Friday, December 8, 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Idaho Farm Bureau Honors Madison County Volunteers

FORT HALL - Dean and Shirlene Schwendimann of Madison County are the 2017 recipients of the Idaho Farm Bureau President’s Cup Award. The Schwendimann’s received Farm Bureau’s most prestigious award on Wednesday, December 6 during the organization’s 78th annual convention.

The Schwendimann’s are lifelong farmers from Newdale and have volunteered their time and effort to the organization and their fellow farmers and ranchers for the last 40 years. Shirlene served in leadership on the Women’s Leadership Committee for more than 15 years. Dean served on the State Board of Directors for nearly 20 years. Prior to that they were both involved at the county level.

About 350 Farm Bureau members representing 36 county Farm Bureaus attended the Annual Meeting. Delegates to the convention set policy to ensure all water agreements protect Idaho’s longstanding water doctrine, first in time, first in right. Delegates opposed fire rules proposed by the Idaho Department of Lands which will impose regulatory burdens on small landowners and supported additional measures to reduce wolf depredation. Delegates also adopted language calling for a study on Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) to determine whether rural counties, burdened with high percentages of federal land, are getting a fair shake from the federal government.

Bryan Searle of Bingham County was re-elected as president of the Idaho Farm Bureau. Mark Trupp of Teton County was re-elected vice president.

Gerald Marchant of Cassia County, Luke Pearce of Payette County, Marjorie French of Latah County and Dan Garner of Franklin County were re-elected to the Idaho Farm Bureau State Board of Directors. Travis McAffee of Lost Rivers Farm Bureau was elected to serve as a state director from District 2. He replaces Danny Ferguson who retired.

Kyle Wade of Bannock County was elected as the Idaho Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher chairman. He replaces Lanae Nalder of Minidoka County, who aged-out of the program.

Sherril Tillotson of Bannock County and Doris Pearson of Twin Falls County were re-elected to serve on the Idaho Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. Sandy Daniel of Boundary County and Kristie Dorsey of Canyon County were elected to serve on the Women’s Leadership Committee.

Winner of this year’s Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet was Dusty Clark of Rigby. He comes from a ranching family and works as a veterinarian. He received a Polaris ATV and an all-expense paid trip to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in January.

LaNae Nalder of Minidoka County won the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award. Cole and Lynette Smith of Bear Lake County received the Young Farmer and Rancher Achiever Award. Nalder won a $5,500 credit toward a Polaris four-wheeler while the Smith’s won a Polaris Ranger. Nalder and the Smiths will also travel to the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville in January to compete for the national Excellence in Agriculture and Achiever competitions.

Dealers from 17 Idaho Polaris Dealerships donated the Polaris Ranger and Northwest Farm Credit and Idaho Farm Bureau donated the Polaris four-wheeler.

Recognized as Women of the Year were Karen Matthews of Bear Lake County, Carleen Clayville of Cassia County, Helen Percy of Elmore County, Sheryl Nuxoll of Idaho County and Stephanie Mickelsen of Bonneville County.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Common sense stewardship

AFBF Hails Bears Ears, Escalante Reforms

WASHINGTON– The following may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Today’s reduction in the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments marks a return of common sense to environmental stewardship.

“The 1906 Antiquities Act was clear in its purpose, even if the government has not always been. It was designed to stop theft and destruction of archaeological sites and other federal lands of historic or scientific interest. The act requires the president to reserve ‘the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’ Unfortunately, that law has been abused to quarantine millions of acres of already-scarce grazing land, harming farmers, ranchers and struggling small towns across the West.

“Other presidents have established and reduced the size of monuments. Presidents Taft, Wilson, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all shrank the size of established monuments. Farm Bureau is pleased to see President Trump doing likewise at Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante. This is different from the previous administration, which created and expanded more new national monuments than any other in U.S. history, locking up 5.44 million acres of land and 545 million acres of water resources in the process.

“Rural America continues to struggle economically, even as large cities boom. We hope Congress will also move to improve accountability and transparency in the designation of national monuments so that we do not once again find ourselves at the mercy of a remote bureaucracy. With common sense public policies, we can preserve antiquities while providing prosperity and opportunity for rural America.”

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

President's Cup 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle presented Dean and Shirlene Schwendiman the 2017 Presidents Cup at the Idaho Farm Bureau Annual meeting, Fort Hall, Idaho.

