Monday, February 28, 2011

Just in


Former President Clinton Concerned About Corn for Ethanol

New York--Former President Clinton, who now works on international development issues through his New York-based foundation, is among those voicing concerns about U.S. corn usage for ethanol production. In a major speech this week at the Agriculture Department’s annual Outlook Forum, Clinton warned that competition for food stocks could impact food prices and spark riots in developing countries. Clinton also said that U.S. farmers should be aware of developing countries’ food needs as well as the domestic ethanol market. He did acknowledge the role ethanol plays in reducing U.S. dependence on imported fuels.

The comments by Clinton sparked strong reactions from U.S. ethanol and corn production organizations. Growth Energy, a trade organization representing biofuel companies, suggested Clinton peruse recent studies such as “Land Availability for Biofuel Production,” published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in January. According to the organization, the peer-reviewed study demonstrated that biofuel crops grown on already-available farmland could produce up to half of the world’s current fuel consumption—without negatively affecting food crops.

According to Bart Schott, president of the National Corn Growers Association, “Every year, America’s farmers produce more than enough corn to meet all the needs of the expanding markets of feed, fuel and food both in the United States and across the world and the ethanol industry is not an exception.” He also pointed out new reports that show the rising cost of oil, not ethanol production, is a major cause of increased food prices.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Grain Market Musings



Corn still tight, But Opportunities Abound

By Clark Johnston, Idaho Farm Bureau market consultant

Pocatello-With the stocks-to-use ratio in corn now standing at 5%, it leaves us with very little room for error. The market has always found a way to buy the acreage needed to produce a corn crop and things are lining up for us to do the same this year.

With the winter wheat crop looking poor at best in some areas, producers will be looking at planting corn where feasible. If everything works out this could put some pressure on December corn thus widening the spread in the May December Futures. Even though we currently have a good supply of wheat the corn market, will still impact the direction of wheat as well as the amount of the move.

When looking at the Minneapolis May futures over the past ten years we see that the trend is definitely lower over the next 30 days with 7 of the past 10 years moving 15 to 30 cents lower. The big exception to this would be 2008 which moved $3.50 lower by the 5th of April. All three up-years traded 25 cents higher at onetime with none of them finishing the time frame more than 15-cents higher.

The biggest difference between the past 10 years and today is the corn market. The lack of corn could keep wheat supported over the next few weeks. Leaving corn out of the equation, wheat could be setting up to break from corn and trade on its own.

At this time it looks as though we will be reducing winter wheat acreage. The spring wheat crop isn’t a slam dunk yet and exports could remain good through the end of the year. On the other side of the coin we see that South America did receive some timely rains improving their wheat crop along with rain falling in China relieving some of their concerns. But, they still have all of those people to feed. I hesitate to even mention your budget for the fear of sounding repetitive but, I’m going to anyway. If you haven’t finished your budget it isn’t too late. Oh I know that it is important to merchandise your crop for the most money every year but I also know that it is easier to pull that trigger and sell once you know where you stand on costs.

Let’s switch gears and talk cattle for a minute. When looking for a seasonal trend from March 5th through April 5th there really isn’t one. The May futures contract traded a range of $8 higher to $8 lower with 4 years higher and 6 lower. The real interesting chart is when we move further out in the year. When we take the August Feeder Cattle contract from March 5th through the end of July we see a definite trend higher with 9 out of the past 10 years finishing higher.

When we take the past 5 years the trend is all 5 years finished this time frame higher. Whether you are a seller or buyer now could be a good time to implement a strategy to manage your risk in the market. Even though everything is pointing higher you producers need to manage your downside risk against the unknown. In the June Live Cattle futures the historical trend is definitely lower over the next 30 days. When we stretch the time frame we get the same trend as with feeder cattle. The historical trend from now to the first week in September is higher with the past 5 years all trading even to higher by the time we get there.

If you still need to buy diesel fuel it isn’t too late for an opportunity to save some money. Looking at March 5th forward heating oil futures have increased in price through June in all of the past 5 years by as much as 40 cents per gallon.

Clark Johnston started his 31 year career in 1979 working in Ogden, Utah.He went on to work as a Commodities Broker and cash grain merchandiser. He currently is a part owner and operates JC Management in Clearfield, Utah. He is a merchandiser of small grains and is a consultant with producers and flour mills in both Idaho and Utah. At this time he is very pleased to serve as a consultant with the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just in from the Idaho Statehouse




Right to Farm Bill Held in Committee, For time being

Boise--The Right to Farm Act, or House Bill 166 was held in committee until next Wednesday. Representative Ken Andrus moved to hold the bill so members could do more research on the legislation.

House Bill 166 would extend farm practices covered under the definition of “agricultural” and would tighten up ordinances that define agricultural activities. Under the Act, if groups try to stop an operation under a “nuisance” claim and it was found the facility was recognized and permitted, the opposition group would have to pay legal fees.

Representative Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) had concerns with proposed changes to make the bill 'passable'. Boyle stated point blank that when farmers are sued, they have to pay attorney fees to defend themselves. "Why should farmers have to pay to defend themselves? These opposition groups fund their industry from frivolous lawsuits, they need the lawsuits to stay in business."

With encroaching subdivisions moving closer to farm operations over the past 4 decades, almost all 50 states have passed right-to-farm legislation of varying degrees. The laws were intended to protect family farms from nuisance lawsuits as long as the farms were established before subdivisions were put in place and as long as the farm’s activities did not “jeopardize public health and safety.”

Just in from Washington


The Parm Research Center does Ag Extension research


4-H, Ag Extension Programs Face Budget Axe in Congress


Boise--Idaho farmers and food producers and rural communities are being alerted to budget cuts made by the U.S. House of Representatives that could drastically affect Extension programs and agricultural research.


