Monday, October 16, 2017

'17 Beet Harvest

The Magic Valley might have the second greatest sugar beet harvest of the decade.

“On our farm the beet crop is looking very good,” said Tyson Wrigley. “So far I think our yield has been higher than the average. Even better than last year and it was considered a bumper crop. So far the sugars are good. Last year we had better sugars and we’re only part way through this year so we still have hope the sugar will raise as we go on in the coming weeks.”

Just in from Bloomberg

NAFTA Talks Left Reeling After Aggressive US Proposals

From Bloomberg

Washington—After laying out the Trump administration’s most aggressive Nafta demands to date, chief U.S. negotiator John Melle was asked on Sunday how things are progressing. “Fabulous,” he said, smiling and shrugging before entering a negotiating room once more.

The fourth round of negotiations is nearing an end amid rising tensions after the US presented proposals that could be politically unfeasible for Canada and Mexico. US industry and Congress, meanwhile, are mounting a more vocal defense for preserving regional trade ties as they sense the discussions could be in trouble.

U.S. negotiators in recent days put forth a string of bold proposals -- on auto rules of origin, a sunset clause, government procurement, and gutting dispute panels seen by the other nations as core to the pact. The moves were long-signaled, as was Canadian and Mexican opposition to them.

The proposals have spurred public warnings from prominent US lawmakers and the private sector about the perils of scuttling a deal that over more than two decades has broken down trade barriers, including tariffs, for industries like manufacturing and agriculture.

Nafta’s fate may now hang on how flexible the US is about its demands heading into the fifth round of talks, scheduled for Mexico City around the first week of November. While the parties had wanted to reach a deal by December, officials familiar with the negotiations say the talks are likely to drag on for months.

Hanging over negotiations are Donald Trump’s regular threats to walk away. One official familiar with the proceedings, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said on Sunday that it seems more likely Trump will give the mandatory six months’ notice required to leave Nafta, though not necessarily end up backing out. Others were less sure.

“He’s unpredictable, so I don’t know,” said Stephen Moore, a senior economic adviser during Trump’s campaign and chief economist at the Heritage Foundation. “I do feel, though, that his bark has been worse than his bite on trade. That doesn’t mean that he’s retreating. But I think we’re going to see a Nafta 2.0 that will find areas that will give the U.S. even greater benefits while protecting American workers.”

Mexico has signaled that it won’t negotiate during the six-month window if Trump announces he’ll walk away, and it’s unclear what the next steps would be were that to happen. Congress and others are vowing legal and political fights if the president tries to pull out. If Trump manages to, though, Canada could still fall back on an existing bilateral deal with the U.S.; Mexico has no such previous deal.

Warnings are growing from Congress. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, said he prefers a Nafta renewal to a pull-out, which he said Congress would probably block.

If Trump “even suggests that the United States should leave Nafta, to undo that relationship, you would have to go back to Congress. And that would be a much more difficult task for him,” Neal said in a Canadian TV interview with The West Block that aired on Sunday.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued its own warning. Last week, Chief Executive Officer Tom Donohue visited Mexico City and pledged to fight “like hell” to preserve Nafta. The largest American business lobbying group plans to send an “army” of representatives to Capitol Hill to demonstrate support for the deal, Donohue said.

The Canadians were sounding the alarm to the chamber. Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, told stakeholders during an earlier negotiating session that he’d warned the U.S. business group to brace for the possibility of life after Nafta, according to two officials familiar with the meeting. A Canadian government spokesman declined to comment.

Who’s In Charge?

The fourth round of Nafta talks will continue today at a Washington-area hotel, before a ministerial-level meeting on Tuesday. People familiar with the proceedings describe essentially a two-track process: legitimate progress being made to modernize the pact in less contentious areas, including topics like regulations and services, with essentially no progress on the most divisive US proposals.

The proceedings also raise questions of which Trump administration official is in charge. U.S. officials, preparing for an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, added Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to their delegation while removing Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who officially is the top negotiator, one government official said.