Idaho Farm Bureau's 78th Annual Meeting

Rigby’s Dusty Clark wins State YF&R Discussion Meet

Fort Hall—Dusty Clark from Rigby won the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion meet Tuesday in Fort Hall.

Clark is a veterinarian out of Rigby, He won a close and competitive discussion meet using a barrage of trade facts and figures. The Farm Bureau interviewed Clark after the meet:

Did you think you could win the discussion meet in such a strong field?

I’ve competed against several of the individuals before, I knew it was going to be a good discussion and I was excited about it.I think this competition is just another way of making friends with people and I have become friends with the fellow competitors over the years. It was just a good time and I think we had a positive discussion.

The question concerned the renegotiation of trade agreements, a timely topic?

The question dealt with overcoming negative public perception with regards to foreign trade and how we can negotiate new trade agreements with foreign entities to help our agricultural products. It's tough because there is such a negative perception in the public eye and that was something I touched on. I think its a big hurdle for us as a nation to overcome so we need those emerging markets because our products are safer and higher quality than most around the world. At the same time, we have to protect ourselves against cheap agricultural and manufacturing goods coming into the country. That's something we can't compete with here in the United States as far as production goes.

You were very knowledgeable about the Trade topic, did you research it?

Trade is interesting to me because it came up in the Presidential election. Trade was something that President Trump, then-candidate Trump hammered on, specifically some of the unfair deals we had with China. Especially some of the manufacturing of products we use in this country tends to be overseas. China is a major player, I thought this would be a good place to start as far as the discussion goes. Another area I looked at is cattle production. I researched Argentina, Brazil, and Austrailia. I was interested in what their laws and tariffs did to their trade economies.

Why did you single out Argentina as a trade policy example?

Argentina was a good trade example to use in the discussion meet because their farmers and ranchers switched to soybeans to make money because trade tariffs and restrictions made soybeans more profitable. It wiped out their cattle market, they dropped from the top ten in the world. They went from the number 3 cattle producer in the world to not even the top 10 because of their restrictive government policies. It stresses the importance of what we do here and what the Farm Bureau does.

The National Discussion meet is coming up next week, are you ready?

Getting ready for the national meet in Nashville, I won't do anything differently. I'm going to continue to read and study. I think so much depends on your opening and closing statements. Those are areas that can be polished specifically to each question and so my research will continue on each question. I'd like to polish my opening and closing statements better. I have offers from past winners to practice and do mock competitions with them, I'll touch bases with a few judges so I can get constructive feedback.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau's 78th Annual Meeting

Searle Opens the Idaho Farm Bureau's 78th Annual Meeting

Fort Hall--Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Seale opened the Farm Bureau's 78th Annual meeting to an energetic, packed house at the Fort Hall Convention Center.

More than 300 County Presidents and Delegates from all of Idaho's 44 Counties were in attendance for the start of the 3-day conference.

President Searle thanked Farm Bureau volunteers for blazing for hard work and sacrifices. He said the volunteers have made a difference and have benefited Idaho Agriculture.

Searle also urged Young Farmers and Ranchers to not only stay active in Idaho's largest Agriculture organization but to leave a legacy for future generations. We spoke to President Searle after the speech:

Your message at today’s Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting?

Our theme for the conference and our message is be unified in Agriculture. In order for us to accomplish anything, we have to come together to join forces and give and take at times, because we don't always get our way. But we can accomplish great things when we come together.

In Years past we have issues that have split this organization apart, and some say it has hurt us more than helped us?

We continue to feel those wounds as you go forward. That’s where again sometimes we feel like some are for it and some against it. We have to be careful how we handle those things and the positions we take. Sometimes we have to step back and just allow issues to play out.

The Bible says to love your enemies, you addressed this today in the speech?

It was written many, many years ago for us and if we abide by what we’re told then great things will happen. We continually learn those lessons.

The Farm Bureau is in its 78th year. This organization has been around since the 1930’s, where is this organization heading?

In this 78th year, we are at 78-thousand members! We’re growing more than a thousand new members a year. We’re destined to be stronger and better in the future. We have great Young Farmers and Rancher members, these strong individuals will continue to be stronger and our voice will continue to be louder.

Has the image of the Idaho Farmer has changed?

It's tough to farm without an MBA and high tech equipment. There were more of us farming back in the old days but its a business and you have to have a degree and all the high tech assets. Whether its a family operation or not, we have to treat it as a business. Do we love that? Some do, some don’t. It is what it is and in order to produce food that's, the direction farming has to go. We have to adapt to that in order to grow.