Last week, the House passed a continuing resolution for the 2011 fiscal year that included a $217 million cut for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The proposed cuts include Smith-Lever funds – funds used to fund Ag Extension and 4-H clubs – face a $30 million dollar shortfall.


“This is nationwide, it’s not just Idaho 4-H and extension programs,” said Beth Kienitz-Carter. Carter is conducting a statewide Facebook awareness campaign, urging fellow farmers to contact their U.S. Senators to save 4-H and Extension research programs. “Back in Washington they want to cut the budget deficit with hopes of one day balancing the budget, but our Congressmen didn’t read through the whole bill to see what the cuts actually were.”

The Senate is expected to debate the House’s continuing resolution on March 4th.

Kienitz-Carter worries that the proposed cut could severely affect the University of Idaho’s Extension program. Compounding the problem, she says is that the cuts come halfway through the fiscal year. Cutting the programs (about 10-percent) must be made over six months instead of a full year. “We’re going to potentially lose a very viable program across the United States that builds leaders for tomorrow. This could close county 4-H offices and lay off non-tenured staff."

Just in from Capitol Hill


Budget Battle Continues on Capitol Hill

Washington--The budget battle continues in the nation’s capital with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) saying it’s up to the White House and Democrats who control the Senate to agree to at least some of the Republican-backed cuts in the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government for the next seven months.

The House passed H.R. 1 just before dawn on Saturday. The $1.2 trillion measure includes more than $60 billion in spending reductions. Not a single Democrat voted for the measure and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it.

The agriculture appropriations portion of the continuing resolution provides funding for a wide array of federal agricultural programs, mostly within the Agriculture Department. These programs include: agricultural research; education and Extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; food safety, marketing and inspection activities; rural economic and community development activities; telecommunications and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities of USDA.

In addition, the bill as introduced contains a number of Farm Bureau-supported environmental provisions, including limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to prohibit or restrict emissions of carbon dioxide or methane from any stationary source for the rest of the fiscal year.

New York Times article

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Food Check Out Week

Farm Bureau, Soybean Checkoff Partner on Facebook Page

Washington--The soybean checkoff and the American Farm Bureau Federation have partnered on a joint Internet Facebook page to promote national Food Check-Out Week. During Food Check-Out Week this week, AFBF has committed to donate $1 to Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Southwest Virginia for every person who “likes” the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NationalFoodCheckoutWeek), up to $3,500.

By lending support to this important cause, the soybean checkoff will help demonstrate that America’s soybean farmers remain committed to producing a safe, healthy, abundant and affordable supply of soy, used as a leading protein source to produce such things as nutritious meat and healthy cooking oil. Food Check-Out Week allows U.S. soybean farmers the opportunity to share with consumers that both groups face similar issues—providing nutritious meals while sticking to a tight budget.

AFBF news release

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bonner County Farm Bureau Meets

Bonner County Farm Bureau Meets

by Bob Smathers

Athol--Janet Conlin spoke at the meeting on the Eastern Washington Lakes Group. She also gave the committee a heads-up on a 3 year nutrient source inventory on Lake Coeur d’Alene which is looking to document pollution from agricultural sources.

Bonner county Farm Bureau elected Alton Howell at this meeting to replace Jack O’brien as the new county president. Jack will serve as the vice president.


FFA Fundraiser



First Statewide Tractor Raffle Underway to Benefit Idaho FFA Programs

Boise--The Idaho FFA Foundation is conducting its first ever statewide Tractor Raffle to benefit Idaho FFA members. Tickets are now being sold for $10 each for a chance at winning a beautifully restored, classic 1940 International Farmall H Tractor.


Idaho First Lady Lori Otter and Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould helped kick-off the campaign by purchasing the first two tickets during the Meridian FFA Community Appreciation Breakfast on February 18.

Canyon County farmer and Farm Bureau member Sid Freeman came up with the idea for the raffle to raise funds for the Idaho FFA Foundation and for scholarships for Idaho FFA students for post-secondary education. He and his wife Pam donated the tractor to begin the project and then he procured all of the donations for the restoration of the tractor, including new tires and a sprayer tank.

"It's been a dream of mine to do a project like this to help Idaho FFA members,” said Freeman, a former FFA member.“FFA has made such a difference in the lives of so many students and helped them go on to be strong leaders in our communities. I want to do my part to advance this outstanding organization and to help provide financial support to important FFA programs.”

“We have a goal of raising $50,000 with the raffle this year,” Freeman added. “Most of the funds raised will go toward scholarships and programs through the Idaho FFA Foundation that benefits students statewide, but the local FFA chapter designated on the winning ticket will also receive a portion of the ticket proceeds.”

"The success of this raffle will be determined by how many tickets the kids are able to get sold. Our hopes are that the citizens of Idaho can see how beneficial the FFA programs are for the communities of our state. And that they will see this effort as an opportunity for them to enhance their own communities."

Tickets may be purchased from any local Idaho FFA chapter or from the Idaho FFA Foundation by calling 208-861-2467 or emailing your ticket request to lwilder@idffafoundation.org until April 5. Tickets will be sold at the Idaho FFA State Leadership Conference in Twin Falls April 6-8, and the winning ticket will be drawn during the conference on April 8

The Idaho FFA Foundation would like to thank the following generous businesses and individuals who donated resources, materials and time to make the project possible: Sunny View Farms, Sid and Pam Freeman, Caldwell; Burks Tractor, Caldwell and Twin Falls; Campbell Tractor Co., Nampa, Glenns Ferry, Wendell, Homedale and Fruitland; Les Schwab Tires of Idaho; GSL Soda Blasting, Caldwell; Platt Farms, Caldwell; The Paint “Guy”, Adrian, OR; Hammond Land & Livestock, Doug Hammond, Middleton; J&J Machinery, Notus; G&R Ag Products, Inc., Caldwell; The Sign Shoppe, Caldwell; Homer Lott, Caldwell; John and Sam Malcom, Star; Brett Gould, Middleton; Wes Freeman, Middleton; and Tyler Simmons, Middleton.