As talks proceeded, U.S. negotiators told their counterparts that Ross played a key role in developing the autos proposal, two officials said. A spokeswoman for Lighthizer declined to comment. A Ross spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

Mexico’s negotiators said they’re still optimistic a deal can be reached because they expect pushback from the U.S. private sector, according to two people familiar with the talks, who asked not to be identified.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has been increasingly downbeat in her public comments on Nafta. Still, she knows first-hand that a walk-out doesn’t necessarily kill a deal -- last year, she walked out of Canada-EU trade talks saying an agreement looked impossible. A deal was made in the end, though, and the pact entered provisional force last month.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Antiquities Act Legislation

House Committee Moves Bill Requiring Transparency in Designation of National Monuments

Washington-The House Natural Resources Committee yesterday approved a bill that would restore Congress’ original intent in passing the Antiquities Act in 1906. In modernizing the law for the 21st century, the Farm Bureau-backed National Monument Creation and Protection Act (H.R. 3990) would protect archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the president’s use of the Antiquities Act.

Approved by Congress more than a century ago, the Antiquities Act does not explicitly require the president to consult with local and state authorities, but it does mandate that the president reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

However, over the last eight years, the Obama administration used the authority provided by the Antiquities Act to go well beyond Congress’ intent, locking up millions of acres of land from multiple-uses by designating land as national monuments.

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump early this year, Farm Bureau and 18 other organizations highlighted their concerns and called for action. The groups represent the landowners, grazing permittees, loggers, forest products companies, miners and local governments who have been harmed by federal government’s overreach in the national monument designation process.

“We strongly oppose the ongoing misuse of the Antiquities Act by the executive branch and request your administration to work swiftly to resolve these conflicts and work with Congress to pass legislation to improve accountability and transparency in the designation of national monuments. Such reform will ensure that the will of local communities is respected and true American antiquities can be protected,” the groups wrote.

The National Monument Creation and Protection Act addresses several of the groups’ concerns. It includes provisions to protect endangered antiquities and to prevent abuse of executive authority and the designation of excessive national monuments. The bill would also empower impacted local communities and protect property rights.

Key provisions of the bill would:

• Retain flexibility to designate a National Monument up to 640 acres, allowing the president to rapidly protect objects of antiquity in imminent danger and restore the original intent of the Antiquities Act.

• Ensure all new monument designations between 640 acres and 10,000 acres are reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act prior to being finalized. Proposed new monument designations between 5,000 and 10,000 acres must be reviewed under an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

• Require the approval of all county commissions, state legislatures, and governors impacted by a national monument for any designation between 10,000 acres and 85,000 acres.

• Require prior written consent of impacted state and private landowners before private property is included in a national monument.

• Allow the president to designate new “Emergency National Monuments” for up to one year to protect areas of any size in times of emergency.

• Redefine the terms used in the Antiquities Act to prohibit the designation of marine national monuments, restoring the original purpose of the act to only protect objects on lands owned by the federal government.

• Require monument reductions greater than 85,000 acres in size to be approved by the impacted counties, state legislatures, governors and have undergone NEPA analysis.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

'17 Beet Harvest

2017 Beet Crop nearly as sweet as ‘16

Burley— Magic Valley farmers might have the second greatest sugar beet harvest of the decade.

“On our farm, the beet crop is looking very good,” said Tyson Wrigley. “So far I think our yield has been higher than the average. Even better than last year and it was considered a bumper crop. So far the sugars are good. Last year we had better sugars and we’re only partway through this year so we still have hope the sugar will raise as we go on in the coming weeks.”

At the Dot.11 farm south of Burley they’re sending up great clouds of dust, running sun-up to sundown topping and digging beets.

According to Amalgamated Sugar Company, last years beet crop broke a lot of company records with sugar content climbing towards 20 percent and yields above 40 tons per acre. Preliminary 2017 price estimates are running at $37 to $40 per ton, not far off last years blistering pace.

Magic Valley suffered through one of the worst winters on record followed by weeks of rainfall. All that mud kept equipment out of the fields, delaying planting for weeks.