Do you think farming is cool again?

It is. To provide food and fiber to everyone throughout the world is cool. But there is a generation that doesn't care to work at some of the tasks at which we excel. I see some farms getting bigger and they’re struggling to get qualified help to do that, it is cool. There is nothing better than planting and see crops grow to harvest.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Idaho Farm Bureau's 78th Annual Meeting

Properties to be sold at auction

Properties with Unpaid Irrigation Taxes to be Sold at Public Auction

Nampa--A total of 19 Ada and Canyon county properties worth a total assessed value of more than $3 Million faces the possibility of being sold at public auction for pennies on the dollar because their owners have failed to pay delinquent 2014 irrigation taxes, NMID officials advised today.

For example, one Meridian property with an assessed value of $328,900 could be sold for only $260.37 in taxes, interest and fees and administrative fees and costs.

The total tax, penalty and administrative fees owing on the properties is $6,800.00 while the total assessed value according to Ada and Canyon counties assessor records is $3,021,000. The delinquent 2014 irrigation taxes on the properties represent 2 tenths of 1 percent of the total assessed value of the homes and land.

There are 11 properties in Meridian, 4 in Boise and 4 in Nampa. Individual taxes owed by the property owners range from $246 to $1,103.

The State requires irrigation districts to initiate the tax deed action if the property owners have failed to pay their irrigation taxes for the past three years. In this instance, the unpaid taxes are for 2014, according to Daren Coon, NMID Secretary-Treasurer.

NMID mailed certified letters in August to all delinquent property owners officially notifying them that unless action is taken by the last day of December 2017 their properties will be put up for sale at public auction. The 19 property owners are those who did not accept the certified letters.

The District is also publishing the names and address of the 20 property owners four different times in local newspapers. In addition, a final warning will go out later this month.

“Tax deed action is the most distressing action we are required to take against land owned by our patrons. It represents a last-ditch measure the District goes to great length to prevent but which state law demands if the taxes are not paid,” Coon explained. “Fortunately these properties represent just a tiny percentage of our 38,000 property owners in the District.”

The property owners have until December 31 to pay at least their delinquent 2014 tax bill. Otherwise, the properties could be sold at auction in August 2018 for the taxes owing, plus additional legal and administrative fees. Most property owners pay up prior to that but each year some properties do end up being sold at auction, Coon added.

Coon noted the problem sometimes grows out of a mistaken belief that property owners do not need to pay the annual assessment because they do not receive or use irrigation water. In other cases, property owners assume the irrigation tax payment is part of their escrow tax payment being made by the mortgage company but it is not.

The taxes pay for operation and maintenance of the canals, laterals, drains, and dams that make up the District's water delivery system. Levies also are assessed against individual subdivision parcels using pressurized irrigation systems in subdivisions around the valley.

NMID officials stress that individuals who own property inside the District and have questions about their tax assessments should call the District office at 466-7861

The Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District is a water storage, conveyance and distribution system founded in 1904. NMID 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.

Friday, December 1, 2017

La Nina and Early Idaho Snowpack

Idaho Falls--The US Bureau of Reclamation told water users that they will keep Southeastern Idaho canals flowing this winter.

During normal years the Bureau has a requirement that Palisades Reservoir must shut down the canals for the winter to rebuild the water supply. But things are different this year because Upper Snake Reservoirs are nearly full after a record rainfall this year.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017 Wheat Crop

Wheat Yields down 12-Percent, Quality Excellent

BOISE — The 2017 Wheat crop might go down in history as one of the best ever, despite lower yields from last year.

Idaho farmers produced 90.7 million bushels of wheat in 2017, but that's 12 percent less than last year’s total of 102.8 million bushels. The Idaho Wheat Commission says this year's crop is about statewide quality.

“In the 15 years I’ve been here, this is, in terms of quality, the best wheat I’ve seen statewide,” said Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson. “The whole state had a good crop.”

The Idaho Wheat Commission says that quality was excellent across the state and it's unique because growers in North and South Idaho grow different classes of wheat for different markets and there were very few discounts taken this year.

A total of 1.1 million acres of wheat was harvested in the state this year, down slightly from 1.13 million acres last year. Yields averaged 82.2 bushels per acre statewide in 2017, down from last year’s record of 91.4 bushels.

What Idaho’s wheat industry lacked in total production in 2017 was made up for in quality. Doug Barrie farms outside of Idaho Falls. He said after a late start and lots of worries the harvest was excellent.