FFA is a national organization preparing youth for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. FFA has been an integral part of agriculture programs in Idaho high schools since 1928, currently with 10,000 Idaho agricultural science and technology students, 85 active chartered Idaho FFA chapters, and 4,000 Idaho FFA members. The Idaho FFA Foundation was established in 1980 as a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation for the purpose of promoting the FFA in Idaho and providing strategic financial resources for Idaho FFA programs and activities that will benefit agricultural education students and help them develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.

For more information, please contact Laura Wilder, Idaho FFA Foundation at 208-861-2467 or visit http://www.idffafoundation.org .

Monday, February 21, 2011

FFA Kicks off Fundraiser



Raffle fundraiser Underway
Meridian--Idaho First Lady Lori Otter and Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould helped kick-off the FFA Foundation fundraiser by purchasing the first two tickets during the Meridian FFA Community Appreciation Breakfast on February 18.

The FFA Foundation is selling tickets for the statewide Tractor Raffle that will help provide students with college Scholarships. Members are selling Tickets for $10 each for a beautifully restored 1940 International Farmall H Tractor.

Hillco Industries


Hillco Industries out of Nez Perce, Idaho awarded Idaho Governor's Award for Agriculture, technical innovation!

2011 Outlook


Analysts Don’t Expect Big Crop Shifts This Year

Washington--The overall mix of crop production across the country this year is likely to be the same as last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prices of all commodities are soaring, and there shouldn’t be a big shift from one crop to another.

Analysts expect next month’s planting intentions report by the Agriculture Department will show only minor changes, which could help the price rally for farm commodities.

It will also prove difficult to put more cropland into production. Gerald Bange, chairman of USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board, signaled at AFBF’s annual meeting in Atlanta in January that 10.7 million acres could move into production this year, but some analysts believe this land won’t move into use because it is often less productive.

Wall Street Journal article

President's Editorial



Establish Minimum Length for Sheep Tail Docking

By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President


The Idaho Farm Bureau supports the ethical treatment of farm animals. In carrying out this policy statement we find it important to bring sheep tail docking length to the attention of sheep breeders, buyers of sheep for show purposes, and judges of various county fairs and 4-H competitions.


Docking or shortening of sheep tails is a widely used practice that prevents buildup of feces which can result in fly strike, a serious condition that can result in livestock loss. It is not a serious issue for range-raised sheep grown for meat production. However, over the past several years the practice of entirely removing the tail has become prevalent in 4-H competition and at county fairs around the state. Tail removal can provide a competitive advantage in the show ring because it provides the appearance of a more level rump and a fuller, squarer leg. However, studies conducted cooperatively by state extension experts in Colorado, West Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Maryland and several other states have proven a connection between extreme tail docking and rectal prolapse, which normally results in death and is unacceptable for the health and welfare of sheep.


This fact is alarming and we advise anyone considering purchasing a show lamb this spring to note the tail length. The scientific standard for tail docking is at distal end of the caudal tail fold. An extension agent or any knowledgeable sheep breeder can show you what this means or as a rule of thumb the tail should be docked so that when pressed down it covers the entire vulva.


At least five states have passed mandatory regulations requiring specific tail length for sheep that are entered into 4-H or county fair competitions.


In a letter to the National 4-H Program Leader and signed by the American Veterinary


Medical Association, the American Sheep Industry, the American Farm Bureau, and the


United States Animal Health Association, concerns were expressed about extreme tail docking, recognizing that docking sheep tails is desirable when used for hygienic purposes and to minimize fly strike.



We believe that adopting this rule will promote uniformity and improve the health and welfare of show sheep across the country.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Canyon County Farm Bureau Legislative Lunch


Canyon County Farm Bureau dines with lawmakers
Boise--Canyon County Farm members met with their lawmakers on Friday at the Idaho Farm Bureau Building at 500 West Washington in Boise. Lawmakers talked about budget cuts, Superindendent Luna's Education reform and Ag issues.

Advocates for Agriculture


Risenmay's cap off Legislative Internship with Television Interview
Boise--Leslie and Greg Risenmay of Osgood, Idaho ended their Legislative Internship with an interview with KIVI television in Boise.
Nampa's ABC affiliate is working on a story about young people returning to farming. According to the latest USDA census, Idaho has 200 more farm and ranches in 2010, most of the new start-up operations are farmers under 35.

The Risenmays got into farming after graduating from BYU-Idaho. They started out leasing land and have been buying land ever since. They have a potato operation outside of Idaho Falls and the past few years have been very good to the young couple.

"Markets are good, and we're farming smarter and cutting corners, we can't see ourselves doing anything different," said Greg Risenmay. "We're in for the lifestyle, we have a family, we are family oriented, I love it." Leslie Risenmay told the reporter.

Idaho Farm Bureau's Jake Putnam told KIVI that "This isn't your Mom and Pop's farm operation, today's farms are high tech and that's attractive to this generation. You heard it here first, farming is cool again."

The Idaho Farm Bureau hosts Legislative interns during the session, this week the Risenmays joined the Legislative Affairs team and donned green badges, attended committee meetings and even lobbied lawmakers.

"This is an amazing way to learn the legislative process, you can read about it and how it works, but until you're here, you have no idea what goes into our Farm Bureau Agenda, Our Farm Bureau team gets a lot done during a session," said Greg Risenmay.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Record Highs to Thunder snow


Overnight snow, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

A series of violent storms rocked Southern Idaho Wednesday and early Thursday. On Tuesday SW Idaho saw temperatures in the 60's which gave way to high winds, hail, rain and snow. Traffic on the I-84 slowed to a crawl because of heavy ice on the roadways. This series of storms is good news to farmers, Idaho is above average in snowpack and precipitation levels.