“We ran our beet planter 24 hours a day for five days and luckily got all the beets in. When the rain came and it created a very good emergence this year. We had a great crop right from the start and we didn’t have frost or anything to where we didn’t have re-plants, that's why the numbers are so good,” said Wrigley.

According to Amalgamated Sugar Company, last years beet crop broke company records with sugar content climbing towards 20 percent with yields above 40 tons per acre. Preliminary 2017 price estimates are running at $37 to $40 per ton, not far off last years blistering pace.

“The last field we did we got $45 a ton and 17 percent sugar,” said Wrigley. “I think $45 ton is a very good crop, we’re happy with that and hoping the sugar content continues to rise as we go along. We’re hoping for closer to 18-percent and I think we’ll see that.”

Last year Wrigley says his fields averaged almost $48 a ton and the sugar content was between 18 and 20 percent.

“I’m excited about this year. It is fun to get the harvest over with and see what the crops did. I like to see what we’ve earned for all the hard work that started last winter and it is exciting. Last year was a very good year. I don’t think this year will totally beat it but it'll be close and that’s a very good year in my book,” said Wrigley.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Farm Bureau hosts NAFTA talks

Idaho Export Hay heading to drought-stricken Canada

NAFTA Meeting Resume on Wednesday in Washington

Washington—The American Farm Bureau Federation hosted trade meetings this past week in Washington, D.C.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has helped America’s farmers and ranchers make significant gains in US Agriculture exports to Canada and Mexico,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall.

Duvall thinks the administration’s negotiating objectives for the agreement will maintain and improve agricultural trade with our nearest trading partners. 

"We look forward to expanding our market opportunities with our North American neighbors even further by bringing this agreement into the 21st century,” added Duvall.

The Farm Bureau met with counterparts from Canada and Mexico to discuss all of the North American Free Trade Agreement trade issues last week. AFBF trade specialist Dave Salmonsen says the meeting shows a unified voice across the NAFTA partners on agriculture issues.

“We think it’s very important that among all the countries, that industries can come together,” said Salmonsen. “And agriculture has seen the benefits across the board in all three countries. So, they came together to say this is an important part of our economy and we want to see the gains we’ve gotten from this preserved.”

The meetings this week follow a similar meeting held in August between influential agriculture groups from Canada and Mexico along with the American Farm Bureau.

“Free trade agreements have a proven track record of boosting revenue for U.S. agriculture. They create a level playing field for our farmers and ranchers to compete in the global marketplace,” said Duvall. “And NAFTA is no exception with ag exports to Canada and Mexico increasing from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016. It is vital that we lock in that progress as the first point of talks to improve NAFTA.”

The NAFTA delegates got together back in August and last week to decide what commonalities they might have.

“And we all agreed that overall NAFTA’s been very positive for all countries and to announce the fact that we didn’t want to see anything go backward,” said Salmonsen. “But we're looking forward to some modernizations. And at the meeting we just had we affirmed all of those same issues.”

Salmonsen added that the main issues include standards and market access.

“We don’t want to have food safety standards used as a protectionist trade barrier, so let’s base them on science, and there’s a lot of agreement there. At some point they’ll be talking about U.S. and Canada dairy trade,” said Salmonsen.

Within the TPP, there had been new access for the US into Canada.

“We hope that we can get that kind of access in the NAFTA agreement. We have issues with what role geographic indications labeling will take so plenty of work ahead and Wednesday the negotiators will be back in Washington, D.C., for another round of talks,” added Salmonsen.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Just in from Washington

USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments
Total Exceeds $9.6 Billion

WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that over $9.6 billion in payments will be made, beginning this week, to producers through the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage and Conservation Reserve programs. The United States Department of Agriculture is issuing approximately $8 billion in payments under the ARC and PLC programs for the 2016 crop year, and $1.6 billion under CRP for 2017.

“Many of these payments will be made to landowners and producers in rural communities that have recently been ravaged by drought, wildfires, and deadly hurricanes,” Perdue said. “I am hopeful this financial assistance will help those experiencing losses with immediate cash flow needs as we head toward the end of the year.”

