purchasing the Whole Farm Revenue Protection for 2017 also need to do so by March 15. More information about the product can be found on the RMA Whole-Farm web page.

Farmers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent soon to learn specific details for the 2017 crop year. Crop insurance coverage decisions must be decided on or before the sales closing date.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Producers can use the RMA Cost Estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at www.rma.usda.gov.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just in


Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello and Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Affairs Director Russ Hendricks chat at the 2017 Freshman lunch.

Idaho Farm Bureau hosts Freshman lawmakers

Boise--Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau Vice President Mark Trupp and CEO Rick Keller warmly greeted the 2017 Legislative Freshman class at Boise's Crystal Ballroom.

The lunch is conducted each year as a way of introducing the Farm Bureau and its policies to incoming lawmakers.

"It's a way we can meet the freshman class," said Trupp. "We can meet the new lawmakers and they in turn get to meet the Farm Bureau's legislative staff. 




Monday, January 16, 2017

Just in


Simpson Retains Energy and Water Appropriations Gavel

Washington- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has been re-appointed as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.  The Subcommittee funds all functions of the U.S. Department of Energy, including the Idaho National Laboratory’s research and cleanup operations.  Congressman Simpson has held this position since November 2013.

“Given the importance of this Subcommittee to Idaho and its daily impact on my constituents, I am honored and pleased to have the opportunity to continue as its Chairman,” said Simpson. “We have made great progress in the last few years in making strategic investments to enhance our national security, maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research and development, and to fulfill cleanup commitments to states, and I look forward to building on that work this coming year.” 

The Subcommittee’s primary jurisdiction includes the following federal agencies:

·         Department of Energy, including Idaho National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration
·         National Nuclear Security Administration
·         U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
·         Bureau of Reclamation
·         Nuclear Regulatory Commission
·         Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
·         Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board

Other areas of jurisdiction include the Central Utah Project, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, the Northern Border Regional Commission, the Southern Crescent Regional Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority

“Whether it’s the cleanup of sites like INL, the maintenance of our nation’s nuclear weapons, or the many vital water projects across the Western United States, the Energy and Water Subcommittee’s work touches almost every community in Idaho and across the country,” said Simpson. “I look forward to working with Governor Perry as the new Secretary of Energy to continue our critical work.”

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just in

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle and VP Mark Trupp show off the AFBF New Horizon Award

Idaho Farm Bureau wins AFBF's New Horizon Award

Phoenix--The Idaho Farm Bureau received the prestigious New Horizon Award at the AFBF Annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ.  The New Horizon Awards, honors states with the most innovative new programs. 

Idaho received the New Horizon Award because IFBF initiated a deep review of the organization known as the VISION program.  In 2016, under the direction of IFBF President Bryan Searle and the state board of directors, the organization sought to identify what was working for the organization and what wasn’t.  More than seventy individuals were involved in six committees recommending 93 well-researched recommendations to the state board for consideration. 

"The Awards of Excellence are awarded to Idaho Farm Bureau because it demonstrated outstanding achievements in six program areas: Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Benefits; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications," said Idaho Farm Bureau's Executive Vice President and CEO Rick Keller.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture also awarded the Idaho Farm Bureau the Apex Award and the State Leader Award.  The Apex award is achieved when a state has donated 10% more to the Foundation than in the previous year.  State Leader Awards are presented to the state Farm Bureaus when each board member of the respective Farm Bureau donates at least $50 to the Foundation.

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Families Projected to Spend an Average of $233,610 Raising a Child Born in 2015