The 2011 Farm season

Fertilizer Prices Expected to Remain High

Washington--This year’s surge in fertilizer prices is not expected to abate any time soon. Anhydrous ammonia is up 57 percent from one year ago, phosphorus is up 46 percent, urea is up 17 percent and potash (potassium) is 15 percent higher in price. Competition for fertilizer from farmers in China, India and South America is driving prices higher in the U.S.

“Farmers are in a world market for fertilizer,” said Dave Coppess, executive vice president at Heartland Co-op in West Des Moines, Iowa. “It’s a situation much like the market for oil; as agriculture expands in other countries demand rises all over.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just in from Washington




Simpson Leads Effort to Overturn Court Ruling on Wolves
Supports language in continuing resolution to overturn judge’s decision to put wolves back on endangered species list

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson is spearheading an effort to undo the August 2010 ruling by Judge Malloy that put wolves back on the endangered species list. The continuing resolution (CR) under consideration by the House of Representatives this week includes a provision to overturn the court decision and ensure that it does come not before Judge Malloy again.

Congressman Simpson is also an original cosponsor of H.R. 510, the Idaho and Montana Wolf Management Act of 2011, introduced by Montana Representatives Denny Rehberg, and H.R. 509, an effort to legislatively delist wolves.

'I fully support efforts to take gray wolves off the endangered species list throughout the country, and it has been an honor to work with Congressman Rehberg on both H.R. 509 and H.R. 510,” said Simpson. “Until that bill can be taken up by the House, I believe we need to take advantage of the opportunity that the CR provides to overturn Judge Malloy’s decision. Not only does this provide an immediate solution to the wolf management problem in the western United States, where wolf populations have grown robust and where effective plans are in place for managing these populations, but it gives us the chance to continue working for a broader solution like the one Congressman Rehberg has proposed.”

Simpson’s provision puts management of wolves back into the hands of states which had been managing wolves under approved and effective state management plans before Malloy’s decision, and it allows wolf hunts scheduled in Idaho and Montana and portions of several other states to be reinstated.

"Ultimately I support complete delisting of this species, but this provision is a step in the right direction,” said Simpson. “Today the choice is between preventing state management by keeping wolves on the endangered species list and overturning Judge Malloy’s decision so that western states can implement their wolf hunts again, so I will strongly advocate for state management in Idaho.”

Just in from Capitol Hill

President’s Budget Ends Payments to Top-Earning Farmers

Washington--In the President's fiscal 2012 budget plan just released, President Barack Obama proposed eliminating federal farm payments to U.S. farmers with the highest adjusted gross incomes (AGI). President Obama argued that under the current system, payments distort the farm sector and some farmers are paid even when no crops are grown.

The plan would save $2.6 billion over 10 years, affecting about 30,000 people out of 1.2 million who currently receive farm payments. Once implemented over a three-year phase-in period, payments would be made only to people with less than $500,000 AGI from agriculture or less than $250,000 off-farm AGI. (The current cut-off is $750,000 on-farm AGI; $500,000 non-farm AGI.) A cut in direct payments from $80,000 per farm to $60,000 also was proposed, in addition to a revision to the crop insurance program that would save $1.8 billion over 10 years by reducing payments to insurers for policies against catastrophic losses.

Legislators last year rejected an identical proposal to cut farmer subsidies based on AGI. AFBF is reviewing the president’s budget proposal to determine how it would affect farmers and ranchers if implemented.

House Republicans proposeda more aggressive reduction in federal spending earlier this month, a $30 billion cut to the overall budget for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, with a 14 percent reduction in agriculture spending. That comes out to $20.1 billion for agriculture programs in 2011 vs. $23.3 billion appropriated in 2010.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gem County Legislative Lunch


Gem County Members Dine with Lawmakers

Boise--Gem County Farm Bureau held their annual Legislative Lunch with Senator Melinda Smyser, Representatives Steven Thayn and Carlos Bilbao at noon at the Idaho Farm Bureau Building at 500 West Washington.

Lawmakers briefed Farm Bureau members about pressing budget and tax issues for more than two hours, then answered questions. GCFB holds the event every year and lawmakers enjoy the chance to talk to constituents.

Governor's Ag Summit


Former Governor Phil Batt Awarded Lifetime Achievement Ag Award
Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter awarded former Governor Phil Batt the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Larry Brannen,Idaho Ag Summit this afternoon in Garden City.
"I haven't farmed in years, but not a day goes by when I'm not thinking of farming," Batt told the packed house. Batt started farming as a teenager and turned his small onion operation into a thriving business, along the way he fought for better working conditions for migrant workers and as a lawmaker formed the Idaho Human Rights Commission. The former Governor also fought tirelessly for water rights during his years of service.
Phil Batt served in the Idaho House, the Senate, Lieutenant Governor and Governor.When the popular former governor took the podium he received a standing ovation.

Ag Exports break record


U.S. Farm Exports Hit Record-High in 2010

Washington--U.S. farm exports reached an all-time high of $115.8 billion in calendar year 2010, surpassing the previous high of $114.8 billion set in 2008. Both the value and volume of U.S. agricultural exports worldwide has increased.

“Today’s numbers indicate that the demand for U.S. food and agricultural products is soaring worldwide,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This is good news for all Americans in these trying economic times. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 8,000 American jobs, which means agricultural exports supported nearly 1 million jobs in 2010.”

Export sales surged both in bulk commodities, which increased 19 percent to $47.2 billion, and for consumer-oriented agricultural products, which increased 15 percent to $45.4 billion.

For the first time in history, China is the top market for U.S. agricultural exports. China imported agricultural products valued at $17.5 billion from the U.S. in 2010. This accounts for 15.1 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports. Soybeans are the primary farm product China imports from the U.S. China relies on other nations for soybeans, cotton, vegetable oil and edible sugar but does not depend on international markets for major grains including rice, wheat and corn. Canada is now the No. 2 market for U.S. farm exports, valued at $16.9 billion in 2010.