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in revenue or prices for covered commodities. Over half a million producers will receive ARC payments and over a quarter million producers will receive PLC payments for 2016 crops, starting this week and continuing over the next several months.

Payments are being made to producers who enrolled base acres of barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, oats, peanuts, dry peas, soybeans, wheat, and canola. In the upcoming months, payments will be announced after marketing year average prices are published by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service for the remaining covered commodities. Those include long and medium grain rice (except for temperate Japonica rice), which will be announced in November; remaining oilseeds and chickpeas, which will be announced in December; and temperate Japonica rice, which will be announced in early February 2017. The estimated payments are before application of sequestration and other reductions and limits, including adjusted gross income limits and payment limitations.

Also, as part of an ongoing effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat, USDA will begin issuing 2017 CRP payments this week to over 375,000 Americans.

“American farmers and ranchers are among our most committed conservationists,” said Perdue. “We all share a responsibility to leave the land in better shape than we found it for the benefit of the next generation of farmers. This program helps landowners provide responsible stewardship of the land that should be taken out of production.”

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers and landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation, provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Participants enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP payments are made to participants who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Elk Depredation

Elk Depredation Threatens Cattle Industry Viability
By John Thompson

Ranchers and state officials met in late September to discuss elk depredation in Butte, Custer and Lemhi counties.

Tension is building between ranchers and state wildlife managers due to marauding herds of elk and a lack of effective management tools.

Established ranches in Butte, Custer and Lemhi counties that didn’t have elk depredation problems until the mid-90’s and later, are under siege and could be facing a third consecutive difficult winter because hungry elk are eating haystacks, damaging crops, tearing down fences and threatening the future viability of ranches throughout the region.

Some ranchers angrily threatened to take matters into their own hands, during a recent meeting sponsored by the Idaho Farm Bureau, if the state doesn’t find a better way to manage the population. They simply cannot afford to feed the State’s elk herd and maintain their businesses.

Several ranchers stated they didn’t have elk on their property before wolf reintroduction in the mid 1990’s during the meeting / tour held in late September. The tour made stops in Moore, near Challis and near Salmon.

One rancher said when his livestock get loose, he’s held accountable. He’s been building eight-foot tall fences and wrapping his haystacks with straw bales to try to keep elk out and he wonders why the liability of taking care of the State’s elk falls on landowners.

Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners Derick Attebury and Jerry Meyers attended the tour but offered few comments aside from mentioning they enjoy elk hunting and eating venison. From the ranchers’ perspective there is a dearth of concern that comes from the hunting community regarding this problem. Hunters obviously enjoy large elk populations and Fish and Game profits from the sale of elk tags while ranchers pay dearly to keep the elk alive during the winter months.

One rancher from the Challis area, said he is out of patience waiting for the State to take care of the problem. It’s come down to his livelihood vs the State’s elk. He told those who attended the tour that his only remaining option is to violate the law and start killing the elk. Those attending included Fish and Game law enforcement officers, Fish and Game Deputy Director Ed Schriever and several state legislators.

Tom Curet, Idaho Fish and Game Salmon Regional supervisor, said it’s likely to take three to five years to bring the elk population down to the department’s established target level. In hunting unit 50, near Mackay, elk population estimates are near double the target level.

Reasons why the state’s elk management strategies aren’t working was a major topic of discussion, but new ideas and potential solutions are difficult to come by. Fish and Game officials support hunter harvest as a management tool, but many ranchers expressed concern and bad past experiences. In sum, most ranchers believe most hunters are ethical and capable, but it only takes one bad apple to create problems that exceed the value of hunting.

Custer County Rancher Steve Bachman said hazing and hunting are the main techniques in use, but neither are effective solutions. “Hunters killed about 20 elk on our place last year but when you have 400 elk it’s a drop in the bucket,” he said.

