Monday, April 16, 2018

Federal Legislation Delivers Big Wins for Idaho Agriculture


Op-Ed
By Congressman Mike Simpson

Washington– “Idaho’s history of agriculture excellence is critical to our economy, accounting for 20% the state’s gross state product. With over 25,000 farms and ranches and 185 different commodities, it isn’t just Idaho that we are feeding – it is the world.

“No doubt that ideal climate conditions, irrigation systems, and generations of family farmers are responsible for this agriculture dominance. However, the state also needs cutting-edge research and fair cooperation on reasonable rules and regulations for farmers and ranchers to succeed. The recently passed appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2018 included big wins for Idaho agriculture. I was proud to champion many of these efforts so Idaho can continue to lead in agriculture production.

“We don’t have to look any farther than our license plates to know the potatoes are world famous. The key to continuing this tradition is ensuring adequate funding for research that protects Idaho crops from disease. Included in the agriculture section of the appropriations bill is targeted funding to accomplish just that. Specifically, there is increased funding for potato breeding research, plus additional money for a geneticist that accelerates the process for finding resistant potato varieties to combat some of the worst diseases that threaten not only annual harvests but trade access with global partners.

“The bill also contains money for advancing wheat research that will assist farmers in updating the falling numbers test that has cost growers millions of dollars in discounts. The research will help us better understand the various causes of low falling numbers and how it impacts end-use products that almost every Idaho consumer buys at the grocery store.

“The livestock industry is also well represented through a vitally important bipartisan provision that exempts ranchers and dairy farmers from EPA reporting requirements. The provision clarifies that Congress did not intend for a law aimed at regulating toxic waste and Superfund sites, to apply to agriculture operations. The bill also recognizes challenges livestock farmers and ranchers face through money to compensate losses due to livestock killed by wolves.

“Idaho’s dairy farmers also benefit from this bill through language that directs the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy-based products. The language is a good first step to solving the recent surge in mislabeled imitation products and compliments legislation I support known as the DAIRY Pride Act, which also has the backing of Idaho Senators Risch and Crapo.

“This is just a snapshot of the benefits to Idaho, but these provisions are important and helpful to Idaho’s agriculture future.”

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