“Our harvest this year was pretty good. We did about 100 bushels per acre, that's down from last year but the quality was better,” said Barrie.

Brian Darrington of Rupert set another personal record. He had a field of Soft White that topped 160 bushels per acre. But he also had fields that brought in 100 bushels, he said his average was 131 bushels per acre. He said that his 2017 crop was just as big as last year.

“We had a couple of fields that we had to replant last spring and we were off to a slow start, but we got caught up,” said Darrington. "We're very happy with what we had, we'll take a 131-bushel acre average any day."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Aquifer Recharge

Aquifer Recharge on pace to match last year's record

IDAHO FALLS— The US Bureau of Reclamation told water users that they will keep Southeastern Idaho canals flowing this winter.

During normal years the Bureau has a requirement that Palisades Reservoir must shut down the canals for the winter to rebuild the water supply. But things are different this year because Upper Snake Reservoirs are nearly full after a record rainfall this year.

“I just checked and most of the state is at 145-percent of average precipitation. This is a good thing for recharge. It’s a good thing to get all that water back in the ground,” said Idaho farmer Danny Ferguson of Rigby.

Last years landmark winter left record snowpack and because of that, streamflows continue to run high. Water District 1 officials say that flows at the Heise gage north of Idaho Falls are the second highest in recorded history. The Idaho water year officially ended Sept. 30th, but last years snowpack will extend into next summer.

“I don’t see a downside to releasing this water at all,” said Ferguson who gets his water downstream from Palisades, “On the Harrison canal, we shut down for a couple of weeks but the canals are running again and all of the water is going into the aquifer.”

Under the Reclamation’s Winter Water Savings Program, Canal companies must close their canals for 150 consecutive days after the irrigation season, which allows the reservoirs to fill back up.

After last winter, The Department of Idaho Water Resources reported more than 315,000 acre-feet of water was recharged this past year in accordance with the state’s water right. Canal companies and irrigators recharged another 140,000 acre-feet. And pumpers are doing their part with an agreement to cut well irrigation by more than 240,000 acre-feet a year to help build the aquifer back up.

It all started exactly a year ago according to the National Weather Service. The fall of 2016 brought heavy rainstorms in Boise, Twin Falls, and Pocatello. The Snake River plain got almost 3 inches of precipitation, that's almost 2 inches more than normal with heavy snow and cold temperatures into May. The National Weather Service says we’ve had a nearly identical pattern so far this year.

That weather pattern has water managers already thinking where to put all of that water.  Water District 1 in Eastern Idaho reports their reservoirs have just a million acre-feet of available space, they usually have nearly twice that much storage space behind the dams.

The Bureau of Reclamation is acting proactively, they’re suspending the Winter Water Savings requirement for the next three months. The usual Palisades winter release is about 900 to 1,100 cubic feet per second. But so far this winter they’re releasing more than 3,000 cubic feet per second and could keep those flows well into March depending on snowpack.

“We need the measuring stick that last year provided us, we need to see the science and this release will show us what we’ve done over the past couple of years. It's exciting because these measurements will tell us what we’ve done and where we need to go in terms of restoring the aquifer,” said Ferguson.

The state has a special water right on the Lower Snake specifically for aquifer recharge. Recharge involves paying canal companies to run water through unlined canals or into spill basins where water seeps naturally into the aquifer and restores groundwater.

Wes Hipke heads the Idaho Department of Water Resources recharge program and says they’ve already recharged 120,000-acre-feet, 61,000 acre-feet of that came from the Surface Water Coalition. The coalition received the water from junior groundwater users and food processing companies.

“We’re running water everywhere,” said Hipke. “Above Minidoka, Springfield, American Falls, Twin Falls Canal company, Southwest Irrigation District. There are at least 12 different entities taking part in this recharge effort.”

The Bureau’s announcement will enable some canal companies to continue recharging the storage water for the state in November when they’d normally restricted by Winter Water Savings.

“We’re off to an amazing start, normally we’d be at 20,000-acre-feet and currently we’re six times that,” said Hipke.

With winter weather the canals are starting to freeze up. That limits recharge but a warm fall kept the recharge going at a record pace. Still, even with snow and ice the Department of Water Resources expects to drop 600 to 700 cubic feet per second into the aquifer through the winter and hope to triple that in March depending on snowpack.