The latest export data is available via the Global Agricultural Trade System.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just in from Washington


EPA and Green House Gas Regs Jolts American Ag

Washington--America’s farmers and ranchers will receive a “double economic jolt” from the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases, testified Philip Nelson, president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power on Wednesday.

“First, any costs incurred by utilities, refiners, manufacturers and other large emitters to comply with GHG regulatory requirements will be passed on to the consumers of those products, including farmers and ranchers,” Nelson explained. “As a result, our nation’s farmers and ranchers will have higher input costs, namely fuel and energy costs, to grow food, fiber and fuel for our nation and the world.”

The Illinois farm leader said EPA’s regulations could increase fertilizer prices for farmers because the rules outline a larger role for natural gas, replacing coal and other fossil fuels. Natural gas is a principal component in fertilizer production.

Nelson said the second “jolt” to agriculture will come when regulation is fully phased in under EPA’s “tailoring” approach, under which farms and ranches that emit, or have the potential to emit, more than 100 tons of greenhouse gases per year must obtain a Title V operating permit. Based on EPA’s numbers, he said, just the expense of obtaining permits would cost agriculture more than $866 million.

AFBF news release

Corn Stocks down


Vilsack Sees Enough Corn for Food, Feed, Fuel and Exports

Washington--The Agriculture Department’s dramatic 9 percent cut in the estimate of corn stocks puts the stocks-to-use ratio at the lowest level since the Great Depression, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he believes there will be enough corn for food, feed, fuel and exports.

Joe Glauber, USDA’s chief economist, said corn stocks will remain tight until 2012 and it will take time to rebuild. The stocks-to-use ratio for the 2010-2011 marketing year, which runs through Aug. 31, is estimated at 5 percent, the lowest since 1995-1996. In 1936-1937, during the Great Depression, the stocks-to-use ratio was the lowest ever at 4.5 percent. The average ratio is 13 percent.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grain Market Musings


By G. Clark Johnston, Commodities Broker

Burley--The spring months are always interesting to say the least. There are a wide range of variables that could and will affect the market. We have seen the USDA figures reporting that winter wheat seedings are running 10% above last year. This means that there are 3.6 million additional winter wheat acres this year than last. We could look to see where the additional acreage came from but, the fact is these acres won’t be available for spring planted crops.

The three big spring planted grain crops are going to be forced into competing for the acreage that is left. This takes place every year but this year there is the potential for the markets to be very volatile as we move into summer. First of all we have already killed the Kansas wheat once this spring as temperatures moved below freezing with little or no snow cover to protect the wheat. This isn’t new as we usually kill this crop 3 or 4 times before harvest. The winter wheat crop condition is estimated to be at 29% good to excellent compared to 69% for the same time last year. There is still time for the crop to recover but, this presents the potential for reduced yields if the condition of the crop doesn’t rebound.

The January WASDE report lowered the corn carryover giving us now a-stocks-to-use ratio of 5.5%. Corn will need to buy its fair share of acreage as well as produce better yields than this year in order to have a chance at building any stocks. The stage is set now for corn, soybeans and spring wheat to duel it out for the remaining acreage. We will see just which commodity or commodities will win when the USDA reports the planting intentions the end of March. I know that the scenario has been set that the markets have only one way to go and that way is up but, when we look at the historical trends in the market we see a different picture.

Over the past 10 years from the 25th of February to the 31st of March we see the July corn futures trading a range of 50 cents lower to 40 cents higher with 7 of the 10 years trending lower. When we narrow the field to include just the past 5 years we see that 2 of the years (2008, 2009) are years that moved higher with both years moving 40 cents higher at one point during the time frame. Of the three years that moved lower 2007 and 2010 both moved between 40 and 50 cents lower. If we look at just the prices our conclusion might be that the markets are going to be volatile but it doesn’t really tell us what is going to happen other than a range of 90 cents per bushel. In reality what we should be looking at are the trends.

In 2008 and 2009 the market rallied into the end of March and then fell from the 1st of April through the end of November with 2008 trending $2 lower. In these 2 years the market was successful in buying all the acreage that was needed. In contrast 2010 moved lower only to trade $2 higher in the fall. As we move closer to the planting intentions report let’s watch the market trend and then see if the market accomplished its objective of buying enough acres. If it does and you are a producer you will need to look at managing your price risk to the down side. If it doesn’t you feeders need to do the opposite. Also keep in mind the weather markets. The markets could have quick moves based on the weather being too dry or too wet, too hot or too cold, take your pick. Remember, volatility is here to stay. Have your plan in place ahead of time. You may not have 2, 3 or 4 days to think about it without losing your opportunity.

Clark started his 31 year career in 1979 working in Ogden, Utah. He went on to work as a Commodities Broker and cash grain merchandiser. Currently a part owner and operates JC Management in Clearfield, Utah. He is a merchandiser of small grains and is a consultant with producers and flour mills in both Idaho and Utah. At this time he is very pleased to serve as a consultant with the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Governor Butch Otter at Leadership Conference


Gov. Butch Otter and Frank Priestley, photo by Steve's Photo Library.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter takes the Podium at the Idaho Farm Bureau's Annual Leadership Conference in Boise, Idaho. The Governor expressed his concern over the Equal Access to Justice Act saying the Act gave Environmental groups an unfair advantage in the courts.

Just in from Washington


USDA Crop Report: U.S. Corn Stocks at Record-Low 5 Percent

Washington--Lower supplies and higher demand continue to play a major role in price increases for wheat and corn in the Agriculture Department’s February crop report released today. USDA made no changes in the wheat, soybeans and cotton stocks estimates, but corn stocks were reduced to 675 million bushels from 745 million bushels in the January estimate.