Resources from MyMoney.gov and ChooseMyPlate.gov support financial health for families 
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the  2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report, also known as "The Cost of Raising a Child." The report, developed by economists at  USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), estimates that for a child born in 2015, a middle-income* married-couple family will spend between $12,350 and $13,900 annually (in 2015 dollars) – or $233,610 from birth through age 17 – on child-rearing expenses. Families with lower incomes are expected to spend $174,690 and families with higher incomes are expected to spend $372,210 from birth through age 17. Many state governments use this annual report, first issued in 1960, as a resource in determining child support and foster care guidelines.
"As the economy continues to improve, USDA is committed to supporting the nutrition and health of individuals and families through our research and programs," said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. "This report, which we have produced for 55 years, gives families a greater awareness of the expenses they are likely to face, and serves as a valuable tool for financial planning and educational programs, as well as courts and state governments."
"Understanding the costs of raising children and planning for anticipated and unexpected life events is an important part of securing financial health. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, among other Federal agencies, has a wealth of information and tools that can help Americans plan for their future. MyMoney.gov can help you make a budget, find assistance with child care costs and save for emergencies or big purchases like a home or college education," said Louisa Quittman, Director of the Office of Financial Security for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. "MyMoney.gov can also help you provide money management lessons for your children to help them be more prepared for their financial future." 
The report details spending by married-couple and single-parent households; for married-couple households, spending in various regions of the country are examined. Housing (29 percent) and food (18 percent) account for the largest share of child-rearing expenses for middle-income, married-couple families, followed by childcare/education (16 percent), transportation (15 percent), and health care (9 percent). Clothing was the smallest expense, at 6 percent, and other miscellaneous child-rearing necessities from birth to age 18 accounted for 7 percent. This report does not include costs related to pregnancy or college costs. 
"When CNPP first issued this report in 1960, housing and food were the two highest expenses, just as they are today," said CNPP Executive Director Angie Tagtow. "But while housing costs have increased over time, changes in American agriculture have resulted in lower food costs, and family food budgets now represent a lower percentage of household income. For families who wish to lower their food costs even more, we offer a variety of resources at  ChooseMyPlate.gov/budget." 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Guthrie re-elected


PHOENIX – Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention elected members to serve as board and committee leaders for the organization.

Re-elected to two-year terms on the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee were Sherry Saylor, Arizona; Isabella Chism, Indiana; Marieta Hauser, Kansas; Lorenda Overman, North Carolina; Debbi Tanner, Connecticut; and Carol Guthrie, Idaho. Saylor was re-elected WLC chair, which makes her a member of the AFBF board of directors. Chism was re-elected WLC vice chair.

Don Tuller, president of Connecticut Farm Bureau, was elected to a two-year term on the AFBF board of directors, representing the Northeast Region. Chuck Fry, president of Maryland Farm Bureau, was re-elected to the board for a two-year term, representing the Northeast Region.

Fourteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to two-year terms to represent their regions on the board: Richard Felts, Kansas; Richard Guebert, Jr., Illinois; Craig Hill, Iowa; and Kevin Paap, Minnesota (Midwest Region); Jeff Aiken, Tennessee; Ronnie Anderson, Louisiana; Russell Boening, Texas; Tom Buchanan, Oklahoma; Gerald Long, Georgia; Mike McCormick, Mississippi; and Larry Wooten, North Carolina (Southern Region); Mike LaPlant, Washington; Don Shawcroft, Colorado; and Paul Wenger, California (Western Region).

Kalena Bruce, a cattle farmer from Missouri who also operates an agri-tourism venture, was elected the new chair of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee for a one-year term, which makes her a member of the AFBF board of directors. 

AFBF’s 99th Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show will be held in Nashville, Jan. 5-10, 2018.

Just in

Idaho's Water Supply Outlook Is Off To A Strong Start

BOISE – The Natural Resources Conservation Service just released the first water supply outlook report for the 2017 water year. Precipitation since the water year started on October 1, 2016, varies across the state with the majority of the watershed basins at 95 to 175% of normal.
“January 15th marks winter’s half way point which is when Mother Nature usually deposits half of the winter’s snowfall in our mountains,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist with the Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In a repeat of last year, the highest snowpack is in the state’s Owyhee and Bruneau basins with close to 150% of average. The lowest snowpacks are between 65 and 80% of average in the Panhandle Region basins.
Based on Idaho’s Surface Water Supply Index, water supplies around the state should be above normal.  With early snow accumulation so high across most of the state, water supplies look promising, but higher-than-average snowfall in the lower and mid-elevations could play an important role in the water season if it sticks around..
“We’re in the fourth inning of the game,” Abramovich said. “With half the winter still to come, expect the water supply outlook to change.”
For information on specific basins, streams, and reservoirs, please view the full report online at January Water Supply Outlook Report.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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AFBF President Duvall Issues Call to Action on Regulatory Reform
Phoenix—With Congress poised to consider much-needed regulatory reform legislation, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall urged farmers and ranchers nationwide to let their House members know how critical it is to agriculture that regulatory overreach be reined in now. Duvall made his call to action in front of 5,000 Farm Bureau members at the 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Tradeshow.