Bachman added that he won’t allow hazing on his property during bull elk season because of “slob hunters” and the fact that he doesn’t want his house, family employees etc. in the line of fire of irresponsible hunters.

The comment sheds light on the fact that some residents in the region enjoy having elk on their properties which creates a sanctuary that exacerbates the overall problem. This point is consistently raised by Fish and Game officials when discussing the problem.

Hazing is another tool in use, but with questionable results. The elk leave one ranch and run to another, tearing out fences along the way. One rancher joked that it’s much easier to haze the elk later in the winter after the fences are gone.

Lemhi County Rancher James Whittaker suggested allowing ranchers to sell elk tags provided to them by Idaho Fish and Game as a way to compensate for losses. In the past this idea has been met with major opposition from the hunting community. Yet hunters don’t object when Idaho Fish and Game auctions trophy big game tags for as much as $350,000.

Deputy Director Schriever explained that Landowner Appreciation Permits (LAP) program overlaps the controlled hunt program. Therefore, landowners must draw these permits, which is a bone of contention among some of the ranchers who spoke during the tour. Schriever said LAP tags for bull elk and buck mule deer are always fully subscribed, or in other words there is significant interest in those tags. However, for doe mule deer and cow elk, interest wanes and large numbers (thousands according to Schriever) of these tags are under-subscribed, or not drawn or purchased. Landowners shouldn’t have any problem drawing cow or doe tags, he said.

In addition, landowners with serious depredation problems are given depredation tags and those hunts generally take place in December or even as late in winter as January or February.

Whittaker said landowners should be given LAP tags commensurate with the damage they receive instead of holding a draw for the tags. He also criticized the Fish and Game department for being inconsistent and unfair with the awarding of elk tags to certain individuals but not others. Fish and Game officials at the meeting did not refute the claim.

Another landowner said he has drawn only one LAP tag for elk in the last 12 years and has never drawn a LAP tag for antelope although he “feeds 30 to 40,” every winter.

Ranchers also raised concern about wolf baiting. They believe wolf baiting, the same as bear baiting, could be a valuable management tool. Schriever said trapping rules allow for the use of bait but hunters cannot place bait under current rules. He added that a naturally occurring gut pile is not considered bait and hunters can use gut piles.

Meyers, the Fish and Game Commissioner representing the Salmon Region, said when the Commission considered wolf baiting earlier this year they received a barrage of email from animal rights groups from all over the world. They received 22,000 email messages in opposition to wolf baiting. He explained that the issue generates money for these groups and Commission members feared adopting the measure would empower the animal rights groups.

“We feared it would generate a lot of money for their war coffers and we may lose in court which could have spillover effects on bear baiting regulations,” he said. “We made the decision to pull back the wolf baiting bill because it’s not worth jeopardizing everything else we have in place.”

Idaho Farm Bureau lobbyist Dennis Tanikuni, said during the last legislative session, a bill was passed that increased big game hunting fees by $5 for residents and $10 for non-residents. That money goes into a depredation account that is used to buy fencing materials and reimburse landowners for other losses. When the account reaches a set limit, the funds go into a prevention account where the focus on depredation losses remains, rather than channeled into a general fund that could be spent elsewhere.

Yet another problem raised during the discussion was the ability of the elk to adapt to control strategies. Many ranchers said the animals have become nocturnal haystack raiders, making it difficult for hunters or hazing to work.

In spite of the economic hardship the ranchers are facing, most do not place blame solely on the Idaho Fish and Game Department. Many of them complimented the Fish and Game Department’s efforts in spite of the ineffectiveness in many cases. One rancher suggested creating management plans for individual ranches and allowing longer windows for control measures. Each property is unique and has individual challenges. “We need to get tags in time to deal with the problem before we have hundreds of elk on our property,” he said. “We need to make decisions for each property because they all have unique problems.”

Immigration Reform

Farmers, Ranchers Ready for Long-overdue Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2017 – The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Every year, farmers and ranchers face greater challenges in finding enough workers to keep their businesses running. The labor shortage on America’s farms and ranches is growing, and the lack of a stable, legal supply of workers places the health of too many farms at risk. We cannot afford to see any more of our nation’s food supply lost in the fields.