This puts corn stocks at a very tight level of 5 percent, the same as the record level of 5 percent that occurred in the 1995-96 marketing year. Tight supplies are driving up corn prices, with USDA projecting the 2010-11 marketing-year average farm price to be $5.05 per bushel to $5.75 per bushel, up from $4.90 to $5.70 in the January report.

USDA WASDE report

NASS Crop Production report

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Legislative Leadership Week

video

Boise--Idaho Governor Butch Otter addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau's Annual Legislative Leadership Conference in Boise on Wednesday morning. The Governor told Farm Bureau members that the Equal Access to Justice Act needs reformed. Steve Ritter video

Legislative Leadership Week


Representative Darrell Bolz (left to right), Senator Melinda Smyser dine with Idaho Farm Bureau Board of Director Tracy Walton at the Farm Bureau's 'Strolling Buffet' Tuesday night in Boise. --Steve Ritter photo

Legislative Leadership Week


Boise--Representative Christy Perry R-Nampa attended the 'Strolling Buffet' at the Idaho Farm Bureau's Legislative Leadership Week Tuesday night in Boise. This is Perry's first term in the Idaho Legislature. More than 275 friends of Farm Bureau attended the event. --Steve Ritter photo

Legislative Leadership Week


Boise--Representative Maxine Bell and Senator Dean Cameron address the Idaho Farm Bureau's Legislative Leadership Week. Both serve on the Joint Finance Affairs Committee and have difficult budget decisions ahead. Steve Ritter photo

Just in from the FSA

Dates for CRP General Signup Announced

Boise--The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011. During the signup period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land for CRP's competitive general signup at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

“Idaho specific CRP practices include efforts to improve the level of water in the Snake River Aquifer and increased coverage for the Columbian Sharp Tailed Grouse," said Dick Rush of the FSA. "These and other CRP practices bring cleaner water, improved air quality, better habitat for wildlife and a huge reduction in soil erosion for Idaho. Today’s announcement reinforces this administration’s dedication to help farmers and ranchers conserve natural resources on their land. The sign-up period is fairly short. Producers will need to determine if they have land eligible, figure out the best practice for the land and make certain they have all the proper elements so they can obtain a high EBI ranking. I encourage them to make an appointment with their FSA County Office as soon as possible."

Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this signup provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Idaho has approximately 117,000 expiring CRP acres. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011.

To help ensure that interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the signup period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations that will all play an active role in USDA’s 2011 CRP outreach efforts. Among others Idaho FSA partners with the Idaho Fish and game who also partners with Pheasants Forever.

As administrator of the Conservation Reserve Program, FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that assists in calculating the environmental benefits to be gained from the contract. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits). Cost factors are also entered into the equation.

In addition to the general sign-up, FSA’s CRP Continuous Sign-up Program is ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov and view Conservation Programs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Legislative Leadership Week

video

Idaho Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg addressed the Idaho Farm Bureau Legislative Leadership Conference Tuesday afternoon in Boise. Senator Hill says lawmakers have a difficult job with budget cuts and do not take the impacts of their decisions lightly. Steve Ritter video

Legislative Leadership Week

video

Idaho Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney addresses the Idaho Farm Bureau Leadership Conference. Rep. Denney says rules and regulations stymie economic recovery. Steve Ritter video

Legislative Leadership Week


Nampa--The Idaho Farm Bureau Equine Committee chaired by Albert Johnson visits DVM Peter Knox at the high-tech, Idaho Equine Hospital in Nampa, Idaho. The tour was part of the Farm Bureau's annual Legislative Leadership Conference. --Steve Ritter photo.

Legislative Leadership Week


Women's Leadership Committee poses with food donated Monday at the Ronald McDonald House. Putnam photo


Women's Leadership Committee Donates to McDonald House


Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau’s Women’s Leadership Committee unloaded two carloads of food at Boise's Ronald McDonald House Monday afternoon. The food will feed the families of critically ill children staying at the house.


The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a “home away from home” for families of sick and injured children receiving medical treatment at Saint Lukes Medical Center in Boise. Operations Director Sandra Wood says more than 500 families a year use the facility and they're booked just about every week.


"We really appreciate the donations this time of year because our needs span 12 months a year, to have donations after the holidays fills a huge void. We have a full house and most of our families have family members in their rooms, this donation couldn't have come at a better time," said Wood.


The McDonald House was built in the early 1900s and purchased by the late J.R. Simplot for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Families are charged just $10 a night; the balance is paid with public and private donations to the Ronald McDonald house, and any family who is unable to pay the $10 is not turned away.


“The grocery donation will go right into our pantry and will be used for dinner tonight," said Wood. The members of the Leadership Committee helped cook dinner for the 18 families in residence. "Food Check-Out Day was founded by the American Farm Bureau we want the people of Idaho to know that we have the best, most plentiful and cheapest food supply in the world, we're sharing that good fortune with those who need it, and they need it now.” said Chairwoman Carol Guthrie. "It just gives you a warm feeling to help these families out."


Carol Guthrie also presented the House with a check. The money was collected from County Farm Bureaus across the state. “We’ll spend it all on food, and things needed to sustain the families during their stay here," said Sandra Wood.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Food Check Out Day




Farm Bureau member Dean Schwendiman helps deliver snack bags to the Idaho Statehouse as part of the Idaho Farm Bureau's Food Check-out day.

Food Check Out Day Observed at the Idaho Statehouse

Boise--Monday February 7th is Food Check-Out Day at the Idaho Statehouse.

Today marks the number of work days it takes to pay for a year's worth of food for the average family.To illustrate the point of Food Check-Out day, the Women’s Leadership Committee packed bag lunches and delivered them to the Idaho Senate and House to remind lawmakers where their food comes from and how cheap it’s produced.

To put Food Check-Out Day into perspective, it takes the average American 77 days to earn enough to pay their federal taxes; 62 days to pay their housing and household operation expenses; 52 days to cover health and medical care costs; 39 days for state and local taxes; and 36 days for recreation, clothing and accessories.