The regulatory reform package (H.R. 5) expected on the House floor this week would ensure transparency and accountability by regulatory agencies, reaffirm congressional intent in rulemaking and strengthen the public’s right to know. A Farm Bureau-supported amendment to be offered by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) would limit a federal agency from lobbying for its own rulemaking.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Just in from the Statehouse



Otter Delivers State of State Address

Boise--Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter kicked off the 2017 legislative session with his annual State of the State speech this afternoon at the Statehouse.

The third-term governor began the speech talking about Idaho successes.

"Our finances are secure. Revenue is exceeding expectations. Economic growth is outpacing the overall growth of government, and our own operations are more transparent and efficient than ever.
More of our people are working than at any time in our history. And wages are rising, slowly but surely, along with employer demand for more skilled workers. Meeting that demand is among our most serious challenges, but we are facing it head on. And I know you share my commitment to finding Idaho-based solutions rather than waiting for our national government’s dysfunction to get turned around," said Otter.

He'll ask lawmakers for $58 million for the teacher-pay raise program known as the Career Ladder, and also has plans for a Higher Education Task Force to improve higher education graduation rates in Idaho. With the State economy strong, the Governor talked about tax relief.

"It’s no surprise that we all want tax relief. For some it’s the top priority of this legislative session. But I would remind you that together we have reduced the tax burden on our citizens during my tenure by about $1 billion. And you soon will have legislation before you to cut the base tax rate for unemployment insurance paid by Idaho employers by 6.3 percent this year. That’s $46 million in tax relief in the coming year alone, and $115 million over three years," said Otter.

Otter says he expects a better relationship with the federal government and management of federal lands.

"For years now, we in the West have been frustrated by the increasing imposition of the federal government’s will over our livelihoods and quality of life. Regulatory bureaucracies and entrenched interests have become practiced at reaching far beyond the letter of such laws as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act to essentially nullify the commonsense stewardship of states and local jurisdictions," said Governor Otter.

Otter says he's optimistic that President-elect Trump and his team will work to ensure that meaningful reforms are implemented to keep such agencies as the EPA, the BLM, the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in check.

"Their focus must be shifted to working more collaboratively with states to develop national policies that are flexible enough to accommodate local needs and realities. I recently provided the new administration with some detailed advice for improving the federal approach to such issues as protecting sage-grouse and their habitat, delisting grizzly bears, and developing needed energy infrastructure like the Gateway West electrical transmission project in southern Idaho," said Otter.

Otter says he hopes his advice won't not fall on deaf ears, because the state has done a good job of managing and protecting state natural resources.

"Our own citizens and communities have the civic virtue and proven know-how to ensure our lands and resources are responsibly used for the long-term economic and recreational opportunities they can provide. I'm not advocating for the State to take over the more-than 60 percent of Idaho owned by the federal government. But we should continue expanding on the efforts we’ve made so far to realize the potential of such Idaho values as active management and local stewardship. Our initiative to improve water sustainability is a great example of how Idaho can do very well caring for our own needs without punitive federal oversight," said the Governor.







Just in


Simpson Votes to Reform the Federal Regulatory Process

Washington-Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson voted for two pieces of regulatory reform legislation to prevent regulatory overreach by the Obama administration during its final days and to return accountability and transparency to the federal regulatory process. The total cost of regulations imposed by federal agencies is estimated at $1.88 trillion annually.

“Each year, federal agencies issue regulations without considering both their cost and benefits,” said Simpson. “Congress needs to reestablish its authority to oversee these rules in order to reduce the burden on all businesses and stimulate real economic growth.”

As a first step, on Wednesday, Simpson voted in favor of H.R. 21, the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 238-184. 