“My current numbers show at least 280,000-acre-feet for the current year. That doesn’t count the Little and Big Wood rivers, and the Upper Valley. There's a good chance we can do what we did last year, but that depends on Mother Nature, this is far beyond our expectations three years ago,” said Hipke.

The Recharge program is still making calls to find more recharge partners. They’re also speeding up releases in the Upper Valley to free up space in Palisade Reservoir.

Last month the National Weather Service declared that the Pacific Northwest was under the influence of the La Nina weather system.

“Right now in terms of precipitation, we’re 20 percent higher than last year at this time and well above normal. But that doesn’t mean much until January. That's when the weather patterns start diverging. But we’re in a really good place right now, we’ve had a wet Fall and were off to a great start, and the reservoirs started nearly full this water year that started in October,” said Hipke.

Idaho water officials have asked Congress to approve a permanent policy change that would make it easier for the Bureau to dispense with Winter Water Savings during wet years. Farmers are on board and look forward to restoring the aquifer.

“We’re going into this winter, wet,” said Ferguson who runs a large alfalfa operation outside of Rigby. “We have above average precipitation, I’m positive about this. Instead of flushing it out for fish, we’re doing something for the aquifer. We have so much water that we have to get rid of reservoir water just to hold off a normal year.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Good year for potatoes

Potato yields down, prices excellent

Idaho Falls—The Thanksgiving holiday drove potato prices up and a trucking shortage might keep them there.

That's the word from growers who are basking in strong prices but worry about getting spuds to market.

“The market is pretty good,” said producer Bryan Searle out of Shelley, “but we’re having trouble shipping potatoes right now. We can’t find enough trucks or railcars and that might be helping the prices and it’s definitely working in our favor but its something we worry about.”

Over the Thanksgiving, holiday retailers told the Packer magazine that consumer bags of potatoes flew off grocery store shelves. Packer reports that producers harvested larger potatoes this year and there are fewer small sized potatoes for the small bag market.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 50-pound cartons of five 10-pound film bags of russet norkotahs spiked from $5.50 per carton on Sept. 5 to $6 per carton by Nov. 1, with russet burbanks at $6.50 per carton for the same pack on Nov. 1. Prices at the same time last year were $4.50 to $5 per carton.

Russet norkotah 50-count potatoes are $9 per carton, compared with $12 for 80 count cartons. Prices for both sizes were well above a year ago when 50 count norkotahs were $5.50 per carton and 80 count norkotahs were $6 per carton in early November.

Bryan Mickelsen of Mickelsen Farms outside of Rigby says yields were down but quality very good with sizes all over the charts.

“We had big, middle and mediums and our sizes were all over the place. We had an excellent quality crop but the size range varied from field to field. We had to adapt a little bit, but it worked well with the way we market," said Mickelsen.

The Packer reports that everyone has the big potatoes but the smaller grocery store sizes are hard to find this season. The 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s are short and producers specializing in those sizes made money.

“What I've seen is demand is good across the board,” said Searle. “We have decent size here in the Shelley area but I haven’t seen a shortage of smaller potatoes.”

According to the USDA’s Potato size and grading report, the market is short on smaller size spuds but demand and prices are up.

The report out last week revealed that potatoes in the 2-inch or 4 oz. minimum size and grade requirements for US No. 1 potatoes were 79.7 percent of the total that's down from 82.0 percent last year. Processing grade No. 2’s with a 1.5-inch minimum, accounted for just 15.0 percent of this year's crop.

“After three years of terrible market prices, finally prices are very good for this time of year, and with lower yields its gathering strength,” said Searle

Mickelsen says his research shows that Idaho potatoes could be down 3% to 5% this year and that could keep prices up throughout the winter.

“Most of the projections show that prices will remain steady, at these levels, that's good and there’s a smaller crop so it looks like prices will hold so that's good and its good for everybody,” said Mickelsen.

Mickelsen said the market could climb to $6.50 per carton for 10-pound bags and that’s well above price levels over the past few years. Last year, delivered prices for cartons of 10-pound bags of Idaho potatoes to the Midwest markets was about $9.50-10. This week it is $11.

“I'm happy with this year, especially after three years of bad prices. There are farmers just hanging on by the fingernails and finally this year we have decent prices! These prices are welcome. We have growers that have lower yields but the quality is excellent and market prices are good,” said Searle.

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

Idaho Farm Bureau Honors Madison County Volunteers FORT HALL - Dean and Shirlene Schwendimann of Madison County are the 2017 recipients of...