“The snack lunches are actually snack bags made up of different products that are Idaho grown commodities that are representative of the potato, the dairy, the wheat, and fruit industries here in Idaho,” said Carol Guthrie, of the Idaho Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee.

While Americans spend slightly less than 10 percent of their disposable income for food, those figures are considerably higher abroad: Japan, 14 percent; Israel, 20 percent; China, 26 percent; the Philippines, 38 percent; and Indonesia, 55 percent.

USDA says the average American spends about $2,400 on food consumed at home and in restaurants. Farmers get about 22 cents of every dollar spent on food in this country, Wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.

Back in 1980, farmers received 31 cents of every dollar spent but it took Americans a longer time to pay for it. In 1970, it took American families an extra two weeks to pay for their annual food supply.

Women's Leadership Committee


Kaylee Aguilar and Morgan Cassidy of Filer High School took first and second place in the Women's Leadership Committee's Speech contest--Putnam photo


Filer Students Win Women's Leadership Committee Speech Contest

Boise--Kaylee Aguilar of Filer, High School won the Idaho Farm Bureau’s Annual Speech Contest at the Idaho Statehouse this morning. The contest is sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Committee.

Classmate Morgan Cassidy of Filer High School took second in one of the closest contests of the decade. Both were coached by their FHS speech teacher and their secret of success: they practiced together for weeks before the event.

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little welcomed the 10 contestants to the West Wing of the Senate. He emphasized the importance of communication in agriculture and urged students to not only farm, but to tell the world about their farming operations.

Kaylee’s speech immediately captured the Statehouse Audience by addressing the odor issue, saying that manure is a wonderful thing, converting fertilizer into energy. She told the audience that Bettencourt Dairy out of Jerome built an anaerobic digester that’s pumping out a 1 million kilowatt hours of energy a month.

“We’re not so much the farmers; but we researched the subject and had fun finding out about farming,” said Kaylee. “Morgan had some points from my speech and I had some from her speech. I just talked about manure and it was fun.”

Kaylee won $150, Morgan took home $100 for second place, and both will use the money for their college fund. All eight contestants went on a special guided tour of the Idaho Statehouse.


Just in from Washington

AFBF Backs Barrasso Bill Blocking EPA GHG Regulations

Washington--The American Farm Federation supports the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act, legislationintroduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote to Barrasso on Wednesday pledging Farm Bureau’s support of the bill. Stallman told Barrasso the regulations proposed by EPA would have serious consequences for agriculture.

According to EPA estimates, more than 37,000 farming operations (90 percent of livestock production) would be affected by the proposal, at an average cost of $23,200 per permit. Overall, this would cost the agriculture sector more than $866 million.

“In addition to these direct costs, farmers and ranchers will also feel indirect economic impacts. Costs incurred by utilities, refiners and manufacturers to comply with GHG regulations will be passed on to farmers, ranchers and other consumers in the form of higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs,” according to Stallman.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

President's Editorial


Lawsuit Asks Taco Bell – Where’s the Beef?

By Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley


The fast food chain Taco Bell recently launched a national advertising campaign in retaliation to a lawsuit alleging the company’s taco filling isn’t beef. In large letters, the advertisements state: “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.”


The Alabama law firm that brought the suit claims it had the taco filling tested and found that it contained only 35 percent beef. Further, the lawsuit alleges Taco Bell’s meat mixture contains binders and extenders and does not meet requirements set out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as beef.


It’s no revelation that a .99 cent taco probably doesn’t contain the finest grain-fed beef, and most people would concur that for the price, they wouldn’t expect it. Taco Bell’s advertisements claim the product is 88 percent beef with added water, spices, oats, starch and other ingredients that “contribute to the quality of the product.”


Attorneys and public relations experts who have commented to the media on the issue agree the law firm will have a tough time proving the mixture doesn’t meet the definition of beef. The courts will have to sort that out and either way it probably won’t affect Taco Bell’s image or business much. The chain serves an average of 35 million people a week. Where we take issue in this matter is centered on Taco Bell’s ham-fisted public response which ran in newspapers around the country including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today. The ads state that ground beef is boring and bland.


To us, describing the main (or supposed) main ingredient in a product you are trying to sell as “boring” and “bland” seems counterintuitive. The ad states; “Plain ground beef tastes boring. The only reason we add anything to our beef is to give the meat flavor and quality. Otherwise, we’d end up with nothing more than the bland flavor of ground beef and that doesn’t make for great-tasting tacos.”


We strongly disagree with this assessment. If the ground beef Taco Bell buys lacks quality, we suggest they explore a different, perhaps domestic source. We also take issue with the negative light this advertisement casts on beef producers. Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc., which also includes Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and A & W, owes U.S. beef producers an apology and until that occurrence, we suggest the making of fast food purchasing decisions accordingly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beets approved again


Beets Get Okay--Again.

Washington--Roundup Ready sugar beets will be approved for planting by day's end, according to Monsanto.

Just after noon today U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack notified stakeholders of the partial approval.

This partial deregulation allows beets to be planted while USDA completes a court-ordered environmental impact statement on the crop. Organic seed companies sued USDA over the biotech beets, arguing that cross pollination threats hadn't been considered before Roundup Ready beets were approved a few years ago.

The biotech beets have been engineered to survive sprayings of the herbicide Roundup. That trait, according to farmers, allows the crop to grow strong as weeds in the field are killed off. Better harvest and lower production costs have made the beets lucrative.

Last week, Senator Max Baucus of Montana notified Vilsack that delaying approval of the biotech crop would jeopardize the crop.

Sugar beets account for half the sugar produced in the United States. Roundup Ready beets are what 95 percent of farmers plant.