“Throughout his term in office, President Obama has disregarded the economic impact of his regulatory actions on the American people,” said Simpson.  “We do not intend to allow this administration to continue imposing its onerous regulations without the consent of Congress in its final days. This legislation would provide Congress the flexibility to swiftly disapprove of any attempt to push forward these burdensome rules.” 

The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to allow for joint resolutions to disapprove of more than one regulation at a time if they are submitted to Congress during the last 60 legislative days of a presidential term. 

On Thursday, Simpson voted in favor of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2017, H.R. 26, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 237-187.  Simpson was also a cosponsor of the REINS Act. 

“Congress has a critical oversight role to play to ensure that federal agencies are not overreaching their authority and impeding job growth,” said Simpson. “I have heard from countless Idahoans who are frustrated with the impact of costly regulations on their ability to do business.” 

The REINS Act amends the CRA to require Congress to approve every new major regulation proposed by federal agencies, including any regulation that has an impact of over $100 million per year. By returning to Congress its constitutional charge, the REINS Act further holds Congress accountable to the American people for laws imposed upon them.

Both H.R. 21 and H.R. 26 now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Just in


USDA Makes it Easier to Transfer Land to the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers
Allows for Transfer of Certain Conservation Reserve Program Land to New Farmers;
Provides Priority Enrollment in Working Lands Conservation Programs

DES MOINES – Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam today announced that beginning Jan. 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, making it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members. The land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP.

This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015. The subcommittee was asked to identify ways the department could use or modify its programs, regulations, and practices to address the challenges of beginning farmers and ranchers in their access to land, capital and technical assistance.

“The average age of principal farm operators is 58,” said Baccam.  “So, land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land is an increasingly important issue for the future of agriculture and a priority for USDA. Access to land remains the biggest barrier for beginning farmers and ranchers.  This announcement is part of our efforts to address some of the challenges with transitioning land to beginning farmers.”

Baccam made the announcement while touring the Joe Dunn farm in Warren County, located in central Iowa near Carlisle. Dunn is the father-in-law to Iowa native and former Marine Aaron White, who with his wife, are prospective candidates for the early termination program.  Baccam was joined by Farm Service Agency Iowa State Executive Director John Whitaker when meeting with Dunn and White.

“The chance to give young farmers a better opportunity to succeed when starting a farming career makes perfect sense,” said Baccam. “There are Conservation Reserve Program acres that are rested and ready to be productive, an original goal of CRP. The technical teams at USDA will tell us which ones can terminate from the program with little impact on the overall conservation efforts. When they do, we’ll be ready to help beginning farmers like military veteran Aaron White.”

Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.  The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.  With CRP enrollment close to the Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere.

“Starting the next generation of farmers and ranchers out with conservation and stewardship in mind is another important part of this announcement,” Baccam said.  “The land coming out of CRP will have priority enrollment opportunities with USDA’s working lands conservation programs through cooperation between the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.”

Acres terminated early from CRP under these land tenure provisions will be eligible for priority enrollment consideration into the CRP Grasslands, if eligible; or the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land survey, conducted by USDA in 2014, U.S. farmland owners expect to transfer 93 million acres to new ownership during 2015-2019. This represents 10 percent of all farmland across the nation. Details on the early termination opportunity will be available starting on Jan. 9, 2017, at local USDA service centers. For more information about CRP and to find out if your acreage is eligible for early contract termination, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or go online at www.fsa.usda.gov/crp. To locate your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA's work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit http://medium.com/usda-results.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Just in


Ohio Farmer Combats Animal Care Misconceptions Through Dairy Tours

Cleveland—Frustrated with the misconceptions that plague the public’s perception of farming and ranching, fourth-generation Ohio farmer Brenda Hastings opened her family farm, Hastings Dairy, to the public five years ago. Hastings, whose family milks 550 Holsteins, also thought the tours she provides would help generate additional income to partially offset the dairy industry’s shrinking margins.

Hastings has always enjoyed talking to people about her farm. She’s especially passionate about setting the record straight on animal care, and what better way to do that than show people how well her animals are treated?
“Our barn has a free-stall system. We take people through on a wagon and they can see what a pleasant and comfortable environment it is for our healthy cows,” Hastings said.