“The Ag Act’s proposed guest worker visa program would bring much-needed improvements to the current system while addressing the needs of our current workforce and providing a streamlined visa process for skilled, agricultural workers in the future. Although Farm Bureau members have concerns on certain points, such as capping the number of visas, we stand ready to work with Chairman Goodlatte and members of Congress to refine these provisions for the good of all U.S. agriculture, said Duvall"

“Farm Bureau applauds Rep. Goodlatte for his leadership on this legislation and looks forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to solve agriculture’s labor problems, now and in the future,” added Duvall.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Elk Ranch

It's rutting season at the Teton Mountain Ranch in Victor, Idaho. Stephen Bagley says this is the busy season and they're working around the clock.

Just in from Washington

Analysis Shows States Will Lose Billions in Tax Revenue to Internet-only Sellers

Washington—Unless Congress acts on legislation to promote fair competition between Main Street retailers and internet-only sellers, states will lose more than $211 billion in tax revenue over the next five years, according to a new analysis released by the Marketplace Fairness Coalition.

Currently, a legal loophole allows some online retailers to avoid collecting the sales tax due during a transaction. While consumers are still liable for paying what’s owed, few do, which gives online stores a strong advantage over their Main Street competitors.

One of farmers and ranchers’ biggest concerns about the lack of fair competition between brick-and-mortar stores and internet-only sellers is that local governments and schools often try to make up for the lost sales tax revenue by increasing property taxes, a burden that falls heavily on land-based business owners.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is backing two bills, the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2193) and the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017 (S. 976), that would allow states to apply sales tax laws uniformly.

“The businesses that line the streets of our nation’s small and rural towns provide essential goods and services to the farmers and ranchers who work the fields that surround them," said AFBF President Zippy Duvall in a letter to House and Senate lawmakers. "But hometown businesses are at a disadvantage when they compete with online-only retailers who don’t have to collect sales taxes. When this disadvantage causes a ‘Main Street’ business to close or scale back, the impact is especially hurtful to already struggling small and rural towns,”

Monday, October 2, 2017

Legal Fee donation

Bill Bachman and Don Sonke present rancher Paul Nettleton a check to help offset his legal bills.

Ada County Farm Bureau Aids Ranchers

Boise—The Ada County Farm Bureau Board of Directors voted to make a donation to the legal funds of ranchers Paul Nettleton and Tim Lowry of Owyhee County.

Nettleton and Lowry were each presented $25,000 checks by Ada County Farm Bureau President Don Sonke this past week.

In the late 1990s, the Bureau of Land Management hauled the two ranchers into state court to determine who owned the water rights on grazing allotments traditionally used by ranchers since the late 1800s.

Lowry and Nettleton fought the BLM’s challenge of their stock water rights during the Snake River Basin Adjudication when the US government filed overlapping claims to the ranchers’ stock water rights.

While the decade-long legal fight was successful, the rancher's legal defense cost more than a million dollars and they were denied reimbursement of legal fees.

“Paul and Tim were invited to the September monthly meeting of the Ada Farm Bureau to discuss their case and answer questions from the board,” said President Sonke. “Ada Farm Bureau is in the unique position of having a large membership so we had some extra money to help out.”

Sonke says the good news is that the ranchers have negotiated their legal costs down to $300,000 apiece and have secured 20-year loans to cover their bills.

“This was done with the understanding that the board would ask the state legislature to cover all their legal fees,” said Sonke. “Their legal battle secured water rights on the range for generations, those water rights saved ranching in Idaho as we know it. If the legislature ever refunds them they’ll return this money. But we’re not holding our breath, this was least we could do because they’ve sacrificed a lot.

Bill Bachman and Don Sonke of the Ada County Farm Bureau present Rose and Tim Lowry a check for their legal fund.

'17 Beet Harvest

The Magic Valley might have the second greatest sugar beet harvest of the decade. “On our farm the beet crop is looking very good,” said...