Breaking the Cycle of Fire on the Range


Wally Butler is one of the foremost authorities on Range issues in the Intermountain West, he currently serves as Second Vice President of the Society of Range Management. He holds a masters degree in Range Management from the University of Idaho and is the Range and Livestock Specialist at the Idaho Farm Bureau. He attended the symposium: How Collaborative Resource Management Can Break the Current Fire Cycle, here’s his take on the conference:

There’s a lot of talk at this conference about where invasive species are heading, were any of the questions answered?

Well, this has been a very good conference. It started with the same question you are asking; where are invasive species heading? Obviously, that’s anyone’s guess. Part of it depends on what environmental conditions do, climate change, what happens as far as litigation, grazing and regulatory oversight. The big distinction that needs to be made here is that we’re not talking about grazing for the sake of grazing but for the sake of controlling wildfire and those are two different issues.

And lots of rules?

There are rules and regulations that govern how ranchers graze for the sake of grazing but there’re also management rules and regulations on how to work a fire scenario; grazing is one of those tools. Again, It’s a hard thing to get out of people’s mind is that we are not just talking about grazing for the same of grazing. We’re talking the environmental issues that go along with wildfire.

No surprise, but climate change did come up. The west is moving into a wetter cycle and with that we are seeing changes in the characteristics of cheat grass—

I’m not a proponent of climate change for the sake of saying that we have climate change; we’ve had that throughout all history. But the change in the precipitation cycle you are talking about. The most obvious change is the amount of precipitation and the time of year that the rains come. When you look at those cycles, that do change how a plant reacts, how a species adapts, different species adapt at different elevations, different soil types, different plant communities relationships, that kind of thing, so it’s a very complex thing to forecast. I don’t have much doubt in my mind that we will have changes in precipitation patterns, which to me is a bigger issue.

We will see larger fire fuel loads on the range with this wetter cycle?

It can go either way and vary from place to place. That’s why management of lands is so sight specific, there are some generalities but overall it has to be sight specific because of the change in weather pattern and precipitation pattern, it may be dryer and higher but may get wetter in certain locations, so you have two opposing reactions, so generalities are fine but it’s got to come down to site specific oversight.

It’s an unfair fight on the range with cheat grass having a distinct advantage?

How can we hope to break the fire cycle that so favorable to the invasive species; specifically cheat grass and to a lesser degree medusa head. That’s where we are now, what have we learned what are the tools and what actions do we take.

So it looks like there will be long term research?

Right now it’s aimed toward Black’s Creek, east to Mountain Home and up to the base of the Danskin mountains. The types of things they are talking about are firebreaks, forage kochia and some of those fire breaks, target grazing; not to be confused with livestock production; all the things designed to try and break the cycle.

These fire starts; they’re not all lightning strikes?

Another thing that’s a huge issue is the fact that 66 percent of fire strikes in that area is human caused, that’s why it’s good to have good fire buffers in the area.

Breaking the Cycle of Fire on the Range



In fire country's Ground Zero,Land Managers struggle to fight cheatgrass
BOISE–Cheatgrass remains public enemy number one on the Western Range. That’s the word from Rangeland managers who met in Boise this week to address the invasive scourge of the West.

Ranchers, the Bureau of Land Management, Conservation groups and Firefighters met at a symposium called 'How Collaborative Resource Management Can Break the Current Fire Cycle' All attending parties agree that cheatgrass continues to makes western rangelands susceptible to devastating wildfire.

Specifically cheatgrass burns hotter, grows thicker and dries out faster than native plants that once inhabited the western range. Cheat grass is native of Russia, and it's been a problem on the range since the late 1800's.

"All it takes is a cigarette butt, a hot catalytic converter on the bottom of a truck or even dry lightning and cheatgrass explodes like gasoline, burning fast, hot and even destroying normally fire resistant sagebrush.” said Idaho Farm Bureau’s Range Specialist Wally Butler.

"It’s important to get on these fires quickly,"said Idaho BLM Director Steve Ellis. “We prioritize initial attack with a priority on urban interface. We have limited resources we also want to prioritize certain eco-systems like Sage Grouse habitat. Also we have to emphasize rehabilitation after the fire, use more natives, but the challenge we have is the competition with cheatgrass, and that affects the chance of success.”

Lance Okeson of the BLM told the conference that rehabilitating rangeland is labor intensive and expensive, crews replant sagebrush but it takes up decades before the sage produce seeds that take hold on land under constant threat of fire.

Fire maps just released at the conference reveal that the nation’s most fire-vulnerable rangeland are the areas around Boise. The maps show large wildfire locations in and around the I-84 corridor and was tagged the most likely area to burn in the entire United States.

For good reason, cheatgrass thrives at lower elevations up to 5000 feet, furthermore Southwest Idaho is a magnet for severe lighting not to mention the thousands of acres of cheat grass along fuel-loaded I-84; where a few times a year a careless motorist starts a catastrophic wildfire.

James Young, a retired USDA scientist wrote the book "Cheatgrass: Fire and Forage on the Range." He told the conference that the goal of progressive fire managers is to identify fire, fuel and vegetation management methods then conserve sage brush habitats with hopes of breaking the cycle of fire frequency.

Land managers have set up a range laboratory a 117,000 acre stretch of land northeast of Interstate 84, between Blacks Creek and Mountain Home, it'll serve as a proving ground to test theories, native and unnative plants that could one day crowd out cheat grass, or at least lessen the impacts of the species.

While nothing can be done about lightning and severe storms, instead range managers discussed things they can do, like planting the fire resistant plants, target grazing to reduce fuel loading and even mechanical treatments.

Last year Fire managers started planting fire-resistant plants along the edge of Interstate 84, Okeson said. They’re now looking at a hodge-podge of application areas in and around that 117,000-acre zone. One day work pioneered here could help the fire ravaged west and save lives along the urban interface.

Jefferson County Fair

At the Jefferson County Fair in Rigby its fair time and all the action on this day is in the livestock barn.