Brenda Hastings fields questions about all aspects of her dairy farm, including the use of antibiotics and the cleanliness of her barn.   

Hastings hosts tour groups of all ages, from kindergarteners to 65-plus.  She said people are often struck by how clean and quiet the facility is.
“We clean multiple times a day,” she explained. “And the cows are so quiet because all their needs are being met.”

Antibiotic use is another frequent topic.
“People assume all milk has antibiotics. We explain that every load of milk is tested before being processed before it leaves the farm to make sure there are no antibiotics.”

Though most of Hastings' milk is used to make cheese, tour participants’ requests to sample the milk prompted the family to build a small on-farm bottling facility, Rowdy Cow Creamery. Now, not only do tour participants get a sample, they can buy half-gallon and pint containers to take home. The milk is also sold at 20 local stores.

The Chugga Chugga Moo Moo Train is a treat for the farm's littlest visitors.  
In addition to the guided tour of the milking parlor, smaller visitors can pet and interact with calves, take Chugga Chugga Moo Moo Train rides, play on a farm-themed outdoor playground, use pedal tractors and play games like corn hole and ring toss.
Find Hastings Dairy online at http://hastingsdairy.com/index.html.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Just in


EPA’s Worker Protection Rule Takes Effect, Despite Petition by AFBF, NASDA

Washington—EPA has moved ahead with the Jan. 1 start date of its worker protection safety rule, despite a request for a delay from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

According to the joint petition from AFBF and NASDA to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the WPS rule was issued in violation of federal law. The proposal, Farm Bureau and NASDA told McCarthy on Dec. 21, “fails to advance the purpose of furthering the safety of farmworkers.” The rule’s rapidly approaching implementation also posed “a serious problem for administration of the rule’s requirements” by state departments of agriculture as well as farmers and ranchers who must comply with its terms.

“We ask EPA to delay the effective date to give NASDA members adequate time to prepare for compliance with the rule and to avoid the unfair and unredressable harm to farmers and ranchers.” —AFBF and NASDA

The petition from AFBF and NASDA claimed EPA did not meet the law’s requirements when it failed to provide congressional agriculture committees a final copy of the regulations along with the copy sent to the agriculture secretary. The EPA has acknowledged that omission in responses to questions from Congress.

“EPA’s failure to meet its statutory obligations deprived Congress of its lawful expectation of examining the regulation before its promulgation,” the petition states.

The groups also claimed that the rule’s “designated representative” provision exceeds the scope of the WPS rule by depriving farmers of reasonable expectation of privacy for confidential business information. The groups said that the rule subjects farmers to potential harassment and public criticisms for lawful use of EPA-approved pesticides. In spite of the groups identifying problems related to equity and implementation of the WPS rule, EPA has not addressed the problems.

The petition also asserted that the EPA has failed to finalize and deliver to state lead agencies the enforcement guidance, educational material and training resources needed to effectively implement the rule and assist farmers and ranchers with compliance efforts.


“At this time, even if all of the compliance and enforcement materials were completed and distributed to all the appropriate state enforcement agencies, there is simply not enough time for the (state lead agencies) and the regulated community to successfully implement the provisions scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2017,” the petition stated. “In short, EPA has failed to develop and deliver the necessary resources for states to train the regulated community on the new requirements, and the agency has failed to comply with its own WPS Implementation Timeline.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Deep Snow Hampers farms

Record December and New Years

Boise--Deep snow across Southern Idaho is hampering farm and ranch operations. Pocatello has more than 14 inches of snow with continuous snow cover since the third week of December. Boise has more than a foot, Gem County pictured above has 14 inches of snow. According to NRCS most watershed report 140-180 percent of normal snowpack for this time of year. The upper Snake has as much as 12 feet of snow, Jackson Hole has 21 feet of snow since Christmas.

The Weather Service said that an average temperature of 23.3 degrees, last month was the sixth coldest December since record-keeping began in 1875. And with 14 total inches of snowfall, December 2016 clocked in as the eighth snowiest since record-keeping began in 1898.That put Boise almost 7.5 degrees colder than average with 7 inches of snow above average.



Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/weather/article124144114.html#storylink=cpy